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Sabres' Eichel recalls star turn at '14 prospects game

Tuesday, 09.22.2015 / 4:27 PM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The perspective on the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game has changed a lot in a year for Jack Eichel.

A year ago, Eichel arrived in Buffalo for the first time and won the Most Outstanding Player award in the 2014 game. Now he's trying to make the Buffalo Sabres roster and is helping to provide an example to future American players as they prepare for the 2015 All-American Prospects Game on Thursday at First Niagara Center (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US).

"It was really important for me," Eichel said about playing in the game. "Obviously this game is pretty highly touted and there's so many great prospects and great players here. I just wanted to come in here and have a good start to my year, and I think I did that. It was a great experience for me getting here, seeing a lot of my friends, and playing a game in front of thousands and thousands of people. It's a really exciting event to be a part of. These kids are really going to enjoy it; it's a night they're never going to forget."

Top 11 players at Traverse City Prospects Tournament

Wednesday, 09.16.2015 / 9:12 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Columbus Blue Jackets became the second team to win a fourth championship in the 17-year history of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament following a 5-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday at Centre Ice Arena.

The Blue Jackets, also champions in 2005, 2006 and 2014, equaled the St. Louis Blues (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004). They received effective play from their top line of Kerby Rychel (2013 NHL Draft, No. 19), TJ Tynan (2011, No. 66) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (2013, No. 89), and solid goaltending from Joonas Korpisalo (2012, No. 62).

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is pleased his organization has many solid prospects waiting in the wings, including Bjorkstrand, Rychel, Sonny Milano (2014, No. 16), Josh Anderson (2012, No. 95), Dillon Heatherington (2013, No. 50) and Zach Werenski (2015, No. 8), who returns to the University of Michigan in 2015-16.

Mantha looks to show Red Wings drive, consistency

Tuesday, 09.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- There was a time when Detroit Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha was being considered as a potential fit alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

It all changed Sept. 15, 2014, when Mantha, a first-round pick (No. 20) in the 2013 NHL Draft, sustained a fractured right tibia at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. At the time of his injury, which sidelined him all of training camp in 2014, he was leading Red Wings prospects in goals, points and shots on goal.

Mantha missed two months before finally making his professional debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League on Nov. 14, 2014. He struggled upon his return, scoring 15 goals and 33 points in 62 games. The lack of offensive production didn't sit well with Red Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano, who expressed with the local media his disappointment in Mantha's performance.

Sabres' Eichel scores game-winner in prospects finale

Monday, 09.14.2015 / 11:33 PM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO – Buffalo Sabres rookie forward Jack Eichel gave the fans at First Niagara Center a lot to think about heading into training camp with his performance against the Boston Bruins on Monday.

Eichel, the second pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, scored the game-winning goal with 37 seconds left in overtime that gave the Sabres a 3-2 win in the finale of the Sabres' Prospect Challenge.

Eichel took the puck up the right wing side and skated past Bruins forward Anton Blidh before he took a wrist shot that got past Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre on the far side of the net.

"We're on the bench after a long shift in our own zone and the coach [Randy Cunneyworth] asked if I had anything left and I figured I could go out there and see what I could do," Eichel said. "It's nice having [Sam Reinhart] and [Brendan Guhle] out there too; two guys you can trust. [Guhle] and [Reinhart] make a good play on the 2-on-1 coming back our way and [goalie C.J. Motte] deflects the puck into the corner. I just tried to protect it down the ice and I was able to get a shot off and luckily it went in."

News, notes from Traverse City Tournament - Sept. 14

Monday, 09.14.2015 / 11:10 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been very successful reloading each season with general manager Stan Bowman working within the NHL's salary-cap system.

The Blackhawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons in 2014-15, and there's no reason to think they won't be in the running for another despite losing some key players from that championship lineup.

After winning the Cup in six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in June, Bowman traded forwards Brandon Saad (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Patrick Sharp (Dallas Stars), and forwards Brad Richards (Detroit Red Wings) and Antoine Vermette (Arizona Coyotes) and defenseman Johnny Oduya (Stars) left as free agents.

