Author: James O'Brien

Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk

Habs lock up Gallagher to six-year extension reportedly worth $22.5M


The Montreal Canadiens locked up another big piece of their future on Saturday, signing Brendan Gallagher to a six-year contract.

That contract will carry a $3.75 million cap hit, meaning a total cost of $22.5 million, according to sources including HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman and TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

If that $3.75 million figure is correct, he’ll be the fourth highest-paid Habs forward behind Tomas Plekanec ($5 million), Max Pacioretty ($4.5 million, yes seriously) and P.A. Parenteau ($4 million). The Habs are paying big money for their defensemen right now – P.K. Subban’s $9 million fee being the most obvious example – but GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for getting some nice bargains in other situations.

At 22, Gallagher is already showing a nice combination of scoring prowess (81 points in 149 games) and peskiness (116 PIM in that same frame, already generating a dubious reputation with some officials). One can imagine further growth as he gets older and gets more reps, as he’s only logging 15 minutes per night this season.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun provides the year-by-year breakdown:

With Gallagher locked up, much of Montreal’s core is under contract at least through 2015-16, with the biggest exception being rising forward Alex Galchenyuk (he’ll be an RFA if the Canadiens don’t sign him before the end of this season).

As of this writing, Montreal has about $57.41 million in cap space devoted to 15 players in 2015-16, by Cap Geek’s estimate.

NHL on NBC: Rangers vs. Flyers in a Thanksgiving Showdown

Jakub Voracek, Dan Boyle

NBC will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 pm ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.

Leftovers, impulse shopping and hockey. Black Friday presents quite the combination of joyous indulgences, especially if you tune in to the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.

The Rangers won the first meeting of the season between these two teams, as Cam Talbot pitched a shutout in a 2-0 contest. This begins a home-and-home, back-to-back set between rival franchises who really need to get their acts together.

That’s especially true since each squad eyes a rough scheduling stretch and deals with a bumpy month of November overall.

New York dropped a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a night of conflicted feelings for Martin St. Louis. The Flyers were so frustrated by their 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings that they held a players-only meeting after the game.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall addressed some of his own concerns with the team, as reports.

“We played really well for two periods and very poorly for one period,” Hextall said. “Is that trying? Is that frustration because we play well the first period and come out down a goal? That’s a thing we have to overcome as a group and respond to adversity.”

Both the Rangers and Flyers shouldn’t lack for opportunities to prove they can deal with adversity going forward.

Two hot scorers go toe-to-toe

Former Columbus Blue Jackets first-rounders rank high on the list of players to watch on Friday. Philly’s Jakub Voracek ranks second in the league in scoring with 30 points. New York’s Rick Nash is tied with Steven Stamkos for second place in goals with 15, and he’s done so in two fewer games.

With St. Louis and Claude Giroux among the mix (among others), there should be plenty of star power on hand to make for a captivating afternoon game.

Cam Talbot looks to give the Rangers a spark in net while the Flyers will likely go with Steve Mason instead of Ray Emery (keep an eye on goalie nods to make sure, though).


Today’s game kicks off an important home-and-home set for both teams, who need to make every game count after sluggish starts.

As Columbus searches for ‘identity,’ Dubinsky resumes practicing

Brandon Dubinsky, Taylor Beck

With a little holiday break, the Columbus Blue Jackets contemplated their tough start, telling the Columbus Dispatch that they’re still trying to “find our identity.”

Perhaps it’ll return when Brandon Dubinsky gets back into the mix?

The 28-year-old participated in his first team practice of 2014-15 on Thursday, with the team website describing him as a “mostly-full participant.” His return could possibly come in the next week, give or take.

“It was great to have him out on the ice,” Head coach Todd Richards said. “It’s a step in the right direction. (It) didn’t look like the speed or anything like that, like he was out of place – but you could tell that he hadn’t been out there in a while. The more reps you get, the more opportunities he gets to skate with us, the better.”

