James O'Brien

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

Hurricanes nab Nakladal for one year, $600K

If you can ignore the questionable move to bring back Cam Ward, the Carolina Hurricanes have enjoyed a very nice summer.

Sunday stands as one of their better days so far. After making a low-risk claim on a nice asset in Martin Frk, the Hurricanes signed Jakub Nakladal to a one year, $600K contract.

GM Ron Francis is accurate in describing this as a depth move, even if Flames fans seem sad about losing Nakladal and pundits are giving it a thumbs up.

Flames Nation discusses how he drove play for Calgary.

These aren’t the types of signings that revolutionize teams, but if you make enough wise ones, you’ll often reap some significant rewards.

Waiver notes: Hurricanes claim Frk from Red Wings


Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings fans might look at today’s waiver moves as more than just a footnote if Martin Frk ends up being a useful contributor.

Carolina claimed Frk, the 49th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, after Detroit waived him. If his 27 goals in 67 AHL games weren’t a sign of his potential, consider this: TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that three teams were hoping to grab the Czech forward.

GM Ron Francis notes that Frk has been “a goal scorer at every level.”


It was a busy day overall as far as the waiver wire goes, which isn’t a surprise since rosters need to be solidified by Tuesday.

Some other interesting names listed among the waivers: Jordan Weal of the Philadelphia Flyers, multiple Toronto Maple Leafs including Brooks Laich and Zac Dalpe of the Minnesota Wild.

Also of note: the Calgary Flames released Lauri Korpikoski (“The Korpedo”) from his PTO.

Breakfast (and honesty) saved Drouin, Cooper, Lightning

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With the right attitude, it’s never too late to find common ground. It’s never too late to have breakfast with someone.

Just take Jonathan Drouin, Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning for example.

During several moments of the 2015-16 season, it seemed like their differences were irreconcilable. Drouin was waiting at home for a trade, a move that GM Steve Yzerman was openly looking to make.

Injuries and other considerations provided Drouin with an opportunity, and boy did he seize that chance to prove himself. The young forward scored 14 points in Tampa Bay’s scrappy playoff run, tying him with Victor Hedman for third on the team.

Now, it appears to be water under what once seemed like a burned bridge. So how did they make those repairs?

Breakfast, of course.

Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Cooper and Drouin cleared the air during a candid breakfast at the end of the regular season, a moment that may have turned the tide.

“We probably said some things to each other that we’d thought about but had never said,” Cooper said. “I told him this was my thought: ‘This is what I believed when I was doing things, but now, listening to you, maybe there were some things I shouldn’t have done. Now that I look back, maybe I was wrong.’ And vice versa.”

No word on what they were eating, sadly, so we can only assume they were hashing things out over hash browns. Feel free to also use the phrase “egging him on.”

All terrible most important meal of the day humor aside, other teams may look to this as a reminder that hurt feelings can be soothed in the pursuit of victories and money.

It’s plausible that Drouin and the Lightning are mainly maintaining a business-like relationship, and you know what? That’s OK. Plenty of sports teams can achieve success even if there are people who aren’t best buddies off the ice.

(Remember that anecdote about those championship-winning New York Knicks teams hailing 12 different cabs?)

Just think of all the situations that could have been mended over breakfast. What if P.K. Subban and Michel Therrien could have worked things out while enjoying some french toast?

Feel free to Photoshop various hockey people with breakfast. You’re encouraged to do so, really.

So, uh, who’s backing up Jones for Sharks?


James Reimer didn’t see any real playoff action, yet his departure from the Sharks could still sting San Jose in the vague category of “peace of mind.”

Because, really, it feels like the Sharks are headed toward the season with Martin Jones and ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

That description is the biggest insult to Troy Grosenick, whose contract is one-way in 2016-17. The Sharks must have been deeply unimpressed by his work lately to waive him like that.

At the moment, the No. 2 job is going to Aaron Dell, a 27-year-old goalie with zero games of NHL experience. *Gulp*

To be fair to the Sharks, Dell has very promising AHL stats and Alex Stalock took a long time to really get his chance (only to perform pretty nicely at times for San Jose).

Dell is by no means a guarantee for the gig, which inserts a pretty remarkable element of uncertainty considering how close we are to the start of the regular season. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that the Sharks are looking into signing a backup, possibly Mike Condon.

Plenty of NHL teams seem to dismiss the value of a good backup, but the Sharks are truly putting all their eggs in the Martin Jones basket.

Fisher: Predators fans are going to love Subban

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) P.K. Subban already has belted out “Folsom Prison Blues” at Tootsie’s, a famous tonk. He visited the local children’s hospital before training camp opened. Then he scored a goal in each of his first two preseason games with his new team.

In Nashville, that’s called knowing how to make an entrance.

Subban’s passion may not have gone over well with coaches and management with the Montreal Canadiens. His new teammates with the Nashville Predators see the defenseman as a perfect fit in Music City – a town built on entertainment and filled with fans who want a great show from a franchise now expected to go further than ever before in chasing the Stanley Cup.

“Fans are going to love him, there’s no question,” Predators captain Mike Fisher said. “And our fans are very passionate. They’re loyal. They’re forgiving, too, even through the ups and downs. … It’s not going to be long before he’s a lot of people’s favorite player.”

Montreal and Nashville stunned the NHL on June 29 when the teams swapped star defensemen straight up, sending Predators captain Shea Weber north for the 2013 Norris Trophy winner. Talk surfaced of personality conflicts with the organization and inside the Canadiens’ locker room, and Subban tried to make it clear he loved Montreal, both the atmosphere and media in a town that loves its storied hockey team.

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of people who have microphones and pens and paper and I can’t challenge every person that has made an opinion of me based on `facts,”‘ Subban said. “So for me, I’d rather just let my play do the talking, and I look forward to being a big part of this team moving forward. … I’ve always been one to let my actions do my talking for me.”

Subban is busy making friends in his new locker room and learning his way around Nashville, a switch for a guy used to being the one who welcomes new players.

“It’s an exciting time for me at 27 years old with no family or any children or anything like that,” Subban said. “It’s like you get a bunch of new brothers right? So it’s fun.”

The Predators prefer to make their own minds up about Subban rather than listen to rumors. Fisher said it’s easy to hear a lot of things about players, and he believes Subban will fit in nicely.

“Everyone knows he’s an outgoing guy that brings passion to the game and sometimes the game of hockey that’s a little bit laid back it’s something new, but I think it’s a good thing,” Fisher said.

Forward James Neal has had dinner with Subban and sees someone both passionate about hockey and his fans. Subban’s comfort handling both the media and social media has been quickly noticed.

“He’s going to be good for our team,” Neal said.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was shocked by the trade sending his close friend Weber to Montreal.

“But all of a sudden you realize you’re going to get P.K., all the potential and all the talent he brings,” Rinne said. “He’s going to bring a lot of different elements to our team and also the attention on him. He’s very electric and a very exciting player to watch on the ice and off the ice. He’s going to bring a different element to our team. It’s good for the city of Nashville, the organization.”

Nashville fans got a great look at Subban during the NHL All-Star weekend in January. Subban slipped on a wig to imitate Jaromir Jagr for lots of laughs during the breakaway challenge and ended up winning the event decided by Twitter .

This franchise went seven games in back-to-back series last spring in the postseason, and general manager David Poile saw Subban as the perfect combination of skating and speed for coach Peter Laviolette’s attacking offense. The trade was criticized in Montreal with the Predators getting the younger player. Poile thinks that speaks more to just how popular Subban was throughout Quebec.

“We’ve seen in the short time P.K.’s been here … he makes a lot of touches and he gets a lot of publicity,” Poile said. “People gravitate to him because he’s a hockey player, yes, but he has more going on his life and he has some really good purposes in his life.”

The Predators sold out a franchise-record 35 games last season, though the need to sell tickets never fades. Subban is more than happy to help sell the sport of hockey in his new winter home.

“At the end of the day, it’s sports entertainment, and we have to perform to keep fans in the seats and what they pay helps put food on our tables,” Subban said. “The more people we can engage and bring into the game, the better our game is going to be.”

A perfect fit indeed.

AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

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