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Kapanen, Nylander among 2014 top-ranked Europeans

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 10:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There are currently five European players identified on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list who are potential first-round picks for the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia on June 27.

Among them are four players competing for teams in Sweden, center Jakub Vrana of Linkoping, center/right wing William Nylander of Rogle, right wing David Pastrnak of Sodertalje and left wing Adrian Kempe of Modo Jr. The player who might very well be the best among the European contingent is starring in Finland, right wing Kasperi Kapanen of Kalpa.

Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting, feels "B"-rated Finnish goalie Kaapo Kahkonen of the Espoo Blues junior team is also right on the cusp of earning an "A" rating as a potential first-round draft choice. He enters the 2013-14 season as the top European goalie on the draft board.

Kingston trio rank as potential 2014 first-round picks

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 10:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League hope to make quite the impression in the early stages of the 2014 NHL Draft, which will be held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Three players from the team potentially could be picked in the first round -- left wing Samuel Bennett, right wing Spencer Watson and defenseman Roland McKeown.

All three were identified as "A" prospects, or potential first-round candidates, on NHL Central Scouting's 2013-14 preliminary players to watch list from the OHL. The PTW list is comprised of players Central Scouting feels have the best chance at hearing their names announced at some point during the two-day selection process.

"This is our hit list of prospects at the start of the season from all the major leagues throughout North America and then those from Europe," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told "It'll change once our scouts have cycled through their league a few times."

Kasperi Kapanen set to take family name to next level

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 10:00 AM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

For Kasperi Kapanen, getting into the family business was a no-brainer.

Kapanen, 17, has emerged as a third-generation star in SM-liiga, Finland's top professional league.

His grandfather, Hannu Kapanen, was a forward for five seasons with Jokerit and HIFK, and also played for Finland at the 1976 Canada Cup and 1976 Olympics.

His father, Sami Kapanen, was drafted by the Hartford Whalers in the fourth round (No. 87) of the 1995 NHL Draft, and had 458 points in 831 games in 12 seasons with the Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. He left the NHL after the 2007-08 season, but has played five of the past six seasons with Kalpa in SM-liiga. Kapanen also is the majority owner of the team.

And for the second straight season, one of Sami's teammates will be his oldest son, Kasperi.

Demko goes from California to possible top pick

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 10:00 AM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Watching Thatcher Demko in action, it's obvious why the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder is considered one of the top goaltending prospects available for the 2014 NHL Draft.

"He looks like a pro," NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen told "He's big, strong, great positionally. He's got a great feel for the game. He's able to sustain pressure, holds his ground. … He's quiet, he's calm, he's poised, he doesn't get rattled. He's a big kid. I just like his approach. I like his presence out there. There's a lot to like."

How Demko arrived at that high level, though, is a bit of a surprise.

USA Hockey announces prospect game rosters

Tuesday, 09.17.2013 / 12:53 PM / Prospects

USA Hockey on Tuesday announced the rosters for the teams competing in the second annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 26 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

While all 40 players participating in the game are eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia, there are currently 28 listed on NHL Central Scouting's Futures List as a potential first-, second-, or third-round draft choice. Nine players are currently starring for the United States Under-18 National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League, forwards Anders Bjork, Jared Fiegl, Dylan Larkin, Sonny Milano and Alex Tuch, defensemen Ryan Collins, Jack Glover and Jonathan MacLeod, and goalie Blake Weyrick.

Prospects who stood out at the Traverse City tourney

Tuesday, 09.10.2013 / 4:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- There's no question this year's Traverse City Prospects Tournament featured some of finest rosters ever assembled in the history of the event.

The eight participating teams had multiple first- and second-round draft picks in their lineups as well as featuring a handful of talented free agents and tryout players looking to earn invitations to training camps.

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 in the tournament final Monday to earn their first championship. The Red Wings had advanced to the finale one other time in tournament's 15-year history, but lost to the Minnesota Wild in 2010.

"We have a lot of kids who have a chance to play in the NHL out there," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told "There's a process that has to go on, but there's certainly a lot of optimism for our organization out there."

Canucks' top prospects bond on and off ice

Monday, 09.09.2013 / 2:31 PM / Prospects

Ryan Dittrick - Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- As the Young Stars Classic finished Monday, Bo Horvat couldn't help but look back on how he ended up playing here with the Vancouver Canucks.

Horvat was chosen by Vancouver with the ninth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft -- a selection that belonged to the New Jersey Devils until they sent it to the Canucks in a trade for starting goaltender Cory Schneider.

It was a moment he'll never forget.

"It was absolutely crazy," Horvat said. "I couldn't even really process what was happening. When you're sitting there hoping to hear your name called, playing the different scenarios in your mind, that's certainly one I didn't see coming. It was a huge shocker to all of us and to the hockey world.

Nichushkin tops list of Russian stars in Traverse City

Monday, 09.09.2013 / 9:07 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Valeri Nichushkin, a 2013 first-round pick of the Dallas Stars, is proving to be everything NHL scouts envisioned this weekend at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

The No. 10 selection has scored twice, including a highlight-reel goal in the tournament opener, shown responsibility with the puck and generated quality scoring chances for teammates in 5-on-5 and power-play situations.

Nichushkin oozes confidence. That's evident by the way he carries himself during warmups and team stretches. He has that same strong build, smile and demeanor that Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk had during their time in Traverse City for their respective teams.

Ex-Sea Dogs meet again as foes in Traverse City

Sunday, 09.08.2013 / 2:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Prospects Zack Phillips of the Minnesota Wild, Tomas Jurco of the Detroit Red Wings and Ryan Tesink of the St. Louis Blues may play for different teams, but will always share a common bond.

All three forwards were key members of the 2011 Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It was a team that throttled opponents in the regular season and accomplished a feat that no other Saint John team had done when it became champions of the Canadian Hockey League.

"It was special team; a great group of people and staff in Saint John," Jurco told "It's always great to see those guys at any time. I played against Zack in the American Hockey League last year and we were hanging out before and after games."

Maple Leafs, Senators prospects to play as unbeatens

Saturday, 09.07.2013 / 11:32 PM / Prospects

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators each remained unbeaten at the prospects tournament in London, Ontario with shootout wins Saturday.

The NHL rivals play each other Sunday.

"Everybody knows Ottawa and Toronto is always a battle, no matter if it's the actual Maple Leafs or the rookies here," Brad Ross told the Toronto website. "So we're going to take it very seriously."

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— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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