Jamie McGinn

PHT Morning Skate: Stars to retire Zubov’s number; NHL hydration techniques

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• No Dallas Star will ever wear No. 56 again as the team announced they will retire Sergei Zubov’s number sometime next season. [Stars]

• The Blues have signed Jamie McGinn and Troy Brouwer to tryout contracts to see if they can wait on calling up prospects. [Post-Dispatch]

Connor Hellebuyck is carrying a large load for the Jets this season. [TSN]

Patrick Kane is scoring and that’s a much-needed boost for the Blackhawks. [NBC Sports Chicago]

• Looking for reasons why the Lightning offense is off to a slow start? Start with their stars. [Raw Charge]

• How Sidney Crosby reshaped the NHL in his image. [Sportsnet]

• If the Sabres are looking to add a forward, they should start with Tyler Toffoli of the Kings. [Die by the Blade]

• Interesting look at the various hydration techniques of NHL players. [Boston Herald]

• It doesn’t look promising for the Blue Jackets’ chances of turning around their slow start. [Yahoo]

• What Zdeno Chara, Jay Bouwmeester and 1,500 games tells us about longevity and the Hockey Hall of Fame. [The Hockey News]

• Rico Phillips’ life has changed since he was named winner of the 2019 Willie O’Ree Award. [NHL.com]

• Barry Trotz is ready to see what’s next with Oliver Wahlstrom. [Islanders Insight]

• Finally, there were a trio of beautiful goals over the last few days outside of the NHL. First up, Jayden Davis of the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins with some magic:

Next, Adrian College’s Dean Balsamo spins and spins and scores:

Finally, Mike Sgarbossa of the Hershey Bears gets elected as Mayor of Dangle City:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

How much better will the Sabres be next season? Murray says: ‘quite a bit’

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The Buffalo Sabres are going to be better next season.

In part, because it’d be hard to be worse.

But mostly because the roster has been significantly improved by GM Tim Murray, who not only drafted Jack Eichel yesterday, but also added Ryan O’Reilly, Robin Lehner, Jamie McGinn, and David Legwand in trades.

We’ll assume Eichel goes pro and does not go back to school, though he still hasn’t announced a decision. The Sabres will also have Evander Kane, the goal-scoring winger they got from Winnipeg. And Sam Reinhart, the second overall pick in 2014, should be ready too.

On top of all that, they’ll have a Stanley Cup-winning head coach in Dan Bylsma.

Though Murray believes it may take some time for the group to gel, he was clearly happy with how his plan had come together.

“I can tell you that our players back home are excited,” Murray told reporters, per NHL.com. “I got a couple texts from different guys, and if that excitement that they showed today carries over into training camp, I believe we can improve by quite a bit. In saying that, we’ve got a long way to go to improve to get to be competitive or a playoff team.”

Report: O’Reilly asked Avs for eight-year, $64 million

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The Colorado Avalanche and Ryan O’Reilly have always had difficulty seeing eye-to-eye when it came to his monetary worth. It took O’Reilly signing an offer sheet, which Colorado matched, to end his hold out in the lockout shortened 2013 campaign. When it was time to renegotiate in the summer of 2014, the two sides only narrowly avoided arbitration by inking a two-year, $12 million deal.

With O’Reilly now just one season away from becoming an unrestricted free agent though, he reportedly demanded a massive eight-year, $64 million payday, according to the Denver Post. Instead, Colorado dealt him to Buffalo last night along with Jamie McGinn in exchange for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st overall selection.

If those numbers are accurate, then that’s identical to Phil Kessel’s contract, which the Maple Leafs forward is only one season into. Kessel has recorded at least 30 goals on five separate occasions and has reached the 80-point mark twice. O’Reilly, while admittedly more notable for his two-way game, has only reached the 20-goal or 60-point milestones on one occasion and that was back in 2013-14. He took a hit last season, finishing with 17 goals and 55 points in 82 contests.

On top of that, now that Kessel is on the open market, his contract might be a detriment to the point where Toronto is reportedly willing to take a contract back to sweeten the pot.

We’ll have to wait and see how O’Reilly’s negotiations with Buffalo goes. In the short-term, the Sabres wouldn’t have a problem inking him to that kind of a deal, but the term might hurt them later as their young up-and-coming stars develop and eventually start demanding big raises. To give one example, if Jack Eichel has the kind of career Buffalo’s hoping for, then his first deal following his entry-level contract could be huge, as was the case for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Steven Stamkos before him.

That all being said, it’s possible that what O’Reilly wanted out of Colorado isn’t the same as what he wants from Buffalo. It could be that his history of having to battle the team for every new contract influenced what it would take for the Avalanche to keep him long-term. Either way, Buffalo is going into this with eyes wide open.

“You know going in when you make a trade like this that negotiations are going to be starting a high number,” Sabres GM Tim Murray told the Buffalo News. “We’re fully prepared for that.”

Trade: Buffalo keeps dealing, acquires O’Reilly from Colorado

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SUNRISE — The big trades haven’t stopped at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, as the Colorado Avalanche have sent talented young center Ryan O’Reilly and forward Jamie McGinn to Buffalo.

In exchange, the Avalanche receive Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st overall selection. The move reunites Grigorenko with Avs head coach Patrick Roy, who was his coach in the Quebec junior league, and gives Colorado a much-needed blueline prospect (Zadorov) and an intriguing youngster in Compher, who has impressed at the University of Michigan.

The key to the deal, though, is O’Reilly, one of the best young two-way centers in the league. He arrives in Buffalo after some acrimonious contract negotiations with the Avs, which included a contract holdout and signing an offer sheet with Calgary during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign.

As a result of Colorado matching that offer sheet, O’Reilly’s heading into the last of a two-year, $12 million deal with a $6M average annual cap hit. There have been rumblings around him for the last few days, which intensified on Thursday when the Avs acquired the draft rights to center Carl Soderberg from Boston, then signed him to a five-year extension — believed by many as a move to replace O’Reilly down the middle.

Where O’Reilly fits in Buffalo remains to be seen.

He’s flipped between the middle and wing throughout his career, and could be headed back outside again with the likes of centers Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart in the mix.

O’Reilly had 17 goals and 55 points in 82 games last year, down slightly from a banner ’13-14 campaign in which he posted career-highs in goals (28) and points (64).

This is the second significant deal of the day for Sabres GM Tim Murray. Earlier, he acquired goalie Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand from Ottawa in exchange for the 21st pick at the draft.

Though the O’Reilly trade is in the books, Murray’s work isn’t done. He’ll need to get to work on a contract extension, as O’Reilly needs a new deal at season’s end.

Avs’ McGinn possibly done for year following back surgery

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Colorado LW Jamie McGinn underwent successful back surgery on Wednesday, but that might be it from the good news department:

McGinn, 26, has been sidelined since mid-November with his back ailment. Prior to getting hurt, he’d appeared in 19 games for the Avs, scoring four goals and six points while averaging 14:46 TOI per game.

Losing McGinn was a fairly significant blow for Colorado. He had a very solid ’13-14 campaign, scoring 19 goals and a career-high 38 points while playing nearly 16 minutes a night. McGinn was also a key contributor in the playoffs, scoring five points in seven games against Minnesota, and has always been one of the Avs’ energy guys (he finished fourth among forwards last year with 140 hits).

Colorado, pushed right up against the salary cap ceiling, could put McGinn on LTIR and recoup his $2.95M hit. The club is already receiving some relief with defenseman Ryan Wilson (shoulder) on LTIR, to the tune of $2.25M.