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(Page 8 of 169)
Features

Neal, new centers could help Predators lineup

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

After back-to-back seasons without a playoff berth, the Nashville Predators changed coaches for the first time in franchise history.

Peter Laviolette replaces Barry Trotz, and he will have a natural goal scorer at his disposal that this roster has been missing for a few years. General manager David Poile's other big move of the offseason was trading for James Neal, who should have a chance to break the franchise record for goals in a season (it is 33, by Jason Arnott, in 2008-09).

There is also a cadre of new centers, in part because Mike Fisher will miss the start of the season with an Achilles injury. Poile went on a bargain-bin shopping spree, scooping up Mike Ribeiro, Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy for a combined total of $500,000 more than Vinny Lecavalier, who was speculated as an option for the Predators.

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Healthy Rinne should make difference for Predators

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

As hard as the Nashville Predators worked to stabilize their season during the first half of last season, they were unable to do so without injured goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist had major hip surgery in May 2013. Less than three weeks into the 2013-14 season, the hip became infected and he was sidelined for more than four months.

With the Predators using a young defense that included a 19-year-old and three 23-year-olds, the goaltending duties fell to two players who entered last season with one combined game of NHL experience, Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec. Hutton eventually became consistent, but there were some growing pains along the way; the Predators had a four-game losing streak in November in which they were outscored 17-2.

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Forsberg, Jarnkrok lead Predators' top 10 prospects

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For the Nashville Predators, patience has remained an important part of developing their younger players. That was reinforced by watching what top prospect Filip Forsberg went through.

The heralded 19-year-old center made the Predators' roster on opening night last season but struggled in his adjustment to the North American game, scoring one goal and five points in 13 games. After a star turn for Sweden at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, he finished strong in the American Hockey League, scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 47 games for Nashville's affiliate in Milwaukee.

The hope is the patient approach pays off with Forsberg as well as other prospects the team hopes will develop into building blocks for the future.

Here's a look at the Predators' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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Predators' new-look offense among five questions

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

Since the middle of last season, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile has talked about wanting to create a different look among the team's forwards. That's where the bulk of the change has come, from a personnel standpoint and a philosophical one.

Consequently, most of the questions surrounding the Predators have to do with their forwards and the offense. Poile said that "on paper" he thinks Nashville has "16 NHL forwards."

"I'm hoping [scoring] comes from a lot of different sources," he said. "[James] Neal, how he's scored and how he's played in the past, that would be a huge shot in the arm and move in the right direction for our team offensively. But we've also got other players on our team that I would say didn't perform to the levels we expected and they expected last year, and we're hoping for bounce-back years from a number of players. Again, it's a whole different mix."

Here are five questions the Predators have to answer to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

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Predators change coach, switch focus to offense

Sunday, 08.10.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

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

In any other season the Nashville Predators would have looked at the previous season's standings, seen that they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by three points despite No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne missing 53 games and made a reasonable guess on how 2014-15 could turn out.

But this is not any other season.

For the first time in the Predators' 16-year history, they have a new coach, and to an extent a new philosophy. It's not as simple as plugging in what could be six new forwards and then going about predicting how the Predators will perform.

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Jets looking for answers to end playoff drought

Saturday, 08.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

The Winnipeg Jets will need to find answers from within if they hope to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007, when the franchise was based in Atlanta.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff made few changes, opting to retain all but four players from a team that finished last in the Central Division and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the third consecutive season since the Jets hired him in 2011.

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Jets bank on improvement from youth in lineup

Saturday, 08.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

In three seasons since moving from Atlanta, the Winnipeg Jets have finished with 84, 51 (about 87 over a full season) and 84 points.

It is fair to say the time for tangible progress has come. The question for the Jets is whether a step forward can happen in what looks like the toughest division in the NHL?

There were not a lot of changes made. Adding Mathieu Perreault to replace Olli Jokinen might not have garnered a lot of attention in early July, but it can be a slight upgrade. There are some intriguing young talents with the ability to improve, and that appears to be the most likely path to an improved point total and maybe postseason contention.

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Growth in Paul's game has Hockey Canada's attention

Saturday, 08.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Nick Paul is on the rise.

Literally.

The Ottawa Senators prospect and hopeful member of the Canadian national junior team has grown almost an inch since the start of last season and put on 20 pounds. A wing for the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, Paul is now almost 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.

Even with what looks to be the wingspan of a small aircraft, he wasn't really picked up on Hockey Canada's radar until he lit it up in the OHL playoffs last spring, posting 12 goals and 18 points in 22 games.

"Nick performed real well for North Bay last year in the playoffs and actually made a statement to us about belonging here," said Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada's head scout.

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Jets feel AHL success will help top 10 prospects

Saturday, 08.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The managerial team of the Winnipeg Jets can take pride in the fact they've solidified a foundation of good, young talent by way of the NHL Draft.

The pipeline is brimming with blue-chip prospects ready to make their mark. Forward Mark Scheifele, a 2011 first-round pick (No. 7) and defenseman Jacob Trouba, the team's 2012 first-round pick (No. 9) are two recent top picks who've already established themselves.

"The goal once we came to Winnipeg was to try and increase the depth in the organization and I think [general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff] and the other management group have provided us with a lot of picks over the years and given us an opportunity to try and improve the depth and grow our organization from within," Jets director of amateur scouting Marcel Comeau told NHL.com. "That's the mantra [Cheveldayoff] has in place and that's what we're trying to do."

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Jets need Pavelec to play like No. 1 goaltender

Saturday, 08.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

There will be no shortage of issues and question marks for the Winnipeg Jets this season. Team fitness, the power play and depth on the blue line are chief among the potential trouble spots.

However, no issue stands out more for the Jets, and among Winnipeg fans, than the performance of Ondrej Pavelec, the team's No. 1 goalie. Whether the Jets can climb out of last place in the Central Division will hinge, in large part, on Pavelec.

Pavelec will be 27 years old when he begins his sixth season as an NHL regular, but he is still trying to establish himself as capable of moving into the middle-tier of starting goaltenders.

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Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential