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Varone signs one-year contract with Sabres

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 3:32 PM / NHL Free Agency 2015

The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has signed forward Philip Varone to a one-year, two-way contract.

Varone (5'10", 185 lbs., 12/4/1990) appeared in a career-high 28 NHL games during three recalls with the Sabres in 2014-15, logging five points (3+2) and 10 penalty minutes. He spent the majority of the season with the Rochester Americans (AHL), where he posted team-leading totals in both points (44) and assists (29) for the third time in his four AHL seasons, earning a spot in the AHL All-Star Game.

First-round pick Eriksson Ek signs with Wild

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 2:42 PM / News

The Minnesota Wild has signed 2015 NHL Entry Level Draft pick Joel Eriksson Ek to a three-year, entry-level contract.

"We're excited to officially have Joel under contract," said Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr. "He's a top young player with an exciting package of size, skill, hockey sense and character. We are committed to working with him in the development process and look forward to seeing him in a Wild uniform in the near future."

Sabres, Maple Leafs among most improved teams

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The whirlwind of the NHL offseason has died down and the dog days of summer are starting to set in, which makes it the perfect time to assess and evaluate what has happened since June 15, the night the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup at United Center.

With that, here is a list of the 10 teams (listed in alphabetical order) as identified by that have improved the most since the end of last season:

Kreider expects 'big things' from Rangers this season

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 1:56 PM / NHL Insider

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider is hungry for more.

The Rangers have made three trips to the Eastern Conference Final in four seasons, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2014. But the Stanley Cup has eluded Kreider and the Rangers, and that's not lost on the 24-year-old about to enter his third full season in the NHL.

"You know me, I'm always hungry, figuratively and literally," Kreider said in video posted by during a recent visit to Rangers Youth Hockey Camp. "You get a taste of that and when you're seeing a team on the other side, whether it be the conference final or the Stanley Cup Final, hoisting that trophy or celebrating … you want it that much more."

Avalanche sign first-round pick Rantanen

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 1:22 PM / News

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Mikko Rantanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Rantanen, 18, was Colorado’s first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft held last month. The top-rated international player according to NHL Central Scouting, Rantanen tallied 28 points (9g/19a) in 56 games for TPS in the Finnish Elite League (Liiga) this past season while serving as an alternate captain. The Nousiainen, Finland, native also played for the TPS junior club during the 2014-15 playoffs, helping the squad win the league championship with 14 points (6g/8a) in seven contests. Rantanen was given Best Player honors by the league for his postseason success.

Ron Wilson sees Kessel scoring 40 goals for Penguins

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 12:12 PM / News

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Former NHL coach Ron Wilson predicts a big season ahead for Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Phil Kessel, no matter who centers his line in 2015-16.

In fact, Wilson said Kessel could establish a career high with 40 goals his first season in Pittsburgh.

He should know. Wilson coached Kessel for parts of three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs when the 27-year-old had three of his five 30-goal seasons.

Wilson, who will coach the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland, recently talked about Kessel with After he scored 37 goals and had 80 points in 82 games with the Maple Leafs in 2013-14, Kessel had 25 goals and 61 points in 82 games in 2014-15.

"Pittsburgh is building a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup now, and I think Phil is only going to add to their success, so I expect him to score at least 40 goals this year and be a dominant player again," Wilson said.

Flyers hire Scott Gordon to coach AHL Lehigh Valley

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 10:05 AM / News

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have hired Scott Gordon as head coach of their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, according to general manager Ron Hextall. In addition, Hextall announced that Riley Cote will return as an Assistant Coach of the Phantoms.

"We are extremely pleased to add Scott to our organization as head coach of our top affiliate in the Lehigh Valley," said Hextall. "He brings in a proven track record of success and knowledge as a coach at all levels, and we are confident he can help develop our prospects through our system, as well as lead the Phantoms back to the Calder Cup playoffs."

Davidson says Blue Jackets 'have to prove it': report

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 8:50 AM / News

Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson is pleased with the additions made this summer, but realizes they must translate into success on the ice.

The Blue Jackets failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, but went 15-1-1 over the final 17 games of the regular season. Since then, they've acquired forward Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks and signed forward Gregory Campbell as a free agent.

"I like our club, a lot of people like our club, but we have to go out and perform," Davidson told the The Columbus Dispatch. "We haven't proven anything to anybody yet."

Young players impress Sabres coach, GM at camp

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- When the Buffalo Sabres wrapped up development camp Sunday, those in charge of turning around the franchise expressed optimism about the direction they are headed.

"I think you saw [improvement] in, and I don't want to bring up names because I'm going to forget names, but I think the guys that were here last year for the first time vs. coming in for the second time this year showed great improvement," Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. "And they know when they get here it's going to be a lot of hard work and that they have to be ready for it.

"I go back to last year, and I judge from there on because I don't know exactly what they did before they got here. So I'm going from last year forward, and I like what I see."

More than 40 players took part in the annual camp that was highlighted by the Sabres' first-round picks from the past two drafts, centers Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel.

Love of family drives Islanders' Dal Colle to succeed

Monday, 07.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

New York Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle was forced to grow up faster than most.

When he was 11, Dal Colle's mother, Wendy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. On his birthday, she was too ill to get out of bed to help him celebrate. She could only listen while friends and family were singing "Happy Birthday" downstairs.

Wendy Dal Colle nearly lost her battle more than once. Fortunately, she beat the deadly disease in 2009 after two long years.

Michael's older brother, Jonluca, has autism. Someday soon, little brother is going to play in the NHL. It will provide Michael the opportunity to give his brother the best life has to offer.

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Quote of the Day

It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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