Category: NHL (page 1 of 10)

Kings defeat Canucks in opener of NHL China Games

By Lisa Dillman – NHL.com

SHANGHAI — The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 Thursday on a historic night at Mercedes-Benz Arena in the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging.

Kings left wing Tanner Pearson scored twice in front of 10,088 fans in the first NHL game to be played in China. It’s the first of a two-game preseason series between the Pacific Division rivals. The Kings and Canucks will play Saturday at Wukesong Arena in Beijing (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

“There’s definitely some significance to playing the game here,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “The guys were talking about it being one of the first teams to play a game here. To be quite honest we didn’t know what it would be like: the crowd, the noise and the atmosphere.”

Canucks defenseman Eric Gudbranson hoped the fans enjoyed their first look at the NHL.

“It was really fun,” Gudbanson said. “To begin with, this is a beautiful rink and they took to the game really well. I’m hoping they had fun and appreciated what we had to offer.”

The Kings scored twice in the first period, once in the second and twice in the third to back goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 31 saves. Forwards Adrian Kempe and Jeff Carter and defenseman Alec Martinez had goals for Los Angeles, and defenseman Jake Muzzin had three assists.

Forwards Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund scored for Vancouver.

Kempe earned the distinction of scoring the first NHL goal in China when his power-play slap shot from the top of the left circle beat Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom at 7:06 of the first period.

“I was happy I was the first guy to score, obviously,” said Kempe, a 21-year-old who had six points (two goals, four assists) in 25 games for the Kings last season. “We got a good start, it was a nice shot, so I was glad.”

Pearson made it 2-0 with an unassisted shorthanded goal at 15:18, scoring on a breakaway after intercepting an errant pass by Canucks forward Thomas Vanek.

“I didn’t like our first period,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “I thought our play with the puck wasn’t good enough. I thought [the Kings were] good with the puck in the first compared to us. I like how we played the last two periods.”

Martinez made it 3-0 at 1:04 of the second period, but Baertschi cut the Kings’ lead to 3-1 with his power-play goal at 2:15 of second period and Granlund made it 3-2 at 12:37 of the third period.

Pearson gave the Kings a 4-2 lead with 3:03 left when he scored on another breakaway, and Carter scored into an empty net with 50.7 seconds remaining.

Break Away: NHL’s Entrance into China

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By Geoff Ng – City Weekend

China is not traditionally a hockey-playing nation, but with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics fast approaching, the country’s eyes are turning quickly towards the sport. The national hockey program is now laying the groundwork for growth over the next decade, making this September’s exhibition match between the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings a pivotal moment for the development of the sport in this country.

The country is currently ranked just 35th in the world rankings, up two spots from two years ago. Typically only the world’s top 12 nations are eligible for the Olympics. So to jump start the program ahead of 2022, China’s national team recently hosted open tryouts for players of Chinese descent in Toronto and Vancouver. Off the back of these open sessions, Vancouver native Brayden Jaw has signed on to join fellow Chinese-Canadian Zach Yuen to play in China this year as a member of the Kunlun Red Star, the Shanghai-based team in Russia’s cross-continental league, the KHL.

Jaw and Yuen, both in their mid-20s, will serve as a buffer generation to help seed talent in the age groups below them. Even if there is a large potential talent pool in China’s 1.6 billion population, it will take some work to tap into it. “It is a big market,” says Henrik Sedin, captain of the Vancouver Canucks. “But as you’ve seen in markets around North America, it’s tough to build the game. You have to grow it from a young age.”

Not surprisingly then, the national program has a lot of work ahead of itself. “Youth hockey has been developing quickly, especially for ages 10-15,” says 17-year-old local player Eric Zeng. “But the sad thing is that there are fewer and fewer players for our U18 teams. Many Chinese players start very young but they quit hockey for education.” Zeng has enrolled in Shanghai’s men’s league and is hoping to leverage his play and his academics into a scholarship for a Division II American college next fall.

Following the KHL’s lead, the NHL has been nibbling at the edges of China for a few years now, most recently making headlines when the New York Islanders (and its Chinese-American owner Charles Wang) made Andong Song the league’s first Chinese-born draft pick in 2015. Song came up in the Beijing International Ice Hockey League but moved to Canada at age 10 and is now working his way up the Islanders’ developmental system.

The Canucks and the Kings have also contributed, having hosted youth camps in Shanghai and Beijing for the last few years.The Canucks even went one step further this summer, inviting 20-year-old Beijing-born Simon Chen to their prospect development camp in Vancouver.

As for the match itself, the Kings and Canucks will square up with different goals in mind for the season. The Canucks sank to second-last place in the league last year and are building a base of young talent to take them forward, while the Kings have been one of the league’s best teams over the last decade, despite missing the playoffs last year. Nevertheless, with pride and big league jobs on the line, it’s sure to be a competitive game.

NHL team takes it to the ‘ice’ in Barbados

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By The Barbados Advocate

The Florida Panthers Ice Hockey team was right at home in Barbados when they paid a visit to Icetopia Skating Rink this past Wednesday evening.

Continuing their community outreach while on the island, the United States National Hockey League (NHL) teams carried a clinic for young players as there was a new interest in the sport.

With several youngsters coming out to the region’s first ice skating rink to take part in the workshop, they were taken through the paces by defencemen Ian McCoshen and Alex Petrovic as well as newly-retired player Shawn Thornton, who now wears the hat of Vice President of Business Operations for the team.

Speaking to The Barbados Advocate, Vice President of Alumni and and Broadcasting Randy Moller explained that the initiative came out of their desire to give something back, in the hopes that it would aid the development of the sport in Barbados.

“As part of our partnership with the island of Barbados and our outreach programmes and our community development for youth hockey for the Florida Panthers, we jumped on this opportunity to come down here to this beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados when we found out that they have an indoor synthetic ice arena that kids actually play hockey on. We were excited about coming down and putting on a clinic for these kids and hopefully give them some more pointers to improve their skills in the world’s fastest team game,” Moller said.

Noting that they brought some of their best and brightest, Moller stated that they were enjoying their time on the island.

“We brought Panthers defencemen Alex Petrovic, Ian McCoshen and former Florida Panther Shawn Thornton to strap on the blades and come down and see what this is all about. We have been very impressed. This is incredible and to have this on an island in the Southern Caribbean is amazing. Barbados is incredible and we are really happy to be here,” he said.

Selanne, Kariya, Andreychuk headline 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees

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By Ian McLaren – The Score

Selanne was seen as the biggest lock of this class. He set the bar early by setting an NHL-record 76 goals as a rookie in Winnipeg, and finished his career with 684 goals and 773 assists for 1,457 points in 1,451 games. He also won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.

It’s quite special that he’d enter the Hall alongside Paul Kariya, considering the pair were linked as linemates and friends during their stints in Anaheim and Colorado. Kariya, whose career was cut short due to concussion, recorded 989 points in 989 career games.

Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi have been patiently waiting to get the call from the Hall. Andreychuk captained Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup in 2004, and finished his career with 640 goals and 698 assists in 1,639 games. Recchi is a three-time Cup winner, and sits 12th all time in NHL points with 1,533 (577 goals and 956 assists) in 1,652 games.

Goyette is one of the most successful women’s players the game has seen, putting up massive amounts of points on the international stage while winning two gold medals and one silver for Canada at the Winter Olympics.

For the builders, Jacobs has been the owner of the Boston Bruins since 1975, while Drake coached the University of Alberta’s Golden Bears for 28 years, winning six national championships.

This group of seven will be inducted in a ceremony Nov. 13 in Toronto.

2017 NHL Draft first-round results, analysis

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By NHL.com

On Friday, 31 young men each took another step toward fulfilling his dream of playing in the NHL. Get all the picks, analysis, sights and sounds from United Center. 

1. New Jersey Devils – Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 2
2016-17: 57 games, 38-48-86

Hischier (6-foot-1, 178 pounds) is the highest-drafted Switzerland-born player in NHL history. Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter had held that distinction since being chosen at No. 5 by the New York Islanders in 2010. Hischier has elite skill and hockey sense combined with competitiveness that allows him to be effective in any style of game. As a rookie in the QMJHL, he was awarded the Michael Bossy Trophy (best professional prospect) and Michel Bergeron Trophy (offensive rookie of the year) this season. Hischier is not on loan to Halifax from SC Bern of National League A in Switzerland, making him ineligible to play in the American Hockey League in 2017-18.

NHL.com analysis: In bit of a surprise, Devils get player they believe can develop into dynamic top-line center they’ve lacked.

2. Philadelphia Flyers – Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 1
2016-17: 33 games, 20-26-46

The son of former NHL forward Stephen Patrick and nephew of former NHL defenseman James Patrick, Nolan was the second-youngest captain in the Western Hockey League. A right-handed shot, Patrick missed 35 games because of an upper-body injury, but has 205 points (93 goals, 113 assists) in 163 career WHL games. Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) possesses the hockey sense, vision and skill to become a top-line center in the NHL. In 2015-16, he was tied for the WHL playoff scoring lead with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 games and was named MVP of the WHL playoffs after helping Brandon win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

NHL.com analysis: Flyers take most NHL-ready player in draft. He was only prospect to visit Philadelphia, and they clearly were satisfied his injury issues were behind him.

3. Dallas Stars – Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 4
2016-17: 37 games, 5-5-10

Heiskanen (6-foot-1, 172) is a left-handed shot but also played the right point and earned top-pair minutes for HIFK as a 17-year-old, averaging more than 20 minutes in the Liiga playoffs. He was regarded as the best draft-eligible defenseman at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship for silver medal-winning Finland with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in seven games. Heiskanen likes to join the rush and understands how to get the puck out of danger. He is by far the best international defenseman in the draft, according to Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting.

NHL.com analysis: Stars take defenseman w ho earned top-pair ice time in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, at age 17. He joins John Klingberg, Julius Honka and Esa Lindell as defensemen with top-end puck-moving ability.

4. Colorado Avalanche – Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 9
2016-17: 54 games, 24-51-75

Makar (5-foot-11, 187 pounds) was named the Canadian Junior Hockey League defenseman of the year, and Alberta Junior Hockey League defenseman of the year and player of the year. A right-handed shot, he has great lateral movement with the puck on his stick, and is quick and elusive. He’s committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for next season, and his Canadian Hockey League rights are held by Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League. He had six points (two goals, four assists) in five games to help Brooks win a silver medal in the Royal Bank Cup, Canada’s National Junior A championship series. Makar had 135 points (35 goals, 100 assists) in 111 AJHL regular-season games.

NHL.com analysis: Makar fills Colorado’s need for a skilled defenseman. He’ll need time to develop his game next season at the University of Massachusetts, but he projects to be high-end offensive-minded defenseman.

5. Vancouver Canucks – Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 2
2016-17: 43 games, 19-22-41

Pettersson (6-foot-2, 164 pounds) has great instincts and can create offense with good speed and quickness. He shows poise and patience, and his best attribute might be his initial burst of speed. His brother, Emil, who is also a center, was selected in the sixth round (No. 155) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators.

NHL.com analysis: Canucks with minor surprise, but select skilled center who averaged nearly one point per game (41 points in 43 games) against older competition in Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second division. He can be part of the core of the post-Sedin era in Vancouver.

6. Vegas Golden Knights – Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 6
2016-17: 69 games, 32-62-94

The right-handed shot was primarily a top-line center who played in all situations. He’s versatile enough to play wing but is better suited to play in the middle because he’s in constant motion, has good hands and is opportunistic in the offensive zone. Glass (6-foot-2, 177 pounds) had 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 69 regular-season games. He’s a skilled forward with great competitiveness and hockey sense.

NHL.com analysis: First pick of expansion Golden Knights is big (6-2, 177), rangy center who is strong in all three zones. When he adds muscle he projects as top-line center.

7. New York Rangers (from Arizona Coyotes) – Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (SWE)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 3
2016-17: 42 games, 9-10-19

A rugged, two-way left-handed center who is effective on faceoffs and hard to knock off the puck. Andersson (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) was interviewed by 30 teams at the NHL Scouting Combine. He competes hard, is strong in 1-on-1 battles and plays a 200-foot game. He can play wing or center. Andersson recently signed a two-year contract with Frolunda in Sweden and will report in 2017-18.

NHL.com analysis: Offensive dynamo projects to be top-six forward as he gets older and stronger). Had impressive showing in Swedish Hockey League this season as 18-year-old.

8. Buffalo Sabres – Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 3
2016-17: 25 games, 21-43-64

Named All-USA Player of the Year for a second straight season and Mr. Hockey as the best senior boys’ high school player in Minnesota, Mittelstadt (5-foot-11, 199 pounds) has elite skill and compete. A left-handed shot, Mittelstadt had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) and led the United States Hockey League with a 1.25 points-per game average in 24 games for Green Bay. He can play center or left wing and is a proven performer at each level he’s played. Mittelstadt was named player of the game at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game in September.

NHL.com analysis: Could jump into Sabres lineup after one season at University of Minnesota. Having Jack Eichel and Mittelstadt through the middle could be start of bright future in Buffalo.

9. Detroit Red Wings – Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 5
2016-17: 50 games, 32-23-55

Rasmussen (6-foot-5, 221 pounds) is a prototypical power forward with great hands and puck skills around the net. A wrist injury in February limited Rasmussen to 50 games this season but he led Tri-City with 15 power-play goals and was tied for the team lead with five game-winning goals. He adapted to a bigger role with more minutes and was a steady contributor at 5-on-5 and on the power play in his second full season.

NHL.com analysis: The 6-foot-5, 221-pound goal scorer is power-play specialist. His skating and puck possession fits the Red Wings’ style perfectly.

10. Florida Panthers – Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 7
2016-17: 60 games, 44-31-75

Tippett (6-foot, 202 pounds) might be the best shooter in this draft class. He was recognized for having the best shot and being the most dangerous in the goal area in the Eastern Conference coaches’ poll for the Ontario Hockey League. He can play either left or right wing, and is dangerous when attacking with speed. As a right-handed shot, Tippett can move down the left wing and cut to the net really well for a good opportunity.

NHL.com analysis: Panthers get forward with NHL-caliber shot and strong skating who has been compared to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel.

11. Los Angeles Kings – Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 4
2016-17: 49 games, 29-32-61

A right-handed shot, Vilardi makes players around him better with his relentless compete level and elite hands down low. Vilardi (6-foot-3, 202 pounds) has the ability to create in traffic when nothing is available, and can play center or wing. He won 51.1 of his faceoffs (136 of 266), and tied for the team lead in power-play goals (eight). He has 99 points (46 goals, 53 assists) in 111 games during his two seasons in the OHL.

NHL.com analysis: Surprising that Vilardi was available at this spot, but the big (6-3, 202), powerful center excels in the offensive zone below the faceoff circle. Will be great complement to Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter.

12. Carolina Hurricanes – Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZREP)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 5
2016-17: 41 games, 7-8-15

Necas, a right-handed shot, captained the Czech Republic to its first gold medal at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, finishing with six points (two goals, four assists) in four games. Necas (6-1, 178 pounds) is mobile, smart and capable of making plays at top speed and with assertiveness. He’s good at handling the puck and effective in traffic.

NHL.com analysis: Another top-end forward added to the Hurricanes burgeoning corps. At 6-foot-1, 178 pounds, needs to get stronger but will fit in well with what they already have assembled.

13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg Jets) – Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL) 

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 10
2016-17: 65 games, 45-51-96

Suzuki (5-foot-11, 183 pounds) climbed six spots to No. 10 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters after a strong second half to this season. He continually came through in the clutch, scoring 14 power-play goals, six game-winning goals, five shorthanded goals and five insurance goals. Additionally, 23 of his goals either tied the game or gave Owen Sound the lead. He also won 50.9 percent of his faceoffs.

