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Alfredsson, Chara pick All-Star skills lineup

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All-Star Game captains Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara have selected their participants for the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills competition (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

There are six events — fastest skater, breakaway challenge, accuracy shooting, challenge relay, hardest shot and elimination shootout — in which both All-Stars and rookies will compete.

Bridgestone Fastest Skater

Team Chara: Brian Campbell, Jimmy Howard, Colin Greening, Phil Kessel, Marian Hossa

Team Alfredsson: Kris Letang, Jonathan Quick, Carl Hagelin, Keith Yandle, Erik Karlsson

Allstate Insurance Breakaway Challenge

Team Chara: Ryan Johansen, Patrick Kane, Corey Perry, Carey Price

Team Alfredsson: Sean Couturier, John Tavares, Logan Couture, Brian Elliott

Canadian Tire Accuracy Shooting

Team Chara: Cody Hodgson, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Marian Hossa, Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter, Jordan Eberle, Brian Campbell

Team Alfredsson: Matt Read, Jason Spezza, Steve Stamkos, Daniel Sedin, Alex Edler, Dan Girardi, Claude Giroux, Henrik Sedin

G Series Skills Challenge Relay

Team Chara: Ryan Suter, Dennis Wideman, Jarome Iginla, Joffrey Lupul, Patrick Kane, Pavel Datsyuk, Gabriel Landeskog, Marian Gaborik, Jordan Eberle, Dion Phaneuf, Zdeno Chara, Jamie Benn, Kimmo Timonen, Raphael Diaz, Evegni Malkin, Phil Kessel

Team Alfredsson: Nick Johnson, Shea Weber, Kris Letang, Steve Stamkos, Henrik Sedin, Milan Michalek, Logan Couture, James Neal, Alex Edler, Keith Yandle, Scott Hartnell, John Tavares, Daniel Sedin, Craig Smith, Claude Giroux, Jason Pominville

Blackberry Hardest Shot

Team Chara: Luke Adam, Dennis Wideman, Dion Phaneuf, Zdeno Chara

Team Alfredsson: Justin Faulk, Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Shea Weber

Tim Hortons Elimination Shootout

Team Chara: Colin Greening, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, Corey Perry, Tyler Seguin, Marian Gaborik, Patrick Kane, Jarome Iginla, Jamie Benn, Joffrey Lupul, Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Suter, Carey Price, Tim Thomas, Jimmy Howard

Team Alfredsson: Carl Hagelin, Steve Stamkos, John Tavares, Jason Spezza, Claude Giroux, Daniel Alfredsson, James Neal, Milan Michalek, Jason Pominville, Kris Letang, Erik Karlsson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Lundqvist, Brian Elliott, Jonathan Quick

Of note

— Chara set the hardest shot record last year with a 105.9 mph blast.

— Daniel Sedin won the accuracy shootout last year, hitting all four targets in 7.3 seconds (took him five shots).

— The fastest skater record is still held by Mike Gartner, with a time of 13.386 seconds in 1996.

Ducks lock up 2016 first-rounder Max Jones

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Max Jones poses for a portrait after being selected 24th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks handed their 2016 first-round draft pick Max Jones an entry-level contract on Friday.

Anaheim selected Jones 24th overall. It looks like he’s getting a pretty typical rookie deal, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

In PHT’s “Get to Know a Draft Pick” series, THN’s Ryan Kennedy described Jones as “a power forward who can make you look silly with his offensive moves or simply plow you through the boards.”

Jones was one of three London Knights players who went in the first round in 2016, following Olli Juolevi (fifth overall) and Matthew Tkachuk (sixth overall). He certainly seemed to enjoy the team’s Memorial Cup victory:

You never really know for certain, but one would imagine that Jones may take a season or two to make it to the NHL level with the Ducks. From the sound of things, he’s in the sort of power forward mold that the team’s had a lot of success with.

With Lehner injured, Enroth will be in Sweden’s goalie mix at World Cup

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 04: Jhonas Enroth #1 of the Buffalo Sabres and Robin Lehner #40 of the Ottawa Senators warm up to play at First Niagara Center on October 4, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Sweden has selected Jhonas Enroth to replace injured goaltender Robin Lehner on its World Cup of Hockey roster.

Lehner was bothered by an ankle injury last season while playing for the Buffalo Sabres. Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg said Lehner had not recovered 100 percent.

Enroth, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden’s roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game.

Enroth started for Sweden at the 2015 world hockey championship.

The World Cup begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.

Brandon Pirri makes Rangers’ offense so deep, a trade may be needed

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 10:  Brandon Pirri #73 of the Florida Panthers skates with the puck during a game against the Washington Capitals at BB&T Center on December 10, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Want to make your brain hurt a little? Try to narrow down the New York Rangers’ forward group to a mere 12 after the whip-smart signing of Brandon Pirri became official.

To start, you have the obvious guys: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. Then you add new arrivals in Pirri, Jimmy Vesey, Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner and Josh Jooris.

The list above includes 12 mostly-viable options and we haven’t even discussed the likes of Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast and fringe types such as Tanner Glass.

Throw in prospects such as Pavel Buchnevich and Marek Hrivik and … well, it sure becomes such a strength that things feel pretty crowded after some reflection.

Blueshirt Banter makes a strong case that something has to give; they believe that Pirri’s signing points to a possible trade. Maybe even a significant, multi-part one:

And this is where things get interesting. The Rangers are still floating around the Kevin Shattenkirk rumors, and the persistent Rick Nash speculation isn’t going anywhere, either.

It’s something that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman apparently pointed to.

Well, isn’t that interesting.

General Fanager puts the Rangers’ jam-packed roster about $1.4 million under the salary cap ceiling as of this moment.

With that in mind, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton probably isn’t in a desperate situation to move someone – whether it be a big name such as Nash or not – but New York might amass enough forward pieces to jar a quality defenseman loose

Even as is, the team sure looks more formidable now than it did entering the off-season. Forward depth was one of the strengths of the group that made it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final (recall useful supporting cast members including Benoit Pouliot), so maybe Alain Vigneault would really excel with another deep group?

Vacation-mode is just about over, so perhaps the Rangers have something interesting up their sleeves? It’s a reasonable question to ask.

Poll: Where will the Canadiens finish in the East this year?

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 17:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens watches play during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals  of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 17, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Senators 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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Expectations were high for the Montreal Canadiens going into last season.

In the first month of the 2015-16 season, it seemed like the high expectations were justified, as the Canadiens jumped out to a 9-0-0 start.

They continued their strong play through the month of November.

In November, the Canadiens lost both Carey Price (knee) and Brendan Gallagher (hand) to injury. The Price injury, in particular, really hurt the Canadiens.

Price was initially supposed to be out for 6-to-8 weeks, but he never ended up returning. Without him, the Canadiens just weren’t the same team.

“It’s been hard mentally,” Price said last April, per NHL.com. “This has been the most trying year of my career. I feel more tired now than I do when I play hockey,” Price said. “Watching, I don’t know how fans do it to be honest. It’s hard to sit and watch and not be able to do anything about it. It’s the hardest part about this process.

“I think I’ve learned a lot of things in the aspect of preparing myself for a long season. I’ve changed a few things like my diet plans and my preparation for practices. As you get older (Price turns 29 on Aug. 16), you have to do more things like that. And I think I can carry that into next year and it will be beneficial.”

Now, it sounds like Price is back to full health and that can only be a good thing for Montreal. With Price, it’ll be interesting to see if Montreal can find their winning ways.

Montreal also added Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw via trade. Both players figure to be important parts of the team in 2016-17.

How high do you expect the Canadiens to finish in the Eastern Conference standings? How do they stack up against the Panthers, Lightning, Red Wings, Bruins, Senators, Sabres and Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division?

Time to vote!