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NHL Insider

Back with Flyers, Hextall looks to someday be GM

Tuesday, 07.16.2013 / 9:14 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

After seven years of working in the front office with the Kings, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2012, Ron Hextall now is looking to help the Flyers return to the playoffs. (Photo: Getty Images)

Ron Hextall admits that growing up, he wasn't exactly a fan of longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Bobby Clarke. But by the time he was a standout goaltender for the Flyers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hextall had emulated the physical, intimidating style Clarke harnessed in turning the Flyers of the 1970s into one of the most iconic teams in hockey history.

Hired Monday as the Flyers' new assistant general manager and director of hockey operations, Hextall admits there is another aspect of Clarke's career he would like someday to emulate: becoming an NHL general manager.

And the man responsible for bringing Hextall back to Philadelphia, where he spent 11 of his 13 seasons as NHL player and spent his first seven years as a front-office employee thinks that potentially could happen sooner rather than later.

"It could happen very soon. You never know," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Monday. "It's a funny business these days and you never know what's going to happen."

DeBoer: Devils must move on from loss of Kovalchuk

Monday, 07.15.2013 / 2:25 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer said the news of right wing Ilya Kovalchuk's retirement from the NHL last week certainly caught him by surprise.

During the opening day of the organization's rookie camp at the AmeriHealth Pavilion at Prudential Center on Monday, DeBoer spoke publicly for the first time regarding Kovalchuk, who signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League earlier Monday.

DeBoer said he did have "a couple" of conversations with New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello prior to Kovalchuk's announcement, but that he never felt the star forward's departure was imminent until July 11, the day it actually happened.

Addition of veterans has Simmonds eager for season

Monday, 07.15.2013 / 9:44 AM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- When the Philadelphia Flyers missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for just the second time since 1993-94, you just knew changes were coming.

It's an organization that never has displayed much patience when it comes to failure.

So it was no surprise that the Flyers acquired veteran defenseman Mark Streit from the New York Islanders and signed former Philadelphia goaltender Ray Emery from the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The crowning jewel -- the Flyers hope -- was the signing of unrestricted free-agent center Vincent Lecavalier, the former captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was bought out by the Lightning earlier this month.

If the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Lecavalier, who has been slowed by nagging injuries the past few seasons, can find his game, it will be quite a coup for the Flyers, who have already offensive weapons in Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Kimmo Timonen.

Bruins looking to youngsters for contributions

Sunday, 07.14.2013 / 3:31 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

The playoff run that took the Boston Bruins to within two victories of the team's second Stanley Cup win in three seasons was keyed at times by an infusion of youth; particularly from rookie defenseman Torey Krug. Three weeks after coming up short and falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Cup Final, the Bruins will continue to look to their prospects in the upcoming 2013-14 season.

"Obviously you want to develop your talent and bring them in and let them play. Sometimes there's not room for them and sometimes you use them as chips in deals, but you always have to develop," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said while attending the final day of the team's development camp on Sunday. "It will be good, there will be some young guys that will breathe new life and new enthusiasm into the team."

Bowman expects healthy, competitive Hawks camp

Saturday, 07.13.2013 / 11:31 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Attending his team's prospect development camp on Friday, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was pleased to report that he was expecting all his players to be healthy for the team's upcoming training camp. Entering the 2013-14 season as the defending Stanley Cup champions, Chicago will have some vacant roster spots. But those holes won't be due to injury.

Forward Bryan Bickell, who finished second on the team with nine goals and 17 points in the postseason, signed a four-year $16 million extension with the club before undergoing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his thumb. But he is expected to be fully recovered in time for camp.

"Bickell's injury is not going to stretch into training camp. There are a lot of guys who played with injuries in long playoff battles," Bowman said Friday. "It goes to show you how competitive these guys are. They're able to do things during those playoff series that most people wouldn't be able to play with. Hats off to them. We expect a full training camp."

Mature Wilson wants full-time job with Capitals

Friday, 07.12.2013 / 3:42 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Tom Wilson can't remember exactly how old he was when he began body checking. He just knows he was immediately hooked when it was introduced at a youth league practice.

"I loved it," Wilson said. "One guy would stand in the middle of the circle and there would be 10 guys around the outside of the circle. Then everyone would take a run at him and you'd go around the circle and you'd defend yourself. I can remember it vividly, so I must have liked it. Ever since then, I'm just a competitive kid; I like to work hard and finish my checks and make an influence that way, for sure."

Wilson is one of 44 prospects attending Washington Capitals development camp this week and he arguably is the most NHL-ready of the group thanks to his combination of skill and physicality.

Biggs hopes to develop into force for Maple Leafs

Friday, 07.12.2013 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Try to envision the prototypical Randy Carlyle hockey player and the image of Tyler Biggs immediately springs to mind.

Biggs, the Toronto Maple Leafs' first pick (No. 22) in the 2011 NHL Draft, is a chiseled 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, knows his way around the offensive zone and plays with an edge.

After leaving the University of Miami, where he scored nine goals and 17 points in 37 games as a freshman in 2011-12, Biggs made his mark in the Ontario Hockey League last season, scoring 26 goals and 53 points in 60 games with the Oshawa Generals. He concluded the season scoring a goal in four games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

Few doubt the 20-year-old native of Loveland, Ohio, has what it takes to play in the NHL. Rather, it seems only to be a question of how badly does he want it, and what is he prepared to do to make the dream come true as quickly as possible.

Parise, current Devils shocked by Kovalchuk leaving

Thursday, 07.11.2013 / 11:29 PM / NHL Insider

Zach Parise left the New Jersey Devils last summer to sign with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent. He expected former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk to stay with the Devils for at least a while longer.

Kovalchuk surprised the hockey world Thursday afternoon when the Devils announced his retirement from the NHL. The Russian had 12 years and $77 million remaining on the 15-year, $100 million contract he signed with New Jersey in September 2010.

"I was pretty shocked when I found out," Parise told "It always seemed to me that he really liked playing in New Jersey. It's too bad. The Devils are losing a great player."

Current Devils also were surprised by Kovalchuk's decision.

"It's definitely shocking, just from the standpoint that he's retiring from the League, especially at his age (30), and he's still able to play," captain Bryce Salvador told The Star-Ledger. "It's different when you have to retire when it's the end of the road and you can’t find anything else. This is a permanent decision.

"It's shocking because of his contract. He can't just change his mind next year or a couple of years after that."

Ilya Kovalchuk's career highlights

Thursday, 07.11.2013 / 7:21 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Ilya Kovalchuk's career began with his arrival from Russia as the first player taken in the 2001 NHL Draft. It ended Thursday when he announced his retirement from the NHL and his return to Russia with his family.

Kovalchuk was one of the most dynamic players in hockey during his 11 seasons in the NHL, first with the Atlanta Thrashers then with the New Jersey Devils. He averaged exactly a point per game -- 816 points in 816 regular-season games -- and his 417 goals were the most of any player in the League during that span.

Here's a look at some of his highlights:

2001-02: In 65 games as a rookie with the second-year Thrashers, Kovalchuk scored 29 goals and had 22 assists for 51 points. A late-season shoulder injury may have cost him the Calder Trophy, which went to teammate Dany Heatley, who had 26 goals and 67 points in 82 games.

2003-04: After improving to 38 goals and 67 points in 2002-03, Kovalchuk tied Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames for the Rocket Richard Trophy by sharing the NHL goal-scoring lead with 41. That earned him Second-Team All-Star status. He also played in his first NHL All-Star Game.

Devils look to move ahead without Kovalchuk

Thursday, 07.11.2013 / 6:34 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The retirement of Ilya Kovalchuk could be a huge hit for the near-term prospects of the New Jersey Devils, but maybe not as devastating in the long term.

One summer after losing Zach Parise as a free agent to the Minnesota Wild, the Devils have lost their best player again. The Devils on Thursday announced Kovalchuk's retirement from the NHL with 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract.

"Right now we just have to take a step back to go forward," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "We'll just have to re-evaluate what our options are and do the best we can, but we'll be ready to play when September comes."

Kovalchuk, 30, has 417 goals and 816 points in 816 regular-season NHL games. It could be nearly impossible to replace the offense he creates and the minutes he logs. He scored at least 30 goals in each of the past nine 82-game NHL seasons, including 37 goals and 83 points in 2011-12, when he was voted a First-Team All-Star.

Last season, Kovalchuk was a workhorse for the Devils, averaging almost 25 minutes per game, by far the most among NHL forwards. He has led his position in ice time in each of the past four seasons.

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