Ryan Kennedy

Ryan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.

Calgary prospects Gaudreau and Bennett dream about the future

Ryan Kennedy
Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau on the move (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Not a lot of wins have come out of Alberta in recent years, but at least there is hope in both markets. Edmonton has toiled for years and had the more high-profile rebuild, but Calgary is quickly putting together a nice coterie of players as well.

Sean Monahan has already made a dent in the NHL and two other names are poised to join him up front on the Flames sooner than later: Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett.

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In defense of Scott Gomez

Ryan Kennedy
Why hate on him when he wants to come home?  (Photo by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils have been a haven for veterans in the past few years and GM Lou Lamoriello has been very good about giving older players one last chance at NHL glory. Petr Sykora landed himself a spot on the 2011-12 squad after a tryout and ended up sixth in team scoring. Martin Havlat was brought in this summer to reboot a career that had stalled in San Jose, while news is trickling out that Tomas Kaberle, who played last season in the Czech Republic with Kladno, has been offered a tryout.

Oh, and Scott Gomez is getting a tryout too.

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The All-American Prospects Game will be loaded this year

Ryan Kennedy
Zach Werenski is part of an excellent cast headed to Buffalo (Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

The third annual USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game takes place in Buffalo on Sept. 25 and no doubt organizers will tell you it’s looking like the best one yet. People say that about all sorts of events every year, but if everyone shows up, this will be the best yet.

The game is only as good as the talent available and last year’s installment in Pittsburgh was hampered by the fact the U.S. didn’t produce any top-10 talents for the 2014 class. Sonny Milano, Alex Tuch and Dylan Larkin were the best of the bunch and ended up as mid-round picks. The debut of the game in Buffalo a year prior featured Seth Jones, at the time thought of as the No. 1 overall prospect and ultimately a fourth overall pick who went straight to the NHL. But Adam Erne pulled out and hometown kid Justin Bailey sustained a concussion just before the festivities, meaning a better lineup was possible.

But this year? Assuming everyone shows up healthy, this is a stacked bill. Here’s a look at some names to keep in mind.

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NHL expansion: What would a Las Vegas roster look like?

Ryan Kennedy
Would the Red Wings expose Stephen Weiss to a draft?  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The online world was abuzz Tuesday night with various reports about NHL expansion, specifically Las Vegas as an initial destination. Personally, I think the league is fine at 30 teams and that contracting to 28 wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But in the interest of fun, I started to put together a roster for a potential Las Vegas team and you know what? The options aren’t that bad. I’m assuming that an expansion draft for the squad takes place in the summer of 2015 and that the players involved basically stay on their same career trajectories. Based on the last expansion draft in 2000, teams could protect one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards, or two goalies, three defensemen and seven forwards. Players still on entry-level deals were excluded.

This does provide a few pickles out there. For instance, Ottawa just re-signed Craig Anderson, but there’s no way the Sens leave Robin Lehner unprotected; meaning only three blueliners are behind the shield. Obviously Erik Karlsson is one and Marc Methot another. But is the third Chris Phillips or Jared Cowen? Do you assume Phillips would rather retire a Senator and that Las Vegas would know that? And you can’t give up on Cowen this quickly, right?

And pity Boston, where the Bruins just have too many good defensemen (I’m also assuming pending free agents would stick with their current teams for the sake of this exercise). I tried to get up to the salary cap floor here, but I would think the NHL would be a little forgiving for the first season, so my 23-man roster comes in at around $50 million. The team was also given the third overall pick in the draft, since the rest of the league would riot if Vegas got Connor McDavid right off the hop. So here’s what your 2015-16 Las Vegas team could look like:

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Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov has Russian intelligence on Barry Trotz

Ryan Kennedy
Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

There was a very distinct Russian clique at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto this weekend, with Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, Boston’s Alexander Khoklachev and the Tampa Bay duo of Vlad Namestnikov and Andrei Vasilevskiy. They hung out during media availability and on the ice, teasing Vasilevskiy as he forged through a rare English interview and cracking up when Khoklachev bailed behind the net.

For Kuznetsov, this was clearly his element. The Capitals’ first pick in 2010 had been a highly anticipated prospect for years, choosing to develop his game with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL instead of North America and for a while there, it seemed like he might never come over. But the powerful and gifted center did indeed make his debut last year, getting into 17 games with Washington once his KHL campaign was done and posting a decent nine points.

You would think a player who had already helped his hometown Chelyabinsk squad get to a Gagarin Cup final in Russia would be a little less awed by the NHL, but that wasn’t the case with Kuznetsov and his debut.

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The top 10 players to watch in the Champions League

Washington first-rounder Jakub Vrana has already started his season (Photo by Andreas Froberg/Linkoping HC/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

If you can’t wait for the NHL season to start, maybe turn your attention to Europe, where the Champions League is off and running. The super-sized tournament for club teams features squads from all over the continent and it’s more than just a place to find fun NHL names from the recent past (Chuck Kobasew! Mikael Samuelsson!). A lot of great young talent is on display, including some top NHL prospects and draft eligibles. Below you’ll find 10 players to watch for as the tournament goes on. Not included were skaters on rosters but yet to play in a game, including 2016 prospect Patrik Laine of Finland, 2015′s Michael Spacek of the Czech Republic and Pittsburgh first-rounder Kasperi Kapanen.

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