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Prospects

McDavid showcases his skills in Sabres' home rink

Wednesday, 10.22.2014 / 10:45 PM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Being in the spotlight is something Connor McDavid has gotten used to already in his career. But playing in a NHL arena in front of NHL fans is something new.

The 17-year-old Erie Otters center is one of the most anticipated prospects in years and may wind up being the first selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. McDavid's Otters defeated the Niagara IceDogs 8-4 Wednesday in an Ontario Hockey League game at First Niagara Center and he knows the attention on him is growing.

"It's a little different," McDavid said. "But I guess I've had a little bit experience in the last two years kind of growing up, [learning how] to act. It started pretty crazy in my 15-year-old year, when everyone was kind of first taking notice. So I have a little bit of experience. Obviously, this year is a little bit ramped up. Nothing really changes."

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Eichel stars in All-American Prospects Game

Friday, 09.26.2014 / 12:19 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Boston University freshman Jack Eichel certainly left quite an impression on the 7,310 fans who witnessed his performance at the third annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Thursday at First Niagara Center.

Eichel, a likely top-two pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, was named player of the game after scoring a goal, getting an assist, and generating four shots with a plus-3 rating. He dazzled with a few highlight-reel moves, defended his teammates early in the game, and had some picturesque passes in the offensive zone to help Team Mike Grier to a 6-3 victory against Team Ed Olczyk.

Olczyk, asked for his evaluation of Eichel after seeing him at ice level for the first time, offered a review for the ages.

"I haven't seen a player at that level with a reach and a stick like that since Mario [Lemieux]," Olczyk said. "When he skates up into the play and into the zone, with one hand on his stick, spreading his arms, showing that arm length with the stick flailing, it's like a 747 going up ice, and I'm not kidding.
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All-American Prospects Game breeds competition

Wednesday, 09.24.2014 / 1:57 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- The last time two college freshmen were selected among the top five in the first round of the NHL draft in their first year of draft eligibility occurred nine years ago when Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel went off the board.

Toews, after his first season at the University of North Dakota, went to the Chicago Blackhawks with the third pick. Kessel (University of Minnesota) was selected fifth by the Boston Bruins.

The odds of it happening again at the 2015 NHL Draft are pretty good, as Boston University center Jack Eichel and Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin are set to play prominent roles for their respective teams this season while in the crosshairs of NHL scouts.

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McDavid, Eichel top Central Scouting watch list

Tuesday, 09.23.2014 / 11:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

If you didn't know by now, Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel will dominate the headlines leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft.

They are projected to be franchise-type players capable of having immediate impacts for the teams drafting them. They also have taken two different paths to this point, making their race to No. 1 that much more intriguing.

Both players were identified as A-rated prospects in their respective leagues on the NHL Central Scouting preliminary players to watch list for September that was released Tuesday.

McDavid has been a star since arriving in the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old in 2012 with "exceptional player" status. Eichel, after two standout seasons with the United States National Team Development Program, will start play as a freshman in Hockey East this season.

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Morrissey eyes making Jets after marathon season

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 2:41 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Conventional wisdom suggests after a 112-game season, one would fancy a bit of a break.

But Joshua Morrissey is ready for more, and the 19-year-old hopes it's with the Winnipeg Jets.

"I grew a lot as a player [last year] … just feeling comfortable with the pros," said Morrissey, who had triple digits in games on behalf of the Jets (NHL preseason), Prince Albert Raiders (Western Hockey League preseason, regular season and playoffs), Canada's national junior team (World Junior Championship) and the St. John's IceCaps (American Hockey League regular season and playoffs) in 2013-14.

"I'm coming in here now wanting to make the Jets," Morrissey said. "I'm going to do everything I can to do that. A big key for me was to gain strength and size to be able to play the man's game at the next level. I'll never be the biggest guy in the League, but I'm a lot stronger now. That's huge for me.

"I think I'm ready to make that jump."

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Predators' Forsberg hoping for goals, NHL role

Monday, 09.15.2014 / 10:17 AM / Prospects

Josh Cooper - NHL.com Correspondent

ANTIOCH, Tenn. -- In one game during a rookie tournament last weekend at Ford Ice Center, Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg showed why he is a prominent as well as a frustrating prospect.

A lack of discipline put Forsberg in the penalty box against the Tampa Bay Lightning three times. An abundance of skill led to him scoring a goal in overtime, as well as assisting on a goal by Kevin Fiala.

