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Playoff-free season has Kings rested, motivated

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2015-16

Curtis Zupke - 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.

LOS ANGELES -- For the past few seasons, the Los Angeles Kings were the self-described cockroaches of the NHL, seemingly impossible to eliminate no matter how dire the circumstances. It was a remarkable trait in the NHL salary-cap era, and it made their demise all the more profound.

Facing must-win games, the Kings lost 4-2 to the Edmonton Oilers on April 7 and were eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames two days later. It was the first time a defending Cup champion failed to make the postseason since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007.

Injuries and off-ice issues on defense combined with overuse of goalie Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty ultimately cost the Kings.

"This season we were all struggling to find that certain 'it' or whatever you want to call it all year," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. "And when it was over, after Edmonton and Calgary, I think the reality is we got what we deserved, and we have nobody to feel sorry for … every time we thought we were going to get out of it because we knew how to win or we had been in big games before, well, that didn't happen. But now we can learn from this."

Los Angeles Kings fantasy hockey outlook

Thursday, 08.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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: Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty

Kopitar was a fantasy disappointment last season, but was still among leaders in assists (48, T-9th) and power-play points (24, T-23rd). His shots on goal per game (1.7) dropped off compared to his 2013-14 (2.4) and career averages (2.6). The Los Angeles Kings were hurt by injuries and off-ice issues last season, but Kopitar has produced close to a point per game before and could bounce back with Milan Lucic on his left side. Expect a return to 70-plus points for Kopitar and a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Los Angeles. Target Kopitar in the third or fourth round as the second center on your fantasy roster.

Lightning's Johnson recovering from broken wrist

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 4:59 PM / News

NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson no longer needs to wear a brace on his right wrist that was fractured in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks in June.

"It's recovering, and I can't wait for camp," Johnson told the Lightning website Wednesday.

Johnson, 24, was injured when he landed on the wrist following a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook but played the remainder of the series. He led the NHL in scoring with 13 goals and 23 points in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games, but had one goal in the final 10 games and stopped taking faceoffs in Game 2.

Brodeur surprised to see Lamoriello go to Maple Leafs

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 4:54 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- It's been a strange few months for the New Jersey Devils, with the two most iconic figures in their history each taking jobs with other organizations.

First, longtime goaltender Martin Brodeur became the assistant general manager of the St. Louis Blues on May 20. Then Lou Lamoriello, who had stepped down as general manager May 4 after 28 years on the job and was replaced by Ray Shero, resigned as team president July 23 and accepted an offer to become GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If it felt strange for Devils fans to see Lamoriello working for another team, it felt that much more bizarre for Brodeur.

"I was really surprised," Brodeur said Tuesday at a charity golf tournament hosted by Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "I had some conversations with [Lou] and I knew what was going on a bit, but it was still surprising to see all the changes going on there. I hope it's for the good of the organization."

Red Wings' DeKeyser welcomes playing with Green

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 4:45 PM / NHL Insider

Paul Harris - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- Mike Green has been one of the NHL's premier offensive defensemen during his 10-season career, all with the Washington Capitals.

The Detroit Red Wings, who signed Green to a three-year contract July 1, believe they can make him a quality two-way defenseman.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland and coach Jeff Blashill have said Green will be paired this season with Danny DeKeyser, who former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock called "The Human Eraser" because of his strong defensive play.

DeKeyser, 25, talked about potentially playing alongside Green on Wednesday, when he served as an on-ice instructor at Red Wings Youth Hockey Camp at Joe Louis Arena.

"I think he's a great player," said DeKeyser, who said he has not talked to Holland or Blashill since Green signed with Detroit. "He's got a great shot from the point, he moves the puck up the [defensive] zone fast and he can skate really well.

"I don't know what the pairings are going to be. If we end up being paired together, I think it would be a good combo."

Devils may play season without a captain: report

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 3:31 PM / News

NHL.com

The New Jersey Devils may play this season without a captain, general manager Ray Shero told NJ.com on Wednesday.

"There is no rush for this. I'm not sure we'll have one," Shero said. "Maybe we will. I don't want to paint myself into a corner by saying we'll have one and we don't, or we won't have one and we do.

"If we choose a captain it will be a combination of the head coach [John Hynes] and myself. If we pick one out, it will be after due consideration. And hopefully it will be the right choice."

Pacioretty making progress in rehab from knee injury

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 1:29 PM / News

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty's rehabilitation from a knee injury sustained last month is on schedule, according to coach Michel Therrien and Pacioretty's agent, Pat Brisson.

"Everything's going well with his rehab, honestly, so we're happy," Therrien said Tuesday at his annual charity golf tournament. "It's unfortunate [he got injured], but he's still able to train even if he's limited in the exercises he can do."

The Canadiens announced July 10 that Pacioretty would need 12 weeks to recover from the injury he sustained while working out in Florida. The timeline would have Pacioretty returning a few days prior to the Canadiens' 2015-16 regular-season opener Oct. 7 at the Toronto Maple Leafs, but would have him missing most, if not all, of training camp.

Crocker, Jacobs to receive 2015 Lester Patrick Trophy

Ceremony set for Thursday, Dec. 17, in Boston

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 12:00 PM / Lester Patrick Trophy

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK -- Longtime scout Bob Crocker and Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs have been named recipients of the 2015 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

The award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager and was a pioneer in the sport's development.

"By honoring Jeremy Jacobs and Bob Crocker, the Lester Patrick Award selection committee has recognized the dedication and drive of two important contributors to hockey in the United States," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Jeremy Jacobs -- as owner for 41 years of the NHL's first U.S.-based team and long-serving Chairman of our Board of Governors -- has provided unparalleled vision, innovation and inspiration to the advancement of hockey and the NHL. As a coach, a scout and a hockey executive, Bob Crocker has devoted decades to the development of young American players. Congratulations to both on this long overdue recognition."

Housley throws out first pitch at Twins game

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 11:50 AM / News

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Nashville Predators assistant coach and retired NHL defenseman Phil Housley, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers on Tuesday at Target Field in Minneapolis.

"I threw fire right over the plate," Housley, a native of St. Paul, Minn., told NHL.com. "It was really pretty special. It was really nice of the Twins to do that for me and my family; it's a night I'll never forget."

Sabres to host Prospects Challenge in September

Wednesday, 08.12.2015 / 9:43 AM / News

NHL.com

The Buffalo Sabres will host a prospects tournament at First Niagara Center and Harborcenter Sept. 12-14.

The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils will compete with the Sabres in a round-robin format that will feature top prospects from each of the three teams. Each team will play two games.

The Prospects Challenge likely will feature center Jack Eichel, who was selected No. 2 by the Sabres at the 2015 NHL Draft. Devils forward Pavel Zacha, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils on Tuesday, could participate.

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