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Bruins' Bergeron remains favorite for Selke Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

The phrase "hard to play against" takes on many different meanings in hockey, depending on who is defining it.

Some think it means playing a physical, bruising style of hockey. Others think it means playing at a higher tempo, one that is difficult to keep up with.

Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is hard to play against because he executes every phase of the game so well. He is the best defensive forward in the NHL, makes life difficult for the top offensive forwards in the League on a nightly basis and is the favorite for the Selke Trophy.

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Price's value to Canadiens makes him choice for Hart

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

There isn't a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that relied on its goaltending more than the Montreal Canadiens did in the regular season. There wasn't a goalie better in the regular season than Montreal's Carey Price.

Do the math and it should be easy to determine who the Hart Trophy winner will be for the 2014-15 season. Price should be the first goaltender to be named the League's most valuable player since Jose Theodore did it in 2001-02 with the Canadiens.

"When he came back from the Olympics, winning that gold medal gave him the confidence to be a winner," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said last week. "Certainly he's a true leader for us, and as far as we're concerned he's the best player in the world. He's got an impact on every game with his leadership and he's calm. Our team plays with a lot of confidence when he's out there."

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Canadiens goalie Price top choice for Vezina Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

The Montreal Canadiens won their final three games of the regular season and finished in first place in the Atlantic Division. Without the play of their goaltender over the past six months, there's little chance they would have finished anywhere near the top.

Carey Price completed an outstanding season with a 4-3 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. After allowing four goals in back-to-back losses on March 30 and April 2, Price responded by winning his last three starts of the season.

Price finished with the most wins (44), the best goals-against average (1.96) and best save percentage (.933). He finished tied for second in the League with nine shutouts. 

That is why Price is NHL.com's pick to win the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goaltender. If selected, it would be the first time Price has won the award.

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Panthers rookie Ekblad deserving of Calder Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

What appeared to be a one-horse race early in the season turned into anything but down the stretch in the battle for the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

In the end, it was hard to ignore the accomplishments of Aaron Ekblad, the youngest defenseman in the League. The native of Windsor, Ontario, had a one of the best rookie season by an 18-year-old defenseman in NHL history, beginning his career four months after being chosen No. 1 in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers.

Nashville Predators center Filip Forsberg was the early favorite. The 20-year-old looked to be the perfect fit for new coach Peter Laviolette, who stressed offense and puck possession. He was ultimately overtaken in the rookie scoring race by Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau, 21, who defied the odds at 5-foot-9, 150 pounds.

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Sabres fire coach Nolan after 23-win season

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 9:58 PM / News

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres have made a coaching change for the second consecutive season.

Sabres general manager Tim Murray fired coach Ted Nolan on Sunday, along with assistant coach Danny Flynn. Murray announced the contracts of assistant coaches Bryan Trottier and Tom Coolen would not be renewed.

Buffalo (23-51-8) finished last in the NHL with 54 points. It's the second consecutive season the Sabres finished with the worst record in the NHL, but they improved from last season when they went 21-51-10 with 52 points.

"I didn't foresee us being a 30th-place team," Murray said. "Certainly after the trade deadline, trading out guys I had a big part in that, there's no question and I own that. But up to the trade deadline I was open to keeping guys, I was open to maybe discussing contracts with guys that were coming due, but the place we were in was the place we were in.

"We had one pretty good run where the team played well and the goaltending was outstanding and I think we went on quite a losing streak after that, I think maybe 14 games or something like that. That's a hard question. If we finish 24th and showed great improvement, is it possible that wouldn't have happened? I guess that's possible."

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Kings GM Lombardi prepares for eventful offseason

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 7:24 PM / News

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi could see the potential dynasty starting to crack at various times this season, and neither he nor his players could stop it.

Whether they will learn from that, and who will return to learn from that, remain up in the air.

Lombardi acknowledged Sunday this might have been the last go-around with the core that won the Stanley Cup twice in three years because center Jarret Stoll and right wing Justin Williams are due to become unrestricted free agents this summer.

"The reality is we didn't set out to accomplish what we set out to accomplish and, two, we've got (salary) cap issues," Lombardi said. "What we're going to do here is probably more difficult than in the past."


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Maple Leafs fire GM Nonis, interim coach Horachek

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 2:39 PM / News

NHL.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired general manager Dave Nonis and interim coach Peter Horachek on Sunday.

Toronto, which did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight season and the ninth time in the past 10 seasons, also fired assistant coaches Steve Spott and Chris Dennis, and goaltending coach Rick St. Croix.

Maple Leafs director of pro scouting Steve Kasper and director of player development Jim Hughes were also fired. The moves are in addition to other changes in the organization's full and part-time scouts in its pro, amateur and player evaluation departments.

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Jagr signs one-year contract with Panthers

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 1:18 PM / News

The Florida Panthers signed forward Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract on Sunday.

Jagr, who was acquired by the Panthers in a Feb. 26 trade with the New Jersey Devils, had six goals and 18 points in 20 games with the Panthers. Jagr had five goals and 14 points in the final 13 games of the regular season on the top line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.

In 21 NHL seasons, Jagr is fourth in NHL history in points with 1,802, fifth in goals with 722 and sixth in assists with 1,080. Jagr, 43, won the Hart Trophy as League MVP in 1999 and is a five-time Art Ross Trophy winner as scoring champion. 

"A lot of people thought I was done but those young guys [in Florida] give me extra energy, extra life and I'm glad I can continue to play," Jagr told the Panthers website. 

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Draft Lottery to be conducted Saturday, April 18

Winning Team to be Revealed in Televised Announcement on CBC, TVA Sports and NBC

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 12:00 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

NHL.com

TORONTO -- The 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, a weighted system implemented and utilized to determine the order of selection in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft for the 14 Clubs not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (or the Clubs that have acquired the first-round drafting positions of those non-playoff teams), will take place on Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m., ET.

The results of the Draft Lottery will be revealed live on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada and NBC in the U.S. immediately preceding the start of Game 2 of the Penguins-Rangers First Round series.

In August 2014, the NHL announced changes to the Draft Lottery format. The changes included adjusting the odds of winning the first overall selection. The 10 highest-finishing non-Playoff qualifying teams will receive higher (better) Draft Lottery odds than they received previously with the four lowest-finishing teams receiving lower (worse) odds.

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Vrbata providing balance, punch to Canucks offense

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 11:30 AM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks forward Chris Higgins called linemate Radim Vrbata an assassin after a two-goal game late in the regular season, but he is no longer a silent assassin.

With Vrbata's 31 goals leading the Canucks, it's hard to ignore the significance of his role in their return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing the postseason last year. Forget unsung hero, Vrbata is the Canucks MVP in many eyes, and Higgins has noticed other teams are paying special attention to the soft-spoken sniper too.

"You look at the stat sheet and see Vrbata has 31 goals and you are going to put some good players out against him," Higgins said. "You get a little more attention playing with him for sure."

That could a good thing for the Canucks now that Vrbata is no longer playing on their top line with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. After a strong start to his first season in Vancouver playing to the right of Sedin twins, Vrbata is having late-season success with Higgins and Nick Bonino on the Canucks' second line.

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Quote of the Day

Obviously there's a lot of expectations around me but it's something I try not to focus on. I'm just trying to go out there, be myself on the ice every day, try to get better, be myself around the guys in the locker room. I think that's what's made me successful and the person that I am.

— Sabres forward Jack Eichel on transitioning from college hockey to the NHL