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Strome back to juniors feeling he learned a lot

Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 3:26 PM / Prospects

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After watching the first two games of the 2011-12 season, Ryan Strome is headed back to the Ontario Hockey League.
Strome, the fifth pick at the 2011 Entry Draft, was returned by the New York Islanders to the Niagara Ice Dogs on Thursday morning. Strome said goodbye to teammates at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, addressed the media and headed straight for the airport.
"They told me they wanted to keep me here for some experience," said Strome, who had 33 goals and 73 assists in 65 games for Niagara last season, his first full junior campaign. "I did that. I know it's been a week now and I think I've learned a lot. I'm just happy I got the opportunity to be around the team during the regular season and see what it's like. They wanted to me to get a good taste of things, and I think I did that."

Wild prospect Lucia opts for Notre Dame

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:19 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

While Mario Lucia won't be coached by his father in college, he'll instead follow a similar collegiate path.

Lucia, who currently is starring for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, committed to the University of Notre Dame on Thursday and will join the Fighting Irish in the fall of 2012. The decision closes the book on the countless questions regarding his collegiate destination as the 6-foot-2, 187-pound left wing also was considering Colorado College and Minnesota.

Lucia's father, Don Lucia, is the coach at the University of Minnesota but also graduated from Notre Dame in 1981 and played hockey there. Don lettered three times as a defenseman at Notre Dame and served as assistant team captain his senior year.

Warsofsky faces tough challenges to make Bruins

Friday, 09.16.2011 / 1:23 PM / Prospects

Deborah Francisco - Staff Writer

Rookie defenseman David Warsofsky is trying to become the ninth member of Boston University's 2009 NCAA National Championship team to make the NHL. The fact that he'll have to it by earning a spot of the defending Stanley Cup champs makes the assignment a lot tougher.

Warsofsky is trying to join a list of former teammates who have already cracked the NHL that already includes Colin Wilson (Nashville), Nick Bonino (Anaheim), Brandon Yip (Colorado), Matt Gilroy (Tampa Bay), Colby Cohen (Boston), John McCarthy (San Jose), Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis) and Brian Strait (Pittsburgh).

But the task ahead of Warsofsky is more difficult than most -- the Bruins have almost everyone back from the team that beat Vancouver for the Cup last spring.

"It's obviously not going to be easy," he told 

Gregoire back home with chance to play in NHL

Friday, 09.16.2011 / 12:12 PM / Prospects

Ryan Pinder - Correspondent

After amassing 109 points in 120 games in three seasons at the University of North Dakota, Winnipeg native Jason Gregoire has returned home in his quest to join the NHL ranks.

Gregoire measure in at 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds now, but he was a late bloomer physically, so he chose the college route to help his development.

"I think I found about college hockey when I was 15," said Gregoire. "By then you're already drafted by the WHL, and you have this Western League mentality. Talking to younger kids, I wish there was more exposure to the college route, because for some kids that's definitely the better route for them. Someone like me, who's not the biggest guy on the ice, you need those extra years to mature physically and mentally. I think that's one of the biggest assets I've taken from college hockey."

Nine players who stood out in Traverse City

Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 9:46 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- It was only one year ago that forwards Jeff Skinner and Derek Stepan and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo were providing a sampling of what would be a pretty productive inaugural season in the NHL with their performance in the Traverse City prospects tournament.
Skinner went on to win the Calder Trophy as the League's top rookie with the Carolina Hurricanes. Stepan scored an opening-night hat trick for the New York Rangers and finished with 21 goals and 45 points. Pietrangelo played 79 games in 2010-11 and produced 11 goals and a team-leading 32 assists for the St. Louis Blues.

Bunz focused on quick start, big year

Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 9:28 AM / Prospects

Ryan Pinder - Correspondent

Tyler Bunz, the No. 1 goaltender for the Western Hockey League's Medicine Hat Tigers, may not actually be in the Tigers' net that much this winter. The 19-year-old has already missed time while playing with Edmonton Oilers prospects during this week's Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C. He'll miss more time by attending training camp with the Oilers, perhaps including some preseason play -- and that's not even counting Team Canada's events building to the World Junior Championships and the CHL's Subway Series against Russia.

To achieve all that, Bunz will have to get off to a fast start -- something he hasn't always done.

"It's definitely going to be a year where I need to come out and play strong, especially in the first half of the season if I want to have a shot at that World Juniors team," Bunz said. "It's been kind of been one of my knocks over the course of my career where I don't have good starts. This year can't be like that. I need to go out there, right from the first game, and identify myself as a goalie and make a good statement out there. 

Babcock dishes on Lidstrom, players to watch

Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 8:56 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

"We got six lines coming to training camp that all think they can play in the NHL. We'll get a good look at prospects Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, (Jan) Mursak, (Cory) Emmerton and many others. They're all in the running, so we'll see what happens." -- Wings coach Mike Babcock

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The secret's out on how the Detroit Red Wings game plan for a majority of their opponents.
"We talk to our best players all the time and we call (the plays) Nick-isms and Pav-isms and Z-isms because we steal what they do and turn it into a system play because they do it better than anyone else," Detroit coach Mike Babcock told
And, to think, we all thought Babcock was a master tactician.
The veteran coach is referring, of course, to defenseman Nick Lidstrom, center Pavel Datsyuk and left wing Henrik 'Z' Zetterberg. The 41-year-old Lidstrom needs to win just one more Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman to tie the great Bobby Orr.

Young talent shined at Oshawa Rookie Tournament

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 1:15 PM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - Correspondent

OSHAWA, Ont. -- The Oshawa Rookie Tournament may have concluded, but the talent won't be forgotten any time soon.
The Ottawa Senators, who won the tournament with a 3-0 record, showed they have some significant skill in the pipeline. Mika Zibanejad, the sixth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, scored two of the prettiest goals of the tournament, and his flash and willingness to go hard to the net will make him a contender for the big club in the next few weeks.

Stephane Da Costa will be another name on GM Bryan Murray's list after this past weekend. With 4 goals during the tournament, including the competition's only hat trick, his offensive skill definitely made waves here.

Zibanejad tries to make his mark with Sens

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 1:00 PM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - 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.

Carter allows Jackets to be patient with Johansen

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 10:23 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - 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 "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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For six months, it's a really good accomplishment. But as soon as April [11, the end of the regular season] comes around, no one thinks about the regular season anymore. For six months, it's a real battle to get into the playoffs in the NHL these days. There are a lot of good teams, and it takes consistency over a long time.

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