James O'Brien

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

Shea Weber isn’t going ‘to try to be’ like P.K. Subban


From this day forward, Shea Weber will be compared to P.K. Subban. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to trades, especially when they’re one-for-one deals like Wednesday’s blockbuster.

The long-time Nashville Predator turned Montreal Canadiens defenseman is wise to realize that he’s a different player.

“I’m not P.K. Subban and I’m not going to try to be,” Weber said during tonight’s press conference.

Critics of the move will point out that Weber is about four years older and his contract goes until he’s 40. Weber hopes that his emphasis on training will soothe any doubts.

Plenty of people believe that Weber’s former team got the better end of the deal.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who prefer Weber to Subban, citing his intimidating style.

Regardless, it isn’t Weber’s job to convince people one way or another. After all, he’s got the vote of Habs GM Marc Bergevin.

All he can do is put himself in a position to succeed … and maybe find a way to deal with the pressure-cooker environment in Montreal.

To his credit, Weber is more focused on the excitement of playing in that atmosphere rather than fixating on the negative side.

/Bookmarks that comment for the first time the Bell Centre crowd turns on Weber.

Maybe Weber shouldn’t have been stunned by the timing of this trade, considering the savings Nashville enjoys by getting it done before July 1:

Granted, Nashville likely wants Weber to enjoy a healthy enough run in Montreal …

The Predators, for their part, know what they’re losing in trading Weber years after matching that controversial Philadelphia Flyers offer sheet.

More on the Subban – Weber trade

Bergevin’s comments about Weber shine an interesting light on Subban

Subban speaks out

What’s next after a huge day of trades?

Sabres sign Casey Nelson to two-year extension


The Buffalo Sabres might be bummed that “big fish” Steven Stamkos is sticking with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that didn’t stop them from working on Wednesday.

They signed defenseman Casey Nelson to a two-year extension, keeping the blueliner from becoming an RFA.

Buffalo didn’t provide official terms for the contract, but it should be worth $650K per season, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. That makes it worth $1.3 million overall.

Nelson generated four assists in seven games with the Sabres in 2015-16 after wrapping up his NCAA career with Minnesota State Mankato.

The Sabres are being proactive when it comes to building up their defense before free agency even begins, as they also made a move to bring in Dmitry Kulikov.

Oilers GM justifies Hall trade, even if Larsson isn’t a ‘sexy defenseman’


If you judge a trade based on the resumes at hand, the New Jersey Devils soundly won in getting Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers for Adam Larsson. Some even label it a “landslide win.”

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli gets that. Even so, he insists that the “need-based trade” justifies the “unfortunate” price of parting ways with Taylor Hall.

Back when he was hired in April 2015, Chiarelli spoke of “the sacrifices that it takes to win.” One sacrifice was telling a disappointed Hall that he wouldn’t be part of the solution.

Yes, Chiarelli comes out and says it: Larsson isn’t a “sexy defenseman.” Chiarelli admits that he could still improve his skating and that he’s useful – but not explosive – from an offensive standpoint.

A “terrific” 2015-16 season, Larsson’s potential at age 23 and some meat-and-potatoes skills have the Swede penciled in as a big-minutes, top-pairing guy by Chiarelli’s estimation.

“I feel he’s barely scratched the surface,” Chiarelli said. “He moves the puck, defends well. He can log a lot of minutes and match up against all the top forwards.”

Still, some of the most intriguing moments of the presser came when the Oilers GM didn’t totally sugarcoat the drawbacks of the trade.

At least Chiarelli is acknowledging the glaring difference in their play up to this moment.

It’s all about needs and potential, even if Hall is knee-deep in his own prime at 24.

Speaking of potential, seeing Jesse Puljujarvi fall to the Oilers at the fourth pick in 2016 helped inspire the move as adding a defenseman became even “more urgent.”

For better or worse, the Oilers are willing to take the heat to make this “need-based trade.”

No on-ice work at Jets development camp for Patrik Laine

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The Winnipeg Jets landed a dangerous sniper when they nabbed Patrik Laine with the second pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, but they won’t get an early peek at him.

The Jets revealed that Laine won’t participate in on-ice activities during the team’s early July development camp as he recovers from a “minor” knee surgery he underwent following the NHL Combine.

As you may recall, PHT discussed Laine pulling out of a workout during the Combine because a “problem with his leg.”

It’s unclear when Laine may have been hurt – perhaps it was during the Combine, maybe sometime before it – although there was a controversial moment when Corey Perry collided with him during the world hockey championship.

However it happened, the knee issue isn’t being viewed as a big deal.

Most of the discussion revolves around the brash winger who could very well make an immediate impact in Winnipeg.

Rumor mill: Bruins ponder Trouba offer sheet, Habs eye Perron


To save you from going into a clicking frenzy, here are some interesting free agent rumors on Tuesday night.

(If these don’t satiate your appetite for scuttlebutt, there are also murmurs about Milan Lucic to the Edmonton Oilers …)

  • The Boston Bruins are one of the many teams who are desperate to improve on defense. How desperate? Apparently they might go all-in by sending an offer sheet to coveted Winnipeg Jets RFA blueliner Jacob Trouba.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty and ESPN’s Jimmy Murphy acknowledged the “chatter.”

If the Bruins even go as far as to send Trouba an offer sheet – a big if – teams almost always match such offers. The Columbus Blue Jackets claim they’d do so with Seth Jones, for example:

Maybe the B’s would send an offer that’s just too rich for Winnipeg’s taste, though?

Update: Haggerty goes into greater detail for CSNNE.com.

Now it appears the Bruins may be willing to put their money, and their assets, where their interest is, and come up with an offer sheet that totals a minimum of $47 million for Trouba’s services.

Part of that high total is crafting an offer that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t going to match, and part of that is the Bruins’ own doing while casually tossing away their own draft picks. Because they sent their 2017 third round pick to the Flyers for Zac Rinaldo and their 2017 second round pick to New Jersey for Lee Stempniak, the Bruins must put together an offer sheet with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $9.3 million that will require Boston to give up four consecutive first round picks as compensation.

Holy smokes.

  • There could very well be mutual interest between David Perron and the Montreal Canadiens:

Makes perfect sense considering his strong work once he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks and his Quebec roots.

  • Matt Martin is drawing rave reviews as an Islanders departure seems increasingly likely.