2010 NHL Entry Draft: Brandon Gormley confident; Jack Campbell a Stars pick?

IMAG0049.jpgAs is customary every year the media had a nice session with a number
of the top NHL prospects here in Los Angeles, on a terrace that
overlooks downtown. Way off in the distance you could barely make out
the “Hollywood” sign through the smog, but it was still a fitting
backdrop for these players to discuss their future on the eve of the
draft.

It’s tough to really get a whole lot of information from
these question and answer sessions, but it is nice to be able to talk to
the players in a semi-informal environment. Some are very confident and
ready for the draft to start, others are starting to feel that
nervousness start to kick in as they wait to find out which organization
they’re headed to.

Here are some of the highlights from the
afternoon:

– Taylor Hall says that he’d be content with whatever
team picks him, saying that both Boston and Edmonton are great
organizations and he’d be proud to play for either one. He said that he
has no clue which way either team is leaning, and that he’s working on
really building up his strength this summer to gear up for what should
be his first NHL season.

“We’ve been fighting all the time,
it’s such a bitter rivalry,” Hall said with a sly grin when asked about
spending the past few weeks with Tyler Seguin. He said he hopes they can
build a great competitive rivalry against each other and that this
draft will link them together for the rest of their careers.


Brandon Gormley is very confident, and says that he’s ready for the
draft after spending the past few months under the microscope. He says
he’s most proud of his ability to stay composed, and that he thinks
that’s something teams would like to have in a young player.

“I’m
composed in all situations, something I’m proud of. I don’t make the
rushed decisions, and I can bring a strong sense of leadership to the
team.”

– Cam Fowler (who was a bit smaller than I expected) is
also confident, and says that he’s not really worried about where he
might fall. With Fowler, Gudbranson and Brett Connelly all right there
in the mix, Fowler says that he’s expecting to go anywhere from #3 to #5
and he’d be happy with whatever happens.

“I’m just trying to do
well in these interviews and show that I’m a good person, too. They’re
not just looking for good hockey players, they’re looking for good
people as well. You gotta be confident in yourself and know that it’s
going to work out in the end and you’re going to fall into the right
situation.”

Fowler has been shown a lot of interest by Florida and
said that he had another interview with them later this afternoon.

IMAG0050.jpg– Perhaps
the most interesting ‘development’ came while talking to Jack Campbell.
This was my first time meeting the American goaltender, and I have to
say that while some may be put off by his on-ice cockiness, he is one
great guy and really easy to talk. I had fun just chatting with him
about the World Juniors (“Best experience of my life, the American crowd
was great.”) as well as some talk about American junior hockey hero
Jerry D’Amigo.

What was eyebrow-raising about it though was when
he mentioned which teams had shown a lot of interest in him. Now, this
doesn’t necessarily give away a team’s intentions because anything can
happen on the draft floor, but Campbell said that the teams that have
shown him the most interest were Phoenix and Dallas.

He
specifically pointed out Dallas as a team that’s talked to him a couple
of times, and he mentioned how GM Joe Nieuwendyk had spoken with him
this morning. The Stars pick at #11, and while they are most likely to
take a defenseman like Derek Forbort, the organization is certainly
hurting for a blue-chip goaltending prospect like Campbell.

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    Report: Red Wings RFA Athanasiou could sign in Russia

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    With training camp approaching, Andreas Athanasiou is still without a contract for the upcoming season.

    The 23-year-old forward and restricted free agent posted 18 goals and 29 points in 64 games for the Detroit Red Wings last season in the final year of his entry-level contract with an annual average value of $902,500.

    Based on a report Tuesday afternoon, traveling overseas to play next season could be an option for Athanasiou, one of the bright young forwards in the Red Wings organization.

    Earlier this month, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the organization has made a “number of offers” to Athanasiou.

    One of the issues facing Detroit right now is the salary cap, which the Red Wings are currently over by almost $4 million, according to CapFriendly.

    Report: ‘We … are not dealing with this issue as of now,’ says Iginla’s agent of Olympics

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    National Hockey League players will not be going to the 2018 Olympics. However, it appears Team Canada has taken another step in expressing interest in a pair of unrestricted free agents — Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla.

    That’s according to the Canadian Press on Tuesday, as it reported Team Canada general manager Sean Burke contacted representatives for both Doan and Iginla, inquiring about possible availability.

    Both players are 40 years old and have represented Canada at previous Olympics when NHL players participated. Iginla set up Sidney Crosby‘s famous overtime winning goal during the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

    From the Canadian Press:

    Burke, who’s building the first Canadian Olympic roster without NHL players since 1994, suggested that both former Olympians would have to be playing somewhere if they were to be considered. He reached out to their representatives on Tuesday morning.

    “We want to look at all possibilities, but there has to be a long-term plan because it’s going to very intense (at the Olympics) and it’s going to be great hockey and guys are going to have to have a plan for the year,” Burke said on a conference call, which also included the team’s head coach Willie Desjardins.

    Whether or not the two veterans would be interested is another question.

