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Korean players bring style, culture to Stars camp

Monday, 07.20.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- As with all NHL teams, the Dallas Stars' annual development camp is where prospects from various nations unite each summer to hone their skills.

At this year's camp, three players from South Korea -- forward Jinhui Ahn, defenseman Wonjun Kim, and goaltender Kye Hoon Park -- participated alongside Stars prospects.

Dallas general manager Jim Nill invited them at the request of Jim Paek, the first Korean to play in the NHL. Paek, who debuted with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and was part of their Stanley Cup winning team in 1991, is the director of hockey with the Korean Ice Hockey Association and coaches the South Korean National Team.

Paek spent nine seasons as an assistant coach for Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, which is where he met Nill, a longtime assistant general manager with the Detroit Red Wings. So, when Paek asked for a favor, Nill was receptive.

"Well, it's a great story. Jim Paek gave me a call back last November," Nill said. "They have the Olympics that they're hosting [in PyeongChang 2018] and it's his task to get them into the Olympics. So he gave me a call and said, 'I've got three kids I'd like to bring to camp. They need to get the experience, learn what it takes to make the next step.' So I said, 'Hey, we'd love to help you out.'

"They're great kids, great people off the ice. But on the ice, they've been as good as everybody else and played very well."

Flames glad to give hyped Jankowski time to develop

Sunday, 07.19.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

CALGARY -- Jay Feaster, the Calgary Flames general manager at the time, told reporters center Mark Jankowski "will be viewed as the best player in the 2012 [NHL] Draft."

John Weisbrod, Feaster's assistant, compared the 17-year-old to a young Joe Nieuwendyk.

Those quotes about Jankowski, the 21st pick of that draft by Calgary, still ring out occasionally. Craig Conroy remembers them.

"You try not to hear that, but once it's been said and then it's said everywhere -- Twitter and blogs -- it has a life of its own," said Conroy, now assistant GM with the Flames after serving as special assistant to Feaster when Calgary traded down from No. 14 to select Jankowski three summers ago in Pittsburgh.

"It's hard to avoid it nowadays. I think if it happened 15 years ago it would be said once at the draft and then probably nobody would even talk about it."

Bruins' unheralded draft pick turning heads in college

Sunday, 07.19.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The road to being the leading scorer among NCAA sophomores this season looks cleared for Denver University's Danton Heinen, a Boston Bruins prospect.

Center Jack Eichel, whose 71 points for Boston University led freshmen last season, was selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 2 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft last month and recently signed his first professional contract.

Forward Dylan Larkin also left school for the pros after he finished second among freshmen with 47 points for the University of Michigan. Larkin joined the Detroit Red Wings, who picked him 15th at the 2014 draft, this spring.

Heinen, who the Bruins drafted in the fourth round (No. 116) in 2014, was the third-leading scorer among freshmen. The right wing led the Pioneers with 45 points and he's planning to try to better that when he returns to school.

Bruins prospect DeBrusk scores slick shootout goal

Saturday, 07.18.2015 / 8:38 PM / Prospects

Boston Bruins prospect Jake DeBrusk left something to remember him by on the final day of development camp.

DeBrusk, the 14th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, scored a slick, behind-the-back shootout goal Friday.

"My thought process going into the shootout at the end was that we lost the game and I didn't score, so I wanted to go into the shootout with the mindset of doing something kind of crazy," DeBrusk told the Bruins website.

Devils see prospect base as remedy to scoring woes

Saturday, 07.18.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- A glimpse of what could be the start of something special began to materialize for the New Jersey Devils despite not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs a third straight season in 2014-15.

It started when homegrown defensemen Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson began to earn more ice time, which led to greater confidence as they established themselves on a daily basis.

The challenge Devils general manager Ray Shero and coach John Hynes now face will be to establish some sort of cohesiveness up front in providing more offense. Make no mistake, it will be a work in progress.

McIntyre expects to climb Bruins goalie depth chart

Saturday, 07.18.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- With a sunburned nose as red as a goal light, Zane McIntyre looked more off-duty lifeguard than future NHL goalie after the first day of Boston Bruins development camp at Ristuccia Arena.

"Looks like Rudolph," McIntyre said.

The 22-year-old explained he recently fell asleep in a boat and woke up with the sunburn. He needed to be wide awake as he tried to make an impression on the Boston brass in his sixth development camp since the Bruins selected him in the sixth round (No. 165) at the 2010 NHL Draft, his first since he turned pro this summer.

Sundqvist eyes open spot on Penguins' fourth line

Saturday, 07.18.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Wes Crosby - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Oskar Sundqvist is prepared to make his NHL debut.

Sundqvist, one of Pittsburgh's final cuts last preseason, is eyeing a spot on the Penguins' opening night roster. He fell short of that goal in 2014 after leading Pittsburgh with two preseason goals.

Entering this season, there is a hole at center on the Penguins' fourth line, Sundqvist's natural position. Although he did not participate in development camp because of a lower-body injury, Sundqvist is expected to be available for Pittsburgh's rookie tournament and training camp.

The 21-year-old hopes to again reach the final stages of training camp and to top the list of potential candidates available to play when the Penguins open their season against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 8.

"It's all about the camp, how I perform there," Sundqvist said. "Like last year, I had my best time during the year during the camp. So I'm just looking for me to make a big impression on [Penguins coach Mike Johnston] and I'm hoping that's in his mind still.

"We will see [if I'm prepared to play in the NHL]. I haven't been on the ice yet, so I don't really know about that. But hopefully I feel mature enough to move here. So I should be ready to play in the NHL."

Capitals plan to be patient with their young goalies

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Katie Brown - Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Six years ago, the Washington Capitals sent goaltending prospect Braden Holtby to the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

With Holtby entrenched as the Capitals' No. 1 goalie and Philipp Grubauer expected to be his backup, the Capitals' goaltending prospect wheel keeps churning.

Washington will send Vitek Vanecek, who participated in Capitals development camp July 7-11, to the ECHL as its only goalie prospect in North America.

"Lots of things can happen, injuries and such, but I think that's the best place for him to start as a 19-year-old," Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn said. "We want guys to have success at every level that they play at. We don't want them treading water; we want them swimming ahead."

That patient approach worked well for Holtby, who had career highs of 41 wins and nine shutouts last season when he was 25.

Healthy at last, center Faksa eager to impress Stars

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Radek Faksa is healthy, and that's a welcome change for the Dallas Stars prospect.

After battling injuries his first four seasons in the Dallas organization, Faksa, the 13th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, has recovered from shoulder surgery in January and was on the ice with fellow Stars prospects for development camp in early July.

"It feels great (to be back on the ice)," Faksa, 21, said. "After almost a half year, I've been on the ice three times now. There's no problems so far. Even in the gym, I didn't have problems. I'm happy about that."

Last season, the Czech-born center had four goals and 10 points in 10 games for Texas of the American Hockey League before sustaining the season-ending shoulder injury on a hit in mid-January.

Santini one year closer to joining Devils defense

Friday, 07.17.2015 / 12:00 AM / Prospects

Kristen Nelson - Correspondent

NEWARK, N.J. -- Steve Santini is relatively comfortable sitting in the New Jersey Devils dressing room.

After the first day of Devils development camp Monday, the second-round pick (No. 42) of the 2013 NHL Draft and Boston College defenseman could look around at the hubbub on the bright red carpet, of course with the New Jersey logo carefully avoided by foot traffic, and see a scene similar to his first two camps.

Even with a new coach (John Hynes) to learn from and a new general manager (Ray Shero) to impress, Santini has emerged as a veteran of sorts for the young and eager players around him.

"It's a little different this year because of the new coaching staff, new management," Santini said, "but I definitely feel a lot more confident than my first two years, for sure."

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