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(Page 28 of 38)
Prospects

Zibanejad tries to make his mark with Sens

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 1:00 PM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad. (Getty Images)
OSHAWA, Ont. -- Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad, the sixth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, has an eclectic background, with Iranian, Finnish and Swedish bloodlines. But as those attending this weekend's Oshawa Rookie Tournament soon discovered the 18-year-old's game also has an international flair.

"I try to mix my European style and my North American style," Zibanejad said. "I'm not afraid to play a physical game, but I'm not hiding my skills, either. I try to use them as much as possible. I like it out here (in Canada). It's tough. The decisions you have to make come in a split-second, so I'm enjoying it here at the tournament."

The young center's experience largely has come on the international-sized ice surface, but Zibanejad has not had any trouble making the adjustment to the smaller, North American-sized rink.
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Carter allows Jackets to be patient with Johansen

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 10:23 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We drafted Ryan because we needed to get stronger through the middle of the ice. He has an opportunity to come in and battle for a job on our hockey team, but at the same time he doesn't have to be one of our top two centers if he does make our hockey club. He's a talented kid who can play in a lot of situations." -- Scott Arniel

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The offseason acquisition of Jeff Carter did a lot more than strengthen the Columbus Blue Jackets down the middle. It enabled the organization to have a little patience with their top prospect, Ryan Johansen.
 
Many believe Johansen, the fourth choice of the 2010 Entry Draft, will earn an NHL roster spot at training camp. However, instead of having the 19-year-old shoe-horned into a top two-line role, now he can be eased into what has become a pretty competitive environment up front in Columbus.
 
"Obviously, we're in a different position than maybe we would have been two months ago prior to the Jeff Carter trade," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel told NHL.com. "We drafted Ryan because we needed to get stronger through the middle of the ice. He has an opportunity to come in and battle for a job on our hockey team, but at the same time he doesn't have to be one of our top two centers if he does make our hockey club. He's a talented kid who can play in a lot of situations."
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Gudbranson in control on and off the ice

Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 5:05 PM / Prospects

Lonnie Herman - NHL.com Correspondent

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The outlook couldn't be brighter, nor the expectations higher, than for Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson, the team's first-round selection (No. 3) at the 2010 Entry Draft.

Beyond his physical attributes, which at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds are NHL-caliber, and his obvious skill on the ice, the most recurring comment echoed among scouts concern his maturity and leadership. As an example, they cite his ability to block out all the hype surrounding his potential to go high in the draft during the 2009-10 season.

"I made a mental note not to check anything, not to listen to anything that was said and not to read anything," Gudbranson said. "Doing that kept me really humble as well, and really focused. That was a good thing and I ended up getting selected as the first defenseman taken."

That sort of self-control translates to the ice, where Gudbranson, 19, is a vocal leader, calling for the puck and shouting instructions. At Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators here at the 2011 Florida Rookie Tournament, he assisted on the Panthers' only goal in a 3-1 loss.
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Leafs' Ross wants to show he's not just a pest

Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 12:24 PM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

OSHAWA, Ont. -- When Brian Burke took the reins as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, truculence became the order of the day.

Toronto prospect Brad Ross embodies the meaning of the word, and has no problem with the title at all. In fact, he's ready to follow in the footsteps of one of the Leafs' most infamous agitators.

"Yeah, I'm OK with it for sure," Ross said of being known as a pest. "I like to model my game after Darcy Tucker and he did that exceptionally well for Toronto when he played there, so I just really want to try and be like him. He's good friends with my assistant coach in Portland, and he shares stories with me about him and his game. It's pretty good. He reminds me of how much of a team guy Tucker was."
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Late-bloomer Breen impressing Flames

Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 10:30 AM / Prospects

Ryan Pinder - NHL.com Correspondent

Calgary Flames prospect Chris Breen. (Photo: Brad Watson/NHLI)
It's not often you find an undrafted 6-foot-7, 21-year-old defenseman with a season of AHL hockey under his belt. Since, as the saying goes, "you can’t teach size," why not take a late-round flyer on that huge kid, right? That makes the case of towering Calgary Flames defense prospect Christopher Breen a touch curious.

