James O'Brien

Bryan Bickell, Antti Niemi

More on Blackhawks waiving Bickell


The Chicago Blackhawks’ decision to waive Bryan Bickell raised some eyebrows, but there could be more twists and turns ahead.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun provides the biggest helping of interesting updates, stating that:

  • Bickell might not go to the AHL if he’s waived; instead, the ‘Hawks may just be sending him a “wake-up call.”
  • This might be a heavy-handed way of sending a wake-up call to the NHL’s other 29 GMs, instead. By putting him on waivers, the Blackhawks may get a better read on who might be interested in a swap, albeit one that would probably not involve taking on the full brunt of Bickell’s regrettable contract.

Get this: there could be even more intrigue, as his bout with vertigo could also be relevant to the discussion:

Does anyone else think it’s a little harsh to say “snap out of it” to a guy experiencing health problems? No? Maybe?

At least one of Bickell’s teammates hopes that this all blows over:

Simply put, managing the salary cap isn’t always pretty, and sometimes feelings will get hurt.

Duchene, O’Reilly and Colorado’s $6M ceiling

Detroit Red Wings v Colorado Avalanche

It’s almost odd that it took so long for an Avalanche player to at least mildly criticize Ryan O'Reilly.

To many, “ROR” leaving Colorado was a matter of when, not if, ever since that strange offer sheet drama fizzled out back in 2013.

Matt Duchene provided somewhat spicy remarks – at least by hockey player standards – to the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers.

Here’s a chunk of those comments, noting that Duchene still calls O’Reilly “Factor” after Bill O’Reilly’s show, which ranks as a clever nickname by hockey standards.

” … Factor was always a guy who came — when he was at the rink — he worked hard. And he was a good teammate, at the rink,” Duchene said. “He worked hard on the ice. I think the biggest thing is, contract-wise, it just wasn’t working.”

Duchene went on to say that it wasn’t “his business” and he wasn’t “in the room” when deals were made, but that Denver Post article certainly implies that business became at least a little personal.

Maybe more interesting as far as future contracts go, it sounds like the Avalanche are imposing an internal ceiling of $6 million for any player, via Chambers:

It has become obvious that the individual contract ceiling for the Avalanche is a $6 million cap hit. Matt Duchene is maxed out, Ryan O’Reilly was maxed out, and Erik Johnson will become maxed out next season. Semyon Varlamov is at $5.9 million and captain Gabe Landeskog $5,571,428. All long-term deals.

The $6 million question might be: will that hit a snag with Nathan MacKinnon and/or Tyson Barrie?

Yes, they’re both RFAs, but Barrie brings a lot of earning potential to the table as a near-elite scoring defenseman while MacKinnon is … MacKinnon.

(You think he’s a little jealous of all the attention Connor McDavid is getting?)

It all makes you wonder if Avalanche management might put themselves in jeopardy of fighting offer sheets, and maybe even ones that would actually be valid.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Avalanche face the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 20 and Feb. 14.

Perhaps O’Reilly will exceed his yearly allotment of penalty minutes against his former colleagues?

Stamkos’ latest thoughts on Lightning’s cap, contract talks


Steven Stamkos gets it.

He knows the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cap situation is tricky, and he knows that people will speculate about his future … a lot.

The Tampa Bay Tribune’s Joe Smith managed to get a relatively hefty amount of insights from Stamkos, though the high-scorer only really leaves us with nuggets.

The full article, as meaty as it is, is worth a read, but let’s fry it down to the basics:

On the Lightning’s cap situation: Stamkos says he “understands it” and “that’s why it’s a process.”


On Tampa Bay itself: Stamkos opines that the area started out as “a great place to live, not necessarily a great place to be an NHL hockey player,” but now it’s a “top-five” place by both measures.

(One can just imagine Maple Leafs fans yelling, “But Toronto is No. 1, right?”)

Real estate speculation: Apparently he’s been staying in the same spot for the last seven years:

“Still in the same place,” Stamkos said. “Obviously have to see what’s going to happen with the negotiations. But the same place.”

He has a 100-lb. dog named Trigger: Crucial stuff.

Even Stamkos knows that people are going to make mountains out of molehills, so have at it.

Just note: the speculation isn’t likely to die down soon, something Stamkos probably realizes.

Two first-rounders among Stars’ latest cuts

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

As much as the Dallas Stars are about their young legs, not every fresh-faced player is ready to make the big jump.

The team loaned three prominent prospects to the AHL on Friday: Jason Dickinson, Remi Elie and Radek Faksa.

The Stars are down to 25 players, which means two more cuts are coming. If you want to forecast that final group yourself, check out their updated training camp roster.

GM Jim Nill is leaning toward going into the 2015-16 season with eight blueliners, implying that Mattias Janmark and Curtis McKenzie will slug it out for one of the final spots.

Defending Big D sees it that way, although Nill at least denied it on the record.

Semantics, maybe?

Dickinson (29th in 2013) and Faksa (13th in 2012) were the two-first rounders; Elie wasn’t that far behind as the 40th pick in 2013.

Their progression is reasonable enough – though maybe management wanted more from Faksa (pictured) – but the bigger concern might come from Jack Campbell’s struggles. The goalie who went 11th overall in 2010 may start the season on the shelf:

As promising as the Stars are, they need some prospects to pan out, but obviously a few of them need to marinate for a little more time.

Don’t expect Datsyuk back before November

Pavel Datsyuk, Drew Miller

Windows of recovery can change — especially when it comes to hockey players — but for now, it sounds like Pavel Datsyuk will miss at least the first month of the 2015-16 season.

Datsyuk was seen “doing high-intensity foot/leg work” outside the Red Wings locker room on Wednesday, but he’s not expected back until November nonetheless, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.

Considering Datsyuk’s age (37), mileage (887 regular season games, 152 postseason contests, plenty of international experience) and recent bouts with injuries, the Red Wings should discourage him from rushing back too soon.

Of course, gauging a player’s health isn’t an exact science, especially when those guys often want to go back even if they’re really not quite ready.

The longer Datsyuk is out, the tougher it will likely be for the Red Wings to keep their playoff streak alive. On the other hand, a healthier Datsyuk could help them put together their first deep run in years (if they make the playoffs, that is).