travis-boyd

Senior Travis Boyd leads Minnesota to the NCAA Tournament (Photo: Brian Ekart)

With all six conference tournaments ending last Sunday, the field for the NCAA Tournament is set. This weekend, the top sixteen teams are divided in four single-elimination regional tournaments whose winners will face each in Frozen Four semifinals in Boston on April 9. The championship game will be played on April 11.

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nikita-soshnikov

Photo: Atlant-MO.ru

A few days after the Toronto Maple Leafs announced the signing of one of the KHL’s top young players Nikita Soshnikov from the Atlant Moscow Region, some interesting details about the move have come up.

Via Maple Leafs Hot Stove, here’s what Leafs’ Director of player personnel Mark Hunter had to say about the move.

We got a lead from Evgeny Namestnikov, who we hired as a scout for us over in Russia. He said come over to watch this young man who he liked a lot, who he coached.

The Maple Leafs hired Namestnikov, a former NHL player and father of current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vlad, to scout for them while working as an assistant coach for Soshnikov’s Atlant. This went mostly unnoticed in North America, but Russia’s top hockey reporter Alexei Shevchenko, after confirming Namestnikov’s double affiliation, referred to situation as “awkward.”

I think what the Leafs did was an unfair practice and requires an NHL investigation regarding its legality and possibly prohibiting it in the future.

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christian-djoos

Photo: Ola Westerberg / Bildbyran

Defenseman Christian Djoos, drafted by the Capitals in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, is set to join the Hershey Bears. Djoos’ SHL season ended as Brynas was swept by regular-season champs Skelleftea.

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No, The NHL Draft Doesn’t Need to be Fixed

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This year, several NHL teams including the Capitals’ opponent tonight, Buffalo, have been awful. Two potential superstars will be avaliable at this year’s draft: Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Fans of those teams want to lose.

On Monday, Kevin McGran of the Toronto Sun wrote about this phenomenon and published an article titled “With lottery teams tanking for Connor McDavid, it’s time NHL rethinks draft.” In the article, McGran states that since teams are tanking for Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel that indicates the NHL draft system needs fixing.

Does it though? And are these teams really tanking? Let me address a few key points of his article.

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jakub-vrana

Photo: Josefine Loftenius / Bildbyran

Washington Capitals’ first-round pick Jakub Vrana scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner, as his Linkoping defeated HV71 in their first game of the SHL playoffs, 3-2. Vrana, who had problems finding the net late in the regular season with just three points in eleven games since the beginning of February, had his first career multi-point postseason game as a pro.

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zach-sanford

Photo: Boston College

Caps prospect Zach Sanford scored twice in ninth-ranked Boston College’s 4-2 victory over 17th-ranked University of Vermont in their first game of the Hockey East playoffs.

Follow under the jump to see both of Sanford’s tallies, including one that could very well be goal of the year among Caps prospects.

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tyler-lewington

Lewington is #5 in black. (Photo: Marissa Baecker)

Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals announced the signing of Tyler Lewington to an entry-level contract, which will kick in during the 2015-16 season.

Lewington first came to prominence when he dominated several strength categories at the 2013 NHL Draft Combine. Despite that, he fell to the seventh round of the draft, where the Caps snagged him 204th overall.

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Jussi Jokinen, Marcus Johansson,Troy Brouwer

Photo: AP

With just a few days left before a trade deadline, managers around the NHL are comparing their teams to the rest of the league and looking for the pieces needed for a playoff run. With the new playoff format, it’s especially important to overmatch the division rivals you are likely to face early in the postseason.

The Caps, despite sitting just fourth in the Metropolitan division, keep up with the teams above them in most statistical categories. But there is one area in which they are struggling: the second line.

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Washington DC yesterday. While he was in town, he took in the Caps-Pens rivalry game from the owner’s box at Verizon Center. Bettman also held court with the local media.

When asked about the growth of hockey in the DC Area over the last decade, Bettman marveled at the job both Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis have done. Seconded.

“It’s the Ovechkin era and there’s an era that’s a little bit longer than that one and I would call that the [Ted] Leonsis era,” Bettman said beaming. “I think Ted’s ownership of this franchise has been nothing short of phenomenal in terms of how the community has been engaged and in terms of how fans have connected with and interacted with this franchise; the stability of ownership and management has been very important.”

Then it got weird. Bettman credited (I think) definitely-not-Washington Capital Evgeni Malkin.

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ovechkin-tikhonov

Photo: Getty Images

SKA St. Petersburg’s forwards Artemy Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov intend to come over to North America this summer, as reported by Mikahil Zislis and Konstantin Nuzhdenov of the national news agency TASS. Tikhonov’s versatility and proven chemistry with Caps’ captain Alex Ovechkin should immediately put him on Washington’s radar. Panarin oozes offensive talent and has high-reward potential for any NHL team.

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