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Posted On Wednesday, 07.08.2015 / 10:23 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Rosen's mailbag - July 8, 2015

Here is the July 8 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run periodically throughout the summer. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Will Connor McDavid have an immediate impact on the Oilers, and what part of his game needs to improve the most? -- @lateinthegoldie

McDavid should have an immediate impact on the Oilers. He should be their No. 1 center, putting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in a more friendly spot at No. 2, which is not a knock on him but instead more praise of McDavid to consider him to be good enough already to be a No. 1 center in the NHL. The Oilers could have McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl as their top three centers. That's their present and future right there. There will be growing pains for McDavid, but his speed and skill will more than make up for them.

As for the part of his game that needs to improve the most, I consulted with my good friend Craig Button on this. Button has scouted McDavid over and over and over. He knows his game probably better than McDavid knows his own game. Button says that McDavid's shot needs to improve to the point where he can threaten NHL defensemen with it. The defensemen have to respect his shot, and when they do it'll open more options for McDavid to exploit the 'D'. The same thing happened to Sidney Crosby. He worked on his shot, and it became a weapon for him to score 50 goals once he got it to the point where the defensemen had to respect it as a threat. Scoring 50 again might be a stretch for Crosby, but 40 isn't if he plays with better wingers who can do some of the heavy lifting for him.

Posted On Tuesday, 07.07.2015 / 11:09 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Over the Boards blog

Bylsma excited but measured about new-look Sabres

As much as Buffalo Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wants to keep a calm approach and his comments measured in the media, he can't help but use words like dramatic and big-time to describe what his boss was able to do for him and his new team on June 26.

"To have the ability to draft a player in Jack Eichel, that's a big day for your organization, that alone," Bylsma said during a phone interview. "To get a top-flight player in Ryan O'Reilly to your team, that's a big day. To get a young goaltender [Robin Lehner] and add him to your team, that's a significant day for the Buffalo Sabres. It all came on draft day. It's a dramatic day."

Drama wasn't what Tim Murray, the Sabres straight-talking general manager, was going for; it was a byproduct of what he did.

Posted On Thursday, 06.11.2015 / 4:11 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Stanley Cup Final blog

Lightning goalie Bishop uncertain for Game 5

TAMPA -- It is unknown if Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop can play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Bishop did not play in Game 4 on Wednesday after taking part in the morning skate. Andrei Vaslevskiy made 17 saves, and the Lightning lost 2-1 at United Center.

The best-of-7 series is tied at 2-2.

"[Ben will] come in [Friday] and be looked at by our top-shelf, top-notch medical team and decisions will be made, but it's day-to-day," Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness, said Thursday while handling the media duties for coach Jon Cooper.

Cooper in his postgame remarks Wednesday said, "[Bishop] is going to play again in this series, there's no question. I just don't know which game."

Posted On Sunday, 06.07.2015 / 3:01 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Stanley Cup Final blog

Blackhawks could play van Riemsdyk, Bickell

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday that he is at least contemplating changes to his lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Quenneville said defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and forward Bryan Bickell could play for the first time in the best-of-7 series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is tied 1-1. He did not elaborate any further or speculate on who would come out of the lineup if they did play.

Bickell was a surprise scratch in Game 1 on Wednesday after practicing the day before and taking part in the morning skate. Quenneville said after the game that Bickell was dealing with an upper-body injury and he is day-to-day. He was also scratched in Game 2 on Saturday.

"I think he's healthy," Quenneville said.

Posted On Wednesday, 06.03.2015 / 8:07 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - 2015 Stanley Cup Final blog

Blackhawks' Bickell out, Versteeg in for Game 1

TAMPA -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell will not play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen said on NHL Network that Bickell was out for precautionary reasons and that forward Kris Versteeg would replace him in the lineup.

Posted On Saturday, 05.30.2015 / 1:55 AM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Stamkos, St. Louis hug after Lightning win Game 7

NEW YORK -- It was a quick moment in the postgame handshake line Friday, but it was a moment that was a long time coming for Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos found his way side-by-side former teammate and close friend Martin St. Louis following the Lightning's 2-0 win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

It was special and surreal for them to be standing there in opposite uniforms, the younger player and current Tampa Bay captain moving on to the Stanley Cup Final, the older, former Lightning captain going home, unsure of his future, of the rest of his career.

"It was kind of bittersweet, to be honest," Stamkos said.

Posted On Tuesday, 05.26.2015 / 1:24 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Lightning's Callahan wants his turn playing Cup Final

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan insists he doesn't need the extra motivation at this time of the season. It's nice to have it anyway.

Callahan has an opportunity Tuesday at Amalie Arena in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) against the New York Rangers to knock his former teammates out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs so he can get to the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 after its 2-0 win Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Callahan's not looking at it as retribution, but in a way it is because Callahan watched, admittedly with mixed emotions, as the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final without him last season.

Contract talks between the Rangers and Callahan broke down to the point he was sent to the Lightning on March 5, 2014, in a trade that involved Martin St. Louis coming to New York and draft picks changing hands.

"By mixed emotions I mean I wanted to be part of it," Callahan said of the Rangers' run to the Cup Final last season. "That's something we'd been working towards. Being a captain of that team and being a part of that organization, that's something you wanted to be part of. By no means did I have anything negative toward them making that run. When I left I knew they were a great team and they had a great shot at it, so it was good to see."

Posted On Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 1:12 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Rangers' Yandle thriving as play opens up

TAMPA -- Keith Yandle scored his first goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday. It might have been a stress reliever for the New York Rangers defenseman, but he didn't need it to justify how effective he's been in the offensive part of the game in the Eastern Conference Final.

"It's the best I've seen him play so far with the puck," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday morning.

Yandle is doing the things the Rangers thought he'd be doing from the moment they acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes in a blockbuster trade on March 1 that came at a significant price for New York.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.20.2015 / 1:39 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Rangers-Lightning series blog

Rangers' Brassard tried to steal Stamkos' stick

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos thought having an elbow pad thrown at him earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was one of the oddest things to happen to him in a hockey game until New York Rangers center Derick Brassard upped the ante Monday.

By his own admission, Brassard tried to take Stamkos' stick to the Rangers' dressing room following the second period of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Brassard said he saw Stamkos' stick lying on the ice in front of the Rangers' bench after the buzzer signaling the end of the period. He also thought he saw Stamkos heading for the door leading to the Lightning's dressing room, so he figured why not take the stick.

Posted On Tuesday, 05.19.2015 / 8:30 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Rangers-Lightning series blog

St. Louis focused on Rangers, not return to Tampa

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis is trying to treat Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) with the same single-minded focus as the rest of his teammates.

Even if it's harder for him to do that considering the ties he has to this area and the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis was all business after arriving here with the Rangers on Tuesday.

"Coming back here [in the] regular season, it was definitely a tough thing, I think, just being here for so long, but I think we're well past that now," St. Louis said. "Tampa's always going to be a special place for me and my family, but I'm coming here as a New York Ranger and trying to get through this conference final and get to the Stanley Cup Final."

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It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.

— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings
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