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NHL Insider

A look at some of the NHL's best teenage debuts

Wednesday, 08.11.2010 / 12:34 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Edmonton Oilers are hoping that Taylor Hall's success in junior hockey carries over as he prepares for his NHL career.

The Oilers took Hall with the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft, and he's expected to step right into a regular role at age 18. Edmonton opted to select Hall even though center Tyler Seguin was rated slightly higher by NHL Central Scouting; the Boston Bruins, picking second, were more than happy to scoop him up.

Last year's No. 1 pick, John Tavares, had an up-and-down season, but finished with 24 goals and a team-leading 54 points for a team that struggled offensively. The Oilers and Bruins both would likely be happy to see those kinds of numbers from their prized rookies.

Seguin focuses on first Bruins camp

Monday, 08.09.2010 / 1:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Less than a month after turning more than a few heads at the Boston Bruins Development Camp in Wilmington, Mass., Tyler Seguin was doing the same last week at Team Canada's junior development camp in Newfoundland.

Sure, he has impressed his teammates and coaches, but what else would you expect from the No. 2 pick in the NHL Entry Draft? Three days after inking a three-year, entry-level contract with the Bruins on his kitchen table in Brampton, Ont., Seguin discussed his future with NHL.com during a break in the action at junior camp.

"It's nice knowing you don't have to worry about signing an NHL contract anymore and now it's just about focusing on and earning that spot and playing to make the (Bruins) roster," Seguin said.

What's in a name when it comes to NHL success?

Friday, 08.06.2010 / 12:45 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The thousands of players who've suited up for NHL games include the gamut of first names -- everything from Aaron (Broten, among others) to Zybnek (Michalek, now of the Penguins). But if you want your son to have a career in the NHL, it might be best to name him Mike or Bob.

Michael and Robert (and their various derivatives) are by far the most plentiful on the NHL's all-time player list. There have been more than 200 players named Mike/Michael/Michel (Puck Prospectus put the number at 206) in the NHL, the most of any first name. Robert/Bob/Bobby is next at 194, with Dave/David/Davey a distant third at 134.

Flyers' Laperriere ready for new season

Thursday, 08.05.2010 / 11:48 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

A trip to the Stanley Cup Final has left Ian Laperriere hungrier than ever to win a title. Taking a puck to the face during last spring's playoffs has left him vowing to wear a half-shield for the rest of his NHL career -- but not to quit the fighting aspect of his game.

"I will always play with a half-shield now," Laperriere told the Philadelphia Flyers' website this week. "The difference is when I fight now I will take off my helmet. I am going to have to fight. The shield won't make a difference. I will have to take off my helmet and square-off instead of just grabbing the guy and fighting in the moment."

Laperriere started wearing a shield after he blocked a point shot from the point by New Jersey Devils' defenseman Paul Martin during Game 5 in the first round. Taking a shot in the face left him with 70 stitches over his right eye and what was eventually to found out to be a brain bruise that caused him to miss the next 10 playoff games. He returned for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal and played all six games of the Final against Chicago.

NHL.com looks at the best at doing the little things

Tuesday, 08.03.2010 / 4:25 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Alex Ovechkin is a hockey icon because of his offensive skills -- after all, the basic premise of hockey is that you have to put the puck in the net more than the other guy, and Ovi has been the best in the NHL over the past few years at doing just that.

But there's more to winning hockey games than just scoring goals, and not even the Great Eight can do everything. Doing the little things and the dirty work plays a big role in winning games as well.

Here's a look at some of the NHL's best players in a few of the least-appreciated categories:

Takeaways: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit

Even if Datsyuk weren't a tremendously skilled offensive player (he is), he'd be a star for his defensive abilities alone. One of the abilities that helped him win the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward in each of the last three seasons is his unparalleled skill as a puck thief.

Lehtonen era officially under way in Dallas

Monday, 08.02.2010 / 2:51 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

For the first time in seven seasons, the Dallas Stars will unveil a new starter between the pipes this fall.

That became reality on Monday when Stars' fans officially learned that three-time NHL All-Star goalie Marty Turco, who spent his first 10 seasons in the League with Dallas, signed a one-year deal with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Really, though, the future doesn't look all that bad for the Stars with goalie Kari Lehtonen as the apparent heir to Turco in 2010-11.

Additionally, Andrew Raycroft is expected to battle Brent Krahn for the backup role. And, looking even further on down the road, there's prospect Jack Campbell, the club's 2010 first-round draft choice (No. 11) in June, waiting in the wings.

Niemi-Turco By the Numbers

Monday, 08.02.2010 / 2:40 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Chicago Blackhawks have opted to let Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Antti Niemi leave by walking away from an arbitrator's decision that awarded him a salary of $2.75 million for 2010-11. Instead, they've signed veteran Marty Turco, who turns 35 this month and has spent his entire career with the Dallas Stars.

Here's a look at some of the key numbers for both players:

A look at 11 candidates for a bounce back season

Monday, 08.02.2010 / 10:15 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Disappointing seasons happen to almost everyone, whether because of injury, bad luck or circumstance. Here are 10 players who didn't have their best seasons in 2009-10, but are good candidates to bounce back in the upcoming season:

Evgeni Malkin, Penguins -- Scoring 28 goals and putting up 77 points would be a pretty good season for most players. For Malkin, it was the worst of his four NHL seasons and a huge drop from 2008-09, when he won the Art Ross Trophy with 113 points and then captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP while leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup. Malkin is still one of the NHL's premier players, and it would be a surprise if he doesn't return to being a 100-point player in 2010-11.

Downie tops list of efficient players

Thursday, 07.29.2010 / 10:38 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The lasting image of Steve Downie might be from his rookie season, when he delivered a vicious check to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond. Downie, then with the Philadelphia Flyers, received a 20-game suspension for the hit, and gained a reputation as a dirty player.

Last season, however, Downie went a long way in changing his reputation from troubled to talented.

In his first full NHL season, with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Downie showed the skills that made him a first-round draft pick, as he scored 22 goals on just 116 shots. Of the 110 players who scored 20 goals last season, none accomplished it on fewer shots than Downie, and only one played less than the 14:42 per game he averaged last season.

NHL.com looks at the stars of the shootout

Tuesday, 07.27.2010 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

It's hard to believe, but the shootout has been with us for five seasons. The breakaway competition was adopted in 2005 as a way to settle games tied after overtime and has turned into a must-see -- how many times have you been flicking through TV channels and stopped to watch when you saw teams getting ready to go to the shootout?

Some teams and some players have fared far better than others in the shootout -- and the most successful players aren't always the biggest names. Alex Ovechkin has scored on less than 28 percent of his shootout tries -- below the average of just under 33 percent -- and Marian Gaborik, a two-time 40-goal scorer, is just 2-for-18 (11 percent). Gaborik's former Minnesota teammate, Niklas Backstrom, is one of the NHL's best goaltenders -- but he's stopped less than 60 percent of the shootout attempts he's faced, while journeyman goaltender Johan Hedberg has turned aside more than 80 percent.

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