Chat with Pierre LeBrun
Based in Toronto, LeBrun joined ESPN in September 2008 after spending 13 years with The Canadian Press as its national hockey columnist. LeBrun was also a contributor to Rogers Sportsnet and a regular guest on CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada."
Send your questions for now and join LeBrun in The Show on Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:00 PM)
We're getting Pierre right now!
Pierre LeBrun (2:02 PM)
I'm really pumped about having joined ESPN.com and I look forward to lots of interaction with the readers.
Pierre- I've read that Patrick Kane has gained over 20 pounds in the off season, as a result how will his game be affected
Pierre LeBrun (2:03 PM)
Well, I think Patrick will be the first one to tell you, that he hit a bit of a wall. It was the fatigue of his first season. He was such a scrawny kid. I did see him in New York and he looked bigger. I think that will help him from hitting a wall this season.
ryan, Lancaster PA
Pierre! Fantasy hockey draft is coming up... Top 5 goalies in term of wins?
Pierre LeBrun (2:04 PM)
I'd go with Nabakov, Fleury, Price, Brodeur and Lundqvist.
Mike - Westbrook CT
What has happened to the hockey team known as Buffalo? Just 2 years ago they were the best team out there now they are just average. It seems they have become a farm team for others signing away the talent. The list is endless on that point.
Pierre LeBrun (2:06 PM)
Actually, if you read my blog today, you'll see that they're beginning to turn the corner. They had a terrible offseason last year. But I think the rebounded really well. Their recent longterm signings of the core guys have helped the Sabres get off the mat from the disasterous offseason from a year ago.
Tom (Madison, WI)
With the signing of Marian Hossa in the offseason, the Detroit Red Wings stacked their star filled lineup even more. Do you believe that there are any glaring weaknesses anywhere in their lineup?
Pierre LeBrun (2:07 PM)
No. I really don't ., I think on paper, this is the most complete team. I think if there are any struggles with this team, it will be from within. The Cup hangover has been significant since the lockout. But I know from speaking with Mike Babcock this week, he'll get on that right from the start of their camp that their offseason was only 7 days shorter. But the Wings are definitely poised for a back to back.
Who do you think Ovechkin will do this season? Coming off a huge year and the expectations will be sky high. Also, how will the team fare with Theodor in net?
Pierre LeBrun (2:08 PM)
I think that another 50 goals season is in the offing. The fact that Backstrom will be even better for Ovechkin. The struggle for him was always to get competent center. Backstrom's development bodes well for Ovechkin.
Mac Cassells Centreville, Virginia
Can Jose Theodore regain his mvp staus with the Capitals this season?
Pierre LeBrun (2:09 PM)
No. I think Jose did really well in rebounding last season in Colorado and putting himself among the top 20 goalies. That was a really special season for him in 2002 and that he overachieved. People will just have to settle for him being a good goalie and not top 5 in the world.
Kyle (Long Island)
Are the Islanders destined for the lottery again this season?
Pierre LeBrun (2:10 PM)
Yes. I really don't see where they're going to get any kind of offense. It's a team that already struggled and they didn't add much. They have a good goaltender and a solid defense, but the East is an offensive conference and they struggle to find the net.
Chris D, Buffalo
How is this league going to stay afloat financially when team salaries are rising by $5 to $10 million per year and revenue is not? Any hopes of a big ESPN TV deal?
Pierre LeBrun (2:11 PM)
That's a great question. Though technically, teams will tell you that revenues are rising. I guess the real question is, especially what's going on in the US economy, how will the league be effected. This might be the first time in the new CBA where the cap flatlines.
If the Blackhawks cannot trade Nikolai Khabibulin will they waive him?
Pierre LeBrun (2:12 PM)
They don't really have to, because of the Robert Lang trade. The Lang trade brought them under the cap. I do think that through the course of the season if they get the right deal, they'll move him. Huet is really their guy.
Tom (New Jersey)
Hey Pierre! Will Mats Sundin play in the NHL this season and, if so, what are the chances he wheres the red, white, and blue at the Garden?
Pierre LeBrun (2:13 PM)
I think he will play this season. I don't think it will be until December. If I were a betting man, I would take the Rangers, if for no other reason, that his long time agent is an executive for the Rangers. But for them to pull that off, there will be some juggling because they're right at the cap.
Ben (Circle Pines, MN)
Do you think 8.5Mil/yr is a reasonable value for resigning Gaborik?
Pierre LeBrun (2:14 PM)
Good question. Frankly, to me, the most pressing situation before the puck is dropped is Gaborik. Is he worth 8.5 million? I'd have to say yes when you look at money given out to players of his caliber. The real question is how many years you give him.
What do you expect out of Jordan Staal this year? Will he be a force, now that Malone is gone?
Pierre LeBrun (2:15 PM)
Yes. Excellent question. I think you'll see, for a number of reasons - Hossa and Malone gone - they'll give Staal a long look at playing with Crosby or Malkin. It's an important year for Staal, because his entry level contract will be up at the end of the year.
Chioke Hassan Baltimore,Md
Dear Pierre Could you see the league getting after there Refs for Gambling like in the NBA?
Pierre LeBrun (2:17 PM)
Interesting question. After what happened in the NBA, Gart Bettman spoke with NHL refs and linesmen after preseason camp and reminded them what the rules were for casinos and all that. There was a reminder that they have to be careful with all of that kind of stuff.
Craig ( dallas)
What impact will Sean Avery have on the Stars chances this year? Does he break the 30 goal mark?
Pierre LeBrun (2:18 PM)
I don't think he'll break the 30-goal mark. The Rangers record with him in the lineup and without him is dramatic. He makes things happen on the ice. He may not be a great fantasy player in terms of points, but he makes the other teams notice him. The Stars are a better team with him in there.
Kevin Ellis, Buena Park, CA
In a tough Pacific Division with Dallas and San Jose, do you feel that Anaheim has a chance to come out on top with their strong defense in tact and the young guns getting better with every season?
Pierre LeBrun (2:18 PM)
I definitely think that those three teams will go right down to the wire. They're all big time Cup contenders. If I were a betting man, I'd pick the Sharks to win it.
Pierre, will the league crack down on goalie equipment next year--AGAIN?
Pierre LeBrun (2:20 PM)
In fact, something that didn't get much fanfare in the offseason, there were some minor tweaks. Some of the equipment was tweaked, after a new goalie committee was formed and studied the matter. I spoke with Marty Brodeur a few weeks ago and he seemed happy that these were the changes that were needed.
Steve (Tampa, FL)
Will Barry Melrose take Tampa Bay back into the playoffs with makeover?
Pierre LeBrun (2:20 PM)
Right now, the way this team looks on paper, they're a borderline playoff team. They'll score a pile of goals, but they'll allow just as many. Having Barry back in teh league is terrific, but they're a work in progress, unless there are some more moves coming.
Cali (Howell, NJ)
Do you think Sutter will open the Devils offense up a little more this season?
Pierre LeBrun (2:21 PM)
Boy that's a good question. They really struggled to score goals last season. It's a team that made the playoffs. I think if they just get better seasons from Elias and Gianta, I don't think the system has to be altered that much.
Mike (Boston, MA)
Which teams will surprise people this year (make the playoffs, maybe advance a round or two)?
Pierre LeBrun (2:23 PM)
Certainly, my big surprise team is the Edmonton Oilers. After missing the playoffs, that young core is moving around. They're just a really fast and talented team that's deep up front. I think they will make the playoffs and go past the first round. Do I have a question mark around them? Yes, the goaltending. But I still think they can surprise some people.
Dennis R Philadelphia, PA
Do you think Simon Gagne will rebound to be a 40 goal scorer again?
Pierre LeBrun (2:24 PM)
Yes, I think he will. As serious as his head injuries were last year, I'm told he could have possibly played last year in the Cup Finals. Given the offseason and the time off, I expect him to reconnect with Briere on a really good line for the Flyers.
Paul Fabbroni (Mississauga, Ontario)
Congrats on the new job Pierre!! That is awesome!!!
Mark (Pittsburgh, PA)
Pierre, who do you see playing in the Cup Final this year?
Pierre LeBrun (2:25 PM)
I'm still debating among four or five teams before I put in my picks. But I'm being put on the spot, am I? I'm going to go with, how about Montreal-San Jose.
Pierre LeBrun (2:25 PM)
Even though I know the Wings are the team to beat.
Casey (Allentown, Pa)
Will Evgeni Malkin have another productive year? Or do you think having Sidney Crosby the whole year will hurt his production?
Pierre LeBrun (2:26 PM)
No, I think he'll have another good year. They're going to depend so much on those two centers that there will be lots of ice time. On the PP, when they'll both be out there, they'll rack up the points.
Mike Ragsdale (Flint MI)
Pierre, What numbers do you expect out of Chris Osgood this season ?
Pierre LeBrun (2:27 PM)
I don't think that Detroit signed Ty Conklin to be a spectator. I think they signed him to give Osgood the odd break. I think Conklin will probably get in there to spell Osgood enough that you won't see him play more than 60 games.
Greg (LA, CA)
Welcome Pierre. Even though you are from Toronto, can you give me an unbiased view of the Habs this year? Does Kovalev stay hot? Will Tanguay do some damage? In Price We Trust?
Pierre LeBrun (2:28 PM)
I still think the Canadians are really deep up front. They have four lines that can score. The real question is Price. He's a terrific goalie, a franchise goalie. But he kind of had a meltdown in the playoffs. There's a lot of hype with this team with their 100-year anniversary. But they are a good team that could finish first again in the East.
Are the Thrashers the worst team in the league?
Pierre LeBrun (2:29 PM)
I think the Islanders and the Leafs will be worse off. Atlanta has some holes. They'll be hard pressed to make the playoffs, but I don't think they'll be as bad as those two teams.
Pierre LeBrun (2:29 PM)
I also think that John Anderson was a great higher as a head coach.
Wayne (Scottsdale, AZ)
what do you make of Gretzky coaching Canada in the Olympics in Van?
Pierre LeBrun (2:31 PM)
I think that's something that Hockey Canada is giving some thought to for sure. From what I've been told, Wayne took some tremendous strides last year to his approach behind the bench. He's becoming a really good coach. I also think he could handle the pressure of an entire nation looking for the gold. BUt there will be some other big names in the running. He'll be in the mix for sure, but he'll be in the mix for Hockey Canada.
Scott (Vancouver, BC)
Pierre, if you actually think European expansion would work, how would the playoffs work?
Pierre LeBrun (2:32 PM)
Certainly, I think that you couldn't have a team from Europe play a team from America until the Cup Final. That poses a big question right off the bat, because you'd probalby have no more than 6 teams in Europe. That's really where the league will have to figure ito ut in the end. I still think it's workable. I guarantee you it will happen in the next 15 years.
Andrew (Hampton, NH)
Is Tim Thomas good enough for the Bruins to help them back to the playoffs?
Pierre LeBrun (2:34 PM)
No. Tim Thomas is really the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. Every year the last three years he's gone to camp with another goalie potentially as the No. 1 goalie and he still emerges. He gets no respect. If the Bruins can develop their backup right now, he's the goalie with the upside and the potential.
Bill Simmons from Page 2 said hockey would be more interesting if we had 12 teams from the USA, and 12 teams from Canada. Therefore the Stanley Cup would always be USA vs. Canada. Your thoughts on that?
Pierre LeBrun (2:36 PM)
I know the 35 million in Canada, they'd be jumping for joy. The more teams the merrier up here. But in all reality, the US markets, you'll always have more in the league from there. The league needs a strong US market to survive. I'm not sure how many more teams you could have in Canada. I don't see how it could support more than what they have.
Alex (Raleigh NC
Do you think the Hurricanes will get in the Playoffs? If so, how far will they get?
Pierre LeBrun (2:37 PM)
I have them for sure as a playoff team. Justin Williams had that huge injury this week and it made me ponder how much of an impact. At this point, I don't see where they'll find those goals. But in the end, I think they sneak in as the 7-8 team in the East.
Michael Burbank, CA
Will the Kings ever get it right?
Pierre LeBrun (2:37 PM)
Well, I know it doesn't look very good right now. But, there is a lot of young talent, not only on this team, but on the way up. If the fans hang in there, you'll see something special the next few years.
Andrew (Hampton, NH)
Do you think the NHL will crack down alittle bit on hits from behind into the boards?
Pierre LeBrun (2:39 PM)
After the Burgeron incident last season, the league did send out a memo. There was a lot of talk about that. Refs were on the look out for that. The reality is the hockey is a violent game. Those hits will happen once in a while, because of the split second decision that a player has.
Kyle (East Lansing, MI)
What do you think the Blackhawks chances are of making the playoffs this year? Assuming they make the playoffs how far will they go?
Pierre LeBrun (2:40 PM)
I think they're very good. I'd be surprised if they didn't. Campbell was a huge offseason acquisition. They always say once you get in, anything can happen. But I think the Detroits, San Joses, Dallas, Anaheims of the world are still the top tier, but them getting to the playoffs would be a lot of fun.
Brian (Buffalo, NY)
Pierre, In your blog you said that you expect the Sabres to get back into the playoffs, and in this chat you said you think the Hurricanes will get back into the playoffs... who from the East do you see not making the playoffs this year that made them last year? NJ? Ottawa?
Pierre LeBrun (2:41 PM)
That's a great question. I've already been on record saying this once. It's controversial, but after years and years and years of making it, but I think New Jersey is on the bubble. They've struggled to score goals and it's not that deep of a blue line. Obviously Broduer can prove us wrong.
Nick (Denver, CO)
Hi Pierre. Will we again see 4 Atlantic Division teams make the playoffs this year? In what order do you think the division finishes?
Pierre LeBrun (2:42 PM)
I'm not 100% sure that four will get in. My order is Pittsburgh, Flyers, Rangers, Devils and Islanders.
Diego Diaz, Toronto, Ontario
Pierre, Just how bad will the Leafs be this year? Is Tavares a consensus #1 pick? Do you think Cliff fletcher is heading the team in the right direction?
