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I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Time to sell? Red Wings lose Frans Nielsen to upper-body injury

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The Detroit Red Wings might need more than a gentle push to become “sellers” at the upcoming trade deadline. Maybe losing All-Star Frans Nielsen would provide that extra motivation?

Nielsen suffered an upper-body injury during Friday’s game against his former team, the New York Islanders, and will not return.

Beyond missing the rest of this game, it’s unclear how severe the injury might be. It’s also difficult to tell when, exactly, Nielsen got hurt. Maybe during this exchange detailed below?

With the Red Wings on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, you have to wonder if something like this might just make or break things for GM Ken Holland.

Coyotes arena drama awakens: Arizona State University ends Tempe talks

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Back in November, it seemed like there was serious optimism that the Arizona Coyotes might work with Arizona State University to bring the team to Tempe. Friday splashed some cold water on that idea.

ASU pulled out of any deal with the Coyotes in a statement tonight, according to breaking news from the Arizona Republic.

Arizona State University on Friday evening said the university “has no intention of proceeding to sign a development agreement or an option to lease or any other agreement with the Coyotes.”

It’s unclear what inspired this development, although the Arizona Republic notes that Sen. Bob Worsley introduced legislation with hopes of keeping the Coyotes in Arizona this week. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or perhaps something in Worsley’s proposal scared off ASU?

Either way, it seems like a blow to the Coyotes, a franchise that was enjoying quite a surge in optimism as of late.

This doesn’t mean that this was the last straw in this seemingly never-ending story, though. Really, this thing might outlast all of us.

Video: Broken stick doesn’t fluster Connor McDavid before nice goal

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When it comes to young stars like Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid, one thing that really stands out is how ready they’ve seemed for the NHL from day one. There’s a poise you don’t expect from any teenager in each case.

(You can apply that to the likes of Patrik Laine and even lesser known talents such as Sebastian Aho, too.)

Now, this isn’t the most mind-blowing McDavid goal below. His 18th goal of 2016-17 is remarkable, instead, for how easy he makes everything look. Need to switch out one stick for the other? No big deal, he just does so seamlessly and then scores a backhand beauty:

Apparently it was a lucrative goal for No. 97:

Update: McDavid’s heroics weren’t enough, however, as the Hurricanes beat the Oilers 2-1. Speaking of Aho, he ended up scoring the game-winner.

Islanders statement addresses Connecticut courtship, doesn’t kill all rumors

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Earlier on Friday, eyebrow-raising news surfaced that brought back memories of the Hartford Whalers, as Connecticut made a pitch for the New York Islanders.

The team responded to such talk with a statement tracked down by Newsday’s Jim Baumbach. Here’s what the team shared, via Baumbach’s tweets:

“The public letter that the Connecticut Governor’s office released earlier today was the first we had heard of the news … We are thrilled to be playing this season in front of our passionate New York Islanders fan base at Barclays Center, with the goal of making the playoffs. We look forward to another great year of New York Islanders hockey at Barclays Center next season.”

So, that statement does its job without really putting to rest every rumor surrounding the team.

The Islanders can leave the Barclays Center after 2017-18, which makes the use of “next season” especially appropriate. As this post indicates, reports show that the arena might opt to give the Isles the boot after 2018-19.

Gary Bettman, meanwhile, kept things vague by saying the Islanders are committed to New York, though not necessarily the Barclays Center in specific.

This all makes you believe that Hartford’s dream of getting the Islanders is a long shot, but we’ve seen some strange moments when it comes to sports teams moving to unexpected places (in the NHL and in other leagues). It’s often best not to assume much of anything until the ink dries on a deal.

Heck, Islanders fans of all fans know that ownership situations can get downright bizarre.

For what it’s worth, the recently-red-hot Islanders are taking on the Detroit Red Wings tonight.

Yzerman might just need to accept a poor return in a Bishop trade

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Trades are tough to make in this salary cap age, especially if you want some value back (and especially with the expansion draft ramping up the uncertainty). Add in the obvious fact that everyone knows the Tampa Bay Lightning want to get rid of Ben Bishop, and the degree of difficulty goes sky high, even for a wizard like GM Steve Yzerman.

OK, “get rid of,” might be a little harsh … it really comes down to the fact that Andrei Vasilevskiy is “the guy” in Tampa Bay, so Bishop is the odd man out.

So, yeah, it’s tough sledding, especially if the Bolts haven’t punted on 2016-17 altogether.

“And we’re trying to win,” Yzerman told the Lightning Morning Skate Show, by way of NHL.com. “If I could do something that helped our team make a trade that identified a need for us — not just for this year, but going forward — I would do that, and haven’t been able to do that to this point, and that’s been going on, really, since the [NHL Draft] last year.”

Things probably have only gotten more difficult for Yzerman with the kind of year Bishop’s endured, at least based on what Yzerman said about offers and what Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds in “30 Thoughts.”

It’s a worthwhile gamble for someone needing a jolt without taking on a firm commitment. Word is current offers are low and Yzerman isn’t biting. His risk is seeing a rejuvenated Bishop deliver high reward somewhere else.

That last part might be where Stevie Y needs to swallow his pride.

Look, perception matters for executives; just look at how the discussion is often framed around the Florida Panthers’ disappointing season versus the Lightning’s stumbles as a single example. Few are really burying the Bolts in a bigger picture viewpoint, while others wonder if the Panthers’ ship is sinking.

That said, we’ve seen some downsides to Yzerman & Co. worrying too much about what other people think.

Saving face vs. saving cap space

Take the instance of Ryan Callahan.

Yzerman deserves credit for getting a nice haul for Martin St. Louis, considering that everyone knew they needed to part ways and St. Louis demanded a move to the New York Rangers. Still, a cap crunch was easy to see coming, so handing a risky contract to keep Callahan – aka the biggest name in the St. Louis trade, even if the assets were nice – might have been in part to save face.

That deal … uh, hasn’t worked out so well for the Lightning.

The Lightning need to at least consider the possibility that this is a lost season, and part ways with guys who are more “electrons” than “nucleus.” If Bishop isn’t a core member – and it certainly seems like he isn’t – Tampa Bay’s probably better off getting something for him.

Much like the 2016-17 season, the Lightning might just have to accept a letdown here.