Chat with EJ Hradek
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions for EJ now and join him in The Show on Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:00 PM)
EJ is coming right up!
EJ Hradek (3:03 PM)
Hey, it's great to be here. Looking forward, like all of you, to another season. Let's see what you got.
How do you see the Khabibulin story ending in Chicago?
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
Well, I don't think it is going to end well for either side. I don't think the Blackhawks will get anything near value, no matter how it plays out. Khabibulin, at this point, doesn't have a place to play in the NHL. In that way, it's kind of a lose-lose. For me, if I was the Blackhawks, I would have taken my chances with him in the final year of his contract and passed on signing Huet. I think Khabibulin is a better goalie than Huet.
Pow (Lynn Massachusetts)
Being a Bruins fan, is there any shot they can beat out Montreal this year?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
Well, the thing you want to do is make the playoffs. You saw last year with Boston as an 8 seed and Montreal as a 1 seed, the first round series still went to 7 games. So, the key for the Bruins is to make the playoffs and put itself in a position to move forward and get out of the first round.
As a long time Wild fan, what do they have to do to get over the edge in the playoffs. I still think Lemaire does not use Gaborik properly.
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
I think Minnesota has lacked a certain toughness in playoff series. I think that's really been the biggest problem for them. They've had some tough matchups in recent years - matchups that aren't favorable for what they want to play. They just have to be tougher come playoff time.
Where do you see the Sabres falling into the Eastern Conference when all is said and done? Bounceback season after a disspointing '07-08?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
I think the Sabres have a good chance to get into the playoff mix this year. They didn't miss by much last year, under difficult circumstances after losing co-captains the year before. I think the free agent signing of Laline will only help lighten Ryan Miller's load and make his life easier. I think the Sabres have an excellent chance to get back to the playoffs.
Michael (Tustin, CA)
With Bobby Ryan being sent to the minors, do the Ducks have enough offensive firepower to be considered legitimate Stanley Cup contenders?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
Well, even if they kept Bobby Ryan, we're really not sure how much he would consistently produce. He hasn't been able to do that at the NHL level yet. He's still a very young guy. I think the question for the Ducks will certainly be goal scoring. They're probably hoping that Morrison can help them. Certainly they ahve a terrific defense and a championship caliber goalie. But goal scoring is an issue. They don't have a lot of cap space to add a lot of helpful pieces in that area. I expect the Ducks will be a serious contender, but goal scoring will be the issue.
ray gordon reid laramie wyoming 82073
question t0 nHL EJ HRADEK AT 3.05 HI EJ HOWS COL0RADO avs GONNA DO THIS YEAR
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
The Colorado Avalanch main issue will be goaltending. They have to hope that one or both of their guys can get the job done for them. They're in a very competitive division and conference. There isn't a lot separating them from the other teams. But if their goaltending goes sour, they'll have a hard time making the playoffs. It really comes down to goaltending.
blueshirts are 2-0 and on their way to 82-0! can we challenge the penguins for the division title?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
I think the Atlantic Division is going to be very competitive. I think four of the five teams have a chance to make the playoffs. I think Pittsburgh is going to be hurt by the loss of some free agents. I expect the Rangers, Flyers, Devils and Penguins to be in a tight race for the top spot in that division throughout the year.
jen troy, mi
Watching the penguins yesterday they were talking about how Satan is weak compared to Hossa. I started watching closer and they were right. He gets pushed around all over the place. If he is not working out, do you see the penguins going after someone like Gaborik at the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I think it's possible. I think certainly there's no comparison to a player like Hossa and a player like Satan. The Penguins were looking to fill a spot short term. If it doesnt' work out, it's not a huge problem. I'm sure Shero will be looking to add a player at the deadline to fill a role. However, it's hard to get someone like that without giving up a lot. And it's hard to keep them.
What do you honestly think of Vancouver's team this year. Can you actually think they can make the playoffs in the West?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
Yeah, I think they can, because they have a terrific goalie in Luongo. They ahve a terrific group of defensemen when healthy. Last year, that group suffered many injuries. That was the difference between them making the playoffs. I didn't like management's decision to fire their GM. I think he had done a good job there. His firing, to me, really didn't make sense. That said, if the Canucks defense stays healthy and Luongo plays like he can play, I think the Canucks will be a team that battles for a playoff spot.
