James O'Brien

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

Devils sign first-rounder McLeod

The New Jersey Devils signed Michael McLeod to a three-year entry-level contract on Friday.

McLeod – who seemingly goes by Mikey – was selected 12th overall despite some “shade” being thrown his way, according to the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy’s write-up for PHT.

Said shade went McLeod’s way as his numbers may have suffered from injury issues, but the positive side is that he’s described as the sort of speedy forward that the Devils could really use.

As his mom explained in this fun story for the Devils’ website, McLeod has always been fast.

“For the longest time, it was almost like he was running on the ice because he had to go so fast to keep up with the other kids,” Judi McLeod said. “When he got a bit older, we got him a power skating coach to help him lengthen his stride so he could learn to stop running and wasn’t having to put so much effort into each stride, but he was always faster than almost everyone.”

Now it’s just a matter of seeing how quickly he could make a difference for the Devils.

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    Goalies accept smaller pads if they don’t lose protection


    NHL goalies are OK with making their equipment smaller, as long as such changes don’t put them at a greater risk for injuries.

    At least, that’s what goalies including Tuukka Rask, Cory Schneider and Pekka Rinne told the Associated Press on Thursday.

    (A cynic might say that they’re likely only concerned if equipment gets so large that it inhibits their movement, and if so, who would really blame them?)

    Schneider brings up a point that many would echo: increasing scoring isn’t just about making the pads smaller or the net larger.

    “If guys are giving up goals leaking through their arms that are kind of ugly goals and that increases scoring, is that a good thing? I suppose,” Schneider said. “But if you’re still only getting 20 shots a night each way, then I don’t think smaller gear is really going to make a difference. I think it’s a two-fold issue. You want to create goal-scoring by creating a better flow and more shots.”

    Yes, that’s true, but scoring continues to be a problem in the league, and getting officials, coaches and others to make needed changes is easier said than done.

    Tweaking goalie equipment might be little more than a Band-Aid, yet it could also be better than nothing.

    And, hey, goalies are (pretending to be) on board with it, too.

    Read the AP story for more.


    Goalies on smaller pads from 2013

    Schneider was OK with tweaks back then

    It’s been an issue for years

    ‘Carey Price was Carey Price’ in Habs preseason finale


    It’s a question for at least a few Montreal Canadiens fans heading into 2016-17: will Carey Price be, well, Carey Price next season?

    The question comes up because Price was on top of the goaltending world in 2014-15, only to see injuries derail last season. With a turbulent offseason behind the Habs, it would be a rather large problem if Price struggled to regain his footing (even if it would be understandable, all things considered).

    Now, it’s dangerous to put too much weight in preseason results – quick, name your team’s record from the 2014 preseason from memory – but Montreal had to be happy about the way things closed out on Thursday.

    They clobbered the rival Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1, with plenty of important names rising to the occasion.

    Including the most important one.

    “I just kept looking back [and thought], ‘Well, welcome back,'” Nathan Beaulieu said, according to NHL.com. “It’s nice to see he didn’t really miss a beat. Carey Price was Carey Price tonight.”

    Price backed up that optimism, saying “I feel like I’ve prepared well enough for the season to start.”

    (You almost get the impression that such a decisive win leaves Montreal feeling anxious with a week between this preseason finale and the 2016-17 season-opener against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 13.)

    The icing on the cake for Montreal is that other noteworthy players, particularly some new faces, enjoyed strong moments last night.

    Most obviously, Shea Weber scored a goal in his debut for the Canadiens:

    That wasn’t all. Andrew Shaw scored two goals and Alex Radulov combined with Alex Galchenyuk for this eyebrow-raiser:

    Auston Matthews also had his great moments, scoring Toronto’s only goal and making some splendid moves. Also, William Nylander might have made himself an enemy:

    So it wasn’t perfect in a literal sense for the Canadiens, especially with Jeff Petry leaving the game thanks to an injury.

    Still, it was pretty close, as it’s tough to beat Carey Price being Carey Price.

    Hurricane Matthew doesn’t scare Jaromir Jagr


    If you want to be silly about it, bill this as Mother Nature vs. Father Time.

    Most players and members of the Florida Panthers admitted to the Miami Herald that Hurricane Matthew is striking some fear into their hearts – Gerard Gallant apparently loaded up on Coke Zero – but Jaromir Jagr gave the frightening storm a mere shoulder shrug.

    Apparently he isn’t stocking up on goods, perhaps revealing his identity as a hockey cyborg.*

    “I’m OK,” Jagr said. “People have to survive for two weeks without water, I can go two days. I have just my body; I want to see how strong I am.”

    Well, he does sort of resemble Wolverine these days (sorry Max Pacioretty), so maybe he’ll be OK.

    Earlier today, it was announced that a Panthers – Tampa Bay Lightning game was canceled outright. So at least the league is taking the weather seriously.

    * – Kidding. Probably.

    Ducks send Theodore to AHL, end Bergenheim’s PTO


    The Anaheim Ducks continued a busy stretch of roster tweaks on Thursday, including sending Brandon Montour and Shea Theodore to the AHL while they ended Sean Bergenheim’s PTO.

    (Also: The Ducks also sent Kalle Kossila to the AHL while ending Kyle MacKinnon’s PTO and also assigning him to the AHL.)

    This winds the Ducks’ roster to 28 players. It’s unclear if these tweaks mean anything as far as the Ducks’ dealings with two key RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. You can view their training camp roster here.

    (For what it’s worth, Pierre LeBrun mentioned Cam Fowler as a possible trade piece in the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading.)

    Anaheim also waived Clayton Stoner on Thursday. The Ducks dispatched Bergenheim much in the same way that they said goodbye to notable PTOs with David Booth and David Jones.

    Randy Carlyle said that Theodore and Montour would have every opportunity to make the team this year, but it looks like they’ll need to wait for their next chances.