James O'Brien

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

World Cup in question? Jamie Benn faces six-week rehab after surgery


Off-seasons are often about recovering from injuries and sometimes surgeries, a reality that may provide some challenges for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Jamie Benn presents the latest justification for teams to keep alternates in mind.

It’s plausible that he’ll be able to play, yet the Dallas Stars acknowledged that his participation is up in the air following core muscle surgery that calls for a recovery window of about six weeks.

The tournament is slated to begin on Sept. 17, so a six-week window would put him in a position to be involved. Still, complications could happen, so it’s wise to admit that they’ll need to revisit the issue later on.

Here’s the official statement via Stars GM Jim Nill:

“Jamie Benn underwent surgery to repair a core muscle injury on Thursday, July 14 at the Vincera Institute in Philadelphia, PA. His operation, performed by Dr. Bill Meyers, went as planned. His full recovery time is expected to be six weeks, putting him on schedule to be ready for the 2016-17 season. Jamie will be re-evaluated after the six-week rehabilitation process, at which time, his availability for the World Cup of Hockey will be determined.”

This isn’t the only Benn story to follow during this summer. File it under “easier said than done,” but the Stars aim to try to sign the all-world forward to a contract extension as he approaches the last year of his current bargain deal.

Rangers land solid depth by inking Josh Jooris


Josh Jooris isn’t the sort of matinee name the New York Rangers often seem fixated on, but he’s a sneaky-solid pickup for the team.

The New York Rangers announced that they signed Jooris on Friday, although they didn’t provide details regarding the term or money. They confirmed as much shortly after also making Dylan McIlrath‘s signing official.

Jooris was slated to become an RFA with the Calgary Flames, but they didn’t hand him a qualifying offer, so he became unrestricted. He carried a $975K salary and cap hit last season.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that Jooris’ deal is for one year and $800K.

Many Flames fans were hoping that they would re-sign Jooris, even though his offensive numbers dipped a bit from 24 in 2014-15 to 13 last season.

The 26-year-old saw a sharp increase in defensive zone starts in 2015-16. With that in mind, it’s plausible that the Rangers could either hand him those tough assignments or get more production out of him with a cushier role.

This isn’t the sort of move that will revolutionize a team, but depth makes a difference in this age of parity.

New York has been awfully busy today, also signing Tommy Hughes.

Earlier this week, the Rangers avoided salary arbitration by signing J.T. Miller. They still face potential hearings with Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes.

This team is really coming into focus, and Jooris provides a solid – if subtle – boost.

Rangers sign McIlrath, narrow to-do list down to Kreider, Hayes


The New York Rangers aren’t waiting until the last minute to handle every salary arbitration situation, although they still have some work to do.

The Rangers avoided arbitration with defenseman Dylan McIlrath via a one-year, $800K deal, according to the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby. New York recently confirmed that an agreement was made.

This comes after locking down promising forward J.T. Miller on Wednesday while New York still faces potential hearings with Chris Kreider (slated for July 22) and Kevin Hayes (July 27).

Locking up McIlrath to a reasonable deal provides optimism that the Rangers could take care of both Kreider and Hayes.

(For further reading on one of those scenarios, note that The New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes Kyle Palmieri‘s contract could stand as a comparable for Kreider.)

McIlrath, the 10th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, is still attempting to carve out his place in the Rangers’ lineup. He played 34 of his 37 career NHL regular season games last season and added a playoff contest as well.

Dan Boyle‘s departure opens things up quite a bit for him, although he’ll still need to prove himself since the Rangers have plenty of defensive options from a quantity standpoint.

Parenteau’s return to Islanders: predictable and sensible


New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has impressed over the years by finding gems and great value, yet this off-season has been … divisive.

Essentially trading Kyle Okposo for Andrew Ladd and losing Frans Nielsen leaves the team in an odd place, but signing P.A. Parenteau for cheap stands as another example of his shrewdness.

Parenteau enjoyed a rejuvenating 2015-16 season with the Maple Leafs, yet his best times came riding shotgun with John Tavares and the New York Islanders. Neither side forgets about that, and this full-circle moment almost seems predictable to Parenteau, as NHL.com noted after the deal.

“I had a rough couple years, in Montreal especially, but I bounced back last year,” Parenteau said. “I thought I might come back [to the Islanders] at the Trade Deadline last season but it didn’t happen. I always thought I’d be back to Long Island.”

OK, so maybe someone needs to get him up to speed about the Brooklyn thing, but hey … plenty of time in the off-season, right?

This move isn’t a revolutionary one for the Islanders. Still, it’s a nice one that gives them a boost for little money.

The rest is a little more subjective, right down to Nielsen’s departure possibly being beneficial to the benefit of Ryan Strome.

Yes, Doc Emrick calling a Pittsburgh Pirates game was great


Here’s something that makes sense even if you didn’t necessarily see it coming: Bob Costas and Mike “Doc” Emrick sound great together.

NHL on NBC’s beloved announcer got to live a dream on Friday, as Emrick called a Pittsburgh Pirates game.

Costas and Emrick covered the game for MLB Network, capturing the moment of Josh Bell’s first hit:

NHL.com shared a few other clips, while MLB.com has even more.

There was one additional bonus for Doc, too: his Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4.