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Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL August 29th, 2014

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Bruce Bennett

They may be gone, but the Hartford Whalers left a lasting impact on the NHL.

"I think the people that grew up with the Whalers will never, ever forget them, and they'll always have an attachment to them," former general manager Jim Rutherford said.

With the recent retirement of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, there are no more former Whalers playing in the NHL (Chris Pronger is still on an active roster despite career-ending injuries, and Craig Adams of the Pittsburgh Penguins was one of Hartford's final draft picks but never suited up for them).

Two hotshot Russian prospects are adjusting to life away from home as they prepare for long, illustrious NHL careers.

Two of the world's top hockey prospects, representing the future of Russian hockey, are now entering their first full seasons in North America, a crucial step in their respective careers.

"It's a totally different culture. It's obviously a big adjustment," Kuznetsov said. "The language barrier is the biggest thing."

When he arrives at Washington's training camp, the 22-year-old forward will already be among the world's most decorated young players. In addition to his gold medal at the 2014 World Championship, he won one at the 2012 World Championship, one day after his 20th birthday. His three assists in the gold-medal game at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship gave Russia its first win at the tournament in eight years.

Recently drafted F William Nylander is hoping to make the Maple Leafs roster sooner rather than later.

“My goal is to try to play in the NHL. To do that, I have to work hard every day at everything.”

Outside of saying hello and exchanging pleasantries, Nylander hasn’t had much interaction with the team’s established stars. Although in a nod to his status, his equipment is in the Leaf room at the MCC, while the likes of Frederik Gauthier and Josh Leivo use the Marlies room.

Leafs fans will get their first glimpse of Nylander, the Leafs top pick from the June draft, in action next month in London as Nylander heads the list of players the team has invited to its four-day rookie tournament.

Amid the talk of NHL expansion, one guy surveys the scene and says things simply don't add up.

Whenever talk of NHL expansion crops up, there are concerns about how increasing the league’s size will dilute its talent pool and damage the quality of play. But it’s also worth pondering the amount of hockey demand in the markets the league has apparently chosen, and whether the game wouldn’t have been better served by relocating a handful of existing teams to new cities.

Last summer, as part of an investigation into why Canadian teams haven’t been able to win the Stanley Cup since 1993, FiveThirtyEight estimated the number of avid NHL fans in an assortment of major markets (including existing franchise locales and potential expansion sites). In our study, Toronto easily had the largest number of avid NHL fans; with a shade over 5 million, their total was double that of any other metro area in North America. Even if the new Toronto franchise lures just 20 percent of the area’s hockey enthusiasts away from the Maple Leafs, the expansion club would instantly have about as many devotees as the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings or Calgary Flames. It’s clear that Toronto has the fan base to support a second NHL franchise.

NHL 15's demo blows away at least one person. (Beware the auto-playing video)

A common complaint with sports games - and especially EA Sports games - is the product remains largely the same. After playing the NHL 15 demo (now available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), I can safely say change has come. And it is glorious.

In fact, when the full game is released and we dive into all of its features, we might end up saying NHL 15 is one of the best (if not the best) sports games ever.

Granted, the demo is limited. You can only play as the Kings or Rangers and only for 2 minute periods. You can also play a practice mode to hone your skills, but that would be a waste of time. The beauty of this game is on the ice.

Last link of the day was going to be Bleacher Report but couldn't bring myself to do it. That's all for today. Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and enjoys their holiday weekend <3