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NHL Insider

On and off ice, Scheifele has earned his NHL spot

Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 5:37 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets spent the summer checking items off their massive to-do list, and that process continued Monday with another big item.

The Jets signed 18-year-old center Mark Scheifele, the seventh pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The signing topped a hectic three-week stretch for Scheifele in which he attended the club's prospect camp and then emerged as the team's leading preseason scorer with 4 goals and 4 assists in just five games.

He debuted in front of the home fans Sept. 20 with a four-point effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and later saw ice time with Evander Kane flanking him on the left wing on what could be a second line.

Saad signs, likely to start on Blackhawks' top line

Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 5:28 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

CHICAGO -- What's been speculated for almost a week now is a reality.

The Chicago Blackhawks announced Tuesday they have signed 18-year old forward Brandon Saad, a second-round pick at the 2011 Entry Draft, to a three-year, entry-level contract and that he'll start the season in the NHL -- beginning with Friday's season-opener against the Stars in Dallas.

The rookie likely will start the season at left wing on the team's top line, playing alongside center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Sharp.

Crosby unlikely to be cleared during road trip

Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 2:15 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby doesn't expect to be cleared for contact during the Pittsburgh Penguins' season-opening road trip.
Crosby, out with a concussion since Jan. 6, accompanied the Penguins on Tuesday as they left to open the season Thursday night in Vancouver. The Penguins also stop in Calgary and Edmonton, and Crosby plans to take part in all three scheduled game-day skates and two practices during the trip.
Because Crosby won't be seeing any of his doctors until the Penguins return home, it isn't likely he'll switch his white practice helmet -- which signifies no contact -- to the team's regular black helmet.
"I'm happy to be out there, and when the time comes (for contact) I'll make sure I'm ready," Crosby said after practicing Tuesday. "To be honest, I'm just happy to be out there and working hard. It was a long time I wasn't able to do that. It's nice to be out there and go hard."

NBC Sports Group's broadcasters set for season

Tuesday, 10.04.2011 / 11:03 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

"The caliber of play in the League -- it's just amazing to see where the young players have taken the game, how it improves and evolves." -- Pierre McGuire

The top broadcast team assembled by NBC Sports Group -- Mike "Doc" Emrick and Eddie Olczyk in the booth, with Pierre McGuire between the benches and Mike Milbury in studio -- is about to embark on a strenuous journey that begins Thursday with opening night in Boston and won't end until the 2012 Stanley Cup champion is crowned in June.

And to listen to Emrick speak on a conference call Monday, they all can't wait to get started.

"It's exciting to have our group back together," the Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer said. "The 10 minutes we spent on the phone before the conference call started were hilarious, and I anticipate a lot of that being on the air, too. I'm glad Eddie Olczyk didn't sing at Wrigley Field when he was out there for the seventh inning stretch -- it saves him to do a duet if (famed Bruins anthem singer) Rene Rancourt wants him. Pierre's stitch reward is up to $500 a stitch this season, and now that Andy Rooney has cut back we have the resident curmudgeon in Mike Milbury."

NBC's Olczyk likes Kings, curious about Flyers

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 2:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Eddie Olczyk has never been shy about giving his opinion, especially in his current position as an analyst for NBC, Versus and CSN Chicago, the network that broadcasts Blackhawks games locally.

On Monday, Olczyk dropped by the offices to talk about a host of topics, including the job NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan has done in doling out suspensions during the preseason, the goaltending situation of the Washington Capitals, the remodeling of the Philadelphia Flyers and what will happen with potential free agents Zach Parise and Shea Weber.

Ovechkin latest entry to Madame Tussauds' museum

Monday, 10.03.2011 / 10:50 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

There's little doubt that when the heat is on this season, the new Alex Ovechkin will melt before our eyes.

It's a guarantee that if this Ovechkin takes the ice, he will disappoint many Washington Capitals fans with his lack of mobility and inability to fire his deadly shot.

This Ovechkin clearly won't be speaking to the media or fans all season.

A Stanley Cup? There's no chance the Capitals even will come close to that goal as long as this stiff Ovechkin with zero personality becomes the team's focal point.

Habs' Swiss import Diaz hopes to make team

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 7:37 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Que. -- Raphael Diaz looks to be beating the odds at Montreal Canadiens training camp.

When he was signed as a 25-year-old free agent out of Zug, it was widely assumed the reigning defenseman of the year in the Swiss League was pegged for the American Hockey League to learn the nuances of the North American game.

But with the Canadiens playing their final preseason game Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Quebec City, it looks as though Diaz has played himself into a top-six role, at least to start the season.

Suspended Wing feels 'terrible' about illegal hit

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 6:28 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Ben Smith and Brendan Smith aren't related, but now they share something other than a last name thanks to an illegal hit the latter delivered to the former in a preseason game earlier this week.

The Chicago Blackhawks' Ben Smith is still dealing with the physical ramifications of the shoulder-to-head blow at 5:26 of the third period in Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Meanwhile, the Red Wings' Brendan Smith is dealing with the punitive aftereffects of the collision -- not to mention his own remorse over what happened.

Brendan Smith, a top prospect, was suspended on Friday morning by NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan for the rest of Detroit's preseason games and five regular-season games, without pay. The hit he delivered landed his right shoulder directly to Ben Smith's head, which left the Chicago forward sprawled on the ice for a couple of minutes.

Kings to welcome Doughty with open arms

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 5:04 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A big sigh of relief came over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday -- depending on who you asked.

While players said they never really were concerned about the absence of star defenseman Drew Doughty, coach Terry Murray conceded the obvious when asked about Doughty agreeing to an eight-year contract worth a reported $56 million late Thursday.

"It was in the front of my mind the whole training camp," Murray said. "He's a very important player. You know everybody's working very hard toward getting it resolved and that's the most important thing that you can hope for."

Where's the beef? On Colorado's blue line

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 4:57 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"If you look at a team like the Boston Bruins, they were Stanley Cup champs last year, and they had a lot of size and grit on the back end. If you can have size and still have guys who can skate and move the puck and get it to the forwards, I think it's a good recipe for success." -- Shane O'Brien

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Kyle Quincey was one of the beefier members of the Colorado Avalanche defense corps last season. That's hardly the case now.

When the Avalanche open the 2011-12 season on Oct. 8 against Detroit, the roster will include four defensemen who weigh 230-plus pounds.

"We're not going to be pushed around on the back end," Quincey told "That's a great thing."

Quincey was recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery on Feb. 18 when the Avalanche acquired 6-4, 232-pound Erik Johnson from St. Louis in a blockbuster trade that included four players and two draft picks. Exactly one month before Quincey was injured in a game against Washington, the Avalanche brought in Ryan O'Byrne (6-5, 234) from Montreal in exchange for prospect Michael Bournival.
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Quote of the Day

It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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