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2014 NHL Draft
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Kingston's Bennett rises to top of midterm rankings

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 10:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

CSS 2014 MIDTERM RANKINGS

NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr acknowledged that while the 2014 NHL Draft will certainly have its share of high-caliber players, there remains no clear front-runner as the top pick at this point in the season.

Still, after tireless deliberation and constructive debate at Central Scouting's midterm meetings that concluded Jan. 7, one player had to be deemed the No. 1 skater.

That early honor belongs to center Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs.

The 6-foot-0.25, 178-pound left-handed shot ranks fourth in the Ontario Hockey League with 66 points (26 goals, 40 assists) in 40 games. At this juncture Central Scouting believes he is the top North American player available for the 2014 draft, which will be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

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Familiar surnames top list of draft-eligible Euro talent

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 10:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The European contingent eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft looks to be a very enticing group.

Leading the way is Kasperi Kapanen (6-foot, 180 pounds) of KalPa in SM-liiga, Finland's top professional league. He has four goals and eight points in 28 games, and also earned the top ranking from NHL Central Scouting in its midterm ranking of the top European prospects for the 2014 draft.

"He's a good-skating wing and can also play center," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "He has a smooth and surprisingly fast style that has surprised many unsuspecting defensemen. His tricky puck skills and quick release have paid off in many games and he has good hand-eye coordination. He's not overly physical but does not shy away from rough situations."

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Daily Primer Jan. 13: Maurice to make Jets debut

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

A five-game losing streak cost Claude Noel his job as Winnipeg Jets coach Sunday. Now it's up to Paul Maurice to turn things around.

Maurice, who has coached more than 1,000 games in the NHL, will make his debut as Jets coach Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes at MTS Centre. He last coached in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes and guided them to the Eastern Conference Final in 2009.

"I believe that having Paul coaching our group is going to help push us, and I mean us as [in] our management staff as well," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "There are going to be some outside eyes coming in critically evaluating our roster and that's going to help us make decisions moving forward."

Here's a closer look at the action Monday:

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Harvard's Donato hopes for return to NCAA tourney

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / On Campus

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Harvard University coach Ted Donato already had a storybook career by the time he retired as a player in 2004. A Massachusetts native, he won a national championship at Harvard before playing 13 seasons in the NHL, the first seven with his hometown Boston Bruins.

After spending most of his final season back with the Bruins, Donato was offered a unique opportunity to come back where it all began. Now in his 10th season as the coach at Harvard, the 1992 Olympian has seen some highs and lows in molding the Crimson into a hardworking, competitive squad.

Donato couldn't imagine being anywhere else, even if coming back to campus wasn't initially part of the plan.

"It certainly wasn't a designed plan," said Donato, who took over the Crimson in 2004 after Mark Mazzoleni stepped down to take a job coaching the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. "But I'm glad it worked out that way."


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Stars rookie Nichushkin earns Olympic nod

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Heading into the 2013 NHL Draft, the word most commonly associated with Russian prospect Valeri Nichushkin was "if."

If he could just adapt to the smaller ice surface.

If he could overcome the culture shock of coming to North America.

If he could find a way to get out of his contract in the Kontinental Hockey League.

That skepticism caused the talented Chelyabinsk native to fall to No. 10, where the Dallas Stars selected him. From that moment on, Dallas brass vowed to give the enigmatic Russian a chance to make the team for the start of the 2013-14 season.

Still, no one expected what the 6-foot-4, 18-year-old right wing has delivered his rookie season.

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With draft's importance, Prospects Game is pivotal

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

CALGARY -- Calgary native and former NHL player Tim Hunter said he knows just how important the NHL Draft has become during the past decade.

Following a 16-year career with the Flames, Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, Hunter served as an assistant coach for three NHL teams. He's seen many top players drafted and develop into NHL stars while others struggle to rekindle that magic they once had as juniors.

"You can't make a mistake and take a flyer on someone with the hope he'll be a player," Hunter said. "You have to be precise on your positions at the draft."

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Analysis: Goal prevention led to Noel's downfall

Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 3:56 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

When the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets, the franchise came to Manitoba with a collection of young, offensively gifted players and a penchant for yielding far too many goals to be a successful NHL team.

When Claude Noel was hired as the first coach of the Jets version 2.0, one of his objectives had to be to help these young players keep the puck out of their own net. Two-and-a-half seasons into Noel's tenure, goal prevention remained the greatest roadblock to the franchise's success, and it is the reason for the end of his time as Winnipeg's coach.

The Jets have allowed 141 goals in 47 games this season, which puts them tied for 25th in the League in goals against per contest. Winnipeg was tied for 24th at 2.94 goals per game last season and 26th at 2.95 per contest two seasons ago.

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With Noel gone, scrutiny shifts to Jets players

Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 3:05 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets' firing of coach Claude Noel and hiring of veteran NHL boss Paul Maurice jolted the dressing room of a team that has lost five straight games and sits in last place in the Central Division.

Noel took the job after the team relocated from Atlanta in 2011 and is the franchise's third coach to have been replaced since the start of the 2008-09 season, joining John Anderson and Craig Ramsay.

"I think it always comes as a shock," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Sunday at the team's practice facility. "I don't think anyone expected it [Sunday] morning. It's not an easy day. Good people lose their job. Ultimately it came down to the performance of the people in [the dressing room]."

The Jets have received the message that if they do not recover with Maurice behind the bench, some of them will join Noel as ex-members of the organization.

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Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets