James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Odd man out: Lightning demote Gudlevskis

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As happy as another team might be to get Ben Bishop, the biggest “winner” of a hypothetical trade might just be Kristers Gudlevskis.

At the moment, Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy are the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top two goalies, so it’s not too surprising that the Bolts demoted Gudlevskis to the AHL.

This moves Tampa Bay’s training camp roster down to 27 players.

At 24, Gudlevskis might be feeling a little anxious for more NHL reps – he’s appeared in two games overall – although it wouldn’t hurt for him to put up better AHL numbers.

His numbers with the Syracuse Crunch won’t exactly force Bishop out of town:

2013-14: .901 save percentage
2014-15: .900 save percentage
2015-16: .907 save percentage

Yeah, it probably would help his cause to put up better numbers with the Crunch.

Kings place Gaborik on IR

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The Los Angeles Kings officially placed winger Marian Gaborik on IR on Thursday. The team noted that the move is retroactive to Sept. 25.

Gaborik is expected to be sidelined until late November (Thanksgiving), according to the AP’s Greg Beacham.

The sometimes-brittle winger stands as one of the biggest injury concerns coming from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He suffered his lower-body injury while representing Team Europe in the tournament.

Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper believes that Gaborik’s absence could be good news for a familiar name to California hockey fans: Devin Setoguchi. The former Sharks forward is on a PTO with Los Angeles.

Gaborik played in 54 games last season, managing 12 goals and 22 points. He last played a full NHL season in 2011-12.

The latest legal fallout from Derek Boogaard’s death

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Derek Boogaard passed away more than five years ago, but the legal fallout continues.

Regarding Jordan Hart

The latest development comes via the AP: Len Boogaard, Derek’s father, wrote a letter to a judge stating that his son was not friends with the player (Jordan Hart) who allegedly sold him Percocet.

Hart, 33, could face as much as six months of jail time after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge.

Around Sept. 24, Hart’s legal representatives claimed that Boogaard “was not a victim of Mr. Hart’s misdemeanor possession of prescription drugs,” as New York Newsday reported.

As far as the NHL is involved

The developments aren’t related to Hart alone, as the Boogaard family is also pursuing actions against the NHL.

The family originally filed a wrongful death complaint against the NHL in 2013, and the New York Daily News reports that a judge just recently allowed them to file a second, amended suit. The complaint alleges that the league “actively harmed” Boogaard.

His mother Joanne Boogaard explained to the CBC that it’s all about accountability.

“It’s been a very long five years and fighting the NHL is not an easy thing,” Joanne Boogaard said. “Derek’s life meant something, he didn’t die just for nothing … we have to follow through with this.”

Looks like Tkachuk will start season with Flames

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Generally speaking, top picks make the immediate jump to the NHL, but the dilemmas get more interesting as you go down the ranks.

The Calgary Flames nabbed quite the nice find by selecting Matthew Tkachuk sixth overall in 2016, and apparently they want to keep him around for a while.

Management didn’t outright guarantee that the rookie would begin the 2016-17 season with the big team, but in coach-speak terms, it sounded highly likely.

“I don’t think it’s out of the realm to say he’s going to be here for Game 1 if things are status quo,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said, according to Aaron Vickers of the team site.

Gulutzan used more words to give Tkachuk a thumbs up while also leaving room to wiggle out of the situation, if you’re a fan of slightly amusing coaching phrasing.

As nice as it would be for the 18-year-old to get some NHL experience, playing the first game isn’t the true test. Tkachuk would burn a year off of his entry-level contract if he reaches the 10-game threshold, so that would be another situation to watch if he makes a strong impression.

The Flames are in an interesting spot as far as their outlook goes.

Despite missing the postseason, the team is spending quite a bit on its roster, especially if you pencil Johnny Gaudreau in for a significant chunk of the Flames’ remaining cap space. Troy Brouwer‘s contract, in particular, points to at least a partial win-now mentality.

If Tkachuk seems like a legitimate NHL player right away, Calgary might be willing to push him closer to his second contract in order to chase a playoff berth.

Keith’s talented son should make the Flames that much more fun to watch, whether it’s from one to nine regular season games or for the entire season.

MORE: Looking to make the leap

Video: Derek Dorsett bloodied in brawl

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With some players vying for roster spots or trying to earn more ice time in 2016-17, it’s no surprise that some heavy-hitters engaged in fights on Sunday.

The stakes were there, even if these games didn’t “count.”

Hockey Fights features a full listing of last night’s bouts, but here are a few standouts from Sunday evening.

Alex Gallant vs. Derek Dorsett became a bloody affair:

The Vancouver Province captured one of the more violent moments:

Kurtis MacDermid and Jared Boll dropped the gloves in a heated fight as well on Sunday:

Finally, a heavyweight fight between Chris Thorburn and Brandon Bollig: