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Prospects

Canucks preaching patience with prospect Connauton

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 2:28 PM / Prospects

Ryan Pinder - NHL.com Correspondent

"He's still pretty young. He's going into his second year pro, so we feel it's important that he plays a lot, and that he's developing in that regard. We have to be patient with our young kids, and we can afford to be right now with the depth that we have. " -- Dave Gagner

He's 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, rushes the puck well and has an uncanny ability to get pucks through traffic to the net. There's certainly a lot to like about defenseman Kevin Connauton, who is coming off an impressive first professional season and now is trying to raise eyebrows at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C.

Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks after his freshman season at Western Michigan University, Connauton wasn't always considered NHL material by scouts; in fact he was passed over in his first draft-eligible season after putting up strong numbers in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Spruce Grove Saints (45 points in 56 games in 2007-08).
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Saad using World Junior cut as motivational tool

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 11:03 AM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

"He's showing us he's on the right path. He's going to go back and play junior hockey this year, and that will help teach him all the little things about becoming a pro. All the little details matter and we've really been trying to stress that to Brandon and the rest of the guys the past two days." -- Blackhawks prospect coach Ted Dent

OSHAWA, Ont. -- Like all of the players coming into the Oshawa rookie tournament, Chicago's Brandon Saad just wanted to be noticed.

With 5 points in two games, he has been achieving that goal.

"I wanted to make a good impression like everyone else," Saad said. "I didn't expect to do poorly, but I guess I've been clicking more with my linemates (Jimmy Hayes and Phillip Danault) more than I expected."

Ted Dent, who is coaching the Blackhawks prospects here, agrees.

"I'm really happy with how quickly they have jelled," Dent said. "They have great chemistry."
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Saint John alums making mark in Traverse City

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 10:16 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Wild prospect Zack Phillips. (Courtesy: Saint John)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Traverse City prospects tournament is a reunion of sorts for the top junior team in the Canadian Hockey League last season.
 
There are seven players from the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League spread among the eight participating teams competing this week, including five drafted players and a pair of invitees.
 
"I don't know who does the scouting, but they did a phenomenal job because every time you watched Saint John play, it was exciting and fun to watch," Detroit Red Wings Director of Amateur Scouting Joe McDonnell told NHL.com. "You were watching high-end prospects every night -- it was just an exciting team and now most have been drafted. Gerard Gallant is a heck of a coach and he has a job to do to get these guys back, mentally, after the great season they had. It'll be fun to watch them again this year."
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Murphy hopes to follow in Skinner's footsteps

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 10:09 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Just because Carolina Hurricanes defense prospect Ryan Murphy and reigning Calder Trophy winning forward Jeff Skinner play different positions doesn't necessarily mean they're not comparable.
 
In fact, position may be the only difference between the former Kitchener Rangers teammates.
 
"From a skill level point of view, Murphy has about as much skill as anyone in the 2011 draft, and in a lot of ways he has as much skill as Skinner, only he plays a different position and may take a little longer to get to the team," Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford told NHL.com. "But these are the types of defensemen you need with the way the game is played today."
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Gudas hitting his way to the top

Monday, 09.12.2011 / 9:37 AM / Prospects

Lonnie Herman - NHL.com Correspondent

"No one liked playing against him. He's a very physical player who finishes his checks." -- James Wright, teammate of Radko Gudas

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- There are many different paths a prospect may journey to begin a career in the National Hockey League, but Radko Gudas, taken in the third round (No. 66) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010 Entry Draft, is taking the road less travelled -- he plans to punch his way there.

Gudas, a 21-year-old defenseman, currently is participating in the Florida Rookie Tournament that kicked off Sunday with a game between the Lightning rookies and the Florida Panthers prospects. At 6-foot and 201 pounds, he has been compared to an anvil -- and the native of Prague certainly is not hesitant about throwing his iron around.
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Ovi returns to rookie days, visits prospect practice

Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 6:51 PM / Prospects

NHL.com

Well, it appears you can, indeed, go back in time.

