James O'Brien

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

Huet treatment? Blackhawks loan Rundblad to Swiss league


In a move that evokes memories of Cristobal Huet being shipped off many moons ago, the Chicago Blackhawks loaned defenseman David Rundblad to the Swiss National League’s ZSC Lions.

This comes after the Blackhawks initially waived and demoted the blueliner.

While there’s a Huet connection in NHL team (Blackhawks) sending an ill-fitting player to Switzerland, the big difference is that this doesn’t appear to provide Chicago with any extra cap relief.


Jonathan Drouin’s agent goes public with trade request from Lightning


Jonathan Drouin‘s agent Allan Walsh basically threw down the trade demand gauntlet on the Tampa Bay Lightning today.

It appears that Drouin’s latest demotion to the AHL is merely the last straw for the third overall pick of 2013 NHL Draft, as his stop-and-go development continues to be bumpy this season.

Walsh released a statement in which he revealed that a trade request was made to the Lightning in November, but it was kept private until this became an “untenable situation.”

This tweet from the Tampa Bay Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson seemed to provide some foreshadowing:

… And apparently the Lightning explaining the demotion as a matter of getting ice time after an injury did little to sway Drouin.

So, pessimistic Lightning fans may worry that the Lightning may lose a top overall pick (Steven Stamkos, via free agency) and another high-end prospect (Drouin, via trade) in what’s becoming an incredibly messy follow-up to a promising 2015 Stanley Cup Final run.

It’s tough not to wonder if some will at least partially blame Jon Cooper for his relationship with a couple of stars, considering his harsh criticisms of Drouin’s defensive work.

As far as the more immediate future goes:

Even if the Lightning were open with trading a promising (if struggling?) prospect, this becoming public knowledge doesn’t exactly put GM Steve Yzerman in a position of strength.

/starts popping popcorn

Habs confirm Weise’s injury from Winter Classic, estimate 2-3 week absence


The Montreal Canadiens confirmed Saturday’s report that Dale Weise will miss about 5-10 games with an upper body injury suffered during the 2016 Winter Classic.

Granted, they used slightly different terms, putting his absence at two-to-three weeks rather than estimating games, but it’s ultimately the same basic outlook.

In case you missed it, Weise was injured by a cross-check via Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins:

Weise has been playing out of his mind so far this season, so this stings, especially for a Canadiens team that finally looked alive after a troubling end to 2015.

Devils have to hope Cammalleri’s upper-body injury is minor


It’s remarkable that the New Jersey Devils beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime last night, especially since they did so without Mike Cammalleri.

Cammalleri is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, as Devils head coach John Hynes told the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti.

The Devils must hope that those days are limited, as their offense clearly leans on a small handful of contributors:

1. Cammalleri – 35 points
2. Kyle Palmieri – 30 points
3. Lee Stempniak – 28 points
4. Adam Henrique – 27 points
5. Travis Zajac – 18 points
6. Damon Severson – 11 points

The Devils put on a brave face about playing without Cammalleri, mind you, noting previous successes without top scorers.

“We’ve gone through this when we didn’t have Travis, we went through it when we didn’t have Henrique and then we didn’t have both of those guys,” Hynes said. “At that time, they were big scorers for us and things were going on and this is something we had talked about. You have to be a strong team and these things are going to come up. Whatever group we have that night, we have to play a certain way and find a way to win a game and we were able to do that tonight.”

The Devils don’t really enjoy any big breaks this week, so if this is a lingering thing, they’ll face a real challenge. Their next game is a home date against the Detroit Red Wings.

Instead of being traded, Hamonic’s only become more crucial to Isles


Even with his unusual trade request in mind, the New York Islanders weren’t shy about leaning on defenseman Travis Hamonic.

As New York Newsday details, their needs have only intensified with Johnny Boychuk‘s unsettling injury, and Hamonic seems fine with the situation.

Meaning: getting more minutes and not being traded anytime soon, or so it seems.

“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you,” Hamonic told Newsday about how Boychuk’s injury might affect the trade situation. “I know that’s going to be hard for people to believe, but it’s the truth. I’m an Islander and I’m proud to be an Islander. It’s a big loss to not have Johnny out there but it doesn’t change anything for me personally.”

Newsday pegs sometime after the season as a more realistic time for Hamonic to be traded, rather than the 2015-16 season’s trade deadline on Feb. 29.

You never know how things can shake out in nearly two months, but that certainly seems like a realistic viewpoint as of today.

For more, check out that Newsday story.