James O'Brien

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

Shattenkirk, agent are ‘a bit surprised’ Blues didn’t trade him

During what could be a summer of tough calls, the St. Louis Blues sent Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames during draft weekend. Depending upon whom you ask, it sounds like they should have been even busier.

To be specific, Kevin Shattenkirk and his reps seemed to believe that they were headed out of town.

As mentioned on Thursday, it sounds like the Blues are OK with Shattenkirk discussing an extension with a potential trade partner … at least if the price is right.

That wasn’t the case yet, as his reps told ESPN’s Craig Custance.

Going a little further, Blues GM Doug Armstrong explained why he didn’t pull the trigger on a Shattenkirk deal to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

“Maybe my asking price is too high or maybe I value him higher than other people. But I haven’t been anywhere close to what I think is representative of the value of Kevin Shattenkirk,” Armstrong said on Friday (and reiterated on Saturday).

If icy talks are thawing out, perhaps it’s just a matter of time.

Then again, we’ve seen plenty of instances in which a player almost gets traded only to remain an integral part of a team, so we’ll need to wait and see.

And so will Shattenkirk.

Ray Bourque gets arrested, OUI charge after car accident


Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque was arrested and charged with OUI (operating under the influence) after a car accident on Friday, according to outlets including the Boston Globe and CSNNE.com.

The accident happened in Andover, Mass. The Boston Globe reports that no one suffered injuries from the two-car crash.

Other sources refer to it as a DWI and a charge of “following too closely.”

Bourque, 55, was released on bail.

No other information, including a court date, is available at this time.

Sabres GM doesn’t ‘know all the details’ of Evander Kane investigation


The Buffalo Sabres “are still getting information” about an investigation regarding Evander Kane allegedly harassing two women at a bar, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Here are some details regarding that situation, via the Associated Press:

The person said Kane is accused of grabbing the woman by the arm or shoulder early Friday. The person said no charges have been filed and no one has been arrested.

Sabres GM Tim Murray backed up the assertion that the team is still digging into the situation.

It doesn’t sound like they are happy to see Kane generating negative headlines, however.

“It frustrates me that it’s public and in the press, but people live their lives,” Murray said, according to the Buffalo News. “If this is like the last one and in three days they say nothing happened and it goes away, sure, it’s frustrating, but to me it’s a wait and see.”

“If it’s true, then we have to deal with it the way we have to deal with it. If it’s false again, then I guess we have to come up with a different plan of attack on how to make sure that these accusations that may not be true, how we stop them.”

The Sabres haven’t released an official statement regarding the matter. PHT will provide an update if they do.

Kings sign Trevor Lewis for four more years


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Forward Trevor Lewis has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Los Angeles Kings.

The club announced the deal Saturday.

Lewis has been a key player on the Kings’ depth lines for the past six seasons, playing a defensive game during Los Angeles’ run to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014. He scored two goals in the Kings’ Cup-clinching victory over New Jersey in 2012.

The 29-year-old Lewis had eight goals and eight assists for the Kings last season. The Salt Lake City native has never had more than 25 points in an NHL season, but he has 23 points in 75 playoff games.

Lewis was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

The 2016 NHL Draft’s biggest winners


The dust has barely settled on the 2016 NHL Draft, so what better time to assign winners and losers?

What’s that, you say? It would be better to wait anywhere between three and 10 years to hand out assessments?

(Awkward pause.)

OK, maybe that’s true, but let’s allow hindsight to make us look silly by throwing out some hasty picks anyway. Let’s start off with a post about the winners, shall we?

Note: These “grades’ are heavily influenced by trades and other factors beyond mere picks.



Feel free to cue Team America’s wildly NSFW theme song while noting that the United States churned out a record 12 first-rounders in 2016. That list included Auston Matthews, the top overall pick (and the first American to go first overall since Patrick Kane).

Read more about the ‘ol red-white-and-blue’s presence here.


With 14 overall selections, maybe Finland didn’t knock it out of the park in the “quantity” category. Still, with three of the top five picks hailing from Finland, that’s a heck of a haul.

Question: when will it stop being weird that Jarmo Kekalainen, the first Finnish GM in NHL history, opted against drafting one of those guys?

Maple Leafs/Jets

Filling out the “winners by default” categories are teams like the Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, who succeed merely by following the script in grabbing Matthews and Patrik Laine respectively.

Bonus points to Toronto if Kerby Rychel pans out, too.

Calgary Flames

Brian Elliott doesn’t cost much in cap space ($2.5 million) and he didn’t cost a whole lot to acquire. The Flames scored a massive upgrade in net for the short-term and might even be wise to lock him up for a few more years.

If that wasn’t enough, Calgary adds another useful young piece in Matthew Tkachuk. Extra super bonus points for inspiring the latest great Brian Burke quote:

Arizona Coyotes

Bold moves from a remarkably young new general manager. We could look back at nabbing Jakob Chychrun as a shrewd move, yet he wasn’t the only example of the ‘Yotes loading up on defense. Anthony Deangelo is an intriguing gamble. With Alex Goligoski in tow, the Coyotes have quite the war chest at the coveted defensive position … and in general, really.

Absorbing Pavel Datsyuk‘s contract is all about the franchise’s economic realities.

Red Wings

Unloading Datsyuk’s $7.5 million cap hit opens up plenty of possibilities for Detroit, even if dreams of Steven Stamkos end up being unfounded.

Besides, this franchise still unearths draft gems with impressive regularity.

Chicago Blackhawks

Hey, giving up Andrew Shaw hurts, but the Blackhawks landed quite a deal for his mere negotiating rights. GM Stan Bowman continues to be a salary cap Houdini. If they really do end up reuniting with Brian Campbell, look out.

Edmonton Oilers

It’s not easy to spell Jesse Puljujarvi, so let’s tweak it to “steal.”

Consider this a weaker “win” if the Oilers fail in their quest to land a defenseman.


Time will tell if winners end up looking like losers and vice versa. Things could even change between the moment this post is published and when free agency kicks off on July 1.

For whatever it’s worth, above teams look like they’re sitting fairly pretty at the moment.