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NHL Insider

With contract resolved, Predators' Smith raring to go

Wednesday, 07.22.2015 / 11:15 AM / NHL Insider

Craig Smith is armed with a long-term contract and a desire to build off one of the best seasons in Nashville Predators history.

The 25-year-old center followed up career highs of 24 goals and 52 points two seasons ago with 23 goals and 44 points in 2014-15, and Nashville rewarded him Monday with a five-year, $21.25 million contract shortly after a salary arbitration hearing.

"The Preds wanting to do a five-year [contract] is a testament to their confidence in my ability," Smith told the Predators website Tuesday. "Once you have that as a player, and you know you're wanted, it feels good to hear they think you can produce, but it's also a lot of responsibility. I believe I'm ready to take that on, and I'm excited to go into next year and score goals and win a lot."

New Maple Leafs goalie coach latest Korn disciple

Tuesday, 07.21.2015 / 12:00 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Steve Briere knew when he was named the Toronto Maple Leafs new goaltending coach Monday that a lot of people would wonder who he was, and why incoming coach Mike Babcock thought he was ready to make the jump from tier-2 junior to the NHL.

The answers can't be found by looking up Briere's career and noting where or how well he played during eight professional seasons as a goalie. Nor can it be found by scanning the teams Briere has worked for since trading his goalie pads for a coach's whistle.

To better gauge Briere's work the past eight years, you need to scan his rosters in the NCAA, United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League and a list of pupils that includes new Edmonton Oilers No. 1 Cam Talbot and NHL prospects like Zane MacIntyre (Boston Bruins), Rasmus Tirronen (Carolina Hurricanes) and Matej Tomek (Philadelphia Flyers).

Capitals D-man Bowey draws comparisons to Carlson

Sunday, 07.19.2015 / 12:00 AM / NHL Insider

Katie Brown - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- All the comparisons prospect Madison Bowey has drawn to Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson don't bother him. He gets that a lot.

The 20-year-old defenseman lists Carlson and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings among the NHL players he's trying to emulate.

"Those two D-men are the new mold of defensemen now in the NHL and that's kind of like how I like to play," Bowey said. "Both those guys are tremendous players and guys that I look up to. It's kind of funny; I've always liked watching John Carlson play even when he was younger. It's pretty cool now just being in the same organization as him."

Up against cap, more moves ahead for Blackhawks

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 8:45 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are not quite done with the latest remake of their roster.

Despite trading Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad, and letting Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette leave as free agents since winning the Stanley Cup on June 15, Chicago is up against the $71.4 million NHL salary cap with the 21 players they've signed who are most likely to make the opening night roster.

More regulars could be on the move before the start of training camp in September, and there's the possibility the Blackhawks could do what they did last year, when they traded defenseman Nick Leddy a few days before the first game.

Blackhawks 'strive to keep winning' amid turnover

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 8:14 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have made a habit of having the Stanley Cup at their annual fan convention, and they don't have plans to stop just because of their yearly roster retooling.

Friday at the Hilton Chicago, the Blackhawks used the silver trophy to begin the weekend for the third time since 2010, celebrating their latest championship while keeping an eye on the future.

The NHL's $71.4 million salary cap has forced the departure of some key players, including Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Johnny Oduya, but the organizational mantra of "One Goal" remains intact.

"It's not going to be easy, but without disrespect to those guys [who aren't here] … we still have a lot of talent, a lot of character on this team, and we can find ways to let other players come in and assume more responsibility, and that culture's not going to change," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We're going to strive to keep winning."

Hamilton, Frolik expect to win with Flames

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 5:46 PM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik share one goal moving to the Calgary Flames: Win.

"I think there's obviously an expectation to win," Hamilton said Friday when the players were introduced by the Flames. "I think I'm used to that being in Boston, but I think it's exciting here with moving upwards and a team that maybe struggled in the past and really improved. Hopefully we can keep improving and I think that's an exciting piece to be a part of."

The 22-year-old defenseman was acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins hours before the 2015 NHL Draft on June 26. Four days later, he signed a contract extension reportedly worth $34.5 million over six years.

