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Flames expect internal upside will sustain success

Saturday, 08.15.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

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

CALGARY -- A 20-point increase in the NHL standings -- the biggest jump among teams in the Western Conference -- and a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2009 signifies progress, but the Calgary Flames aren't satisfied.

"What we're trying to be is a championship team," general manager Brad Treliving said. "We're trying to build a team that has a chance to have long-term success here. ... There's one team at the end of the year that's happy with what they've accomplished. The rest of us are still striving to take steps forward. That's the mode we're in.

"I don't really focus in on rebuilds and what stage of the rebuild. This is about getting better and becoming a good team on a regular basis for a long time. That's the challenge for us."

Flames facing questions about possible regression

Saturday, 08.15.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames were among the bigger surprises in the NHL last season.

In the second full season of a rebuild, the Flames advanced to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years and escaped the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time since winning the Cup in 1989.

With last season's successes come heightened expectations this season.

"The message for our group is no different from last year when we said nobody is expecting a lot from us, we can't pay much attention to it," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. "The same has to hold true where people after last year may say the expectations have risen and the outside expectation for where this group will be is probably a lot different from a year ago."

Here are three questions facing the Flames this season:

Calgary Flames fantasy hockey outlook

Saturday, 08.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

As part of'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: Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau

When healthy, Giordano belongs among the top five fantasy defensemen. During the past two seasons, Giordano has missed 39 games but also has posted .76 points per game, second among defensemen behind Erik Karlsson (.85). He's a possession force who covers rating, penalty minutes and shots on goal. Giordano is coming off a season-ending biceps injury and will share offensive responsibilities with Dougie Hamilton, but Giordano is entering a contract year and is an elite-level starting point for your blue line in the fourth or fifth round.

Burrows backs moves, sees Canucks in playoffs again

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 5:44 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- Alexandre Burrows watched from his suburban Montreal home as his Vancouver Canucks underwent a bit of a makeover this offseason, and he never questioned it.

Now, with training camp about a month away, Burrows said he sees no reason Vancouver can't remain competitive in a tough Western Conference while in the midst of what Canucks president Trevor Linden has called a transition period.

"I put my confidence in our management group of [general manager] Jim Benning and Trevor Linden," Burrows said Tuesday at a charity golf tournament hosted by Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "They're obviously intelligent people with a plan, and last season was the first year of their plan."

Therrien, like GM, defends Canadiens' style, system

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 4:50 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- On July 2, one day after NHL free agency opened, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin met with the media to discuss their moves.

Bergevin was asked about the defensive style of play employed by Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. In response, Bergevin got, well, defensive.

Bergevin fired back at the reporter to identify one aspect of the Canadiens system that makes it so defensive, and claimed the style they play is not much different from the one used by the majority of teams in the NHL.

"What do we do differently than other teams that makes us a defensive team?" Bergevin asked, annoyed with the line of questioning.

During the press conference, Bergevin said he did not feel the Canadiens would be any better off if they allowed 20 more goals in order to score 20 more; he said he feels the lack of offense could be addressed if the power play were to improve on its 16.5 percent success rate of last season.

But at the core -- and Bergevin has repeated this on numerous occasions -- the Canadiens' strength lies in goal with Carey Price and, to a slightly lesser extent, on defense with P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov and Jeff Petry.

If the Canadiens finish 20th in scoring but first in goals allowed, as they did last season, they should be on the winning side more often than not.

The concern is whether Price will be able to repeat the historic season he just completed. If not, will the Canadiens' lack of offense come back to bite them?

This is why the perception the Canadiens use a stifling defensive style persists in Montreal, and six weeks after his general manager faced questions on it, it was Therrien's turn to do the same this week.

Ducks sign forward Hagelin to four-year contract

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 3:13 PM / NHL Free Agency 2015

The Anaheim Ducks signed left wing Carl Hagelin, a restricted free agent, to a four-year contract Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Orange County Register reported it is worth $16 million, an average annual value of $4 million.

The Ducks acquired Hagelin from the New York Rangers along with picks in the second and sixth rounds of the 2015 NHL Draft on June 27 in a trade for left wing Emerson Etem and a second-round pick.

"It was just a matter of finding the right term and the right number," Hagelin said. "They made a commitment to me with a four-year deal. For me, it's the perfect fit. You have some security going into the season feeling wanted and feeling like you can be a big part of the team. It's one of those deals where they're committed to me and I'm committed to them."

Gallagher pleased with Canadiens' additions

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 10:51 AM / NHL Insider

Sean McCullen - Staff Writer

Brendan Gallagher has high hopes for new Montreal Canadiens forwards Alexander Semin and Zack Kassian.

The Canadiens signed Semin to a one-year contract reportedly worth $1.1 million July 24, a little more than three weeks after the Carolina Hurricanes bought out the final three years of the 31-year-old's five-year, $35 million contract.

"Semin is a guy that other teams have to be aware of," Gallagher said Wednesday at his charity softball game at Vancouver's Nat Bailey Stadium. "He's dangerous every time he's on the ice. He doesn't need much time and space to put the puck in the back of the net."

Nugent-Hopkins says Oilers power play will be better

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 9:31 AM / NHL Insider

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins expects the Edmonton Oilers to improve on the power play this season.

The addition of forward Connor McDavid, who was the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, and a successful final 35 games of last season are the 22-year-old center's biggest reasons for optimism.

"I think as the year went on and near the end of the season, we really picked up our power play," Nugent-Hopkins told the Oilers website Thursday. "We started scoring and just had the confidence to go out there and get the job done. For whatever reason, that was something we were lacking at the start of the year.

"With a guy like [McDavid] coming in too, that will ignite us a little more hopefully. We should be a team with a really strong power play and we've got to get back to that."

Bruins hope changes get them back into playoffs

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

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

BOSTON -- It's been an offseason of change for the Boston Bruins, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in eight years.

The first significant change came April 15, when general manager Peter Chiarelli was fired and replaced by assistant GM Don Sweeney. After a couple weeks on the job, Sweeney decided to retain coach Claude Julien and his staff once Sweeney felt comfortable they were on the same page about making the Bruins more aggressive.

"They had teed up some clips in meetings and stuff before I even had a chance to sit with them, where we can get up ice and create a little more anxiety in really all three zones, where we defend the blue line and we create some turnovers and get back on offense," Sweeney said. "I think our breakouts have to have a little more flow to it and our forwards are going to have more ownership to have some guys in motion to be able to get back on offense. And that's going to be a work in progress. That's not something you just change overnight."

Bruins facing questions about gaps in lineup

Friday, 08.14.2015 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- An offseason of change for the Boston Bruins began April 15 with the firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli.

Don Sweeney, who was promoted from assistant GM to replace Chiarelli on May 20, traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Milan Lucic on June 26, then made two moves July 1 aiming to improve Boston's youth and depth and get the Bruins back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs after they failed to qualify for the first time since 2007.

Here are three questions facing the Bruins entering the season:

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Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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