James O'Brien

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

Habs add brawn by handing Bobby Farnham a two-way deal


Are the Montreal Canadiens a better team after this off-season?

That’s up to debate, but there’s no denying the notion that they’re trying to become more physically imposing.

Friday presented the latest example of that emphasis, as the Habs handed tough guy Bobby Farnham a one-year, two-way contract.

This follows the trend of exchanging star defenseman P.K. Subban for hard-hitting star* blueliner Shea Weber and moving Lars Eller for Andrew Shaw.

Elliotte Friedman mentioned in a recent “30 Thoughts” roundup that a Canadiens player said management views players as “soft, physically and mentally.”

Farnham inspires criticisms in his play, but anyone calling him soft might lose some teeth.

Again, none of this guarantees that the Canadiens will be better next season. A lot of that likely rides on Carey Price‘s health as much as anything else.

For better or worse, the way things are looking, they’ll force opponents to use a few more ice packs per night.

* – Though some might debate calling Weber a “star” at this point. These situations … get messy, don’t they?

Sabres, NHL respond to Evander Kane’s situation


It seems like both the NHL and Buffalo Sabres are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Evander Kane facing charges related to a June incident at a bar.

Unlike Sabres GM Tim Murray expressing frustration with Kane shortly following the alleged incident, Buffalo’s release didn’t really share much emotion.

Here’s the short release:

Again, the NHL seems comfortable with following a simple path.

The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington points out that the league often waits until situations go through legal processes before deciding to do anything in-house.

Long story short, this is still a fluid situation. For more, check out this post from earlier on Friday.

Kris Versteeg headlines wave of players leaving NHL, going overseas


Some will remember him for the goals. Others will cherish the two Stanley Cups he won with the Chicago Blackhawks. Maybe there’s some company in grinning at memories of his funny hair.

However you think of Kris Versteeg, it sounds like you won’t see him as an NHL player in 2015-16.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Versteeg is expected to sign with Bern of the Swiss League this weekend:

Versteeg is the biggest of three names slated to play overseas instead of the NHL.

Andre Benoit is going to play for Malmo in Sweden while Versteeg’s former Blackhawks teammate Kyle Cumiskey is also Sweden-bound, as he got a gig with AIK.

These players have seen better days, whether a free agent squeeze made a difference or not. It’s often a little sad to see them go, even if it makes sense (especially with a struggling player like Cumiskey).

It’s especially sad to see Versteeg leave, and not just because he seemed to have the most left in the tank:

Leafs send Holland a message by placing him on waivers


With a potential salary arbitration hearing looming on Monday, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a page from the Minnesota Wild’s book and waived Peter Holland.

The message – whether it’s more intended for Holland or a possible arbitrator – is that the Maple Leafs believe that Holland is merely worthy of a two-way deal.

The Wild did something similar with Jordan Schroeder, who cleared waivers.

The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle believes that Holland won’t be back with Toronto, with a few paths leading to such a conclusion.

Holland, 25, has been serviceable for the Leafs, scoring 27 points in 65 games last season with similar numbers in 2014-15.

He already has 195 regular season games under his belt between the Maple Leafs and Ducks (the team who drafted him 15th overall in 2009).

None of his numbers scream big payday, but it’s plausible that someone might at least believe that he’s worthy of a one-way deal. The Leafs might disagree, however.

Report: Evander Kane arrested by Buffalo Police


Sabres forward Evander Kane was arrested by Buffalo Police, according to WGRZ-TV and WKBW’s Ashley Rowe.

The Buffalo News reports that the arrest is stemming from a bar incident from June, with it being a misdemeanor charge for criminal trespassing. WIVB reports that there are four harassment violations in addition to that misdemeanor charge.

(You can read about the two crime reports here.)

Buffalo News photographer Jane Kwiatkowski apparently photographed Kane while he was being placed in handcuffs:

Sabres GM Tim Murray commented on Kane’s off-the-ice issues following word of the alleged incidents.

As a reminder:

Kane’s representatives are denying any wrongdoing.