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Saad settled with Blue Jackets after blur of summer

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Tim Wharnsby - Correspondent

TORONTO -- A productive and momentous spring transformed rather swiftly into a summer of change for Brandon Saad.

One minute he was carrying the puck for the Chicago Blackhawks into the Tampa Bay Lightning zone to start a play that would be the final goal of the Stanley Cup Final, and two weeks later he had a change of address.

Saad, 22, knew between the Blackhawks' salary cap situation and the fact he was about to become a restricted free agent that there was a good chance he would be moved. But the trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets happened so fast.

"It definitely was a different process for me, especially since it was the first time I went through something like this," Saad said. "You win a Stanley Cup and you're high on emotions and then a couple weeks later you find yourself on a different team. So it was emotional, but I'm also excited about a new start."

Scouts to get measure of draft prospects at AAPG

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- The 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, which will be played Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) at First Niagara Center, will serve as an opportunity for 42 of the top United States-born 2016 NHL Draft-eligible players to showcase their ability in front of NHL scouts.

"NHL scouts focus on players' assets and potential rather than the passport, but certainly this type of event is valuable as it pits the best identified American prospects in one game competing against each other," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "This is a marquee event for USA Hockey to showcase the American talent available for the NHL Draft."

The game will consist of three 20-minute periods and, if necessary, a five-minute overtime. If a winner still hasn't been determined, the game will be decided by a shootout.

Murray, Savard among X-factors for Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Craig Merz - Correspondent

COLUMBUS – Entering the 2014-15 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets thought they would reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in their history.

But injury after injury derailed all hope, and despite having the sixth-best record (36-20-3) in the NHL from Dec. 1 to the end of the season, Columbus missed the playoffs.

Here are three X-factors that will impact the Blue Jackets' postseason chances this season:

After strong finish, expectations high for Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

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

COLUMBUS -- There are high expectations for the Columbus Blue Jackets after a strong finish to the 2014-15 season.

But even with a 12-0-1 finish, the Blue Jackets' 42-35-5 record left them nine points shy of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

"You can't just pick up where you left off," defenseman Kevin Connauton said. "But that run at the end of last year shows our potential."

Schenn's spot, Mason repeat among Flyers' X-factors

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The biggest question surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers this season is how their new coach, Dave Hakstol, will handle the adjustment from NCAA hockey to the NHL.

Hakstol is the first coach to jump from the college ranks to the NHL without having played or coached in the League since the Calgary Flames hired Bob Johnson in 1982. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is confident Hakstol will be a success.

"I think Dave is a really good leader," Hextall said. "I think that's the biggest thing that our group is going to notice, his leadership skills. They're off the charts. From what I knew prior, watching him coach and watching him operate, the way he carries himself, his work ethic, he's very calm under pressure. He's got a lot of really good attributes. When I look at it, Dave was like a player in the draft. You're looking at a guy with potential. So when I looked at Dave it was no different than looking at a player we drafted in this past draft. You see his potential and you get excited."

Hakstol, Flyers hope to ride fast start to playoff berth

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall believes the biggest reason the Flyers have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs two of the past three seasons is slow starts.

Last season, the Flyers started 1-3-2 and finished 14 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. In 2013-14, the Flyers started 1-7-0 but were able to make the playoffs. In 2012-13, they started 2-6-0 and finished six points out of a playoff spot.

"We need to really stamp the fact that we need to get off to a good start," Hextall said. "Holes are hard to climb out of. Two years ago we did, last year we didn't. It takes a lot of effort from your whole group. It takes a lot of emotional energy as well. … There's a lot of little things you can point to and say this is why. It's one of those things that quite honestly, why do 20 players play poorly for six or eight games? It's a hard one to answer."

Roundup: Kessel scores twice in Penguins debut

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 1:28 AM / News

Phil Kessel had two goals in his Pittsburgh Penguins debut and Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists in a 7-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

Kessel, who was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, had four shots playing on a line with Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

Kris Letang had a goal and three assists, and defenseman Olli Maatta and forward Daniel Sprong each had a goal and an assist.

Johnson signs seven-year extension with Avalanche

Tuesday, 09.22.2015 / 7:50 PM / News

Defenseman Erik Johnson signed a seven-year contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the contract reportedly has an average annual value of $6 million.

Johnson, 27, is signed through the 2022-23 season. He is entering the final season of a four-year, $15 million contract.

Capitals set to entrust Kuznetsov with enhanced role

Tuesday, 09.22.2015 / 5:13 PM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- Center Evgeny Kuznetsov is going to have to do his best Nicklas Backstrom impersonation to help the Washington Capitals start off strong this season.

Backstrom, the Capitals' longtime No. 1 center, is expected to miss at least a handful of games in October while he continues to recover from hip surgery he had in May. That means Kuznetsov is expected to be Washington's new No. 1 center for the time being, likely playing between Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie.

Team USA's Tortorella, Lombardi find quick chemistry

Tuesday, 09.22.2015 / 4:51 PM / World Cup of Hockey 2016

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

In all their years working in the NHL, Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi and John Tortorella never crossed paths. But when Lombardi, the GM for Team USA at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, approached Tortorella about being his coach, it didn't take long for a connection to form.

Tortorella was announced as coach for Team USA on Monday. He said Tuesday that after being asked to interview with Lombardi and his management staff, he put together notes for the initial meeting. Then he heard Lombardi speak at his introduction as Team USA GM in August and something clicked.

"I listened to him speak … and I looked at my notes and the bullet points I had, and I said I think we're thinking pretty similar," Tortorella said. "It's pretty neat for me. I just thought it was a good connection. In the time and process I've gone through with him, I think I've connected with him. It doesn't always happen that way."

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[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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