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Blues happy Rattie picked hockey instead of baseball

Monday, 07.29.2013 / 10:10 AM / Prospects

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Before tearing up the Western Hockey League with 347 points in four seasons -- including 231 over the past two -- St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie had an incredibly arduous decision to make before becoming a Portland Winterhawk.

The 32nd pick in the 2011 NHL Draft turned a simple phone call into a blossoming career in the Western Hockey League.

In 2012-13, he had 110 points, a season that culminated with a 36-point postseason that led the Winterhawks to the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. He also led the team with six goals and 12 points in five games at the Memorial Cup.

Life was good for Rattie, but looking back, he almost never gave the Winterhawks a chance.

Forsberg, Lindholm off Sweden WJC camp roster

Friday, 07.26.2013 / 2:50 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

As host nation for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, Sweden hopes to assemble the best team possible. However, two of its top forwards might not be available for the elite under-20 tournament.

Filip Forsberg and Elias Lindholm have been removed from the roster Sweden will bring to Lake Placid, N.Y., for USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp.

The camp, to be held Aug. 3-10, will have Sweden practicing and playing exhibition games against teams from the United States, Canada and Finland. It's the first step in the roster makeup for teams taking part in the 2014 World Juniors, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2014, and will be held in Malmo, Sweden.

Cooper, Kleinendorst to assist U.S. at WJC camp

Friday, 07.26.2013 / 12:16 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Iowa Wild coach Kurt Kleinendorst will serve as assistant coaches during USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp.

The camp, the first step in picking the team that will represent the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, will be held Aug. 3-10 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Cooper will start his first full season with the Lightning after replacing Guy Boucher in the middle of last season. Cooper has won championships in the American Hockey League and United States Hockey League.

Stars GM: Nichushkin will get chance to make roster

Wednesday, 07.24.2013 / 1:22 PM / Prospects

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

With two first-round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft, Jim Nill knew he had a unique opportunity to rebuild the Dallas Stars when the club named him its general manager in April. But he didn't know a potential franchise player would fall into his lap at No. 10.

The second-ranked European skater according to NHL Central Scouting, Russian wing Valeri Nichushkin. was a 6-foot-4 man-child in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, earning the Alexei Cherepanov Award as its top rookie. Concerns over his KHL contract likely compelled some teams to pass on him, and the Stars snapped up the 202-pound forward. They now plan on giving him every chance to crack the roster.

"We were excited. I think it's no secret, everybody had him as one of the top three players in the draft," Nill said. "If he was playing [Canadian junior hockey] somewhere in Moose Jaw or Peterborough, he probably would have been a top-three pick. There is risk with the Russian factor, everybody knows that. Where we were picking, he was a player we couldn't pass on. There was just too much there."

Flyers hope trio of prospects spells future on defense

Monday, 07.22.2013 / 7:35 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The Philadelphia Flyers finished the 2012-13 season with six defensemen on the injured list, one of the reasons the team missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.

While it gave opportunities to younger players to come up from the American Hockey League and showcase themselves, one of the top items on the offseason to-do list for general manager Paul Holmgren was adding to his defense corps -- in the present and in the future.

He took care of the present by trading for impending free agent Mark Streit and then signing the 35-year-old to a four-year contract.

He also took care of the future with the team's first two picks of the 2013 NHL Draft, selecting Samuel Morin at No. 11 in the first round and Robert Hagg in the second round (No. 41).

Those two, combined with 2012 third-round pick Shayne Gostisbehere, give the Flyers three blueliners they hope will make an impact in the near future.

Adversity spurred Flyers' Cousins to best season

Sunday, 07.21.2013 / 9:00 AM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Nick Cousins always enjoyed playing hockey, but during the 2012-13 season the rink also provided refuge for him.

Cousins, a 2011 third-round pick (No. 68) of the Philadelphia Flyers, threw himself into the game, and the payoff was a breakout season when he almost led the Ontario Hockey League in scoring.

"With all the off-ice issues it was tough mentally, emotionally, physically even," Cousins told "It was tough, but going to the rink every day, it was my escape from all that other stuff, all the other distractions. … It helped my game, and my play sort of shows with that."

Cousins and two teammates from the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were arrested in August 2012 and charged with sexual assault. The charges were dropped in April 2013 when the prosecution asked that the charges be withdrawn, citing "no reasonable prospect of conviction."

Payerl's physicality could earn spot with Penguins

Saturday, 07.20.2013 / 12:26 PM / Prospects

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- One by one, mostly in an unsolicited fashion, high-ranking members of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization sung the praises of center Adam Payerl.

A relative unknown a year ago after going undrafted and exhausting his junior eligibility, Payerl is about six months removed from playing in the ECHL. His meteoric rise through the organizational depth chart has Payerl on the cusp of competing for an NHL roster spot this fall.

"He's a guy you believe could fill a role in the bottom of your NHL lineup," assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald said.

"He's one of our guys who has taken the biggest steps ... something we can use [in Pittsburgh]," Penguins player development coach Bill Guerin said.

Jets could turn to Scheifele, Trouba to fill lineup gaps

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 6:44 PM / Prospects

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

Mark Scheifele is fresh off a 39-goal season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL. (Photo: Getty Images)

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets wrapped up their development camp Friday afternoon hoping to find a few answers for the many questions that confront them this summer.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff must determine whether two recent first-round selections, center Mark Scheifele and defenseman Jacob Trouba, can help fill the gaps in a lineup that lost a pair of players.

NHL jobs certainly are available in Winnipeg this fall.

Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey helped stabilize the Jets' top four over the past two seasons. However, the 32-year-old is examining options as an unrestricted free agent and his return appears unlikely. Center Alexander Burmistrov, the Jets' 2010 first-round selection (No. 8), elected to leave after three seasons for a deal with AK Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Penguins boast plenty of young talent on defense

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 6:32 PM / Prospects

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

Bill Guerin marvels at the maturity of almost-19-year-old Olli Maatta. (Photo: Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH -- Alain Nasreddine can barely contain his excitement.

As the assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton whose focus is working with the defensemen, Nasreddine is enthusiastic about the thought of working with a projected group of defensemen that's brimming with some of the NHL's top prospects at the position.

"I've always enjoyed working with a younger D," the fourth-year assistant coach said. "Now being put in a position to be dealing with guys with that much talent -- talent that I never had as a player -- it's pretty nice."

Brian Dumoulin, Derrick Pouliot, Olli Maatta and Scott Harrington form a quartet of blue-line prospects that's likely unmatched across the NHL. None of the four is older than 21, and each was a first- or second-round draft pick. All are projected for top-four NHL roles at some point -- it's just a matter of when.

Forsberg one of 10 Swedish returnees for WJC camp

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 2:13 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg is one of 10 players from Sweden's silver-medal winners at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship that will take part in USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp next month.

The camp, Aug. 3-10 in Lake Placid, N.Y., will see Sweden practice and play exhibition games against teams from the United States, Canada and Finland. It's the first step in the roster makeup for teams taking part in the 2014 World Juniors in Malmo, Sweden, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 2014.

Forsberg, who was the captain of last year's team, had three goals and two assists in six games. However, his availability for Sweden at this year's WJC is questionable after Forsberg made his NHL debut late last season. After totaling 33 points in 38 games with Leksand in Sweden's Allsvenskan, he had one assist in five NHL games in April after he was traded to Nashville from the Washington Capitals.

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— 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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