While Ryan Johansen is their most dangerous scorer and Sergei Bobrovsky is the workhorse goalie, Dubinsky may very well be the best example of the sort of versatile, tenacious hockey the Blue Jackets play on their best days.

After all, not many players are strong in the faceoff dot (52.9 percent last season), effective in possession stats despite challenging workloads, physical enough to rank second on their team in hits and able to pitch in 50 points to boot.

That’s not to say that Dubinsky is a cure-all for Columbus, but in a season that’s been marred by injuries, he’s been one of the most glaring omissions. The Blue Jackets must be delighted by the possibility of a looming return.

How strong are the Predators, really?

Winnipeg Jets vs Nashville Predators

After eking out a 1-0 overtime win against the ailing Edmonton Oilers, the Nashville Predators wake up on Black Friday atop the Central Division and among the NHL’s top teams.

That’s quite the feat considering the mixed predictions this team brought into 2014-15, not to mention two straight seasons outside of the playoffs. So how seriously should this team be taken?

Let’s look at some key numbers to ponder that question.

1. They’re strong in possession, but have also been a little lucky – The Oilers carried a notable shot advantage last night, but Nashville won. The Predators have been a quality possession team, yet they’ve also been a little lucky this season.

Nashville’s PDO is 103.3, indicating that the Predators are enjoying more “puck luck” than any team in the NHL.

2. Pekka Rinne has been outstanding – Critics wondering if Rinne is worth $7 million per year are probably a little quieter today, as he’s been fantastic; in a way, his play last night symbolized the starkest difference between Edmonton and Nashville.

Rinne’s on a five-game winning streak and has won nine of his last 10 games. With a sparkling .932 save percentage, he’d be the easy choice if the Vezina was determined today.

3. The best against the West – Another glaring contrast between Edmonton and Nashville: records against the West. Plenty has been said about the Oilers’ inability to beat West teams, but it’s worth mentioning that Nashville has the best record against the best conference.

They are 12-3-2 against the West. Only one other team (Vancouver at 10-5-1) is in double-digits in victories versus West opponents so far in 2014-15.

That’s a fabulous head start, if nothing else.

4. Filip Forsberg could maintain some of his ridiculous momentum – Look, it’s probably unrealistic to expect the 20-year-old to maintain a point-per-game pace all season long.

Still, while his shooting percentage is high (15.4 percent), it’s not so over-the-top that he can’t keep up a nice scoring rate over the next five months. He’s averaging almost three shots per game (65 in 22) and has quality linemates in James Neal and Mike Ribeiro, so the Calder frontrunner has a chance to remain productive.

5. Nashville’s power play has been awful – While a lot of numbers scream “regression” for the Predators, their power play is almost bound to improve.

They’ve only converted on 12.9 percent of their power-play opportunities, which ranks 24th in the NHL. If they can merely bump that number up to “middle of the pack” – certainly not an outrageous thought with Peter Laviolette behind the bench and Shea Weber leading a slew of talented offensive defensemen – they could deal with some of the likely drop-offs they might face.


Overall, it’s tough to imagine Nashville being the cream of the crop in the brutal Central Division by the end of the season, as even today they’re only two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues. They’re stocking up on enough standings points that they could be a playoff team, however … and possibly a dangerous one, in that.

PHT Morning Skate: Pie to the face – still the gold standard for comedy

Phoenix Coyotes v Nashville Predators - Game Four

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Things got a little awkward when Joffrey Lupul was asked if he has a girlfriend:

Almost feels reminiscent of a great Mitch Hedberg joke.

Nashville Predators mask Gnash is off IR and on to his pie-in-the-face routine, as you can see in high form here:

That wasn’t the only notable moment in hockey pies this week:

How NHL greats stack up in “advanced stat” categories. (The Hockey News)

The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle dusts off his old blog to discuss being a sportswriter in the age of Twitter backlash. (Mirtle’s blog)

Could Tyler Seguin break the Dallas Stars’ franchise record of 55 goals? He’s on pace to do it so far, at least. (Dallas Morning News)