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(Page 17 of 168)
Features

Arizona kid making noise at U.S. junior camp

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 4:39 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Auston Matthews is a tremendous example of the spread of hockey to non-traditional markets.

Matthews grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., but during the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp this week, the 16-year-old forward is proving to be just as good, if not better, than players who grew up in more traditional hockey climates. He's also staking his claim to a roster spot for the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"We're seeing a wonderful hockey player," said Jim Johansson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey and the general manager of the United States for the 2015 World Junior Championship. "Sturdiness, skating ability, compete level all have been excellent. I think the interesting part for us is it's a lot of hockey in a short time and yet to me it looks like he's, if not getting stronger, he's right on par with what the start of this camp was. Guys get worn down in this camp and that's part of it. I think what you're seeing is a very talented hockey player."

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Young fantasy players to target in keeper leagues

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

We all know that keeper/dynasty leagues run differently and continue to get more creative in terms of which players you can keep and how long you can keep them. If you have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin on your team and rules allow you to, of course you are going to keep them as they will be near the top of fantasy rankings every year they are playing.

With that in mind let's examine 10 players currently in the NHL who will be 22 or younger at the start of the season but have at least two years of service in the League and can help you this season and beyond.

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Brassard excited to be with Rangers long-term

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 11:23 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Derick Brassard and the New York Rangers appear to be a perfect match, and neither side wanted the relationship to break up. That's why they avoided arbitration and agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract on July 27.

"Since I got here to New York I've been saying how much I really enjoy playing for the Rangers, and I don't see myself playing for any other team," Brassard told BlueshirtsUnited.com. "So I was hoping I'd be staying here for a long time, and I got my wish. I was confident both sides would find a way to get it done, but I'll admit I was both patient and anxious for a deal to get done."

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Taste of success leaves Blue Jackets craving more

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

The Columbus Blue Jackets last season got a taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a five-year absence, and even a first-round exit has not dampened their enthusiasm and expectations for 2014-15.

In fact, moves such as signing center Brandon Dubinsky to a six-year contract extension and trading for left wing Scott Hartnell have the Blue Jackets thinking big.

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Forward Horton among Blue Jackets' five questions

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

Optimism has always been anchored by realism for followers of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

When the Blue Jackets reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2009, it was due to the outstanding play of rookie goaltender Steve Mason. But Mason couldn't match that performance in 2009-10 and coach Ken Hitchcock was fired 10 months after leading Columbus to the postseason.

Scott Arniel replaced him and promised better, but failed to deliver and was fired in January 2012. Only since Todd Richards took over have the Blue Jackets found their way.

They barely missed the postseason in 2013, but qualified for the first wild card following a move to the Eastern Conference last season before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round.

More importantly, there is now a culture of winning; since Feb. 26, 2013, the Blue Jackets are 62-37-12 for the eighth-most points in the NHL.

Here are five questions facing the Blue Jackets as they try to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time:

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Blue Jackets want goals, leadership from Hartnell

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't trade for forward Scott Hartnell specifically to agitate the Pittsburgh Penguins, but his ability to antagonize certainly didn't hurt.

Hartnell earned a reputation as a Penguins-baiter during his seven seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers before being traded to Columbus for R.J. Umberger on June 23. He was particularly pesky, to put it mildly, when the Pennsylvania rivals met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2008, 2009 and 2012. There wasn't nearly the same level of vitriol when the Blue Jackets and Penguins played in the Eastern Conference First Round in April, a series won by Pittsburgh in six games.

Even though the Penguins have gone through a turbulent offseason they are still considered a contender in the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. Clearly, the Penguins are still one of the teams to beat.

That's why Hartnell's 91 career playoff games could come in handy for the Blue Jackets, a franchise that has played all of 10 since joining the NHL in 2000.

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Blue Jackets' lineup marked by improving youth

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

When the Columbus Blue Jackets had three first-round picks at the 2013 NHL Draft, it looked like those players would be counted on to help the franchise finally become a consistent Stanley Cup Playoff participant.

The franchise might already be that by the time those guys arrive. Columbus reached the postseason in 2013-14 and won its first two games in franchise history. With president John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen in charge, the Blue Jackets have quickly morphed from potential rebuilding situation to potential contender.

There is star-level talent at every position. There are young players with the potential to improve already on the NHL roster. There are exciting young prospects in the pipeline.

It was actually a pretty quiet summer in central Ohio, in part because Kekalainen didn't need a busy one. The biggest item of business remains locking up restricted free agent Ryan Johansen, who can be the first "franchise center" the organization has ever had.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Blue Jackets:

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World view forms Blue Jackets' top 10 prospects

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The IIHF World Junior Championship is traditionally the tournament most NHL scouts point to as a barometer to gauge how far a prospect has progressed among his peers.

If that's the case, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must be brimming with confidence after witnessing his players excel for their respective countries at the 2014 WJC in Malmo, Sweden.

Five recent draft picks were very productive in last year's tournament, including forwards Alexander Wennberg of Sweden, Marko Dano of Slovakia and Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson of Canada, and goalie Oscar Dansk of Sweden. Wennberg, Rychel and Dano were chosen No. 14, No. 19 and No. 27, respectively, in the 2013 NHL Draft. Dansk was selected No. 31 and Anderson No. 95 in 2012.

Additionally, the 2014 WJC Division I Group A tournament featured another diamond in the rough for the Blue Jackets in right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand of Denmark. All Bjorkstrand did was earn recognition as the top forward at the tournament after he had four goals and six points in five games to help his country qualify for the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto.

"I think it means something when kids get a chance to win at that younger level; it helps their confidence down the road because of that winning attitude," Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Paul Castron said. "We've kind of lacked that type of stuff. So anytime you win, it's good."

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Goaltender Demko not worried about recent struggles

Monday, 08.04.2014 / 7:51 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Thatcher Demko said one of the most enduring lessons he learned at the USA Hockey national junior evaluation camp last year was that roster spots aren't won or lost in August.

The goaltender would do well to remember those lessons this year, as the first few days of camp aren't anything he's likely to brag about.

"It's been alright," Demko told NHL.com. "I don't think I've played my best yet."

Demko allowed two goals on seven shots playing the first 30 minutes Monday in USA White's 4-3 loss to Finland. In parts of three games, he's allowed eight goals on 27 shots.

"It's hard for goaltenders to come in the middle of summer," United States coach Mark Osiecki said. "You don't know how much they've been on the ice, what kind of game action they've seen, bodies in front of them and the speed factor of it. It's hard to adjust and it's going to take some time. He's been average; he knows that."

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McDavid eager to get draft-eligible season underway

Monday, 08.04.2014 / 5:46 PM / Prospects

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Connor McDavid sat and watched in June as many of his friends, the players he grew up playing with and against, saw their lifelong dreams realized.

The 2014 NHL Draft was a highlight moment for one of McDavid's closest friends, defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was the first pick by the Florida Panthers. Sam Bennett, McDavid's teammate and linemate for seven years in minor hockey, was selected fourth by the Calgary Flames.

As the draft continued with names being called at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, McDavid saw more and more of the people he grew up with, people who ultimately helped him become the most highly-anticipated hockey prospect since Sidney Crosby.

He was happy for them. But he also started to get antsy.

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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players