WHL preview: Who will rule in 2014-15

Ryan Kennedy
Portland's Nic Petan (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Last season, the Western League’s Edmonton Oil Kings toppled Guelph of the Ontario League to win the Memorial Cup. Can the Oil Kings get back on top, despite losing a bunch of players and coach Derek Laxdal? Their old foes from Portland are still dangerous, while some new names are rising up, too. I consulted with a crew of experts from the region to put together power rankings for the league, then added one name to know for each team:

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Scouting reports from Traverse City, part two

Dallas pick Julius Honka (LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The championship game of the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan pitted Columbus against Dallas, with the Blue Jacket kids skating off to victory on an overtime goal scored by Josh Anderson during 3-on-3 play. Here’s part two of my filing on how the big games did, this time concentrating on Columbus, Dallas, Carolina and Detroit. I am not including Anthony Mantha of the Red Wings since he missed the last game with knee soreness and I only saw part of his prior game.

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Scouting reports from Traverse City, part one

Buffalo's Sam Reinhart (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The annual Traverse City prospects tournament is in the books for another year and this time, Columbus came out on top despite losing 2014 first-rounder Sonny Milano in the first game.

Despite boasting some of the biggest names in the tournament, the Sabres ended up dead-last, losing to the Blues in their final match to go winless overall. Coach Chadd Cassidy believes bad starts doomed the squad and the fairly young group just couldn’t get over the pressure once they got down.

But how did the individuals fare at the tourney? Here are my thoughts on players from the first four teams. Since games were staggered between two rinks, I saw more of some squads than others and the amount of reports reflects that.

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USHL joins AHL in trying 3-on-3 OT. Should the NHL be next?

Jason Kay
Leafs goalie James Reimer and Sabres center Cody Hodgson (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you’re a fan of the possibility of 3-on-3 overtime in the NHL, pay close attention to the United States League this fall. The NHL will be.

The junior developmental loop is experimenting with the format during its pre-season contests; any games tied after regulation will go directly to five minutes of 3-on-3 play. Further, any game played during the USHL’s “Fall Classic” week (it began yesterday and runs through Sept. 20) will automatically go to 3-on-3 overtime regardless of the score.

Since the USHL is such a prolific producer of prospects – it had 35 players/alum selected in the 2014 NHL draft – big brother will indeed be watching.

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Why Kevin Hayes chose the New York Rangers

Kevin Hayes (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Kevin Hayes is one of the biggest names playing at the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan. Heck, he’s been one of the biggest names in hockey this summer. That’s because his senior season at Boston College was so scintillating that teams were fiending to sign him up once it became apparent he would not sign with the team that drafted him, the Chicago Blackhawks.

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St. Louis Blues pick Robby Fabbri defies his size

Ryan Kennedy
Guelph center Robby Fabbri (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

I’m eavesdropping on a couple of scouts here in Traverse City. The Columbus and St. Louis prospects are facing off and early on, Robby Fabbri is doing some nice things on a line with Ty Rattie and Yannick Veilleux for the Blues.

“Look at Fabbri,” said one scout to the other. “He knows where he’s going to pass it before the puck is even on his stick.”

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Traverse City: Carolina goes big with Haydn Fleury

Ryan Kennedy
Carolina pick Haydn Fleury (Photo by Ken Andersen/NHLPA via Getty Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes tend to go with forwards early in the draft and even when they did take a blueliner with their first selection in 2011, it was Ryan Murphy, the offensively inclined D-man. But when the seventh pick rolled around in 2014, the Canes tabbed 6-foot-3, 203-pound Haydn Fleury and they’re pretty happy with that selection.

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