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(Page 4 of 39)
Prospects

Confident Thomas thriving with hometown Hitmen

Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Ben Thomas can remember a time when the only way he was allowed to step foot in Scotiabank Saddledome was to buy a ticket.

Now he calls it home.

The 2014 NHL Draft-eligible defenseman has blossomed with the Calgary Hitmen this season in the rink he grew up cheering in, no less.

"It's pretty amazing," Thomas said. "I used to go to Flames games and Hitmen games all the time as a kid. I remember the first time I went out for practice with the Hitmen. It was just a really weird feeling being out there after all those years of watching other teams on the ice. To be able to have this as my home rink is pretty special."

Navigating through his draft year, the 17-year-old Thomas doesn't have to look far to find motivation.

Just down the hall, in fact.

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Collegiate programs provide bulk of U.S. WJC talent

Monday, 12.16.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

It shouldn't come as a surprise more than half the players invited to the 2014 United States National Junior Team selection camp on the campus of the University of Minnesota this week are also standouts in college.

The fact is USA Hockey has traditionally scoured the collegiate ranks every year with the focus of bringing the best the country has to offer to the prestigious 10-team World Junior Championship. This year was no exception as 21 of the 29 players invited are starring for programs across the NCAA landscape.

"The collegiate players are our bread and butter to where we end up on this roster," U.S. National Junior Team general manager Jim Johannson said. "I think the partnership we have with supporting U.S. junior hockey and USA Hockey as a whole has been vital to the unlimited growth of the American player both in college and the international scene. So it's by nature of structure that college hockey needs USA Hockey to be strong and, by nature of player development, we need college hockey to be strong."

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U.S. starts bid for WJC repeat with selection camp

Saturday, 12.14.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The United States National Junior Team begins defense of its gold medal-winning triumph at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship with several new faces looking to create their own mark on the campus at the University of Minnesota beginning Sunday.

The first item on the agenda as the U.S. prepares for the 2014 WJC in Malmo, Sweden, is the 29-player selection camp consisting of five practices at Mariucci Arena as well as a pre-tournament game at Minnesota State University on Dec. 17. All practices at Mariucci are open to the public. After training is complete in Minneapolis, the team will travel to Angelholm, Sweden, to continue the evaluation process from Dec. 19-23. The Americans will play pre-tournament games Dec. 20 against Sweden and Dec. 22 against Finland.

U.S. National Junior Team coach Don Lucia expects to finalize his 22-player roster Dec. 23.

Lucia, who is in his 15th season as the head coach for the Golden Gophers, is excited that the first leg of the evaluation process will be held in Minnesota.

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CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game rosters announced

Friday, 12.13.2013 / 3:15 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Calgary Hitmen teammates Ben Thomas and Jake Virtanen can expect the loudest ovation when introduced to the hometown faithful on Jan. 15 during the 19th annual BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta.

The Top Prospects Game will showcase the Canadian Hockey League's top 40 NHL draft-eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The rosters for Team Orr and Team Cherry were released by the CHL on Friday.

Virtanen, a 6-foot-0.75, 208-pound right wing, was given an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's December players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft. He is one of 26 players invited to the game tagged with an A rating, or a potential first-round candidate for the draft. There are also 11 B-rated players or potential second- or third-round candidates, and three C-rated prospects.

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Dano heads experienced Slovakia WJC camp list

Friday, 12.13.2013 / 2:11 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Versatile forward Marko Dano, a first-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in June, heads the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation's preliminary 38-man roster of players competing for spots on the team that will participate in the IIHF 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden, later this month.

Slovakia head coach Ernest Bokros will have seven returnees in the mix, including goalie Richard Sabol of Slovakia Under-20, defensemen Richard Buri of the Minnesota Wilderness in the North American Hockey League, Patrik Luza and Tomas Rusina of HC Slovan Bratislava and forwards Dano of HC Slovan Bratislava, Milan Kolena of Slovakia U-20 and Martin Reway of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Slovakia finished eighth in the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia.

The team has four players selected by NHL teams at the 2013 NHL Draft: forwards Dano (Columbus, No. 27), Peter Cehlarik (Boston Bruins, No. 90), Reway (Montreal Canadiens, No. 116) and Matej Paulovic (Dallas Stars, No. 149).

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Sutter takes measured approach to Canada WJC camp

Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 11:39 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Canadian National Junior Team coach Brent Sutter isn't concerned about the expectations, a gold medal or even opening night at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

When Canada's national junior team selection camp opens at MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ontario, on Friday, the only concern for Sutter will be identifying his team and the players needed to succeed in a short tournament.

Sutter would know. He went 6-0 in North Dakota in 2005 and 6-0 in Vancouver in 2006 to lead Canada to a WJC gold medal each year.

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Scherbak showing ability to acclimate quickly

Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Saskatoon Blades general manager Lorne Molleken didn't have a lot to go on when it came time to making a decision on right wing Nikita Scherbak at the 2013 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

"There weren't a whole lot of teams who saw him play, but the people I knew told me he was a skilled player and good skater," Molleken told NHL.com. "When I did my checking on him I received a lot of positive reports from NHL teams."

Chalk one up for Molleken and his scouting staff. Turns out choosing Scherbak in the second round (No. 109) was an absolute steal for the Blades. While it took an entire training camp and preseason before he was given his official release from his team in Russia, Kapitan Stupino, Saskatoon coach Dave Struch soon realized it was worth the wait.

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Draisaitl leads returning group to German WJC camp

Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 11:47 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Center Leon Draisaitl, considered an A-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft, is one of four returning players invited to the German National Junior Team selection camp that will be evaluated for participation in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden, later this month.

In addition to Draisaitl, German coach Ernst Hofner will also have goalie Marvin Cupper of the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and forwards Frederik Tiffels of the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League and Dominik Kahun of the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League.

Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders is one of five forwards from the Western Hockey League tagged with an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list. He had two goals and a team-leading six points in six games at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia.

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Wild assign Dumba to Canada for World Juniors

Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 11:17 AM / Prospects

NHL.com

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on Wednesday was assigned to the Canadian National Junior Team and will be eligible to participate in the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden, later this month.

Dumba, who for the past two years was the final player cut from the National Junior Team roster, is looking forward to the opportunity. He has one goal and two points in 13 games for the Wild this season.

"It's been tough on me the last two times," Dumba told the Wild website. "Being the last cut last year, it hurt. It [stunk] not being able to represent my country last year, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity that they're giving me this year."

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U.S. adds three to World Junior evaluation camp

Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:00 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Forwards Vincent Hinostroza of the University of Notre Dame and Zach Stepan of Minnesota State University and defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Colorado College were added Tuesday to the roster of players for the United States National Junior Team selection camp, which will be held Dec. 15-18 on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

United States coach Don Lucia now will oversee a 29-player camp roster that includes 17 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. The 22-player tournament roster for the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship will be announced Dec. 23.

Hinostroza has three goals and 14 points as a freshman at Notre Dame. The 5-foot-9, 158-pound center was selected in the sixth round (No. 169) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season