NHL.com analysis: Championship teams are strong through the middle, and Suzuki and Cody Glass, the No. 6 pick, should form the building blocks for a strong future in Vegas.

14. Tampa Bay Lightning – Callan Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 1
2016-17: 71 games, 6-51-57

The right-handed son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote has good size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), and hockey sense. He won’t be the physical presence his dad was, but he plays in all situations, plays heavy minutes and uses his reach and strength to contain opponents and gain position. He is more of a two-way defenseman with a good, hard shot.

NHL.com analysis: The 6-foot-4, 215-pound physical defenseman, who is the son of Adam Foote, has NHL-caliber size and the pedigree of Stanley Cup champion. With Victor Hedman, the Lightning could become a very difficult team to play against in a few seasons.

15. Vegas Golden Knights (from New York Islanders) – Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (SWE)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 9
2016-17: 35 games, 1-5-6

He compensates for his 5-foot-9, 179-pound frame with great mobility and speed in transition. Brannstrom is an outstanding skater and a two-way player who defends as well as he pushes the offensive pace. He has a good shot, will run the power play, is very competitive and is active on every shift. Brannstrom could turn out to be the sleeper pick of the 2017 draft class.

NHL.com analysis: A surprise with Vegas’ third selection in the first round, reaching for the undersized (5-foot-9, 179-pound) defenseman. But he’s got high-end skills and experience playing against older competition in the Swedish Hockey League.

16. Calgary Flames – Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 11
2016-17: 60 games, 19-42-61

Valimaki (6-foot-1, 211 pounds), a left-handed shot, finished seventh among WHL defensemen with 61 points and was eighth with 22 power-play assists. He’s a dynamic offensive defenseman who became more assertive and able to dictate tempo with greater confidence this season. He left Finland at 17 to play in North America and has 93 points (26 goals, 67 assists) in 116 games in his two WHL seasons.

NHL.com analysis: With so many young forwards, selecting high-end offensive defenseman who can help get them puck, or lead the rush, is a good decision.

17. Toronto Maple Leafs – Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 6
2016-17: 19 games, 1-4-5

Liljegren (5-foot-11, 188 pounds) missed one month with mononucleosis in November but remains a dynamic prospect. He has tremendous speed, balance and feel for the game, makes good decisions under pressure and can control the play at both blue lines. He expects to return to Sweden after the draft to further his development.

NHL.com analysis: Entered season as top defenseman in draft class, but injury and illness set him back. Maple Leafs needed puck mover and get one with top-end that some scouts said reminded them of Senators captain Erik Karlsson.

18. Boston Bruins – Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (FIN)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 8
2016-17: 41 games, 2-4-6

Vaakanainen (6-foot-1, 188 pounds), a left-hand shot, is a smooth, mobile skater with good balance and acceleration. His reliability in the defensive zone is probably his best asset. Vaakanainen, who will play for SaiPa in Liiga next season, finished tied for second among defensemen at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with six points (three goals, three assists) in five games.

NHL.com analysis: Steady defenseman with well-rounded game, he’ll be nice addition to Bruins defense that is poised to get younger in a few seasons as Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Ryan Lindgren, Jakub Zboril move into major roles.

19. San Jose Sharks – Joshua Norris, C, USA U-18 (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 34
2016-17: 52 games, 23-28-51

Norris (6-foot, 188 pounds), who will attend the University of Michigan next season, was among the most impressive performers in the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, finishing first in five tests, including peak power output on the Wingate bike test. A two-way forward with a left-handed shot, Norris likes to take the puck to the net and has a good compete level.

NHL.com analysis: Surprise selection by the Sharks, but Norris led USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program under-18 team with 27 goals, and had dynamic showing at the Scouting Combine.

20. St. Louis Blues – Robert Thomas, C, London (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 22
2016-17: 66 games, 16-50-66

Thomas (5-foot-11, 192 pounds), a right-handed shot, is a highly intelligent two-way center who is impactful at both ends of the ice. He’s regarded as a gifted passer who can be trusted in any situation while excelling at making plays in traffic.

NHL.com analysis: On stacked team in London, he managed to stand out as point-per-game player. He could provide another go-to scorer when he’s NHL-ready in 2-3 seasons.

21. New York Rangers – Filip Chytil, C, Zlin (CZREP)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 11
2016-17: 38 games, 4-4-8

A strong skater capable of making things happen with the puck, Chytil (6-foot-2, 191 pounds) played regularly in the top Czech league. He was good in the traffic areas, has strong hockey sense and did not shy away from battles in the corners. He’s a prototypical power forward capable of playing center or left wing.

NHL.com analysis: Rangers stick with pattern, taking another European center who, at 6-foot-2. 191 pounds, needs to add muscle, but already has experience playing against older competition.

22. Edmonton Oilers – Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 17
2016-17: 65 games, 42-57-99

Yamamoto (5-foot-7, 146 pounds) is excitement personified. He possesses high-end offensive instincts, thinks the game extremely well, and is constantly moving without the puck to get himself in good position to receive it. He skates like Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (5-8, 183 pounds), who, like Yamamoto, is from Spokane, Washington. Yamamoto has 227 points (84 goals, 143 assists) in 190 games in the WHL.

