Category: NHL (page 1 of 11)

Rockets owner wants NHL team in Houston

By Cory Wilkins – Thescore.com

Houston, we want a hockey team.

Tilman Fertitta – the new owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets following a record $2.2-billion sale – is interested in adding another sports franchise to his portfolio.

“I would put an NHL team here tomorrow,” Fertitta told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “This one has got to work. But I’d love to have the other dates in the building.

“Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely. We’ll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do has to make sense … Will we be aggressive? Yes. That’s my nature.”

The NHL recently completed an expansion phase, adding its 31st franchise in Las Vegas, while deferring a bid from Quebec City. No other expansion applications, including Houston, were submitted to the league.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke on expansion as recently as Wednesday on Fox Sports, stating, “Could it happen some point? Yes, but it’s nothing we are focused on right now,” per Sportnset’s John Shannon.

Adding a team in Houston – the fourth-most populous city in the United States – would be a first for the NHL, however hockey itself is not unfamiliar with the area. The city was previously home to the WHA’s Houston Aeros from 1972-78 and a minor-pro team of the same name from 1994-2013.

Image result for houston aeros wha
Gordie Marty, Mark Howe & Marty Howe Signed Houston Aeros WHA

Houston would also provide some intriguing benefits to the NHL. Not only would the city offer a major television market, but Houston is also a natural Texas rival to the Dallas Stars, and the team could also bring some balance to the Central Division – currently home to seven teams, while the other three divisions carry eight clubs.

The NHL was previously linked to Houston in 2015, when Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who chairs the NHL board of governors, told Nicholas Goss of NESN, “I’d love to see (a team) in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

With Rockets’ ownership now changing hands, it could open the door for the NHL’s entry into Houston and the Toyota Center. The 2003-built arena seats 17,800 for hockey and is home to only one major-league tenant.

“We have to make sure hockey fans in Houston, Texas and Houstonians will come out and support an NHL team,” Fertitta added. “When the Aeros left they were drawing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 a game. If we have an NHL team, we have to put 16,000 in that stadium every night, 17,000, 18,000.

“If I go out and get an NHL team, I’m going to ask the citizens of Houston to make sure they commit to help me do it. None of this is successful without the fans out there.”

Nathan Walker makes Washington Capitals’ opening 2017/18 roster, set to become first Australian to play in NHL

By News.com.au

NATHAN Walker is set to realize his dream of becoming the first Australian to play in the NHL after making the Washington Capitals’ opening roster for 2017/18.

Walker was named as the Capitals released their squad on Wednesday, ahead of their season opener against the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

The 23-year-old is no guarantee to feature in that game — and the roster is still subject to change — but his long-awaited debut now appears only a matter of time. He’s already made history in becoming the first Australian to make an NHL team’s roster.

Walker impressed for the Capitals in pre-season, fighting off stiff competition from other forwards to earn a place in the squad. It’s a culmination of years of perseverance and hard work for Wales-born, Sydney-raised Walker, who played in the Czech Republic before moving to the US and getting drafted by the Capitals in 2014.

Walker has spent much of his time since playing for Washington’s feeder team, the Hershey Bears in the AHL (American Hockey League). He scored 11 goals and 12 assists in 58 games last season and looked on the verge of a mid-season NHL call-up before an untimely wrist injury.

At just 173cm, Walker is often one of the smallest players on the ice but has impressed with his energy, pace and penalty-killing ability.

“He has an effect on the game,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

“He may not be the most natural goal scorer, but he has (an) effect on pace of play, the zone play. He wears people out. He’s in your face and gets people off their game, so there’s a lot of good things about Nathan that you like.”

Olympics could be hot topic in next round of NHL CBA talks

The Associated Press

Going to the Olympics was a life-changing experience for T.J. Oshie, a shootout star for the United States against Russia in Sochi.

Oshie and dozens, if not hundreds, of NHL stars are disappointed they won’t get a chance to do it again at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He would like to ensure Olympic participation in the future – but not at any cost.

”To what end, like what we would have to give up?” Oshie said. ”Now you’re talking about an entire league of players and families potentially losing out on whatever it would be. … What we’d be giving up would affect everybody. It’s a tough talk.”

Because Olympic participation wasn’t written into the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2013, the decision rested with NHL owners, who decided against going to Pyeongchang after the league participated in the previous five Games. With the first chance for players or owners to opt out of the CBA now two years away, the Olympics, escrow payments and the draft age look like they are bound to be among the hot topics.

NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr said owners choosing to skip the 2018 Olympics ”is a thorn, is a sore” for players and is ”not going to be forgotten.”

”I think it is clearly something the players are going to want to think long and hard about when they get to the point of formulating their positions,” Fehr said. ”I would not be at all surprised if they wanted to make this an issue around which they felt very strongly in terms of the overall agreement because you have to remember that while it’s true that roughly a fifth of the players play in any particular set of Games, everyone would like the opportunity to go.”

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin said not going to the Olympics ”kind of makes you angry.” Seguin added: ”We’re going to have to figure something out for future players and for our future in general as a game.”

