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Features

Analysis: Next Maple Leafs coach needs team to adapt

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 3:38 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle bought into the modern puck possession-based statistics because he knew his team wasn't playing the right way and because the organization was making a big push to incorporate more analytics.

Need proof? Here is what Carlyle said before this season about Toronto's collapse last season:

"We always felt we needed to change our puck possession, specifically in the offensive zone, not be a one-and-out team and not be considered a rush team, but try to create more of a cycle game, grind teams down to play with the puck more," Carlyle said. "We weren't able to do that."

So yes, Carlyle knew the Maple Leafs were a bad puck possession team last season and how that needed to change this season. He knew the Maple Leafs hired assistant general manager Kyle Dubas in part to provide statistical proof that the team was not playing a winning brand of hockey.

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WHL move could spur Draisaitl's development

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 2:11 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON — During his brief time coaching this season, Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish saw the extent of rookie center Leon Draisaitl's frustration with his play.

However, MacTavish would only contemplate sending Draisaitl, 19, back to junior if a contending Western Hockey League team owned his rights. Edmonton did not want Draisaitl returning to the Prince Albert Raiders this season.

"I had a real specific destination for Leon in mind and I talked to [Raiders GM] Bruno Campese saying it was very unlikely that he would be reassigned back to P.A.," MacTavish said on Tuesday. "At one of those conversations I said to Bruno that I had this specific situation that I thought was going to be ideal for Leon and if that situation was satisfied, there would be a likelihood that we would send him back."

Tuesday, the WHL announced Prince Albert traded Draisaitl's rights to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for European import left wing Kris Schmidli, defenseman Dalton Yorke, a first-round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, a fourth round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft and a conditional pick.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Rise of Columbus' Foligno

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 12:09 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

This fantasy season has been a big surprise party. Late-round draft picks and waiver-wire pickups have run rampant and turned out to be elite-level forwards.

No exaggeration.

In my top 20 fantasy forward rankings alone, three players (Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg) were drafted on average in the 10th round or later in Yahoo leagues.

But one player who has especially mystified fantasy owners (in a good way, if he's on your team) is Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All of a sudden, he's one of the most well-rounded offensive players in the game.

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McDavid, Eichel add to reputations at World Juniors

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 9:30 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The border battle between forwards Connor McDavid of Canada and Jack Eichel of the United States, the projected top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, never fully materialized at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Still, each player certainly had his fair share of highlight-reel moments.

In the end, McDavid added a WJC gold medal to his trophy case while Eichel went home empty-handed for a second straight year in what will likely be the final opportunity for each player at the tournament designed for the best junior-aged players in the world.

Each player is expected to be making contributions in the NHL in 2015-16.

"I think the team picking first [at the NHL Draft] needs to give equal consideration to each of them," NHL Network analyst Craig Button said. "Neither one of them has given me any reason to change that outlook."

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NHL.com's 2015 World Juniors All-Tournament Team

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 9:06 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- There were plenty of magical moments to share and players to praise during the 11-day journey to crown gold medalist Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

When Canadian fans weren't rooting for the host nation, their allegiance shifted to the darlings from Denmark. The Danes gave us one of the more memorable locker room celebrations at the WJC when, after a 4-3 shootout victory against Switzerland on Dec. 30 to earn a berth into the playoff round, they huddled, jumped and sang behind closed doors and were deemed hockey heroes in their country.

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Five Questions: Voracek developing into elite scorer

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek:

Bring up his spot atop the League leaders in points this season and Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek will smile and laugh as he delivers a one-word retort.

"Lucky."

Voracek says lucky, but does he feel he belongs in the discussion for the top players in the NHL now that he has 48 points in 39 games, one more point in one more game than Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin?

"It's [39] games," Voracek said before he had an assist in the Flyers' 5-2 loss Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. "I mean, listen, the guys that are on top, they do that for 10 years. Right now I'm focused on trying to get on a winning streak as a team because the team makes the player."

But how has this particular player all of a sudden become one of the best scorers in the NHL? Voracek, always affable and engaging, tried to provide some reasons.

Here are Five Questions with…Jakub Voracek:

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Canada holds off Russia to win gold at WJC

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 12:53 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Canada and Russia scripted yet another wild and unexpected chapter in their storied rivalry before a packed house at Air Canada Centre in the gold-medal game of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Monday.

The Canadians triggered a celebration five years in the making following a 5-4 victory to earn its 16th gold medal in the country's history and first since 2009 at this tournament.

After spotting Canada a four-goal lead, Russia pulled within one with three unanswered goals in a span of 3:16 in the second period.

But Canada would not be denied.

"To be on top with the gold medal is absolutely amazing; it's something I've always dreamed of," Canada defenseman Josh Morrissey said. "There were some pretty tense moments for the fans and I'm sure for the viewers at home. It was one of the more crazy games I've ever been a part of, but that's junior hockey.

"It's so exciting. [Coach Benoit Groulx] was able to calm us down and we did our job after that."

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Canada's Fucale comes up big in third to win gold

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 12:22 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- History will show Canada goalie Zachary Fucale shut the door on Russia in a 5-4 win in the gold-medal game of the IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

Fucale made 11 saves in the third period to help Canada protect a one-goal lead. Overall, Russia out-shot Canada 30-21.

But the Montreal Canadiens' prospect opted to share the credit.

"I am pretty happy we were here in Canada with our fans," Fucale said. "You guys don't know how much the fans helped us. From the start of the tournament until now, they supported us and we owe them a huge thank you for that."

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Slovakia defeats Sweden to take bronze medal at WJC

Monday, 01.05.2015 / 7:28 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Slovakia won its second-ever medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship with a 4-2 victory against Sweden in the bronze-medal game at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

Slovakia also won a bronze medal in 1999.

Each team managed 28 shots on goal, but it was Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla, as he has done so often during the WJC, who stole the spotlight. Undrafted last year, Godla is eligible for 2015 NHL Draft.

Speaking through an interpreter, Godka said winning the bronze medal didn't mean as much to him personally as it does to hockey in Slovakia.

"It is a wonderful feeling," Godka said. "It is almost indescribable for all Slovakians. The Swedish team seemed to be disappointed from losing Sunday (4-1 against Russia) and we wanted to win more than they did."

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Fantasy All-Access: Predators' Wilson a commodity

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a big move to acquire left wing David Perron, who scored a goal in his first game while playing on a line with Sidney Crosby and Steve Downie. We already broke down that he is a must-own in all formats, but will this move open up more trades as we inch closer to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2?

The Bruins could be the next team to trade for a forward as they have not replaced Jarome Iginla on David Krejci's line. Whoever fills in that role will see his fantasy value rise and also could boost Krejci's numbers.

Keep an eye on potential sellers like the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes. As they move players it could open spots for new fantasy options.

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Quote of the Day

The fans love it, and it looked like they were having fun. It was great to see this city [Columbus]. They had been waiting a couple years for this game. They did it right.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday