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2014 NHL Draft
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NHL Insider

Oilers' Draisaitl staying in Edmonton to meet goal

Monday, 07.21.2014 / 6:41 PM / NHL Insider

Last season was a busy one for Leon Draisaitl. The 18-year-old played more than 80 games under the glare of NHL scouts analyzing his play and value heading into the 2014 NHL Draft.

His season ended when the Edmonton Oilers selected him with the No. 3 pick of the draft, and after an introductory press conference in Edmonton, he joined the team's other prospects at a development camp in Jasper, Alberta.

When it ended, he could have done what the other prospects did and return home to his native Germany to spend the rest of his summer with friends and family.

Instead, Draisaitl returned to Edmonton. Work comes before pleasure for a player aiming to play in the NHL in 2014-15.

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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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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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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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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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Blackhawks confident they can get salary cap to fit

Friday, 07.18.2014 / 7:47 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The goal hasn't changed for the Chicago Blackhawks, but the roster must before another chase for the Stanley Cup begins.

Brad Richards
Center - CHI
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 31 | PTS: 51
SOG: 259 | +/-: -8
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman doesn't need to pick apart the bulk of his team, like he did after winning the Cup in 2010, but somebody under contract won't be in Chicago for the 2014-15 season thanks to another salary-cap issue.

Following Bowman's free-agent acquisition of veteran center Brad Richards on July 1, the Blackhawks are over the NHL's $69 million hard salary cap by $2.2 million, according to CapGeek.com.

"We certainly have to be ready to go by October, that's the goal," Bowman said Friday at the annual Blackhawks Convention at the Chicago Hilton. "A lot of things change between now and then. You have to display some patience."

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Islanders' Pulock knows competition stiff on defense

Friday, 07.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- No more junior hockey for Ryan Pulock. The offensive-minded defenseman is ready for his next challenge, which he hopes will be NHL competition as a member of the New York Islanders.

Pulock finished his junior career in 2013-14 as the leading goal-scorer among defensemen in Brandon Wheat Kings history. The Islanders' first-round pick (No. 15) at the 2013 NHL Draft scored 64 goals and 146 assists and played 261 games in four Western Hockey League seasons. He is armed with a slap shot that has been clocked at over 100 mph.

Pulock, who turns 20 on Oct. 6, could start the 2014-15 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American Hockey League, but he'll head to NHL training camp in September with greater aspirations.

He'll be facing some stiff competition this fall. The Islanders already have Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky and Thomas Hickey in the mix on their blue line and signed TJ Brennan, the defenseman of the year in the AHL last season, on July 1. Griffin Reinhart, the Islanders' 2012 first-round pick (No. 4), also is expected to push hard for a roster spot.

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Canucks' Subban hopes to create own niche

Friday, 07.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- It didn't take long before the questions directed at Vancouver Canucks prospect Jordan Subban during development camp focused more on his older brothers.

It never does.

He plays defenseman, the same position as Norris Trophy-winning sibling and Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban, so comparisons are inevitable. With middle brother Malcolm Subban coming off his first pro season as a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization, the questions about family are never far off.

To be clear, none of that bothers the youngest Subban.

"I am used to it by now," Jordan said, adding most of the questions are about P.K. "He's my brother, so I love to talk about him, and it's great to see him have success, but at the same time I am me."

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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness