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Waterboy, Phaneuf reunite with Maple Leafs: report

Saturday, 07.11.2015 / 10:27 AM / Prospects

If defenseman Andrew Nielsen makes the Toronto Maple Leafs roster one day and gets to skate alongside Dion Phaneuf, it won't be the first time they'll be co-workers.

Nielsen, the Maple Leafs' third-round pick (No. 65) at the 2015 NHL Draft, was the waterboy for the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League from 2003-05. Phaneuf was a top defenseman for Red Deer at the time.

"It was pretty cool to idolize him, watch what he did best and see him grow as a person," Nielsen told the Toronto Sun during Maple Leafs development camp this week. "I tried to take in as much as I could from him.

"He hasn't called me yet, but the trainer I work out with still keeps in contact with him and texted congratulations. I'd go to Flames games in Calgary when I was younger, where he'd give a puck or whatever. I've not talked to him for a long time, but I'm sure we'll hook up at training camp."

Adding size weighty issue for Jets' Ehlers, Morrissey

Saturday, 07.11.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have never strayed from their emphasis on youth and player development since general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff's arrival in 2011.

The potential rewards of Cheveldayoff's patience, including recent NHL Draft first-round picks in left wing Nikolaj Ehlers and defenseman Joshua Morrissey, headlined the Jets' annual development camp this week.

The next stage of development for Ehlers and Morrissey will involve more time in the workout room this summer.

Flames' Bennett knows he has to prove himself

Saturday, 07.11.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- Following a roller-coaster season that began with major surgery and ended with a high-pressure audition in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sam Bennett maintains he took the entire process in stride.

The Calgary Flames' 19-year-old prospect is so insistent that the ride that saw him go from training-camp hopeful to sidelined for five months by shoulder surgery to junior standout to playoff hero -- all in the span of a single season -- hasn't elevated his expectations of what's to come in the least.

"It's been a crazy year," Bennett said during Flames development camp. "At some points it was really tough on me, and other points it was the best time of my life. It was a crazy year, but I was really happy with the way it turned out.

Zykov could be latest King to fast-track to NHL

Friday, 07.10.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings prospect Valentin Zykov won't allow himself to think about the significant change that is about to happen in his hockey career.

By the end of summer he will go from the cold climes of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League in Southern California.

Not only will Zykov change coasts, he will begin his professional career under the excitement of the Reign, who will play their inaugural season as the Kings' AHL affiliate.

Prospects vying to fill scoring role on Canadiens

Thursday, 07.09.2015 / 5:00 PM / Prospects

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens entered this offseason with a need for scoring, and barring any drastic moves from general manager Marc Bergevin it looks like that need will be filled from within.

Bergevin has not signed an unrestricted free agent forward since the market opened July 1 but acquired forward Zack Kassian from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade for Brandon Prust, which could be considered an upgrade offensively.

Assuming the status quo is maintained, it looks as though the scoring boost might need to come from one or perhaps two of the players who completed Canadiens development camp Thursday.

Bergevin said as much July 2 when asked how he plans on addressing an offense that finished 20th in the NHL last season, last among teams that qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Why draft players if you're never going to give them a chance?" Bergevin asked.

Ho-Sang aims to make Islanders roster this season

Thursday, 07.09.2015 / 4:17 PM / Prospects

Kristen Nelson - Staff Writer

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Midway through the second period of the New York Islanders' annual Blue & White scrimmage at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Joshua Ho-Sang came off the ice and sat directly on forward Connor Graham's lap.

Seemingly a little confused, Graham smiled and allowed his lifelong friend to rest for a few seconds before the two burst into laughter and Ho-Sang found a vacant spot on the bench.

"I don't think you should do anything without having fun, it's kind of pointless," Ho-Sang said. "I've known Connor for almost my whole life. Being able to make jokes like that kind of lightens the mood."

That lighthearted approach is how Ho-Sang, a first-round pick (No. 28) at the 2014 NHL Draft, is carrying himself through the duration of Islanders development camp.

Larkin got attention of Red Wings coach in AHL

Thursday, 07.09.2015 / 12:56 PM / Prospects

Detroit Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin has met his share of challenges on his road to trying to earn an NHL roster spot.

In his first season at the University of Michigan in 2014-15, he was named the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year. He was arguably the best player for the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, and he surprised Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill with his play in Grand Rapids during the American Hockey League playoffs late last season.

Blashill, who coached Larkin with the Grand Rapids Griffins before replacing Mike Babcock as Detroit coach, is anxious to see what more Larkin can muster in his first NHL training camp in September.

Futures List indicates great depth for 2016 NHL Draft

Thursday, 07.09.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The buildup to the 2015 NHL Draft was filled with intrigue and excitement behind the exceptionally talented Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

McDavid was selected with the first pick by the Edmonton Oilers and Eichel went No. 2 to the Buffalo Sabres. Each has looked sharp in his respective rookie camp, but several other players taken after the dynamic duo have also impressed.

Many scouts believe an even better collection of blue-chip standouts await NHL teams in the 2016 draft at First Niagara Center on June 24-25, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y.

Gauthier determined to make Maple Leafs roster

Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have been stockpiling smaller, skilled forwards the past few years, but a larger center best known for his defense will take a stab at making their roster this  season.

Frederik Gauthier, 20, helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, then had 16 points in 20 playoff games to help the Rimouski Oceanic win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's President Cup and advance to the Memorial Cup.

Now, he's determined to turn professional.

"My goal this year is to make the team," Gauthier said Tuesday at Maple Leafs development camp at MasterCard Centre. "I think I worked hard last year and the year before and I think I am ready. I'm going to keep working out and improving and try to make the team."

2016 draft prospect among Finland WJ camp invites

Monday, 07.06.2015 / 3:33 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Right wing Jesse Puljujarvi, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, highlights the list of 28 players invited by Finland to attend the United States National Junior Evaluation Camp, to be held Aug. 1-8 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The camp is one of the first steps toward picking the team that will represent Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held in Helsinki between Dec. 26 and Jan. 5, 2016. During the camp Finland will practice and play games against the United States and Sweden.

Two other players invited to the camp already have been drafted in the first round. Right wing Kasperi Kapanen was taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the 22nd pick of the 2014 draft; he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Phil Kessel trade July 1.

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Well, for me this one's concerning, the way we performed. Because three games in, playing a desperate team on the road, I was expecting something else than this. Right now, I'm just disappointed. The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game. There wasn't a lot accomplished in tonight's game.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards after a 4-2 loss to the Sabres on Monday dropped Columbus to 0-3-0
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