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Flyers hit beach to raise funds for military charities

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 7:20 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

STONE HARBOR, N.J. -- Building sandcastles, flying kites and making rafts usually aren't activities associated with hockey players.

But for Philadelphia Flyers prospects attending development camp this week, that's what they were required to do Wednesday during the annual "Trial on the Isle" in this New Jersey beach community.

Their day started with an arm-in-arm walk into the ocean followed by teams of three competing in a race on the beach that featured a few interesting elements. After a Flyers trivia contest and a 16-block run, there were games of horseshoes and paddleball, a kite-building exercise and some physical activity in the sand. After running back to where they started, the prospects had to build a sand sculpture of the Flyers logo.

It was the first time in many years that Scott Laughton, the 20th pick at the 2012 NHL Draft, played in the sand at the beach.

"Maybe I was 4 or 5," he said. "I was usually the guy getting buried in the sand. My brother would always bury me in the sand, and I'd be stuck. Never really built anything like this, so this is cool."

Jackman, Hodgson see Predators' system as good fit

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 3:00 PM / NHL Insider

Robby Stanley - Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators added depth to an already talented roster by signing veteran defenseman Barret Jackman and forward Cody Hodgson on July 1.

Jackman had spent his entire 13-year career with the St. Louis Blues but felt Nashville was the best fit for him when weighing his options during free agency. He wanted to go somewhere where he had a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and that was the biggest part of his decision in moving his family.

"I think just the chance to win right now," Jackman said. "We've talked about the strength of the defense, the best goalie in the League, and a lot of very exciting, young forwards with a good group of older guys too that are playing very well. I think the style of living, too, is a big draw for me and my family."

Blue Jackets' signing shows hockey's growth in Ohio

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 12:58 PM / NHL Insider

Craig Merz - Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The media briefing to introduce the Columbus Blue Jackets' latest signee (no, not Brandon Saad) was attended by the player's Under-18 teammates, his brother, mother, father and another proud "parent."

Ed Gingher, program coordinator and Under-18 coach for the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets, was beaming just as much as Roger and Yuko Sherwood, the parents of Kole Sherwood, who had just agreed to become the first Columbus-born and bred player to sign an NHL contract with the Blue Jackets.

"It's obviously a dream come true to play for the hometown team," Kole Sherwood said Tuesday after he signed an entry-level contract. The 18-year-old is likely to start the season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

Having a player sign with the NHL Blue Jackets has been Gingher's vision since the AAA Blue Jackets were founded 11 years ago to develop elite players in central Ohio.

"It's a special day for Kole and his family, but it's a special day for a lot of young hockey players in Columbus too," Gingher said. "There's been a lot of guys that helped pave the way to get to this point. It's exciting to see the growth that's happened."

Trotz: New-look Caps must prove it on the ice

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 9:54 AM / NHL Insider

The Washington Capitals this offseason have signed a player known for his prowess in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and traded for another who's a proven goal-scorer in the prime of his career.

Despite the additions of forwards Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie, coach Barry Trotz isn't automatically labeling the 2015-16 version of the Capitals as an improvement over the group that took the New York Rangers to overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round last season before being eliminated. Washington held a 3-1 lead in that series.

"We'll have to answer that into next year," Trotz said Tuesday, according to "Just because you bring players in -- in terms of pure talent you think it's an upgrade -- doesn't mean we're going to be a better team because there is a chemistry to it all."

Maple Leafs' Babcock wants Kadri to be elite: report

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 9:10 AM / NHL Insider

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the midst of reshaping their roster, but center Nazem Kadri is expected to be one of their top six forwards. If they're going to win more games than most expect this season, Kadri is going to have to provide offense consistently.

New coach Mike Babcock said that can be the case.

"I expect him to be an elite player," Babcock said of Kadri earlier this week, according to the Toronto Sun. "His training has to match his skill set. That [goes] for all our guys. You can't take the summer off. I expect our best players to be our hardest-working people and set the tone. Flat-out, I've told them that, they understand that. This is a big two and a half months for all of them."

Coyotes confident young, veteran players will mesh

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One Arizona Coyotes fan from Canada wanted to know if the team would consider adding more tasty sweets from home to augment the hugely popular Tim Hortons kiosk at Gila River Arena.

Then there was the yoga instructor who instructed coach Dave Tippett to have his players sit up straight on the bench between shifts so they could take in more oxygen and store more energy.

But after more than an hour of questions from the hundreds of fans who attended the Coyotes' annual Town Hall meeting Tuesday, the final questioner seemed to sum up the sentiments of the room.

Gauthier determined to make Maple Leafs roster

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have been stockpiling smaller, skilled forwards the past few years, but a larger center best known for his defense will take a stab at making their roster this  season.

Frederik Gauthier, 20, helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, then had 16 points in 20 playoff games to help the Rimouski Oceanic win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's President Cup and advance to the Memorial Cup.

Now, he's determined to turn professional.

"My goal this year is to make the team," Gauthier said Tuesday at Maple Leafs development camp at MasterCard Centre. "I think I worked hard last year and the year before and I think I am ready. I'm going to keep working out and improving and try to make the team."

Analysis: Kessel fits better with Malkin than Crosby

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Phil Kessel landed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the biggest trade of the NHL offseason. Now the focus turns to where in the lineup does he fit best.

Should Kessel, one of the game's purest goal scorers, be on a line with Sidney Crosby or with Evgeni Malkin?

That question already has become arguably the most debated topic of the summer.

The way Kessel plays, the Penguins would have a better chance to get the most out of him if he were on a line with Malkin. That's not a knock on Crosby, but there are myriad reasons Kessel and Malkin could, and likely should, work better than a pairing of Kessel and Crosby.

Offseason moves catapult fantasy value of forwards

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

The unrestricted free agent crop didn't include many marquee forwards, but the flurry of offseason trades certainly did.

Several big-name forwards around the NHL changed scenery in recent weeks, setting the table for a summer of speculation about line combinations and fantasy implications. We've seen summer trades pay sizable fantasy dividends in recent years, with no better example being the July 2013 trade that sent Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars.

Seguin, a young role player with the Bruins at the time of the trade, played with Jamie Benn and scored 161 points in 151 games in the next two regular seasons with the Stars. Last season, Scott Hartnell (trade to Columbus Blue Jackets) and Radim Vrbata (signed by Vancouver Canucks) finished among the top 50 fantasy forwards after moving to new teams.

Beleskey, Hayes eager to help rejuvenate Bruins

Tuesday, 07.07.2015 / 7:57 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Five days after the Boston Bruins traded forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings, they signed unrestricted free agent forward Matt Beleskey.

The timing of those moves was impossible to ignore because Lucic was the Bruins' main source of physicality and offensive production at left wing for most of the past eight seasons, and Beleskey was coming off a 22-goal season while playing a similar role for the Anaheim Ducks.

But Beleskey said Tuesday he doesn't expect to be the next Milan Lucic.

"There's pressure, but I think I put more pressure on myself at the start of every year to be better than I was last year," he said at TD Garden. "You know they had big losses. I suppose those are moves they had to make. But I don't think I'm here to fill anyone's spot. I'm here to be Matt Beleskey and play my game. And that's what I'm going to do."

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