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Junior stars could be set to make impact in NHL

Wednesday, 01.09.2013 / 12:16 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When NHL training camps open, a significant number of the players in attendance will have gone as long as nine months without playing a competitive game.

In theory, players who have been playing in high-intensity games could have an advantage in the race to win roster spots. A number of those players could come from the junior ranks, where those players have been going full bore since their training camps started in September and by now are in midseason form.

Here are a few of the players, listed in alphabetical order, who could jump from junior hockey directly into the NHL for the 2012-13 season.


McDavid continuing to live up to 'phenom' label

Saturday, 01.05.2013 / 8:00 AM / Prospects

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

It's easy to get caught up in the hype that surrounds any player who is dubbed a "phenom" before he is even allowed to drive a car -- and sometimes that hype can even exceed that player's true potential.

But that doesn't appear to be the case with Connor McDavid.

The 15-year-old center for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League spent the past week competing for Ontario in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Drummondville and Victoriaville, Quebec, before his team was knocked out of medal contention Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss to the host Quebec team.

Among the eager onlookers at one of Ontario's games was Hockey Canada's head scout Kevin Prendergast, a man charged with identifying talent for the Canadian Junior National Team.


40 players chosen for USHL/NHL Top Prospects game

Wednesday, 01.02.2013 / 6:07 PM / Prospects

The United States Hockey League on Wednesday announced the 40 players selected to compete in the 2013 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM to be held on Jan. 23 at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Michigan.

It is the second season for the event, which will showcase many of the top players in the USHL who are eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft. In all, 27 of the players selected are in their first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft. The selection process was completed in cooperation with USHL general managers, NHL scouts and team personnel, and NHL Central Scouting. The composition of the two teams will be announced at a later date.

All 16 USHL clubs had at least one player selected to participate in the event. The Waterloo Black Hawks were tops with five players chosen, while the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Lincoln Stars, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Sioux City Musketeers, and Tri-City Storm each had four players named.


Kypreos, MacLean named Top Prospects assistants

Wednesday, 12.19.2012 / 11:22 AM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Former NHL player Nick Kypreos and former NHL coach Doug MacLean have been named assistant coaches for the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The Top Prospects Game will be held Jan. 16, 2013 at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and features 40 of the best 2013 NHL Draft-eligible prospects playing in the Canadian Hockey League.

Kypreos, who was part of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers during his eight-season NHL career, will be an assistant coach for Team Cherry, which will be coached by hockey icon Don Cherry.


Hawerchuk sees big things for star Scheifele at WJC

Friday, 12.14.2012 / 3:20 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Barrie Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk is aware of the similarities between himself and his star player, Mark Scheifele. Both have starred for Canada in international competition and were hailed as potential franchise centers after being drafted in the first round by the Winnipeg Jets.

As coach of the Ontario Hockey League club, Hawerchuk, a 2001 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, has been grooming the star prospect since a 17-year-old Scheifele recorded 75 points in his first junior hockey season.

"He's really taking it to a whole other level," Hawerchuk told this week. "You're watching a kid become a man in junior hockey as far as his ability on the ice. He's a pretty dominating player. It's not so much his scoring, it's what he does all over the ice at the pace he does it. He wants to win day in and day out. I don't know anybody who works harder on and off the ice."


Teammates staying together at Top Prospects Game

Wednesday, 12.12.2012 / 3:32 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones will know a few of their teammates quite well when they take the ice for their respective teams at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The annual best-on-best game between the top Canadian Hockey League players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft will be held Jan. 16, 2013, at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

MacKinnon, who will captain Team Cherry, will have with him two teammates from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: left wing Jonathan Drouin and goaltender Zachary Fucale. MacKinnon and Drouin are the top two ranked skaters in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of draft-eligible players in the QMJHL, and Fucale is the top-rated goalie.


New stick, take-charge attitude working for Petan

Friday, 11.30.2012 / 11:00 AM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Nicolas Petan said he didn't change much from last season to this season -- mainly, just the curve on his stick.

So how much is that slight change to the blade of his stick worth? How about two more goals and nine more points for the Portland Winterhawks center than he had all of last season, with more than half the season still to play.

Through 25 games, Petan has 44 points, tops on his team and third in the Western Hockey League. He also leads Portland in goals (16) and assists (28), and is second with a plus-25 rating.

