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Kessel, Phaneuf want to return to Maple Leafs

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 2:32 PM / News

Mike Brophy - NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs' two most central figures insist they want to return to the team for the 2015-16 season.

Captain Dion Phaneuf and right wing Phil Kessel made that very clear when Maple Leafs players met with the media for the final time this season at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

"I signed an eight-year contract last year and I love Toronto," Kessel said. "The fans have been great to me and I love the guys and love playing here. I want to be here. Like I said, I love Toronto and I don't want to leave."

"I expect to be back," Phaneuf said. "I signed here for seven years and I want to remain a Toronto Maple Leaf. It is an honor to play in this city for this organization."

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Crosby confident in Penguins' chances vs. Rangers

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 2:21 PM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Wes Crosby - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH – Sidney Crosby is aware of what happened a year ago. He doesn't think it matters.

The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after trailing the series, 3-1. The series loss led to sweeping change throughout the Penguins organization, from a new general manager and coach to a retooled roster.

Crosby has gone back and watched tape from that series. Other Penguins, such as defenseman Ben Lovejoy, have said it hasn't been mentioned in the locker room. Either way, the Penguins hope the outcome can be different when they play the Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round, starting with Game 1 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, ROOT, MSG).

Whether the series last year has been widely discussed amongst the Penguins or not, Crosby thinks they can learn a few lessons to avoid an early exit this time.

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Todd Richards to coach U.S. at World Championship

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 2:15 PM / News

NHL.com

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards will coach the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic next month, USA Hockey announced Monday.

Richards will be joined by Dan Bylsma and Greg Carvel, who will serve as assistants.

Richards has coached the Blue Jackets the past four seasons, leading them to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
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Canadiens' Pacioretty practices, status uncertain

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 2:13 PM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec – Max Pacioretty might be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Montreal Canadiens left wing and leading scorer took another step towards a return to the lineup Monday when he practiced with his teammates for the first time since he sustained an upper-body injury April 5.

It was Pacioretty’s third straight day on the ice and he said he was able to skate at 100 percent exertion for the second straight day, though he has not yet been cleared to take contact.

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Stars captain Benn to have offseason hip surgery

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 1:28 PM / News

NHL.com

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn will have offseason hip surgery followed by 4-5 months of rehabilitation, according to the Stars website.

Benn played through the injury for most of the season but that didn't stop him from becoming the first player in Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars history to win the Art Ross Trophy. His hat trick in the Stars' season-ending win against the Nashville Predators helped him pass New York Islanders center John Tavares by one point for scoring title.

Benn scored 47 of his 87 points following the All-Star break, and 16 points in the final seven games of the season, to finish with career-highs in goals (35), assists (52) and points in 82 games. He was named the NHL's First Star for the week ending April 12 after scoring five goals to lead the Stars to three straight wins.

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Benn, Pavelec and Stone named stars of the week

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 12:00 PM / News

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORKDallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn, Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the week ending April 12.

FIRST STAR – JAMIE BENN, LW, DALLAS STARS

Benn led all players with five goals and 10 points to capture his first career Art Ross Trophy and power the Stars (41-31-10, 92 points) to three consecutive victories. He registered at least three points in all three of his appearances, including 2-1-3 in a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks April 6 and 0-3-3 in a 4-0 triumph over the Anaheim Ducks April 8. Benn closed the season by recording 3-1-4 in a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators April 11, including his second career hat trick and an assist with 8.5 seconds remaining in regulation to surpass New York Islanders center John Tavares (38-48-86) by one point for the scoring title. The 25-year-old Victoria, B.C., native established career highs in goals (35), assists (52) and points (87) while skating in all 82 games this season. That included 12-11-23 in the final 12 games of the campaign, highlighted by five three-point performances.

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Oilers, Yakupov agree to terms on two-year contract

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 11:59 AM / News

EdmontonOilers.com

The Edmonton Oilers have announced that they have agreed to terms with forward Nail Yakupov on a two-year contract extension.

The 21-year-old established a new career high in points with 33 (14-19-33) in 81 games this season. The second half of the season is where Yakupov really put up numbers. Post All-Star break, Yakupov recorded 21 of those 33 points, including nine of his goals. From February 9-18, Yakupov had a point streak of six games. He had a five-game streak from March 9-18.

At the trade deadline, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said he was pleased with the improvements Yakupov was making and that they were eager to extend him following the completion of his entry level contract.

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Senators' Karlsson deserves second Norris Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

It has been an unpredictable season for the top defensemen in the NHL.

Injuries have derailed the chase for the Norris Trophy for Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins finished second in the voting last season and while he too was injured, was probably not going to be part of the discussion anyway.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber was considered a favorite for the award shortly after Giordano was injured, but his team faded at the end of the season and several advanced statistics don't agree with that sentiment.

Before the season, Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings was pegged as the favorite by NHL.com. Doughty has never won the trophy, but the argument that he was the best defenseman in the sport became a popular one while the Kings marched to their second Stanley Cup title in three years last spring.

Doughty has had a phenomenal year, especially considering the amount of ice time he had to shoulder while the Kings dealt with injuries to Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez, and Slava Voynov being suspended for 76 games. He would be a fine choice for the 2015 Norris Trophy, but he is not the pick for NHL.com.

That would be Ottawa Senators talisman Erik Karlsson. Though Karlsson led all defensemen in points with 66 that is not the primary reason he deserves to win the Norris Trophy for the second time in his career.

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Flames resurgence has Hartley leader for Jack Adams

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

Few if anyone outside of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, believed in the 2014-15 Calgary Flames.

The Flames were in their second full season without longtime franchise face Jarome Iginla, traded prior to the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline, and finished 27th in the League last season. A rebuilding project was in its infancy stage with a ways to go before they were to even sniff a chance at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Or so it seemed.

Calgary responded to the skeptics by going 32-24-4 by Feb. 25, one point out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. But they were declared finished after captain and Norris Trophy contender Mark Giordano sustained a torn biceps muscle in the final minute of a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.

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Bruins' Bergeron remains favorite for Selke Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

The phrase "hard to play against" takes on many different meanings in hockey, depending on who is defining it.

Some think it means playing a physical, bruising style of hockey. Others think it means playing at a higher tempo, one that is difficult to keep up with.

Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is hard to play against because he executes every phase of the game so well. He is the best defensive forward in the NHL, makes life difficult for the top offensive forwards in the League on a nightly basis and is the favorite for the Selke Trophy.

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Quote of the Day

I mean, any of those 14 teams (in the lottery) it would have been an absolute honor. If I am selected by Edmonton it will be amazing, a dream come true. They have a lot of amazing young players there.

— Likely No. 1 pick Connor McDavid after the Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday