Three months ago NHL.com asked nine top evaluators from NHL Central Scouting who their choice would be as the first pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
The impromptu poll had McDavid, a center with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League the 5-4 choice against Eichel, who will be a center at Boston University in the fall.
Many top scouts believe that slim difference between the two will be par for the course in 2014-15 when the two players will be scrutinized and publicized in every way leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
"Every year the scouts think that it's a good crop of prospects," Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting, said. "There's just been a little more emphasis in 2015 because there's been a couple more top-end frontrunners and the fact that there were a number of underage players performing in their various junior leagues and performing well. That leads to high expectations for this draft class."
Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford had successful surgery to correct a small fracture of a bone in one of his wrists last month, according to Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider.com. Recovery time was estimated at 6-8 weeks.
Lidster, 52, was an assistant coach on Desjardins' staff with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League the past two seasons. The Stars won the Calder Cup last month.
"Predators forward and alternate captain Mike Fisher sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon during a training session and underwent successful surgery on Thursday, July 3," general manager David Poile said in a statement. "We expect Mike to make a full recovery in 4-6 months and look forward to his return to the ice."
Noreau, 27, has spent the past three seasons playing for Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss-A league. He had eight goals and 24 points in 35 games last season and has 25 goals and 64 points in 124 games with the team.
Noreau, a Montreal native who was never drafted in the NHL, played six games over parts of two seasons with the Minnesota Wild before heading overseas. He scored 18 goals and 52 points for the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League during the 2009-10 season.
Jiri Sekac did everything he could to get the attention of the NHL.
From the time he left his home in Kladno, Czech Republic in 2009, just after his 17th birthday, to come to North America, Sekac began his courtship of NHL teams, one that remained strictly one-sided as not a single scout from a single team ever expressed the least bit of interest in the left wing.
His attempt at playing the highest level of hockey in North America was short-lived, lasting eight games with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League before he spent two seasons with the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League and was passed over in both the 2010 and 2011 NHL Drafts.
As he was halfway through his third season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in December, Sekac was offered a contract extension by his club, HC Lev Prague in his native Czech Republic. The offer would have given him financial security after years of uncertainty surrounding his hockey career.
The Capitals gave Orpik, who turns 34 on Sept. 26, a five-year contract worth $27.5 million. It was a significant raise from the $3.75 million he earned annually throughout the duration of his latest contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Why am I worth that? That's probably a better question for the people who give out the contracts," Orpik said during his introductory teleconference. "I think my body of work speaks for itself."
Brian Skrudland will return to his role as director of player development.
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