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(Page 23 of 162)
Features

Revamped Sabres set to start climbing standings

Sunday, 08.02.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Joe Yerdon - 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.

BUFFALO -- Things are about to change for the better for the Buffalo Sabres.

The past two seasons were the worst in Sabres history, so it'd be easy to say things can't get worse, but the arrival of the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Boston University center Jack Eichel, has changed the attitude here.

Eichel's arrival, coupled with the eventual debut of forward Evander Kane, who didn't play for the Sabres after he was acquired in a trade from the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11 (shoulder surgery); center Ryan O'Reilly, acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on June 26; and coach Dan Bylsma, has the Buffalo fan base hopeful the organizational rebuild will bring results on the ice.

The Sabres will have a young and talented group of forwards to try to lift an offense that scored an NHL-low 158 goals last season. The addition of Eichel, Kane and O'Reilly to Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons gives Buffalo a youthful core. If Sam Reinhart, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, makes the roster, it would make the Sabres that much younger and add another potential scorer.

Buffalo Sabres 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: Evander Kane

Kane ranks as my highest Sabres player in my offseason fantasy rankings (No. 80 overall) and a change of scenery could do wonders for this talented power forward. Since joining the NHL in 2009, only three other active players have totaled at least 100 goals, 100 assists, 350 penalty minutes and 1,200 shots on goal (Corey Perry, James Neal and Eric Staal). Keep in mind Kane has appeared in at least 42 fewer games than any of the other three. If Kane can stay healthy, he could be in line for a big fantasy season.

Playoff chances among questions facing Oilers

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- With all the changes the Edmonton Oilers made this offseason, there is plenty of uncertainty going into this season.

Reaction to the management shakeup following Edmonton's NHL Draft Lottery win was positive. Many believe the Oilers are heading in the right direction, but to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Oilers need to make up a lot of ground in what is again expected to be a very tough Western Conference.

The Oilers are not the only improved team in the conference, and selecting Connor McDavid with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft will not guarantee success.

Edmonton has proven that having No. 1 picks in the lineup does not automatically translate into victories. The Oilers believed they turned the corner in the past, only to find themselves back near the bottom of the NHL standings.

There are a number of factors that will determine the Oilers' fortunes. Here are the three biggest questions for Edmonton heading into the season:

McDavid, Nurse among Oilers' top five prospects

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- By winning the NHL Draft Lottery, the Edmonton Oilers were able to select the best prospect available, center Connor McDavid.

By virtue of previous first-round picks, the Oilers have other talented players in their system. The hope is, in the near future, those prospects provide a strong supporting cast for McDavid and the other No. 1 picks already on the NHL roster.

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

New leadership adds to Edmonton Oilers optimism

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- When the Edmonton Oilers ended another disappointing season in April, there was little reason for optimism heading toward the next one.

Despite three No. 1 draft picks in the lineup, the Oilers were unable to make headway in the standings and finished 13th in the Western Conference, six points ahead of the last-place Arizona Coyotes.

Edmonton missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, fired coach Dallas Eakins less than a year and a half into a four-year contract, and seemed a long way from respectability.

Under general manager Craig MacTavish, the plan was to stay the course and hope the roster would come of age and lift the Oilers into contention. But the Oilers unexpectedly won the NHL Draft Lottery for the fourth time in six years, resulting in a major management shakeup.

"[The fans] should be excited; there has been a lot of great changes, and they've brought in a lot of great hockey minds," No. 1 pick Connor McDavid said in early July at development camp. "They made a couple of trades and signed a couple of free agents that are very good players. I think there are a lot of reasons to be excited about this franchise moving forward."

Here are four reasons the Oilers should be optimistic:

McDavid, McLellan lead Oilers' offseason overhaul

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

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

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers haven't been among the top NHL teams in recent years, but they are one of the most fortunate.

In April, the Oilers won the NHL Draft Lottery for the fourth time in six years. The prize was Erie Otters center Connor McDavid, who is considered the best player to enter the League since Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby a decade ago.

McDavid fell into the Oilers' lap, and consequently expedited changes to the franchise, which has failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past nine seasons.

Edmonton Oilers fantasy hockey preview

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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: Taylor Hall

Hall had arguably the least productive season of his five-year career in 2014-15 with 14 goals and 38 points in 53 games (.72 points/game). A shooting percentage of 8.9 percent could've had something to do with his low goal total, but health continues to be Hall's biggest question mark. If he can avoid injury, Hall has the potential to be one of the better fantasy performers of the future. With the possibility of playing on a line with rookie Connor McDavid and usual suspect Jordan Eberle, Hall should be in line for a big bounce-back season.

Undervalued: Jordan Eberle

Including his breakout 34-goal, 76-point season in 2011-12, Eberle has 241 points in 287 games (.84 points/game). Those 241 points are tied for 17th most in the NHL during that stretch, and Eberle has proven to be extremely durable as well, missing seven games. Let's also not forget he had 32 points in his final 32 games last season after a tough start. Target Eberle between rounds five and six with hopes he exceeds that draft position by the end of the season.

Matthews seeking redemption for U.S. at 2016 WJC

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- When Ron Wilson watches center Auston Matthews on video, he sees a player already good enough for the NHL.

Wilson, coach of the U.S. National Junior Team, now looks forward to the opportunity of seeing the 17-year-old live and in person during the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center from Aug. 1-8. Matthews and 38 other players are auditioning for a chance to represent their country at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland from Dec. 26, 2015, through Jan. 5, 2016.

"He's only 17 but he can see the ice so well and he moves the puck and goes to the open ice all the time, so I just think he's a player that is ready to play in the NHL," Wilson said. "I'm really looking forward to coaching someone like this."

Wilson sees size, skating ability in U.S. camp invitees

Saturday, 08.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Despite being one of the most heralded coaches in the history of USA Hockey, Ron Wilson has never once had an opportunity to visit the historic Lake Placid Olympic Training Center.

He'll get that chance as coach of the United States National Junior Team when he leads 39 invitees to USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp from Aug. 1-8 here at Lake Placid Olympic Center's 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.

The invitees will be auditioning for spots on the team that will represent the U.S. at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, from Dec. 26, 2015, through Jan. 5, 2016.

"I've never been to Lake Placid, so I'm also looking forward to it," Wilson told NHL.com. "We'll be in the big building, and there's a lot of history there and everybody still talks about the 1980 Olympic team, so we're going to actually be able to live and breathe the same air those guys did, and that's a long time ago.

"That's going to be the fun part for me; that's the same building that Herb Brooks' team played in."

Canada starts U-18 selection camp for Hlinka Cup

Friday, 07.31.2015 / 9:57 PM / 2016 World Junior Championship

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- With Canada's national men's summer under-18 team selection camp underway Friday, coach Stan Butler and his staff are looking to build a roster that will head to Bratislava, Slovakia and Breclav, Czech Republic from August 10-15 in search of an eighth straight gold medal finish at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

"The biggest thing for us right now is to make sure as a group that we pick the right players," Butler said from WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. "It's a short-term competition and we don't have a lot of time for evaluation but once we make the evaluation, we don't have a lot of time for teaching either. Hopefully you pick the right guys and give them what they need to do and you hope the skill takes them the rest of the way."

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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website
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