Every week, Sportsnet’s  Eliotte Friedman writes a column called “30 Thoughts” and it’s basically the NHL article I look most forward to, as it gives—you guessed it—30 tidbits about the goings on the NHL based off of info Friedman has gotten from his sources.

In the past, former TheScore.com writer Justin Bourne wrote the second article I most looked forward to, “Thoughts on Thoughts” in which Bourne picked his five favorite Friedman thoughts and elaborated.

Unfortunately for those who loving reading Hockey articles—but fabulously for Justin Bourne himself—Bourne was hired by the Toronto Marlies as their video coach and so his article has ceased to exist.

However! As is the American way, I shall not let a good idea go to waste!  So for this column, “The Backcheck,” I am going to rip off Coach Bourne and basically co-opt his idea for TheThreeFour.com’s purposes.

Each week, following Elliotte Friedman’s wonderful piece, I will go back (get it? Backcheck?) through—however many—tidbits that interested me and give my opinion on them. It may be five, like Bourne’s; it may be 1, who knows? Whatever topics need to be elaborated on shall be.

Last week’s 30 Thoughts: Reeling Canadiens move on from embarrassing loss

  1. Steve Yzerman’s announcement Mondaythat Tampa would not be trading Steven Stamkos explains why the Lighting captain dodged questions about his future last week, because he knew this statement was coming. My guess is contract talks are off, too, as everyone concentrates on making the playoffs and chasing Stanley. I don’t think it was a distraction for a long time, but, eventually became one. It probably affected Stamkos the most. This settles the situation. Just play.

Well that worked, didn’t it? Since Yzerman announced that the Lightning weren’t going to trade Stamkos before the deadline, #92 has scored 3 goals in 4 games, including his 300th career goal, with one assist, and the Lightning have gone 3-1-0 in those games. Consider the situation settled.

Look, I’m like most fans. I, too, think that athletes sometimes use the “contract distraction” as an excuse for poor play a little too easily, but I’m also not one to completely dismiss it. Just as in life, the little things on the outside do seem to build up and distract us, and when those situations can be cooled, it does make life a little easier.

Is Yzerman’s statement the sole reason Stamkos is scoring the past couple games? No, but you can bet it certainly didn’t hurt.

  1. Funny how two weeks changes things. Fourteen days ago, Jordan Eberle was part of the acquisition conversation. Not now. The Oilers pulled him off the market, as he developed into a dangerous finisher alongside Connor McDavid. As one coach said, “When you find two players who work well together, you keep them together.” Edmonton wants to see how this progresses.

Unless you’re Nail Yakupov. Yak looked pretty good (see: real good) alongside McDavid in McJesus’ first 19 NHL games, but as with most people, the Oilers, too, have seen through Yakupov. Just wanted to point this out, because I have a buddy who called Yak being a bust as soon as he was drafted, and with his organization basically saying “Unless you’re Nail, if you play well with Connor McDavid, we’ll keep you there,” I basically, finally, have to agree.

Yakupov doesn’t know what he’s doing out there. He flies around the ice, but he has no clue where he is going. Unless he takes the time to learn the NHL game, he’s going to find himself back oversees (but I still wouldn’t mind if the Leafs took a flyer on him. Let Babcock teach him how to play; see how that works).

  1. Quote of the Week: “If Toronto acquires a right-hand shot defenceman who can make a good pass on the power play, go nuts,” one coach said. Wonder what he’s referring to?

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! What a cliff hanger.

This is pretty open-ended though, isn’t it? I would assume it has to do with this particular coach thinking the Leafs are pretty well set-up for one-timers coming from left-handed shots, which would mean this coach really likes Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner’s one-timers. To which I would suggest: watch more games. They need a lot more than a guy who makes a good pass.

Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, the coach could mean that no matter what, Toronto’s power play is going to suck.

Sure, get a righty who can make a pass. Go nuts. You’ll still suck.

Great tease, Elliotte. Great tease.

  1. This week’s 2016-17 outdoor game update: John Shannon reported Edmonton at Winnipeg in October. We’re expecting the Winter Classic in St. Louis on Jan. 2, with Chicago as the opponent. So, that leaves Jan. 1 to Toronto, as has been mentioned. I originally thought it would be against the Rangers, but now I’m going with Detroit. As Regis Philbin would ask, that’s my final answer. Hope I didn’t need a lifeline. By the way, Toronto fans are not happy Montreal got everything for its 100th anniversary while Los Angeles got All-Star and the draft went to Chicago for theirs. At the NBA All-Star Game, I ran that by a Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment exec who said, “When everything is announced, it will all make sense.” If you’re not satisfied then, please send your complaints to [email protected].

More teases, re: Leafs, eh Elliotte? Well, with all the—actually—smart Leafs’ roster moves and the promise of all this good stuff for Toronto, as a Leafs fan, all I have to say is:

What do you think?