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Top 2012 draft prospects at Ivan Hlinka Tourney

Wednesday, 07.27.2011 / 1:44 PM / Prospects

Bill Meltzer - Correspondent

Held each August in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament marks the start of the international hockey season and the beginning of the exhaustive scouting process that culminates the following June with the Entry Draft. The 2011 edition of the tournament will run from Aug. 8-13 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia.

Players born in 1994 and later are eligible for the 2011 Hlinka tourney. While the birthday cutoff eliminates some of the top prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft -- such as Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray, who captained Canada to gold in last year's tournament --  there still will be a host of top 2012 (and 2013) draft candidates showcasing their talents.

Oleksiak leaves Northeastern for Saginaw

Monday, 07.25.2011 / 12:33 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"Northeastern has been phenomenal for me and has really helped in my development, but as for what's happening next year, it's all up in the air. My goal is to play professional hockey one day, and I really want to go where it's going to continue my development and get to my goal and help me achieve the most."
-- Jamieson Oleksiak

Jamieson Oleksiak, taken by the Dallas Stars with the 14th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, has signed with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.

At 6-foot-7 and 241 pounds, Oleksiak was the biggest player selected last month when the Stars tabbed the defenseman, who had played one season at Northeastern University.

He had 13 points and 57 penalty minutes in 38 games at Northeastern last season, but the wheels for his departure likely started when coach Greg Cronin left last month to became an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"Northeastern has been phenomenal for me and has really helped in my development, but as for what's happening next year, it's all up in the air," Oleksiak told the Stars' website at the draft. "My goal is to play professional hockey one day, and I really want to go where it's going to continue my development and get to my goal and help me achieve the most."

Campbell ready to use adversity on road to success

Thursday, 07.21.2011 / 8:56 PM / Prospects

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Jack Campbell speaks about his performance last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League in pretty blunt terms.

"I think it couldn't have gone better mentally for me," Campbell said. "I had my first up-and-down start to a year where normally I've been consistent the entire year. Last year I had a couple bad games that I'm not used to having.

In 45 games this past season, campbell was 24-14-4 with a 3.80 goals-against-average. In 18 playoff games, he went 9-6-3 with two shutouts and a 3.74 GAA.

While his first year in the Stars organization has been a good one, the 19-year-old goaltender, taken with the 11th pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, knows he is capable of much more.

Murphy hoping to follow in Skinner's footsteps

Wednesday, 07.20.2011 / 2:37 PM / Prospects

Greg Picker - Staff Writer

For Ryan Murphy, summer is no time for rest. The 18-year-old defenseman, taken by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 12th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, is using his offseason as a catalyst for making the NHL as soon as possible.

Part of that was attending the Hurricanes' conditioning camp earlier this month.

"It was what I expected," said Murphy. "I heard it was going to be a tough four days and it was. We had a lot of good workouts. We had a lot of fun as well. They killed us but it was a learning experience."

A learning experience Murphy hopes will lead him down the same path as a former teammate. 

Conditioning key to Kings' prospects' big seasons

Wednesday, 07.20.2011 / 11:52 AM / Prospects

Greg Picker - Staff Writer

"Tyler has so much natural ability and hockey sense, but really no road map on how to be a professional hockey player from a conditioning standpoint. The map was laid out for him from our training and conditioning coach to the development team and he really bought in." -- Mike Futa

The Los Angeles Kings made the playoffs the past two seasons thanks to good drafting that landed key players such as Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty.

That prospect pipeline continues to bubble new prospects to the top, with the latest being Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli.

Vey, a 6-foot, 181-pound right wing, was taken in the fourth round of the 2009 Entry Draft. Last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers, he led the Western Hockey League in scoring with 116 points.

Toffoli, a 6-1, 183-pound center, was drafted in the second round in 2010. Playing with the Ottawa 67s, he led the Ontario Hockey League with 57 goals and tied for the OHL scoring lead with 106 points.

Sanguinetti ready to realize potential with 'Canes

Tuesday, 07.19.2011 / 4:07 PM / Prospects

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

"It's been a little bit of a roller coaster. You get the first-round tag put on you and things didn't quite work out in New York. I had two good years in the minors, but I just wasn't able to crack the lineup. I went to Carolina and had a really good camp and was able to learn a lot from the coaches there. I feel like my game kind of developed." -- Bobby Sanguinetti

Bobby Sanguinetti has been carrying around the label of being a first-round pick since the New York Rangers selected him No. 21 at the 2006 Entry Draft.

Sanguinetti played all of five NHL games for the Blueshirts before being shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2009. With less than two months before the Hurricanes open training camp, Sanguinetti is determined to scratch his way into a full-time job on Carolina's blue line.

"I'm at the age now where I need to put it all together and not just be content with being good offensively or defensively," said Sanguinetti, who signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Hurricanes last Friday. "I'm just going to go out there and play my game and rely on my instincts. Obviously, I'm an offensive guy and that's what I'm always going to be, but I just need to make sure I'm good on both sides of the puck."

Another Sutter working his way toward NHL

Tuesday, 07.19.2011 / 3:52 PM / Prospects

Greg Picker - Staff Writer

The Sutters are arguably the most legendary family in hockey history -- and certainly the most prolific. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Brody Sutter is the most recent member to embark on a professional hockey career.

The first generation of Sutters saw six brothers -- Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich, and Ron -- combine to play more than 4,200 NHL games from 1976 through 2001.

Brody Sutter -- son of Duane -- was a 2011 seventh-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, and is part of the second generation of Sutters to set his sights on a pro career. Along with cousins Brandon and Brett, he's also the third Sutter to become a part of the Hurricanes organization. This past season Brandon played his first full season in the NHL, while Brett spent most of the season playing with the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes' American Hockey League affiliate. Brett has played 19 NHL games with the Calgary Flames and Hurricanes over the past three seasons.

Placek aiming for hockey and education

Monday, 07.18.2011 / 2:55 PM / Prospects

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

"I know he's going to Harvard, which is good. It's going to give him four years to get ready for the pro level, and he's not gambling it all on hockey. He's going to get a great education and he's going to become a better hockey player, a more mature hockey player. But when you got a big guy like that with good hands and good size and good skating ability, it always sticks out." -- Ian Laperriere

Parents pretty much are the same anywhere in the world. They want their children to grow up safe, comfortable and happy -- and part of reaching that goal is getting a good education.

Jiri Placek and Leaka Plackova were insistent in that regard with their son, Petr Placek, and he certainly paid attention. Petr, a seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers at last month's Entry Draft, will start at Harvard University in the fall.

"It was the first school I visited," Placek told during the Flyers' recent prospect development camp. "It's Harvard. That's about it."

Placek grew up in Slany, Czech Republic, about 45 minutes northwest of Prague. He started in the Kladno youth hockey program, and while he did well, he had his sights set elsewhere.

Contract signed, Larsson ready for NHL challenge

Friday, 07.15.2011 / 6:20 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

To say Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson was excited when he learned a deal had been finalized with New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello would be a bit of an understatement.
"He said it was the happiest day of his life," Larsson's Swedish agent, Claus Elefalk, told "He said to me, 'I've never been happier than this moment,' so he's flying right now in his mind."
It was Elefalk and Larsson's U.S.-based agent, J.P. Barry, who worked out the details of the three-year, entry-level contract that was finalized by Lamoriello on Thursday night and made public Friday afternoon.

Ellis has potential to surface soon in Nashville

Friday, 07.15.2011 / 3:03 PM / Prospects

John Manasso - Correspondent

Since the Nashville Predators joined the NHL in 1998, only three of their draft picks have earned a roster spot without having first played with the organization's American Hockey League affiliate.

David Legwand, the No. 2 selection in the 1998 Entry Draft, played one game in the expansion franchise's inaugural season. Scott Hartnell, the sixth pick in 2000, did it, but he only scored 2 goals and had 14 assists in 75 games.

And last year, backup goalie Anders Lindback made the jump without the benefit of spending time first with the Milwaukee Admirals, but he was 22 and had played in Sweden's Elite League.

Enter Ryan Ellis. The 20-year-old defenseman won the Ontario Hockey League's player of the year award in 2011, finishing with 101 points (24 goals and a Sergei Zubov-like 77 assists), which tied him for fourth in the league. The others ahead of Ellis in the points race all were forwards.
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Quote of the Day

He's a winner. We want winners here, and he's a proven winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old and been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and strength. He's exactly what we were looking for. He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come.

— Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on Brandon Saad, who he acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks on Tuesday