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(Page 7 of 17)
2013-2014 Season Preview

Oilers' Yakupov always having fun on the ice

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 4:00 PM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Nail Yakupov's love of hockey runs deep.

Growing up in Russia, the Edmonton Oilers forward developed a passion for the sport and was encouraged to express it.

He still does, which makes him a popular figure in the organization.

"It comes from my home, my town and my family," Yakupov said. "My dad, my uncle and my mom, they told me you have to have fun playing hockey. You're going to get older, but you can't think about hockey as just your job. Yes, it's your job and they pay you, but you have to have fun doing it.

"You have to smile every day because you look at those guys that play 20 years in the NHL, they're always smiling because they're having fun. You can't focus on this like it's just a job."

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Avalanche's Varlamov excited to work with Roy, Allaire

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 9:10 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Like a crafty magician or a master chef, professional athletes can be wary when it comes to sharing any of their trade secrets.

At least, that's the approach being taken by Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, whose work with new goalie coach Francois Allaire has been paying off in the preseason.

"I'm working a lot with Francois and I'm trying to do things correctly," Varlamov said. "I can't say what I'm doing [differently]. I don't want to tell everybody how I'm going to play."

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Hemsky making most of unexpected return to Oilers

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Ales Hemsky was packed, had his house on the market and Edmonton in the rearview mirror.

Despite having a year left on his contract, after 10 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers the talented forward was set to cut the cord. The breakup was amicable as general manager Craig MacTavish figured both sides would benefit.

But when MacTavish was unable to trade Hemsky for what he felt was fair-market value, an awkward situation arose. And like the couple that breaks up but circumstances dictate they still live together, the two sides are making the best of the situation.

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Blues' Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester excited for pairing

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 9:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When Doug Armstrong was finally able to pull the trigger on the blockbuster trade that brought Jay Bouwmeester to St. Louis, the Blues' general manager already had visions of a foundation.

Armstrong saw a match that he thought could develop into one of the top defensive pairings in the NHL.

Armstrong and the Blues already had Alex Pietrangelo, the fourth player selected at the 2008 NHL Draft. The Florida Panthers made Bouwmeester the third pick in 2002.

But for Bouwmeester, who will turn 30 Friday, the journey to St. Louis came with much hype but few results, at least from a team perspective. The numbers were good; he averaged 14 goals his final three seasons in Florida and 42 points over the last four seasons. But the Panthers failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his six seasons in the Sunshine State.

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30 in 15: Bigger, faster Granlund seeks bounce-back

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In hindsight, the Minnesota Wild probably put too much pressure on and gave up a roster spot a bit too easily to Mikael Granlund last season.

With just seven days to vet the 20-year old center from Oulu, Finland, the Wild penciled the ninth selection in the 2010 NHL Draft into their second-line center role.

After scoring a goal in his NHL debut, Granlund didn't score another goal until April 16. In between was a demotion to the Wild's fourth line and a month with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League after a 19-game stint in which he produced the lone goal, five assists and a minus-3 rating.

Needless to say, it wasn't the season many inside or outside the organization expected.

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30 in 15: Wild need to find second-line center

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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

After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008 the Minnesota Wild experienced a quick exit last season, eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in five games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

With goaltender Niklas Backstrom sustaining a lower-body injury in warm-ups prior to Game 1, the Wild were forced to insert Josh Harding, who had started three games in the regular season. Between the sudden injury and the talent boasted by Chicago, it was too much to overcome.

A similar roster returns to Minnesota this season. Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher kept the bulk of the team intact, other than popular right wing Cal Clutterbuck and a third-round pick being traded to the New York Islanders in June for right wing Nino Niederreiter.

Backstrom bypassed unrestricted free agency to sign a three-year contract in June and rugged forward Matt Cooke left the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign with the Wild once the free-agent market opened. Veteran defenseman Keith Ballard also was signed to provide a physical presence on the blue line.

For the most part, if the Wild are going to improve this season it's going to come from within.

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30 in 15: Senators face leadership questions

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

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

The Ottawa Senators raised the bar rather high last season by overcoming a slew of injuries to become perhaps the NHL's most surprising team.

With all of those key pieces now healthy, the main question is whether this team overachieved in reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, or if it was a taste of bigger and better things to come.

"Time will tell, but we're at the point where we're no longer a young, overachieving team," new captain Jason Spezza told NHL.com. "We're a team that is expected to make the next step. We've added Bobby [Ryan], [Clarke] MacArthur and [Joe] Corvo, and these are guys that should help us get to the next level. Now it's up to us to continue to grow."

Here are three things that may determine just how much these Senators will be able to grow this season:

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30 in 15: Senators' Pageau showing playoffs no fluke

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

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

It's not often a player goes from Stanley Cup Playoff hero to training camp longshot during the course of a summer, but that accurately would describe the path Jean-Gabriel Pageau has taken since last spring.

A year ago the Ottawa Senators were trying to decide what to do with Pageau, and every option was considered: Back to junior for an overage season, to the ECHL or the American Hockey League. Playing in the NHL with the Senators would require an extraordinary set of circumstances coming to fruition.

But then Pageau began to shine with Ottawa's AHL club, the Binghamton Senators, and when a rash of injuries hit the big club, he was the most deserving player for a call-up.

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30 in 15: Wild raised the bar with playoff appearance

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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

The Minnesota Wild spent nearly $200 million in the summer of 2012 to land left wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, the two free-agent prizes on that market. The duo played key roles in ending what was a five-year Stanley Cup Playoffs drought.

Their return to the postseason didn't last long, though. By finishing eighth in the Western Conference, the Wild had to play the No. 1 seed Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, and Minnesota lost in five games.

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30 in 15: Senators look to go far with healthy lineup

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2013-2014 Season Preview

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

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

The Ottawa Senators earned the nickname "Pesky Sens" last season because of a team-wide refusal to believe that their long list of injured star players should prevent the team from winning.

With those star players now healthy, and with another big name joining the ranks, the Senators shouldn't need to be quite so pesky in order to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

"We probably surprised a few people last year with our injuries and being able to finish the way that we did," Senators forward Zack Smith told the team's website early in training camp. "I think this year there are a lot more expectations from different people, but if we're a healthy club it's going to be exciting to see what we can actually do."

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Quote of the Day

It's time we got a break. People that have watched us, I'm sure they said, 'Finally, some things are going our way.' We'll take the breaks when they go our way.

— Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien after a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday to snap a three-game losing streak
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