NHL.com analysis: Dynamic right wing could fit nice with left-shot center like Connor McDavid. At 5-foot-7, 146 pounds, he needs to get bigger and stronger, but he’s never been pushed out of a game.

23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota Wild) – Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 27
2016-17: 62 games, 6-33-39

The left-handed shot had a strong second half and kept moving up the ladder; he was No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list of North American skaters in January. He makes smart decisions, plays a good two-way game and can distribute the puck well for a smooth transition. Joseph (6-foot-2, 163 pounds), a fluid skater, is the brother of Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mathieu Joseph, who was selected in the fourth round (No. 120) of the 2015 NHL Draft and won a silver medal for Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

NHL.com analysis: Solid puck-mover who can get the puck to the Coyotes’ pack of outstanding young forwards.

24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus Blue Jackets via Vegas Golden Knights)  – Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda (SWE)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 7
2016-17: 26 games, 1-5-6

Vesalainen (6-foot-4, 209 pounds), a left-hand shot, was named MVP of the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship for silver medal-winning Finland after finishing with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in seven games. He dominated his age group with skating power and puck control, and is a prototypical power forward capable of going straight to the net. Vesalainen will enter the first of a two-year contract he signed with HPK (SWE) in April.

NHL.com analysis: Power forward dominated at 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, will add another big body (6-foot-4, 209) on the wing.

25. Montreal Canadiens – Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 13
2016-17: 35 games, 7-6-13

The youngest player in college hockey this season, Poehling was a 200-foot player capable of playing all situations; he was used on the power play and in penalty-killing situations. Poehling (6-foot-2, 176 pounds) has a great work ethic, according to St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko. He is the highest-drafted player from St. Cloud State; center Matt Cullen was selected in the second round (No. 35) out of St. Cloud in the 1996 NHL Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

NHL.com analysis: Canadiens got better through the middle with player who can play both ends of the ice and never looked out of place as the youngest player in NCAA hockey this season.

26. Dallas Stars (from Chicago Blackhawks) – Jake Oettinger, G, Boston University (H-EAST)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking for goalies: 1
2016-17: 35 games, 21-10-3, 2.11 GAA, .927 save percentage

Oettinger (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), the second-youngest player in college hockey, became the ninth BU goaltender named to a Hockey East All-Star Team. He possesses NHL size and covers a lot of the net. Oettinger, who served as the third goalie for gold medal-winning United States at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, has great rebound control and plenty of confidence.

NHL.com analysis: First goalie in the draft is big (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), composed and skilled. He should be NHL ready near the end of Ben Bishop‘s six-year contract.

27. Philadelphia Flyers (from Washington Capitals via St. Louis Blues) – Morgan Frost, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 31
2016-17: 67 games, 20-42-62

An excellent playmaker with good stickhandling ability, Frost (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) is very energetic. He’s a solid skater, difficult to contain in a 1-on-1 situation and drives puck possession. He was usually running the half-wall on the power play and exhibited plenty of poise and composure in that assignment.

NHL.com analysis: Flyers traded forward Brayden Schenn to Blues to to grab smart center whose skating improved dramatically this season.

28. Ottawa Senators – Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 16
2016-17: 60 games, 22-29-51

A reliable two-way player who has a strong 200-foot game and is effective in the faceoff circle, Bowers (6-foot-1, 178 pounds) has good hockey sense and speed, is good on the penalty kill and can drive the net hard. A projected middle-six forward, he’s scheduled to attend Boston University in 2017-18.

NHL.com analysis: Bowers is really good at moving the puck and shielding it from the opposition. He’ll gain the offensive zone and is hard to defend at both ends of the ice.

29. Chicago Blackhawks (from Dallas Stars via Anaheim Ducks) – Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 19
2016-17: 71 games, 9-39-48

The Finland-born, right-handed shot is an excellent skater and very elusive with the puck on his stick. Jokiharju (6-foot-0, 187 pounds) can beat the forecheck with a pass or by taking the puck himself and using his excellent vision and mobility. He had 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) on the power play and was named most valuable player for Team Don Cherry after getting three assists in a win against Team Bobby Orr in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 30.

NHL.com analysis: The right-handed shot is very smart and makes few mistakes. He’s a good skater in all directions and can move the puck. Jokiharju has been compared to defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

30. Nashville Predators – Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 8
2016-17: 52 games, 30-24-54

Tolvanen (5-foot-10, 189 pounds), a left-handed shot, is always noticeable in a game because of his speed, intelligence and skill. He has a great work ethic, is energetic and has a high compete level. Bound for Boston College next season, Tolvanen led Sioux City with 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) and a 1.04 points-per game average in 52 games. He had eight points (four goals, four assists) in 10 USHL playoff games for the Clark Cup champion.

NHL.com analysis: The left-handed forward is one of the elite shooters of this draft class, and is regarded as a skilled forward with deceptive speed.

31. St. Louis Blues (from Pittsburgh Penguins) – Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 1
2016-17: 8 games, 0-0-0

Kostin (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) can play in the NHL or the American Hockey League next season as an 18-year-old because he has been drafted out of his native Russia. He played 18 regular-season games, including eight for Dynamo in the Kontinental Hockey League, before having season-ending shoulder surgery in late January. He has a very good release, is a good puck-handler and is effective in traffic. Kostin views himself as a power forward and likes to model his game after that of Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine.