Pierre LeBrun (2:44 PM)
Yeah. I think that Fletcher has helped put this team in a position where they can finally rebuild. One of the problems of this team is that they've settled for being 8th in the conference for so long. This is not going to be a very good team this year and they'll probably get a lottery pick out of it and that's what they need. That's what Montreal did 5-6 years ago. That's what they need to get back on top, not bandaid solutions.
Who do you think will be the biggest name traded during the season?
Pierre LeBrun (2:44 PM)
I would say Gaborik. That's not the case if he signs the extension over the next week, but if he doesn't, that's the biggest name we'll see.
Cali (Howell, NJ)
Pierre welcome to the group of analysts that gets proven wrong by the Devils every year!
Pierre LeBrun (2:46 PM)
If you look at my track record, I'm not only often a big believer in the Devils, I picked them to win the Cup a couple of years ago. Obviously by picking them, I'm trying to pick a team that's not obvious and that's one.
Phil (St.Paul, MN)
How do you rate the Wild's off-season. I like the additions at Defense, but I'm worried the offense took a hit. An Offense that is already weak.
Pierre LeBrun (2:47 PM)
I totally agree. I do think that they're solid on D. Losing Rolston and Demetra, they didn't replace them. Having said that, I think they're hoping to get career years out of Koivu. The Gaborik situation really looms large on this team. That will have a huge barometer on how this season goes.
Tom (Ottawa, Ont.)
Will the NHL crackdown so players can't sign once the season begins, to keep players from Sundin, Selanne, Forsberg, Niedermeyer, etc. from ruining team's plans?
Pierre LeBrun (2:49 PM)
That's an interesting question. I've had a few NHL GMs privately complain to me that they don't like the fact that's going on. One of the problems with the league coming out and making that a rule, is that it's a CBA issue and the NHLPA would have to sign off on it. And I don't really see what the players have to gain by allowing that.
Dan, Los Angeles
What are your thoughts on the Flyers for this upcoming season? Glaring weaknesses?
Pierre LeBrun (2:50 PM)
I'm actually pretty excited for them. I think they're already a team that has an excellent group of forwards. Having Gagne coming back, is almost like having a big free agent signing. For a weakness, I still don't think they're that deep on the blue line. I think you'll see them try to address that at some point this season.
Jeff (Ontario, Canada)
Pierre, who do you think wins the MVP this season?
Pierre LeBrun (2:50 PM)
I will say Sidney Crosby.
Pierre LeBrun (2:51 PM)
He's hungry to come back strong after missing a chunk of last season.
Josh, Denver, CO
Do you think the Avs can make a serious run at the cup if their goal tending can be at least decent this year?
Pierre LeBrun (2:52 PM)
No. In fact, I think the Avs could be on the playoff bubble because of their playoff goaltending. It's a team that when you look at the goaltending in the West, they rank near the bottom.
Bert (Buffalo, NY)
Will Ryan Miller really be able to carry the Sabres load without Biron? The reason I ask a year after the trade is because I was not very impressed at all last year with my sabres.
Pierre LeBrun (2:53 PM)
First of all, I think the Sabres made a really smart signing in Patrick Laline and he'll complement Miller. The return of Neumanan will help as well. With those two developments, I think Miller will have a better year.
Brad, Chicago IL
With the ticket prices in most markets going up, and yet the popularity in america for hockey remaining baseline, or even in some markets going down, how can this trend continue, and what can be done?
Pierre LeBrun (2:54 PM)
It's probably one of the most mysterious things to me. It's a great question. I think hockey has an expensive ticket. It doesn't make sense. But the league insists that the season ticket base went up. One thing you have to remember in the NHL is that it's more gate driven than TV driven. It really relies on ticket sales and that's one reason they don't give them away.
How does Brad Richards do now that he'll get a full season w/ Dallas? Will Big D put some goals up this year?
Pierre LeBrun (2:55 PM)
Now that he's there from the start of camp, I think that folks in Dallas will discover what a lot of us know - that he's an elite player. He has a high IQ and an excellent guy to have on your team. I think he'll have an excellent year, somewhere in the area of 80 points and the Stars will be happy they made that trade.
Pierre, what do you think about Washington becoming a hockeytown now?
Pierre LeBrun (2:56 PM)
I thought it was really exciting to see how they reacted late in the season and playoffs. Washington is similar to a lot of US markets. The hockey fans are there but they won't support a loser. If tehy can continue their upswing, I think it will be a good market.
The chicago Blackhawks will go all the way under the skill and leadership or Patrick Kane and Towes
Pierre LeBrun (2:58 PM)
No question they can continue to grow. Having a chance to get to know Towes over the last year, no one realizes how great of a leader he is. He'll develop into the leader like Bobby Hull, Denis Savard and be a fan favorite like them.
Pierre LeBrun (2:59 PM)
I really thought a lot of the questions were quite intelligent. I hope to do this again. I felt bad that I couldn't answer all the questions like I wanted, but that's why we need the puck to drop.