Jason Brough

Peter Chiarelli

Changes are coming in Edmonton — ‘We haven’t been good enough’


“We’ve got some players who have underachieved and may need a new venue.”

And with that statement today, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli officially opened the door to all sorts of trade possibilities.

Certainly, names like Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz come to mind in the category of underachievers. But the likes of Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may also be shopped. Remember that the latter was reportedly offered for Seth Jones, only for the Predators to choose Ryan Johansen instead.

“We haven’t been good enough, so there will be changes,” said Chiarelli. “I’d like to get bigger and heavier across the board.”

He’d no doubt like to bolster the blue line as well, though that’s easier said than done.

The wildcard in all this is the draft lottery. What if the Oilers win it (again) and get the right to pick Auston Matthews? Or, what if they win the second or third pick and have the ability to select one of the two Finnish forwards, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujärvi? Or maybe they end up with the fourth selection and target a defenseman like Jakob Chychrun.

With that in mind, it wasn’t surprising to hear Chiarelli suggest that the summer is the most likely time for a core player to be dealt. That’s when he’ll better know what he’s got to work with, not to mention that’s typically when other teams have the most flexibility.

Per General Fanager, here’s what the forward situation looks like for the Oilers:


(Nugent-Hopkins isn’t shown because he’s on IR, but he’s signed through 2020-21 for a cap hit of $6 million.)

And while you look through those names, remember that this is what Chiarelli said when he took the job in April:

“In this business, you can’t be afraid to make trades. … Those are ways to improve your team. … There are some very good young players on this team. Doesn’t mean that I’m going to trade any of them, but those are deals that you can’t be afraid to make.”

Related: Trade candidate Purcell suggests Oilers could ‘get some prospects or a pick for me’

Blues place Elliott on LTIR, will be re-evaluated in 4 weeks

St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) deflects a shot in front of Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel (21) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Well, at least Jake Allen‘s healthy.

Because the St. Louis Blues have another key injury to overcome. This time, it’s goalie Brian Elliott who’s out. The club announced today that Elliott has been placed on long-term injured reserve with a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated in four weeks.

Elliott was hurt Monday versus San Jose. He was replaced by Allen, who had only just returned to the lineup after missing 17 games with his own lower-body injury.

Elliott was excellent in Allen’s absence, to the point many wondered if he’d eclipsed the youngster as the Blues’ most likely playoff starter. Now he’s hurt, with the postseason less than two months away.

To back up Allen, the Blues have recalled goalie Pheonix Copley from AHL Chicago.

Couturier expected back for Flyers, but no Giroux

Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier

They won’t have Claude Giroux for a second straight game, but at least the Flyers are expected to get Sean Couturier back when they play tonight in Carolina.

“I feel ready to play,” Couturier said yesterday at practice, per CSN Philly. “I’ve been skating the past days pretty hard and trying to get back into shape. It might take a little while to get in that game shape but I’m not worried. I’m just going to keep it simple if I get to go.”

The 23-year-old, two-way center was hurt Feb. 4 in Nashville. He was originally expected to miss four weeks with a lower-body injury, so if he does play tonight, his return will be ahead of schedule.

After tonight, the Flyers play six in a row at home, with five of those games against teams currently outside a playoff spot.


Five points back of Pittsburgh for the final wild-card spot in the East, if the Flyers are ever going to make a run at the postseason, that stretch seems like a good opportunity to make it happen.

Related: No Claude Giroux tonight, and P.K. Subban may be why

The Bruins got smoked at home again

Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) skates off the ice as the Columbus Blue Jackets, behind, celebrate after defeating the Bruins 6-4 during an NHL hockey game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Last night in Boston, another team rolled into TD Garden and opened the floodgates against the Bruins.

This time, it was the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

“Our defensive game needs to be better,” Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow said after the 6-4 loss. “Just whatever curse we have at home where we can’t seem to find the energy or get the tempo of our game up, it just has to change sooner than later and we don’t have the time to turn it around. It’s pretty unacceptable.”

If last night had been a one-off, no problem, the Bruins could’ve just regrouped for Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh.

But it wasn’t. Far from it. In fact, it was the 12th time this season that the Bruins had allowed at least four goals at home. Included among those was a 9-2 drubbing by the Kings and a 5-1 no-show versus Montreal in the Winter Classic.

Of course, the B’s have also had their share of good days. Like Saturday’s 7-3 win in Dallas, for example. That was Boston’s 11th win by three goals or more. Only six other teams have more of those than that.

So, interesting times for GM Don Sweeney, who has until Monday to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agent Loui Eriksson.

If Eriksson is traded to a contender — and that’s the kind of team that’s going to be most interested, presumably — it’s unlikely that team is going to want to give up anything significant from its current roster. Which would mean the Bruins lose a guy with 23 goals and 25 assists for a return that, hopefully, will help them in the future, but is unlikely to help them in the playoffs, assuming they get there.

The best-case scenario for the B’s would probably be to re-sign Eriksson, but — given we’re talking about a 30-year-old that’s played over 700 NHL games — not for longer than three or four years.

Whether Eriksson would agree to a shorter term remains to be seen. He’d need an incentive to avoid hitting the open market. Perhaps the B’s could take a cue from the Jets, who were able to keep Dustin Byfuglien’s term to five years, but only because they gave him $7.6 million per season.

Though considering the state of Boston’s defense, that cap space may be better used elsewhere.

Related: Should the Bruins be sellers at the deadline?

Lundqvist hopes NHL will remain committed to Olympics

Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist dives to deflect a shot on goal by Switzerland in the first period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Blinch, Pool)

Henrik Lundqvist is a supporter of the World Cup.

“I’m excited,” he told NHL.com in September. “I think it’s going to be a great tournament.”

Just don’t confuse his excitement for a belief that the World Cup could replace the Olympics. Because the Swedish netminding star doesn’t believe anything could do that.

“Being at the Olympics is just an amazing feeling to have, with all the other athletes there, and the energy that’s there,” Lundqvist told Reuters. “To see them in action, it’s so inspiring. I love it, it’s very pure. It’s all about the sport.”

Granted, it might be a stretch to call the Olympics “all about the sport.” Money is a big driver of the Olympic movement, make no mistake.

But the World Cup’s purity, for lack of a better word, has also come into question. With the inclusion of Team Europe and an under-23 Team North America, the co-production of the NHL and NHLPA is not truly best-on-best, country-versus-country. Neither, for that matter, is the World Championship, since many of the best players are busy with the NHL playoffs when that tournament is on.

As it stands, only the Olympics is that. And the NHL has yet to commit to participating in the next Winter Games, in 2018 in South Korea.

“We had a meeting with the IIHF in November or October,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said this weekend, per the Pioneer Press. “They said we have about a year, give or take.”

A deal to send NHLers to Sochi in 2014 wasn’t reached until July of 2013, less than a year before those Games began.

Related: Ovechkin will ‘definitely’ go to South Korea for 2018 Winter Olympics