Chat with EJ Hradek
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Buzzmaster (3:05 PM)
EJ will be here shortly, everyone!
The Stars seemed to have found their groove back but with two key injuries yet they could use some depth at the trade deadline especially at the back end. Anyone they might look at from the "available" players?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I get the sense that the Stars will fill any depth need from within. They have Mark Fistric in the minors. He could be recalled to help out if needed. But I get the sense that they will stay within themselves as much as possible.
Evan, NYC, NY
Are the Rangers going to claim Sean Avery on re-entry waivers or will another team take him before them?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
I would be really surprised if anyone else were to claim Sean Avery. I don't think there is a team out there that would feel comfortable making that move. They would still be on the hook for three years, $6 million total. If Avery shows well in Hartford, Dallas will recall him.
Adam (San Jose)
Who's winning tonight: Bruins or Sharks?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
That's a good question. I think you have to give the advantage to the Bruins. They are at home, coming off a few days off and an overtime loss. I think it should be a fun night. It will be interesting to see how Thornton does in his first trip to Boston since the big trade.
EJ, are the Hawks still looking to move either Huet or Khabibulin before the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I don't think so. They've gone this far into the season with the two guys. Khabibulin's contract is set to expire. I think it would take a significant offer for them to make a change like that. They seem to be comfortable with both goaltenders, and the first 50+ games have been really good for the Blackhawks. Barring a real terrific offer or a means to clear space, they will go through the season with both goalies.
Another year, same question regarding the Flyers...How do you see their goaltending situation playing out?
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
I think right now, Niittymaki has been the better of the two goalies. It seems like he's healthy after having a couple of hip surgeries over the past two years. He's playing at a pretty good level. I think Stevens is going to lean to the hotter guy. It's one of those things where it could go back and forth. It's open for one of the guys, whether it's Niittymaki or Biron to wrestle control.
Mike (Boston, MA)
Will the Bruins look to trade Manny Fernandez before the deadline and have Rask step in as the back-up for the rest of the season?
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
That would be a risky move. Oddly enough, both Thomas and Fernandez' contracts expire at the end of the year. The play for the future would be to re-sign Thomas and h ave Rask come in as the No. 2. This team has had a lot of good chemistry and success. They should probably leave things as they are instead of getting too cute and putting themselves in a less-advantageous position at a critical area like goaltending come playoff time. If Thomas were to get hurt or falter, it would be nice to have a veteran like Fernandez behind him.
King (Howell, NJ)
There's talk in the NY papers about firing Renney. Shouldn't it be Sather on the hot seat since he continually makes poor free agent decisions and gives out horrible contracts that hurt their cap space (ie Gomez, Drury and Redden)? He also don't seem to draft well since they don't have a lot of young, explosive talent.
EJ Hradek (3:35 PM)
I would definitely agree that the fault with the Rangers lies more in their personnel than in their coaching staff. I think that, like all coaching groups, there are always times when you can do things a little differently. But the bottom line for the Rangers is, they don't have a No. 1 center or defenseman, yet they are paying people equivalent to players of that type. I think they mismanaged their caps and they are limited in their flexibility. That is the responsibility of the GM, and Sather has done a less-than-average job since coming to NY in 2000. Were it a different ownership situation, he would probably already be gone.
Adam (Santa Monica, CA)
Under what circumstances will the Ducks trade Pronger, and where do you see him going?
EJ Hradek (3:39 PM)
I think a lot will have to do with how they play in the next few weeks. If the Ducks struggle and their playoff hopes become diminished, I think they would consider moving some of their older players. In that scenario, Pronger is one of those guys. He has a year left at a manageable salary for his ability. I would not give him a way unless I got something significant in return.
Jeremy (Victoria, BC)
What are you hearing about the vibe in the Habs' dressing room. They are really going down in flames right now and need to turn it around, stat. They were playing off the tonic in the season's first half!
EJ Hradek (3:42 PM)
I'll be honest--the Canadiens are an overrated team. They have a good young goalie who hasn't been tested at the NHL level enough. He's a really talented kid, but that is where he is at this point. They are not nearly as good on the power play as they have been in the past. They have too many players up front who are not consistently playing to their potential. It's pretty clear that the Canadiens have been interested in making a trade to improve their team, which tells me they don't think they are as good as they could be either. They will continue to pursue deals to help the team, but I see three or four teams in the East better than them, maybe five.
Did you expect the Devils to be doing as well as they are now in Brodeur's absence? Also do you think the devils will deal for anyone and if so who?
EJ Hradek (3:44 PM)
No, I don't think anyone could have predicted that. If they could add a defenseman, and I'm talking about a higher-end defenseman, that would take them one step closer to having a real chance to get through the East. Those types of deals are not easy to make, but in my mind, it is what they need to take a clear step towards beating a Boston or a Washington in the playoffs. I've heard rumors that they are interested in getting Scott Niedermayer to return. He's in the final year of his contract, and if Anaheim stumbles, it could happen. It's unlikely but not out of the question. He would certainly be a game-changing addition to the Devils.
Adam (Lake George, NY)
Do you think the Sabres have built enough confidence since Jan. 1st to keep plugging away or will the loss of Vanek push them out of a playoff spot?
EJ Hradek (3:46 PM)
The loss of Vanek is a tough one. He's one of the top goal-scorers in the league. That said, you talk about a team losing a Martin Brodeur, and if you're a playoff team, you have to overcome losses. Buffalo is well-coached and has guys who can score goals. I think they are up to it, particularly if Miller plays well.
Shane (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood has not been on his game this season. My question is during the playoffs, would you go with experience and start Osgood, or do you go with numbers and start Conklin, who has played much better?
EJ Hradek (3:48 PM)
I get the feeling it'll be the same with Detroit last year. Hasek was their nominal No. 1 last year, even though he and Osgood split the games. Osgood will have the benefit of the doubt this year. I think if he stumbles, they'll go to Ty Conklin.
Andrew (South Side, PA)
Can the Pens afford to wait to make a move to try to make the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:51 PM)
We're not talking about waiting too much longer. March 4 is the deadline. It will happen soon if they do something. I don't think they are in a position to make the kind of deal they made last year to get Hossa. I don't think they have the resources or assets it takes to make that move. Some things will depend on the return of Gonchar. If he can get back in the lineup and make them comfortable about his condition, maybe they will be in a position to move a defenseman to get help on the wing. I will say this: usually teams don't like to trade defensemen for forwards. The Penguins have been inconsistent this season, and as hard as it seems to be to believe, they will have their hands full just making the playoffs.
EJ Hradek (3:51 PM)