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Features

Sedin scoring, Miller among Canucks' five questions

Tuesday, 08.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks are pledging to prove last season's plummet to 25th place in the NHL standings was a one-year, rock-bottom blip and not the continuation of a downward trend that started in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a new management structure, a new coach and a handful of changes on the ice, the Canucks refused to contemplate a full rebuild and instead insisted their aging core can get them back to the postseason in a tough Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

The answers to these five questions will determine their chances of doing so:

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Canucks counting on Bonino as second-line center

Tuesday, 08.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

If Nick Bonino had any doubts about how the Vancouver Canucks really felt about him, they should have ended as soon as he saw the behind-the-scenes footage the team released of management discussing the trade that brought him to Vancouver in exchange for Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler.

Bonino, who was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks along with defenseman Luca Sbisa and the 24th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft that Vancouver used to select Jared McCann, didn't go looking for the clip. He couldn't avoid it either.

"My grandpa is 91 and he's on the Internet all the time and he's my biggest fan, so he called me up and told me about it right away," Bonino said.

In the video, general manager Jim Benning talks about Bonino potentially scoring 20 goals for the Canucks, making other players better with his passing, and mentions that new coach Willie Desjardins wants and really likes him.

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With quick changes, Canucks expect playoff return

Tuesday, 08.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

For a Vancouver Canucks fan base used to the slow, calculated -- critics would say dithering -- approach of former general manager Mike Gillis, this summer must have felt like a bungee jump into NHL team-building.

A little more than one month after taking over as general manager, Jim Benning hired coach Willie Desjardins and four days later began retooling an aging roster that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons. By mid-July, the Canucks had four new forward lines, at least one new defense pairing, and a new No. 1 goaltender.

Benning granted center Ryan Kesler's request with a trade to the Anaheim Ducks at the 2014 NHL Draft, avoiding the two-year soap opera that accompanied a similar move for goaltender Roberto Luongo. For Kesler, the Canucks acquired a potential second-line replacement center (Nick Bonino), a depth defenseman (Luca Sbisa), and a second first-round pick (used to select center Jared McCann).

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Five Q's: Lightning's Bishop close to 100 percent

Tuesday, 08.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday during the regular season and every other Tuesday in the offseason. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

Ben Bishop
Goalie - TBL
RECORD: 37-14-7
GAA: 2.23 | SVP: .924
The latest edition features Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop:

Ben Bishop still can't quite believe the freaky way last season abruptly ended for him.

"It's just crazy to even think about how it happened," the Lightning goalie said last week.

It was early in the first period April 8 against the Toronto Maple Leafs when Bishop went to catch the puck in a routine way. As he was falling to the ice he put out his left arm to brace himself. He landed hard, felt his elbow lock, and immediately knew his season was over.

Bishop said he dislocated his elbow and tore ligaments in it. His season was over and the Lightning weren't too far behind. Without Bishop, who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, Tampa Bay was swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference First Round.


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Horvat paces list of Canucks' top 10 prospects

Tuesday, 08.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With a new general manager in Jim Benning and a new coach in Willie Desjardins, it could be time for the Vancouver Canucks to infuse some new faces into the lineup.

"If young players come in and they earn a spot on the team and they deserve to be on the team then we'll make room for them," Benning said. That'll be a non-issue. If they're ready to play and ready to help the team win, we'll find a way for them to play."

Here's a look at the Canucks' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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Paul Stastny eager to be a winner in his hometown

Monday, 08.25.2014 / 9:58 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Paul Stastny is not one for taking strolls down memory lane.

The St. Louis Blues' new center isn't one to make bold predictions either. Stastny certainly wasn't going to predict that he would one day suit up in the city where he spent much of his childhood.

But like many who consider it a dream to play in their hometown, Stastny is living out his dream now, and for at least the next four seasons.

"God has a plan for myself, and whatever it is I take it in stride and I'm happy with the situation I'm in right now," said Stastny, who was formally introduced Monday evening at Fox Sports Midwest Live! inside Ballpark Village, which is just north of Busch Stadium, home of baseball's St. Louis Cardinals.

Paul Stastny
Center - STL
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 35 | PTS: 60
SOG: 150 | +/-: 9
"I was just excited about playing juniors, then from juniors to playing college," said the 28-year-old Stastny, who was eight when his father, Hockey Hall of famer Peter Stastny, played for the Blues. "I didn't care where I got drafted. I got drafted, I was excited to keep developing as a player, then I got to Colorado and I was excited. I never looked that far down the road. That's the way I've always been. You can never really hope for stuff like that."

Stastny, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Blues after spending the first eight seasons of his NHL career with the Central Division rival Colorado Avalanche, grew up in St. Louis, where Peter Stastny concluded his career with the Blues in 1995.


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Nichushkin, Horton power Cubeta's fantasy sleepers

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

With few exceptions, the majority of top-tier players are established and well-known to the common fantasy owner. Though those players are integral components of a championship team, under-the-radar options with high potential -- better known as sleepers -- can pay huge dividends in fantasy leagues.

Whether drafted or added off waivers, these players typically are undervalued on draft day but ultimately can become major fantasy commodities by season's end. Sleepers are extremely unpredictable every season, but the bottom line is these players end up outperforming everyone’s expectations, regardless of their age, team or position.

This week, NHL.com fantasy insiders Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen and Matt Sitkoff take in-depth looks at underrated players who should be on your fantasy team's radar entering drafts. Each expert will provide 10 sleeper picks with corresponding stat projections (in order of preference), along with five additional candidates for fantasy owners to keep an eye on.

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Expect young players to impact Flames lineup

Monday, 08.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

If 2013-14 was the first full season of a comprehensive rebuild, the Calgary Flames found some individual positives amid a lack of group success.

Forward Sean Monahan made the team in his draft year and looks like a keeper, even if he struggled at times after a hot start. Forward Mikael Backlund and defenseman Mark Giordano had great seasons, even if their work was overshadowed by the lack of wins.

There is a new general manager in charge, Brad Treliving, and as long as Brian Burke is part of the management group it might be hard to see the Flames in rebuilding mode for long. There were a few offseason additions to the roster, but top scorer Mike Cammalleri is gone, and the Flames will be picked to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference again.

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Progress, goalie among Flames' five questions

Monday, 08.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames will look to continue the rebuild which began last season.

How the Flames are able to do so, and how Calgary defines its success in 2014-15, are among five questions they'll be looking to answer this season:

1. Can the Flames take positive steps forward? -- The Flames finished 27th in the NHL standings last season with 77 points, but there were plenty of reasons for optimism. In the first year of a rebuild, the Flames fielded a competitive team which tied an NHL record for games decided by one goal (49).

Though new general manager Brad Treliving isn't necessarily measuring success in wins and points, progress remains a necessity.

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Sophomore season next hurdle for Flames' Monahan

Monday, 08.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan is aware the temperature is going to be turned up in his sophomore season. The 19-year-old wouldn't have it any other way.

After a 22-goal season -- the most by a Flames rookie since 1989-90 and one more than a fresh-faced Jarome Iginla scored in 1996-97 -- Monahan is ready for bigger challenges.

"I think there will be more pressure this year," Monahan said. "There's an expectation now. I have to be better than last year. That's something I want to do and something I've worked really hard on over the summer to be ready for that.

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure