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Oilers expect improvement in Eakins' second season

Wednesday, 09.17.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Edmonton Oilers underwent a number of changes this offseason looking to bridge the gap toward a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

What did not change may make the biggest impact in the quest to snap an eight-year postseason drought.

For only the second time since 2008, the Oilers are going into a season with the same coach. They hope having Dallas Eakins back behind the bench is a key to their success.

"We talked about it a lot last year. It's definitely something that is tough to do, just start from scratch and have success," Oilers captain Andrew Ference said. "It can be done, but if you look at the teams that are competing year in and year out, there is definitely a consistency to their lineup, which includes the coaching staff, the attitude and style of play."

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Flames optimistic as rebuild continues

Wednesday, 09.17.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

With a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on the final day of the 2013-14 regular season, the first phase in the rebuilding process of the Calgary Flames came to a close.

The Flames finished 27th in the overall NHL standings, but left the season with optimism. Though they managed 77 points (their lowest total in a full 82-game schedule since 2002-03), they took several steps towards competitiveness.

But that won't be enough to satisfy coach Bob Hartley in 2014-15.

"We need to keep improving our entire game," Hartley said. "We can have some strong points on our detail and our work ethic, but at the same time, our on-ice game has to obviously improve. With all the good things that happened to this organization last year, the good things we did, we were still a 27th-place team."
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Flames need additions, young players to produce

Wednesday, 09.17.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Simply competing isn't going to be enough for the Calgary Flames in 2014-15.

Though the Flames continue their rebuilding project, coach Bob Hartley is demanding more.

"Progress is a big word right now in our vocabulary," said Hartley, who guided the Flames to a 35-40-7 record last season, good for 27th in the League standings. "We really want to make the next step, but at the same time I want this to be a giant step. I really believe that despite the fact that we're going to read everywhere that we're going to be ranked anywhere between 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th in the League by all the experts, I really believe that we can be a [Stanley Cup] Playoff team."

The Flames haven't skated beyond the regular season since 2009. Plenty will need to go Calgary's way in order to reach Hartley’s goal:

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Oilers need fast start, strong second-line center

Wednesday, 09.17.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Derek Van Diest - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Edmonton Oilers have not been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

The organization bottomed out in 2010 as the Oilers finished 30th in the League standings for the first time in franchise history. Rebuilding began with the selection of Taylor Hall with the first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Despite having the No. 1 picks of the 2011 and 2012 drafts, the Oilers have not come much closer to snapping what now is an eight-year playoff drought.

Not wanting to break up his young core, Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish tried to augment his roster by bringing in veterans who he hopes will provide size and secondary scoring while his young stars mature.

In order for the Oilers to challenge for the playoffs, they’ll need things to come together quickly to keep from falling behind early in the season.

Here are three things that need to happen in order for the Oilers to have a successful season:

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Giordano raising expectations for Flames' season

Wednesday, 09.17.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014-2015 Season Preview

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

Mark Giordano's expectations for the Calgary Flames this season are simple. In fact, they're the same as the 29 other NHL teams.

"We want to make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs," Giordano said. "Winning is everything in this League. We want to get into the playoffs and we want to go from there. With the parity in the League, if you get in … the goal is to get in. From there you can make some noise."

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Blue Jackets' Davidson upset with Johansen talks

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 11:26 PM / News

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- John Davidson, the Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, addressed the contract negotiations with restricted free agent center Ryan Johansen on Tuesday.

Johansen, coming off his entry-level contract, last season led the Blue Jackets in goals (33) and points (63). Agent Kurt Overhardt is using that production to seek $6.5 million a year, according to published reports.

"We're an organization that treats the players well, we treat our players fair because our ownership demands that," Davidson said. "But we don't want to have numbers shoved down our throat. … Hopefully we'll get a deal done."

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Letang ready for 'new start' with Penguins: report

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 10:34 PM / News

NHL.com

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was limited to 37 games last season because of a stroke, and knee and elbow injuries. But the 27-year-old has recovered and is eager to put it all behind him.

"I think it's going to be a new start for me," Letang said Tuesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I want to make sure nobody is going to doubt me, the job I'm going to be doing on the ice. I think basically I just want to prove myself to everyone that is part of the past and we're looking ahead."

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Gagne, Leino have chance with Bruins, Julien says

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 9:37 PM / News

NHL.com

Forwards Simon Gagne and Ville Leino will have a chance to make the Boston Bruins roster at training camp, coach Claude Julien said Tuesday.

"We wouldn't invite those guys just to fill in our training camp roster," Julien told the Bruins website. "Older guys that have some experience … both of them are coming off injuries, major injuries. They both feel really good. Gagne didn't play at all last year but trained a lot; he's feeling the best he's felt in a long time. And Leino's the same way. Those guys have experience, so it's an opportunity for those guys to seize some of those spots, if they want to, and then for the young guys to battle their way into it."

Gagne and Leino will attend camp, which begins Thursday, on a tryout basis. Gagne, 34, did not play in the NHL last season because of injuries to his neck, head and groin. Leino, 30, had 15 points (all assists) in 58 games with the Buffalo Sabres and was given a compliance buyout this summer.

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Canadiens plan to move Galchenyuk to center: report

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 9:13 PM / News

Alex Galchenyuk played left wing in his first two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, but the team is planning to move him to center, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Tuesday.

During an interview with Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, it was revealed that Montreal would like to try the 20-year-old in the middle. Galchenyuk, who was a first-round pick (No. 3) at the 2012 NHL Draft, had 13 goals and 18 assists in 65 games last season and two goals and one assist in five Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"We will start him in training camp at center," Bergevin said. "We want to see where he's at. We know sometimes it's harder for a young player to player center in the NHL, especially down low. But with two years under his belt, we want to evaluate where he's at in the center position and then we'll make a decision."

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Oilers offer tryout to forward Westgarth

Tuesday, 09.16.2014 / 7:05 PM / News

NHL.com

Forward Kevin Westgarth has been invited to the Edmonton Oilers' training camp on a tryout basis, the team announced Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4, 234-pound wing split last season between the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames and had four goals and seven points in 48 games.

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Quote of the Day

It's something that you don't really envision starting this way, but when you put the work in you don't feel like it's unwarranted. You definitely don't envision it unfolding this way, but you do think you can be successful at this level.

— Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who defeated the Jets on Wednesday to improve to 6-0-1 since making his first NHL start on Feb. 18