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Trade deadline clouds on-ice focus for Maple Leafs

Sunday, 03.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

It's nearly over for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

They play one more game, Sunday at the Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET; City, TVA Sports), and then wait to see what general manager Dave Nonis does before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

After that, the endless questions and speculation will come to a temporary end and the Maple Leafs can focus on finishing this difficult season, one that is all but guaranteed to end without a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.

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NHL teams learning from other sports at Sloan

Sunday, 03.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Most hockey fans probably have no idea who Michael Niemeyer is. Many of them probably do know who Shane Battier is.

Niemeyer is the head of match analysis for FC Bayern, one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world. Battier played in the NBA for 13 seasons after a decorated college career at Duke and now works for ESPN.

They were among the featured panelists at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and though it might not seem like they have anything to do with hockey, at this two-day event they can. The conference, in its ninth year, has grown into a massive gathering of analytically-inclined minds from all types of sports.

"It is great. I've been coming here for five years," Washington Capitals assistant general manager Don Fishman said. "It just opens your eyes to what people are doing in other sports, what they're doing, what the themes and trends are. As you can see, the conference has grown immensely in popularity. For our sport in particular, there's not that much content. It is growing, but it is a great eye-opener."

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Antoine Vermette traded to Blackhawks by Coyotes

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 11:33 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

Forward Antoine Vermette was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks by the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday for defenseman Klas Dahlbeck and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Vermette, 32, has played the past four seasons for Arizona. The 11-year veteran also played for the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets, and has 194 NHL goals and 430 points.

"Vermette is a terrific player," Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. "... We took some time to find a deal that made sense to us. ... We're very happy with the return."

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Jagr finds 'new motivation' in debut with Panthers

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 7:47 PM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Wearing a T-shirt and a smile, Jaromir Jagr talked about his Florida Panthers debut in an interview room at BB&T Center that hadn't been used since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jagr didn't have a storybook first game with the Panthers (he was held off the scoresheet against the Buffalo Sabres in a 5-3 win), but all that mattered to him was the result.

"I wish I could score, but it doesn't matter. We won," Jagr said. "It's new motivation. When you come to a new team, you just want the first game to be a victory and I'm happy about that."

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Dubas explains value of hockey analytics at Sloan

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 5:50 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Kyle Dubas was putting the finishing touches on his list of prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft when he noticed a troubling trend.

The ones who played in the IIHF World Junior Championship were, relatively speaking, ranked higher than similar prospects who did not. Dubas found this to be a form of bias, something he was desperately trying to weed out of his rankings.

"Does playing in the world juniors at 17 make you a better prospect than someone that doesn't?" Dubas said during his presentation of "How Analytics has Limited the Impact of Cognitive Bias on Personnel Decisions" at the 2015 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. "I don't think so. I think we know that from years of going through and measuring at different points."

Dubas, whose hire as an assistant general manager by the Toronto Maple Leafs was the highlight of the NHL's "Summer of Analytics" in 2014, spoke for more than 20 minutes Saturday about his experiences as general manager of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

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Panthers trade Fleischmann to Ducks for Heatley, pick

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 4:50 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The Anaheim Ducks acquired forward Tomas Fleischmann from the Florida Panthers on Saturday in a trade for forward Dany Heatley and a third-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

"It has been pretty obvious that we aren't skilled enough," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said, according to the Orange County Register. "He brings skill and smarts."

Fleischmann, 30, has seven goals and 21 points in 50 games this season. He had career highs of 27 goals and 61 points in 2011-12, his first season with the Panthers.

"We did what we had to do, for our case and for Fleischmann,'' Panthers GM Dale Tallon said, according to the Miami Herald. "[Fleischmann] is a real pro, a real good guy. It was all about performance.''

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Capitals acquire Gleason from Hurricanes for Hillen

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 3:44 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

NHL.com

The Washington Capitals acquired defenseman Tim Gleason from the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday in a trade for defenseman Jack Hillen and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

"I'm pretty excited, obviously," Gleason said. "It's a playoff team … so this is real exciting to be in the race. I'm really looking forward to moving along here."

Washington hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. Gleason played against the Capitals for the Hurricanes on Friday in Carolina.

"It's funny how things work, you play these guys last night," Gleason said. "You have some battles on the ice, and words said, and this and that, and low and behold you're playing with those guys the next day.

"I'll be shaking hands with those guys."

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NHL pioneer O'Ree continues to command respect

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has met Willie O'Ree before, but said he hasn't earned the right to address O'Ree on a first-name basis.

"It's Mr. O'Ree," Simmonds said before talking to O'Ree and posing for pictures with him in the Flyers' locker room Saturday. "He's my elder; treat him with respect. … My parents taught me who he was at an early age. I've looked up to him for so long. Going to be a great opportunity to talk to him again."

O'Ree became the first black man to play in the NHL when he made his debut with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 18, 1958. O'Ree said he's proud to be called a pioneer and the Jackie Robinson of professional hockey.

"I never get tired," O'Ree said. "It's the thing that I experienced. When I broke the color barrier in 1958 it seemed to stick with me. The media called me the Jackie Robinson of hockey and I'm very happy to be in the same category of Mr. Robinson. I met Mr. Robinson on two occasions; I met him in 1949 in Brooklyn and I met him again in 1962 when he was the keynote speaker at a luncheon in Los Angeles. … He made a big impact with me. I'm just happy when they say there's Willie O'Ree, he's the Jackie Robinson of hockey."

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Maple Leafs start trip as deadline uncertainty looms

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 1:58 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- The Toronto Maple Leafs left home Friday for a four-game road trip.

None of the players can feel absolutely certain they will be coming back to Toronto anytime soon.

The Maple Leafs play Saturday at the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports) and Sunday at the Washington Capitals before getting a day off in Florida on Monday, the day of the NHL Trade Deadline.

When the clock strikes 3 p.m. ET on Monday, a lot of the speculation and anxiousness will be gone. Until then, it hovers like a black cloud.

"I have a big bag," Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul quipped Saturday when asked if he packed for this trip any differently.

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Ekman-Larsson is Coyotes' foundation moving ahead

Saturday, 02.28.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- It's not totally out of the realm of possibility because nothing is when it comes to trades at this time of the season, but the Arizona Coyotes might have a better chance of storming back into the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference than general manager Don Maloney has of trading all-star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

The Coyotes are 24 points out of a playoff spot and in seller's mode heading into the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. Their hope is to secure some assets and get a good position for the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery in order to enhance their rebuild.

Ekman-Larsson, 23, is the foundation for Arizona's rebuild.

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Quote of the Day

We have no doubt how he can play. You don't, with four teams that are left, you're not getting here without good goaltending. All great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this league and he's shown it.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper on goalie Ben Bishop, who shut out the Rangers in Game 5