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Oilers forward Draisaitl aims for full-time NHL role

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 5:53 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Leon Draisaitl is a year older, a year wiser, and a year further along in his development, but his goal remains the same.

The 19-year-old forward wants to become a full-time member of the Edmonton Oilers.

"It's the same mindset at last year," Draisaitl told at the Young Stars Classic tournament. "I want to establish myself as a full-time NHL player. That's my goal. That's what I worked for all summer. Putting in all this work, you don't do it for nothing. You want to make the team and then you want to impress people. That's what I'm here for."

Skjei eager for chance to crack Rangers defense corps

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 10:54 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- New York Rangers prospect Brady Skjei knows it won't be easy to crack the opening-night roster out of training camp.

That doesn't mean the 21-year-old defenseman won't put his best foot forward in an attempt to realize his dream much sooner than later.

"Every guy coming into camp has the main goal of making the team and it'll be a challenge for sure but I'm going day by day," Skjei said. "If it happens, it happens and if not, I'll go to [the American Hockey League in Hartford] and work on my game there and see what happens."

McDavid scores in Oilers debut at Young Stars

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 1:58 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Connor McDavid made his first game for the Edmonton Oilers a memorable one.

McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had a goal and an assist to help Edmonton to an 8-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at the Young Stars Classic prospects tournament on Friday.

"It was all right," said McDavid, who had three shots and was plus-1. "I mean, I could've played better personally, but the team did a great job and we played a very good game for what was the first game of the year for a lot of guys, including myself. It's the first game all year."

Bennett bulked up looking to stay with Flames

Friday, 09.11.2015 / 7:23 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Having one NHL game to his credit didn't hinder prospect Sam Bennett from turning in a solid performance for the Calgary Flames in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He's now looking -- and looking for -- bigger.

The 19-year-old has added bulk to his 6-foot-1 frame in the hopes of a full-time stay with the Flames this season.

"I had a really good summer," Bennett said Friday as one of 31 Flames participating in the Young Stars Classic. "It's nice to have a full summer of training and working hard. I knew I had to get a little bit bigger in the offseason. I'm happy with the size that I came in with (about 190 pounds after playing at 175 last season). It was a really good summer and I'm excited to get going here."

DeAngelo hopes to earn roster spot with Lightning

Friday, 09.11.2015 / 6:57 PM / Prospects

Corey Long - Correspondent

BRANDON, Fla.-- Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo continues to be one of the most talked about prospects with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft (19th overall), DeAngelo is expected to begin his first season as a professional with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, but the 19-year-old from Sewell, N.J., hopes that a strong training camp gives the Lightning a harder decision to make.

Before training camp starts next week, DeAngelo will join 22 other Lightning prospects in a four-day tournament in Estero, Fla., that begins Saturday. Prospects from the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators are also participating.

DeAngelo is looking at the tournament as a chance to make a quick first impression.

Blackhawks add intrigue to Traverse City tourney

Friday, 09.11.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Potential future stars of the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks will make their debut in the 17th Traverse City prospects tournament here at the Centre Ice Arena from Sept. 11-15.

The five-day Traverse City prospects tournament is hosted by the Detroit Red Wings and precedes their training camp at the same location, beginning Sept. 18. The event, which began in 1998 with four teams and expanded to eight teams in 2006, has become an annual preseason staple for coaches, general managers and scouts to evaluate their prospects against their peers.

The addition of the Blackhawks is certain to create a lot of intrigue and excitement.

Tournaments could be next step to NHL for prospects

Thursday, 09.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There's a strong chance a candidate for the 2016 Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year will be among the many top prospects participating in various rookie tournaments throughout the League this week.

The rookie tournaments are becoming a staple for many teams prior to the start of training camp each season.

The oldest and largest is the eight-team Traverse City Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., which will be held Sept. 11-15. Now in its 17th year, the tournament features prospects from the host Detroit Red Wings, along with the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes.

Maple Leafs' top prospects hope to accelerate rebuild

Tuesday, 09.01.2015 / 6:52 PM / Prospects

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Some of the Toronto Maple Leafs' top prospects are hoping the changes made this summer will increase their chances of making the team this season.

Mitchell Marner, Connor Brown and Kasperi Kapanen, who were in Toronto on Monday at the NHL Players' Association Rookie Showcase, believe the additions of general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock will create opportunities for them to play in the NHL sooner rather than later.

Toronto went 30-44-8 last season and finished 27th in the League standings with 68 points.

"It has been a big offseason for the city and the team," Marner said. "A lot of guys came in who have winning records and that's what this city needs, someone to come in and put their foot down and show what it's like to be a playoff team and a contender."

Bellows, Tkachuk named to All-American Game roster

Wednesday, 08.26.2015 / 12:39 PM / Prospects

Forwards Kieffer Bellows, Matthew Tkachuk and Alex DeBrincat are among the top 2016 NHL Draft prospects who have been invited to play in the 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game.

The game, which will feature 42 of the top draft-eligible American-born players, will be played Sept. 24 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

"This game provides the best U.S. players eligible for next year's NHL draft the opportunity to showcase their skills on a national stage," said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations.

Matthews excited for competition in Swiss pro league

Saturday, 08.08.2015 / 5:25 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Center Auston Matthews, who many believe will be the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, is excited for the opportunity to further his development with Zurich of the Swiss National League.

Matthews, who announced his decision to sign a one-year contract with Zurich on Friday, talked at length for the first time about playing overseas at the conclusion of United States National Junior Evaluation Camp on Saturday. The U.S. closed out the camp with a 6-1 exhibition victory against Finland.

"I'm really excited and fortunate for the opportunity to go over there and play for the Zurich Lions," Matthews said. "I started kicking around the idea of playing in Switzerland during the World Under-18 Championship in April; I saw the country and it was really nice. I was talking to a lot of people and getting feedback from players in that league."

Zurich is coached by Marc Crawford, who has 549 wins as an NHL coach.

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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