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Player Profiles

Versatile Benn key to Stars' climb up standings

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 3:00 PM / Player Profiles

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

"He's given us some great play. He's been very versatile. He's played all three forward positions, played on the penalty kill, been on the power play as well, and he's scored some big goals for us."
-- Stars coach, Marc Crawford

DALLAS -- The big story in Dallas earlier this week was the return of All-Star center Brad Richards, who missed 10 games with concussion-like symptoms.  But another phenomenon has been the strong play of second-year forward Jamie Benn, who has goals in a career-best five straight games.

On Feb. 22 against New Jersey, the versatile 21-year-old returned from a 10-game absence with a shoulder injury. And two nights later in Detroit, he assisted on Mike Ribeiro's game-opening goal to help the Stars to a 4-1 win against the Red Wings.

In his eight games back, he has centered the top line in place of Richards and also played on both wings. But such versatility is nothing new.

Stability helping Leddy feel more at home

Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 3:30 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"He's calm with the puck and it seems like he makes a lot of plays. You tell him to do one thing and he'll do it the next time out. I think he's going to be really good." -- Patrick Kane

The word from Stan Bowman has come enough times this season to make Nick Leddy's head spin. Chicago’s 19-year-old rookie defenseman has been sent to the American Hockey League and called up to the big club six times since he won a spot in the opening-night lineup.

Most of the transactions involving Leddy simply have been for flexibility with the salary cap, sending him down during stretches where the Hawks had a break in the schedule. However, it didn't stop the youngster from feeling the stress of the business.

Ladd finding his niche in first season as captain

Wednesday, 03.09.2011 / 9:00 AM / Player Profiles

John Manasso - Correspondent

DULUTH, Ga. -- When Craig Ramsay took over as Thrashers coach to start this season, he did not name a captain right away. He wanted to get to know his personnel first.

After the team muddled through the first five weeks, coinciding with one particularly disappointing loss, Ramsay named 25-year-old Andrew Ladd as captain.

He could not have made a better choice. The Thrashers immediately took off and at one point in late December occupied first place in the Southeast Division.

Since then, all has not gone so well. Entering Wednesday's key game at Carolina, the Thrashers remain a bit of a long shot to make the playoffs, trailing eighth-place Buffalo by seven points with 16 games to play. But the fact that they have any chance at all would seem, to a large degree, because of Ladd, their leading goal-scorer whom they acquired over the summer via trade for a second-round pick and a prospect.

Paajarvi adjusting, improving with young Oilers

Wednesday, 03.09.2011 / 9:00 AM / Player Profiles

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The current phase of the Edmonton Oilers' rebuilding effort is focused on getting their young players as much playing time as possible to speed their adjustment period to the NHL lifestyle.
For some of the club's youngsters, that adjustment has come faster than others. But for rookie left wing Magnus Paajarvi, he's had more than just a new league to get used to.
The dynamic power forward, taken by the Oilers with the 10th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, is also adjusting to new players and a new country, all at the same time. It's been a challenge, but one Paajarvi is meeting head on.
"The biggest thing that sticks out with Maggie is work ethic," teammate Sam Gagner told "He's a guy that's in the gym all the time, one of the last guys off the ice every day, one of the first guys on. He just continues to work hard and because of that he continues to improve. I think there's an adjustment period coming over from Sweden, I'm sure he's lived alone before, but living in a new country, that's pretty hard and he's handled it really well. He comes to the rink with a good attitude every day, trying to get better, so it's good."

McCabe happy to be with Rangers

Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 4:46 PM / Player Profiles

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- There was no other place defenseman Bryan McCabe wanted to be other than Manhattan on Sunday afternoon, throwing on a New York Rangers jersey to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden.

Well, that's not entirely true. The 35-year-old McCabe wanted to be part of the Florida Panthers' rebuilding process, but the problem with that was the Panthers didn't want him anymore.

Faced with the realization that his time in South Florida was over, McCabe decided he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for one team and one team only -- the Rangers. So the Panthers worked out a deal Saturday that sent McCabe to the Rangers in exchange for Tim Kennedy and a third-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.

"Obviously I have a lot of roots here," said McCabe, whose wife is from Long Island, the place where he spent his first three seasons in the NHL with the Islanders. "We spend our summers on Long Island. Three years ago when I was on my out of Toronto, this was one of the teams I really wanted to come to and things didn't work out. But I'm glad they did now and I'm really excited to be here."

Still young, Flyers' Giroux drawing extensive praise

Friday, 02.25.2011 / 2:19 PM / Player Profiles

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

When Simon Gagne was playing in Philadelphia last season, he started having some flashbacks.

Suddenly, Gagne, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, was remembering the exciting -- but fleeting -- moments he had sharing the ice with Peter Forsberg, who played with Philadelphia from 2005 to late in the 2006-07 season. At the time, Forsberg was considered one of the most dynamic players in the game.

"Maybe it's too early to make some comparisons with Peter Forsberg," Gagne told following a win last March against the Chicago Blackhawks, "but I did play with Peter and he (Giroux) has pretty much the same style."

Pietrangelo ready to step into bigger role

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 11:33 AM / Player Profiles

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

After a pair of recent trades, the St. Louis Blues are being talked about because of the big names they exchanged.
First, former Blues captain Eric Brewer was sent to Tampa Bay. Then, St. Louis General Manager Doug Armstrong completed a blockbuster with the Colorado Avalanche that involved four former first-round draft picks, including Blues defenseman Erik Johnson, who was taken No. 1 in the 2006 Entry Draft.
That deal also sent Jay McClement to Colorado and brought Avs power forward Chris Stewart and talented rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis. That was a lot of big names to digest in one trade, but a big-name player still on the Blues could benefit the most.
St. Louis rookie defenseman Alex Pietrangelo -- the Blues' top pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (No. 4) -- now has a larger role as St. Louis focuses on the future. 

After early struggle, Myers boosting Sabres

Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 9:00 AM / Player Profiles

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

"More than anything it was me -- I was in my own head. I won't lie -- I was feeling pressure from last year. I thought I had to do more than I did coming into the season, and it took me a little while to figure out that less is more." -- Tyler Myers

At 6-foot-8 and 227 pounds, Tyler Myers casts a rather imposing shadow.

But it pales in comparison to the shadow the Buffalo Sabres defenseman felt enveloping him at the start of this season, the one cast by his stellar rookie season that earned him the Calder Trophy and raised expectations for him around the League.

Trying to live up to those lofty projections had a counter effect -- in an effort to create offense and maintain or even improve on the 48 points of his rookie season, Myers became a bit of a reckless player, and it showed.

Before he knew it, Myers was a minus-12 only 13 games into the season.

Red-hot Whitney getting better with age in Phoenix

Monday, 02.14.2011 / 3:23 PM / Player Profiles

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- To say Ray Whitney's first month as a Phoenix Coyote didn't go very well at all would be a huge understatement.

Signed as a free agent to jazz up the Phoenix power play and give the defense-first team a more dynamic presence, neither side was happy with the fit.

Whitney was playing through a painful hand injury, irritated about his ice time, unfamiliar with his linemates and annoyed by a reintroduction to the Western Conference travel schedule.

That combination of factors can make for one grumpy old man. And the 38-year-old Whitney's statistics 13 games into the season -- no goals and 5 assists and no multiple-point games -- weren't doing much for the Coyotes, who spent $6 million to bring his skill and savvy to the desert for two years.

Ovechkin feels fresher heading into stretch run

Monday, 02.07.2011 / 2:36 PM / Player Profiles

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- There's a reason Alex Ovechkin says he feels fresher and lighter heading into the stretch run of this season compared to last season. It might be due to a conscious decision he made in the fall.

Ovechkin wouldn't come out and say it directly, but he hinted after Monday's practice that he made sure to keep some energy in his tank for the post All-Star break drive to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's not to say he wasn't playing hard and trying to be his best in the first 50 games of the season, but Ovechkin is consciously aware of what's important for him and the Capitals now that he's deep into his sixth NHL season.

It's no longer about personal statistics and individual awards.

"Of course I want to be on top, and of course I want to do my best, but the most important thing is to be in the playoffs and do what Chicago did when they won the Stanley Cup," Ovechkin told

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