Author: James O'Brien

Tampa Bay Lightning v Edmonton Oilers

Burning up: Draisaitl will reportedly play 10th game with Oilers


For better or worse, the Edmonton Oilers aren’t afraid to burn years off of their prized prospects’ entry-level deals. If TSN’s Ryan Rishaug’s report is correct, they’ll continue that pattern with Leon Draisaitl.

OK, technically they stashed Darnell Nurse (seventh overall in 2013) in junior last season, but if you limit things to top-three picks/forwards, it’s an obvious trend. From Taylor Hall to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Nail Yakupov and now Draisaitl, the Oilers have opted for the instant jump each time.

Many will argue that such a gameplan is all about instant gratification instead of careful development, yet that’s up to debate, especially since it’s plausible that young forwards aren’t the ones who are most responsible for the fledgling franchise’s largest issues.*

Let’s step out of that vacuum for a moment and ponder Draisaitl’s work so far, though.

Mixed results

So far, the 19-year-old is averaging 13:14 minutes per game. He failed to score a point in his first three games before grabbing an assist on Oct. 15. He added another helper on Oct. 22 and scored his first goal (a game-winner) against the Carolina Hurricanes:

His possession stats are a bit challenging to decipher, which isn’t shocking considering the tiny sample size. While they look nice compared to teammates, he’s started an incredible 81 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, so it’s clear he’s heavily protected in limited minutes (so far).

Really, the Edmonton Journal’s headline from Oct. 26 probably nails it:

Leon Draisaitl: not great, not good, not bad, need to see more.

Apparently, the Oilers decided that they need to see more of him at the NHL level, in 2014-15.

This decision will produce some (justifiable) criticism, yet with Edmonton’s weakness at center – and promising winning streak – it’s also easy to see the logic of the move. Considering the hysteria generated from their lousy start, more than a few front office members might feel especially compelled to “win now.”

It looks like we’ll find out this season if Draisaitl can move the needle enough to justify the risks involved.

* – One fair criticism is that such a strategy might explain why the Oilers haven’t enjoyed much savings on “second contracts,” however. Despite a roster that hasn’t produced a playoff run, Edmonton only has about $4 million in cap space and isn’t really enjoying big savings on young players who boast better potential than results so far.

Report: NHL will hold hearing with John Moore for hit on Haula (Updated)

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Rangers

The NHL will have a hearing with New York Rangers defenseman John Moore for his hit on Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

TVA’s Renaud Lavoie notes that it hasn’t been determined if Moore will receive an in-person or telephone meeting just yet, so the ceiling on his punishment hasn’t been determined yet.


Here are two videos of the check from Monday:



Haula, 23, didn’t return during last night’s game. It could be some time before we receive an update on his condition, as the Wild don’t have a morning skate planned today.

The NHL already suspended Moore (also 23) once before. He sat out two 2014 playoff games for this hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise:

(Some will note that the hits are similar.)

The Rangers don’t play again until Nov. 1, so the league has some time to mull things over. Perhaps an update regarding Haula’s status may affect the decision (or the severity of a possible punishment)?

Stars support backup Lindback … for now

Dallas Stars v Nashville Predators

Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff pledged his support for backup Anders Lindback, yet he also told the Dallas Morning News that the team would consider going with a different option if their No. 2 goalie continues to implode.

Ruff spoke about how the towering goalie is hard on himself, especially after showing promise in practice settings. Ultimately, he said that it’s “his job to support” Lindback.

Even so, the Stars haven’t closed the door on Jussi Rynnas or Jack Campbell getting some chances if Lindback can’t snap out of it. Here’s what Ruff told the DMN about possible competition for that backup spot:

“The answer, I think, ultimately is yes,” Ruff said. “You can put Rynnas in there. You can put Campbell in there. You’ve got to play well. It’s no different than a fourth line player that goes in and out. You’ve got to play well. If you want to stay in, you’ve got to play well. He understands his role and knows that he has to play well.”

Plenty of options, though quality could be an issue

Campbell, 22, was the 11th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft. His lone NHL appearance came last season, when he allowed six goals in a loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Rynnas, has three games of NHL experience to his name, and like Campbell, he’s still without a win at this level.

(There wasn’t any discussion about free agent options, despite veterans such as Martin Brodeur, Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas, who briefly played for Dallas last season.)

While Dallas has options, the relative inexperience of Campbell and Rynnas explains why they handed Lindback a $925K deal. The 26-year-old certainly enjoyed a higher profile in the league years ago; despite just 38 games of experience at the time, the Lightning gave up two second-rounders and a third-round pick to land Lindback in the 2012 offseason.

A matter of time?

It’s unfair to close the door on Lindback working things out. There’s no sugarcoating allowing nine goals in his first two starts, yet it’s still a tiny sample size. Ben Scrivens and Henrik Lundqvist are already looking better after tough starts, for example.

