Kevin Goumas

Back to Class: The trouble with being No. 1

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN Friday night, January 4 as Nebraska-Omaha takes on Colorado College. 

It’s never easy being the top dog. In college football, being the No. 1 team means always having to watch your back when the voters deem you to be the best team in the land and it’s no different in college hockey. A pair of Hockey East teams learned that in the last couple of weeks and it was the same team that taught them that lesson. Jim Connelly of USCHO.com examines things a bit closer.

Two weeks ago, Boston College’s run as the top team in the country came to an end thanks to a 4-1 loss to Boston University. When New Hampshire took over as the No. 1 team this week, again it would be BU teaching them a lesson on Thursday taking them out with a 3-2 victory.

Being the top dog is never easy. Ever. It puts an instant target on your back to have everyone come after you. Seeing how it was BU that managed to earn wins in two out of three games against top-ranked opponents, it makes you believe Jack Parker’s team has a little something extra to their game.

Considering Boston University was ranked No. 7 in the country last Monday, they’re due for a boost after beating UNH and Maine. They might want to avoid the top spot for the time being.

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So long, Cissé: Redshirt sophomore Yasin Cissé left Boston University to pick up and play for QMJHL Blainville-Broisbriand and BU coach Jack Parker was more than honest in his assessment of his game. “He’s really struggling in every phase of his life because hockey’s not going the way he wants it to go.” Uh… Ouch. For what it’s worth, Cissé scored a goal in his first game with Blainville-Broisbriand.

So about that “Yerdon Jinx”: Denver University has gone winless in six straight games after tying North Dakota on Friday night and losing 6-3 to the former Fighting Sioux on Saturday. When I highlighted the Pioneers a couple weeks ago, I thought their bad weekend losing to Yale and UNH was curious. I didn’t think it signaled a full-on early season meltdown.

Yale’s bad weekend: The Yale Bulldogs were starting to let their presence be known in the ECAC. That is until RPI and Union showed up at The Whale this weekend and took three of four points from them. An embarrassing 6-1 loss to Rensselaer and a 2-2 tie with the Dutchmen should take Yale down a notch after cracking the USA Hockey/USA Today polls at 15 last week.

Alabama-Huntsville’s plight: While things are rough this season for the UAH Chargers, they’re still plugging along in hopes of landing a spot in the WCHA for the future. Matt Semsich of USCHO.com has a good piece on what coach Kurt Kleinendorst has to deal with in a tough position there.

(Photo: UNH’s Kevin Goumas — Hockey East Online)

Report: If the Sabres can sign Vesey, they could be more willing to trade Kane

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 03:  Evander Kane #9 of the Buffalo Sabres speaks with referee Kevin Pollock #33 during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on February 3, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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If the Buffalo Sabres can sign Jimmy Vesey, they may be more willing to trade winger Evander Kane.

That’s what TSN 1040 (Vancouver) radio host Matt Sekeres has been hearing, and what he’s hearing does make a lot of sense.

Kane, whose off-ice issues are once again making headlines, has two years left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. He plays the same position as Vesey, 23, who’s currently Buffalo property but can sign with any team he chooses on Aug. 15.

Even if the Sabres can’t convince Vesey to join them, Kane could still be traded. GM Tim Murray has already conceded that his patience is wearing thin with the 24-year-old that he acquired from Winnipeg not long ago. Alex Nylander, drafted eighth overall in June, plays the same position as Kane, and Murray has said it’s possible the teenager could make the jump to the NHL next season.

Buffalo, Boston and Toronto have generally been considered the favorites to land Vesey. Chicago and Pittsburgh have also been mentioned.

Related: Cue the Kane-to-Vancouver speculation

Leafs avoid arbitration with Peter Holland

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 11: Peter Holland #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates up the ice during NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre April 11, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs won’t require arbitration with forward Peter Holland. They’ve signed the 25-year-old to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.3 million.

Holland had a hearing scheduled for today. Last week, the Leafs sent a message by putting him on waivers, which he cleared.

Holland had nine goals and 18 assists in 65 games last season. With him signed, the Leafs have only defensemen Frank Corrado and Martin Marincin as restricted free agents. Corrado has an arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow; Marincin’s is next Tuesday.

Related: Corrado and Leafs aren’t that far apart

Arbitration looming this week for Mrazek and DeKeyser

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 16: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning is checked by Danny DeKeyser #65 of the Detroit Red Wings in front of Petr Mrazek #34 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 16, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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This is an important week in the Detroit Red Wings’ offseason, with Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday and Danny DeKeyser‘s for Thursday.

GM Ken Holland would prefer to avoid the hearings, which can sometimes result in hurt feelings.

“I think a negotiated settlement is always better than having an arbitrated settlement,” Holland told MLive.com. “Obviously, both sides run (the risk) of somebody’s not going to be happy.”

That being said, in Mrazek’s case, the two sides still have a ways to go. Remember that the 24-year-old netminder was excellent for most of 2015-16, but in Holland’s words, “the wheels came off a little bit in the middle of February.”

Hence, the divide:

DeKeyser, meanwhile, is more of a proven NHL commodity. He’s had three full seasons in the league. In the 26-year-old defenseman, the Red Wings pretty much know what they’ve got.

“There’s way more comparables, I think, in Dan DeKeyser‘s case so it was easier to figure out what was the market place,” said Holland. “That’s certainly not the case of Petr Mrazek’s situation.”

Holland’s work will not be finished once Mrazek and DeKeyser are signed. He still wants to add another defenseman, and he’s got a surplus of forwards to work with.

Related: Holland makes argument to keep Jimmy Howard

Flyers sign Brayden Schenn to four-year deal

Philadelphia Flyers' Brayden Schenn reacts after scoring during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
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The Flyers won’t require today’s scheduled arbitration hearing with Brayden Schenn. They’ve agreed to terms with the 24-year-old forward on a four-year contract with a reported cap hit of $5.125 million.

Schenn had a career-high 26 goals and 33 assists in 2015-16. His 59 points were the third most on the Flyers, behind only Claude Giroux‘s 67 and Wayne Simmonds‘ 60.

The Schenn signing leaves the Flyers with just over $1 million in cap space for 2016-17, but no major free agents remaining. RFA defenseman Brandon Manning still needs a contract, but that’s it, per General Fanager. Manning has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 2.

Related: Coyotes sign Luke Schenn