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2013-2014 Season Preview

30 in 15: Young Oilers seek end to playoff drought

Friday, 09.20.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Edmonton Oilers were supposed to take the next step in 2012-13 and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since their trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. They came up short, and a changing of the guard took place in April when Craig MacTavish replaced Steve Tambellini as general manager.

Dallas Eakins then was named coach June 11. Since that time, changes have been made with the hope of ending Edmonton's playoff drought.

For starters, Eakins has given the dressing room a makeover. Although the franchise has a rich history highlighted by five Stanley Cup championships, Eakins wants the room to be more about the current players, a roster that's hardly short of talent.

30 in 15: Captaincy, new coach among Oilers' issues

Friday, 09.20.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Edmonton Oilers entered the 2013 NHL Draft without the No. 1 pick for the first time since 2009, but they didn't win enough games in 2012-13 to end what has become a seven-year Stanley Cup Playoffs drought.

Changes have been made on and off the ice with hopes the hiatus will not be extended another season. Steve Tambellini is out as general manager and Craig MacTavish is in, and Dallas Eakins has replaced Ralph Krueger behind the bench.

30 in 15: Oilers' Dubnyk working at gaining respect

Friday, 09.20.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Derek Van Diest - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Devan Dubnyk still is trying to prove himself.

Despite posting a solid save percentage and backstopping his team within sight of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot last season, the Edmonton Oilers goaltender still is working to gain respect.

It's something he's learned to live with and doesn't let detract from his game.

"It's interesting," Dubnyk said. "I don't understand it too much, but the most important thing is the way I feel and the way the guys in this dressing room feel about me. That's all that really matters. I've said before that this is a League where you just can't go and be a top-five goalie one year and just expect everybody to think that way of you every year.

"You're just going to have to continue to go and do it every year. Whether people want to praise me or call me a top-10 goalie or not, I'm going to have to do it every year regardless of what they're saying."

Nyquist trying to show Red Wings he belongs

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 9:14 PM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

Gustav Nyquist would have an NHL spot already locked up on most teams.

The speedy Swedish wing, who turned 24 Sept. 1, has a skill set that might make him a top-six forward on a number of teams. He's been an elite scorer at every level but the NHL, and conventional thinking suggests all he needs to score there is an extended opportunity.

The problem is that he's with the Detroit Red Wings, a team with a logjam of forwards, most of whom are veterans. After Detroit general manager Ken Holland signed free agent forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss this summer, then retained veteran Daniel Cleary unexpectedly as training camp started, the picture for Nyquist got a lot foggier.

It's not impossible for him to stay in Detroit to start the season, but it's far from sure.

Blackhawks test Saad as second-line center

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 7:57 PM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – Brandon Saad should be the envy of the NHL right now.

One season removed from earning a spot at left wing on the Chicago Blackhawks' top line as a rookie, the 20-year old Saad is first in line to fill one of the most coveted jobs in the League. He started training camp playing center on the second line for the defending Stanley Cup champions, lining up between veteran stars Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.

Aside from a brief look at prospects camp a couple years ago, it's the first time Saad has played in the middle in his entire career, dating back to his youth hockey days.

"I'm pretty excited," he said. "Center is usually one of the best players on the ice and you get to come up the middle and you have to play well defensively. It's going to be something new for me, but I usually pride myself on playing well defensively, so hopefully that can help out."

Avs' Johnson hoping to get back on the attack

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 9:30 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- It's been seven years since Erik Johnson was chosen by the St. Louis Blues with the first pick of the 2006 NHL Draft, and so far that lofty draft status has turned out to be more of a curse.

Now at age 25 and in his fourth season with the Colorado Avalanche, the 6-foot-4, 232-pound defenseman is optimistic that he finally will get what has been a disappointing career moving in a positive direction.

A restructured management team led by executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic is one reason; a new coaching staff led by Patrick Roy is another. They were the mainstays of the Avalanche's two Stanley Cup championship teams, and Johnson believes their return to Denver in prominent roles bodes well for the team's future as well as his own.

Wild forward Brodziak primed for rebound season

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It's not often a third-line center is mentioned amongst a team's most valuable contributors.

Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo means it every time he says it.

In Yeo's eyes, Kyle Brodziak does much more than simply eat ice time until Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu jump back over the boards. Often, it's Brodziak's group that will be charged with shutting down an opponent's top line.

Brodziak is a key cog in the Wild's typically-stingy penalty kill. He even saw time on the team's power play last season.

Seven big storylines involving potential 2014 UFAs

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Executives across the NHL are already having discussions and conducting negotiations that will affect the makeup of the 2014 unrestricted free-agent market.

There are more than 250 players who can become unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2014. The majority will hit the open market that day, but some of the more prominent names could be in headlines long beforehand, including around March 5, which is the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline.

Here are seven storylines involving potential 2014 unrestricted free agents that bear watching in the days, weeks and months ahead:

30 in 15: Flames seeking someone to replace Kiprusoff

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

John Kreiser - Columnist continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The 2013-14 season figures to be a rebuilding campaign for the Calgary Flames, who haven't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2009. The Flames finished 13th in the Western Conference last season and have seen Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, the last two links to the 2004 team that came within one victory of winning the Stanley Cup, leave in the past six months.

Here are three key issues the Flames face at training camp as they prepare for the new season:

30 in 15: Monahan's future may be now for Flames

Thursday, 09.19.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

John Kreiser - Columnist continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Calgary Flames' needs up the middle could be Sean Monahan's ticket to the NHL this season.

The Flames are in severe need of a center they can build around. They hope that player can be Monahan, the sixth player selected in the 2013 NHL Draft and the center of attention with Calgary's entry in the Young Stars Classic earlier this month.

Monahan was the earliest pick the Flames have had since they took Rico Fata with the sixth choice in the 1998 draft. He has no intention of ending up like Fata, who never became the player the Flames hoped he would be and has spent the past six-plus seasons in Europe after 230 NHL games.

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