James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Bergevin: Habs aren’t shopping Subban, but they’re getting trade calls

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Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin downplayed the swirling rumors about a possible P.K. Subban trade, although some wonder if he’s still leaving the door open just a bit.

Bergevin said that he isn’t shopping Subban, yet he is receiving phone calls inquiring about the star defenseman.

NHL GMs are prone to playing coy, so maybe the most important bit of phrasing is that Bergevin doesn’t think a Subban trade would be “realistic.”

For some, it’s not quite enough, as on one hand there’s phrasing that seems dismissive:

… Yet there are nagging phrases such as “never say never.”

For some observers, any GM would be silly not to listen to offers or “take calls.”

Others wonder if Bergevin could do more to really put the rumors to rest, however:

Bergevin’s press conference cools down that hot stove to “warm,” but it probably doesn’t turn off the Subban talk altogether.

Montreal’s franchise blueliner will see a no-trade clause kick in on July 1, so it’s possible that rumors will continue to trickle in for the next week-and-change.

Maybe they’ll slow down merely by process of elimination?

Report: Eriksson, Bruins aren’t close to deal, will try once more

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The Boston Bruins and Loui Eriksson aren’t close to a new deal, so the forward is expected to hit the free agent market, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Lavoie reports that the Bruins and Eriksson can’t see eye-to-eye on the length of the contract.

A few days ago, Eriksson’s agent admitted that he was still waiting on a new offer from the Bruins. It looks like the two sides are far apart, whether an updated proposal came or not.

The 30-year-old forward would likely draw considerable interest as an unrestricted free agent, with teams like the Vancouver Canucks reportedly interested.

Concussion issues were a key component in Eriksson’s early struggles with Boston, limiting him to 61 games played in 2013-14. He really came into his own with the Bruins in 2015-16, generating 30 goals and 63 points.

That production and Boston’s hopeful drive toward a playoff spot forced Bruins management to be picky about a potential trade, and nothing worked out.

Whether fans feel like it was a mistake in keeping him through the trade deadline or not, it sounds like Eriksson’s time with the Bruins will soon come to an end.

The B’s, for their part, seem more concerned about bolstering their defense.

GM Don Sweeney will speak with the media shortly, so PHT will note if anything changes (or if he confirms that Eriksson will become a UFA).

Update: The Bruins will give it another try, for what it’s worth:

In other free agent news:

P.K. Subban trade rumors are going pretty wild right now

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Prepare your grains of salt, rumor fans: there are a lot of murmurs about teams trying to trade for P.K. Subban, with the Edmonton Oilers being mentioned most often in the latest wave of speculation.

The Edmonton Journal is really revving up the talk, in part because Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin maybe hasn’t stomped out rumors emphatically enough?

Again, Bergevin could have come right out and said Subban is untouchable because he’s a No. 1 defenceman and there are so few of them, but the GM hasn’t done that. So the door is open, at least a crack, for the Oilers to keep trying to acquire the former Norris Trophy winner.

That’s not the only place where the argument seems to be that “the silence is deafening.”

TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun go into detail about Subban rumors in Insider Trading, noting that possible deals with high draft picks kick up the intensity of talks even more.

This isn’t just about generating rumors around draft time. Subban’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1, so if teams want to make a push for P.K., this is indeed the moment to do so.

As usual, hypothetical trades are being thrown around, too:

Blame it on the rabid hockey market or any other number of factors, but things often seem a little weird with P.K. in Montreal. Even his massive charitable donations seem to birth some strange moments.

The Oilers really climbed up the rumor mill ranks, yet other trade-hungry teams have been mentioned too.

It’s tough to believe that the Habs would actually move P.K., and it sounds like Bergevin will shed some light on the situation in short order:

Let’s be clear: it’s very hard to believe that the Canadiens would trade Subban. These rumblings only add credence to the feeling that this could be an awfully interesting off-season and that draft weekend could continue to provide fascinating fodder.

Hey, Evgeni Malkin‘s name was out there – only for the Penguins to flatly deny rumors – so it’s an odd time. At least this isn’t boring …

Related: Edmonton’s blueline search is on

Blue Jackets sign William Karlsson, need time for Seth Jones deal

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The Columbus Blue Jackets signed would-be RFA William Karlsson to a two-year contract on Thursday.

While the team didn’t explicitly state that it’s a $2 million deal in their release, they re-tweeted Rob Mixer of their website stating that it’s worth $1 million for each of the next two seasons.

The Swede generated 20 points in 81 games during 2015-16, his first full season with the Blue Jackets. As the 53rd pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, there’s some potential for growth going forward.

Really, though, it’s all an excuse to watch this strangely transfixing GIF:

In less positive news, the Blue Jackets aren’t quite there yet with Seth Jones:

Bettman shoots down relocation: ‘Hurricanes aren’t going anywhere’

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It’s already been mentioned before, but maybe not quite as emphatically.

On the same day that the NHL confirmed a 31st franchise will come to Las Vegas, commissioner Gary Bettman strongly denied the possibility that the Carolina Hurricanes might relocate.

“The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t going anywhere,” Bettman told reporters including Sportsnet’s Chirs Johnston. “They’re not going anywhere.”

Again, he denied rumors before, but this was slamming the door shut in a pretty definitive way.

This is a decent time to ask with expansion talk in the air, not to mention owner Peter Karamanos’ family issues.

(Karamanos himself insisted that the Hurricanes would not “become the Nordiques.” Ouch.)

If Quebec City, Seattle or some other city is hoping for an NHL team, Bettman & Co. seem confident that it wouldn’t come via a relocated Hurricanes franchise.

Considering the war chest GM Ron Francis is compiling, Carolina fans should be especially excited that the team isn’t moving.