NHL.com analysis: Kostin uses his size to dominant down low and has a good understanding of the game. He’ll certainly benefit from playing beside fellow Russian countryman Vladimir Tarasenko at some point in the future.

Fleury, Methot, Neal headline Golden Knights’ expansion draft roster

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By Navin Vaswani – The Score

The NHL’s 31st team is ready to play hockey.

The Vegas Golden Knights‘ expansion draft roster was unveiled Wednesday night, ending months of speculation as to the look of the league’s newest team.

Here are head coach Gerard Gallant’s players, broken down alphabetically by position:

Forwards

  • Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (from Flyers)
  • Connor Brickley [1] (from Hurricanes)
  • William Carrier [2] (from Sabres)
  • David Clarkson [3] (from Blue Jackets via trade)
  • Cody Eakin (from Stars)
  • Mikhail Grabovski [4] (from Islanders via trade)
  • Nikita Gusev [5] (from Lightning via trade)
  • Erik Haula (from Wild)
  • William Karlsson (from Blue Jackets)
  • Brendan Leipsic (from Maple Leafs)
  • Oscar Lindberg (from Rangers)
  • Jonathan Marchessault (from Panthers)
  • James Neal (from Predators)
  • Tomas Nosek (from Red Wings)
  • David Perron (from Blues)
  • Teemu Pulkkinen (from Coyotes)
  • Reilly Smith [6] (from Panthers via trade)
  • Chris Thorburn [7] (from Jets)
  • Alex Tuch [8] (from Wild via trade)

Footnotes

[1] Hurricanes trade 2017 fifth-round pick to Golden Knights as part of Brickley selection.
[2] Sabres trade 2017 sixth-round pick to Golden Knights (so Linus Ullmark wouldn’t be selected, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman).
[3] Blue Jackets trade David Clarkson, 2017 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick to Vegas as part of Karlsson selection.
[4] Islanders trade 2017 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, forward Mikhail Grabovski, defenseman Jake Bischoff to Golden Knights as part of Jean-Francois Berube selection.
[5] Lightning trade Gusev, second-round pick in 2017, fourth-round pick in 2018 to Vegas as part of Garrison selection.
[6] Panthers trade Reilly Smith to Golden Knights for 2018 fourth-round pick.
[7] Golden Knights flip Jackets’ first-round pick in 2017 to Winnipeg for Jets’ first-round pick in 2017 and third-round pick in 2019 (as part of agreement to keep Vegas from selecting Toby Enstrom in the draft).
[8] Wild trade Tuch to Vegas for conditional third-round pick in 2017 or 2018.

Defensemen

  • Jake Bischoff [9] (from Islanders via trade)
  • Alexei Emelin (from Canadiens)
  • Deryk Engelland (from Flames)
  • Jason Garrison [10] (from Lightning)
  • Brayden McNabb (from Kings)
  • Jon Merrill (from Devils)
  • Marc Methot (from Senators)
  • Colin Miller (from Bruins)
  • Griffin Reinhart (from Oilers)
  • Luca Sbisa (from Canucks)
  • David Schlemko (from Sharks)
  • Nate Schmidt (from Capitals)
  • Clayton Stoner (from Ducks)
  • Shea Theodore [11] (from Ducks via trade)
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk (from Blackhawks)

Footnotes

[9] Islanders trade 2017 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, forward Mikhail Grabovski, defenseman Jake Bischoff to Golden Knights as part of Jean-Francois Berube selection.
[10] Lightning trade Gusev, second-round pick in 2017, fourth-round pick in 2018 as part of Garrison selection.
[11] Ducks trade Theodore to Golden Knights as part of Stoner selection.

Goalies

  • Jean-Francois Berube [12] (from Islanders)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury [13] (from Penguins)
  • Calvin Pickard (from Avalanche)

Footnotes

[12] Islanders trade 2017 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, forward Mikhail Grabovski, defenseman Jake Bischoff to Golden Knights as part of Berube selection.
[13] Penguins trade 2020 second-round pick to Vegas as part of Fleury selection.

NHL Awards: McDavid wins big while Bobrovsky, Burns, Matthews earn hardware

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By Navin Vaswani – The Score

The league handed out its annual hardware Wednesday night, and here’s a rundown of who won what:

Hart Trophy: Connor McDavid

The kid’s alright.

McDavid scored an awards hat trick Wednesday (he officially collected his Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer), capping off his stellar night by winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. He’s 20 years old.

Vezina Trophy: Sergei Bobrovsky

Bobrovsky won his second career Vezina Trophy, punctuating a remarkable season for both the 28-year-old and his Columbus Blue Jackets. The goaltender was emotional in victory, noting his return from groin injuries that threatened to derail his career for good.

James Norris Trophy: Brent Burns

Burns has his Norris Trophy. The San Jose Sharks defenseman edged Erik Karlsson for the award, his first, after posting career highs across the board.

Calder Memorial Trophy: Auston Matthews

For the first time in basically forever, a member of the Maple Leafs won an NHL award, with Matthews declared the league’s top rookie. He scored 40 goals and Toronto made the playoffs.

