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Features

Blackhawks face questions about top line, salary cap

Sunday, 08.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It's been another offseason of change for the Chicago Blackhawks following a Stanley Cup championship.

As was the case in the summer of 2010, the NHL salary cap has forced the Blackhawks to overhaul their roster. Chicago's talent and leadership have been pared through trades and departures in free agency, and more losses could happen before the start of the season.

Here are three questions facing the Blackhawks:

Core veterans, new talent keep Blackhawks optimistic

Sunday, 08.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks once again will defend their Stanley Cup championship without several of the key players who helped them win it.

It will be the third time they go through this scenario, though the challenge looks even more daunting this season. They've lost a lot of talent and championship experience in their latest effort to negotiate the NHL salary cap. However, recent history alone suggests the Blackhawks have a solid chance to repeat as champions.

Here are four reasons for the Blackhawks to be optimistic:

Blackhawks counting on new players to defend Cup

Sunday, 08.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Brian Hedger - 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.

CHICAGO -- The more things change with the Chicago Blackhawks, the harder their front office works to attain the same results.

The Blackhawks have proven during the past seven seasons that sustained success is possible in a salary-cap system, but only for teams that continually prepare for offseason roster turnover.

It helps to have a core group of elite players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to build around, as Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman does in Chicago, but that alone won't win anything. Bowman has built the Blackhawks' past two championship teams after parting with established role players and replacing them with players who have thrived in those supporting roles.

"I think change is good, and I think we've embraced that in the past and been able to bring in some players that now are household names … but at one point they were new," Bowman said. "It's going to be the same thing for some of the new guys that are part of this group next year. They might be new to the fans and media, but as you'll see in time, I think we're really going to fall in love with some of these guys."

Chicago Blackhawks 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: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews

Kane had easily been one of the best fantasy performers in the game last season prior to missing 21 games because of a broken clavicle sustained Feb. 24. He finished the season with 27 goals, 37 assists, a plus-10 rating, 10 penalty minutes, 22 power-play points and 186 shots on goal in 61 games. Even with the missed time, Kane still finished as the 53rd best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. Over the past six seasons, Kane has 415 points in 414 games. His 1.002 points per game ranks seventh during that time. He hasn't finished with a rating worse than plus-7 over that span and while the penalty minutes category will never be his strength, he continues to be a dominant force on the power play (averaging 26 PPP per 82-game season over past six seasons). Looking ahead to this season, Kane is a surefire first-round draft pick and one of the few players capable of posting point-per-game statistics.

Lightning's Stamkos hits, fields with Blue Jays

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 5:38 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

When it comes to baseball, Steven Stamkos would rather play defense.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain worked out with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, taking infield and batting practice prior to their game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.

"I think I was more excited to field the balls than to hit them," Stamkos told The Canadian Press. "I've taken BP before, but to actually get on the field and field balls and throw them, that was pretty fun."

Spezza says Stars improved by adding 'great pedigree'

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 5:07 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza was excited to see the acquisitions of forward Patrick Sharp, defenseman Johnny Oduya and goaltender Antti Niemi, knowing their skill and experience could help the Stars reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A year ago, the talk was that Spezza's arrival in Dallas after a trade with the Ottawa Senators was supposed to help the Stars advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Instead they missed the postseason for the sixth time in seven seasons.

Spezza said this week he hopes the players from last season learned a few things that will help them in this one.

Coyotes forward Domi: 'I just want to make the team'

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi, preparing for his third NHL training camp, has learned to set his priorities.

"I just want to make the team," Domi told the Coyotes website this week. "I'm not looking too far ahead. There's a lot of young guys here that are trying to come in and earn a spot too."

Domi, the 12th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, was one of the final players cut by the Coyotes the past two seasons.

Tampa Bay Lightning fantasy hockey outlook

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - 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: Steven Stamkos

Stamkos bounced back from an injury-shortened 2013-14 season by scoring 40-plus goals (43, second in NHL) for the fourth time of his career to go along with 25 power-play points (T-17th) and 268 shots on goal (9th). While those are impressive numbers, 72 points in 82 games is a big drop-off compared to his 90-plus points in three straight seasons earlier in his career.

'Triplets' line, Yzerman have Lightning optimistic

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning were close to winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in their history last season, but a combination of injuries, exhaustion and the dynasty of the Chicago Blackhawks kept them from their ultimate goal.

With strong goaltending, a skilled young core and effective leadership in the front office, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for 2015-16, especially if captain Steven Stamkos signs a contract extension before the season gets underway Oct. 8 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Here are four reasons for the Lightning to be optimistic:

Gudlevskis, Point among Lightning's top 5 prospects

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning stockpiled young talent at the start of the decade and saw many of their top prospects graduate to the NHL over the past two years.

But with nine picks at the 2015 NHL Draft and good reports on players drafted in 2013 and 2014, there's plenty of high-end talent coming through the system, including 2015 third-round pick Dennis Yan (No. 64).

Jonathan Marchessault, 24, and Matthew Peca, 22, who are hoping to make the Lightning roster out of training camp, didn't make the top prospects list this year. That alone should speak to the strength of the young players in the organization.

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

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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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