1. Devils trade deadline acquisition Devante Smith-Pelly not only has a name you won’t forget, but he could be Ray Shero‘s latest steal. This kid knows how to camp in the crease — and score.
2. If the NHL had a “Black Sheep Award,” the hands-down winner would be Jonathan Drouin, the Lightning’s promising forward who has decided to take his ball and go home.
3. The Lightning’s sulking refusenik could kill his own career by not returning to his contracted team. Absurd as it seems, Drouin is on the road to ruin.
4. The moral of Jonathan’s story is this: Don’t tick off your general manager because Steve Yzerman knows all about retaliation. And that retaliation, my fine feathered friend Jonathan, is your suspension until you come back.
5. Eric Staal has a lot going for him, but nothing more than gold, old-fashioned motivation. The big guy will need two weeks to acclimatize to the Rangers’ system.
6. Too bad Jordan Staal is in Carolina and not New York. Otherwise, Alain Vigneault could boast an All-Staal cast.
7. Last time I remember an NHL three-brother line was in 1942-43. Blackhawks’ Hall of Famers Max and Doug Bentley briefly were joined by brother Reg. Unfortunately, Reg seemed to be skating in mud so it soon because a two-brother line again.
8. Big-time props to Travis Hamonic. Although someone leaked last fall that he requested a trade for personal reasons, the Islanders’ likable back liner never has wavered in his intensity nor superb play.
9. Because they are the Panthers, Dale Tallon’s well-constructed Floridians don’t get the serious attention they deserve. But beware, brother beware. As my buddy Dan Marsiglia says, “Anyone overlooking those Cats is cruising for a bruising.”
10. The “Overlooked Trade Deadline Whopper Award” goes to Anaheim GM Bob Murray. Adding Brandon Pirri (Florida) and Jamie McGinn (Buffalo) to his roster should lift the Ducks over the Kings and Sharks on the Pacific side.
11. Here are two reasons why Washington could go out in the first round: A. Goalie Braden Holtby has been overworked; B. The Caps have peaked too soon.
12. The Toronto media is being taught a crash course in “Lou Lamoriello 101.” Lesson one is a warning he delivered to a Toronto columnist: “Don’t ever ask me which Leafs I like for next season. Those kind of things I’m never going to speak about.”
13. If Carey Price is smart, he’ll scrap his idea of returning to the Canadiens’ net this season. Forget about being ready for the World Cup; worry about the team that pays your salary.
14. If you’re wondering how high NHL salaries have skyrocketed, try this on for size: Loui (Spell My Name Right) Eriksson is asking the Bruins for six million a year over six years.
15. Eriksson’s agent must think his client’s name is Connor McDavid.
16. The sage Canadian seer Elliotte (Spell My Name Right With an E At The End) Friedman calls Arizona’s Martin Hanzal, “One of the NHL’s most underrated performers.” My pick is Frans Nielsen on the Islanders.
17. No Surprise Department: Mark Messier’s “Thank You” speech at last Wednesday’s “Hockey in Harlem” fete impressed the SRO crowd; especially when he talked about the need for more hockey rinks in The Apple.
18. The Captain is spearheading an impressive drive to turn the Bronx’s Kingsbridge Armory into a super ice center. It will boast no less than eight hockey rinks plus curling and figure skating facilities.
19. Mark pointed out that he learned his hockey on outdoor rinks in Edmonton and Portland, Oregon.
20. And if you’re wondering, why Portland? That’s where Mark’s father, Doug, starred for the WHL’s Portland Buckaroos.
21. When it comes to making big BIG, dough, the guy you want to be is either one of the Bolts’ top two scorers. Nikita Kucherov figures to break the bank — maybe along with Steven (I’m Not Sure What I Want To Do) Stamkos — in Tampa Bay.
22. Now that Ilya (I Once Didn’t Like The NHL) Kovalchuk has worn out his Russian welcome, does he land his next gig with Bettman, Inc.?
23. Who would want a player who wound up being benched by his KHL coach, Sergei Zubov? (Answer: about eight NHL teams).
24. Unbelievable Stats Department: a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993. Plus, all teams north of the border are in danger of missing the playoffs. (The anthem may have to be changed to “Woe Canada.”)
25. Just a hunch, but I figure tough Dale Weise will prove more valuable to the Blackhawks than Andrew Ladd. A Weise Guy if ever there was one, the ex-Hab brings grit and a scoring touch.
26. I won’t say that the next Bobby Orr is with us — perish the thought — but that Philly Phenom, Shayne Gostisbehere — Poof! Just like that — has become an instant superstar. I put Gostisbehere in the Connor McDavid above-all-the-others class.
27. Dennis (Linesman Get Out Of My Way) Wideman got bad advice. He should have taken his 20-game suspension and been done with it. From the get-go, his appeal was eminently un-appealing.