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Features

Marner, Kapanen among Maple Leafs' top 5 prospects

Tuesday, 08.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are committed to building through the draft, so when they traded forward Phil Kessel this summer, it was important to get a first-round pick and a quality prospect (Kasperi Kapanen) from the Pittsburgh Penguins in return.

That trade came days after the Maple Leafs selected center Mitchell Marner in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft, and one year after they selected another center, William Nylander, with their top pick.

Marner, Nylander and Kapanen are smaller players who are highly skilled. The Maple Leafs, traditionally one of the NHL's bigger teams, have put an emphasis on skill over size in recent drafts.

Despite missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons, Toronto is committed to not rushing its top prospects.

"We want our prospects to be ready for full-time employment when we call them up," assistant general manager Kyle Dubas said. "We don't want them to be going back and forth from the Maple Leafs to the minors."

Here is a look at the Maple Leafs' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Maple Leafs hope shakeup yields improvement

Tuesday, 08.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

TORONTO -- Brendan Shanahan hopes reshaping the Toronto Maple Leafs front office and coaching staff will lead to a better on-ice product in the near future.

Shanahan's two major offseason moves were hiring Mike Babcock as coach May 20 and Lou Lamoriello as general manager July 23.

Babcock, 52, spent the past 10 seasons coaching the Detroit Red Wings. Under Babcock, the Red Wings made the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year, won the Cup in 2008 and made it to the Final the following year. Shanahan is so convinced Babcock is the man for the job in Toronto that he signed him to an eight-year contract reportedly worth $50 million.

Babcock's arrival brings optimism to Maple Leafs

Tuesday, 08.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a transition phase, and it is clear there will be no quick fixes after they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons. President Brendan Shanahan and new coach Mike Babcock have preached patience as they take their first steps toward trying to construct a winning team.

With sweeping changes this summer, including a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2015-16 Maple Leafs will bear little resemblance to recent editions. Considering they've made the playoffs once since 2004, it's a welcomed fresh start.

Here are four reasons for optimism:

Offense, goaltending among Maple Leafs questions

Tuesday, 08.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have a new coach and a new general manager as they try to rebound from a season that saw them finish 30 points out of a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With Mike Babcock behind the bench and Lou Lamoriello in the general manager's chair, second-year team president Brendan Shanahan is going all-in on his makeover of the Maple Leafs, who have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2004 and haven't won the Cup since 1967.

Here are three questions about the Maple Leafs moving forward:

Toronto Maple Leafs fantasy hockey outlook

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: James van Riemsdyk

My top-rated Maple Leafs player comes in at No. 100 overall in my offseason rankings. Over the past three seasons van Riemsdyk has scored 75 goals, good for 16th most in the NHL during that time. He is a talented player and he can score. No one is denying that. The question is, now that Phil Kessel has been traded, who is he going to play on a line with this season? Van Riemsdyk is certainly capable of scoring 25-plus goals and having 250-plus shots for a third consecutive season even without Kessel, but I'm not sure he'll help fantasy owners in any other category. Look to grab him as rounds 8-9 approach, but use caution.

Undervalued: Morgan Rielly

Rielly delivered more than anyone could've expected entering his second NHL season as a 20-year-old. He finished with eight goals, 21 assists, nine power-play points and 148 shots on goal in 81 games. Now entering his third season, Rielly could make the jump to the next level for fantasy defenseman, granted the level is still that of a No. 5 type fantasy blueliner. Rielly is loaded with potential and he's already put together quite a highlight reel in his short NHL tenure, but like van Riemsdyk, there just isn't much talent on the roster to work with. Along with Dion Phaneuf, Rielly should be one of the Maple Leafs' top power-play threats from the blue line, and if all goes well he could eclipse 35 points.

Last year's late cuts motivated to make Canada

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 6:25 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- The sting still resonates for New York Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle.

It remains as painful as the day he, forwards Rourke Chartier and Jason Dickinson, and defenseman Haydn Fleury were the final cuts for Canada prior to last year's World Junior Championship.

Canada won the tournament for the first time since 2009, and Dal Colle watched and wondered.

"I was rooting for them," Dal Colle said this week at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park. "I was happy for a lot of my friends that I grew up playing with. There was a ton on that championship team. I was very happy for them. But it was tough; I can't lie, being so close. And the goal as a kid is to play in that gold-medal game. Hopefully I get the chance this year."

Dal Colle is one of 39 players at this year's Canada national junior team summer development camp, along with Fleury and Chartier.

"We always talk to guys, and there's no better way to learn than to live it," said Canada coach Dave Lowry, who was an assistant last year. "Those guys have lived through the disappointment, and you hope they take it and channel it the right way and come out and prove to us they're worthy of a spot this year."

Ruggiero recalls journey to U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 2:12 PM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

Growing up in California, Angela Ruggiero had limited opportunities to play hockey. Moving to Michigan changed that, and as a result, Ruggiero had one of the most successful careers of all time.

"I grew up loving hockey and my family loves hockey," said Ruggiero, who was announced as a member of the 2015 United States Hockey Hall of Fame class Monday. "Fortunately, I found hockey at a very young age when I was 7 when there wasn't a lot of it in the state of California. … My family moved to Michigan in 1996 for my brother's hockey. My brother and I would train in the summertime. We'd go to different rinks, wherever we could find ice and join summer leagues. Because hockey was so popular in Detroit relative to California, I think I really benefitted."

Ruggiero, 35, was a key player on the United States women's team that won the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The defenseman was the youngest player on that team, at 18, a senior attending prep school in Connecticut.

Johansson poised to play larger role with Capitals

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 1:38 PM / NHL Insider

Katie Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Expectations for Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson will be high this season.

On Friday, an arbitrator awarded him a one-year, $3.75 million contract. Johansson, taken by Washington with the 24th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, scored a career-high 20 goals and 47 points last season.

"It's going to be more competitive on the team this year, with a deeper top six, and you're going to have to play well and compete hard to keep your job just like everyone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Monday. "Hopefully it's a competitive environment and the whole team will benefit from it."

Drury, Schneider head U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 12:44 PM / U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Chris Drury, Mathieu Schneider, Angela Ruggiero and Ron DeGregorio will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, it was announced by USA Hockey on Monday.

The 43rd U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinement dinner and ceremony will be held in Boston on Dec. 17.

The NHL's Lester Patrick Trophy, awarded annually for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, also will be presented.

Resurgence of Smith big question for Coyotes

Monday, 08.03.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

David Satriano - NHL.com Staff Writer

Since reaching the Western Conference Final in 2012, the Arizona Coyotes have not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and bottomed out last season with the second-worst record in the NHL.

But general manager Don Maloney believes a return to better days is not far away.

Here are three questions that could bring them back sooner rather than later:

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Quote of the Day

I'm a hockey player and that's what I love to do. That is what I am here for. Everything else is just a side note.

— Oilers forward Connor McDavid on moving beyond the anticipation of his long-awaited arrival in the NHL
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