2015 NHL Draft
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2015-2016 Season Preview

Coyotes' Ekman-Larsson reaching Lidstrom-like levels

Thursday, 10.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Tim Wharnsby - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- They're everywhere in the NHL these days, young Swedish defensemen who have been influenced by Nicklas Lidstrom, the legendary Detroit Red Wings defenseman.

Back when Peter Forsberg was at his best, most young hockey players from Sweden wanted to be like him, a forward. But then Lidstrom started collecting Stanley Cup titles and Norris Trophy wins and Olympic gold, and that all changed.

"You look around the League and see all the young [Swedish] defensemen," Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "When you grew up in Sweden before Nicklas became the player he was, everybody wanted to be a forward. When he played his best, the most skilled guys back home wanted to be like him and play defense. Our best players are defensemen."

Now there is Victor Hedman in Tampa Bay, John Klingberg in Dallas, Jonas Brodin in Minnesota, Hampus Lindholm in Anaheim, Adam Larsson in New Jersey, Mattias Ekholm in Nashville.

There are also a couple dandies in Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Arizona Coyotes.

How East's playoff outsiders get back in postseason

Thursday, 10.01.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which begins Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Summer may be the most enjoyable time of the season for many people, but NHL teams want to put off its start for as long as possible.

For the eight Eastern Conference teams that missed out on the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoff party, their goal since the second week of April has been figuring out how to extend their seasons into May -- or even June, like the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

So how can the teams that missed the fun turn into postseason hits? With the regular season nearing its start, NHL.com today examines why fans of the unlucky eight can hold onto their playoff hopes:

Capitals put pieces in place to extend playoff stay

Wednesday, 09.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Katie Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

WASHINGTON -- After another disappointing exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan again turned his attention to building a championship team.

Washington blew a 3-1 series lead and was eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round by the New York Rangers. MacLellan had to contend with re-signing a handful of restricted free agents (including No. 1 goaltender Braden Holtby) and manage the loss of several veteran players. He signed forward Justin Williams and acquired forward T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Troy Brouwer.

The Capitals believe the additions of Oshie and Williams will give them the edge they've been missing during the postseason.

"I bring a little bit of comfort, as a guy who's been there and gone all the way," said Williams, who has won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes and twice with the Los Angeles Kings. "But listen, this is new for me. This is a new team, and I'm just trying to fit in and find my role as best as I can. I'm not a savior by any means of the word. I'm just coming here to be a piece with this team, which I think is a championship team."

Depth at center, defensemen X-factors for Capitals

Wednesday, 09.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Katie Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- In an effort to keep the Stanley Cup window wide open, the Washington Capitals spent last season introducing young players into their lineup. Now it's time for them to become bigger contributors.

Evgeny Kuznetsov starts his second full NHL season, and Andre Burakovsky should be in the NHL full-time after spending a portion of last season with Hershey in the American Hockey League. How those forwards perform will go a long way to competing in what is primed to be a tough Metropolitan Division.

Here are three X-factors that will impact whether the Capitals then can get over the hump in the postseason:

Islanders poised to face new challenges in new home

Wednesday, 09.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

NEW YORK -- After 43 years at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, the New York Islanders have a new address.

The Islanders will open the 2015-16 season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 9 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The players are excited about the opportunity to play their home games in a state-of-the-art arena, but the days of driving 10-15 minutes from their homes to the Coliseum are in the rearview mirror.

So if they plan on qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in four seasons, the Islanders know they will have to get acclimated to their new surroundings quickly.

"It's going to be different," right wing Kyle Okposo said. "There's some new challenges, new adjustments that are going to have to be made by everybody. It's going to be a feeling-out process kind of getting used to the routine and that whole bit, because we'd been at Nassau and successful and it's easy for us to live out on the Island. We're just going to have to get used to everything, but we're excited about the new facilities and the new building."

Special teams, home ice X-factors for Islanders

Wednesday, 09.30.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders may have taken some teams by surprise last season when they won 47 games and emerged among the elite in the Metropolitan Division.

They know they won't be surprising anybody this time around, which could make the road to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs a tad bumpier.

"Everybody that's involved in management really believes in the group," defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "I think more importantly, the players believe in one another. I think we have the personnel to go out and get the job done. We feel that we came up short last year.

"We have a lot to prove. Nothing's going to be given to us. We know it's going to be much harder this season. Teams are going to be expecting us now, and we're not going to beat anybody by coming out blind. We're ready for the test and we're grateful we've got the same group in here because it's a fun group to win with."

Here are three X-factors that will impact the Islanders' postseason chances:

Red Wings' Tatar hopes to build off breakout season

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- On paper, it may look to some as though Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar took a while to reach the NHL.

He spent the better part of four seasons playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League before graduating full-time to the Red Wings in 2013-14.

The Red Wings, however, do not view it that way. They believe their leading goal-scorer from last season arrived on schedule and fully prepared to play in the NHL.

"His junior rights were owned by Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League and we had conversations about having him play with Tyler Seguin in Plymouth or playing in the AHL," general manager Ken Holland said. "He didn't know a lot about junior hockey and really wanted to play pro. We said come on over and we'll see how it goes. He stayed the entire year in the AHL and held his own."

Healthy Zucker, developing Dumba are Wild X-factors

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In order for the Minnesota Wild to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs past the Western Conference Second Round and conquer the Chicago Blackhawks, who have eliminated them in each of the past three postseasons, it will require career seasons from their young forwards, the continued development of youth on the blue line, and perhaps a rebound campaign from a veteran or two.

Here are the X-factors that may decide whether the Wild can take the next step:

Suter says Wild are close to Stanley Cup contention

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Don't be fooled by that early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Defenseman Ryan Suter is convinced his Minnesota Wild are close -- really close -- to being legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

"Hopefully that's the case," Suter said this week.

Suter's reason for the upbeat take on the Wild's chances of winning a championship comes from the fact they were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup in two of the past three seasons. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks have sent the Wild packing in each of the past three seasons, but in 2013-14 Chicago lost the Western Conference Final.

Red Wings expect to make playoffs again with Blashill

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Paul Harris - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

DETROIT -- A new coach and two key free agent additions will attempt to help the Detroit Red Wings to their 25th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

Jeff Blashill takes over as coach, replacing Mike Babcock, who left in May for the same job with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blashill coached Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids the past three seasons.

The Red Wings also signed free agents Mike Green and Brad Richards on July 1.

Green, who signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $18 million, is the offensive-minded defenseman with a right-handed shot Detroit has lacked for so long.

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