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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 - Correspondent

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.

Vladimir Kuznetsov picked first in CHL Import Draft

Tuesday, 06.30.2015 / 4:20 PM / Prospects

Russian forward Vladimir Kuznetsov, a prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, was selected by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the first pick of the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-2, 189-pound right wing had seven goals and five assists in 43 games with Yekaterinburg in Russia's Junior League this season. He also had one point in six games to help Russia win the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

"We are very excited to select a player like Vladimir," Titan general manager Sylvain Couturier said. "He is a big and strong winger with skill. Being 17 years old, it fits exactly with our age group. The future is continuing to look really good for our organization."

Eriksson Ek, Larsson to head to Sweden WJC camp

Tuesday, 06.30.2015 / 2:25 PM / Prospects

Center Joel Eriksson Ek and defenseman Jacob Larsson, first-round picks at the 2015 NHL Draft, are among the 24 players who will take part in a summer evaluation camp for Sweden. It's one of the first steps toward picking the team that will represent Sweden at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The camp will be held Aug. 2-8 in Lake Placid, N.Y., as part of the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp. Sweden will practice and play games against the United States and Finland.

Larsson, selected at No. 27 by the Anaheim Ducks, had eight goals and 19 points in 30 games with Frolunda's team in Sweden's under-20 league and one goal and two assists in 20 games with Frolunda in the SHL. The 6-foot-2, 191-pound defender was No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top European skaters.

Sprong hoping to become next Dutch-born NHL player

Thursday, 05.21.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Daniel Sprong might have been considered an outsider growing up in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In a country where most young athletes aspire to become professional soccer players, Sprong had a different passion.

"There was only one hockey rink in Amsterdam; soccer in Amsterdam is like hockey in Canada," Sprong said. "It's very rare that kids in Amsterdam play hockey. When I first started working on fundamentals when I was 4 or 5 years old, I played on a team with 12- and 13-year-old kids."

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Quote of the Day

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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