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Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler takes part in practice for the Heritage Classic NHL hockey game at B.C. Place stadium in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 1, 2014. (The Canadian Press)

Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler takes part in practice for the Heritage Classic NHL hockey game at B.C. Place stadium in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 1, 2014.

(The Canadian Press)


Duhatschek: The Ryan Kesler trade could get complicated Add to ...

O’Reilly’s situation is a little trickier – his value can’t just be determined by points because he is a multi-dimensional player. Many arbitration requests never actually go to a hearing, with the teams almost always finding a compromise before they go into the hearing room and start saying nasty things about one another that can’t be taken back.

O’Reilly will earn at least $5.5-million next year, no matter what, a 10 per cent raise over his $5-million cap hit, but if that’s all he gets, it will be a de facto pay cut from the real dollars he earned last year – $6.5-million. In any event, the people running Colorado – Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy – who had their own issues coming to terms with their respective teams at different times in their careers, appear to have a clear idea of what they are prepared to pay their players going forward.

THIS AND THAT: The fact that Willie Desjardins, at age 57, is a candidate to become a head coach in the NHL for the first time could be attributed to many factors, but the first that comes to mind is that more and more teams are taking a second look at career coaches, and wondering if there’s some untapped potential there that’s been missed all along.

All four of the coaches of the Stanley Cup semi-finalists were 50 or over. Desjardins’s decision to go with Vancouver over Pittsburgh has more to do with his long-term relationship with the Canucks’ Trevor Linden than any other factor – contract etc. He most recently coached the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate to the Calder Cup championship and previously won two Western Hockey League titles with the Medicine Hat Tigers, where the relationship with Linden started.

Last Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes introduced Bill Peters, 48, a former Red Wings’ assistant who coached in Chicago’s system in Rockford for three years, as their head coach. It is also Peters’s first NHL gig after a lifetime in the game.

He is the third assistant hired off Mike Babcock’s staff in Detroit to run an NHL team, after Todd McLellan (San Jose) and Paul MacLean (Ottawa). Peters and Babcock go all the way back to their time together in Spokane, where Peters stepped in after Babcock left and won a Memorial Cup with the Chiefs in 2008.

AND FINALLY: Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray is a little bit like his uncle Bryan in the sense that he doesn’t mind giving up straight answers to simple questions. Murray, speaking to the Buffalo News, articulated the view of just about everybody in the NHL who privately believe there is no question any more as to who the No. 1 overall pick in the draft will be – defenceman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts. Murray figures Ekblad will either go to the Florida Panthers if they hold onto the top pick, or to whichever team acquires the pick from them in trade. That would leave the Sabres to draft from among a trio of forwards that includes Samuel Bennett, Sam Reinhart (son of Paul, the third member of the Reinhart clan to enter the draft in the past few years) and Leon Draisaitl, son of the former German national team player who played junior in the Western Hockey League this past year. “I believe that Ekblad is going to go one, and then we pick who we have left with the next guy on our list,” Murray told the News. “If he doesn’t go one, I’d be surprised, I guess, but then I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

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