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Features

McDavid, Eichel easy choices for top of draft rankings

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

There was little need for debate on the projected top two players for the 2015 NHL Draft when NHL Central Scouting met to rank the top North American prospects earlier this month.

What seemed like a foregone conclusion became official Wednesday when NHL Central Scouting revealed that center Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League is No. 1, and center Jack Eichel of Boston University of Hockey East is No. 2 on its final list of the top 210 North American skaters eligible for the 2015 Draft, which will be held June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

"At the start of the year McDavid and Eichel were considered Nos. 1-2," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "I don't know if it's a surprise that it ended up that way but I think a lot of credit has to go to Eichel in the way he was able to at least keep it interesting.

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Finland's Rantanen tops list of international skaters

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The rise of Finnish right wing Mikko Rantanen began with an impressive showing at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in January.

In the eyes of some, the 18-year-old was Finland's best player, scoring four of his country's eight goals at the tournament.

Rantanen rejoined TPS in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, three days after his team lost to Sweden, 6-3, in the quarterfinal round of the WJC to resume his top-line role. In 56 games with TPS he had nine goals and 28 points while serving as an alternate captain.

A great finish enabled Rantanen to advance one spot to No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of international skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on June 26-27.

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NHL Scouting Combine features new look, location

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Once NHL Central Scouting finalized the rankings of the top 2015 NHL Draft-eligible prospects earlier this month, the focus shifted to the NHL Scouting Combine, to be held June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Among those scheduled to take part in the Combine are Central Scouting's top two players in its final ranking of the top North American skaters, centers Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League and Jack Eichel of Boston University of Hockey East.

NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr confirmed that 120 players, among them some of the top North American and international skaters and goaltenders, will be invited to attend the Combine.

The Combine will give all 30 teams complete physical and medical assessments of hockey's future stars three weeks before the 2015 NHL Draft is held, June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

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Playoff Countdown: Rivalry night has implications

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 10:17 AM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals each have their own motivations when they play at Verizon Center in the first game of the NBCSN Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader.

The Capitals (44-25-11) have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and would take a big step toward securing home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference First Round with a win. It would give them a three-point lead on the New York Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division, with the Islanders having two regular-season games remaining and the Capitals one.

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Ward embracing chance to play on Capitals' top line

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 9:24 AM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- To say the odds were stacked against Joel Ward would be putting it mildly. Three months shy of his 28th birthday, with 11 games on his NHL resume, Ward sought fulltime work with the Nashville Predators in September 2008.

"I really thought it was a do-or-die kind of moment in my career," Ward said of his first training camp in Nashville.

It was there, after three years spent primarily with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League, that Ward met then-Predators coach Barry Trotz.

"I remember Joel came to camp," Trotz said, "and all the amateur scouts were telling me how good the young prospects were. But maybe this is where amateur scouts and coaches differ because I saw the detail and maturity of Joel's game -- he could handle a lot more than most of the kids."

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Five reasons Canucks clinched playoff berth

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Vancouver Canucks made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for five consecutive seasons before missing in 2013-14.

But the remodeled Canucks, under first-year coach Willie Desjardins, are back in the playoffs after clinching a berth on Tuesday. The Canucks got off to a fast start and held a share of first place in the Pacific Division at the end of November. Although they cooled off, the cushion they built allowed them to overcome some key injuries and give them the inside track to a second-place finish and the home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round.

Here are five reasons the Canucks are back in the playoffs:

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Five things to watch in Rivalry Night doubleheader

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Boston Bruins have won five consecutive games and are in a heated race to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Washington Capitals have clinched a playoff berth, but they are battling for home-ice advantage in the opening round.

Boston (41-25-13) has earned points in six straight games (5-0-1) and won for the fifth consecutive time in a 2-1 shootout victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Washington (44-25-11), which has a five-game point streak (4-0-1), is coming off a 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. The Capitals are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the New York Islanders with two games remaining.

The Capitals will try to inch closer towards finishing second in the Metropolitan when they host the Bruins in the first game of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports).

In the nightcap, the Dallas Stars will face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (NBCSN, SN, 10:30 p.m. ET). Anaheim (50-23-7) is trying to finish atop the Western Conference standings; the Ducks are two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues with two games remaining.

Here are five things to watch in the two Wednesday Night Rivalry games:

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Five reasons Wild clinched playoff berth

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

The Minnesota Wild are heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season after clinching a berth Tuesday in a 2-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

It's the first time the Wild have qualified for the playoffs in three straight seasons, the sixth time overall in their 14 seasons. Minnesota is 25-7-2 since Jan. 27.

Here are five reasons the Wild clinched a playoff berth:

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Boudreau knows Ducks playoff expectations are high

Wednesday, 04.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Expert Picks

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Bruce Boudreau's chats with reporters are a little different than those of other coaches at this time of the season.

Instead of talking about jockeying for position for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoreboard watching and desperation, the Anaheim Ducks coach is asked about winning the Presidents' Trophy and resting his top players down the stretch.

It's a familiar scenario for Boudreau, who for the second straight season will follow a successful regular season with high expectations for the playoffs.

Anaheim entered its game Wednesday against the Dallas Stars (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN) leading the Western Conference with 50 wins and 107 points, slightly behind last season’s conference-best and Ducks-record 54 wins and 116 points.

The expectations might be bigger this time around.

"I think they always get higher, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse here," Boudreau said. "Let's win the first round and then we'll talk about winning the second round. I don't think there's anyone in the room that doesn't sit at home and dream about what they would do with the [Stanley] Cup, you know? I mean, that's your boyhood dream.

"But it just so happens there's, right now, probably 20 teams dreaming the same thing every night. It's not like just because we want to win, it's going to happen. We have to go out there and beat other teams."

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Playoff Countdown: Rangers after Presidents' Trophy

Tuesday, 04.07.2015 / 2:02 PM / Expert Picks

NHL.com

Saturday, April 11, marks the conclusion to the 2014-15 regular season. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the countdown to the end of the season and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

There are few certainties when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; however, a regulation win by the New York Rangers on Tuesday will guarantee them home-ice advantage in each series for the entirety of their postseason run.

The Rangers (51-21-7), who have already clinched the Metropolitan Division title, can win the Presidents' Trophy with a road victory against the New Jersey Devils (32-34-13), a team they defeated 6-1 on home ice Saturday. New York then ended the nine-game winning streak of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 4-3 overtime win Monday. The Rangers need one point to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

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Quote of the Day

I mean, any of those 14 teams (in the lottery) it would have been an absolute honor. If I am selected by Edmonton it will be amazing, a dream come true. They have a lot of amazing young players there.

— The presumed first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor McDavid, after the Oilers won the first selection in the 2015 draft at the Draft Lottery on Saturday night