Vancouver Canucks v Atlanta Thrashers

Bogosian and Jets still negotiating, difficulty will be finding fair market value

Rewind back to the 2008 Draft. Steven Stamkos was the consensus #1 pick and was expected to be followed by four promising defenseman. Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo, and Luke Schenn were all expected to be top-notch defensemen for any club lucky enough to draft them. Doughty, Schenn, and Bogosian all earned spots on the respective NHL teams only months after taking the draft stage Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. They’ve all had their individual ups-and-downs as professionals, but they share another trait that their organizations wish to remedy: they’re all restricted free agents in the middle of contract disputes.

The major difference between the Bogosian contract negotiations and that of Doughty and Schenn is how much quieter the talk has been. Part of it is because Winnipeg isn’t the same type of media market that Los Angeles or Toronto can be. Part of it is that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff isn’t known for the same types of quotes that Leafs GM Brian Burke and Kings GM Dean Lombardi are known to drop to the media. But mostly, it’s because Bogosian isn’t quite the same type of player that Doughty and Schenn have been over the course of their first three NHL seasons.

Bogosian did his part to keep the talks out of the limelight as he was mum on the subject of his contract negotiations:

“Things are good. We’re talking. That’s about all I will say. You’ve just got to sit back and let the agents and GM deal with all that kind of stuff.”

While he’s at it, he might as well say that he plans on “taking it one day at a time” and “he’s just hoping he can help out the team any way he can.” Regardless, it looks like Bogosian is toeing the company line with the team and his agent Bob Murray as all sides are keeping the negotiations out of the media.

Bogosian is an interesting case-study in NHL economics because of the potential he possesses vs. production on the ice. Coming out of the draft, most scouting services had Doughty and Bogosian ranked neck-and-neck with Pietrangelo having a high-ceiling (but needing more time in the OHL) and Schenn being the best stay-at-home defenseman. Today, Bogosian still has the most question marks surrounding his game. Doughty has already been a Norris Trophy finalist and won an Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada. Alex Pietrangelo is showing signs that he could become a Norris candidate in the next few years and Luke Schenn has already made a name for himself as a nasty defenseman with the Maple Leafs.

Gary Lawless from the Winnipeg Free Press spoke to an NHL executive about the three restricted free agents:

“They were comparable players in junior but haven’t been to date as pros. It’s difficult to know what Winnipeg has in Bogosian at this point. He may very well turn into a fine player but that has only been demonstrated in flashes so far.”

Bogosian is a different deal all together. He’ll show flashes of the talent that made him one of the most sought-after prospects in a great draft; then he’ll regress and look lost on the ice. It certainly didn’t help that he and defensive partner Johnny Oduya were buried with defensive zone starts more than anyone else on the Thrashers, but his points per 60 was the second worst among Atlanta blueliners. Not exactly the kind of statistic a player wants going into a contract negotiation. Going further with advanced stats, Bogosian’s zone finish was the worst Thrashers defenseman as well.

What does all of this mean? Former coach Craig Ramsay had Bogosian starting in his own defensive zone a lot and he finished his shift in his own zone more than anyone else.  He spent a ton of time in his own zone and he scored less than every defenseman on the Thrashers NOT named than Mark Stuart.

There are two ways to look at it—either one can look at it that Bogosian was never put in the position to succeed; or Bogosian hasn’t blossomed into the type of top-tier defenseman that can bail his team out of trouble. The best defensemen in the league can start anywhere on the ice and help their team generate scoring chances. Clearly, Bogosian isn’t at that level yet—and it’s unfair to expect him to be.

The troubling part for Atlanta’s Winnipeg’s management is how to pay the player who could be a very good defenseman down the road, but is currently just an average blueliner. Do they want to gamble on a long-term contract hoping to lock him at a reasonable cap hit? Do they want to sign him to a short-term contract to see how he develops over the next season or two? As much as money is a factor in the negotiations, the term can be just as crucial in a negotiation like Bogosian’s.

Once someone starts talking, we’ll have an idea which way each side is leaning. Of course, we’ll keep you updated with any developments.

J.T. Miller might be breaking through for the Rangers

New York Rangers center J.T. Miller celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game against the New Jersey Devils during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 3-2. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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Don’t look now, but J.T. Miller might just be “getting it.”

By “it” you can mean a number of things: New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault’s confidence, his own confidence and that scoring touch at the NHL level.

He’s been on particularly hot streak for the last three weeks or so. While he failed to score in Saturday’s win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Miller reeled off a run in which he scored five points in three games and eight goals during a nine-game span.

His teammates and coach have taken notice, too, as Denis Gorman of Metro New York reports.

“The first practice I saw him, his strength, the way he shoots the puck. He has good hands, vision, he has everything to become a great hockey player,” Henrik Lundqvist said. “He’s getting there. He’s improving so much, but the biggest thing is probably just confidence, realizing that he is that good and he can use all these tools to be a great player.”

The Rangers aim to be a regular contender, and sometimes staying in the picture is all about developing prospects like Miller.

At the moment, it looks like he’s trending in an impressive direction.

Isles clobber Oilers, Okposo nabs second career hat trick

New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) reacts as he sits beside right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) on the bench after scoring his third goal for a hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 8-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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NEW YORK (AP) After two disappointing road losses, the New York Islanders needed to face a last-place opponent like the Edmonton Oilers.

