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Eichel highlights results from NHL Scouting Combine

Saturday, 06.06.2015 / 8:07 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- Boston University center Jack Eichel showed he has a fitness level to match his tremendous on-ice skills at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo on Saturday.

Eichel, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater for the 2015 NHL Draft, finished in the top 10 among all prospects at the fitness testing in seven categories.

Among his top accomplishments was lasting 12 minutes and 15 seconds on the VO2 Max bike test, which measures a player's endurance. The only player to match Eichel was Gatineau Olympiques center Iakov Trenin. Seattle Thunderbirds right wing Keegan Kolesar stayed on for 12:01, and Portland Winterhawks left wing Paul Bittner and center Joel Eriksson Ek of Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League tied for fourth at 12 minutes.

Eichel bests McDavid at 2015 NHL Scouting Combine

Saturday, 06.06.2015 / 3:38 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel went head-to-head on the ice at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

On Saturday they had another chance to see who was better during the fitness testing portion of the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine.

Eichel got the best of McDavid in five of the six tests that posted results: Standing long jump, vertical jump, pro-agility test, bench press and pull-ups. Eichel also lasted longer than McDavid on the VO2 Max stationary bike on Friday. That test measures a player's endurance and stamina.

McDavid and Eichel didn't hesitate when asked which of the nine tests Saturday offered the greatest challenge.

Eichel, McDavid debate 'best player in the draft'

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 8:54 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

BUFFALO -- Jack Eichel is expected to be the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, behind Connor McDavid.

But Eichel firmly believes he is the No. 1 player in this draft, and he has been telling teams at the NHL Scouting Combine, including the Buffalo Sabres, who hold that second pick, just that.

"I'm pretty confident in my own abilities," Eichel said Friday after word of his self-assessment leaked out. "I know everyone's making a big deal that I said a comment like that; I don't think it was meant at all about ... it wasn't me comparing myself to Connor or anything like that, it was more of me thinking that I'm the best player in the draft.

"It's more of just confidence in my own self; I didn't really think it was going to be a big deal. I thought that was pretty confidential within the team, but ..."

McDavid, expected to be taken No. 1 by the Edmonton Oilers, who won the NHL Draft Lottery, was asked if he felt he was the best player in this draft class.

"That's not up for me to decide," McDavid told the Sabres website. "I think a lot of people do a lot of talking and they'll judge for their own eyes. I believe in my abilities and that's the main thing. But if I feel I'm the best player in the draft, I'm not sure. Maybe you'll hear a different answer from Jack. But, we'll see."

Top-rated players in draft have been teammates, rivals

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 7:07 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

Joe Yerdon - Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The top-four North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings didn't need to come to the Draft Combine this week to get acquainted. If anything, some of them know each other all too well.

Forwards Connor McDavid, expected to be the first player taken, and Dylan Strome were teammates with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. Boston University forward Jack Eichel, likely to be the second player taken, played against defenseman Noah Hanifin at archrival Boston College.

Those four players headline what's believed to be one of the most talented draft classes in years, though McDavid and Eichel are getting the majority of the attention.

Stats reveal Stralman's hidden value to Lightning

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 6:00 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TAMPA -- A year ago, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman was three wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup but also faced a summer of uncertainty as an unrestricted free agent.

The pain of losing in the Stanley Cup Final was compounded when his agent and the New York Rangers were unable to work out a new contract.

"At that time, I was very disappointed I didn't get a chance to stay. Honestly, that's all I wanted to do," Stralman said.

The disappointment didn't last very long. Stralman signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Lightning hours after the free agency period opened July 1, and it has proven to be a perfect match.

Stralman is no longer one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He's a top-pairing defenseman and back in the Stanley Cup Final, helping the Lightning defeat the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final in the process.

The Chicago Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series 1-0 after a 2-1 victory in Game 1. Game 2 is at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Lightning hope adjustments pay off again in Game 2

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 5:50 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Corey Long - Correspondent

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are playing catch-up after the first game of a series for the third time in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Each of the Lightning's four series-openers has been decided by one goal. They've lost three, including Game 1 of the Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1 on Wednesday. Game 2 will be at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he feels the first game of a best-of-7 series can be a learning process.

"Game 1 is definitely a feeling-out period, especially in this series when you haven't played these teams very often," Cooper said Friday. "Especially the [New York] Rangers [in the Eastern Conference Final], we played them in December. We hadn't seen too much of them. I think some of the other games; we've lost what now, three out of the four Game 1s. So maybe we've got a little bit more panic since we were down in Game 1. I don't know, there's maybe some more focus in Game 2."

Desjardins: Got some rest, good eats, ready to go

Andrew Desjardins - Special to

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins will be blogging for periodically throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In this edition, he discusses what he did on a rare day off with two full days off before Game 2 at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

TAMPA -- Having two off days between games can be nice because you can split them into two separate categories.

Priority No. 1 Thursday was to kind of rest your body, get some good eats, get the right things into your body, hydrate.

But also to just sleep and rest. It's always hard to sleep after games. Every game's different, but sometimes you don't get to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning, for myself. So I try to sleep in, but it's kind of hard to sleep in sometimes. So I got up, ate breakfast, and went back to sleep.

Blackhawks' top four keep carrying load on defense

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 5:28 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

TAMPA -- Logic and an understanding of the limits of the human body would suggest that this cannot last.

The Chicago Blackhawks have ridden four defensemen into the Stanley Cup Final, and they have ridden them hard. Each of the four, Duncan Keith (31:27), Brent Seabrook (26:21), Niklas Hjalmarsson (26:20) and Johnny Oduya (25:17), is averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game.

No other healthy Blackhawks defenseman is averaging more than 11 minutes.

In the Western Conference Final, the Anaheim Ducks figured they would pound those four defensemen every chance they got, on every forecheck, on every Blackhawks breakout and every pass attempt. Eventually, the physical toll being dished out had to have an effect, and over the course of a long series the Ducks would see the benefit of it.

It was a very sound theory. It didn't work.

Blackhawks' Keith entering Hall of Fame company

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 4:19 PM / Lightning vs Blackhawks - 2015 Stanley Cup Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch keeps seeing the same thing when he watches Duncan Keith play for the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: a future Hall of Fame defenseman.

"I don't know how it couldn't be looked at that way," Leetch told "From the eye test. From watching him on the ice. His age. And then you bring up the individual and team awards, I'm not sure how you'd be able to keep him out."

Keith, 31, is three wins away from winning the Stanley Cup for the third time. The Blackhawks lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final with Game 2 at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Senators GM Murray inducted into Ottawa Sports HOF

Friday, 06.05.2015 / 2:42 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - Correspondent

OTTAWA -- As a teenager from the Ottawa Valley town of Shawville, west of Canada's capital and across the Ottawa River in Quebec, Bryan Murray would travel into the city to play hockey.

Murray, 15 at the time, played for the Shawville Pontiacs in a Senior A hockey league, competing against and playing with men 20 years older. They played at the Auditorium when they visited Ottawa, a building long gone.

Almost 57 years later and a few blocks away from where the Auditorium used to stand, Murray will be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame on Friday.

"Obviously, very proud of that," said the 72-year-old Ottawa Senators general manager, who will be honored for his career in hockey, which includes 34 years in the NHL as a coach and manager.

"I'm a Valley boy from Shawville. Coming to Ottawa was a big event. We didn't come that often. We were the country bumpkins, I guess, at that point, but when we came we usually beat them in hockey."

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Quote of the Day

Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.

— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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