Dylan Larkin

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Gaudreau joins Eichel as latest additions to USA’s Worlds roster

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Another big score for USA Hockey on Friday.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau — whose season ended earlier Wednesday with a playoff sweep at the hands of Anaheim — told reporters today he’d be joining Team USA for the upcoming World Championships in Germany and France.

Gaudreau’s announcement comes just days after another big name — Buffalo’s Jack Eichelalso agreed to join the squad.

All this makes for a pretty intriguing roster.

USA Hockey has adopted a youth movement, selecting collegiate players like Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen (a Buffalo draftee), Boston University forward Jordan Greenway (a Minnesota draftee), Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork (a Boston draftee) and Daniel Brickley, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State-Mankato.

In addition to those, some quality NHL youngsters are also in the mix: Noah Hanifin, J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp and a pair of prized Arizona prospects — Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. Detroit sophomore Dylan Larkin will also suit up for the Americans.

The 2017 Worlds get underway on May 5.

 

 

Red Wings likely to keep ’15 top pick Svechnikov in AHL all season

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No team in the NHL is more patient (or slow, if you prefer that word choice) with their prospects than the Detroit Red Wings, making sure they get more than enough time to develop in the American Hockey League before they get thrown into the the NHL for what is usually a contending team.

With the team on its way to its first non-playoff season in 25 years, it seems like this might be a good time to maybe get a look at what some of their kids, including 2015 first-round draft pick Evgeny Svechnikov, can do down the stretch. But it’s not likely to happen, especially after 30-year-old Ben Street was recalled ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens instead of one of the team’s younger prospects.

Coach Jeff Blashill talked about the decision to not go with a younger player, via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.

“The one thing with the younger prospects is, this is a situation where a guy may or may not play,” Blashill said. “And you sure don’t want a guy’s first NHL game and potentially fly parents in and then they don’t play. So that’s one thing we are very cognizant of.

“Two, probably just as importantly, with younger prospects, and I have been in this situation, lots of times they are way better off just continuing to focus on playing down there and developing rather than the roller coaster ride of up and down and up and down. So that is something we stay very cognizant of.”

Blashill also added that having success in Grand Rapids and potentially a playoff run down there is something the organization values. Clearly.

Svechnikov is playing in his first year of pro hockey in North America and has had a pretty successful year for the Griffins, scoring 17 goals to go with 23 assists in 62 games while showing consistent improvement over the course of the season. But it’s probably not going to get him a look in the NHL this season.

This, of course, is nothing new for the Red Wings because other than Dylan Larkin who made last year’s roster as a teenager, the organization has consistently kept their top prospects in the minors for as long as possible. Anthony Mantha got his first real look with the team this season at the age of 22 after spending two full seasons in the AHL. Gustav Nyquist didn’t become a regular in their lineup until he was 24 even though he had been a dominant scorer in the AHL, averaging more than a point per game over several seasons.

On one hand, the Red Wings have been pretty good when it comes to player development over the years, and given their usual status as a playoff team and contender developing prospects at the NHL level was never a top priority. And there is also something to be said for not rushing a prospect and burning a year of an entry level contract before you have to. But given how valuable young, cheap talent is in a salary cap league, and how many teams are getting impactful performances from those types of players, there is also something to be said for being a little more aggressive when it comes to calling up younger players and getting them a taste of the NHL.

It’s going to be a very different draft for the Red Wings

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If the Detroit Red Wings finally miss the playoffs this year — and it’s a near certainty they will — their general manager, Ken Holland, will work hard this summer to make sure it doesn’t become a habit.

“We don’t want to miss two years in a row,” Holland told TSN today.

That being said, the GM is excited he’ll be going to the draft with so many selections. In the past few days, the Wings have acquired three third-round picks by selling off Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Jurco.

“Somebody told me it’s the most picks we’ve had in a draft since 2002,” said Holland. “Usually we go into these drafts with five or six picks, (because) we’ve traded picks away.”

The Wings may also draft in the top 10 for the first time since — amazingly — 1991. That was the year they took Martin Lapointe, who’s long since retired.

In spite of the losing season, Holland has been encouraged by a number of youngsters who’ve taken steps in their development, referencing Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Petr Mrazek, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Evgeny Svechnikov.

The GM didn’t have to mention Dylan Larkin, who’s still only 20. Larkin’s endured a tough sophomore season, but still has great promise.

The key for the Wings will be to add more and more young talent — especially down the middle and on the back end, which was once a great strength but is now a significant weakness.

“These moves that we made for these draft picks will allow us to pick more players,” said Holland, “and hopefully some of them will end up as Red Wings down the road.”

Related: Don’t expect a full-scale rebuild in Detroit

NBC and NBCSN have you covered for Hockey Day in America

With two games on NBC and then two more on NBCSN, your Sunday should be jam-packed with Hockey Day in America action. A look at the hockey hotbed of Warroad, Minnesota adds a delectable cherry on top, too.

If you need a guide to this party of pucks and patriotism, look no further than this post.

Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC

John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and the dominant Capitals take on Ryan McDonagh and the Blueshirts. The Metropolitan Division represents some of the NHL’s upper crust, so don’t be fooled by the Rangers being the first wild card while the Caps are tops in the East; both of these teams can go. Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher will be there to call the action.

MORE: For Oshie, ties to Warroad run deep

Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk will be in the booth for this battle between teams that met in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final series in 2008 and 2009. Along with usual suspects like Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg, these teams feature American scorers such as Dylan Larkin and, of course, Phil Kessel.

Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres, 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The action shifts to NBCSN as Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks hope to teach Jack Eichel and the upstart Sabres a lesson or two. The Blackhawks are in playoff position, as usual, while Buffalo is rallying to try to make a push of its own. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will be your guides.

MORE: Islanders forward Brock Nelson’s journey from Warroad to the NHL

Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Hockey Day in America’s coverage closes off with this matchup between David Backes‘ Bruins and Joe Pavelski‘s Sharks. Randy Hahn, Andy Brickley and Bret Hedican will take you through this match between the Pacific Division’s top team and a Bruins team fighting to stick in the East playoff picture.

Atlantic Division claims Skills Competition, will face Metropolitan Division in ASG

The Atlantic Division won the deciding Shootout event, and won the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday.

As a result, they have decided to face the Metropolitan Division in the second three-on-three game for tomorrow’s NHL All-Star Game in L.A. The Atlantic took the shootout — and the final score — 4-1 over the Pacific Division, which got its lone goal from Ryan Kesler‘s young son, Ryker Kesler, who went five-hole on Carey Price.

Connor McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers star, fell just short of beating Dylan Larkin‘s record of 13.172 seconds in the Fastest Skater competition, which would’ve given the Pacific an additional bonus point from that event.

Shea Weber also had a share in the Atlantic Division win. His slap shot of 102.8 miles per hour, while not matching his attempts of 108.1 mph and 108.5 mph from the previous two ASG skills competitions, was good enough to best the competition once again.

Weber takes the Hardest Shot title for a third consecutive year.

Brent Burns and goalie Mike Smith — yes, you read that last part correctly — put on a show in the newly introduced Four Line Challenge.

Burns picked the top corner from center ice and Smith, one of the better puck-playing goalies in the league, delighted the crowd by scoring into a small slot in the middle of the net on his shot from the far end of the rink.