James O'Brien

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

Senators move Dorion to GM and make Murray an advisor, no word yet on coach firing


The Ottawa Senators might do more than just the expected in firing head coach Dave Cameron.

There could also be some tweaks higher up the chain, as the Senators are likely to announce an executive tweak: Pierre Dorion may take the mantle of GM while Bryan Murray would be moved to an advisory role, according to the Ottawa Citizen’s Bruce Garrioch.

Update: The Senators made the GM tweak official.

Garrioch runs down Dorion’s credentials:

Dorion, an Ottawa native, is in his ninth season with the Senators and has spent 20 years working in the NHL.

He was the club’s director of player personnel before being elevated to the position of assistant GM along with Randy Lee in 2014. Lee will stay in his role as assistant GM and you can expect that his duties will be expanded.

As far as Cameron goes … it sounds like we’ll have to wait.

Pavel Datsyuk told Mitch Albom he’s probably leaving NHL after this season


Detroit Red Wings fans have every right to chant “One more year” at Pavel Datsyuk, but it’s his choice … and he’s openly admitting that he’s leaning toward going back to Russia after the 2015-16 season ends.

He told the Detroit Free Press’ Mitch Albom as much in a story that appeared on Sunday morning.

“I’m thinking I go home after this season,” Datsyuk said, in a long discussion at the Northville home of his agent and friend, Dan Milstein. “I may not be done with hockey, but — it is hard to say — I think I am done playing in NHL.”

Albom notes that Datsyuk “has been squirming” to go back to Russia since as early as 2012, so this shouldn’t be a big surprise to the Red Wings.

The question for his team, however, is how do they handle a $7.5 million cap hit that won’t retire with Datsyuk?

The answer, it seems, may come in … Chris Pronger. General Fanager trots out a pretty reasonable scenario that could help two teams at once:

(Read the entire thread of thoughts here.)

ESPN’s Craig Custance has more about the cap situation here, with these tweets capturing the gist:

Long story short? You never know when a change of heart might happen, but Red Wings fans may be wise to savor Datsyuk’s playoff appearances. They could serve as a swan song for one of the NHL’s most magical talents.

Related: Datsyuk insists he’s focused on the playoffs

North Dakota defeats Quinnipiac for eighth NCAA Ice Hockey title

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On an extremely busy night for the NHL, plenty of scouts were probably watching the NCAA.

That’s because the 2016 national championship game was taking place, and North Dakota won handily, beating Quinnipiac by a score of 5-1.

This is North Dakota’s eighth title, but it’s been some time as the last one came back in 2000.

One of the requisite tweets:

A few tidbits that might be fans of poaching college free agents/etc.:

Everything you need to know about the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery


There are two games on Sunday, yet all four of those teams are remarkably guaranteed playoff spots, so their contests won’t affect the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

This post has a simple aim, then: catch you up to speed on where teams landed and other key bits of information.

Let’s rattle it all off in something resembling a FAQ format, shall we?

When: It takes place on April 30, 2016.

Rankings: Here are the standings, with each team’s chances of landing the first overall pick.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs – 20 percent chance
2. Edmonton Oilers – 13.5 percent
3. Vancouver Canucks – 11.5 percent
4. Columbus Blue Jackets – 9.5 percent
5. Calgary Flames – 8.5 percent
6. Winnipeg Jets – 7.5 percent
7. Arizona Coyotes – 6.5 percent
8. Buffalo Sabres – 6 percent
9. Montreal Canadiens – 5 percent
10. Colorado Avalanche – 3.5 percent
11. New Jersey Devils – 3 percent
12. Ottawa Senators – 2.5 percent
13. Carolina Hurricanes – 2 percent
14. Boston Bruins – 1 percent

Will the world end if the Oilers get the top pick again?

Hopefully not.

It would be super-awkward/funny if that happened, though.

How it’s changed

This NHL release breaks it down spot-by-spot if you’d like, but the gist is that the bottom teams aren’t given quite the same odds. For example: the team with the highest odds would have a 25 percent chance before, but now it’s at 20 percent.

Here’s a little more, via that release:

Beginning in 2016, the Draft Lottery will be utilized to assign the top three drafting slots in the NHL Draft, an expansion over previous years when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection only.

Three draws will be held: the 1st Lottery draw will determine the Club selecting first overall, the 2nd Lottery draw will determine the Club selecting second overall and the 3rd Lottery draw will determine the club selecting third overall.

As a result of this change, the team earning the fewest points during the regular season will no longer be guaranteed, at worst, the second overall pick. That club could fall as low as fourth overall.

The allocation of odds for the 1st Lottery draw will be the same as outlined above for the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery. The odds for the remaining teams will increase on a proportionate basis for the 2nd Lottery draw, based on which Club wins the 1st Lottery draw, and again for the 3rd Lottery draw, based on which Club wins the 2nd Lottery draw.

The 11 Clubs not selected in the Draft Lottery will be assigned NHL Draft selections 4 through 14, in inverse order of regular-season points.

Who will go first?

That depends, and it’s something PHT will tackle as the draft approaches, but Auston Matthews (pictured) is probably at least the most widely known guy who could be the top selection.

With Kings’ loss, Pacific title comes down to Ducks – Caps on Sunday


For a few hours, the Anaheim Ducks were Winnipeg Jets fans. Now the Los Angeles Kings get to root for the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

(Hey, it shouldn’t be too hard, with beloved former Kings winger Justin Williams playing for the Capitals …)

The reasoning is simple. The Jets beat the Kings via a shootout on Saturday night, thwarting Los Angeles’ attempt to lock down the Pacific Division title.

Note: Jonathan Quick gave the Kings a legit shot at winning, however.

Los Angeles is now at 102 standings points with zero games left while the Ducks are at 101 with one game remaining, that contest against the Capitals on Sunday. Luckily, we don’t need any long division or tiebreaker gymnastics to figure this one out. Instead, it comes down to this:

If the Ducks win in any fashion, they take the Pacific.

If the Capitals win in any fashion, the Kings win the Pacific instead.

Easy, right?

It should be a fun time, and it gives Sunday’s funky, final day of the regular season that much more meaning. The Pacific winner takes on the Nashville Predators while the second-place team faces the San Jose Sharks in round one.

Neither one of those scenarios are necessarily “easy,” but winning the division brings with it some perks, most obviously being better access to home-ice advantage.

Get the popcorn ready for tomorrow, everyone.