Portland Winterhawks center Nicolas Petan changed the curve on his stick and made major strides both offensively and defensively to make the preliminary top 25 rankings of WHL skaters. (Photo: Bryan Heim/Portland Winterhawks)

Petan credits a great deal of that improvement to a slight change in the curve on his stick. It's not that he went from a flat blade to an over-sized banana curve, but he believes his minor alteration has been a help.

"It helps me physically with playing, but it helps you mentally," Petan told "You think you're going to do better with a different curve, you practice and work with it, you're really used to it. You go out there and you have success with it and you gain confidence with it."

So far, it's paid off in a big way. Thanks to his outstanding start, NHL Central Scouting ranked him 15th in its preliminary top 25 ranking of WHL skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft.

"Petan has really improved even from the start of the year," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told "The difference from last year is that he is playing with much more confidence and has gained a step, which allows him to drive to net. He has improved his quickness. He is beating defensemen out of the corners with his quickness. He's improved his overall play in handling the puck and distribution to linemates. The biggest difference, though, is he has turned into a take-charge guy. He is leading his team -- the team goes as he goes."


Sens want Zibanejad in North America, not at WJC

Thursday, 11.29.2012 / 2:06 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad, who helped end 30 years of championship futility for the Swedish National Junior Team by scoring the tournament-winning goal in January at the 2012 World Junior Championship, will remain in North America this year instead of helping his country defend its gold medal in Ufa, Russia.

The Senators confirmed a Swedish report Thursday that stated Zibanejad would remain in North America, where he plays for the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League.

"We feel like keeping Mika here to play in North America is the best decision for his development," Senators general manager Bryan Murray said. "As a young player and person, he’s learning how to play the North American style and continues to progress playing for Luke [Richardson, coach] in Binghamton. Our opinion is that the best way to continue his progress towards becoming an impact player with the Senators is to spend the full season here."


Hosts to be well-represented at Top Prospects Game

Wednesday, 11.28.2012 / 4:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will be well-represented when the 18th annual Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is played Jan. 16 at the Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Canadian Hockey League announced on Wednesday that Halifax linemates Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin will join forces for coach Don Cherry to highlight the roster for Team Cherry. MacKinnon was named captain for Team Cherry while Drouin and Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse were appointed as alternates.

Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin are rated No. 1 and No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary league rankings for the QMJHL. They will represent the host city in the Top Prospects game on Jan. 16. (Courtesy: Halifax Mooseheads)

MacKinnon and Drouin are rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary league rankings for the QMJHL. Additionally, there's a strong possibility that the No. 1-rated goalie in the QMJHL, Halifax keeper Zachary Fucale, will join his teammates at the game when rosters are formulated via NHL club nominations that should be completed by Dec. 10.

"I'm aware of the Halifax support and very thankful to be playing for Halifax, it's a great hockey market," MacKinnon said Wednesday during a media conference call. "The fans are going to be fired up for the game and it's going to be a lot of fun. The crowd is awesome here, and they support us every game so, for sure, this experience with [Drouin and possibly Fucale] is going to be special. We're going to take a lot from this game."

The contest in Halifax marks only the second time in the history of the Top Prospects Game that a team from the QMJHL will serve as host; the other was the 2007 game in Quebec City. Other past cities to host include Toronto (1996-98, 2000, 2011), Calgary (1999, 2001), Saskatoon (2002), Kitchener (2003), London (2004), Vancouver (2005), Ottawa (2006), Edmonton (2008), Oshawa (2009), Windsor (2010) and Kelowna (2012).


Coaches, captains named for Top Prospects Game

Wednesday, 11.28.2012 / 1:02 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The initial phase of constructing rosters for the 18th annual Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 16 at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was completed Wednesday when the captains, alternates and coaches were announced during a media conference call.

The Top Prospects Game showcases the Canadian Hockey League's top 40 NHL draft-eligible players, featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Former NHL player/coach and current broadcaster Don Cherry and former player and Stanley Cup champion Mike McPhee will coach the teams. McPhee, who spent nine of his 11 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, will work the bench for Team Orr, while the effervescent Cherry will serve as coach for Team Cherry. McPhee won a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986.

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Quote of the Day

He scores 50 goals, they go in, they go in, and they go in. And I think, 'Why can't I do that?'

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on teammate Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 win vs. the Hurricanes