Bill Masterton Trophy: Craig Anderson

Anderson had one hell of a year. His wife Nicholle was diagnosed with cancer in the fall, resulting in the goaltender taking multiple leaves of absence from the Ottawa Senators. The club rallied around its goaltender and his wife, though, and the Sens’ deep run into the playoffs was one of the more special stories of the season.

Even better, Nicholle was in attendance in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, cancer-free.

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron won his fourth Selke Trophy on Wednesday, tying legend Bob Gainey for the most all time. Bergeron took the honor for the third time in four years. It’s his until it isn’t.

Jack Adams Award: John Tortorella

The man affectionately known as “Torts” won his second career Jack Adams Trophy, and he deflected praise thrown his way, saying he was glad his Blue Jackets were recognized for their incredible regular season.

Ted Lindsay Award: McDavid

McDavid’s peers know he’s the man. The Oilers captain took home most outstanding honors, as voted by the NHLPA.

NHL GM of the Year Award: David Poile

Poile’s Nashville Predators fell two wins shy of the Stanley Cup, but the general manager was rewarded for how far his team has come.

Lady Byng Trophy: Johnny Gaudreau

Calgary Flames superstar Gaudreau took home his first NHL trophy, the Lady Byng. He finished fourth in voting last season.

Penguins repeat Stanley Cup with Game 6 win against Predators

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By Michael Traikos – National Post

They say dynasties don’t exist anymore. And maybe they are right. Maybe no team will win four straight Stanley Cups like the New York Islanders did back in the day.

But what the Pittsburgh Penguins achieved in back-to-back years is pretty special.

Rookie goalie Matt Murray recorded his second straight shutout and Patric Hornqvist scored with 95 seconds remaining in the third period, as the Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game 6 to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

It was the first time that a team has repeated as champions in almost 20 years. And for that, the Penguins mostly have Sidney Crosby to thank.

Crosby, who won his second straight Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, scored eight goals and 27 points in 24 games. He now has three championships. That is one more than Mario Lemieux — and the Penguins captain is not yet 30 years old.

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Sid is obviously an unbelievable player,” said Phil Kessel, who has won in each of the two years since coming to Pittsburgh in a trade from Toronto. “You watch him out there and he does the little things and he does them well. You just follow his lead. We did it again.”

This year’s win might have been harder than a year ago. The team was missing Kris Letang and was missing Murray for the first two rounds. By the time the Penguins reached the final, the team was running on fumes.

But they found that extra gear when they needed it, even if the Predators had been the better team at times.

Evgeni Malkin had 28 points, including three goals in the Cup final. Jake Guentzel, who was in the minors for most of the year, led the playoffs with 13 goals. And Murray, who came back from injury and replaced Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 3 in the Eastern Conference final, played his best when it mattered the most.

But it was Crosby who willed this team to victory.

He might not have scored the game-winner in Game 6, but the Penguins wouldn’t be here without him. He scored seven points in six games against the Predators. In the process, he made a household name out of Guentzel.

“You come to the rink every day and you get to play with him, so it’s special,” said the 22-year-old rookie. “Obviously, he took me under his wing every day. I was fortunate to have him. It’s crazy how this year went. Lots of ups and downs. But this is definitely the way to end it.”

The Penguins had been in this situation before in the playoffs, having led 3-2 against the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators. Both times, they failed to close things out in Game 6 and needed a win in Game 7.

Pittsburgh had hoped to learn from that mistake. But it’s not always about the team trying to close. The Predators were a desperate team. They were also confident, having outplayed the Penguins for most of the series. And they were at home, where they had a near spotless record in the playoffs.

This one was a nail-biter, the first competitive game in a series that had followed no formula except that the home team had won each of the first five games. That obviously changed in Game 6. But it wasn’t easy.

The first three periods were like watching an extended overtime. No one wanted to give up the first goal. No one even wanted to give up a scoring chance.

When they did, the goalies were there to bail them out.

Both Rinne and Murray had been good at times during this series — but never in the same game. In Game 6, we were finally treated to a goalie duel.

When Nashville finally put one in the net, it didn’t count.

About a minute into the second period, Filip Forsberg took a wrist shot that Penguins goalie Matt Murray got a piece of, but ended up sneaking underneath his arm and dribbling towards the goal line. Nashville’s Colton Sissons poked the puck into the net, but just as the crowd started cheering the referee was waving the goal off.

The refs, of course, were not to blame for Nashville’s lost.

The Predators had chances. They had four power plays in the game, including back-to-back opportunities midway through the second. It should have resulted in one, if not two goals. But Pittsburgh’s penalty kill, which was basically Murray standing on his head, kept Nashville off the board.

With Murray holding down the fort, the Penguins finally snuck one past Rinne. It was a weird one. A shot from Justin Schultz bounced off the back of the net and Patric Hornqvist somehow banked the puck in off Rinne and into the net.

Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter for good measure.

“It’s the toughest trophy in all of sports to win,” said Lemieux. “It’s something special.”

Is Europe an underrated coaching market?

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By

At some point the Winnipeg Jets are going to have to find a new head coach because all coaches are hired to get fired. When they get to that point with Maurice, they should look to European leagues and the KHL for coaching options. The Jets should look beyond those who they know and interview new candidates to see what they think they could do with the Jets. There are good pieces in Winnipeg if they are used smartly.

