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Features

Blues forward Sobotka awarded one-year contract

Monday, 07.21.2014 / 10:29 AM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Vladimir Sobotka
Left Wing - STL
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 33
SOG: 102 | +/-: 14
Forward Vladimir Sobotka was awarded a one-year contract through arbitration Monday, the St. Louis Blues announced. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports he will receive $2.725 million for the season he returns to the NHL.

Sobotka will play with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League in 2014-15.

"We are looking forward to having Vladimir in a Blues uniform when he returns to the NHL," general manager Doug Armstrong said. "We wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season."

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Rebuilding Sabres boast size, skill in young forwards

Monday, 07.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- If there's a saying that might become popular in Buffalo in coming seasons, it's "Youth is king."

The players taking part in Buffalo Sabres development camp make up the foundation of the organizational rebuild that's underway. All positions feature players the Sabres expect to become NHL players, in some cases great ones.

A major key to the future comes from the forwards they've collected through the draft and trades, and the spotlight is on Sam Reinhart, taken with the No. 2 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.

His big season with Kootenay in the Western Hockey League, when he had 36 goals and 105 points, has fans hoping he'll be in the Sabres' opening-night lineup. It's a challenge he's ready to take on.

"The biggest thing for this week was getting comfortable with it," Reinhart said. "Obviously it's another step up when the next training camp comes around, so I think the biggest thing is pace of play, and obviously that's something I've been working on for some time, so it was pretty good to get in here and experience that."

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Ekblad learns lessons from Panthers prospect camp

Monday, 07.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- After Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad wrapped up his first professional development camp, the first pick in the 2014 NHL Draft wasn't quite sure what was next on his agenda.

Perhaps he would attend a camp in Cape Cod conducted by Panthers skating and skills coach Paul Vincent. Or maybe he would stay in Ontario and focus on off-ice training.

Either way, Ekblad is going to be working. The development camp provided him with an idea of what it would take to earn a spot on Florida's roster in training camp and he'll spend the rest of the summer with that thought in mind.

"I loved it," Ekblad said after development camp ended. "I had a lot of fun from the very beginning, learning quite a few pretty important lessons I can take into the rest of the summer. Obviously I still have a lot of hard work to go through to make this team in September."

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Jordan Schmaltz asserting himself with Blues

Sunday, 07.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Leading up to the 2014 NHL Draft, brothers Jordan Schmaltz and Nick Schmaltz visualized a scenario of playing in the NHL together.

Jordan was a 2012 first-round pick (No. 25) of the St. Louis Blues; Nick was the anxious little brother awaiting his turn as the 2014 draft took place at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in June.

The Blues were searching for forwards, so the younger Schmaltz, a center/right wing who most recently played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, would have been a perfect fit alongside his brother.

There will be an NHL reunion one day, but it will likely involve Jordan and Nick competing as adversaries in one of the best rivalries in the game.

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Kapanen wows Penguins brass at development camp

Saturday, 07.19.2014 / 7:20 PM / NHL Insider

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Kasperi Kapanen understands any expectations of making the Pittsburgh Penguins opening-night roster could be unrealistic, but the forward is prepared to defy the odds.

Kapanen, Pittsburgh's first-round pick (No. 22) in the 2014 NHL Draft, skated at Consol Energy Center for the first time this week during Penguins development camp. The 17-year-old began the week frustrated by his lack of game-ready legs.

By the time camp ended, Kapanen said he felt there was room for significant improvement, but he is ready to compete when Pittsburgh opens training camp in September.

"I'm still not at the top of my game. I haven't been on the ice this summer at all before this," Kapanen said. "So it's been hard for me. But this week, it's been fun to be on the ice and being on the ice with these guys. It felt good, I felt good with the puck. I think I made some good plays.

"[Being prepared for training camp] is going to be tough. It's going to be tough, but I'm ready. I think I'm up for the challenge. I know some people might doubt me, but I'm just going to bring everything to the table and hopefully make the team."

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Rangers agree to terms with forward Stempniak

Saturday, 07.19.2014 / 1:23 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with right wing Lee Stempniak, the team announced Saturday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but multiple media outlets are reporting it's a one-year contract worth $900,000.

Stempniak, 31, played 73 games last season with the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins. He had 12 goals, 22 assists and 32 penalty minutes.

Stempniak began the season with Calgary and had a point in nine of his first 10 games. After being traded to Pittsburgh for a third-round draft pick, he made his Penguins debut on March 6 and had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) and a plus-5 rating in 21 games. He had two goals and one assist for the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Jets sign forwards Albert, Cormier, O'Dell

Saturday, 07.19.2014 / 12:47 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

The Winnipeg Jets agreed to terms with forwards John Albert, Patrice Cormier and Eric O'Dell, the team announced Saturday.

Albert, 25, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $585,000. Last season, he played in nine games for Winnipeg and scored in his NHL debut against the New York Rangers on Dec. 2.

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Move to Blackhawks a new challenge for Richards

Saturday, 07.19.2014 / 12:07 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Brad Richards is just getting to know the Chicago Blackhawks, so forgive him if his approach is still a little formal.

After signing a one-year contract with the Blackhawks on July 1 reportedly worth 2 million, the veteran center is meeting most of his new teammates this weekend at the Seventh Annual Blackhawks Fan Convention.

The event, hosted at the Chicago Hilton, drew an estimated 10,000 fans to the International Ballroom on Friday evening to watch Richards and other Blackhawks low-five their way down a fashion runway during the opening ceremonies.

"It's overwhelming trying to think of all these names I've got already," said Richards, whose contract was bought out by the New York Rangers this offseason. "I guess if you're going to come to a new team, this is a way to meet the whole organization. I've been here since Wednesday and it's been a lot of fun."

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Bardreau focused on Cornell, then picking NHL team

Saturday, 07.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Cole Bardreau is having a better summer this year than last.

That's not surprising, considering one year ago he was recovering from a broken neck he sustained from an illegal check playing for Cornell against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

This summer the forward is touring NHL development camps. Bardreau participated in Detroit Red Wings prospect camp early in July and spent time at Boston Bruins development camp.

Summer camps like those are important to a player who was passed over in the NHL Draft a few times and will be a free agent when his college career is complete.

"I've been joking around with some of the guys," Bardreau said. "You think you're prepared and then you come in here and you're huffing and puffing. So I think it just shows you that you have to get to that next level. Especially going to two camps for two weeks, I think that helps you get in shape and be just that much more ready when it comes to season time. So a lot of people have slower starts, it takes them a few games to get going, and that's kind of tough for college guys when you don't play so many games. So I think that it kind of helps you be in shape right away and ready to go."

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Defenseman Kulikov signs with Panthers

Friday, 07.18.2014 / 10:52 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Restricted free agent defenseman Dmitry Kulikov signed a three-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Friday. Financial terms were not released, but TSN reported the total value to be $13 million.

"He has so much ability and this is a fair contract, it's what what guys around the League are getting paid," general manager Dale Tallon told the Miami Herald. "Now it's time for him to make a statement and be a leader on our team. He has all the ability in the world. He just has to channel it in the right direction.

"We're happy to have him in the fold. He's a great kid, still a young guy. He has tremendous ability. It's hard to find those guys."

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