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Lan­der is in the KHL for AK Bars Kazan now and has eight points in nine games.

Nu­gent-Hop­kins had La­leg­gia on his left wing dur­ing scrimmage Satur­day be­cause Jussi Joki­nen didn’t skate. Jesse Pulju­jarvi was on the right side.

“This is a cool op­por­tu­nity for him ... 20 goals is a lot con­sid­er­ing he didn’t move to the wing un­til half­way through the sea­son,” said Nu­gent-Hop­kins who played on a pow­er­house Vancouver mid­get AAA team with La­leg­gia that won a provin­cial cham­pi­onship. La­leg­gia was team cap­tain.

“I’ve known him since we were re­ally young and he was a dom­i­nant, dom­i­nant de­fence­men. The tran­si­tion is eas­ier than it would be for other guys though be­cause he’s al­ways been skilled and fast,” Nu­gent-Hop­kins said. “But it also says a lot be­cause this isn’t like go­ing from cen­tre to the wing. He’s go­ing from de­fence.”

The emer­gence of play­ers like Conor Sheary in Pitts­burgh has opened the door for lots of 175-pound wingers.

“The game is chang­ing. You don’t have to be huge or a pow­er­house up there. What you need is smarts,” said Nu­gent-Hop­kins.

“I al­ways wanted to play for­ward but my coaches wouldn’t let me (mi­nor hockey and col­lege),” said La­leg­gia. “This is how I’d pre­fer it.”

McLel­lan isn’t sure what to make of the new NHL rule which will give a team a mi­nor penalty if they chal­lenge a goal for off­side and lose it.

“I think we’ll be more con­sid­er­ate of the sit­u­a­tion and time in a game. If we’re down 2-1 and the other team scores with five min­utes left, we might gam­ble and call it,” he said. “If we’re tied and they make it 2-1, we might not. We don’t want to gam­ble and have the other team go right to the power play. We’ll have to be more selec­tive.”

Coaches used the chal­lenge to slow the mo­men­tum of an­other team, too, us­ing it like an un­of­fi­cial time-out. If they were wrong, they sim­ply lost their only chal­lenge op­por­tu­nity; now they’ll get a penalty.

Con­versely, McLel­lan didn’t like stand­ing around if the chal­lenge was on the other side.

“You’re not play­ing for two or three min­utes. It drains ev­ery­thing and you have to get the ex­cite­ment go­ing again,” he said.

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