That said, Lindback’s career stats at various levels inspire some concern that teams are paying for potential instead of results. As supportive as the Stars might seem right now, Lindback might not get the benefit of the doubt much longer.

The Stars host the St. Louis Blues tonight. Lindback’s next best chance to start could come this weekend, as Dallas faces the Ducks at home on Friday before visiting the Wild in Minnesota on Saturday.


Stars are concerned about Lindback

Rynnas battled him for the backup gig in training camp

PHT Morning Skate: More hockey Halloween oddness, preferably for charity


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Expect some really outrageous/humorous/maybe occasionally tasteless Halloween costumes from NHL players this week. Roberto Luongo already checked some/all of those boxes with his creative outfit. It’s going to be difficult to top the Boston Bruins’ Halloween-themed visit to the Boston Children’s Hospital for the sheer joy they provided, goofy costumes and all:

As someone out of the “Frozen” loop, I’ll leave the references to the comments, but fantastic stuff from the Bruins.

Check out more on their visit here and on the Bruins’ Twitter feed. (And seriously, Dougie Hamilton deserves kudos.)

This one’s a little older and maybe not quite as self-effacing, but still, the New York Rangers were among the other teams combining hockey players in costumes and charitable gestures:

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Transitioning from heartwarming to … just weird, we have the Reading Royals’ special Halloween duds:

Um, what?

True or false: The “puck in the head” costume is played out.

The Anaheim Ducks shared some fan pumpkin carvings on Twitter, adding more evidence to the mounting case in favor of their original logo:

Jonathan Huberdeau’s “Joker” costume seems a little off. Is it more like Joker with a little “Mad Hatter,” or what?

One bit that’s not really Halloween-related, even if it almost feels like it. Here’s a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ quirky “Cannonball Wall” promotion:

The Blue Jackets scored 128 goals at home last season, so if that’s any indication, they might need to clear a lot of wall space.

Quick hits: Habs, Price get a little revenge vs. Rangers

Carey Price,

There are 11 games on the schedule, so to keep you up to date on the action, it seems wise to put the results in one spot.

First, PHT posts on some of the individual results:

Sabres embarrass Sharks 2-1; Marc-Edouard Vlasic isn’t too worried

Bruins bump Jonathan Bernier out, leave Leafs soul-searching following 4-1 loss

Islanders win track meet against the Dallas Stars 7-5

The Blues beat the Blackhawks and left Dan Carcillo limping

Penguins blank Predators

Wild chase Nabokov, blast the Lightning 7-2

OK, that takes care of three of Saturday’s contests, but there are plenty of important ones that we’ll cover here.

Canadiens 3, Rangers 1

Are the Montreal Canadiens the best team in the East? It’s way too early to say, but they got a little revenge against the team that beat them in the 2014 Eastern Conference finals, topping the Rangers thanks in large part to Carey Price’s strong play. /Cues “What if Price didn’t get injured?” talk …

Price is on quite the streak lately, by the way:

The Canadiens are 7-1-0 even though there have been sloppy moments.

(Chris Kreider had a quiet evening, in case you’re wondering.)

Flyers 4, Red Wings 2

The Detroit Red Wings fired 37 shots on goal to Philly’s 17, but Ray Emery stole one for the Flyers. Could Emery find himself stealing some starts from Steve Mason as the season goes along? That’s a discussion for another day.

Flyers head coach Craig Berube admits it wasn’t the greatest performance … but he’ll take it:

Devils 3, Senators 2 (OT)

New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer illustrates how important this win was:

Naturally, Jaromir Jagr was the one to score the overtime-winner:

Coyotes 2, Panthers 1 (OT)

Roberto Luongo played very well in net, making 39 saves, but Florida was unable to provide him enough goal support. Bobby Lou’s likely hoping that such a common recap blurb from his original tour with the Panthers doesn’t remain a trend this time around; so far, that’s not looking too promising.

Justin Hodgman took quite a journeyman’s path to his first NHL game, yet it only took him that long to score his first career goal:

Oliver Ekman-Larsson ended up winning the game in OT (to Luongo’s chagrin):

Capitals 3, Flames 1

This is probably the type of win the Washington Capitals envisioned when they hired Barry Trotz.

Things didn’t go well for Alex Ovechkin – he didn’t get a point and broke two sticks on opportunities late in the third period alone – yet the Capitals were able to grind out a solid win.

Nicklas Backstrom was fantastic, scoring the insurance goal and nearly collecting another one before being thwarted by a game Karri Ramo.

Fittingly, a player who once played under Trotz with Nashville enjoyed arguably the best night, as Joel Ward scored two of Washington’s three goals.

One more stat that would probably make Trotz smile: the Capitals didn’t allow an even-strength goal tonight. Overall, Braden Holtby made 20 out of 21 saves to build back some confidence, too.

All in all, it’s a win by the Trotz blueprint. Washington hopes to see many more.