2010 NHL Entry Draft: Ryan Johansen wasn't shocked when Columbus picked him fourth

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ryanjohansen.jpgAfter Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin went 1-2 as expected, it didn’t take long for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to unravel into odd-ball lunacy. Players and picks were traded like hockey cards in a playground. Seemingly sure-fire top 5 pick Cam Fowler dropped all the way down to the Anaheim Ducks at No. 12. Perhaps the most surprising moment came when the Columbus Blue Jackets picked Ryan Johansen, though.

Then again, if you ask Johansen, the Blue Jackets showed some serious interest in him during the interview process. Columbus GM Scott Howson apparently was smitten with him, even if scouts weren’t quite as interested.

“I just remember talking to Mr. Howson, and he really enjoyed the first game he saw me play and the first game of playoffs with the Spokane Chiefs. He really liked my style of play,” Johansen said. “I’m a play maker with good hockey sense, good vision, and good puck protection. He likes my style of play.”

Johansen was a bit short of the elite level with scouts and – at a younger age – was a little short in a more literal way. He described his struggles when he was about 16 or 17.

“Well, for me and my Bantam draft, I was 150 pounds and 5′ 9″, so my skating stride was a little out of whack there. I had the baby moose legs going on,” Johansen said. “So once I got to my regular height and started putting on some muscle, I think I gathered my stride a lit bit, and now my skating is at a high level.”

It’s great that Johansen responded to criticism with little more than a shoulder shrug, but there’s no doubt that people will put a little extra pressure on him since he was drafted before more well-regarded prospects. That might end up being his undoing, but if you ask him, the criticism will just make him better.

“Yeah, that kind of stuff gives you motivation when you’re working out, on the ice, improving your game … taking yourself to a higher level,” Johansen said. “For me, I use that as motivation and look at that. When I’m in the gym I’ll push harder. It’s a good feeling when you do stuff like that.”

The Blue Jackets have been lacking a top-end center since the franchise was born. Could Johansen end up being the guy who finally gives their franchise star Rick Nash something to work with?

Just ask him.

Former NHLer LaCouture pleads not guilty to assaulting woman

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Dan LaCouture #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) A former NHL player has pleaded not guilty to charges he assaulted a woman in Massachusetts over the weekend.

The Cape Cod Times reports Daniel LaCouture appeared Tuesday in Barnstable District Court on charges of assault and battery and vandalizing property.

Police responded just after 6 p.m. Saturday to a house in Centerville, where they say the 39-year-old LaCouture hid underneath a vehicle in the home’s driveway before confronting the victim and striking her in the collarbone.

LaCouture is due back in court July 15.

A phone number listed for LaCouture in online public records was disconnected.

LaCouture made his NHL debut with Edmonton in 1999. The forward had 20 goals and 25 assists in 337 career games with six NHL teams.

He is one of dozens of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussion-related injuries.

A better start is key for Sharks in Game 2

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It’s easy to suggest that perhaps the San Jose Sharks got caught up with some nerves during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, this is a franchise that, after well-documented playoff shortfalls, is playing in the championship series for the first time. The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, well they’ve been here before — seven years ago.

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns conceded that his team may have been overwhelmed at first, outshot 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, before eventually getting back on track in the middle of the game.

The result was a two-goal deficit, as the Penguins jumped into the lead. San Jose fought back, but ultimately lost on a late Nick Bonino goal.

The Sharks, of course, have stressed getting out to a better start, and that what happened Monday can be a learning experience, as they look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We were excited to play. We felt we were ready. Then at the start, we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We try to take that lesson and learn from it,” Joe Pavelski told reporters on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can have a better start. Obviously it’s exciting to be here. I don’t know if it’s your first time or your fifth time, I’m sure it’s exciting every time. So we’ll learn from that game and hopefully have a better start.”

 

Bears face Monsters for the AHL’s Calder Cup

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 15:  Chris Bourque #17 of the Hershey Bears kisses the Calder Cup after the Hershey Bears defeated the Milwaukee Admirals in game six of the AHL Calder Cup Finals on June 15, 2006 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Admirals 5-1 in game six to win the AHL Calder Cup. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Hershey Bears and Lake Erie Monsters will play for the 2016 Calder Cup, as the American Hockey League’s championship series begins Wednesday.

The Bears, who start with home ice advantage, enter the series having won the Calder Cup 11 times — the most of any franchise in the league’s history. They also enter the final having dispatched the Toronto Marlies — Canada’s remaining hope for an AHL championship, right…? — in the third round.

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Meanwhile, the Monsters have been on a torrid run in the playoffs, losing only twice in 13 games so far. They’ve earned the sweep in two of three series, making quick work of the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign.

Bears forward Carter Camper, a journeyman in the minors with three games of NHL experience with Boston in 2011-12, is second in AHL playoff scoring with 15 points in 17 games.

For the Monsters, Blue Jackets prospect Lukas Sedlak has been on a roll, offensively, and now has 13 points in 13 post-season games this year.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Sedlak was regarded as a smart two-way forward, but his offensive production was minimal, almost non-existent. Players like that tend to drift away after a few seasons, pushed aside by the next wave of young talent and high draft picks.

“I’d say right around Christmas I started wondering what was going to happen,” Sedlak said. “I was asking my agent what Columbus thought of me, and I was prepared for everything — maybe even going back to Europe.

“I knew my contract was up after the season. I thought I was playing pretty well … but you just don’t know.”

 

Stars sign Dowling, Ranford to one-year deals

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The Dallas Stars made a pair of depth moves on Tuesday, announcing the signings of forwards Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford to one-year contracts.

Both players have put up good numbers in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars.

This past season, the 24-year-old Ranford scored 19 goals and 59 points in 76 games — all career highs for him in the minors. He played once for Dallas last season, but didn’t register a point.

Initially undrafted and a Stars’ free agent signing from two years ago, the 25-year-old Dowling was also productive with 11 goals and 46 points in 52 games.