The future of the game likely will involve increased international events that help grow revenue and spread hockey’s influence around the world. The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks recently played in Shanghai and Beijing, site of the 2022 Olympics, with the NHL attempting to make inroads in China.

The NHL and NHLPA staged the return of the World Cup of Hockey last year in Toronto, and the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will play two games in Sweden in November.

Fehr said the NHL has ”for some time now indicated a lot more interest in China” than in Korea. But Commissioner Gary Bettman said in several meetings with Chinese businesses and government entities ”not one of them asked about the Olympics because what we’re doing isn’t about two weeks.”

The NHL is interested in China, and it wouldn’t hurt the players’ Olympic chances if Salt Lake City or Calgary lands the 2026 Winter Games, but the topic of ensuring participation is not an easy one for upcoming negotiations.

”For us to say that there’s a change of heart, there’s obviously going to have to be a change in circumstance, including how the (International Olympic Committee) and the (International Ice Hockey Federation) view our participation,” said Bettman, who noted that neither side is currently focused on reopening CBA talks.

”I have no idea what the Players’ Association will raise in that regard. But we were clear in the last round of bargaining that we needed the ability not to go to the Olympics because we understood how disruptive they are to the season.”

After 147 NHL players participated in Sochi, much of the reaction inside locker rooms to the NHL’s decision on Korea wasn’t positive. At the very least, a handful of players said they’d like to know in advance about the Olympics so it doesn’t come down to the wire like it did last time.

”I think it’s important that we address it so that it’s a done issue, whether it be that we’re not going or we’re going,” Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. ”I don’t think we want to leave it open to interpretation every year that it goes on.”

One thing that hasn’t been open to interpretation since 2013 is players having some of their pay held in escrow to compensate for the 50/50 split of revenue with owners. Last season, players had 15.5 percent of their pay withheld and many have expressed displeasure with the system.

Fehr said changes could be made to the escrow system, but added that it has always been his view that salary caps ”cause all kinds of problems.” The NHL and NHLPA instituted the salary cap coming out of the 2004-05 lockout that wiped out a season, and Bettman is proud of the competitive balance it has created.

”That’s why we fought so hard and we were committed to getting a system that would enable all of our teams to be competitive,” Bettman said.

Another topic that is likely to spark conversation is raising the draft age from 18 to 19. Former player and current NHLPA special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider said it can be a positive but knows there are challenges to changing it like the NBA did several years ago.

Fehr, who was executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1985-2009 and has headed the NHLPA for the past seven years, said preparations for the next round of bargaining will ramp up after the executive board meeting next summer. With plenty of conversations left to have, he thinks it’s too early to tell what will be the central issues when push comes to shove.

”You can make guesses, you can sometimes make educated guesses and every so often you’re going to be right,” Fehr said. ”But it’s a chancy prospect.”

New Generation of Asian-American Hockey Players Go Pro After Historic NHL Draft

Image: Nick Suzuki puts on the Vegas Golden Knights jersey during the 2017 NHL draft

Nick Suzuki puts on the Vegas Golden Knights jersey after being selected
13th overall during the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23, 2017.

By Sheng Peng

Suzuki and Yamamoto are not names that show up often on the back of National Hockey League (NHL) jerseys.

But teenagers Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto — both picked in the first round of June’s 2017 NHL draft in Chicago — may be the start of a new trend.

This year’s draft was historic, with Suzuki, Yamamoto, and Jason Robertson plucked in the first two rounds, the most Asian Americans to ever go that high in a single NHL draft according to William Douglas, a journalist from The Color of Hockey, which tracks diversity in the sport.

“Asian-American players have gone high in the NHL draft before,” Douglas told NBC News. “But this is a first time that you’ve had such a cluster of players drafted in the early rounds.”

Sooner than later, this might become the norm. As the Asian population has grown in United States and Canada, more and more Asian kids have taken up ice hockey, according to a team executive.

During the 2015-2016 season, 983 players appeared in a regular season NHL game, according to statistics from NHL.com. Just four of them — Matt Dumba, Devin Setoguchi, Jujhar Khaira, and Joshua Ho-Sang — appear to be of Asian descent.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of players who have Asian heritage,” Mike Oke — general manager of the Peterborough Petes, which play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) — said. The OHL is one of the NHL’s primary feeder leagues.

“It’s definitely kind of a big step for the community,” Suzuki, who was selected 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights and scored a goal in the new franchise’s first pre-season game in September, told NBC News.

Suzuki grew up in London, Ontario, a city halfway between Toronto and Detroit.

According to his father, Suzuki’s great-grandparents immigrated to Canada in 1909 and were incarcerated along with Suzuki’s grandfather in Kaslo, British Columbia, during World War II.

“From a Canadian perspective, some of the hockey players today, their parents immigrated to Canada, either as young teens or as adults, and therefore, weren’t exposed to the game of hockey at a young age,” Oke, the hockey executive, said. “Whereas now, the second and third generation of individuals who immigrated have been born and raised and inundated with the game of hockey.”

“I’m glad we’re getting our culture out,” Yamamoto, whose name was called by the Edmonton Oilers with the 22nd pick, said.

