James O'Brien

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

Blackhawks move atop West, edge Capitals (with some controversy)


By beating the NHL’s top team in the Washington Capitals, the Chicago Blackhawks moved to first place in the Central Division and Western Conference … but not without some controversy.

Dennis Rasmussen‘s 3-1 goal was the eventual game-winner for Chicago, but many believe that the play should have been whistled dead thanks to icing.

Instead, it ended up being the difference-maker as Chicago held off a late Washington push to win 3-2.

Here’s that controversial goal:

That late drama overshadowed a well-played game.

While Alex Ovechkin couldn’t score, Evgeny Kuznestov and Marcus Johansson found the net for Washington. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were the Blackhawks’ scorers alongside Rasmussen.

Both Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford enjoyed strong moments in this Sunday, as fans got a taste of why these teams may face off in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Chicago’s new (and new/old) faces fared well on Sunday, with Andrew Ladd picking up an assist and Tomas Fleischmann impressing overall.

If this ends up being the matchup, perhaps Sunday planted some seeds of disdain.

Zach Parise returns for Wild on Sunday


The Florida Panthers made some big moves heading into the trade deadline, but their opponent enjoys the bigger addition on Sunday.

While Jiri Hudler & Co. aren’t going to make it for the Panthers, the Minnesota Wild welcome Zach Parise back into the lineup this afternoon.

Parise missed the past two games with an upper-body injury. He’s been effective as usual this season, at least when he’s been healthy.

Blockbuster trade: Rangers get Eric Staal, Hurricanes look to future


The New York Rangers love landing the big fish, and that description certainly applies to Eric Staal.

Here are the official details, via the Rangers:

Rangers get: Eric Staal.

Hurricanes receive: Aleksi Saarela, plus two second-round picks (one in 2016, the other in 2017).


Reporters filled in other details regarding the move.

To little surprise, it sounds like the Hurricanes will retain a big chunk of Staal’s cap hit:

The Rangers keep spending big for short-term gains that could bring long-term pain. The Rangers only have one pick in the top two rounds of the next two drafts: their first in 2017.

It’s difficult to forecast where Staal fits in among the Rangers forward, but when everyone’s at or near full-strength, it would certainly be fun to see him line up with Rick Nash.

The Hurricanes swallowed a bitter pill in trading away the face of their franchise, ending an era that hasn’t been successful since Staal guided them to a surprise Stanley Cup victory.

(Side note: there’s nothing stopping Eric Staal from returning to the Hurricanes as a free agent this summer, however.)

Moving along, people are positive about Saarela’s potential.

Ultimately, the takeaway is all a matter of perspective.

The Hurricanes are bulking up on draft picks, if nothing else.

In an amusing twist, Eric goes from playing with one brother in Carolina (Jordan Staal) to another with the Rangers in Marc Staal.

It should be fascinating to see how Staal responds to this situation. Rangers fans will expect a lot, and he’ll deal with a ton of spotlight in New York. On the other hand, he can earn himself a ton of money and security if he helps the Rangers make a deep playoff run.

Names in the trade rumor mill: Eric Staal, Dan Hamhuis and more


Loui Eriksson isn’t the only big or interesting name on “trade watch” right now.

In fact, there are enough that it’s probably easiest to rattle them off in one convenient post:

  • Eric Staal is the biggest name – more marketable than Eriksson, you could probably argue – and he may go from the Carolina Hurricanes to one of the NHL’s glitziest teams (which happens to be addicted to these types of moves).

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Hurricanes and New York Rangers are trying to hash out a trade, and we may very well reach a resolution today:

Update: The Staal-to-Rangers rumors are only intensifying.

  • McKenzie reports that the Minnesota Wild were at least gauging interest in blueliner Jonas Brodin, though that might not be imminent.

  • P.A. Parenteau got hurt this weekend, yet it doesn’t sound like it would keep the Toronto Maple Leafs from moving him:

  • Finally, Radim Vrbata could also be in the mix for a potentially busy Canucks deadline … or not.

Long story short? Don’t just keep an eye on things tomorrow; there could be big moves today, too. You know, unless such swaps don’t work out …

Busy wire day, too: Laich clears, Berra and Rinaldo on waivers


A busy day heading into the twilight of the trade deadline brings about other moves, including a boatload of activity on waivers.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie makes it easy for us all by compiling them all in a handful of tweets.

Waived, according to McKenzieAlex Stalock, Reto Berra, Rene Bourque, Mike Brown, David Warsofsky, Adam Cracknell, Adam Pardy and Zac Rinaldo.

Berra’s an interesting consideration, as he’s shown flashes of brilliance despite arguably being a little pricey when it comes the the assets Colorado spent to acquire and then keep him.

Stalock is noteworthy as he was part of the James Reimer trade, but won’t get an immediate look in Toronto.

Finally, Rinaldo tends to make waves when he plays in the NHL …

Clearing waivers, via McKenzie: Maxime Talbot, Chris Porter and Brooks Laich.

Laich is playing for Washington as of this writing.