2014 NHL Draft

Islanders sign first-rounder Ho-Sang

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The New York Islanders signed 2014 first-rounder (28th overall) Joshua Ho-Sang to an entry-level deal on Saturday, bringing him a step closer to backing up his pretty bold words.

Heading into the draft, the 18-year-old claimed that he possesses “No.1 overall talent.” His willingness to be bluntly confident earned him the title of “most controversial player” of the 2014 NHL Draft and the Isles clearly were excited to see him try to make good on such proclamations, sending the 35th and 57th choices to Tampa Bay to grab him with that 28th pick.

(Then again, GM Garth Snow isn’t shy about dangling an entire draft board to try to grab a player, so maybe take that with a grain of salt?)

For all the polarizing bluster, he did lead the Windsor Spitfires with 85 points in 67 games and tied for 17th overall in OHL scoring, so there was some substance to go with that sizzle.

It should be awfully interesting to see what Ho-Sang can accomplish whenever he manages to star burning those entry-level years.

Penguins coach says Kapanen could crack opening night lineup

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We’re not that far from the beginning of the 2014-15 season, and it doesn’t appear that the Pittsburgh Penguins are any less impressed with 2014 first-rounder Kasperi Kapanen.

New head coach Mike Johnston said that the 22nd pick of this year’s draft has a solid chance of playing in the team’s season opener on Oct. 9. The original plan was for the 18-year-old to skate with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis against the Columbus Blue Jackets today, but that didn’t work out for reasons beyond Kapanen’s control.

That didn’t stop Kapanen from finding the net against Columbus, as you can see in these full highlights:

The team’s shown a pattern of being quite excited about the skilled son of former NHL forward Sami Kapanen.

Days after he fell to them in the first round, the Penguins professed a belief that he might make the team right away. Bill Guerin provided rave reviews about his skill after seeing him early on, too.

The real testament will be if the Penguins believe that he’s ready for a full season of work. Pittsburgh can trot him out for up to nine regular season contests before “burning” the first year of his entry-level contract. They haven’t been shy about doing that in the past; Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal made immediate leaps while Evgeni Malkin and Olli Maatta were key players one season removed from their draft years.

With Beau Bennett out for about six weeks, it makes that much more sense for Kapanen to get an extended look. Perhaps he’ll play so well that they won’t be able to resist keeping him around?

Report: Coyotes assess first-rounder Perlini’s broken hand

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The Arizona Coyotes are already licking their wounds as training camp is barely under way, but perhaps the biggest concern revolves around 2014 first-rounder Brendan Perlini.

Perlini, 18, is apparently suffering from a broken right hand, AZ Central’s Sarah McLellan reports. Coyotes GM Don Maloney told McLellan that the 12th overall pick of this past draft is sticking around with the team for a few extra days to determine the severity of his issues.

McLellan reports that there is no timetable yet regarding his recovering, as the team is still unsure if surgery will be necessary.

It’s not clear how, exactly, he broke his hand but it sounds like it happened during Coyotes activities (perhaps prospects camp?). Either way, it’s an unfortunate setback whether he had a chance of getting a cup of coffee with the big club or not in 2014-15.

Perlini scored 34 goals and 71 points in 58 games for the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs last season.

For more on injuries from around the league (including more bumps and bruises for Arizona) at this early point, click here.

Flames dodge bullets with ugly hit on Gaudreau, minor issues for Bennett

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It’s easy to dismiss preseason games and especially prospect tournaments as irrelevant venues of competition, but they’re worth noting for at least two reasons: 1) players getting opportunities and 2) possible injuries. The Calgary Flames got two scares in that second category in their prospects exhibition against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

The biggest concern revolves around promising scorer Johnny Gaudreau’s condition following this ugly hit by Frank Corrado (video via Jason Gold):

PHT’s own Cam Tucker reports that Corrado, 21, received a major penalty (possibly for elbowing) and was ejected for that check. Jason Gold compares that hit to one Kyle McLaren delivered on Richard Zednik.

Whatever the league may or may not decide to do about that check, the early word regarding Gaudreau (pictured) seems positive:

That brings us to the other scare for Calgary tonight: first-round pick Sam Bennett was held out after he seemed to suffer a minor groin injury. The good news is that the fourth overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft doesn’t even think this issue will linger into training camp:

Bennett, 18, and Gaudreau, 21, inspire some serious excitement from observers so it’s heartening to hear that they likely dodged bullets.

Naturally, if anything changes for either prospect, PHT will make note.

Oilers’ prospect Draisaitl concerned after cramping up in prospects game

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There were anxious moments for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans Friday in Penticton, B.C., when Leon Draisaitl, the club’s third overall pick in June’s draft, appeared to suffer a leg injury.

It happened in the third period of a Young Stars Tournament game between the Oilers prospects and Vancouver Canucks prospects.

Draisaitl appeared to injure his right leg on a hit involving Canucks’ 2012 first-round pick Brendan Gaunce. Draisaitl immediately began favoring the leg, was tended to on the bench by members of Edmonton’s training staff and missed a few shifts in the third period.

Following the game, a 4-3 overtime win for the Oilers’ group of rookies, Draisaitl called his ailment a cramp, according to the Oilers Twitter account.

“I don’t really know exactly what it was to be honest. Every time I hit someone, I just totally froze up. My leg … I couldn’t even bend my legs,” said Draisaitl told a couple of reporters Saturday morning.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what it was.”

He did ultimately finish the game, although it didn’t seem to make sense as to why a high-end prospect clearly not at full capacity at the time was still playing. It’s September. This isn’t a Game 7 situation in a playoff series.

The positive: Draisaitl took the morning skate on Saturday. But he won’t play later in the evening, when the Oilers prospects take on the Calgary Flames prospects. It’s the Battle of Alberta…in British Columbia!

Draisaitl admitted, however, he is concerned over the pain he experienced Friday.

“I totally was. I still am. I felt good out there but still I could feel it. I’m still really tight in my muscles,” said Draisaitl, who signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers in August.

“It’s definitely not something I don’t have to worry about.”

Last month, a report surfaced that if Draisaitl doesn’t make the Oilers, he could be sent to Europe to play over there, rather than go back to Prince Albert and the WHL.

It sounds like the Oilers very much intend to give Draisaitl a strong look at perhaps earning a roster spot in training camp.

“I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make a strong case,” Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said last month.

“Fortunately we don’t have to make that decision right now. I, in my mind, think that he’s going to make a very strong case. I’ve seen him play. He’s going to make a strong case.”