Ryan Dadoun

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Bill Peters would be ‘shocked’ if Aho can’t make Hurricanes

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The Carolina Hurricanes had three rookies play significant roles on their blueline in 2015-16. Next season it could be a forward that becomes the face of the team’s youth movement.

Sebastian Aho is projected to make the transition from the Finnish league to North America and while he’s still just 18 years old (19 on July 26), an AHL stint might not be necessary. After all he scored 20 goals and 45 points in 45 games with Karpat in 2015-16 and then Aho made a strong impression in the World Championship while he was representing Finland and Hurricanes coach Bill Peters was behind the bench with Canada.

“Sebastian was outstanding in the semifinal against Russia … and he was dangerous against us, too,” Peters told The News & Observer. “You’re definitely aware of him when he’s on the ice. I’d be shocked if he comes in and can’t make our hockey team. He’s done it at every level.”

The Hurricanes finished near the bottom of the league in goals scored last season and Aho could be part of the solution there. Before that happens though, Aho will get some extra experience playing against NHL talent in the 2016 World Cup as he was recently added to Finland’s roster.

UFA of the Day: Eric Staal

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Eric Staal

There’s no potential UFA that’s coming off a contract with a bigger cap hit than Staal’s, but in recent years he hasn’t produced to the level you would expect from someone armed with a seven-year, $57.75 million deal.

Perhaps that’s part of what led the Carolina Hurricanes to part ways with their long-time captain by trading him to the New York Rangers on Feb. 28 in exchange for Aleksi Saarela and a pair of second-round picks. Under better circumstances, maybe Carolina would have worked out an extension with Staal before that happened.

Regardless, while he saw the trade to the Rangers as “an opportunity I needed to take,” the end result wasn’t good for him. He went from recording 33 points in 63 games with Carolina to just three goals and six points in 20 contests with the Rangers. In the playoffs, Staal had no points and a minus-seven rating.

At the same time, he wasn’t getting the big minutes with the Rangers that he was accustomed to in Carolina and that appears to be something he wants to get back to with whatever team he ends up with in 2016-17.

“I came here to fit and try to find a role that would be effective for this team,” Staal told The Record back in April. “Obviously you always want a lot more as a player. It would have been nice to see what I could have done with different chances but there were good players in good spots that we’re doing well and they had the year they had with certain players.”

Going forward he’s an interesting case given his long history of success that needs to be weighed against his offensive decline over the past few years. Is he worth the risk of another big contract at the age of 31 (32 on Oct. 29)? Would it be better for all involved if he signs a one-year deal in the hope of bouncing back and securing a better deal next summer?

As far as potential destinations go, Eric Staal might fit in with the Nashville Predators, which could use him to solidify their second-line center situation over Mike Ribeiro or Mike Fisher, especially after Ribeiro was scratched for Games 3 and 4 of their second round series against San Jose.

It’s also possible that he’ll end up back in Carolina. He did praise the Hurricanes for “doing the right thing with the young players” and his brother, Jordan Staal, is still inked through 2019-20. Plus if Staal still wants big minutes, then going back to the Hurricanes might be his best bet.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

Report: Semin will stay in KHL for 2016-17

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It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.

Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.

At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.

After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.

He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.

PHT Morning Skate: Predicting the 2016 Stanley Cup Final

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Among the 21 NHL.com and NHL Network experts offering their prediction for the Stanley Cup Final, 17 of them are choosing the San Jose Sharks. (NHL.com)

The majority of ESPN’s experts are also picking the Sharks. (ESPN.com)

For CBS Sports, Adam Gretz and Chris Peters are split on the outcome. (CBS Sports)

Tickets for the first Stanley Cup Final in San Jose appear to be going for significantly more than their Pittsburgh Penguins counterparts. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Inspired by John Scott‘s comments, here’s the start of a World Cup All-Snubs’ team. (TSN)

Peter DeBoer said that then New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fired him from the Devils’ head coaching job late at night on Christmas. The news then broke on Dec. 26. (Tom Gulitti)

Matthews headlines additions to Team North America

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Can youth and talent win out over experience? Team North America, which is compromised exclusively of Canadian and American players born on or after Oct. 2, 1992, will attempt to do just that.

While you can debate the merit of having a young guns team in the World Cup, for many people there is something interesting about seeing the likes of Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Johnny Gaudreau team up to face the world’s best players. With today’s additions, the projected No. 1 pick for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Auston Matthews, will be joining the squad too.

On defense, Shayne Gostisbehere has been added to the mix after his superb rookie campaign with the Philadelphia Flyers. Another standout from the 2016 rookie class, Colton Parayko, will join him on the blueline.

North America’s already interesting collections of forwards added even more intrigue today. In addition to the aforementioned Matthews, Jonathan Drouin is now on the roster. That illustrates just how quickly the perception of Drouin has changed as earlier this year he was demanding a trade out of Tampa Bay and was even at one time suspended in the AHL for refusing to play. However he ended up being a big part of the reason the Lightning made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final without Steven Stamkos.

The squad also added another first overall pick in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While he hasn’t emerged as a superstar in the same vein as some other No. 1 picks, he’s a useful addition to this deep core of forwards.

At the beginning of the year, North America’s goaltending looked like a potential weakness, but this team might even hold up in that department. After all, if Matt Murray is good enough to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final, then there’s a chance he’ll be able to hold his own in the World Cup as well. And if not, John Gibson is coming off of a pretty good season himself.

Here’s the full roster for Team North America:

G John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
G Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

D Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
D Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers *
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues *
D Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
D Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets *

F Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
F Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay *
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Auston Matthews, Zurich (Swiss) *
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F J.T. Miller, New York Rangers
F Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers *
F Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets
F Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets *

* named to roster today

One player that stands out for his exclusion is Max Domi. He’s coming off of a strong rookie campaign where he scored 18 goals and 52 points in 81 contests with the Arizona Coyotes. His talented teammate Anthony Duclair also failed to make the cut. It’s also somewhat surprising to see Calgary’s Dougie Hamilton and Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau not make the team. You could easily include Alex Galchenyuk in the list of snubs too given that he’s coming off of a 30-goal campaign.