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Features

Fantasy All-Access: More to Senators than Hammond

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver-wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

The fantasy world now knows all about Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who is the fifth goaltender in NHL history to earn a point in each of his first 11 career starts. But the players around him that have helped him on that streak also have fantasy value.

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College hockey free agents set to garner attention

Monday, 03.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

College hockey is in the postseason portion of its schedule with conference tournaments underway and, soon thereafter, the 2015 NCAA Tournament. That also means teams are seeing their seasons come to an end and, for those players who are not draft-eligible and still free agents, a chance to sign professional contracts.

Every season, a group of undrafted college free agents draw the attention of some NHL teams, and some end up getting contracts. Here are a few names to watch and ones that could draw attention:

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Crosby, Malkin pushing Penguins, each other

Sunday, 03.15.2015 / 10:40 AM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Questioning who is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ best player seems rhetorical.

The obvious answer would be forward Sidney Crosby, but the topic is up for debate. Not because of a significant drop in Crosby’s production, but because forward Evgeni Malkin has matched Crosby’s every step this season.

Crosby is widely considered the NHL's best player, but he has experienced a lackluster season by his standards. That despite leading the Penguins with 70 points and being two points behind the NHL lead entering their game Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN).

"I think we try to help our team get momentum," Crosby said. "When [Malkin] goes out there, has a good shift and his line's buzzing around, we definitely want to follow it up and use that and continue that momentum and hopefully we can help each other. If we're out there and we have a good shift and we can wear the other team down, hopefully they can take advantage of that tired group.

"I think it's good. You want to have that healthy competition, but I think we definitely try to get the best out of one another."

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Bruins' Spooner, Pastrnak have become key elements

Saturday, 03.14.2015 / 8:45 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- When the Boston Bruins were protecting a two-goal lead on the road against the Ottawa Senators on March 10, coach Claude Julien joined left wing Milan Lucic with veteran forwards Gregory Campbell and Maxime Talbot for the last three minutes of a crucial 3-1 victory.

The switch left young forwards Ryan Spooner, who scored two goals, and David Pastrnak, who assisted on Spooner's second goal, on the bench for the end of the game.

Two nights later in a 3-2 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden, Julien didn't shorten his bench with the score tied in regulation or overtime. The Bruins' two offensively gifted rookies got to take their regular shift with Lucic in regulation and were a pair during a stretch of 3-on-3 play in overtime.

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Canadiens believe style of play will help them win

Saturday, 03.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens play in a market that can be hard on its team, to put it mildly.

The Canadiens have gone 1-3-2 and scored eight goals in their past six games heading into their game at the New York Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, City), but it remains a game between two teams fighting for first place in the NHL standings.

Every possible metric that can be used to measure the quality of a team, whether they are traditional statistics or newer analytics, shows the Canadiens to be flawed. Shots-for and shots-against, scoring chances-for and -against, shot-attempt percentage, unblocked shot-attempt percentage; pretty much any number you can find other than those representing the goaltending of Carey Price would suggest the Canadiens have no business fighting for the top record in the League.

Yet here they are, and this is not a one-shot deal.

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Islanders' Strome impressing at both ends of ice

Saturday, 03.14.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders knew they were getting a gifted offensive player when they used the fifth pick of the 2011 NHL Draft to select forward Ryan Strome.

But Strome's ability to play a solid two-way game is what has made his first full season in the NHL so impressive.

Heading into their game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, CITY), Strome ranks third on the Islanders with 43 points (14 goals, 29 assists) in 69 games. He leads New York with a plus-19 rating, but will be a healthy scratch against the Canadiens.

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Chicago's Nordstrom banned two games for boarding

Friday, 03.13.2015 / 5:30 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK Chicago Blackhawks forward Joakim Nordstrom has been suspended for two games, without pay, for boarding Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson during NHL Game No. 1011 in Glendale, Ariz., on Thursday, March 12, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 19:22 of the third period. Nordstrom was assessed a minor penalty for boarding.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Nordstrom will forfeit $6,630.82. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

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Graovac rewarding Wild with breakout AHL season

Friday, 03.13.2015 / 12:20 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Tyler Graovac is hard to miss.

But all 30 NHL teams did just that, bypassing Graovac 190 times until the Minnesota Wild finally selected him at No. 191 with their last pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

"I knew when it came down to [draft weekend], I wasn't really expected to go high," Graovac said. "Getting picked seventh round by Minnesota was a little bit of a shock because I had had a lot of interviews with teams that year and Minnesota was the only one who didn't interview me. But it's been going great. They've been very patient with me."

That patience has paid dividends, as the 21-year-old center has excelled in his second season with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Fifty-eight games into the 2014-15 season, Graovac has nearly doubled his offensive output from last season, leading Iowa in goals (19), points (40), power-play goals (eight), and shots on goal (163). He's had 10 multipoint games.

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Lee, Lehtera can help down stretch in fantasy

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

With a little more than four weeks remaining in the regular season and fantasy hockey leagues, it's time to take a look at some players that need to be owned in far more leagues for the stretch run. These players could be the difference in winning or losing your league, so add them now before you regret it during the offseason.

Anders Lee, C/LW, New York Islanders – available in 47 percent of Yahoo leagues

In the past 30 days in Yahoo leagues, only Lee's teammate John Tavares, and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals have been more valuable fantasy forwards. During that time Lee has seven goals, nine assists, a plus-11 rating, 12 penalty minutes, three power-play points and 53 shots on goal. Lee spent a lot of that productive ice time on a line with Tavares, but was reunited on the "Kid line" with Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson on Tuesday, where he found success earlier in the season. Lee is playing the best hockey of his young career and his 23 goals rank second among NHL rookies (behind Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman, who has 24).

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Flames credit comeback success to fitness level

Friday, 03.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- From an office overlooking the fitness facility in the bowels of Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary Flames strength and conditioning coach Ryan van Asten took a moment and paused.

Then, peering out from his desk in the direction of his other, bigger office of gym equipment, van Asten suggested he knew at least part of the reason the Flames have found success in the second season of what is supposed to be a rebuilding process.

Fitness.

"You kind of have to look at it as so many different variables," he said atop an exercise ball. "I like to think that piece of the puzzle is paying off, what we do in the gym. We train every day. There are so many different factors. One of them is, we've done it so many different times, is confidence. At the end of the day, if you don't have the physiological resources, it's all for naught.

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Quote of the Day

It's a great feeling. I can't be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love.

— Center Derek Stepan after agreeing to terms on a six-year contract with the New York Rangers