• 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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  • Blue Jackets president John Davidson turns both barrels on Ryan Johansen’s agent

    Ken Campbell
    Dillon Heatherington, T.J. Tynan, Marko Dano. (Photo by Ken Campbell)

    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – When Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen took agent Kurt Overhardt to task for his handling of the Ryan Johansen negotiations on Monday, it turned out that was just the warm-up act. When it came to president of hockey operations John Davidson to take his turn, he turned both barrels directly on Overhardt.

    This is getting ugly, folks. And personal. The organization has chosen to make the agent the villain in this tale and Overhardt, for his part, wants no part of the public mudslinging. And that’s probably the best plan of attack for him. If someone has to be vilified here, it’s better that it’s the agent rather than the player.

    “It makes no sense, Davidson said. “When you see numbers that are thrown at us, we shouldn’t even respond. That’s how bad it is. It’s embarrassing. And if the kid sits out, he sits out. I wonder if the agent’s going to pay him his money back that he’s going to lose by sitting out. Read more

  • Ryan Johansen a prickly problem for Blue Jackets…but he’s not alone

    Ken Campbell
    Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The biggest question when it comes to Ryan Johansen’s stalemate with the Columbus Blue Jackets is just because the contract Johansen wants doesn’t exist, are he and his agent wrong for seeking it?

    In reality, if the numbers being reported are correct, Johansen is seeking a groundbreaking contract. A two-year bridge deal at $6.5 million a year is about $3 million a year more than the Blue Jackets are willing to pay at this point. At the Traverse City prospects tournament, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen turned the heat up significantly on Johansen and his agent, Kurt Overhardt, by essentially saying that if Johansen doesn’t sign with the team before it opens training camp Thursday, the organization will concentrate on the players it has in camp. “That’s it, that will be the only focus,” Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch Monday.

    This, of course, is a pressure tactic. The Blue Jackets have as much to lose as Johansen if he stays out of training camp and this drags into the regular season, so they’ll continue to work at this until something gets done. But the waters are getting more poisoned with every passing day and Kekalainen set his sights directly on Overhardt by suggesting these negotiations are more about the agent than the player.

    “From their side…this should be about Ryan Johansen and his future, his long-term future with the Blue Jackets,” Kekalainen said. “This shouldn’t be about setting a standard or about an agent breaking records.” Read more

  • THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Dallas Stars

    The Hockey News
    The Dallas Stars. (Photo by Glenn James/Getty Images)

    2013-14 record: 40-31-11

    Acquisitions: Patrick Eaves, Ludwig Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Anders Lindback, Ales Hemsky

    Departures: Dustin Jeffrey, Alex Chiasson, Alexander Guptill, Nicholas Paul, Chris Mueller, Toby Peterson

    Top five fantasy players: Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Alex Goligoski

    Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
    Boom: Dallas had a good thing going and got even better this off-season. The 2013-14 campaign was a resounding success, as new GM Jim Nill, new coach Lindy Ruff and newly acquired sniper Tyler Seguin helped the Stars end a five-season playoff absence. Read more

  • NHL 15 review: Gameplay is good, but way too much is missing

    Rory Boylen
    NHL 15 P.K. Subban

    The following is a review for EA Sports’ NHL 15 on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

    NHL 15 arrived on the next generation consoles Playstation 4 and Xbox One last week to great anticipation. The player and fan graphics took a step up, NBC’s commentary crew was added to enhance the gaming experience, and the physics engine was also upgraded.

    But how you grade the game depends on how you like to play it. If you’re a casual gamer who only pops on from time to time for a 1-on-1 game online, if you’re a big fan of HUT, or if you play offline against a friend on the couch, then you’ll get what you want out of it. The look of the game has taken a big jump forward and the feel of it has moderately changed as well. The fan animations and gameplay provide a rich experience. As one user who gave a positive review on metacritic said: “I couldn’t care less about the superfluous crap that’s been jammed into these games the past few years. Focus on the game play. That’s what matters, that’s why people loved these games throughout the ’90s.”

    The problem is, the ’90s have been over for a decade and a half and sports games have evolved since then. Most users have gotten used to a more comprehensive package, filled with an in-depth GM mode, an RPG-like career mode, an online “GM Connected” where you manage a team against other players from around the globe or in your neighborhood – and more. It’s here that NHL 15 takes a dive. Read more

  • 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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  • Top 10 NHL milestones that should be reached this season

    Matt Larkin
    Jaromir Jagr has a litany of milestones in his sights, most notably 1,800 points. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

    Call 2014-15 the year of the sneaky milestone, the season that’ll have people on the street saying “He’s played how many games?” and “That guy has that many goals? Who knew?!”

    Perusing the top 10(ish) high-water marks that should be reached, you’ll find at least one legendary name and more than a few surprises.

    10. Marc-Andre Fleury’s and Ryan Miller’s 300th wins

    Even if both tenders have their share of critics, especially when it comes to their recent playoff performances, Fleury and Miller have done generally fine work in the regular season. At 288 and 294 victories, respectively, each guy should join the 300 club easily, becoming the 30th and 31st members.

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