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(Page 17 of 245)
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Blackhawks boast elite-level talent throughout lineup

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks could become the first franchise to win the Stanley Cup three times in six years since the Detroit Red Wings did so in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

Of course, the Blackhawks weren't far from becoming the first team to win the Cup three times in five years since 1990, but the Los Angeles Kings scored in overtime at United Center during Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. The Kings and Blackhawks have won four of the past six NHL titles, and appear to have ignited a rivalry akin to the Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche in the 1990s -- sans the line brawls.

The Western Conference remains loaded, so it is not just the Kings and Blackhawks in 2014-15, but they'll be the favorites to meet in the conference final for a third straight season. Chicago's biggest addition, Brad Richards, is a response to the disadvantage the Blackhawks had down the middle against Los Angeles in May.

Chicago is still loaded, and the expectations remain the same. Either the Blackhawks conclude the 2014-15 season with a party in Grant Park, or it is a disappointment.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Blackhawks:

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Cap, center depth top Blackhawks' five questions

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

They finished one goal short of reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight season, and the focus hasn't dipped for the Chicago Blackhawks.

They still have their eyes on the Cup and took steps in the offseason to compete for it in the short and long term. They signed 34-year-old free-agent center Brad Richards to help out this season, and then negotiated identical eight-year contract extensions for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the faces of the franchise.

"Whenever you see someone [else] lift the Stanley Cup, once you've done it once yourself, it kind of fuels the fire a little bit," left wing Patrick Sharp said. "It's definitely difficult to win it back-to-back, I think that's been proven over the years. Not only myself but the group of players we have, we're all excited to get back to training camp and go get that thing again."

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Richards' presence could put Blackhawks over the top

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

At first glance, it looks like a perfect match between center Brad Richards and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Each has the goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup again and each has something the other needs.

Richards, who felt the sting of losing the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, needed another Cup contender after the New York Rangers bought out his contract this offseason. The Blackhawks, after losing in overtime of Game 7 in the Western Conference Final, needed more skill at center on their second line.

Square peg, meet square hole.

It didn't take long for Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman to sign Richards on July 1, once Richards indicated his willingness to sign a salary-cap friendly one-year contract worth a reported $2 million. He'll start training camp in the middle of that second line between Brandon Saad and high-scoring right wing Patrick Kane.

"It gives us a lot more options," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "You can never have enough depth in the middle, and I think he's just going to enhance our skill and our talent in the middle of the ice. So, way more options as a coach with him in there and it gives us way more depth in all our lines."

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Teravainen leads Blackhawks' top 10 prospects

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks have no doubt raised the bar on how to build an organization through the NHL Draft.

The Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup in four seasons in June 2013 on the strength of 12 homegrown players in a star-studded lineup. The list included defensemen Duncan Keith (2002 draft pick), Brent Seabrook (2003) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (2005) in front of goalie Corey Crawford (2003). Forwards Dave Bolland (2004), Bryan Bickell (2004), Ben Smith (2008), Marcus Kruger (2009), Brandon Saad (2011) and Andrew Shaw (2011) followed the path highlighted by captain Jonathan Toews (2006) and fellow star Patrick Kane (2007) in the pipeline.

"Everyone's a young player at some point, and they go through their growing pains," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's a progression. It takes time. We're fortunate we don't have to rush guys into spots where they may not be prepared. But every year, we've seen one or two young guys come in."

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Canadiens' Subban puts contract talks in past

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 8:52 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

P.K. Subban
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 53
SOG: 204 | +/-: -4
P.K. Subban has moved on from his contract negotiation with the Montreal Canadiens. He hopes everyone else will too.

"At this point in time, I think everybody just needs to look at the fact that the deal's done, I'm here for a long time," Subban told the Canadiens website Tuesday. "It doesn't matter how the process happened. ... I understand that when it's me it's a little bit more magnified; that's OK."

Subban, who was speaking at coach Michel Therrien's charity golf event, said he was prepared for the criticism that came his way during the talks, but he did not expect what was directed at the other side of the table.

"I think it was a little bit unsettling to hear some of the things that were said about management and [general manager Marc Bergevin] during the process," Subban said. "I understand, but it was still disturbing for me. ... I hope people understand that it was a very healthy process."

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Oilers sign center Draisaitl to three-year contract

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 5:27 PM / News

NHL.com

Center Leon Draisaitl, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers, the team announced Tuesday. Financial details were not disclosed.

"First of all, I want to thank [owner] Daryl Katz and [general manager] Craig MacTavish and all the other people who are part of the Oilers organization for giving me this opportunity and making this happen," Draisaitl said. "It's really exciting for me and my family."

Draisaitl became the highest-drafted German-trained player when the Oilers selected him at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27. The 18-year-old scored 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games last season for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League and could be on the fast track toward making the Oilers roster.

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Fantasy owners must be aware of goalie trends

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 12:15 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

It's no secret that goaltenders can make or break a fantasy team's championship aspirations.

A total of 97 goalies played in at least one NHL game last season and 90 started in at least one, meaning that fantasy owners must do their homework to achieve success.

Here are some interesting nuggets from the 2013-14 season, along with some corresponding advice, to bring to your fantasy draft table when deciding on goalies:

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Deep lineup makes Wild a team on the rise

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Minnesota Wild established a cache of young players and prospects, and have supplemented it with star additions during the past couple of years.

Minnesota's process of building toward championship contender status has been gradual, but the Wild might be almost there. They've reached the top end of the NHL's middle, securing a playoff berth in two straight seasons and winning a round in 2014.

The next step forward is into the League's elite, but that might be more difficult than the previous upward movement. There are still questions about the back end of the defense corps, and especially about who is going to be the goaltender.

The next step forward is into the League's elite, but that might be more difficult than the previous upward movement. There are still questions about the back end of the defense corps, and especially about who is going to be the goaltender.

Not only did the Wild knock out the Colorado Avalanche in the first round last season, but they gave a significantly better account of themselves against the Chicago Blackhawks than they did in 2013. It is a team on the rise, but how much higher they can go in 2014-15 is a difficult question to answer.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Wild:

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Five Questions: McLellan clarifies Sharks' 'rebuild'

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday during the regular season and every other Tuesday in the offseason. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan:

The San Jose Sharks have had a curious offseason.

There has been talk of a rebuild coming from general manager Doug Wilson despite the fact the Sharks needed one more victory to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season before the Kings could even sniff the Stanley Cup they eventually won.

OK, so the Sharks didn't get it, losing four straight to the Kings in the Western Conference First Round after winning three in a row, but they were close and they were playing without their best defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic. It still prompted Wilson to call them "a tomorrow team."


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Wild hope for breakout season from Niederreiter

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

Nino Niederreiter tweeted during the summer that he was "proud to be on the Swiss cover of NHL15" after a season in which he posted career-highs in goals, assists and points, and scored the overtime winner in the Minnesota Wild's first victory in a Stanley Cup Playoff series since 2003.

The big question for Niederreiter and the Wild is simple: What's next?

Though it seems as if Niederreiter has been around a long time, he won't turn 22 years old until next month. And after he had 14 goals and 36 points in his 81 games with the Wild following his acquisition from the New York Islanders at the 2013 NHL Draft, coach Mike Yeo and general manager Chuck Fletcher feel he's capable of doing a lot more.

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Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense