James O'Brien

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

NHL hands Radko Gudas a six-game suspension


The NHL handed Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas a six-game suspension for his hit on Austin Czarnik of the Boston Bruins.

As a repeat offender, Gudas will lose $245,121.95 thanks to this six-game suspension.

That hit came soon after he avoided a suspension for another questionable preseason hit. Here’s the league’s video explanation for the decision:

So far, reactions range from the punishment being a “good start” to something that won’t register enough with the frequent hitter. Most believe that his run-ins with the league’s disciplinarians are far from over, however.

His history of violence

If the Department of Player Safety had a speed dial list of regulars, Gudas would have a prominent spot on it. He’s actually dodged quite a few disciplinary bullets in a short period of time.

Back during his astounding month of February, Gudas said “I can’t be doing this on the ice” … and then kept doing the same things, over and over again.

The Flyers actions haven’t always matched their words considering the contract extension they handed him in June.

Maybe a more severe punishment will get through to the rugged defenseman?

Marner makes Leafs (for more than just the opener)


It sounds like Mitch Marner will be a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ opening night roster, and well beyond.

Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said he’s extremely impressed by Marner, as TSN’s Mark Masters reports.

“He’s not on a (9-game) tryout,” Lamoriello said. “At this point he’s made the team.”

Wow, that’s quite the vote of confidence. The Philadelphia Flyers are taking a similar path with some of their youngsters.

Of course, the Maple Leafs have the right to change course if they would like, but maybe it wouldn’t be much of a situation to monitor.

There will be concerns about Marner’s size and strength even after bulking up a bit lately, but the skill appears to be there:

While Maple Leafs marvel at the infusion of youth thanks to Marner, William Nylander and Auston Matthews, another veteran appears to have fallen short of the mark.

Lamoriello indicated to Masters that Brandon Prust won’t make the Leafs, although he’s likely to still train – but not travel – with the team.

Maybe he’ll serve as useful insurance in case they need to redirect some of that youthful energy?

Stars release Fontaine, demote Honka


The Dallas Stars still have some decisions to make with 27 players on their training camp roster, but they got some work done on Sunday.

To the AHL: Julius Honka and Gemel Smith

Released from PTO: Justin Fontaine (pictured)

One cannot help but wonder if someone might take another look at Fontaine. He’s only 28 and has 197 NHL games under his belt, including 60 with the Minnesota Wild in 2015-16.

Honka stands out as the 14th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft. The Stars are transitioning to a younger defensive group, and one would assume that the Finn will be a key contributor sooner or later.

Honka has already showed promise at the AHL level, especially in 2015-16, when he generated 44 points in 73 games for the Texas Stars.

The team’s updated roster can be found here.

Bad sign for Allen? Blues recall Binnington


The St. Louis Blues haven’t provided additional information about Jake Allen‘s “apparent injury,” so we must read between the lines.

It could be mere due diligence, yet it’s not the greatest sign that the Blues recalled goalie Jordan Binnington (while demoting Landon Ferraro) on Sunday.

As far as we know, the Blues might begin the 2016-17 season with the goalie duo of Carter Hutton and Binnington, a far cry from the Allen – Brian Elliott combo.

Ken Hitchcock noted that the Blues are confident in Hutton if Allen indeed does need to miss some time.

“If Jake goes down, we’ve got no issue playing Carter at all,” Hitchcock said, via NHL.com.

Hutton has 76 games of NHL experience, including putting up a solid .918 save percentage in 17 games with Nashville in 2015-16.

Panthers’ Huberdeau out 3-4 months (Update)


Update: The Florida Panthers expect Jonathan Huberdeau to miss three-to-four months, according to the Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov.


The Florida Panthers dodged an injury bullet with Aaron Ekblad, but they aren’t enjoying the same luck with Jonathan Huberdeau.

Panthers GM Tom Rowe told Fialkov that Huberdeau’s lower-body injury is considered “long term.”

You can see the unfortunate injury Huberdeau suffered on Saturday in the video above and read more about it here.

Huberdeau’s leg was lacerated by a skate, and the Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that he’ll have an MRI on Sunday. That might give the Panthers a little more insight on just how “long term” the issue might be.

(TSN’s Bob McKenzie mentions 12 weeks as a possibility.)

Update: The Panthers officially named Derek MacKenzie as captain.

Nick Bjugstad is also expected to miss a significant amount of time, so this preseason’s been pretty rough on Florida.