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Senators suspend defense prospect Wikstrand

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 2:40 PM / News

The Ottawa Senators suspended defense prospect Mikael Wikstrand on Friday after he left training camp without permission, general manager Bryan Murray said.

"He disappeared yesterday without telling us, till I guess he let [assistant GM] Randy [Lee] know when he was at the airport," Murray said, according to the Senators website.

Wikstrand, 22, returned to his native Sweden on Thursday, Murray said.

Bruins' Chara day-to-day with upper-body injury

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 12:40 PM / News

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Friday.

Chara was injured during the Bruins' 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers at TD Garden on Thursday.

Defenseman Bouillon retires after 14 NHL seasons

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 10:57 AM / News

Francis Bouillon, who spent 14 seasons as an NHL defensemen, announced his retirement Friday.

Bouillon, who will turn 40 on Oct. 17, played 11 of his 14 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. He also played for the Nashville Predators. He spent last season with Ambri-Piotta in Switzerland.

In 1996 Bouillon helped the Granby Predateurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League won the Memorial Cup; his coach then was current Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.

Brian Leetch discusses 1996, 2016 World Cups in Q&A

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / World Cup of Hockey 2016

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

After the United States assembled its team for the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, Hockey Hall of Fame member Brian Leetch remembers there was a different feeling than when he skated with earlier USA Hockey teams.

"That was the first tournament I remember going into that … we didn't go in with just hope that we could catch some breaks and our goaltending would play well and we could win some games," said Leetch, who was U.S. captain. "We went in with the expectation that we could win that tournament."

Leetch did his part, tying for the tournament scoring lead among defensemen with seven points, all assists.

Here's a Q&A with Leetch on his World Cup memories and what he thinks of the return of the World Cup in 2016:

Costas excited to return to Johnstown 40+ years later

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

David Satriano - Staff Writer

Bob Costas' broadcasting career will come full circle next week in Johnstown, Pa.

Costas, who is known more for his work in baseball, on NBC's Sunday Night Football and at the Summer and Winter Olympics, got his start in hockey. The first professional game he ever announced was at Cambria County War Memorial Arena, where he will anchor coverage of Kraft Hockeyville USA on Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning play a preseason game in Johnstown (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Costas' first professional broadcast was an Eastern Hockey League game between the Syracuse Blazers and Johnstown Jets in 1973.

Saad, Kuznetsov lead Jensen's fantasy breakout picks

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

Last season, forwards Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues and Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers went from reliable fantasy producers to elite-level assets. On the defenseman and goalie fronts, fantasy owners witnessed Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils joining the likes of stardom at their respective positions.

These were players who made their mark on the fantasy landscape before, but never to the degree of statistical prowess that they put forth last season. Sleepers are under-the-radar players who are drafted much later than they should be. Breakout players are known commodities who elevate their fantasy production to new heights, usually in an expanded role.

Targeting breakout candidates in your fantasy draft can go a long way in building a championship-caliber roster. Here are five players I believe can make the jump from household name to superstar in 2015-16. Matt Cubeta's breakout list can be found here.

Panthers' Bjugstad learning how to succeed in NHL

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Tim Wharnsby - Correspondent

TORONTO -- When the Florida Panthers acquired veteran Jaromir Jagr seven months ago to help their push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was a thrill of a lifetime for the young core of Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad, none of whom had been born when Jagr made his NHL debut.

The addition of Jagr was the latest piece in the organization's culture change since general manager Dale Tallon arrived on the scene five years ago.

Ownership switched hands to Vincent Viola in September 2013. Tallon brought in a new coach in Gerard Gallant, a top-tier goalie in Roberto Luongo, and Stanley Cup experience with gritty forwards David Boland and Shawn Thornton as well defenseman Willie Mitchell last summer.

Then, Jagr was acquired Feb. 26 in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and a 2016 third-round pick. He signed a one-year contract to return this season.

The 43-year-old Czech, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992, immediately fit in on the ice alongside Barkov and Huberdeau.

But he also was a dressing-room sage for others like Bjugstad, who sat next to Jagr.

Stars hope added Cup experience keys playoff return

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Steve Hunt - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

DALLAS -- After ending a five-season Stanley Cup Playoff drought, the Dallas Stars were expected to not only make it back to the postseason, but go on a run after being eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2014 Western Conference First Round.

However, the Stars missed the playoffs last season, finishing seven points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the final wild card in the West.

Dallas general manager Jim Nill made three key additions this summer, and all of them bring Stanley Cup rings. He acquired veteran left wing Patrick Sharp in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks and signed defenseman Johnny Oduya, another member of the 2015 Stanley Cup champions, as a free agent. Nill also acquired goaltender Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks; he won the Cup with the 2010 Blackhawks.

The pieces are in place, but it remains to be seen whether the Stars take the next step.

Penguins staffers excited for Hockeyville homecoming

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

Kristen Nelson - Staff Writer

Chris Stewart and Dana Heinze stood in the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, Pa., on May 2, anxiously awaiting the announcement as to which city was going to win the title of Kraft Hockeyville, USA.

Johnstown was one of 10 finalists for the first Kraft Hockeyville USA title, and Heinze, the head equipment manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Stewart, the Penguins' head athletic trainer, had a strong feeling their hometown had won.

They were right.

"Coming together as a community was the big thing that you saw throughout the whole process," Stewart said. "Once they got it, it was just a sense of pride in the community with the way they stood and really took action to get this game there."

Stewart and Heinze attended the announcement party after the Penguins' run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs ended with a loss in the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Rangers. But both are excited to return to Johnstown with their team when the Penguins play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Nichushkin, strong start are X-factors for Stars

Friday, 09.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- In the Dallas Stars' second season under coach Lindy Ruff, they increased their point total from 91 to 92; however, they found themselves going from a participant in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs to finishing sixth in the Central Division and 10th in the Western Conference, on the outside of the postseason picture for the sixth time in seven seasons.

With reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn, the dynamic Tyler Seguin and veteran Jason Spezza, the Stars certainly have the scoring talent for Ruff to guide them back to the playoffs.

Here are three X-factors that will help determine whether the Stars make the postseason:

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Quote of the Day

It's an incredible feeling just to see it go in and see the Joe go pretty crazy.  Ever since the introduction there, I was kind of feeling the nerves, and to put that one home, I started to feel comfortable and I thought my play started to pick up.

— Nineteen-year-old Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin after scoring a goal in his NHL debut
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