Chat with EJ Hradek
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Hradek in The Show on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Eric (Indio, CA)
I know it's only 12 games in, but does Lundqvist finally break through to win the Vezina this year?
EJ Hradek (3:02 PM)
I think he absolutely has a chance. He's off to a great start and plays in the biggest media market in North America. His team is playing well and he is playing well. He's a guy who has been a finalist for each of the last three years, and I see no reason to think he won't contend this year.
Ben (Ann Arbor, MI)
With 7 of the Red Wings first 9 games being decided by 1 goal (or shootout) and the other 2 being 2-goal affairs because of empty-netters, do you think the Wings will tire at all or be able to keep up the pace? Are some of their opponents bound to get lucky and knock of the stanley cup champs here soon?
EJ Hradek (3:03 PM)
It's a long season. The difference between winning and losing from team to team is not great. You saw a good example of that last night. The Wings just need to try to compile as many points as possible. They are a terrific team and will be tough to beat if they stay in the playoffs.
Guy Enfield NH
Big B's fan here, things are finally looking up...What do you see M Lucic becoming in the next couple of years??? Thanks...
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
If he can stay healthy, this is a guy who can become a real top power forward--a guy who helps you win, and a guy who will be a popular figure amongst Bruins fans. I think most hockey fans love that straight-ahead type player. If he can maintain and stay healthy and continue on his current development level, he'll be great.
Marian Hossa looks like a great fit and seems to be enjoying it here. Do you see the cap going up for next year making it a possibility for Ken Holland to work some more magic and keep him?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
It's hard to predict what is going to happen with the salary cap what with the economic situation. It's gone up quite a bit when you consider the high end has increased by 16 million since the lockout. That said, the Red Wings will do whatever they can to keep top players in Detroit. Certainly Ken Holland has an interesting year ahead of him.
Considering how well the Wild are playing now, do you think they should trade Gaborik? They have a good young core of players that I think will help take the sting away from losing Him.
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
I think that decision shouldn't be based on how they are playing in a short window of games. I do think that, if they can't find a number that makes sense for the organization, it's probably wise to trade him. The problem is that it will be hard to get real value for a player as talented as Gaborik. Most of your competitors know the situation you're in contract-wise. I've always been a fan of building around centers, defensemen, and a good goaltender. Being that he's a wing, he could be worth trading in order to shore up the middle.
VJ (Moncton, NB)
Montreal has gotten off to a pretty good start, but they're still giving up too many shots. Do you think they have a strong enough defensive corps to make a good playoff run, or to hold up against the stronger and bigger western teams?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think Montreal has a good group there. We're early in the season and teams are still making adjustments. I think the Canadiens have a strong team and I expect them to be able to compete with anyone in the league. They have holes, but it's a strong group. I'd need to see a bigger sampling of games first, but going into the year, they are one of the better teams in the East.
Avalanche - People are calling for an upgrade over Budaj. Problem seems to be the only options is Khabibulin and his 6.75MM contract. Will there be any other goaltending options as the year goes by?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
Budaj was named one of the three top starters in the league and has bounced back from a bad start. They are hoping he will be the guy. Things like that do change on a week-to-week basis, but they have been very encouraged by Budaj's play and are happy with where they are at.
Gene brooklyn ny
EJ,where do you see the rangers this seen dispite their fast start ?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
It's great for them that they have been able to get out this quick. They'll be looking to earn points in February and March, so a good chemistry within their group now has to be thrilling for them. They have one of the best goaltenders in the league and are committed to playing strong two-way teams. If they get enough goals out of their first two linres, they will be hard to deal with come playoff time.
Eric (Indio, CA)
Which is the best division in the NHL?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
Hard question. All the divisions have gotten better and tighter. The most competitive might be the Northwest from top to bottom. Those teams could finish within ten points of one another.
EJ thoughts on this year's outdoor game in Chicago.
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I'm really looking forward to it. It has the potential to be an unbelievable event. We just have to keep our fingers crossed for a good weather day. I'm excited to be able to see two Original Six rivals playing in such a great sports venue.
SO the sharks are off to a hot start but I am still worried about another flame out in the playoffs: So is this another year of disapointment or can the sharks finally break through and at least make the cup?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
Don't worry, it's still early in the season. In my opinion, the Sharks have improved their team come playoff time with guys who have that kind of experience. Getting Dan Boyle, a top-shooting defenseman, and adding Rob Blake, I think those additions are really helping. I'll be interested, like most hockey fans, to see if San Jose can move to that next level come playoff time.
Any chance we will see another team in Toronto?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
Short-term, probably no. Long-term, perhaps! If you're asking me, do I think Toronto could support a second NHL franchise, my answer would be yes. There are certainly a million different obstacles or steps that would go into such a process, whether it's relocation or expansion. I personally would like to see it, but I don't see it as something that will happen in the short term.
Which team is the biggest pretender right now?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
Who do I want to get mad here? I would say St. Louis' start, to me, is something I wonder about long-term this season. They have done most of their scoring on the power play and haven't been really good in the five-on-five game. If they want to continue to be one of the top teams in the West, they will have to continue to score on a high percentage rate on the power play. It's tough to maintain a 34 percent PP goal rate.
Which is the real M. Kiprusoff? The one who played horrible at the start of the season or the one that has been solid of late?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I think he's been a slow starter, traditionally. It's a good sign that he has played better in recent games. Like all goalies, he needs support from the players in front of him. That has sometimes been part of the problem. I would take my chances with her more often than not. He's proven to be a good goaltender over a number of years.
Ed (New York)
Is there any hope for the Islanders? What do they need to do?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
It's a matter of patience. They are a team that is clearly in a rebuilding mode. That's wise for them. It's their only hope to be better. It's a lot to ask the fans there, but it's a matter of sticking to that plan and fighting their way through the bad times that are inevitable when you go through rebuilding.
Is Stamkos going to be the star many people predict that he will be? No points thus far, any reason to worry about him?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
Not long-term. He's very skilled wiht a lot of talent, and he's a mature kid. I think he's probably gripping his stick a little bit too tight right now. He's in an odd spot right now with new ownership and a new coach. There are a lot of growing pains right now, and long term, he's going to be a terrific player.
Marc (Malden, MA)
What do the Bruins do about their goaltending? Thomas and Fernandez are nice players, but you can't win a Cup with them in net. Is Tuukka Rask the answer?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
I think the Bruins will do just fine with Thomas and Fernandez in the short term. Thomas has done a nice job as the guy who a lot of people have written off. It seems as if Rask is the long-term solution in goal. But he'll have to get it done at the NHL level, which isn't easy, and it will take some time before he has that opportunity. It's a good spot for the Bruins in their rebuilding right now. Rask is a guy who they have high hopes for.
Which is more reflective of the Anaheim Ducks this season... their 0-4 start or recent four-game winning streak (all on the road out east)??
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I would have to stay the streak. Most people in the business who follow hockey thought the Ducks would be a good team this year. The key to the Ducks' success would be whether or not they got enough offense. Their defense and goaltending will be good. In recent games, their offense has picked up, and that has been the difference.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions, and talk to you next time!