    “We really are not dealing with this issue as of now,” Don Meehan, Iginla’s agent, said in an email to The Canadian Press.

    The report also indicated that Team Canada’s roster should become more clear by November.

    Doan played his entire career with one franchise until this June, when Coyotes management informed the veteran forward that they would not be bringing him back for another season. He’s appeared in 1,540 NHL games throughout his career, but scored only six goals and 27 points in 74 games this past season.

    Iginla, a two-time Olympic champion for Canada, split this season between Colorado and L.A. He had only eight goals and 18 points in 61 games with the Avalanche before getting dealt to the Kings. He then posted six goals and nine points in 19 games with L.A., although that club missed the playoffs.

    Blue Jackets need Bobrovsky at his best to take the next step

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    This post is part of Blue Jackets Day on PHT…

    When it came time for the annual NHL Awards, Sergei Bobrovsky‘s rebound season was, deservedly so, recognized with a Vezina Trophy.

    (He was also a finalist for the Hart Trophy but that went to phenom forward Connor McDavid.)

    At the heart of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ franchise record-setting season, which saw them win 50 games and post 108 points while competing for the Metropolitan Division, was the performance of Bobrovsky. He was brilliant, particularly after his previous season didn’t go according to plan, in large part because of injuries.

    He posted 41 wins over 63 starts, the most in a single season for him, and a .931 save percentage. That last stat technically isn’t an individual career best for Bobrovsky, although the one time he achieved a better save percentage was over 38 games during the lockout-shortened season.

    Critical to his play was the fact he was able to remain healthy — a priority for Columbus heading into last season, and something that will need to continue once again in 2017-18. He was able to gain confidence in his own game and help propel his teammates to a different level, as the Blue Jackets competed with Pittsburgh and Washington through a good portion of the season for the division lead.

    “When Bob’s at his game and feeling good, it brings a whole different kind of confidence into that room,” team captain Nick Foligno told the Associated Press last season.

    Where Bobrovsky has struggled is in the playoffs. That continued again this past spring. In five games against a talented Penguins roster in the opening round, he allowed 20 goals against with an .882 save percentage, and is reportedly open to the idea of seeing a sports psychologist to help get over that hurdle.

    With a good young roster, the Blue Jackets took quite a step forward last season. There was another productive year from Cam Atkinson. Zach Werenski impressed as a rookie defenseman. The biggest difference, however, was the goaltending Bobrovsky provided.

    It’s difficult to believe April’s playoff struggles will have much, if any, impact on Bobrovsky heading into the new season. After all, he was able to prove in the weeks before that he can bounce back from disappointing times.

    And he was able to prove that, when at his best, the Blue Jackets could be a dangerous team.

    After another productive season, Cam Atkinson enters contract year with Blue Jackets

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    This post is part of Blue Jackets Day on PHT…

    Cam Atkinson had already proven himself to be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL. It was a mark he hit three consecutive times prior to last season.

    And that’s when the former sixth-round pick from 2008 really broke out.

    Atkinson, now 28 years old, led the Blue Jackets in scoring with 62 points. What highlighted his point totals was the fact he scored 35 goals — leading the team in that category, as well — in a year when only seven other players in the entire league were able to best his total, Sidney Crosby leading the way with 44.

    Despite his output at the time, Atkinson was originally a snub from the 2017 All-Star Game before getting added to the event when Evgeni Malkin couldn’t participate because of injury.

    Another area where Atkinson has been so valuable for the Blue Jackets has been on the power play. Of the 62 points he recorded last season, 21 of those were with the man advantage. He finished in a three-way tie for second on the team in that category.

    It is worth pointing out that with the addition of Artemi Panarin, the Columbus coaching staff may have an adjustment in mind for Atkinson, according to assistant coach Brad Larsen.

    From The Columbus Dispatch:

    Larsen said plans can change – prospects are still a month away from leaving for Traverse City – but his first thought is to play Panarin at his familiar spot and slide Atkinson to the middle slot, one open with the free-agent defection of Sam Gagner.

    “Panarin has had a ton of success on that off side with his one-timer,” Larsen said. “If I was going to say right now, I would say he’s going to start there. Cam has done an outstanding job there and we might shift him into the middle. Again, there are going to be discussions and we haven’t really gotten into it.”

    While the Blue Jackets enter the season looking to build on a franchise record-setting 2016-17 campaign, Atkinson enters the final year of his current contract, which has a cap hit of $3.5 million and a total salary of $4.5 million, according to CapFriendly.

    Aaron Portzline of The Athletic recently suggested market value on a long-term contract for Atkinson — who turns 29 years old next June, only a few weeks before free agency opens — may be between $5 million to “maybe” $6 million annually.

    That’s a nice raise. Not bad for a player taken 157th overall in 2008. He now sits fourth among players from that draft class in career goals, behind only Steven Stamkos, Jordan Eberle and Derek Stepan.

    Atkinson is now eligible to sign an extension, but for right now, the Blue Jackets still need to get restricted free agents Josh Anderson and Alexander Wennberg under contract for the upcoming season.