James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Losers of the 2016 NHL Draft

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It’s tough to declare winners and losers without handy, objective things like “scoreboards.”

But hey, it can also be a fun exercise, especially when we keep in mind that these choices could end up looking foolish … maybe in a short period of time.

So, big disclaimer: losers and winners can change sides when it comes to handing out draft grades. Sometimes they can change spots multiple times.

For PHT’s stab at a winners list, click here. Now let’s ponder who had a rough weekend.

Note: These “grades’ are heavily influenced by trades and other factors beyond mere picks.

Losers

Jim Benning

Another year, another round of Benning and the Vancouver Canucks taking a beating in social media during draft time.

In this case, Benning will likely face discipline for tampering related to comments made about Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban. Specifically, he angered Habs GM Marc Bergevin, who believes Benning crossed the line.

It’s the sort of thing that leaves you making funny faces.

People who make fun of Benning might be winners.

Bruins

Boston still hasn’t acquired the “transitional” defenseman it craves. That part could definitely change, especially with the market allegedly softening up.

Even so, people still believe that the B’s are prone to reaching for picks, as many accused management of doing in 2015.

Goalies

Maybe an off year, maybe not?

Czech and Slovak systems

Maybe an off year, maybe not?

Jakob Chychrun

This year’s Aaron Rodgers/Cam Fowler, Chychrun slid to the Arizona Coyotes at 16th overall. At one point, he seemed to have top-five potential. Instead, he was the fifth defenseman picked in the draft.

Blues

They didn’t manage to get a whole lot for Brian Elliott and Kevin Shattenkirk seems a little surprised to still be in the organization.

Not a disaster, but this is a big off-season for the Blues. Seems like they stumbled a bit out of the gate, at least as of this writing.

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Ultimately, we’ll have a better idea about who won and lost in months and then years.

Add Sabres to list of teams courting ‘big fish’ Steven Stamkos

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In a reality without a salary cap, it would be quicker to note who isn’t interested in Steven Stamkos than who is.

Budgets thin the real-world list out considerably, but more than that, there’s also the notion of where the current captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning would actually go.

Still, we’re now in the tamper-free zone for Stamkos, so expect a wide variety of pitches that range from reasonable to remote.

One interesting team surfacing is the Buffalo Sabres. GM Tim Murray provided an interesting take on trying to land Stamkos, the “big fish,” to reporters on Saturday.

(Geography meaning that Buffalo is awfully close to Toronto, in case Stamkos wants to be relatively close to home but maybe would rather not be a member of the Maple Leafs.)

And, hey, Stamkos wouldn’t need to worry about that pesky practice of playing on the wing:

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun lays out a few frontrunners, even if the Detroit Red Wings are being more coy than others.

Nevertheless, it’s absolutely 100 percent guaranteed that the Red Wings will make an offer to Stamkos. The Vancouver Canucks and, of course, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are among the other potential suitors, and some other teams might surprise.

Maybe throw the headline-seeking New York Rangers into the mix while you’re at it:

Many, including TSN’s Bob McKenzie, indicate Stamkos would prefer to stay with the Tampa Bay Lightning if all things are equal … but other teams may be able to offer financial and geographic incentives.

It wouldn’t be surprising if some teams hint at interest merely to save face.

Long story short, expect plenty of speculation heading into free agency on July 1.

For all we know, someone may indeed make such a strong pitch that the Lightning might facilitate a sign-and-trade.

Shattenkirk, agent are ‘a bit surprised’ Blues didn’t trade him

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During what could be a summer of tough calls, the St. Louis Blues sent Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames during draft weekend. Depending upon whom you ask, it sounds like they should have been even busier.

To be specific, Kevin Shattenkirk and his reps seemed to believe that they were headed out of town.

As mentioned on Thursday, it sounds like the Blues are OK with Shattenkirk discussing an extension with a potential trade partner … at least if the price is right.

That wasn’t the case yet, as his reps told ESPN’s Craig Custance.

Going a little further, Blues GM Doug Armstrong explained why he didn’t pull the trigger on a Shattenkirk deal to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

“Maybe my asking price is too high or maybe I value him higher than other people. But I haven’t been anywhere close to what I think is representative of the value of Kevin Shattenkirk,” Armstrong said on Friday (and reiterated on Saturday).

If icy talks are thawing out, perhaps it’s just a matter of time.

Then again, we’ve seen plenty of instances in which a player almost gets traded only to remain an integral part of a team, so we’ll need to wait and see.

And so will Shattenkirk.

Ray Bourque gets arrested, OUI charge after car accident

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Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque was arrested and charged with OUI (operating under the influence) after a car accident on Friday, according to outlets including the Boston Globe and CSNNE.com.

The accident happened in Andover, Mass. The Boston Globe reports that no one suffered injuries from the two-car crash.

Other sources refer to it as a DWI and a charge of “following too closely.”

Bourque, 55, was released on bail.

No other information, including a court date, is available at this time.

Sabres GM doesn’t ‘know all the details’ of Evander Kane investigation

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The Buffalo Sabres “are still getting information” about an investigation regarding Evander Kane allegedly harassing two women at a bar, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Here are some details regarding that situation, via the Associated Press:

The person said Kane is accused of grabbing the woman by the arm or shoulder early Friday. The person said no charges have been filed and no one has been arrested.

Sabres GM Tim Murray backed up the assertion that the team is still digging into the situation.

It doesn’t sound like they are happy to see Kane generating negative headlines, however.

“It frustrates me that it’s public and in the press, but people live their lives,” Murray said, according to the Buffalo News. “If this is like the last one and in three days they say nothing happened and it goes away, sure, it’s frustrating, but to me it’s a wait and see.”

“If it’s true, then we have to deal with it the way we have to deal with it. If it’s false again, then I guess we have to come up with a different plan of attack on how to make sure that these accusations that may not be true, how we stop them.”

The Sabres haven’t released an official statement regarding the matter. PHT will provide an update if they do.