Cam Tucker

P.K. Subban,
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Former Habs analytics consultant: ‘I made a passionate case in favour of P.K. Subban’

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Former Montreal Canadiens analytics consultant Matt Pfeffer has now had his say on the controversial trade that saw the Habs deal defenseman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber.

It was reported on Wednesday that the Habs didn’t renew Pfeffer’s contract, after he made an “impassioned” presentation to management in favor of not trading Subban.

Following that report from Eric Engels of Sportsnet, Pfeffer released a statement Thursday, saying the Habs “treated me with the utmost respect” and are a “world class organization.” But he also confirmed making the case to keep Subban in Montreal and that management didn’t see eye to eye with him on this matter.

Here’s part of the statement, as per Sportsnet:

“Prior to the trade, I submitted a report comparing both players. I made a passionate case in favour of P.K. Subban.

“There was never a meeting with management.

“Ultimately, this is the nature of this kind of work. Management makes their decision based on a variety of criteria. Their evaluation may have been different in this case, but there was consensus on other decisions through my time with the team.”

This is just the latest development in what will likely be an ongoing saga, following the blockbuster deal more than two weeks ago at the end of last month. (Remember, it’s been suggested this could be the worst trade in franchise history.)

Related:

Bergevin’s moves — including the Subban trade — have been ‘100 percent supported’ by Habs owner

In talking about Weber, Bergevin said plenty about Subban

Staying with the Flyers family: Cousins re-signs in Philly

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 07:  Nick Cousins #52 of the Philadelphia Flyers waits for the face off against the New York Islanders on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Nick Cousins eventually played his way into a third-line center role for the Philadelphia Flyers in the spring. A restricted free agent, he’ll be back for the 2016-17 season after re-signing with a one-year, two-way deal on Thursday.

As per General Fanager, his contract for next season carries a cap hit of $937,125, after he accepted the club’s qualifying offer.

Philadelphia’s third-round pick in 2011, Cousins was recalled to the Flyers, a team in need of an offensive spark, in late-November and again in February, when he essentially became a regular in the lineup. He ended the regular season with 36 games played with the big club, with six goals and 11 points.

Averaging a point per game in the minors this past season, before his February recall to Philly, Cousins had strong puck possession numbers at even strength with the Flyers, with a 53.1 per cent Corsi For rating in almost 365 minutes at five-on-five.

He also had the second-lowest goals-against per 60 minutes rating (1.32) for the Flyers, as per stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

Prospects Schmaltz, Hartman see opportunities after Blackhawks’ offseason moves

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  Nick Schmaltz of the Chicago Blackhawks poses for a portrait during the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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Following a national championship at North Dakota in his sophomore season, 20-year-old Nick Schmaltz opted to turn professional over returning to college for his junior year.

Signed last month to an entry-level contract, the 2014 first-round pick now turns his attention to trying to make the Chicago Blackhawks — a team that traded Teuvo Teravainen this spring — next season.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Schmaltz thought long and hard about whether to sign with the Hawks or remain at North Dakota for another year. Trading Teravainen opened a spot on the roster for a player who fits Schmaltz’s profile: a center who is most comfortable with the puck on his stick.

When he signed, it was thought that Schmaltz could perhaps be the replacement for Teravainen — a tall order right off the bat given Teravainen had 13 goals and 35 assists in his first full season in Chicago.

Schmaltz isn’t the only prospect looking to make a possible jump to the NHL with the Blackhawks next season.

Ryan Hartman, Chicago’s first-round pick from 2013 and the last selection in that opening round, hopes to be a potential replacement for Andrew Shaw, who was dealt at the draft. Again, difficult shoes to fill at first.

“We play similar styles: feed off energy, make plays at the net, be one of the hard players to play against,” Hartman told CSN Chicago.

“Obviously with cap issues, stuff’s going to happen in the offseason. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen but it’s an opportunity now for me, especially, and some other guys to make a push, try to make the team this year.”

Predators have made ‘great progress’ and now look to take the next step

Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
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The Nashville Predators haven’t been afraid of making some bold moves in recent months.

And that line of thinking could put them in line with the Blues, Blackhawks and Stars in competing for the Central Division next season.

Trading captain Shea Weber to Montreal for defenseman P.K. Subban was only the latest example. (Habs GM Marc Bergevin had some interesting comments on the controversial blockbuster deal.)

It really started with trading defenseman Seth Jones — a right-shooting defenseman still not even 22 years old — to Columbus in exchange for Ryan Johansen, as the Predators were able to pick up a first-line center that turns 24 years old at the end of July and has one more year left on his current contract before he’s a restricted free agent.

It continued with a run into the second round of the playoffs and one win shy of a trip to the Western Conference Final.

That’s a decent run. But the Predators haven’t been content.

“I hope it says we’re trying to win,” Predators GM David Poile told the Tennessean.

“I think what we’ve done in the last year and the last two years under (coach Peter Laviolette) is we’ve made great progress. … You know the direction we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win. And we’re in the entertainment business. We’re trying to put on a good show for our fans. I like our makeup.”

That reiterates his message from May, when he said the Predators were going “in the right direction.”

Since then, the Predators have given a long-term contract (six years, $36 million) for Filip Forsberg, who had 33 goals and 64 points last season, and moved on from veterans Barret Jackman and Eric Nystrom, opening up additional cap space.

Their moves have also made the Predators a younger team. Their current roster lists only three players over the age of 30, and one of those is goalie Pekka Rinne.

Bold moves. And they should serve notice to the Western Conference.

Kessel hand injury ‘was something he dealt with all season,’ says Rutherford

Phil Kessel
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On Friday, it was reported that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel underwent hand surgery for an injury sustained in the first round of the playoffs.

Kessel, despite the injury, still had a strong post-season. He scored 10 goals and 22 points in 24 games. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup.

But apparently, the injury Kessel had been dealing with was something that had actually been bothering him well before the playoffs even began.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“It was something he dealt with all season,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It bothered him. He took care of it. He’s not expect to miss any time.”

Rutherford suggested Kessel initially suffered the injury during the 2015 preseason. The specific hand or the nature of of the injury were not identified.

In his first campaign with the Penguins, Kessel appeared in all 82 regular season games, with 26 goals and 59 points, and appeared in all 24 post-season games.