James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Sharks sign Sorensen, who’s primed to fight for roster spot

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The San Jose Sharks’ summer is just about wrapped up, as they continue to ink depth players to “prove it” deals.

25-year-old forward Marcus Sorensen is the latest to receive such a contract, as the team signed him for two years on TuesdayNBC Sports California’s Kevin Kurz reports that the contract is worth $700K each season, at least at the NHL level.

Sharks assistant GM Joe Will praised the Swede’s “positive impact.”

“In Marcus’ first year in North America, he quickly showed that he is a skilled player with the ability to contribute to the team’s success,” Will said. “The time he spent with the Sharks this season, and the positive impact he had, proved that he can be an effective player at the highest level. We’re excited to see him compete for a spot with the Sharks at training camp in the fall.”

Sorensen played 19 regular-season games (scoring four points) and appeared in six postseason contests (two points) for the Sharks, averaging a bit under 11 minutes per night.

Sergachev thinks he’s ready for Lightning, NHL next season

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The Tampa Bay Lightning landed a tantalizing prospect when they traded Jonathan Drouin for Mikhail Sergachev. Even so, the question is: when will they begin to see what the promising defenseman is capable of?

If Sergachev has his way, he’ll jump right into the Lightning lineup in 2017-18, as NHL.com reports.

“I have to have a good summer, first of all, I have to be stronger,” Sergachev said. “I have to be faster to play in the NHL overall to be successful. But I also played a lot in juniors, two years for me, I think is a lot and in Russia I played one year too.

“So I played a lot in juniors and I learned a lot from Windsor … so I think I’m ready for the NHL.”

The Lightning added Dan Girardi to a mix highlighted by Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, and Braydon Coburn. They also have the likes of Andrej Sustr, Jake Dotchin, and Slater Koekkoek under contract.

It’s conceivable that Sergachev could leap over those last three, and some might even hope that he’d be in one of the top two pairings.

Naturally, that’s for Lightning management to decide.

They also could look at this as a win-win situation. If Sergachev’s ready at 19, great. If not, they would get a nice bonus in a coniditional draft pick from that Drouin trade:

After the rough 2016-17 season, it’s hard to imagine Sergachev being held back to leap a few rounds in the 2018 NHL Draft, although that scenario stands as another reminder that the blueliner also shouldn’t take a spot for granted.

Another nice deal for Predators: Aberg signs two-year, $1.3M deal

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As much as it stings to lose James Neal to Vegas, the Nashville Predators are mostly enjoying a strong off-season. More specifically, it’s been a pretty solid week for GM David Poile & Co.

A day after signing Frederick Gaudreau to a team-friendly deal, the Predators handed speedy, intriguing forward Pontus Aberg a two-year, $1.3 million contract. That’s a dirt-cheap $650K cap hit for a player some were a little worried would be snatched up by the Golden Knights.

Aberg was the 37th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old generated two points in 15 regular-season games and five points in 18 postseason contests, yet he showed a burst that seemed to indicate that he’s just scratching the surface.

His AHL numbers show promise, too.

Aberg scored 25 goals and 40 points in 2015-16 for the Milwaukee Admirals, and did even better this past season, scoring 31 goals and 52 points in 56 contests.

It wouldn’t be surprising if he starts to convert with the big club, possibly starting next season.

Here’s the reported Blues-Parayko contract divide with arbitration looming

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Plenty of NHL teams have dealt with looming salary arbitration hearings, but one big name remaining – literally and figuratively – is St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko.

He’s slated for a July 20 hearing, so time is limited.

On the bright side, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports a divide that seems pretty moderate.

Blues offer at the moment, via Friedman: two years, $3.5 million average.

Parayko’s current ask, according to Friedman: one year, $4.85 million.

Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland backed up Friedman’s report, and also noted that he expects the two sides to hammer something out before a hearing would take place on Thursday.

That’s not a large money difference, and really, one year in term isn’t a massive disagreement, either.

But allow an observation: should the Blues try to buy up some UFA years for Parayko before he (possibly) blossoms into a star?

The 24-year-old boasts impressive size and a booming shot, and with a full season up the depth chart with Kevin Shattenkirk out of town, Parayko could really start to pile up the sort of numbers that land defensemen big contracts.

He’s an analytics darling, too, not something to take lightly for a larger player:

Players who check just about every box aren’t that easy to find, particularly on the blueline. The Blues might just regret a “bridge” deal with Parayko, whether it’s for one or two seasons.

The Blues don’t have a ton of defensemen locked up for long-term, either. Alex Pietrangelo possesses the longest-running contract on their blueline so far, and his only lasts for three more seasons. Parayko might be the guy to invest in.

Here’s some optimism to close things out: the Blues are likely to get a bargain, one way or another. It’s most likely a question of how long they’ll be able to enjoy good value with a rising defenseman.

Related: The Blues showed interest in signing him long-term in May ; perhaps Parayko is only interested in a bridge deal, anyway?

Video: ‘Goon: Last of the Enforcers’ trailer brings the dumb fun

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“Goon: Last of the Enforcers” lists the reasons for its R rating, and in all honesty, it sounds like an apt plot summary (judging by the trailer):

R for pervasive language, crude sexual content and bloody sports violence

Yeah, that about covers it, right?

This sequel seems to bring more of what fans loved from the first movie, as it once again features Seann William Scott while being written and directed by big-time Habs fan Jay Baruchel.

For hockey nerds, there should be plenty of appearances from current players (highlights include Tyler Seguin and Michael Del Zotto), although the best line of the trailer was probably dropped on former enforcer George Parros. That’s no way to treat an Ivy Leaguer.

The movie releases On Demand and on Digital HD on Sept. 1, then comes to DVD at the more hockey-season-friendly date of Oct. 3. Maybe its Rotten Tomatoes score will play the role of the scrappy underdog and turn things around by the time the release date nears?