James O'Brien

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

Habs sign Paul Byron to reported three-year, $3.5M extension

The Montreal Canadiens seem primed to be trade deadline sellers, but they’re not pawning off depth forward Paul Byron.

(This is something ESPN/TSN’s Pierre LeBrun hinted at earlier.)

Instead, the Canadiens signed Byron to a three-year contract extension. Multiple reports indicate that the cap hit is $1.167 million (rounded up), which puts the total damage at about $3.5 million overall.

That’s a slight premium to pay for a depth forward, though it’s not outrageous if the club likes what it sees from the 26-year-old.

We’ll see how many of his current teammates join him in 2016-17.

WATCH LIVE: Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings


No doubt about it: the Columbus Blue Jackets have been a huge letdown; they might just be the most disappointing NHL team of 2015-16.

The Red Wings shouldn’t allow that to lull them into a false sense of security, however, as Columbus also stands as a dangerous spoiler.

The Boston Bruins know that all to well, as the Blue Jackets edged them 6-4 on Monday. Columbus also has wins over the Ducks, Flames and Canucks in February.

This is a great opportunity for the Red Wings to build a little cushion for themselves, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed cakewalk.

Enjoy the action on NBCSN and stream it via the link below.


No Shea Weber for Predators on Tuesday


For a team that still needs to cement its playoff status, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs is pretty important for the Nashville Predators.

That task is tougher than it may seem at first blush, as they’ll need to do so without captain Shea Weber, who’s out with a lower-body injury.

It’s unclear how serious this is (beyond the vague day-by-day label). The assumption is that Weber got injured sometime during Nashville’s shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens.

Barret Jackman steps in with Weber out.

Even in victory, things have rarely been easy for the Predators, so at least they’re used to fighting for their points.

Trade: Capitals get Mike Weber, Sabres add to draft pick war chest


The Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals made a Tuesday trade that basically inches them along in their very different directions.

Short version: Capitals acquired Mike Weber; Sabres received a 2017 third-round pick while retaining half of Weber’s salary.


Capitals: Washington adds depth without spending big money. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season; beyond that, the Sabres are retaining 50 percent of his $1.67 million cap hit.

So, yeah, this is very cheap.

He’s pure depth for Washington, likely to fight for bottom pairing minutes. The “stay-at-home defenseman” could find himself as a healthy scratch some nights.

There are patterns in the way people describe him:

This may be the easiest way to understand his role, though:

Sabres: Buffalo’s takeaway is obvious enough.

They receive a third-round pick from the Capitals, albeit in 2017. (Then again, with the way Washington’s playing, there’s at least a chance that might have been the wiser pick to seek. Maybe.)

Weber didn’t figure heavily into the Sabres’ future, it seemed:

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Sabres continue this pattern of pick stacking for the next few days, at least with whatever assets (maybe Jamie McGinn himself?) teams may value.

With help from General Fanager’s listings, the Sabres now appear to have 11 draft picks in 2016 and nine in 2017. That includes three second-rounders in 2017, while this upcoming draft is heavier on third-rounders …

… For now?

No joke: Mitch Albom’s writing the script for the John Scott movie


So, get this: Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. reports that there will indeed be a movie depicting John Scott’s journey to become MVP of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.

Not only that, but Mitch Albom is writing the script.

(Seems like a good time to roll with this GIF.)

Mandalay Sports Media acquired the rights to the story, which will be produced by Mike Tollin and Jon Weinbach. It’s important to note that there can often be bumps in the road between plans being hatched to make a movie and “sitting in a theater and nitpicking that movie.”

Still, it’s pretty wild stuff. Read more about it here.

Oh, and sadly, all the best/worst jokes have already been made:

(OK, that last one wasn’t about the movie and might not have been a joke.)