James O'Brien

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

Report: Montreal Canadiens are likely to be sellers at trade deadline


Technically, the Montreal Canadiens are a bit closer to the East’s last wild card spot than they are to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the East’s cellar dweller.

The truth is that their situation is still pretty dire, and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that GM Marc Bergevin is likely to sell his rental-friendly players heading into the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

LeBrun believes that a splashier trade would be more likely to come during the summer, yet that doesn’t mean that the Habs won’t sell off an interesting piece or two.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be a big deal in the next 11 days. I think Montreal would listen to many things. But the sense you get from talking to people around the league is that the Habs’ main focus is mostly to get whatever they can for pending unrestricted free agents Dale Weise, Tom Gilbert and Tomas Fleischmann, for example.

To reiterate, as Darren Dreger did in this TSN Insider Trading segment, no one big like P.K. Subban will be moved … and Michel Therrien sounds safe, too.

Maybe the most interesting asset drawing some attention is hard-hitting, often-criticized defenseman Alexei Emelin.

(See this tweet for just one example of how he’s not in high-standing in some circles.)

The problem, LeBrun notes, is that Emelin’s contract boasts a no-movement/no-trade clause, so the Canadiens would have to convince him to waive it (a process that apparently hasn’t happened). There’s no telling that he’d accept such a proposition if they did, either.

Those details are fluid (Lars Eller may also be available, for example), but the broader concept – the Canadiens being a seller rather than trying to buy their way into the playoffs – is likely the wiser approach.

It might hurt to accept that this is almost certainly a lost season for the Habs, but sometimes you have to stomach that bitter pill to make a better shot at contending next time around.

WATCH LIVE: Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins


The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t quite the dominant forces they once were when they met in consecutive Stanley Cup Final series, but they’re still in the playoff picture.

And, honestly, they’re both still pretty fun to watch, and remain nicely stocked with talent.

There’s also plenty on the line here, as the two teams must protect their respective spots in the East playoff picture. That should make it fun viewing on NBCSN, and you can also stream the action via the link below.


Out of the wilderness? Minnesota wins in Torchetti’s debut


Make as little or as much out of this as you’d like, but the bottom line is that John Torchetti is 1-0-0 as the Minnesota Wild’s interim head coach.

The Wild looked hungry in this one, generating a 17-4 shot advantage in the first period and eventually beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2.

This ends a morbid eight-game losing streak for the Wild. It’s just the second win this Minnesota team managed since Jan. 10.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have been fine this season, yet some will notice that they really stood up in this one. Parise scored a boisterous goal and generated five shots on net while Suter continues his strong offensive season, collecting two assists to push his total to 30 (and 37 points overall).

Again, it’s easy to get lost in one victory and lose track of the big picture, especially with Vancouver struggling with issues of its own.

The Wild will gladly, desperately take this win, and maybe the jump to the West playoff picture looks a little easier to manage after tonight.


Therrien’s torment: Coyotes hand Canadiens a crushing loss


The Montreal Canadiens aren’t that far removed from their ultra-rare three-game winning streak. It just feels like it.

They were absolutely embarrassed by the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night, dropping a 6-2 defeat. It’s the second straight loss in which they’ve allowed six goals (the Buffalo Sabres beat them 6-4 on Friday).

These letdowns likely wash away most, if not all, of the good feelings from that fleeting run. The bigger picture doesn’t help their cause:

It’s tough not to wonder if the Habs are tuning out Michel Therrien, even if GM Marc Bergevin gave him a vote of confidence fairly recently. At least one observer believes that Therrien deflected some blame:

The Coyotes never really needed to worry about Anders Lindback‘s off-the-ice injury, as Louis Domingue was fine with his team in control. It may be a concern going forward, however.

Some might cling to playoff hopes for the Canadiens, yet beyond the Therrien question, there’s a tough call to make perhaps even sooner: should the Habs be sellers at the trade deadline?

In stitches: Seguin sets up OT-winner as Stars stay hot


The Dallas Stars are indeed back on track, and that means looking like a locomotive once again.

It was a closely fought game against the Nashville Predators, but Dallas came through with a 3-2 overtime win, thanks in large part to Tyler Seguin fighting through pain to suit up.

Naturally, No. 91 was a big contributor, doing a huge chunk of the work on Mattias Janmark‘s OT game-winner:

This gives the Stars four straight wins and maintains their tiebreaker advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks, who blew out the Toronto Maple Leafs.