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Fleury glad to have Kessel as teammate on Penguins

Monday, 08.17.2015 / 11:41 AM / News

NHL.com

After the Pittsburgh Penguins scored eight goals in five games during their Eastern Conference First Round loss to the New York Rangers last season, they acquired high-scoring forward Phil Kessel on July 1.

One player happy with the move is Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who won't have to face Kessel anymore.

"[Kessel is] very talented, very fast," Fleury told the Penguins website Friday. "One less guy I have to worry about playing against. It'll be good to have him with the group of guys that we have and maybe make practice a little tougher with all these guys that we have up front."

Hellebuyck, Ehlers among Jets' top five prospects

Monday, 08.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Solid scouting and player development are the two pillars on which the Winnipeg Jets are building their organization.

After inheriting a farm system bereft of talent in 2011, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has rebuilt the prospect base slowly and methodically.

"I don't want to see [Cheveldayoff] change the organization's draft-and-develop approach," Jets coach Paul Maurice told Jets TV on July 3. "I like the young players we've got. We're building something here."

Here is a look at the Jets' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Maurice, young players have Jets feeling optimistic

Monday, 08.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets have to find a way to top last season.

For years, merely reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs had been a key goal for the Jets. The franchise had not reached the playoffs since 2007, when it played as the Atlanta Thrashers, and an ever-changing group of players had come and gone without a trip to the postseason.

The Jets finally reached the playoffs last season, though the good times ended quickly in a sweep by the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference First Round. Still, the Jets managed to combine the test of a late-season playoff race with further establishing MTS Centre as one of the loudest and most intimidating buildings in the NHL.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has patiently gone about trying to rebuild the Jets' prospect base from the bottom up. His moves began to pay off last season, and he has more prospects on the way for coach Paul Maurice.

Here are four reasons for optimism for the Jets:

Goaltending, discipline among questions for Jets

Monday, 08.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets took a big step last season by reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the franchise relocated from Atlanta for the 2011-12 season.

Though ending the franchise's playoff drought helped to validate the long-term plans of general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, the Jets have endured some challenges since. They added forward Alexander Burmistrov from the Kontinental Hockey League this summer, but capable veteran forwards Michael Frolik, Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty all departed.

Here are three questions facing the Jets this season:

With big decisions on horizon, Jets quiet in offseason

Monday, 08.17.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

WINNIPEG -- It's been a fairly uneventful offseason for the Winnipeg Jets since they concluded a very eventful run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but key decisions are on the horizon.

The Jets' 2014-15 season included a blockbuster trade that sent forward Evander Kane to the Buffalo Sabres and a stretch drive starring goaltender Ondrej Pavelec that led to the franchise's first playoff appearance since 2007, when it was the Atlanta Thrashers. A four-game sweep by the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference First Round brought the season to an abrupt end.

Since then, the Jets have seen versatile forward Michael Frolik depart for the Calgary Flames as a free agent. Two other veteran forwards, Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty, were not re-signed.

Winnipeg did re-sign forward Drew Stafford, a key piece of the Kane trade, and brought back forward Alexander Burmistrov after a two-year hiatus in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Winnipeg Jets fantasy hockey outlook

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team.

Leading the way: Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd

The Winnipeg Jets were one of seven teams with three skaters among Yahoo's top 50 players last season. Wheeler, Ladd and Byfuglien cover many bases and also are assets in hits leagues. Wheeler, a top-10 fantasy right wing, proved again that he's a game-changer whether playing alongside Bryan Little and Ladd or Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford. He saw an eight-point dip, but made up for it with a plus-26 (T-9th) to go along with career-highs in penalty minutes (73) and shots on goal (244).

Senators' Methot putting difficult season behind him

Sunday, 08.16.2015 / 3:46 PM / News

NHL.com

Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot had a difficult season last year, sustaining an upper-body injury and scoring 11 points in 45 games while also worrying about his future in Ottawa.

But once Methot, who was in the final year of a four-year contract, agreed to an extension in February, it allowed him to turn the page.

"That was one of the most stressful things that I've had to deal with during my career," Methot told the Ottawa Citizen on Friday. "I'm not complaining about it, but it's not easy when you worry about your future and your security and that kind of stuff. All of that ties into it. Having that comfort now is just great, because I can just focus on playing and winning games.

"Last year was a bit of nightmare in terms of dealing with the injury, so it's finally nice to be going into the season healthy, and I'm in pretty good shape right now."

Adding Kessel to core group gives Penguins optimism

Sunday, 08.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins struggled down the stretch last season before earning the final Stanley Cup Playoffs berth from the Eastern Conference. They are shooting a lot higher this season.

The Penguins led the Metropolitan Division for much of last season before fading and needing to defeat the last-place Buffalo Sabres on the final night of the regular season. But with a returning core of forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, defenseman Kris Letang, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, plus newcomer Phil Kessel, the Penguins are expecting to return to the top of the conference in Mike Johnston's second season as coach.

Here are four reasons for the Penguins to be optimistic:

Pouliot, Sundqvist among Penguins' top 5 prospects

Sunday, 08.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have had a long list of highly touted defensemen prospects for several seasons. The time has finally come for those prospects to become integral pieces on Pittsburgh's blue line.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot is a lock to make Pittsburgh's opening-night roster and could be a top-four defenseman. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin will make a run at a full-time job after sporadic NHL stints the past two seasons.

With the Penguins' prospects maturing, Pittsburgh's defensive future is now.

Here is a look at the Penguins' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

Kessel fit, defense among key questions for Penguins

Sunday, 08.16.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- After limping into the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and exiting after five games, the Pittsburgh Penguins made significant additions during the offseason with the goal of retooling for another Stanley Cup run.

The Penguins attempted to bolster their faltering offense through trades and free agent acquisitions, but all that attention could have been to the detriment of their defense. New forwards Phil Kessel, Eric Fehr and Nick Bonino are expected to improve an offense that averaged 1.61 regulation goals during its final 18 games of the regular season.

Pittsburgh expects to be better in 2015-16, but here are three questions the Penguins must answer for that to happen:

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