Ryan Lambert

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Boston University coach battles life as a juggernaut

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    BOSTON — Four first-round picks.

    Four second-round picks.

    A third-round pick.

    Two fifth-round picks.

    Add in a 6-foot-4 freshman goaltender that most project as a first- or second-round pick in next June’s draft, and Boston University has what is inarguably the most on-paper talented college hockey team ever assembled.

    To illustrate the extent of the talent, there was a stretch in the first period of the Terriers’ exhibition game against Prince Edward Island on Saturday in which they rolled a five-man unit of three firsts and two seconds, who were then replaced by a unit sporting a first and a third. Then five undrafted guys, all of whom were at least decent college hockey players. Then a group with a first and two seconds.

    How do you answer that? The answer is, “You probably don’t.”

    Perhaps a better question for how far BU can go this year is: How do you manage that? The answer for coach David Quinn might be, “Being hard on them.”

    You hear a lot in hockey about how hard it is to manage

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  • What We Learned: Steve Yzerman's general mismanagement of Lightning

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    (Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)

    It’s not totally clear what Nikita Kucherov is asking for from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    What is clear is that unless he wants the moon, he’s probably worth it.

    He’s one of only 23 players to score 130-plus points over the last two seasons, clearing 65 both times, and everyone above him is a stone-cold All-Star. He’s also a substantially positive possession player both overall and relative to what his team does when he’s off the ice.

    You pay the guy. Think that’s pretty clear to everyone.

    [Sign up to play Yahoo Fantasy Hockey for free | Mock Draft | Latest news]

    But Steve Yzerman seems to have contracted what you might call “Stan Bowman Disease” in that he has too many good players on fairly reasonable contracts, and a few bad deals lying around which

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  • RFA defensemen: Trouba vs. Lindholm vs. Ristolainen (Trending Topics)

    WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 4: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets skates down the ice during first period action in an NHL home opener game against the Los Angeles Kings at the MTS Centre on October 4, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
    WINNIPEG, MB – OCTOBER 4: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets skates down the ice during first period action in an NHL home opener game against the Los Angeles Kings at the MTS Centre on October 4, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

    There are three particularly notable unsigned restricted free agent defensemen left in the NHL.

    One is Jacob Trouba, he of the now-infamous trade demand that likely will not be met. There’s also Hampus Lindholm, whom the latest rumors say is seeking something like $48 million-plus for the next eight seasons. Then finally, there’s Rasmus Ristolainen, possibly the most amiable of the group because he’s the only one actually practicing with his team even as he remains unsigned.

    What’s interesting about all three is that, as discussed Thursday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie pretty much believes all their asks are the same. They probably all want at least $6 million AAV on longer-term deals. Maybe they don’t want to max it out on

    Read More »from RFA defensemen: Trouba vs. Lindholm vs. Ristolainen (Trending Topics)
  • Huge If True: What's happening with unsigned NHL RFAs?

    (Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: SI519 TK1 )
    (Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

    [Breaking down the plausibility of the week’s biggest rumor.]

    The regular season gets closer every day, but there are still a few high-profile unsigned restricted free agents who need new contracts before the season starts.

    The biggest and most obvious of these, this week at least, is Jacob Trouba, whose agent recently revealed a trade request made back in May. But in terms of unsigned young stars, he’s actually a rather faint one. Names like Nikita Kucherov, Johnny Gaudreau and Hampus Lindholm are still out there sans contract; and with the World Cup of Hockey wrapping up this week, one assumes a lot more work to get deals done will begin shortly thereafter.

    But even ahead of the official end of the World Cup — congratulations to Canada, by the way — it seems many people are turning their attention to this issue. Most notably, Bob McKenzie gave us the mother of all RFA rumor roundups this week, supplementing plenty of other reporting on

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  • Scary mascots, World Cup injuries, Jacob Trouba (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    8 – More World Cup injuries

    Matt Murray out six weeks. Marian Gaborik out eight. Add that to the pile, and someone figure out how many man-games teams are losing to injury because of this tournament. It’s gotta be pushing 50.

    7 – Edmonton children who need to fall asleep at some point

    Whenever a bad and scary mascot gets put out into the world, I wonder how many people had to sign off on it before the press release and photoshoot.

    Like, at least a dozen here, right?

    At least a dozen people saw the concept art and pushed it forward. At least a dozen people saw the finished product and pushed it forward.

    [Sign up to play Yahoo Fantasy Hockey for free | Mock Draft | Latest news]

    That’s incredible to me. It’s not quite the New Orleans pelican, but it’s pretty damn close. Hunter isn’t grotesque, he is just too

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  • Puck Lists: Who could the Winnipeg Jets land for Jacob Trouba?

    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 4: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on November 4, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
    TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 4: Jacob Trouba #8 of the Winnipeg Jets skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on November 4, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    So the word is finally on the street that Jacob Trouba requested a trade before the NHL draft last June and that the Jets haven’t fulfilled his request.

    The question, then, is what the Jets want in return. And the answer, according to Gary Lawless, is a player of similar age and experience, who is also a right-shot defenseman. In subsequent tweets, Lawless also says Winnipeg wanted to sign Trouba long-term, and that they don’t really want picks or prospects coming back. At first blush you hear that ask and say it is both reasonable and unlikely to help Kevin Cheveldayoff find a taker. Put another way, they want another — as Travis Yost pointed out yesterday — potential No. 1 defenseman to replace the unhappy one they’d

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  • What We Learned: Dangerous move for St. Louis Blues

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    (Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) 

    When Alex Steen signed his current contract in December 2013, he had never scored 25 goals in a season, nor had he cleared 52 points.

    That’s not to say he wasn’t a good player, because he very much was one. But the idea that you would lock up a guy for three years when he would be 30, 31, and 32 — and give him $5.8 million AAV — halfway through his career year at 29 seemed dicey.

    Steen still is a good player. Over the past five years he’s a strong relative possession player on a really good possession team. Two years into his three-year deal, maybe you say he’s been worth it for them.

    But how much longer can that possibly be the case? And how does Doug Armstrong justify giving him four more years at nearly the same freight, which he did on Friday?

    Read More »from What We Learned: Dangerous move for St. Louis Blues
  • Make American Hockey great again (Trending Topics)

    USA Hockey (Getty Images)

    Earlier this week, even before the ugly loss to Canada which hammered any number of nails into a coffin already riddled with them, myself and others speculated that an early elimination would be the best possible outcome for USA Hockey.

    We figured that if this team cobbled together two straight weak performances and were bounced out of a tournament engineered to ensure it didn’t get bounced out, that it would serve as some sort of wakeup call. That these people who paired a questionable-at-best roster with a regrettable-at-best coach would see the results and say to themselves, “Well, we blew it and we know that the old way of doing things is no longer acceptable.”

    Then USA Hockey announced that Dean Lombardi, who was in charge of putting together this team pretty much from top to bottom, would be holding a press conference the morning of the US’s final, meaningless game against the Czechs. Specifically, he would address the team’s failings and his role in it.

    Many assumed this meant

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  • Huge If True: Where will Kris Russell end up?

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    [Breaking down the plausibility of the week’s biggest rumor.]

    A little while ago, people kind of looked around and realized, “Oh hey, no one signed Kris Russell yet.”

    Well heck, you could have guessed that there was a reason for this: Russell isn’t that good. But also, according to Darren Dreger, teams were interested but needed to free up some money at some point before training camps open. Of course, that was in early August, and the final full month of summer came and went.

    Exactly a month later, Dreger again reported that Russell was in talks with as many as eight teams and would sign before camps opened.

    Well folks: Training camps open in a week, and Kris Russell ain’t signed nowhere yet.

    So hey, eight teams, right? Who are they? Why do they want Kris Russell?

    The Rumor
    Well, that second question is borderline impossible to answer unless they see him as a bottom-pairing guy. He might be pretty good at that, especially if you use him in defense-only situations. Last season Bob

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  • Hockey fighting, Team Europe and Nichushkin (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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    8 – Letting kids beat the hell out of each other

    Good lord how does the NHL continue to allow guys to fight in rookie tournaments?

    This has been a rather unfortunate aspect of these kinds of exhibition camps for some time now, and it’s easy to see why. Kids who have little to no shot at making the big roster think they can impress decision-makers by getting into fights to show they’ll stick up for their teammates even in the most meaningless of settings.

    But then stuff like this happens:

     

    And frankly, Hawryluk got off a little easy. A broken hand is one thing. A concussion that can potentially jeopardize your entire career is entirely another. And while very few players in their late teens and early 20s find themselves sidelined for the rest of their lives with concussions, even one can start the snowball

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