According to Yamamoto’s father, three generations of Yamamotos were born and raised in Spokane, Washington, including Kailer and himself. Before the Yamamotos settled in the Pacific Northwest, Saichi Yamamoto immigrated from Okinawa to Hawaii, meeting his wife Momoyo. Both Saichi and Momoyo Yamamoto were incarcerated during World War II.

Image: Kailer Yamamoto puts on his jersey after being selected 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL draft

Kailer Yamamoto puts on his jersey after being selected 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers
during Round One of the 2017 NHL draft in Chicago on June 23, 2017.

Unlike Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto, Jason Robertson, whose mother is of Filipino descent, did not grow up in a hockey hotbed. He was born and raised in the city of Arcadia in Southern California.

“I love hockey, I want everybody to be part of it,” Robertson, who went 39th overall to the Dallas Stars, said.

“From an American perspective, the sport has really outgrown what used to be the traditional pockets. In the past, hockey was typically played in some of the colder climate states,” Oke noted. “But now, with the expansion of the NHL into the southern climes such as California and Nevada and Arizona and Texas and Florida — you have people in those particular areas, for the first time, able to participate from a young age.”

Combined, those states have an Asian-American population of more than six million people, according to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly a third of the country’s Asian-American population.

Image: Jason Robertson  talks with representatives from the Dallas Stars after being selected by the team during the second round of the 2017 NHL hockey draft

Jason Robertson, left, talks with representatives from the Dallas Stars after being selected by the
team during the second round of the 2017 NHL hockey draft, in Chicago on June 24, 2017.

For each prospect, the prejudice that trailblazing Asian NHL’ers like Larry “King” Kwong and Jim Paek suffered was not something they dealt with.

“It’s been a coast for me,” Yamamoto said, smiling. “Everywhere I’ve gone, people have treated me with utmost respect.”

“Whoever you are, whatever you are, it all comes down to hard work and dedication,” Robertson said.

But at least one aspect of their careers is similar to Kwong and Paek. Each is proud of being an example for Asian-American kids who don’t have a lot of role models in the sport.

“It’s definitely a big opportunity,” acknowledged Suzuki. “I want to show everybody you can do it, no matter what.”

They’re already influencing their siblings: 16-year-old Ryan Suzuki and 15-year-old Nick Robertson were both selected in the first round of the most recent OHL Priority Selection, held on April 8. This junior-level draft is often a precursor to the NHL edition.

So it’s possible there will be more Suzukis, Yamamotos, and Robertsons banging down the door of the NHL soon.

“This isn’t a one-shot deal,” Douglas, the journalist, said.

Suzuki concurs, “There’s definitely a lot [of Asians] coming up.

Kings defeat Canucks in shootout to sweep China Games

By Lisa Dillman – NHL.com

BEIJING  Jonny Brodzinski scored the only goal of the shootout and goalie Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks in the second leg of the 2017 NHL China Games Presented by O.R.G. Packaging at Wukesong Arena. 

The win, in front of a crowd of 12,759, gave the Kings a sweep of the historic two-game preseason series. The Kings defeated the Canucks 5-2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Thursday in the first NHL game played in China. 

“The crowd got a little bit of everything tonight,” Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler said. “Hopefully it was fun and exciting for them.”

Brodzinski, going second for the Kings in the shootout, beat Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson with a backhand shot. Kuemper ended the game when he stopped forward Sven Baertschi in the third round.

Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev sent the game into overtime when his wrist shot beat Kuemper’s with 1:52 remaining in the third period. 

“I didn’t know what to expect with the trip, but I have nothing but great things to say,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “It was an experience of a lifetime.”

Forward Nick Shore gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the first period, taking a pass from Trevor Lewis and beating Nilsson from just below the right circle. Defenseman Jake Muzzin made it 2-0 at 17:07. Muzzin, who had three assists on Thursday, was named MVP of the China Games.

Baertschi, who scored the Canucks’ first goal on Thursday, finished off a sustained flurry in the Kings’ zone by tucking the puck between the left post and Kuemper’s pad to make it 2-1 at 8:50 of the second period. 

Forward Tyler Toffoli gave the Kings a 3-1 lead at 1:15 of the third, beating Nilsson in close on the glove side. But the Canucks made it 3-2 at 11:52 when Loui Erikssons shot went off the leg of Kings defenseman Alec Martinez and past Kuemper.

Canucks forward Bo Horvat was scratched because of an upper-body injury sustained in the game on Thursday.

 

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

http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/sites/default/files/storage/article/images/sliders/sports-mvp-nhl-in-china%20%281%29.jpg

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

https://www.barbadosadvocate.com/sites/barbadosadvocate.com/files/styles/large/public/field/image/web-basics.jpg?itok=FVyYAajZ

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

https://d13csqd2kn0ewr.cloudfront.net/uploads/image/file/251365/w768xh576_GettyImages-53132741.jpg?ts=1498505511

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

https://nhl.bamcontent.com/images/photos/289105112/1024x576/cut.jpg

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.

Older posts