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Prospects

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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Pastrnak could push to make Bruins as 18-year-old

Thursday, 09.11.2014 / 5:05 PM / Prospects

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The majority of David Pastrnak's teammates at the Boston Bruins rookie camp were exposed to him for the first time Thursday during off-ice testing and the first official practice at Ristuccia Arena.

Pastrnak made quite an impression.

"He's just a big goofball," fellow forward Matthew Lindblad said after practice. "And we're going to have a lot of fun over the next week."

The Bruins' rookies left after practice for Antioch, Tenn., where they will compete in a rookie tournament against similarly experienced squads representing the host Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. Pastrnak, the Bruins' first-round pick (No. 25) in the 2014 NHL Draft, will bring the most notoriety among Boston’s players, not because of his comedic approach to life but because there's been little done by the organization to tamp down the hype that he could make the NHL as an 18-year-old, without further seasoning.

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Reinhart brothers hoping for memorable season

Sunday, 09.07.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

There's a rule in the Reinhart household: Don't hit your brother too hard playing hockey.

Paul Reinhart, who spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, may have helped institute the rule. But the job of enforcing it typically falls on his wife, Theresa.

"I don't think our mom would let us back in the house," middle brother Griffin Reinhart told NHL.com. "She's definitely let us know she wouldn't like [us hitting each other]."

With three siblings following in their father's NHL footsteps, enforcing that rule is about to become difficult.

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Knights graduating class ready for next step

Friday, 09.05.2014 / 9:16 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

For nearly 50 years the London Knights have been a standard-bearer in Ontario junior hockey, grooming a list of future greats that includes Darryl Sittler, Brendan Shanahan, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Patrick Kane. But none of those NHL stars accomplished in London what the most recent graduating class did with the Knights.

Playing for coach Dale Hunter, the most recent group enjoyed a three-year run that few squads can match, winning back-to-back Ontario Hockey League championships in 2012 and 2013 and participating in three consecutive Memorial Cup tournaments. Now the players constituting the core of that team are ready to make their mark against each other in the NHL.

"Our core group has been very close the last three years," said center Max Domi, who will attempt to make the Arizona Coyotes roster this fall. "We always talk about one day playing against each other in the big leagues. But there's still a lot of work to do."

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Sissons, Leipsic know chance awaits with Predators

Saturday, 08.23.2014 / 1:59 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- With the Nashville Predators in transition, forward prospects Colton Sissons and Brandon Leipsic are hoping to get a long look at training camp.

"They always want the young guys to get stronger and keep developing. That's the standard for us younger guys in the organization," Sissons said Saturday at the 2014 NHLPA Rookie Showcase. "Times are changing there and there's a new coach and a little bit of turnover, so I think they're looking for younger guys like us to make a push at camp to make the roster this year. I think they'll give us a pretty good opportunity for that."

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Panthers prospect Ekblad will be recovered for camp

Saturday, 08.23.2014 / 1:09 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Slightly more than two weeks after sustaining a concussion that briefly halted an eventful summer, Florida Panthers prospect Aaron Ekblad said he is close to being fully recovered and ready for training camp.

"The concussion is almost perfectly, completely gone. I feel great," Ekblad said Saturday at the 2014 NHLPA Rookie Showcase. "I've been skating all this week and I feel good."

The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, the defenseman was injured playing for the Canada World Junior team in an exhibition game against the Czech Republic. The 18-year-old said he has been symptom free for five days.

"The work I'm doing is just getting back to normal paces. Getting game ready on the ice and just doing little things off the ice to get back up to what I was doing before," Ekblad said. "[Florida's] team docs wanted to talk to me and see how I was feeling. I kept in touch with them."

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Family ties help prospects acclimate to NHL level

Saturday, 08.23.2014 / 11:30 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO – Family is an integral part of hockey success for most NHL hopefuls. For top prospects boasting NHL bloodlines, however, family can provide a few additional benefits, including a slightly greater appreciation for exactly what goes into making the NHL and, ultimately, staying there.

Among the 33 prospects at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase, few could attest to the finer details of life in the NHL quite like Sam Reinhart.

The No. 2 pick, by the Buffalo Sabres, at the 2014 NHL Draft is the son of longtime NHL player Paul Reinhart. Sam's brother, Max, was the Calgary Flames' third-round pick (No. 64) in the 2010 draft and another brother, Griffin, was selected No. 4 by the New York Islanders in 2012.

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Gaudreau, Bennett excited about futures with Flames

Saturday, 08.23.2014 / 10:26 AM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO – Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau followed alternate paths to the NHL. But when the two Calgary Flames prospects report for training camp in September, they'll be the focal point of an organization looking for a return to glory after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past five seasons.

The excitement which can accompany a rebuilding process often serves as motivation for those tasked with making the transformation happen.

"I definitely feel that all the time. There are younger guys in the organization that I think are going to help the organization become better," Gaudreau said at the NHLPA's annual Rookie Showcase. "It's exciting to be a part of that since you're a young guy and around a whole bunch of other younger guys."

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