Alex Ovechkin did the rookie thing quite a few years ago. Today, he is one of the game's biggest stars as he enters into the prime of his career. Yet, there was the 25-year on Sunday, skating with a bunch of teenagers at Kettler Capitals Iceplaex.

Just like those players, Ovechkin had on a plain practice jersey -- his was black -- and a simple, slapped on nameplate across the back of his shoulders.
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Penguins' Tangradi embarking on path back to NHL

Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 1:22 PM / Prospects

Erin Nicks - NHL.com Correspondent

OSHAWA, Ontario -- Eric Tangradi's road to recovery has ended, and now the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect is ready to begin a new path.

If Tangradi has his way, that path will lead him directly back to the NHL.

The winger's efforts to become a permanent member of the team were stymied last season when the 22-year-old suffered a concussion during a game against the New York Islanders in February. But talk to Tangradi today and you can tell he's ready to get back into the game.

"I feel 100 percent, if not better," Tangradi said. "I learned a lot from the injury and it was a tough grind getting back out there, but I had a really good summer …  getting in the gym and putting on some extra weight to get ready for another hockey season."
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Osgood transitioning into new role for Red Wings

Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 11:23 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Almost two months after deciding to call it a career following 17 years in the NHL, Chris Osgood appears to be right at home in his new role as an assistant goalie coach for the Detroit Red Wings.

Osgood was all smiles on the opening day of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament here at Center ICE Arena on Saturday, helping mentor young goalies Petr Mrazek, Evan Mosher and Ramis Sadikov. Those prospects will rotate playing time throughout the five-day tournament.

Coach Osgood said he's looking forward to the new challenge.

"I'm excited to begin my new job working with the young guys … I've worked with Howie (Jimmy Howard), but that was in a different capacity since I was still playing," Osgood told NHL.com. "I've always enjoyed teaching the young guys and that's how I was brought up in the organization with guys like Mike Vernon, Tim Cheveldae, Ken Wregget and Dominik Hasek. A lot of guys taught me and mentored me, so that was the same thing I did with Howie and I enjoyed it."
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Armstrong: Time is now for Blues to take next step

Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 11:08 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong wanted to make certain his assigned leaders were put in charge the moment players stepped on the ice for the start of training camp.

With the announcement of fan favorite David Backes as the 20th captain in franchise history on Sept. 9, he did just that. The Blues open camp Sept. 16.

"David exemplifies everything we want as part of our team -- he's articulate and well-spoken in the room and community," Armstrong told NHL.com. "He plays a style of hockey we want to be known for. He's known as a physical player, but he has the skill set to produce points. We feel he's entering the prime of his career now and he signed a five year deal with us (in November 2010). We're the team that drafted him and it seems like he's the guy who can lead us into the future."

John Davidson, the club's president of hockey operations, felt Backes was the perfect fit to wear the "C."
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Trio of forwards on display for Sabres

Saturday, 09.10.2011 / 9:42 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- New ownership has apparently instilled new fervor and optimism in the prospects for the Buffalo Sabres these days.
 
The top three players within Buffalo's system -- forwards Zack Kassian, Luke Adam and Marcus Foligno -- are playing a vital role for the Sabres during their anticipated debut at the Traverse City Prospects tournament this week here at Center ICE Arena.
 
Kassian, a physical 6-foot-3, 226-pound right wing, was taken in the first round (No. 13) of the 2009 Entry Draft and inked a three-year entry-level deal with the Sabres in November 2010. Foligno, whose father, Mike, was a former fan favorite in Buffalo, agreed to terms on a three-year deal in May.
 
Adam, perhaps the most NHL-ready of the bunch after playing 19 games for Buffalo in 2010-11, signed his entry-level contract in April 2010. In Buffalo's tournament-opening 6-3 victory against the Minnesota Wild prospects on Saturday, Adam centered Foligno and Kassian. They combined for three points.
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Quote of the Day

It was a different game in the past, that's for sure. It's not exactly what I was expecting but I think the experience paid off for a lot of our guys that realized what it takes in a Game 7. Realistically the effort we put forward, we might not even had to put 60 [minutes], but we just couldn't get a couple bounces to go our way and we just kept pushing.

— Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby on Washington's play in Game 7 vs. the Islanders