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Finding offense among Panthers' five questions

Sunday, 08.17.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

After making an improbable run to the Southeast Division title in 2011-12, the Florida Panthers stumbled badly the past two seasons, finishing with the worst record in the NHL in 2012-13 and the second-worst last season.

The Panthers still have an abundance of highly touted prospects, either on their roster or in the system, and they also have a new coach in former Columbus Blue Jackets coach and former Montreal Canadiens assistant Gerard Gallant. But they also have a lot of question marks heading into next season, and here are five that jump out:


Commissioner Bettman takes Ice Bucket Challenge

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 5:41 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

With so many charitable causes seeking much-needed donations, who knew a series of videos showing people dunking ice water over their heads could make such a difference?

The exponential growth of the Ice Bucket Challenge through social media has helped raise overall awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and members of the hockey community have done their part.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman accepted the challenge Thursday while in Columbus to help promote the 2015 NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Winnipeg Jets executive chairman Mark Chipman and ESPN host John Buccigross were among those who issued the challenge, the Commissioner said.

Commissioner Bettman challenged Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, Calgary Flames president Brian Burke, Los Angeles Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake and Columbus Blue Jackets owner John McConnell.

Burke accepted the challenge on Friday, as did McConnell.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly accepted the challenge Saturday.


Kane highlights NHL players in Buffalo summer league

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 10:51 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Patrick Kane
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 29 | ASST: 40 | PTS: 69
SOG: 227 | +/-: 7
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has won the Stanley Cup twice and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013. But the NHL star added to his trophy case this summer when he raised the Father Charles Cup in his hometown of Buffalo.

He even paid $265 for the honor.

This is the Fattey Hockey League, the finest summer league in Western New York, where high school players skate against some from the NHL.

"There's never been a great skate in Buffalo in the summer. The concept was, 'How do we make it?" said Nik Fattey, the founder and namesake of the FHL. "There are so many good hockey players in Western New York. So how do we get everybody together to play in a league?"


Sabres hope veterans help prospects adjust to lineup

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The Buffalo Sabres finished 2013-14 with the fewest points in a full 82-game NHL season since the New York Islanders had the same amount, 52, in 2000-01.

Buffalo needed to rebuild, but it went beyond just bottoming out in the standings for the first part of the season. Coach Ted Nolan arrived in November and at least helped make the club's losses more competitive.

For Nolan, success next season might not be defined by wins or points, but by how some of the franchise's top young players develop at the NHL level. In an effort to help those young players, the Sabres added several veterans while expunging some bad contracts.


Sabres expect rapid improvement after summer moves

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Jon Lane - Staff Writer continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray set the bar at his season-ending news conference in April while evaluating the NHL's worst team in 2013-14. On the job for three months, Murray made it clear that change was coming — and lots of it.

"A lot of nights, this team was hard to watch," Murray said.

It wasn't pretty. Coach Ron Rolston and GM Darcy Regier were fired following a franchise-worst 4-15-1 start. The Sabres finished last in wins (21) and points (52) and their 150 non-shootout goals was the lowest total in the expansion era. Following what he called a "completely unacceptable" season, Murray refused to buy into a five-year rebuild and accelerated the Sabres' reconstruction with the signing of five free agents on July 1.


Offense, battle in goal highlight Sabres' five questions

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

The Buffalo Sabres weren't going to sit back and wait for their young talent to fully mature over time. General manager Tim Murray revamped the roster with the intention of escaping the Eastern Conference basement and perhaps making a little noise in the race to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The road to contention may be long and winding, but days appear brighter in Buffalo if the Sabres can answer five questions heading into the 2014-15 season:


Sabres' Stewart seeks consistency in contract year

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

Chris Stewart doesn't care about the prophecies that the Buffalo Sabres will be vying for gifted prospects Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel at the top of the 2015 NHL Draft. Defiant enough to proclaim the Stanley Cup Playoffs a "realistic goal" for the NHL's worst team in 2013-14, he's moved past what was a disappointing season for both the franchise and the 26-year-old forward.

After scoring 15 goals and 26 points in 58 games, the lowest totals since his rookie year in 2008-09, Stewart is entering this season brimming with confidence. The sweeping changes made in Buffalo have Stewart, acquired in the trade that sent goalie Ryan Miller to the St. Louis Blues in February, primed for a bounceback season.


Sabres hope top 10 prospects lead successful rebuild

Saturday, 08.16.2014 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray was a busy man the first week of August, with top prospects taking part in national junior evaluation camps in Montreal and Lake Placid, N.Y.

Those camps had teams from six nations and featured nine potential future Sabres with opportunities to play for their respective countries at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"It's the future," Murray told "It shows you the depth we have in the organization. If they all do the right things going forward, they have the chance to be National Hockey League players. It's exciting. It shows that we do have some high-end young talent in the organization."


Blackhawks let draft pick Hayes become free agent

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 11:59 PM / News Staff

The Chicago Blackhawks and prospect Kevin Hayes did not come to a contract agreement by the NHL deadline Friday and the 22-year-old forward is now an unrestricted free agent.

"We offered Kevin what we believed was a generous and fair contract. Unfortunately, he felt it was in his best interests to become a free agent," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We are looking forward to the compensatory draft pick we are receiving and are focused on the excitement surrounding the start of training camp next month."

Under rules in the collective bargaining agreement, Chicago will receive the 54th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.


Penguins' Crosby pleased with how wrist has healed

Friday, 08.15.2014 / 6:59 PM / News

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said Friday he is pleased with the way his injured right wrist has responded to treatment.

"It's good," Crosby told The Associated Press in Estero, Fla., where he has been working out. "You want to see how things progress throughout the summer once you start skating and get back to that regular routine. You want to see how it reacts, so I'm happy with the way it's gone."

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Quote of the Day

You get the right the whistles at the right times, you can leave him out there. He's a beast when it comes to being on the ice. I thought [Saturday] he was a big man. That first period, he did that lateral cut and it was like three bowling pins bounced off him. There's not too many guys that can do that.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin, who enters February tied for the NHL lead in goals