The Blackhawks acquired some good young talent and some savvy veterans during the offseason, but they will also rely on their top prospects for added support at some point in 2015-16.

One player closing in on making the jump to Chicago is left wing Ryan Hartman, a first-round pick (No. 30) in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Canucks' Shinkaruk ready to handle high expectations

Monday, 09.14.2015 / 4:17 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Hunter Shinkaruk knows that entering his second year of professional hockey the heat on him will be turned up. So too will expectations.

Shinkaruk, chosen by the Vancouver Canucks with the No. 24 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, has already felt that weight.

"You kind of just read different things, see different things on Twitter, and people are wondering where you are and if you're going to be able to make the jump," Shinkaruk said at the Young Stars Classic, his third year in attendance. "I think the pressure has increased a little bit because people are waiting on that. Every year there's new first-round picks that are coming in and trying to take your spot. You have pressure, but I'd probably say the longer it goes, the more the pressure builds."

Jets' Hellebuyck pushing for time in net

Sunday, 09.13.2015 / 4:44 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Connor Hellebuyck doesn't want to ruffle any feathers, but he's not planning to concede as a challenger for the Winnipeg Jets goal crease this season.

Hellebuyck, 22, will be competing with Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson.

"I know they have two really good goalies in [Pavelec] and [Hutchinson] right now," Hellebuyck said at the Young Stars Classic tournament. "I'm just going to go out and try to do my thing, get better every day and when it's time, it's time. I feel that I'm ready, but to that point I still feel there is a lot more I can get better at. The biggest obstacle will be keep taking the right steps and keep doing the right thing and don't take any steps backward."

Russian prospects hope for success at Traverse City

Sunday, 09.13.2015 / 10:52 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Detroit Red Wings prospect Evgeny Svechnikov should note that Pavel Datsyuk made his Red Wings debut at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

Svechnikov, a first-round pick (No. 19) in the 2015 NHL Draft, is hoping he can follow in the footsteps of Datsyuk by making a lasting impression to a successful NHL career.

As one of three high-profile Russian players participating in the tournament this week at Centre Ice Arena, Svechnikov is excited to be wearing the winged wheel and catching up with friends and fellow countrymen Ivan Barbashev (2014 draft, No. 33) of the St. Louis Blues and Sergey Tolchinsky (undrafted free agent) of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Eichel gets assist for Sabres in tournament debut

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 11:17 PM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- It didn't take long for Buffalo Sabres rookie Jack Eichel to make a good impression at the Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge.

Eichel, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, assisted Nicholas Baptiste on a 2-on-1 break 25 seconds into the first period for the first of Baptiste's two goals, and the Sabres defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-2 at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

Eichel was sprung on the break after a backhand pass from former Boston University teammate Evan Rodrigues out of the defensive zone. Eichel carried the puck up the left wing and floated a pass behind Devils defenseman Reece Scarlett to Baptiste, who shot past goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.

"I knew I had a step on the guy that [Rodrigues] had chipped it by," Eichel said. "I saw the other [defenseman] and I wasn't sure if it was more of a breakaway or a 2-on-1 and it ended up being more of a 2-on-0, so [Baptiste] did a good job to drive the net and find the back of the net."

News, notes from Traverse City Tournament

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 10:52 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Carolina Hurricanes prospect Sergey Tolchinsky is a big fan of 3-on-3 hockey.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound wing proved it Saturday when he utilized all the space given in scoring the game-winner 2:56 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 5-4 victory against the Dallas Stars prospects at the Traverse City Tournament.

"I think 3-on-3 is fun," Tolchinsky, 20, said. "There's a lot of room and you can show your skill. You have more time to think and see the situation. There's a lot of room and you can do whatever you want."

Hurricanes defense prospect Haydn Fleury, a first-round pick (No. 7) in the 2014 NHL Draft, assisted on Tolchinsky's winner. He believes NHL fans will enjoy 3-on-3 hockey.

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Quote of the Day

It's a big milestone for me and I'm happy to help my team with lots of good teammates. It's fun.

— Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who on Wednesday became the ninth Russian-born player, and ninth Red Wings player, to score 300 NHL goals
World Cup of Hockey 2016