Draisaitl believes Oilers are too good to miss playoffs this season

Leon Draisaitl doesn't think the Edmonton Oilers are going to replicate last season's subpar result.

"I think we're too good of a team where we're not at least competing in the playoffs or not in the race," the Oilers forward told NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger on Thursday. "And even if we are, that's probably not good enough. We want to make the playoffs and I think we have the team to do it. Now it's up to the players to show it."

The Oilers finished with the NHL's ninth-worst record in 2017-18 after qualifying for the postseason for the first time in 11 years and advancing to the second round in the prior campaign.

Edmonton won only 36 games last season, but Draisaitl appears motivated to ensure the club gets back in the playoff hunt.

"We, as players, need to take ownership and be the best team we can be," he said. "I think that last year we weren't the team that we are, or that we want to be. Seasons like that happen, but we have to make sure it doesn't happen again."

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Rangers to see if a new captain will emerge this season

The New York Rangers are in no rush to name a new leader.

After dealing Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning at last year's trade deadline, the Rangers finished the 2017-18 campaign without a captain.

Yet the historic franchise is ready to wait to name a new leader until someone distinguishes himself from the rest of the pack, according to new head coach David Quinn.

"We've talked about it as an organization. I think a captain emerges," Quinn told NHL.com's Dan Rosen. "You don't want to put a burden on somebody that isn't ready for it. So I think that will just happen one way or the other.

"It either will happen that someone will emerge and separate themselves as someone who is clearly going to be the captain, or it won't happen. I think that will take care of itself."

McDonagh had worn the "C" since the start of the 2014-15 season, assuming the vacancy from departed captain Ryan Callahan.

Forwards Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, and defenseman Marc Staal were alternate captains with the Rangers last season, and all three could be candidates to take on the top duty this year.

The Rangers have had 27 captains in the team's history, including two stints by Mark Messier, who wore the "C" from 1991 to 1997, and again from 2000 to 2004.

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Panel: Who should go 2nd overall in fantasy hockey drafts?

Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid is a near lock to be chosen first overall in fantasy hockey leagues with standard scoring. After him, though, it gets interesting. With the second overall pick, there are many ways fantasy owners could go.

To assist owners picking in the No. 2 slot, theScore's Josh Wegman, Esten McLaren, and Sean O'Leary make their case for who they believe should be chosen after McDavid.

Wegman: Nikita Kucherov

Nikita Kucherov was the only player in the NHL last season to finish top 10 in goals, assists, shots on goal, and power-play points. That's four of the six standard fantasy categories where he dominated. He recorded a plus-15 rating and 42 penalty minutes as well.

With the Lightning once again projected to be an offensive juggernaut, the likelihood of Kucherov repeating his career-best 100-point season is high.

What separates Kucherov from other contenders is his position. Center is by far the deepest position in fantasy, so drafting a right-winger in Kucherov will allow you to wait on centers, thus building a deeper team.

O'Leary: Sidney Crosby

For the first time since 2015, Crosby and the Penguins didn't play deep into the heart of June. The extra rest should do wonders for No. 87 as he looks to improve on his 89-point campaign from 2017-18.

One season after claiming the Rocket Richard Trophy with 44 tallies, Crosby regressed to 29 goals this past season, despite directing only eight fewer shots on net. Sid's shooting percentage was just 11.7 last year. He should be expected to bounce back to his career average of 14.5 in 2018-19.

Crosby also holds extra value for his role as a distributor on Pittsburgh's deadly power play - which ranked first in the NHL with a 26.2 percent success rate in 2017-18. He ranked third in the league with 38 power-play points and if he's sharing a top unit with Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, and Kris Letang again, the sky's the limit for Crosby's production on the man advantage.

McLaren: Steven Stamkos

A fully healthy Steven Stamkos scored 27 goals in 2017-18. His shooting percentage of 12.7 ranked 165th in the league and was well below his career average of 16.7 percent. He set career highs in assists and plus-minus while nearing his personal-best mark in penalty minutes and chipping in 33 power-play points - the third-best total of his career.

He was one of just three players in the league with more than 70 penalty minutes to also have at least 27 goals and more than 60 points, making him one of the top targets for addressing a largely foregone category.

Stamkos shot the puck less but also finished with a career-high 59 assists. He also saw a slight reduction to his time on ice per game after being limited to just 17 contests the previous season. He certainly has the supporting cast to help him achieve his first 100-point campaign and produce 50 goals for the third time in his career.

Though Stamkos was limited to center eligibility last season, he has been granted dual status as a right wing in the past. An injury to the team's thinner wing group could again force Stamkos to the outside, further elevating his fantasy value.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

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Report: Berard sues NHL over brain injuries

Yet another player is taking legal action against the NHL over head injuries.

Former defenseman Bryan Berard is suing the league, claiming that it failed to protect him from repetitive brain injuries throughout his career, and that he now has serious medical problems as a result, according to TMZ.

The first overall pick in 1995 said the NHL has a responsibility to "cease (its) patent glorification of, and profiting from, fist-fighting and violence in the league."

Berard, who claims to have suffered at least five concussions, added that the NHL needs to not only care about the former players "on whose backs and brains (it) reaped billions of dollars," but also that it must prioritize long-term safety over profit.

Several other former players, including Garth Butcher, Ian Turnbull, Mark Hardy, and John Cullen, have filed similar suits against the league, according to TMZ.

More than 100 former players are part of an ongoing concussion lawsuit against the NHL for which a federal judge recently denied class-action status. Had that been permitted, more than 5,000 former players would've been allowed to join the case.

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Ellis says he took less to allow Predators to keep core together

Ryan Ellis had more than just his own interests in mind when he agreed to an eight-year, $50-million contract extension earlier this week.

"I'm getting paid more than enough to play hockey," the Nashville Predators defenseman told reporters Thursday. "It was just about coming across a fair deal that would work for both sides. We have other guys that need to be re-upped and need to be signed in the future, and I had to do my part to keep this thing going in the right direction."

Ellis is entering the final season of the five-year, $12.5-million pact he inked with the club in 2014, which carries a cap hit of $2.5 million. His new cap hit will be $6.25 million beginning in 2019-20.

He likely could've commanded more money had he chosen to enter free agency next summer, but he felt giving the Predators a little cap flexibility would help them remain Stanley Cup contenders for years to come.

"If we can keep everyone here and keep the core together, I think we can compete for a Stanley Cup for the next 10 years, at least," Ellis said. "That's bold to say, but I think we believe a lot in the people that we have in our room … and I just really wanted to be a part of it."

Nashville has about $7.6 million in cap space with no remaining free agents. However, franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne has one year left before hitting unrestricted free agency, talented defenseman Roman Josi has two years remaining on his deal, and gifted young forward Kevin Fiala is one year away from restricted free agency.

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Nylander feeling no extra pressure to sign with Leafs after Larkin’s deal

William Nylander says he doesn't feel there's any heightened need to get a contract done with the Toronto Maple Leafs following Dylan Larkin's new long-term pact with the Detroit Red Wings.

"Now that contract negotiations have started you're more aware of what's going on with things like that," Nylander told NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger on Thursday. "Right now, once something like that happens, you're more updated on what's going on around the league, more educated. But once you sign, I don't think you pay attention to that.

"There is no extra pressure or urgency to get something done just because guys like (Larkin) sign."

Nylander is a restricted free agent without a contract entering the upcoming season.

It's not unreasonable to compare the 22-year-old Maple Leafs forward's situation to that of Larkin, who was an RFA himself before inking a five-year, $30.5-million deal with the Red Wings last Friday. Larkin is also 22, and he produced 63 points while Nylander posted 61 last season.

However, Nylander doesn't appear concerned with Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas' approach to his negotiations.

"I've said all along that Kyle wanted to take things slow and I'm fine with that," Nylander said. "They're going back and forth with my agent from what I hear. We'll see what happens. They said it would take a while and I'm still not worried. When it gets done, it gets done."

Related: Projecting William Nylander's next contract

Earlier this month, Nylander told theScore's John Matisz that he'd prefer to sign a long-term contract rather than a bridge deal.

Dubas insisted back in July that "we can and we will" retain the dynamic young trio of Nylander, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner, the latter two of whom became eligible to sign new deals July 1.

Leafs training camp will open with medicals Sept. 13, followed by the first on-ice session the next day.

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