Kyle Okposo had his second career hat trick after the Islanders opened a commanding lead with three first-period goals and New York routed the Oilers 8-1 on Sunday.

Thomas Greiss made 30 saves for the Islanders (27-18-6), who moved within three points of the New York Rangers for second-place in the Metropolitan Division.

“It was good. Good to put up eight. It was a pretty good team effort,” Okposo said. “I thought we were going on all cylinders. It’s definitely nice to get rewarded.”

Johnny Boychuck, John Tavares and Nikolay Kulemin scored in the opening period, chasing former Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson, who was replaced after Kulemin’s goal by former Ranger Cam Talbot.

Boychuk, in his first home game after missing 11 games overall with an upper body injury suffered on Dec. 31 at Buffalo, ripped a slap shot past Nilsson at 2:57 for his fourth goal of the season.

“It’s always good when you strike early,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We did a lot of good things and got two points.”

Tavares made it 2-0 at 9:12 with his 19th goal before Kulemin added his sixth at 11:24. Oilers coach Todd McLellan then pulled Nilsson, who stopped only seven of the 10 shots he faced.

Okposo made it 4-0 at 2:32 of the second, then scored again at 6:09 of the middle period.

After Oilers rookie sensation Connor McDavid finally put Edmonton on the board with his seventh goal at 6:50, Josh Bailey made it 6-1 at 9:36.

Cal Clutterbuck increased the margin to 7-1 at 16:04 of the middle period with his 11th goal. Talbot raised his arms in frustration after Clutterbuck’s goal, seemingly exasperated with the defensive effort in front of him.

Okposo completed his hat trick at 7:27 of the third, when he whipped a shot on the power play past Talbot for his 15th goal of the season. The goal made it 8-1 and led to a cascade of hats tossed onto the Barclays Center ice. It was a season high in goals for the Islanders.

“Kyle has been playing awesome,” said defenseman Nick Leddy, who had three assists. “His contributions have been felt all year. He has been one of the best players on the ice game in and game out.”

The defeat following Saturday night’s 5-1 loss at Montreal left McLellan fuming.

“I don’t think we were prepared to play for those first few goals against,” McLellan said. “I’m very disappointed in the preparation and the approach to the game. We got our butts handed to us in Montreal and came here and responded in a very inappropriate way. ”

The 19-year-old McDavid – the first overall pick in last June’s draft – returned after missing 37 games with a broken collarbone for the opening game of the Edmonton’s four-game trip. McDavid scored once and added two assists in a 5-1 win at Columbus, then had two assists in a 7-2 victory at Ottawa.

Playing his first game since Jan. 12, Greiss was his usual stellar self. He didn’t have an especially tough game despite the litany of offensive skill on the Oilers roster in addition to McDavid.

“It always helps when we score a bunch of quick goals. It seemed like it was going our way tonight,” Greiss said. “That would be awesome if we could score eight goals every game. We have to be realistic. It’s not going to happen too often.”

Greiss improved to 14-6-2 this season, his first with the Islanders.

The Islanders improved to 17-8-3 at Barclays Center in their first season in Brooklyn after 43 years at Nassau Coliseum.

The Oilers haven’t won in New York against the Islanders since Dec. 14, 1999, when they beat the Islanders 4-2 at Nassau Coliseum.

NOTES: Former Islander Griffin Reinhart played against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2012 for the first time. … The teams meet again in Edmonton on Feb. 28.

Habs grab rare back-to-back wins this weekend

Montreal Canadiens goalie Ben Scrivens falls after making a save while facing the Carolina Hurricanes during first-period NHL hockey game action, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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The Montreal Canadiens were a bit like Ben Scrivens (in his near-ideal state) this weekend: not always pretty, but they got the job done.

A day after Scrivens thwarted his former team in the Edmonton Oilers in a 5-1 win, the journeyed goalie was integral in Montreal scraping out a 2-1 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now, it’s easy to scoff at two wins against two teams who are – let’s be honest – pretty unremarkable.

The Canadiens aren’t really in a position to laugh off any victory, however. That’s especially true when you consider the fact that this is their first set of consecutive wins since late November.

Even through all this frustration, certain top Canadiens stand out as keeping the team afloat. Andrei Markov hit an impressive milestone:

… While Max Pacioretty scored his 20th goal in emphatic fashion:

As P.K. Subban‘s numbers argue, Montreal’s biggest problem has been getting results from more under-the-radar players. In Sunday’s case, Scrivens delivered.

Montreal still faces an uphill battle, but perhaps a weekend like this might serve as a catalyst for a nice climb?

Malcolm Subban in stable condition, suffered fractured larynx

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The Boston Bruins updated Malcolm Subban‘s condition a day after the goaltending prospect was hospitalized after being struck in the throat with a puck.

“Malcolm Subban was struck in the throat with a puck Saturday night during pregame warmups. He was transported to Maine Medical Center and was diagnosed with a fractured larynx. He stayed overnight at Maine Medical Center and was transported to Mass General Hospital on Sunday for further evaluation. He is in stable condition and will be sidelined indefinitely. The team will provide additional details when they become available.”

Awful news, although at least he’s in stable condition.

PHT will stay tuned for further updates regarding the 22-year-old.

Subban did tweet a thanks for support:

A little context makes that a little sad, too.

P.K. Subban seems confident his brother will bounce back.