Frolik, a 27-year-old forward, signed a five-year contract reportedly worth $21.5 million when free agency opened July 1.

"When I look at last year, I was pretty impressed with what this team did," said Frolik, who played the past two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets. "They have a really young, talented team with a great future.

"I think we added me and Dougie and the expectations are going to be higher and higher. When the young guys get older, the expectations get higher. The goal is to make the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], but you don't want to think too far ahead. The start of the season is going to be huge and we'll see how it goes."

Raanta excited for fresh start with Rangers

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 11:09 AM / NHL Insider

Kristen Nelson - Staff Writer

Antti Raanta has had a busy summer, but the New York Rangers goalie is excited for his opportunity with his new team.

Raanta won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season and was traded to the Rangers 12 days later. He also recently got married earlier this month.

"It was a pretty amazing stretch, so many great things going on, but now life is back to normal," Raanta told on Thursday. "To get that phone call, to get traded in the middle of all that, it's just all pretty amazing. I think the honeymoon was the first time I had the chance to relax and realize what has happened the last few weeks. Now it's time to focus on hockey, and I am so excited to be a part of the New York Rangers organization."

Blackhawks prospects recall 'Stare' of Flyers coach

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 12:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Dave Hakstol has no NHL experience on his resume, but the new Philadelphia Flyers coach does have something his former players at the University of North Dakota think will help him transition from college hockey.

Aside from a 289-141-43 record in 11 seasons at UND, Hakstol has a penetrating stare that allows him to get his message across without speaking a single word. It's known as "The Stare" at North Dakota, and every player tried his best to avoid it.

"He's a pretty intimidating guy," said Nick Mattson, who played four seasons for Hakstol at North Dakota and is now participating in Chicago Blackhawks development camp. "He's got this deadly [look]. He stares you right in the eye, and it's hard to say 'no' to him. You can tell he's just a straight shooter and a real honest, open guy."

Saad, Campbell eager to help Blue Jackets evolve

Wednesday, 07.15.2015 / 4:25 PM / NHL Insider

Craig Merz - Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- It's no secret the Columbus Blue Jackets believe forwards Brandon Saad and Gregory Campbell can help them reach new heights because of their experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Saad, 22, won the Stanley Cup twice with the Chicago Blackhawks, including last season, before being traded to Columbus as part of a seven-player transaction June 30. Campbell, 31, signed as a free agent July 1; he was a champion with the Boston Bruins in 2011 and lost to Chicago in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

But in order for them to hoist the Cup again, they must first help the Blue Jackets reach the postseason, something Columbus has done twice in 14 seasons, most recently in 2013-14.

"It's an up-and-coming team with a lot of excitement," Saad said Wednesday. "You see when healthy how dominant they were toward the end of the season. They want to win around here. I know that attitude. I love being around it."

Daley, Garbutt eager to help Blackhawks defend Cup

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 5:45 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Once the initial shock of being traded by the Dallas Stars wore off, defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt had similar feelings about joining the Chicago Blackhawks.

Traded to Chicago for forward Patrick Sharp and defense prospect Stephen Johns on July 10, Daley and Garbutt are sad about leaving Dallas but excited for the future. They're now teammates on the reigning Stanley Cup champions, and each seems eager to help the Blackhawks defend the title.

"I love Dallas," Daley said Monday. "I loved the organization, but I've learned over the years that, as teammates come and go, you know, friendships last forever. I've made some great friendships there, and those will never end. My days as a Dallas Star obviously ended, but I'll move on. And if you came to ask me if I was to go somewhere to play, going to the best team in hockey, actually, is not a bad thing."

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Quote of the Day

After being through it and seeing the other [outdoor] games on TV, just the atmosphere is spectacular. To stand here -- and we are essentially almost on the blue line -- and look up [into the stands] and knowing it is going to be packed and playing our biggest rival in this setting is going to be pretty special.

— Bruins president Cam Neely on the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between Boston and Montreal at Gillette Stadium on
Jan. 1, 2016