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Features

Lightning's Stamkos hits, fields with Blue Jays

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 5:38 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

When it comes to baseball, Steven Stamkos would rather play defense.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain worked out with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, taking infield and batting practice prior to their game against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre.

"I think I was more excited to field the balls than to hit them," Stamkos told The Canadian Press. "I've taken BP before, but to actually get on the field and field balls and throw them, that was pretty fun."

Spezza says Stars improved by adding 'great pedigree'

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 5:07 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza was excited to see the acquisitions of forward Patrick Sharp, defenseman Johnny Oduya and goaltender Antti Niemi, knowing their skill and experience could help the Stars reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A year ago, the talk was that Spezza's arrival in Dallas after a trade with the Ottawa Senators was supposed to help the Stars advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Instead they missed the postseason for the sixth time in seven seasons.

Spezza said this week he hopes the players from last season learned a few things that will help them in this one.

Coyotes forward Domi: 'I just want to make the team'

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi, preparing for his third NHL training camp, has learned to set his priorities.

"I just want to make the team," Domi told the Coyotes website this week. "I'm not looking too far ahead. There's a lot of young guys here that are trying to come in and earn a spot too."

Domi, the 12th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, was one of the final players cut by the Coyotes the past two seasons.

Tampa Bay Lightning fantasy hockey outlook

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com'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: Steven Stamkos

Stamkos bounced back from an injury-shortened 2013-14 season by scoring 40-plus goals (43, second in NHL) for the fourth time of his career to go along with 25 power-play points (T-17th) and 268 shots on goal (9th). While those are impressive numbers, 72 points in 82 games is a big drop-off compared to his 90-plus points in three straight seasons earlier in his career.

'Triplets' line, Yzerman have Lightning optimistic

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning were close to winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in their history last season, but a combination of injuries, exhaustion and the dynasty of the Chicago Blackhawks kept them from their ultimate goal.

With strong goaltending, a skilled young core and effective leadership in the front office, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for 2015-16, especially if captain Steven Stamkos signs a contract extension before the season gets underway Oct. 8 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Here are four reasons for the Lightning to be optimistic:

Gudlevskis, Point among Lightning's top 5 prospects

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning stockpiled young talent at the start of the decade and saw many of their top prospects graduate to the NHL over the past two years.

But with nine picks at the 2015 NHL Draft and good reports on players drafted in 2013 and 2014, there's plenty of high-end talent coming through the system, including 2015 third-round pick Dennis Yan (No. 64).

Jonathan Marchessault, 24, and Matthew Peca, 22, who are hoping to make the Lightning roster out of training camp, didn't make the top prospects list this year. That alone should speak to the strength of the young players in the organization.

Here is a look at the Lightning's top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

New contract for Stamkos big question for Lightning

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have their entire core group back after advancing to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, but that doesn't mean they don't have questions entering this season.

The Lightning's top concern is signing captain Steven Stamkos to a new contract; the 2015-16 season is the final one of the five-year contract he signed July 19, 2011, and he can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2016.

Here are three questions facing the Lightning:

Lightning return same group after reaching Final

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Corey Long - NHL.com Correspondent

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

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning were two victories from winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in their history last season.

Many of the same players will return this season to try to finish the job, including leading scorer and captain Steven Stamkos, who is entering the final season of his five-year contract.

After a postseason run that included a Game 7 win against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, the Lightning's season ended with a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Shortly after, general manager Steve Yzerman began the process of making slight adjustments to the roster while pledging to keep his focus on signing Stamkos to a new contract. Stamkos can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2016.

"I'd like to get Steven Stamkos signed to an extension," Yzerman said June 17. "That's my No. 1 priority. We've got some other restricted free agents, a couple of other contracts and things we've got to do, but [Stamkos is] the No. 1 priority."

Boychuk expects Islanders to go on playoff run

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 7:15 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Johnny Boychuk admits he was pleasantly surprised with his first season with the New York Islanders.

The veteran defenseman wasn't sure what to expect after being traded to the Islanders from the Boston Bruins on Oct. 4, six days before the 2014-2015 NHL season began.

Boychuk, 31, was so pleased by his experience with the Islanders, he agreed to a seven-year contract extension reportedly worth $42 million on March 12, opting not to test free agency in the summer.

"I had no idea what it was going to be like when I first got there," Boychuk said this week after attending Perry Pearn's 3-on-3 Hockey Camp in Edmonton. "I knew when I got traded, I was going to a younger team on [Long Island]. You look at it, and I'm one of the oldest guys on the team, I guess. I went there, and they used me a lot. It was a positive environment, and the coaches were great. Even though we had a lot of youth there, they worked extremely hard and they build into a good, strong, physical team."

Bill Torrey, Denis Potvin recall time with Al Arbour

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 5:15 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

Bill Torrey had to work hard to convince Al Arbour that he'd be the right man to coach the second-year New York Islanders.

Once he did, it turned into a marriage made in hockey heaven.

"We had a very special relationship, one I never regretted for a day," Torrey said of Arbour, who died Friday at age 82 in Sarasota, Fla. "Al Arbour was a special person. He was a special man. He was a great family man. He was a great hockey man. Outside of his family, nothing was more important to him than his players and his team."

Torrey, New York's general manager, needed all of his powers of persuasion to get Arbour to take over as coach after the expansion Islanders set NHL records for fewest points (30) and victories (12) in 1972-73.

It wasn't easy.

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Quote of the Day

I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82