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After trade talk, Hurricanes' Ward looks to regain form

Friday, 09.05.2014 / 11:20 AM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is not the player he once was. He knows it, and he's not afraid to talk about it. Bluntly.

"I know I've been inconsistent," Ward said. "Inconsistency at the goaltending position is something you can't afford. These last couple years, dealing with injuries and other issues ..."

Ward rethinks his point and continues.

"But excuses are for losers, so those don't do you any favors."

Ward is opting for straight talk these days. Often reticent about his shaky play in recent seasons, he now speaks with nothing-left-to-lose candor. One reason: Early in the summer, Ward learned that the Hurricanes were looking at trade options. In his first days on the job, general manager Ron Francis phoned Ward to let him know.

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Perry, Ovechkin, Kane top fantasy right wing rankings

NHL.com's Pete Jensen ranks top 50 players at RW position

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

With the 2014-15 NHL season inching closer by the day, NHL.com has you covered with positional fantasy rankings. Based on Yahoo eligibility, projected lineups, past performance, injury history and each insider's opinion, Matt Cubeta (centers), Matt Sitkoff (left wings), Pete Jensen (right wings), Brian Metzer (defensemen) and Justin Goldman (goalies) bring you up to speed by identifying all the players worth targeting at each position in your upcoming drafts.


Expecting the unexpected comes with the territory in fantasy hockey. That is, unless you draft Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry.

Perry, who leads the fantasy right wing ranking for the third time in the past four seasons, is third in NHL.com's top 275 rankings for three reasons: his linemate, category coverage and durability.

The 29-year-old formed the best point pair League-wide last season with Ryan Getzlaf and finished among the League's top seven in goals, points, shots on goal and plus/minus. Perry also is no stranger to the penalty box, with his 50-goal, 104-penalty minute season in 2010-11 being a prime example of his production in that category. He has played in more than 96 percent of his team's games since 2006-07 and should be the first player on your list after Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos.

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Knights graduating class ready for next step

Friday, 09.05.2014 / 9:16 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

For nearly 50 years the London Knights have been a standard-bearer in Ontario junior hockey, grooming a list of future greats that includes Darryl Sittler, Brendan Shanahan, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Patrick Kane. But none of those NHL stars accomplished in London what the most recent graduating class did with the Knights.

Playing for coach Dale Hunter, the most recent group enjoyed a three-year run that few squads can match, winning back-to-back Ontario Hockey League championships in 2012 and 2013 and participating in three consecutive Memorial Cup tournaments. Now the players constituting the core of that team are ready to make their mark against each other in the NHL.

"Our core group has been very close the last three years," said center Max Domi, who will attempt to make the Arizona Coyotes roster this fall. "We always talk about one day playing against each other in the big leagues. But there's still a lot of work to do."

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Top 14 defensemen excel at both ends of the ice

Friday, 09.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's Top 14 in '14-15

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

Who are the best 14 players in the NHL at each position as teams prepare for the start of the 2014-15 season? Arpon Basu, Brian Compton, Corey Masisak and Dan Rosen have cast their votes and the result is NHL.com's "Top 14 for '14-15" project. Each first-place vote is worth 14 points, each second-place vote is worth 13, continuing in descending order to each 14th-place vote being worth one. There are two tiebreakers. First, which player appeared on more ballots? Second, which player had the highest individual ranking? If the voting was exactly the same for each player, it was declared a tie. Does NHL.com's list match your rankings for the best players in the League entering the 2014-15 campaign?

The value of defensemen has long been the most difficult to assess properly because much of what a good defenseman does is not easily translated into statistics.

While that still remains largely true today, the new world of advanced statistics has allowed certain defensemen who specialize in facing the opposing team's best players and making sure the puck spends as little time as possible in their own zone to get the recognition they deserve.

On the flip side, these new metrics have also exposed what has long been known as the "stay-at-home" defenseman as simply being a player that spends an inordinate amount of time defending while the opposing team plays with the puck.
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Avalanche sign defenseman Barrie to two-year deal

Thursday, 09.04.2014 / 5:05 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

The Colorado Avalanche signed defenseman Tyson Barrie to a two-year contract through the 2015-16 season, the team announced Thursday. The contract is worth $5.2 million, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

Barrie, 23, scored 13 goals last season, the most by an Avalanche defenseman since John-Michael Liles had 14 in 2006-07. Barrie finished second among Colorado defensemen in points (38) and assists (25) in 64 games. He finished third on the team with a plus-17 rating and had two assists in three Stanley Cup Playoff games before sustaining a knee injury in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild.

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Pacioretty eager to help lead Canadiens

Thursday, 09.04.2014 / 4:35 PM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- It may have been a sign of things to come when it was pointed out to Max Pacioretty that his likeness in EA Sports' new NHL 15 is wearing the captain's "C," and the Montreal Canadiens left wing smiled when he was asked if he knows something that has not yet been shared with the rest of the hockey world.

"No, I don't know anything," Pacioretty said Thursday after participating in EA Sports' Motion Capture Display. "But I believe somebody at EA Sports should be in line for a promotion."

The fact is the Canadiens are in the market for a captain since Brian Gionta, their captain the past four seasons, signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres on July 1.

The Canadiens whipped their typically emotional fans into frenzy last season when they bounced the Tampa Bay Lightning from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four games and then eliminated the Boston Bruins in seven. Things turned sour in the Eastern Conference Final, however, when Montreal was beaten in six games by the New York Rangers.

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Quote of the Day

He stuck his neck out there for us. I don't know what's wrong with him, but you see he was in pain. But he went back in there. He's a tough guy. You've got to give him credit for helping the boys out.

— Panthers forward Brandon Pirri on goalie Roberto Luongo, who returned to game on Tuesday against Maple Leafs after leaving earlier in the contest with an injury