Best of NHL: Maple Leafs hand Kings 1st regulation loss of season

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Best of NHL: Maple Leafs hand Kings 1st regulation loss of season

TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 36 saves, and the Toronto Maple Leafs handed the Los Angeles Kings their first regulation loss of the season with a 3-2 victory on Monday night.

Matt Martin, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Marleau scored for the Maple Leafs (7-2-0). Mitch Marner added two assists.

Toronto has won at least seven of its first nine games for the first time since the 1993-94 season and just the seventh time overall in franchise history.

Adrian Kempe and Trevor Lewis scored for Los Angeles (6-1-1), which had won four in a row. Jonathan Quick stopped 31 shots.

Toronto defenseman Roman Polak made his season debut after signing a $1.1 million, one-year deal on Sunday. He had one assist and played 12-plus minutes (see full recap).

Couture, Jones lead Sharks past struggling Rangers
NEW YORK -- Logan Couture had a goal and an assist, Martin Jones stopped 33 shots and the San Jose Sharks beat the struggling New York Rangers 4-1 on Monday night.

Tim Heed, Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson also scored to help the Sharks win for the third time in four games. Jones got his fourth straight win after losing his first two starts.

Mika Zibanejad scored and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 20 saves for the Rangers, who fell to 2-6-2 on the season. New York finished 0 for 6 on the power play and is 3 for 25 over the last six games.

With the Sharks leading 3-0 after two periods, Couture took the puck away from Lundqvist behind the goal and sent it to Karlsson, who put it in for his second of the season at 2:51 of the third. Couture got his 200th career assist on the play.

San Jose turned the puck over in its defensive zone and Zibanejad snapped a shot into the top right corner to spoil Jones' shutout bid at 4:23 of the final period (see full recap).

End to End: Will Carter Hart need a full season in the AHL?

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End to End: Will Carter Hart need a full season in the AHL?

Going End to End today is NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Will Carter Hart need a full season in the AHL?

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall kept the door open, however slightest, at his end-of-season news conference for Hart to earn a spot with the big club in training camp. Knowing Hextall's past, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Hart breaks camp with the Flyers, but the 19-year-old is a special breed years beyond his age.

Hart closed the book on his junior career Saturday with his second CHL Goaltender of the Year award in three years, becoming the first goalie to win it twice (see story).

On paper, the Flyers have Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth under contract for 2018-19. Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz are restricted free agents, and one figures to move on from the organization this summer. My bet is on Lyon coming back and having first dibs at the NHL backup job if injuries hit the Flyers' crease.

But it's hard for me to sit here and say Hart has no shot at being in the NHL next year. I think he's going to do everything he can this offseason to push for a job, and I think if he's ready for one, he'll be here.

Do I think he needs a full season in the AHL? Probably not. If I were to bet, I'd put my money on him being with the Phantoms in October. But I've lost plenty of bets in my life. I think we'll see him with the Flyers at some point in 2018-19.

It's just a matter of when.

A full year in the AHL would be wise for Hart — and all signs point to that happening.

Last week, I asked Everett general manager Garry Davidson if he could tell Flyers fans one thing about Hart, what would it be?

Here was his response:

"I think they still have to be a little patient. He's just a 19-year-old, he's just played major junior, he's been very successful. But the jump from where we are to the pro game — whether it's either in the American league and then at the NHL level — is a substantial jump. He's going to need some time and I don't know how much time that will be, but we use the word here all the time — you've got to have patience."

That certainly jibes with Hextall's approach to prospects. The Flyers have confidence in their current tandem, featuring two goalies in the final year of their respective contracts. And it seems Lyon, a restricted free agent this offseason, has earned himself a contract and the status of backup in case of an injury.

Hart very well could be the future and the Flyers won't mess with it.

2018 NHL draft position preview — Defensemen

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2018 NHL draft position preview — Defensemen

We conclude our 2018 NHL draft position previews with a look at the top draft-eligible defensemen. We’ve already looked at centers, left wingers and right wingers. While the Flyers will likely draft a goaltender at some point, we are not previewing that position. It is highly unlikely they would select one in the first round with either of their two selections.

Rasmus Dahlin, 6-2/181, Frolunda (SHL)
Prospects like Dahlin come around once every so often and there is no question where the 18-year-old will be drafted. Dahlin will be a member of the Buffalo Sabres and become the first player born in 2000 drafted into the NHL. Dahlin is a special player with dynamic offensive ability and creativity. Dahlin will become just the second Swedish-born player ever drafted No. 1 overall, joining Mats Sundin, who was the first overall pick in 1989. Dahlin registered seven goals and 20 points in 41 games this season with Frolunda playing top-four minutes. He was an Olympian at 17 years old. His highlight reels have some bonker plays on them.

Draft projection: No. 1 overall

Quinn Hughes, 5-10/170, University of Michigan (NCAA)
Finishing as the sixth-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, Hughes is one of the top defensive prospects in a defense-heavy draft class. He should join a respectable list of Wolverines defensemen drafted high in the first round — Zach Werenski, Jacob Trouba and Jack Johnson. Had five goals and 29 points in 37 games during his freshman season at Michigan and has plenty of Team USA experience coming up in the USA National Team Development Program. An all-around defenseman who is an excellent skater and puck-mover.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Adam Boqvist, 5-11/168, Brynas Jr. (SuperElit)
Another Swedish defenseman, Boqvist checks in as the second-best European skater by Central Scouting. The younger brother of Jesper Boqvist, who the Devils drafted with the 36th overall pick last year, Adam Boqvist has high-end offensive skill with a ton of potential. A little bit away from coming overseas and more of a long-term play but could blossom into a star blueliner. He averaged nearly a point per game with Brynas’ junior team, recording 24 points in 25 games and led the junior league among defensemen with 14 goals.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 4-9

Evan Bouchard, 6-2/193, London (OHL)
The OHL veteran finished as the fourth-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Bouchard, in his third season with the Knights, had 25 goals and 87 points in 67 games this season. His 87 points led all OHL defensemen and was eighth among all players. He’s a right-handed shot who can quarterback the power play and owns a wicked slapper. Has decent size and strength and has a good hockey IQ.

Draft projection: Top 10

Noah Dobson, 6-3/180, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
Dobson finished as the fifth-best North American skater by Central Scouting, a three-spot climb from the midterm rankings. A right-handed shot, Dobson has been entrusted by the Titan to play against teams’ top players. He’s a strong two-way defenseman with good size, though he’s not a great skater. He had 69 points in 67 games with Acadie-Bathurst in the regular season, and while his points were down in the playoffs, he’s helped the Titan reach the Memorial Cup.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 8-15