James O'Brien

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

McKenzie’s trade talk: Penguins shop Fleury, Coyotes have pieces to sell


Hockey insider Bob McKenzie appeared on NBCSN on Wednesday, dishing on some very interesting subjects. Fans will probably be most interested to hear his takes on the trade market.

In the first video (see above), some fascinating stuff on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.

To start, the not-so-surprising: McKenzie reports that the Penguins are “wide open” to the idea of moving “MAF,” though maybe not as desperate as some might think. Why? He believes that the Penguins won’t get into a situation where they’d lose Murray, even if it means buying out Fleury.

Here’s how a Fleury buyout would shake out, according to Cap Friendly’s buyout calculator:


A lot to consider there.

Final point on that: McKenzie emphasizes that the Penguins’ top focus is a run at the Stanley Cup; if that means keeping Fleury and then figuring something out this summer, then so be it.

The other especially intriguing video revolves around McKenzie’s breakdown of a “grim situation” for the Arizona Coyotes, which leads him to believe that it’s not a matter of if “but when” the team decides to trade players on expiring contracts. Specifically, McKenzie points to hulking center Martin Hanzal and injured scoring defenseman Michael Stone.

Hanzal, in particular, could conceivably net something nice on the open market.

If you want more from McKenzie, check out his take on the Colorado Avalanche shopping Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene.

Video: Phillip Danault’s tremendous coast-to-coast goal


As debilitating as injuries can be, sometimes they open the door for a lesser-known player to break through. Could that be happening with Phillip Danault?

That remains to be seen, but if nothing else, he’s been on a hot streak lately.

His second goal from Wednesday’s Montreal Canadiens – Winnipeg Jets thing is a thing of pure beauty.

With that, Danault now has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games, and he still has time to add to his totals against Winnipeg tonight.

Alex Ovechkin needs 35 seconds to score 1,000th point (Video)


Many wondered if Alex Ovechkin would score his 1,000th point against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, as fitting an opponent as you can find. It didn’t take long for Ovechkin to provide an authoritative “Yes.”

Just 35 seconds into Wednesday’s game at the Verizon Center, Ovechkin collected his 1,000th career regular season point after waiting out Marc-Andre Fleury and beating him on a nice tally.

The only way it would have been more fitting is if the goal came from “his office” on a one-timer around the face-off dot on the power play … but still, pretty good. Pretty. Pretty good.

This milestone point came on his 20th goal and the 545th tally of his career. He breaks his tie with Maurice Richard for 29th all-time in goal-scoring, too, then. He reached this milestone in just 880 games.

Some tidbits to consider:

  • He’s the 37th player in NHL history to score 1,000 points with one team and the 84th to do it overall.
  • Ovechkin has dominated his era, especially if you look at sheer volume:

Want more? The Capitals compiled a bunch of stats celebrating his 1,000th points, including some real esoteric stuff.

The team also brought its A-Game in social media, especially with this hashtag:


Ovechkin already has 1,001 points after scoring yet another goal, this time from that oh-so-familiar spot:

Video: Jason Demers saves a goal by punching the puck out of danger

Jason Demers and Roberto Luongo were really on the same page on this one.

To start, Luongo made a few really nice saves to maintain a 1-1 tie between the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers.

The video-worthy moment comes when Demers clears the puck out with his fist. Notice how small the margin of error was there, as Luongo allows the puck to go by him when he could have easily knocked it in on accident.

How many times could the Islanders have scored a goal there … was it three, four? Fun clip.

Also maybe a bit of fun revenge for Luongo, as Islanders fans are apparently still booing him.

Update: That ended up being a fairly important moment as the Panthers edged the Islanders 2-1 on Wednesday.

Ben Bishop is ready to return; Can he salvage his (and Lightning’s) season?


Bogged down by a slew of injuries and a four-game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Lighting could use some good news. They got some on Wednesday, as Ben Bishop deemed himself “ready to go” for tomorrow’s game, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

While the Bolts have been supportive of Andrei Vasilevskiy during these tough times, the promising young goalie hasn’t been able to bail Tampa Bay out of its problems lately.

Bishop’s play has often caused as many problems as it’s erased in 2016-17, but perhaps this involuntary, injury-fueled absence will be a blessing in disguise?

Both the goalie and the team could use a boost. The Lightning aren’t all the way out of the playoff berth, but they’re slipping, especially in a league full of “three-point nights.”

Wild card ranks

Rangers – 57 points in 42 games
Flyers – 48 points in 43 GP

Hurricanes – 45 in 41 GP
Maple Leafs – 44 in 39 GP
Panthers – 44 in 42 GP
Lightning 42 in 42 GP
Sabres – 41 in 40 GP
Red Wings – 40 in 41 GP
Devils – 40 in 42 GP
Islanders – 38 in 38 GP

Yeah, that doesn’t look so great.

The Lightning play back-to-back home games (Sabres on Thursday, host the Blue Jackets on Friday), so it’s ideal to have Bishop and Vasilevskiy on hand. After that, a treacherous six-game road trip mostly through the West looms.

Beyond the team matters, Bishop has a lot to play for personally.

This stumbling season probably dropped the salary number for his next deal down quite a bit, yet he still has time to salvage this contract year. Whether it means beefing up his trade value or improving the Lightning’s playoff chances, the opportunity is there.

It’s just that neither Bishop nor the Bolts have really been able to seize many of those opportunities lately.