James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Tyler Seguin sounds ready – and excited – for World Cup of Hockey

It sounds like Tyler Seguin has a great chance at participating in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and it doesn’t sound like he views that as a chore.

He addressed his health on Saturday, as NHL.com reports.

“[I’m] doing well,” Seguin said. “[It’s been a] bit of a different summer as far as training wise just coming off an injury, but feeling great and looking forward to the World Cup.”

Again, he sounds excited about the experience, as he expects to see “the best of the best” on hand.

Naturally, Seguin is also focused on the Stars’ upcoming season. He believes that the team’s window for a big run just opened up, and he’s probably correct.

(It’s something Jamie Benn discussed while explaining his rationale for re-signing with the Stars.)

Tournaments like these probably get fans and teams a touch nervous about a player rushing back. That’s especially reasonable since one could argue that Seguin wasn’t really ready to return during the 2016 playoffs.

On the other hand, it’s a rare treat to see “the best of the best” compete before the season starts, so don’t blame Seguin for being enthusiastic.

Read more from Seguin at NHL.com.

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    Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card auctions off for record $465K

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    In true Wayne Gretzky fashion, his rookie card auctioned off for a record that vastly outpaces any other hockey card.

    Gretzky’s 1979 O-Pee-Chee card was auctioned off for $465K to an anonymous buyer on Thursday, according to the CBC and other outlets.

    NHL.com notes that one big distinction was that the card was in mint condition. This blows away a previous mark, also set by a Gretzky card, which went for a little less than $100K in 2011.

    Here’s what the card looks like:

    The back of the card looks like this, and really makes the whole thing that much more charming:

    As with any mention of a card drawing big auctions, people look back to their younger days, when they wished they kept better care of the things:

    Hey, even Wayne couldn’t win them all.

    (H/T to NHL.com)

    Coyotes are open to making a deal to break up ‘logjam’ on defense

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    Judging by some of this off-season’s big moves, having “too many defensemen” is a problem most NHL teams would love to have.

    The Arizona Coyotes seem loaded with options on the blueline, and that might just prompt them to make a trade, something new GM John Chayka admitted to the Arizona Republic.

    “Anything can happen in camp, too, so you go from having some depth to potentially being a little lean pretty quickly in this league,” Chayka said. “We see it as a strength. If there’s an opportunity to deal from strength, then we’ll do that. But if there’s a move that makes sense for everybody and it certainly appears there’s a logjam right now, we’re open to improving our group and continuing to find a solution that makes everyone better.”

    Interesting.

    McLellan notes that the Coyotes view their top four defensemen as a combination of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Michael Stone and Connor Murphy.

    The depth spots are where things get interesting. Arizona’s available options include Luke Schenn, Zbynek Michalek, Kevin Connauton, Klas Dahlbeck, Anthony DeAngelo, Jamie McBain and eventually Jarred Tinordi.

    (And that’s assuming that 2016 first-round pick Jakob Chychrun doesn’t push for an immediate jump to the NHL …)

    Those defensemen have their flaws here and there, but almost every one of those depth names is marketable in some way or another.

    It wouldn’t be shocking if the cost-conscious Coyotes pitched one of those guys to a GM whose team gets hit hard with early pre-season or regular season injuries.

    One can debate the notion that Max Domi‘s being a little hasty in pumping up Arizona’s playoff potential. Either way, it really feels like the Coyotes are building something interesting in the desert, and part of that comes down to buying up supplies in an area of heavy demand.

    Could your team use one of those guys?

    It’s New York Rangers day at PHT

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    When it comes to viewing the New York Rangers, it all comes down to expectations.

    For a team that isn’t that far removed from some deep playoff runs, being little more than first-round fodder was a bitter pill to swallow. That’s what happened in 2015-16; they finished third in the Metropolitan Division and were dismissed from the postseason after five games.

    On the other hand, they managed 101 standings points and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

    They’ve also only missed the playoffs once since 2005-06 and won at least one round in all but two of those postseason runs.

    Henrik Lundqvist‘s expectations parallel his team’s outlook. On one hand, he’s expensive and seemingly on a mild decline. To counter, that decline simply means slipping from all-world to merely very good, and it isn’t crazy to imagine a few more glory runs.

    In other words, the good outweighs the bad … but will that be good enough?

    Off-season recap

    The Rangers’ off-season didn’t get off to a great start.

    After a humbling playoff series vs. Pittsburgh, New York had to let Keith Yandle go for peanuts. More than a few Rangers fans are upset that the team is still paying big bucks for Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. Dan Boyle retired, while new additions Nick Holden and Adam Clendening aren’t likely to be more than bit players (if New York is lucky).

    It’s not all gloom and doom, though.

    The Rangers made nice bargain additions in Michael Grabner and Nathan Gerbe, while the bold Mika ZibanejadDerick Brassard trade could be a very nice win. The deals for Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes seem like fantastic values to boot.

    Can a solid set of mostly prime-aged forwards combine with a legendary goalie to overcome a shabby-looking defense? We’ll dive deep into this team’s strengths and weaknesses on this fine Tuesday.

    Next to Greatness: Oilers set to name Keith Gretzky as assistant GM

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    The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly going to name Wayne Gretzky’s younger brother Keith as assistant GM, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

    Keith Gretzky began his scouting career in 2001. Most recently, he served as the Boston Bruins’ director of amateur scouting, where he undoubtedly made an impression on current Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli.

    He also served as the Arizona Coyotes’ director of amateur scouting, with some overlap alongside his famous brother.

    The move is by no means official – McKenzie believes it will be announced in the “near future” – yet plenty of people are already making jokes, often about nepotism.

    Oilers blogger Lowetide speculates that a Keith Gretzky hiring could begin a domino effect as Chiarelli swaps out pieces of the old guard for “his guys.”

    If the Gretzky hiring occurs, we can assume someone is moving out from the inner circle, the brain trust. I am not going to guess—if you have been following the Oilers for any length of time you know where the smart money is being laid.

    On one hand, Gretzky deserves an opportunity to stand on his own merit, outside of Gretzky’s shadow and without the baggage associated with Edmonton’s long run of incompetence.

    On the other, it’s difficult to totally deny feelings that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” in Edmonton.

    Chiarelli’s hiring someone he’s familiar with while analytics-minded hire from days past Tyler Dellow wasn’t kept on board:

    The Taylor HallAdam Larsson trade is the blaring headline of a bold off-season for the Oilers. For better or worse, Chiarelli is clearly putting his stamp on this team.

    It remains to be seen if he can turn it into a great one.