<span class="vcard">Cam Tucker</span>

It’s a ‘big step’ from junior to NHL, but Gretzky believes McDavid can handle it

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The anticipation for Connor McDavid’s first training camp with the Edmonton Oilers continues to grow, with The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, weighing in on the potential Next One and his upcoming transition from junior hockey to the NHL.

Big things are expected of McDavid, taken first overall in last month’s NHL Draft much to the surprise of no one after he completely dominated the Ontario Hockey League, especially this past season despite a broken hand suffered in a fight.

“Going right from junior to the NHL? That’s a big step for Connor. But he’s the one guy who can handle it,” Gretzky told the Edmonton Journal.

“He’ll be fine. With his speed and his shot and his creativity and his hockey knowledge, that’s as good as anybody.”

This isn’t the first time Gretzky has raved about McDavid.

Of course, this latest chapter comes shortly after McDavid lit up a recent Oilers scrimmage at prospect orientation camp, scoring five goals — and making it look easy, too.

Video: Canucks prospects put through the paces of blindfolded dodgeball

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Dodgeball can be crazy enough at times. Try playing it blindfolded.

That was the task for Vancouver Canucks prospects at the club’s recent development camp, as young players were partnered up and brought to the tennis courts for a fierce battle of blindfolded dodgeball. It has become an exercise assistant coach Perry Pearn has used for team-building and communication, dating back to Canucks training camp last September.

Bruins’ Neely: ‘I think we can be a playoff team’

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It’s been an eventful few months for the Boston Bruins, and that may be an understatement.

After missing the playoffs this past spring, the firing of Peter Chiarelli, the hiring of Don Sweeney as the new general manager and two major trades at the NHL Draft that saw Dougie Hamilton sent to Calgary and Milan Lucic to L.A., Bruins’ president Cam Neely apparently sees his team as one that could potentially make the post-season in 2016.

“There’s lots of parity in the East,” Neely told the Boston Herald. “It’s going to be tight, it’s going to be a challenge. I think we can be a playoff team. I don’t want to sound like that’s our only goal, just to be a playoff team. That’s not a very high goal. We’re past that.

“But I want to see us improve certainly from where we were last year. I think if guys can continue to improve — (David) Pastrnak, (Brett) Connolly, (Ryan) Spooner — I don’t see why we can’t have a very good year this year.”

Two years after appearing in the Stanley Cup Final — which was two years after Boston won the championship in 2011 — the Bruins missed out on the 2015 playoffs by two points while finishing 23rd in the league in scoring.

Their failure to qualify for the playoffs ushered in change, particularly in the front office. However, the club’s moves at the draft and in the days after brought instant and heavy criticism.

Based on Sweeney’s comments Friday, the Bruins could still go after available free agents prior to the start of the season.

“There are still players out there that may fit,” said Sweeney, as per NESN.com. “You have conversations with agents about possibilities. I think we’re comfortable with where we are in creating internal competition, but I’m not going to stop sort of asking in areas that we can continue to look at.”

Hamilton dons Flames jersey, thought he’d be a ‘Bruin for life’

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Dougie Hamilton spent three seasons with the Boston Bruins, but he apparently thought he’d be with that organization for a lot longer.

“I always thought I was going to be a Bruin for life, like you said, and always had that vision that I was only going to wear one jersey in the NHL,” said Hamilton, as per CSNNE.com.

“I’m really thankful to that organization for the opportunity I got my first few years and the development I got and everything, so it’s an organization … the fans are unbelievable and teammates and everything. It’s something I enjoyed a lot being there.”

Hamilton’s time with the Bruins came to an abrupt end at the NHL Draft, when the Bruins traded the 22-year-old talented defenseman to the Calgary Flames for three draft picks.

The Bruins had tried to re-sign Hamilton, who at the time of the trade was a pending restricted free agent. According to reports following the trade, Boston’s offer to Hamilton was six years at $33 million.

The Flames signed Hamilton to a six-year deal before the end of June.

Lightning re-sign 2011 first-round pick Namestnikov, depth d-man Witkowski

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The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed center Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Friday.

Namestnikov, 22, was selected by the Lightning 27th overall in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft. In 43 games with the Lightning this season, he emerged onto the scene by scoring nine goals and had 16 points, and also appeared in 12 post-season games as Tampa Bay made its run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Witkowski, 25, appeared in 16 games for the Lightning this season. He spent the majority of this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.