James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Victor Rask says he’s ready for Hurricanes training camp

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As curious as the Carolina Hurricanes’ decisions were to bring back Cam Ward and give Raffi Torres a tryout, neither of those decisions are necessarily far-reaching.

No, the boldest move might have been stating firmly that Victor Rask is a core guy; he gives the Hurricanes just four players who have contracts covering at least the next three seasons after signing a six-year, $24 million extension in mid-July.

That term and money will shine a brighter spotlight on the 23-year-old, but what about that surgically repaired shoulder?

Rask told the Raleigh News & Observer that his shoulder is “100 percent” and that he’ll be ready for Hurricanes training camp.

He also seems at least somewhat aware of what that new contract means for his future and his connection with Carolina.

“I wanted long-term and I’m happy that they believe in me,” Rask said. “I’m just excited for the future and I think we’ve got something really good going on here … It feels like home for me, so it’s very nice to come back here.”

With a foundation of young players and sneaky-impressive possession numbers since Bill Peters took over, the Hurricanes are becoming a chic pick to make some gains in 2016-17.

Rask would be an integral part of such a turnaround, so Carolina needs him to be healthy and productive. So far, it sounds like he’s in a good position to enter next season without lingering effects from that injury.

Of course, we’ve heard plenty of players claim to be “100 percent” and then see their seasons go off course, so it remains to be seen if Rask’s optimism is actually justified.

With head coaches at World Cup, many assistants ramp up duties

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The 2016 World Cup of Hockey doesn’t just challenge NHL teams in putting players at risk for injuries.

The Canadian Press points out an interesting consideration: 14 head coaches will be involved in guiding the different teams, prompting assistant coaches to assume more of the burden of running training camps.

Granted, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper does note that the situation prompted him to plan out more of training camp than ever.

“If you’re going to go on vacation you plan for somebody to watch your house, sit your dog, all those type of things, so this is no different,” Cooper told the Canadian Press. “You’re planning exactly what’s going to go on every single day, you’re just not out there blowing the whistle. But everything is set right down to the minute on how things are going to go.”

The way Cooper describes this, you almost expect him to send an assistant coach a text to make sure that he didn’t leave the oven on.

It could be interesting to keep an eye out for reports or murmurs about disruptions during training camp. Will some teams enjoy advantages that others don’t? Will certain decisions about burning entry-level contract years or retaining PTOs go a little differently?

We’re already seeing teams like the Lightning and Washington Capitals plan ahead, so maybe it’s not a big factor. Then again, in an age of parity, you never know where that next little edge might come from.

Ben Bishop thinks he was close to being traded to Flames

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The Calgary Flames did well to improve in net by trading for Brian Elliott, but it sounds like they almost ended up acquiring a different former St. Louis Blues goalie.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie (for now?) Ben Bishop told the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith that he believes he nearly found his way to Calgary during this off-season.

“It looked like for a little bit it was going to happen,” Bishop said. “At kind of the last minute (the Flames) went out and got Elliott. It was close, but there was never … It wasn’t that close, obviously.”

Then again, Bishop told Smith that it went far enough for contract negotiations to take place with the Flames, so it probably shouldn’t be dismissed outright.

Now, for all we know, this story might be filed under “to be continued.”

Yes, the Flames traded for Elliott … but both Bishop and Elliott are in the final years of their current contracts. For all we know, the Lightning and Flames could revisit this subject during 2016-17, or even afterward.

One interesting thing to note is that Bishop isn’t that much younger than Elliott. Bishop is 29 and will turn 30 on Nov. 21. Elliott is 31 and will turn 32 on April 9, 2017.

(Bishop’s age sneaks up on you a bit since he didn’t really get a chance to prove himself until 2012-13 if not 2013-14.)

Much like Elliott, it seems like Bishop might get pushed out from his current situation despite some strong work on his own part.

It wouldn’t be that crazy if he ended up as the Flames’ go-to guy once this game of goaltending musical chair ends.

More on Bishop’s future

Examining his situation

The case for the Lightning letting him play out his deal

Sean Monahan (back) is out, so Vincent Trocheck’s in for North America

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Friday continues the parade of significant players asking out of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Sean Monahan is the latest to ask out, so Vincent Trocheck takes his spot on Team North America.

The Calgary Flames explain that Monahan is missing the tournament because of a “back strain,” which doesn’t sound too significant. Here’s the statement from GM Brad Treliving:

Monahan said it simply enough: “It’s disappointing, but at the same time my commitment is to the Flames.”

Considering what just happened with Frederik Andersen – a player who got hurt not long after signing a massive extension – the Flames probably appreciate Monahan’s commitment.

Again, people aren’t shy about throwing out some one-liners:

Along with Andersen and Monahan, Corey Perry is replacing Jeff Carter for Team Canada while it looks like David Krejci can’t go for the Czech Republic.

The Killers, Green Day will help kick off World Cup of Hockey

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Here’s something you don’t run into all that often when discussing music groups performing at NHL events: wondering who the bigger draw really is.

The league announced two remarkably relevant* performers for 2016 World Cup of Hockey-related festivities. At least relatively speaking.

First, on Sept. 16, the Killers will headline the “Pepsi World Cup of Hockey Premiere Party.”

Green Day will then perform a week later on Sept. 23 for the “World Cup of Hockey Celebration of Champions.”

(So, uh, the titles of these events are … a little less impressive than the star power on hand.)

Apparently Green Day’s performance will be the pop-punk band’s first live show in Canada in 2016.

You can read up on additional details in the press releases.

Now, to bully you with especially irrelevant songs from each group:

* – This being the Internet and especially with music being involved, commenters are virtually guaranteed to quibble with this. Enjoy:

(Ouch.)