This is where the NHL making itself an even smaller world than hockey already is hurts them. Hockey is big in Russia and Europe, but there has not been a European coach since the failed experiment of Ivan Hlinka in Pittsburgh. Hlinka was not the first European-born coach to coach in the NHL, that honour goes to Johnny Gottselig, but he is the first European raised coach. Hlinka did not work out because of the language barrier amongst other reasons, but that does not mean that another coach might not work. Since Hlinka’s time globalization has made it so more and more European coaches speak strong English, allowing them to potentially be able to coach in North America.

There are so many people out there that could potentially offer new ideas to North American hockey as a whole that it would be foolish to not at least interview some good coaches in Europe to hear their thoughts and bring in some fresh ideas. This means going beyond the Marc Crawfords and Paul Maurices and interviewing coaches who have never coached in North America to see how their perspectives differ from someone who learned hockey on this side of the Atlantic. They may not find a match for a head coach; they may only find an assistant or no one at all, but it is better to try and not find the match than never try at all. Europe and Russia have had professional leagues for years and yet only three men have ever called themselves European and coached in the NHL. There are others who have coached in Europe between NHL jobs, but that is not the same as growing up in the different culture and having different perspectives on the same game. It is about having a broader world view and wanting to bring in a different perspective.

Every coach in professional sports is hired to be fired. The NHL has not had a European coach since Ivan Hlinka in 2001. The league as a whole would benefit from including Europeans as coaches. The first team that does this might just get rewarded with some new thinking that changes their tactics for the better.

Stanley Cup final preview: Nashville Predators vs Pittsburgh Penguins

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By Mike Zeisberger – Toronto Sun

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins will be Monday, May 29 at 8 p.m. The two teams have never met in a playoff series.

TOP STORYLINES

1. THE FEAT TO REPEAT

In reaching the final for a second consecutive spring, the defending titleholders are attempting to becoming the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings accomplished the feat in 1997 and 1998. Of course, in order to go back-to-back, the Pens will have to do it without a true No. 1 defenceman after Kris Letang was lost late in the season. Since the Carolina Hurricanes won the Cup in 2006, every champ has sported a stud blueliner including: 2016, Letang, Penguins; 2015: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks; 2014: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; 2013: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks; 2012: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; 2011: Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins; 2010: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks; 2009: Sergei Gonchar/Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins; 2008: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings; 2007: Scott Niedermayer/Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks.

2. CAROLINA CONNECTION

When it comes to winning the Stanley Cup, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford and Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette are no strangers to each other. Back in 2006, Rutherford and Laviolette served in those same respective positions with the Carolina Hurricanes and helped bring the Cup to Tobacco Road. Since that time, Laviolette led the Philadelphia Flyers to the 2010 final where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks; while Rutherford’s Penguins won the Cup a year ago.

3. JILTED JAMES?

One of Rutherford’s first acts as GM of the Pens came at the 2014 draft when he traded former 40-goal scorer James Neal to the Predators in exchange for forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The trade came within an environment of speculation that there had been chemistry issues within the Pens dressing room. Whatever the case, Neal would like nothing better than to gain retribution against his former team.

REGULAR SEASON

Penguins: 50-21-11, 111 points, 2nd, Eastern Conference.

Predators: 41-29-12, 94 points, 8th, Western Conference.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Penguins

  • Defeated Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1
  • Defeated Washington Capitals 4-3
  • Defeated Ottawa Senators 4-3

Predators

  • Defeated Chicago Blackhawks 4-0
  • Defeated St. Louis Blues 4-2
  • Defeated Anaheim Ducks 4-2

2016-17 SEASON SERIES

(Tied 1-1)

Oct. 22: Pedators 5, Penguins 1 @ Nashville

Jan. 31: Penguins 4, Predators 2 @Pittsburgh

ALL-TIME SEASON SERIES

Penguins lead 12-10-2-1

STANLEY CUPS

Penguins: 4 (1990–91, 1991–92, 2008–09, 2015–16)

Preds: 0

THE BIG MATCHUP

Pens Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin/Phil Kessel Vs. Preds G Pekka Rinne

The Penguins obviously edge in this series comes up front, where the likes of Malkin, Crosby and Kessel can be difference makers on each and every shift they step onto the ice. But they’re up against a formidable force in the Preds crease in the form of Rinne, who has to be considered one of the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy after leading Nashville to series wins over the Blackhawks, Blues and Ducks.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

GOALIE MATT MURRAY, PENGUINS

A year ago, Murray backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup with just 13 regular season NHL games on his resume. Now, after taking over for Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the Ottawa Senators, can he do it again? A second Stanley Cup ring in less than two full NHL seasons would be an incredible way to start a career.

DEFENCEMAN P.K. SUBBAN, PREDATORS

Even though he was one of the most popular players among Habs fans we’ve seen in a long time, the Montreal Canadiens brass decided a shakeup was needed within the dressing room. Subban ended up being the fall guy, dealt in a blockbuster for Shea Weber. Now Subban is in the Stanley Cup final. This will be a huge story on both sides of the border.

THE SCHEDULE

G1: May 29 at Pitt

G2: May 31 at Pitt

G3: June 3 at Nash

G4: June 5 at Nash

G5: June 8 at Pitt

G6: June 11 at Nash

G7: June 14 at Pitt

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