In reality, Breen wasn't slighted -- he just wasn’t showing all his potential in his draft-eligible years. The native of Uxbridge, Ont., didn’t play in the Ontario Hockey League until his 18-year-old season; since then, he has added three inches and a whole lot of bulk to his frame.

He's the textbook case of the late bloomer.

"In the OHL I was one of the guys on the back burner, and this year in (AHL) Abbotsford I played hard and got some good coaching and made some big strides in my game," Breen said of his sharp ascent.
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Erixon hopes to follow in father's footsteps with NYR

Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 10:23 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Tim Erixon can't explain why he chose to man the blue line instead of playing forward the way his father once did, but it appears he made the right decision.
 
"To be honest, I don't know why I chose to be a defender," Erixon told NHL.com. "I played the position for as long as I remember. My dad never pushed me to play -- I don't know why. I know that it's a just great opportunity to be here."
 
It's still early, but there's no question the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is proving to be quite a pickup for the New York Rangers. In two victories at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament here at Center ICE Arena, Erixon has a goal, 3 points and a plus-1 rating. The smooth-skating Erixon has been paired mostly with rugged 6-5, 215-pound Dylan McIlrath
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Nyquist and Smith pushing for jobs with Wings

Tuesday, 09.13.2011 / 10:02 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- There never seems to be a shortage of talent in the Detroit Red Wings' farm system.
 
This year is no exception, particularly with former Hobey Baker Award finalists Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith powering through the ranks. Both were front and center for the Red Wings during the Traverse City Prospect Tournament here at Center ICE Arena this week.
 
Nyquist grew up in Malmo, Sweden, but his English is impeccable and after three productive seasons at the University of Maine, during which he was a Hobey Baker finalist two straight seasons, he appears ready to take the next step.
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Is third time the charm for Ellis?

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 10:16 PM / Prospects

Lonnie Herman - NHL.com Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The third time may be the charm for Ryan Ellis the third time may be the charm.

That's the hope for the Nashville Predators' first-round draft choice from 2009, who has attended training camp with the club the last two years, only to be returned to the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.

Ellis finished last season in the American Hockey League with Nashville's affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. That step-up appeared to be a smooth transition for the 20-year old, who arrived in time for the playoffs and appeared in seven games and contributed 1 goal and 1 assist.

So, is that enough seasoning to enable him to make the jump to the National Hockey League this year?
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Canucks preaching patience with prospect Connauton

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 2:28 PM / Prospects

Ryan Pinder - NHL.com Correspondent

"He's still pretty young. He's going into his second year pro, so we feel it's important that he plays a lot, and that he's developing in that regard. We have to be patient with our young kids, and we can afford to be right now with the depth that we have. " -- Dave Gagner

He's 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, rushes the puck well and has an uncanny ability to get pucks through traffic to the net. There's certainly a lot to like about defenseman Kevin Connauton, who is coming off an impressive first professional season and now is trying to raise eyebrows at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C.

Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks after his freshman season at Western Michigan University, Connauton wasn't always considered NHL material by scouts; in fact he was passed over in his first draft-eligible season after putting up strong numbers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Spruce Grove Saints (45 points in 56 games in 2007-08).
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Saad using World Junior cut as motivational tool

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 11:03 AM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

"He's showing us he's on the right path. He's going to go back and play junior hockey this year, and that will help teach him all the little things about becoming a pro. All the little details matter and we've really been trying to stress that to Brandon and the rest of the guys the past two days." -- Blackhawks prospect coach Ted Dent

OSHAWA, Ont. -- Like all of the players coming into the Oshawa rookie tournament, Chicago's Brandon Saad just wanted to be noticed.

With 5 points in two games, he has been achieving that goal.

"I wanted to make a good impression like everyone else," Saad said. "I didn't expect to do poorly, but I guess I've been clicking more with my linemates (Jimmy Hayes and Phillip Danault) more than I expected."

Ted Dent, who is coaching the Blackhawks prospects here, agrees.

"I'm really happy with how quickly they have jelled," Dent said. "They have great chemistry."
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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness