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2014 NHL Draft
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The Front Line: Oshie headlines Olympic beneficiaries

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

NHL action officially resumes Tuesday (Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SPSO, MSG-B, BELL TV) and fantasy owners should be prepared for their stretch run after a two-week hiatus due to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

It was a fantastic tournament, but now it's time to get back to work. I've provided updated top-100 forward rankings for the remainder of this season. Unfortunately, we've lost another elite forward in New York Islanders captain John Tavares, but hopefully fantasy owners will see Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos returning to their rosters in the very near future. This week should also see some other top fantasy forwards back in action as Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets, Marian Gaborik of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings are all expected to play.

But before we officially hop back on the saddle, let's find out which forwards have seen their value increase thanks to their performances in Sochi.

Jeff Carter
Center - LAK
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 37
PIMs: 22 | SOG: 189 | +/-: 6
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings -- Available in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues

While owned in nearly all Yahoo leagues, Carter makes for a great player to try and acquire via trade. He's coming off an impressive Olympic performance with three goals, two assists, 24 shots on goal and a plus-6 rating in six games. He bounced around the lineup all tournament, but looked dominant at times. Carter struggled before the Olympic break with no goals in eight games for the Kings, but expect him to finish the season strong.

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Fourteen players to watch down the stretch

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

With three-quarters of the 2013-14 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

The quest for gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics is over, but the race for the Stanley Cup is just starting to heat up. Less than seven weeks remain from the resumption of play to the end of the regular season, and 25 of 30 teams either hold one of the 16 Stanley Cup Playoff berths or are within four points of the top eight in their conference.

Here are 14 players (listed alphabetically) to keep an eye on during the final weeks of the regular season:

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Pacific: Dominant Ducks eye Presidents' Trophy

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

One year after the Anaheim Ducks surprised everyone by winning the Pacific Division, they're on the verge of doing it again.

Not only have the Ducks dominated the division, they've spent the past couple of months on top of the NHL standings. Anaheim went 22 games without a regulation loss at home, survived a brutal early road schedule and resume play with the inside track on the Presidents' Trophy.

The Ducks have had to be good to fend off the San Jose Sharks, who've been able to stay within hailing distance and are all but assured of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. The Sharks hold a 12-point lead on the third-place Los Angeles Kings, whose offensive struggles have left them much closer to fourth place than to first. They're trying to hold off the Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the division.

The two Alberta teams, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, will have to be content to play spoiler down the stretch while trying to develop their young talent.

Here's a look at the seven Pacific teams as they prepare for the stretch run:

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Central: Blues, Blackhawks battling for first

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The St. Louis Blues spent most of the first four months of the season trying to catch the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division. The Blues did it by winning three of their final four games before the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Now their task is to stay on top.

St. Louis returns to action with the best goal differential in the NHL at plus-61. Its forward lines are talented and deep and the defense is strong in its zone and moves the puck well. Goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have been solid if not spectacular.

Though St. Louis and Chicago each have 84 points, perhaps the biggest advantage the Blues hold in their quest to finish ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champions is that they've played three fewer games.

The Blues and Blackhawks are five points ahead of the surprising Colorado Avalanche, who look like a lock to earn the third of the Central's automatic playoff berths. The holders of the two Western Conference wild-card spots are well behind. The fourth-place Minnesota Wild trail Colorado by 10 points and the Dallas Stars are another five points behind Minnesota.

The Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators have a chance to catch Dallas for the second wild-card berth in a race that could see five teams chasing one spot.

Here's a look at the seven Central teams as they prepare for the stretch run:

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Poirier has future in mind during QMJHL playoffs

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 3:00 AM / In the Pipeline

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs have the attention of Gatineau Olympiques standout Emile Poirier, but that doesn't mean the Calgary Flames aren't in his crosshairs too.

In the midst of a career season, Poirier has his sights set on making an impression on the Flames in the postseason because that's where the true stars shine.

"I think so far I'm satisfied [with my season], but the playoffs are coming so I need to get ready," said Poirier, who has skated primarily with Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway and Ottawa Senators fifth-round pick Vincent Dunn this season. "It's the most important time of the year. I think the playoffs are where the good players show up the most.

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Canucks' Kesler to meet with doctors

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 8:12 PM / News

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler is undergoing medical tests after blocking a shot while playing for the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to coach John Tortorella.

Kesler, who leads the Canucks with 20 goals, was at Rogers Arena late Monday morning but did not speak with reporters.

Asked if Kesler needed an MRI, Tortorella said head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein "is going to put him through the whole nine yards. He's getting everything checked and we'll see what it looks like."

Tortorella said he hadn't talked to Kesler yet.
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Islanders recall Strome, Lee, Halmo from AHL

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 7:38 PM / News

NHL.com

The New York Islanders announced Monday that forwards Mike Halmo, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome have been recalled on an emergency basis from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.

Halmo, 22, ranks third on the Sound Tigers in scoring with 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 53 games this season. His plus-13 rating is second on the team, while his nine power-play goals are tied for first. The Islanders signed Halmo as a free agent on March 10, 2012, after the undrafted wing completed a four-year junior career with the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League.


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Flames recall Markus Granlund from AHL

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 7:04 PM / News

NHL.com

The Calgary Flames announced Monday they've recalled center Markus Granlund from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.

Granlund, originally a second-round pick (No. 45) by the Flames at the 2011 NHL Draft, leads Abbotsford with 23 goals and 21 assists in 50 games this season. He is currently third in AHL rookie scoring behind Curtis McKenzie of the Texas Stars (51) and Ryan Strome of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (49).

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Panthers forced to move on without Barkov, Kopecky

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 6:23 PM / News

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers will be without their two injured Olympians when they return to action Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

Rookie center Aleksander Barkov and veteran forward Tomas Kopecky were examined by team doctors after returning from Russia on Friday, and Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said Monday that each player would be out at least a few weeks. Horachek did not have a specific timetable.

Barkov, the youngest player on Finland's Olympic roster, sustained a knee injury in a preliminary-round game against Norway. Kopecky, making his second appearance in the Olympics for Slovakia, sustained an upper-body injury against Slovenia after a high hit that landed Sabahudin Kovacevic a one-game suspension.


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Lightning's Stamkos eyeing early March return

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 5:12 PM / News

NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos told reporters Monday that he is targeting a March 6 game against the Buffalo Sabres for his return to the lineup.

Stamkos said an X-ray taken of his surgically repaired right tibia Monday "looks really good," but "we're playing it smart." He said his next medical evaluation is scheduled for March 5.

Stamkos broke his leg when he fell into a goal post Nov. 11 during a game against the Boston Bruins and he had surgery the next day. He had been hoping to recover in time to play for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics but had to withdraw when a CT scan performed Feb. 5 showed his leg had not fully healed.

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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis