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Richards' presence could put Blackhawks over the top

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

At first glance, it looks like a perfect match between center Brad Richards and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Each has the goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup again and each has something the other needs.

Richards, who felt the sting of losing the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, needed another Cup contender after the New York Rangers bought out his contract this offseason. The Blackhawks, after losing in overtime of Game 7 in the Western Conference Final, needed more skill at center on their second line.

Square peg, meet square hole.

It didn't take long for Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman to sign Richards on July 1, once Richards indicated his willingness to sign a salary-cap friendly one-year contract worth a reported $2 million. He'll start training camp in the middle of that second line between Brandon Saad and high-scoring right wing Patrick Kane.

"It gives us a lot more options," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "You can never have enough depth in the middle, and I think he's just going to enhance our skill and our talent in the middle of the ice. So, way more options as a coach with him in there and it gives us way more depth in all our lines."

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Teravainen leads Blackhawks' top 10 prospects

Wednesday, 08.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks have no doubt raised the bar on how to build an organization through the NHL Draft.

The Blackhawks won their second Stanley Cup in four seasons in June 2013 on the strength of 12 homegrown players in a star-studded lineup. The list included defensemen Duncan Keith (2002 draft pick), Brent Seabrook (2003) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (2005) in front of goalie Corey Crawford (2003). Forwards Dave Bolland (2004), Bryan Bickell (2004), Ben Smith (2008), Marcus Kruger (2009), Brandon Saad (2011) and Andrew Shaw (2011) followed the path highlighted by captain Jonathan Toews (2006) and fellow star Patrick Kane (2007) in the pipeline.

"Everyone's a young player at some point, and they go through their growing pains," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's a progression. It takes time. We're fortunate we don't have to rush guys into spots where they may not be prepared. But every year, we've seen one or two young guys come in."

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Canadiens' Subban puts contract talks in past

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 8:52 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

P.K. Subban
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 53
SOG: 204 | +/-: -4
P.K. Subban has moved on from his contract negotiation with the Montreal Canadiens. He hopes everyone else will too.

"At this point in time, I think everybody just needs to look at the fact that the deal's done, I'm here for a long time," Subban told the Canadiens website Tuesday. "It doesn't matter how the process happened. ... I understand that when it's me it's a little bit more magnified; that's OK."

Subban, who was speaking at coach Michel Therrien's charity golf event, said he was prepared for the criticism that came his way during the talks, but he did not expect what was directed at the other side of the table.

"I think it was a little bit unsettling to hear some of the things that were said about management and [general manager Marc Bergevin] during the process," Subban said. "I understand, but it was still disturbing for me. ... I hope people understand that it was a very healthy process."

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Oilers sign center Draisaitl to three-year contract

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 5:27 PM / News

NHL.com

Center Leon Draisaitl, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers, the team announced Tuesday. Financial details were not disclosed.

"First of all, I want to thank [owner] Daryl Katz and [general manager] Craig MacTavish and all the other people who are part of the Oilers organization for giving me this opportunity and making this happen," Draisaitl said. "It's really exciting for me and my family."

Draisaitl became the highest-drafted German-trained player when the Oilers selected him at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27. The 18-year-old scored 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games last season for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League and could be on the fast track toward making the Oilers roster.

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Fantasy owners must be aware of goalie trends

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 12:15 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

It's no secret that goaltenders can make or break a fantasy team's championship aspirations.

A total of 97 goalies played in at least one NHL game last season and 90 started in at least one, meaning that fantasy owners must do their homework to achieve success.

Here are some interesting nuggets from the 2013-14 season, along with some corresponding advice, to bring to your fantasy draft table when deciding on goalies:

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Deep lineup makes Wild a team on the rise

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Minnesota Wild established a cache of young players and prospects, and have supplemented it with star additions during the past couple of years.

Minnesota's process of building toward championship contender status has been gradual, but the Wild might be almost there. They've reached the top end of the NHL's middle, securing a playoff berth in two straight seasons and winning a round in 2014.

The next step forward is into the League's elite, but that might be more difficult than the previous upward movement. There are still questions about the back end of the defense corps, and especially about who is going to be the goaltender.

The next step forward is into the League's elite, but that might be more difficult than the previous upward movement. There are still questions about the back end of the defense corps, and especially about who is going to be the goaltender.

Not only did the Wild knock out the Colorado Avalanche in the first round last season, but they gave a significantly better account of themselves against the Chicago Blackhawks than they did in 2013. It is a team on the rise, but how much higher they can go in 2014-15 is a difficult question to answer.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Wild:

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Five Questions: McLellan clarifies Sharks' 'rebuild'

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday during the regular season and every other Tuesday in the offseason. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan:

The San Jose Sharks have had a curious offseason.

There has been talk of a rebuild coming from general manager Doug Wilson despite the fact the Sharks needed one more victory to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season before the Kings could even sniff the Stanley Cup they eventually won.

OK, so the Sharks didn't get it, losing four straight to the Kings in the Western Conference First Round after winning three in a row, but they were close and they were playing without their best defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic. It still prompted Wilson to call them "a tomorrow team."


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Wild hope for breakout season from Niederreiter

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

Nino Niederreiter tweeted during the summer that he was "proud to be on the Swiss cover of NHL15" after a season in which he posted career-highs in goals, assists and points, and scored the overtime winner in the Minnesota Wild's first victory in a Stanley Cup Playoff series since 2003.

The big question for Niederreiter and the Wild is simple: What's next?

Though it seems as if Niederreiter has been around a long time, he won't turn 22 years old until next month. And after he had 14 goals and 36 points in his 81 games with the Wild following his acquisition from the New York Islanders at the 2013 NHL Draft, coach Mike Yeo and general manager Chuck Fletcher feel he's capable of doing a lot more.

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Goaltending competition tops Wild's five questions

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Minnesota Wild look like a team on the rise after winning their first postseason series in 11 years and giving the Chicago Blackhawks all they could handle before losing in six games in their Western Conference Second Round series.

But going from a team that can win a round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to one that can compete for a championship is a big leap. General manager Chuck Fletcher said his players' demeanor after losing the series to Chicago indicates that they're not satisfied with what they've accomplished so far.

"The interesting thing was that at the end of the season, after we lost to Chicago and even for a week or two afterward, there wasn't any sense of euphoria," he told NHL.com. "I think everyone recognizes how competitive this League is and how difficult it is to win. We lost a series to Chicago and that stung. That's great when there's that sense that we could have done more and could have done better."

Here are five questions the Wild must answer in order to build on last season's success:

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Wild trying to take next step on Stanley Cup path

Tuesday, 08.12.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

The Minnesota Wild have to be pleased with their progression during the past two seasons. After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 2009 through 2012, they returned to the postseason in 2013 and then won a playoff series for the first time in 11 years by upsetting the Colorado Avalanche this past spring. The Wild followed by giving the Chicago Blackhawks a challenge before losing in six games.

That's solid improvement under the tandem of general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo, though it's still a long way from the Stanley Cup. However, Fletcher feels his team is on the right track.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic