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Stars counting on Nichushkin in second season

Monday, 08.11.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Valeri Nichushkin
Right Wing - DAL
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 34
SOG: 128 | +/-: 20
A year ago, Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill was curious to see how then 18-year-old rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin would respond to the North American game, the rigors of an 82-game schedule and the obstacles that would inevitably confound the big Russian living in a new country and learning a new language on the fly.

"It was all brand new to him last year," Nill told "He had some frustrating times."

Nichushkin still scored 14 goals and had 34 points in 79 games playing in unfamiliar cities featuring smaller rinks and bigger and better competition than he had ever faced before. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he counted as many as nine breakaways that Nichushkin missed on.


Stars excited to build off trip to playoffs

Monday, 08.11.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

The Dallas Stars learned how to win last season with little expected of them. They wound up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.

"I think we did surprise a few people," Stars coach Lindy Ruff told

They won't anymore.

If the Stars don't wind up in the playoffs again this season they'll be seen as a disappointment because expectations on them are rising now that Ruff and general manager Jim Nill have their fingerprints all over the team.


Stars' top 10 prospects led by solid scorer Ritchie

Monday, 08.11.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill believes one trademark of an elite organization is the ability to train and develop players in a winning environment.

Nill can take pride in the fact the organization's American Hockey League affiliate, the Texas Stars, is doing just that. In its first five seasons of existence, Texas has already posted four 40-win seasons and made two trips to the Calder Cup Finals, winning it all last season.

"The Texas Stars have done a great job with [training and developing], and I know firsthand that the rewards from winning the Calder Cup will have a profoundly positive impact for each of our prospects and our team in Dallas as we move forward," Nill said.


Coaches pleased with chemistry after U.S. junior camp

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 10:44 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

One of the goals set by the USA Hockey staff entering the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., was to find some forward lines and defense pairings that could carry into the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

After a week that started slowly and finished with a 3-0 win against the Czech Republic on Saturday, the belief is they might have met some of those goals.

"I think the whole key was trying to find some chemistry and I think we found it with some of the forward lines," United States national junior team coach Mark Osiecki said. "That's a nice thing to come out of here with, having a good gauge with where some of the chemistry is."


Neal, new centers could help Predators lineup

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

After back-to-back seasons without a playoff berth, the Nashville Predators changed coaches for the first time in franchise history.

Peter Laviolette replaces Barry Trotz, and he will have a natural goal scorer at his disposal that this roster has been missing for a few years. General manager David Poile's other big move of the offseason was trading for James Neal, who should have a chance to break the franchise record for goals in a season (it is 33, by Jason Arnott, in 2008-09).

There is also a cadre of new centers, in part because Mike Fisher will miss the start of the season with an Achilles injury. Poile went on a bargain-bin shopping spree, scooping up Mike Ribeiro, Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy for a combined total of $500,000 more than Vinny Lecavalier, who was speculated as an option for the Predators.

A healthy Pekka Rinne is also a huge addition for Nashville. The Central Division looks brutally tough, but Rinne could be the best goaltender in the group. He might need to be to help the Predators back into the postseason.

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


Healthy Rinne should make difference for Predators

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Manasso - Correspondent

As hard as the Nashville Predators worked to stabilize their season during the first half of last season, they were unable to do so without injured goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist had major hip surgery in May 2013. Less than three weeks into the 2013-14 season, the hip became infected and he was sidelined for more than four months.

With the Predators using a young defense that included a 19-year-old and three 23-year-olds, the goaltending duties fell to two players who entered last season with one combined game of NHL experience, Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec. Hutton eventually became consistent, but there were some growing pains along the way; the Predators had a four-game losing streak in November in which they were outscored 17-2.


Forsberg, Jarnkrok lead Predators' top 10 prospects

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

For the Nashville Predators, patience has remained an important part of developing their younger players. That was reinforced by watching what top prospect Filip Forsberg went through.

The heralded 19-year-old center made the Predators' roster on opening night last season but struggled in his adjustment to the North American game, scoring one goal and five points in 13 games. After a star turn for Sweden at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, he finished strong in the American Hockey League, scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 47 games for Nashville's affiliate in Milwaukee.

The hope is the patient approach pays off with Forsberg as well as other prospects the team hopes will develop into building blocks for the future.

Here's a look at the Predators' top 10 prospects, according to


Predators' new-look offense among five questions

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Manasso - Correspondent

Since the middle of last season, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile has talked about wanting to create a different look among the team's forwards. That's where the bulk of the change has come, from a personnel standpoint and a philosophical one.

Consequently, most of the questions surrounding the Predators have to do with their forwards and the offense. Poile said that "on paper" he thinks Nashville has "16 NHL forwards."

"I'm hoping [scoring] comes from a lot of different sources," he said. "[James] Neal, how he's scored and how he's played in the past, that would be a huge shot in the arm and move in the right direction for our team offensively. But we've also got other players on our team that I would say didn't perform to the levels we expected and they expected last year, and we're hoping for bounce-back years from a number of players. Again, it's a whole different mix."

Here are five questions the Predators have to answer to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs:


Predators change coach, switch focus to offense

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Manasso - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

In any other season the Nashville Predators would have looked at the previous season's standings, seen that they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by three points despite No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne missing 53 games and made a reasonable guess on how 2014-15 could turn out.

But this is not any other season.

For the first time in the Predators' 16-year history, they have a new coach, and to an extent a new philosophy. It's not as simple as plugging in what could be six new forwards and then going about predicting how the Predators will perform.


Jets looking for answers to end playoff drought

Saturday, 08.09.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

The Winnipeg Jets will need to find answers from within if they hope to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007, when the franchise was based in Atlanta.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made few changes, opting to retain all but four players from a team that finished last in the Central Division and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the third consecutive season since the Jets hired him in 2011.

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Quote of the Day

You get the right the whistles at the right times, you can leave him out there. He's a beast when it comes to being on the ice. I thought [Saturday] he was a big man. That first period, he did that lateral cut and it was like three bowling pins bounced off him. There's not too many guys that can do that.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin, who enters February tied for the NHL lead in goals