Paul (Detroit, MI)
EJ - Analysts have questioned the ability of Chris Osgood to handle the pressure this year. What does Ozzie have to do to get the benefit of the doubt?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
If people have a question about Chris Osgood after 300+ wins and Stanley Cups, then maybe there's nothing he can do to answer those questions. I think he did a terrific job last year. Behind a very good Red Wings team, he will do a very good job.
What month this season do you think Martin Brodeur will pass Patrick Roy on the all time wins list? When he does do you think he'll finally get the respect he deserves as being regarded universly as one of the Top 2 or 3 goaltenders ever to put skates on.
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
I don't know what month he'll pass Roy. It seems inevitable. I think he already has the respect amongst people who really know hockey about being one of the best, if not the best, to play. So I don't see that as an issue.
EJ - you forgot the Islanders in your Atlantic Division comment. What gives? Should this team be in the AHL?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
Yeah, they're rebuilding. Rebuilding teams takes time. When I talk about these other teams, strong teams ready to compete. The Islanders, if they're wise, they'll continue this process. And some day, hopefully in the not to distant future, they'll be able to compete with the top teams in the conference. They do have a punchers chance to stay with teams, because they have a good goalie in DiPietro.
Ben (Grand Terrace, CA
What do you think of the C on Luongo's mask??? Silly that the NHL won't allow it on his sweater!!
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
Well, it is an unusual situation. There are rules that govern these things. Perhaps it is a little silly. The team has named him captain, which they should be able to do and he should be able to wear the C on his shirt. I do find it interesting that the team decided to name him captain, which is unusual in the NHL. I think the move was made to make him feel comfortable with being in the organization. His contract expires at the end of next season. by naming him captain, I think they're sending the message that they want him to stay longterm. I think it says more about that than any leadership abilities he has.
How do you think the Atlanta Thrashers will do this season?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I don't think see the Thrashers as a playoff team. They had a lot of problems on defense last year. I think they have a chance to be better this year. They're still very weak up the middle at center. Their group of defensemen are still a big question mark. To me, they have to find a way to get a couple of top centers into their group. It's not an easy thing. I do think they have a chance to be better on a night in, night out basis. But still it will be a tough road for them to get into the playoffs.
John (Portland, ME)
If the NHL season starts in Europe and no one notices, does it really start?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
I know Americans that were watching. I am an American and I was watching. The league, taking advantage of the worldwide appeal that hockey has. It's certainly a major sport in many of the countries in Europe. I like the idea that the NHL plays games there. I kind of wish those games were played in the middle of the season. I do think it's good because there are a large group of people in Europe that love hockey. Certainly with the sport starting in North American on Thursday there will be more people engaged and connecting to it.
What are your thoughts on the Caps this season? Win the Southeast and make it past the first round of the playoffs or be more in the middle of the pack in the conference?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
The Capitals certianly face higher expectations. I think the Caps will win the division and I think they have an excellent chance to advance in the playoffs. Their biggest obstacle will be expectations. I look forward to seeing how they handle those expectations. I always look forward to seeing the great Ovechkin playing.
Evan (Los Angeles)
Will Zetterberg be able to follow up his Conn Smythe with a 50 goal season? Or will ice-time be a factor, considering Detroit's depth?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
He's one of the top players in the game. He scored over 40 goals last year and he's a terrific player. He'll have more support around him with Hossa. I think 50 goals is within his reach.
Joe (South FL)
As one of the few true Panther fans out there, what are the Cats chances without Olli, Jacques as GM, and Vokoun and his mouth in net?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
The Florida Panthers have missed the playoffs in 7 years. Their new coach has no professional experience. This will be an uphill battle. They'll be better on defense this year, but maybe not as good on offense. I'd love to see Florida get into the playoffs, but it's an uphill fight. Really they ahve to do themselves a favor and get off to a good start. The last couple of years, that hasn't happend. They get behind the eight ball. They need to start strong this year.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Look forward to a great season. See you soon!
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