"It was a great end for sure for me and also for the team. But three penalties was not acceptable," said Forsberg, No. 12 on the NHL.com Top 60 prospect rankings for this season.

The Predators have heaped high expectations on the 2012 first-round pick (No. 11) of the Washington Capitals, whom they acquired for Martin Erat in 2013. The 20-year-old has yet to reach those lofty levels, however, with one goal in 18 NHL games during the past two seasons.

The hope remains that the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward can start moving forward in his development this season.

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Flames' Gaudreau ready for extended NHL exam

Monday, 09.15.2014 / 9:51 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- He aced the exam after three years with Boston College. His NHL debut in April earned him a passing grade as well. A field trip to represent his country at the 2014 IIHF World Championship yielded a positive result, too.

Now Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau is facing his biggest test to date: his first pro training camp.

"I'm excited," said Gaudreau, who captured the Hobey Baker Award in April after he had 36 goals and 80 points last season, the top totals in NCAA hockey last season. "It's going to be different. I'm not really sure what to expect right now. I hear from the older guys it's a pretty tough camp. You've got to be mentally prepared and physically prepared. I'm just trying to make sure I'm in the best shape and have the best possible chance to make this team."

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Surgery doesn't alter NHL goal for Canucks' Virtanen

Saturday, 09.13.2014 / 7:15 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

PENTICTON, BC -- Jake Virtanen was relegated to spectator Friday as his Vancouver Canucks dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Edmonton Oilers in their tournament opener at the Young Stars Classic.

As teammates departed from practice Saturday, the 18-year-old remained on the ice for an extra couple of spins around the rink.

It's the tough reality the Canucks first pick (No. 6) in the 2014 NHL Draft faces as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

"It's frustrating," said Virtanen, who was ranked the NHL's No. 24 prospect by NHL.com for the 2014-15 season. "I think when I watched the game [Friday] night, it was pretty frustrating to watch. I want to be out there real quick. I want to be back into it. It's the time of year when the season is starting up and you want to be out there with the guys. It's tough to watch."

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Oilers' Nurse bonds through sport with younger sister

Saturday, 09.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

For Edmonton Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse, there's no shortage of family members he can turn to for advice about the rigors of being a world-class athlete.

There's his father Richard, who played in the Canadian Football League, as well as his uncle, Donovan McNabb, who was an All-Pro quarterback in the National Football League. His mother, aunt and older sister all played college basketball. But since selected by the Oilers with the seventh pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, Nurse has turned most to younger sister Kia, who is adding her own chapter to the family's impressive sporting legacy.

"She asked me what it's like to be away for the first time. There's always those challenges of not being in familiar territory, not being able to go see your friends every single day," Darnell said. "That was probably the biggest thing I told her. No matter where you are there's always the team around you that you can rely on. You can pick up the phone and call me. I'll be there just like my parents were for me. It's always different moving away for the first time."

It's a conversation Darnell has been having more and more frequently with Kia, a basketball phenom who is in her first semester at the University of Connecticut, one of the top women's programs in the country.

Nurse is busy as well right now. He's with Oilers prospects through Monday at the 2014 Young Stars Classic rookie tournament in Penticton, British Columbia, where he's playing games against prospects from the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

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Red Wings' Mantha could be exception to team rule

Friday, 09.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Following one of the most prolific careers in recent Quebec Major Junior Hockey League history, Detroit Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha, 19, could be ready to make the jump straight to the NHL.

To do that with any NHL team would be impressive. To do it with Detroit would be unheard of.

Despite an organizational philosophy that considers time in the American Hockey League a prerequisite to wearing the winged wheel, Detroit management thinks Mantha, who turns 20 on Sept. 16, could be an exception to their rule.

He'll get a chance to start impressing his future bosses this week when he joins other Red Wings prospects at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, which runs Sept. 12-16.

"Obviously I want to play for Detroit next year. I'm going to go to [training] camp and try to make the team. If I'm cut, I'll go to [AHL] Grand Rapids and show that I can dominate that league and get called up as fast as I can," Mantha said. "To go somewhere you want to go you need to see yourself there. I'm going to go to camp and try to make my place."

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Quote of the Day

Unless he really collapses, I don't see him going anywhere. I've been very impressed with his composure and maturity. Once the regular season started, he was a different guy; it was like game on and almost as if he's been around for a long time.

— Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon on rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad
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