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Getting sent to junior made Blue Jackets prospect Dubois a ‘more mature’ player

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Pierre-Luc Dubois is back with the Canadian contingent at the World Junior Summer Showcase. In September, he’ll try to take the next steps toward making the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Selected third overall by the Blue Jackets in 2016, Dubois can play center or the wing, bringing great size at 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds, and skill up front. He didn’t make Columbus last season out of training camp, but was instead sent back to junior where he played for Cape Breton in the QMJHL before getting traded to Blainville-Boisbriand.

His overall production dropped from the 42 goals and 99 points he registered in his draft year to 21 goals and 55 points split with those two junior clubs.

“If I made Columbus [in 2016-17] it wouldn’t have been a bad decision, but I don’t think getting cut was a bad decision either,” Dubois told NHL.com. “I think it all comes down to what I did after I got cut, and I think I did all the right things to learn from it and become a more mature player.”

The Blue Jackets are hoping so. It’s already been noted in the Columbus Dispatch that Dubois, who just turned 19 years old in June, isn’t eligible for the American Hockey League next season, which means he either makes the NHL squad or faces another year in the QMJHL.

The Blue Jackets have a group of young players like Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Boone Jenner and Alexander Wennberg, stacked with talent. They took a big step last season, making the playoffs and setting franchise records for wins and points, before getting eliminated in the first round.

There has been talk dating back to June and the expansion draft that Dubois could challenge to make the Blue Jackets in a bottom-six role next season, according to Aaron Portzline last month.

“Pierre-Luc can not only make our team this coming season,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch at the time. “He can make our team better.”

Devils’ Hischier back to work after ‘living the life’ of a first overall pick

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) At the end of the second of three practice sessions Friday at the New Jersey Devils’ development camp, top overall pick Nico Hischier, was on his hands and knees, scooping up pucks, just like everyone else.

The novelty of being the No. 1 draft pick is rapidly wearing off for Hischier, thanks to the three-day developmental camp at the Barnabas Health Hockey House, the Devils’ practice facility next to the Prudential Center.

“Right after the draft, I was living the life a little,” said the 18-year-old Swiss player who had 38 goals and 48 assists last season for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. “I was doing all these fun things, like going to a baseball game and a soccer game. I was in Times Square and was on television. But now, I’m here and I’m working hard on the ice.”

Hischier doesn’t want special treatment.

“I don’t want to be known as the guy who didn’t pick the pucks up,” Hischier said. “I’m still one of the younger guys here. I want to fit in. I’m going to focus on that.”

Hischier went through the hour-long instructional drill session with ease. He was wearing No. 33 on with other players donning obscure sweater numbers like 59, 67 and 78. He was just one of the guys, doing the intense stick handling and skating drills.

“I’m taking it all step by step,” Hischier said. “It’s only been a couple of days on the ice. I was able to meet the (coaching) staff and the players. But I’m just another player here. My practice skill set has to get better.”

Hischier said that his first line of importance was getting more comfortable with being property of the New Jersey Devils – even though he has yet to sign his rookie contract.

“It’s getting better and better every day,” Hischier said. “I’m going to take as much as I can out of this camp, because I’m still learning and I’m trying to improve my game.”

The Devils’ coaching staff has already been impressed with the teenager.

“One of the things that we really liked about him when we did our research was his passion for the game,” coach John Hynes said. “He trains hard and is a very good teammate. It’s what we were looking for with the first pick.”

But Hynes would not go as far as to consider Hischier a lock to be on the Opening Day roster come October.

“It’s still too early to judge that,” Hynes said. “I would say at this point that he has the skill level and the ability to play. But there’s still time before our training camp. He has some work to do, but we’re going to give him an opportunity to win a job.”

Kings bring back Cammalleri, sign Folin and Petersen

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What’s old is new again in Los Angeles.

Per TSN, the Kings have signed former Devils forward Mike Cammalleri, who was drafted by the club in 2001 and spent the first six years of his career in Hollywood. Among Cammalleri’s old teammates is the Kings’ new GM, Rob Blake.

Earlier this week, New Jersey bought out the remainder of Cammalleri’s five-year, $25 million deal. The decision came after the 35-year-old scored 10 goals and 31 points in 61 games.

Cammalleri’s deal in L.A. is for $1 million, with performance bonuses.

That wasn’t the only deal Blake orchestrated today. He shored up the club’s blueline by inking former Wild d-man Christian Folin to a one-year, $850,000 deal. Folin, 26, appeared in 51 games for Minnesota last season.

The Kings also made their acquisition of Notre Dame goalie prospect Cal Petersen official.

Petersen, 22, is coming off a great junior year for the Fighting Irish. He went 23-12-5 with a .926 save percentage and 2.22 GAA, helping the club advance to the Frozen Four. Petersen was also named a finalist for this year’s Mike Richter Award, given annually to college hockey’s top goalie.

He was originally drafted by Buffalo in 2012, but opted against signing for the Sabres.

Report: Sens tried to get Methot back from Vegas

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The Ottawa Senators did their best to make sure they didn’t lose Marc Methot in the expansion draft.

They attempted to get Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move clause so they could keep Methot, but that didn’t work out.

On Monday, TSN hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun reported that the Golden Knights and Senators had been talking about a potential trade back to Ottawa.

In the end, Vegas GM George McPhee preferred to ship him to Dallas for 2017 seventh-rounder Dylan Ferguson and a second-round pick in 2020.

According to beat reporter Bruce Garrioch, Vegas’ asking price to allow the Sens to protect Methot before expansion was a 2018 first-round pick.

Methot has averaged at least 19:49 of ice time during his five seasons in Ottawa.

In the end, all this means is that the Senators will need to find someone else to play on the top pairing with Erik Karlsson next season.

During training camp, Ottawa put top prospect Thomas Chabot with Karlsson. They opted to send Chabot back to junior, but that could be an interesting combination if they think he’s ready to be a regular in the NHL.

Motzko to defend gold as U.S. World Juniors coach

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That was the message from USA Hockey on Friday, in announcing that Bob Motzko would return as head coach of the U.S. World Junior team in 2018.

Motzko, the head coach at St. Cloud State, comes back for another kick at the can after winning it all last year, capping things off with a thrilling shootout victory over Canada in the gold medal final.

It was the United States’ first tournament win in four years.

“It’s terrific to have this staff return with Bob at the helm,” USA Hockey’s Jim Johannson said, in a release. “We’re looking forward to having the tournament on our home soil and it will be a real benefit to have an experienced coaching staff lead us in our quest to repeat last year’s gold-medal performance.”

Behind the bench, Motzko will be joined by the entire 2017 U.S. coaching staff in assistant coaches Greg Brown, Grant Potulny, Kris Mayotte and Steve Miller.

The ’18 Juniors begin on Dec. 26 in Buffalo, NY. This year’s tournament will be extra special, as the U.S. and Canada will play an outdoor game on Dec. 29 from New Era Field.