Donald Fehr

Report: Small group meetings end, formal talks expected at 7 p.m. ET (Updated)


If you’re still on board with following the twists and turns of the CBA talks every night, let’s hope you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to ditch caffeine.

The NHL and NHLPA concluded small group meetings around 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, making way for a full bargaining session around 7 p.m. ET tonight, according to TSN’s Aaron Ward.*

Update: ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun’s reports that the talks have been slightly delayed, but there still expected to take place.

As expected, Ward reports that the NHL should provide its response to the NHLPA’s counter-proposal during tonight’s discussions. (Beyond calling it “comprehensive,” that is.)

The (alleged?) Jan. 11 deadline for any sort of deal is rapidly approaching.

That scenario would call for a Jan. 19 start date, but if the sides made more progress than many expect, then a Jan. 12 opening night could reportedly be possible. They’d need to get it together by Thursday for that to happen, though.

It’s anyone’s guess how much might be accomplished tonight, but we might at least get the idea of whether something big will happen this week. If not, all the fireworks would likely come in a week to 10 days.

* – There’s a slight chance it might kick off a little earlier; New York Newsday’s Steve Zipay gave it a 6:30-7 p.m. ET window to begin. Thirty minutes aren’t likely to make a difference unless someone storms out swiftly once again …

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.