James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Rangers sign McIlrath, narrow to-do list down to Kreider, Hayes


The New York Rangers aren’t waiting until the last minute to handle every salary arbitration situation, although they still have some work to do.

The Rangers avoided arbitration with defenseman Dylan McIlrath via a one-year, $800K deal, according to the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby. New York recently confirmed that an agreement was made.

This comes after locking down promising forward J.T. Miller on Wednesday while New York still faces potential hearings with Chris Kreider (slated for July 22) and Kevin Hayes (July 27).

Locking up McIlrath to a reasonable deal provides optimism that the Rangers could take care of both Kreider and Hayes.

(For further reading on one of those scenarios, note that The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes Kyle Palmieri‘s contract could stand as a comparable for Kreider.)

McIlrath, the 10th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, is still attempting to carve out his place in the Rangers’ lineup. He played 34 of his 37 career NHL regular season games last season and added a playoff contest as well.

Dan Boyle‘s departure opens things up quite a bit for him, although he’ll still need to prove himself since the Rangers have plenty of defensive options from a quantity standpoint.

Parenteau’s return to Islanders: predictable and sensible


New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has impressed over the years by finding gems and great value, yet this off-season has been … divisive.

Essentially trading Kyle Okposo for Andrew Ladd and losing Frans Nielsen leaves the team in an odd place, but signing P.A. Parenteau for cheap stands as another example of his shrewdness.

Parenteau enjoyed a rejuvenating 2015-16 season with the Maple Leafs, yet his best times came riding shotgun with John Tavares and the New York Islanders. Neither side forgets about that, and this full-circle moment almost seems predictable to Parenteau, as NHL.com noted after the deal.

“I had a rough couple years, in Montreal especially, but I bounced back last year,” Parenteau said. “I thought I might come back [to the Islanders] at the Trade Deadline last season but it didn’t happen. I always thought I’d be back to Long Island.”

OK, so maybe someone needs to get him up to speed about the Brooklyn thing, but hey … plenty of time in the off-season, right?

This move isn’t a revolutionary one for the Islanders. Still, it’s a nice one that gives them a boost for little money.

The rest is a little more subjective, right down to Nielsen’s departure possibly being beneficial to the benefit of Ryan Strome.

Yes, Doc Emrick calling a Pittsburgh Pirates game was great


Here’s something that makes sense even if you didn’t necessarily see it coming: Bob Costas and Mike “Doc” Emrick sound great together.

NHL on NBC’s beloved announcer got to live a dream on Friday, as Emrick called a Pittsburgh Pirates game.

Costas and Emrick covered the game for MLB Network, capturing the moment of Josh Bell’s first hit:

NHL.com shared a few other clips, while MLB.com has even more.

There was one additional bonus for Doc, too: his Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4.

‘Everyday-er’ Devin Shore wants to make healthy mark on Stars

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Last season was a “roller coaster” for Dallas Stars prospect Devin Shore, as he related to NHL.com.

He showed some promise in the AHL before a shoulder injury derailed his 2015-16 season. As dismaying as that was, he saw an example to follow in Radek Faksa, who became his “model” for bouncing back.

At minimum, Shore’s hard-working attitude made an impression on Stars management.

“This is his third year, I think, [in development camp], so he’s kind of a veteran,” Stars GM Jim Nill said to NHL.com. “He’s a leader. I talk about everyday-ers. He’s an everyday guy. He does everything right, so it’s good to have him here.”

(Ah yes, everyday-ers. For some of us, it’s enough of an accomplishment to be a once-per-weeker.)

Hockey’s Future ranks Shore as the Stars’ best center prospect, and he already received a cup of coffee at the NHL level last season.

If Shore is indeed 100 percent from that shoulder surgery and getting better as he indicates, then he may indeed follow a similar path to Faksa, adding to Dallas’ embarrassment of riches at the forward position.

Matthews, Nylander and others dazzle at development camps


This is a weekend of sobering realities for hockey fans.

For one thing, Friday cemented the realization that Pavel Datsyuk really isn’t coming back. Also, a week removed from the free agent frenzy, big moves are going from a deluge to more of a drip.

It all hammers home the point that it will be a while before we get to watch high-level hockey again. The dog days of summer are approaching.

Still, there are still hockey-related events to keep us entertained, and prospects are amassing for scrimmages/development camps during this weekend.

With that in mind, why not fill that hockey void with some highlights?

Sportsnet isolates a crowd-pleasing moment from Auston Matthews, but in case you want more – of both Matthews and Maple Leafs prospects in general – here are two days’ worth of highlights.

Matthews in a Maple Leafs sweater is a big deal, but it wasn’t the only situation to watch.

Consider Alexander Nylander’s slick moves, for one:

This is a sweet save:

Max Domi makes a statement about Arizona Coyotes fans.

If you dig watching people sign contracts, the Hurricanes one-up their competition:

The Calgary Flames shared some highlights of their own:

Here’s a selection of moments from the Red Wings:

Trevor Linden shares his impressions on the Vancouver Canucks’ side of things.

This one from the Winnipeg Jets is a little older, yet it gets in the mix because it’s a mic’d up bit.

Some moments of zen in the form of sprints and rolls:

If you want to go really, really in-depth on power-skating Avalanche players, you’re in luck:

(You’re also a little weird, but that’s OK.)

Granted, as great as all of these clips are, none probably beat on-ice back flips. So go watch that, too.