Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (4:00 PM)
Greetings all. Now, where were we?
Mike (Atlanta, GA)
Scott, Latest on Kovalchuck? When should Thrasher fans know if there will be a new contract or a trade?
Scott Burnside (4:01 PM)
Mike; Wish I could give you a firm date. So does GM Don Waddell. I would think by early January the two sides will know whether they can find the right number in terms of dollar and term. The team is committed to signing him and I think he genuninely wants to stay.
How great is your job? Really?
Scott Burnside (4:02 PM)
Chris; I could start with spectacular and go from there. But I think you knew that.
tommy (arlington VA)
Caps just sent down Karl Alzner today with the return of Poti to the roster. Besides the money and the experience factor, what do offensive D guys like Poti, and Pothier provide to the Caps that young guys Alzer and Carlson do not? Alzer sure looked like a stay at home guy they need to stabalize some of that offense.
Scott Burnside (4:04 PM)
tommy; A couple of questions about the Caps early on in today and I think it's a real balancing act for Bruce Boudreau and George McPhee. I remember talking to Bruce during training camp and he figured he had maybe 10 or 11 defensemen capable of playing in the NHL. But this team is trying to build itself a Cup winner without sacrificing youth etc. Can't just dump Tom Poti or Brian Pothier to put Alzner in the line-up. Come playoff time maybe Alzner is better suited to being in the line-up and that's what will happen. Or he might take a step back as young defensemen often do.
If the Caps traded Semin, what could they expect in return?
Scott Burnside (4:06 PM)
Mike; Continuing on the early Caps theme I think Semin is the kind of talent that will bring a first-round pick or a top young prospect. When you deal a guy like Semin you're not necessarily looking to trade a roster player for a roster player but rather make room for some of the young players in the system so I expect George McPhee would be looking for futures when/if he tries to move Semin.
The Blackhawks have been winning some marginally thin games lately and have not exactly been scoring at the rate they should be (i.e.i Sharks 7-2). The obvious answer would be that the Hawks are being trapped in the neutral zone and their defensive rush is being neutralized. What do you forsee with the future of this offense down the road? I know that all teams will not play the trap, but how does this team adapt to this style of defense? What players will need to step up?
Scott Burnside (4:07 PM)
Jack; I think this is just one of those ripples in a long season. Sometimes when a team adds a big offensive piece as the 'Hawks did recently with Marian Hossa, it actually takes a step back as people adjust to new roles etc. This team is too good, especially on the back end, to see the offense go stagnate for any period of time.
James (Naval Academy)
what do the Rangers have to do to turn this season around?
Scott Burnside (4:09 PM)
James; Not sure if I've got the space nor you the time. But in general the power play has to get back on track - teams have neutralized Michael Del Zotto who was so good early on - and they need to find ways to spread their scoring around. Getting Henrik Lundqvist to stop letting in soft goals at crucial moments as he did against Detroit yesterday would also be nice. Thin down the middle, too. Sadly for Ranger fans none of these woes will be easily addressed given the Rangers' salary cap woes.
Do you think Crosby will hit 50 goals this year?
Scott Burnside (4:10 PM)
Donny; If it weren't for a wonky groin issue that may see Crosby take some time off here and there I would say yes. Definitely 40 to 45 though.
kyle Kimbrel (spokane, wa)
Scott, when can we expect to see a team relocated or, by the god awful chance, expansion (I think we all know that would be a mistake)?
Scott Burnside (4:12 PM)
kyle; I think barring a miracle (and the way the Coyotes are hanging around so far this season it's pretty miraculous) the Phoenix Coyotes will move I would guess within the next two years. Beyond that I think speculation on any other teams (New York Islanders, Florida, Atlanta, Nashville)moving is out of line. Are there problem teams? Absolutely but for a host of reasons I doubt if you'll see any team outside of Phoenix on the move in the next four or five years anyway.
When are the Ducks gonna rock the boat and make a major trade? They look like they need defense badly.
Scott Burnside (4:13 PM)
Dave; It is indeed a mystery as to why the Ducks are so bad. Well, I suppose the defense, lack of scoring depth and shoddy goaltending make it less of a mystery. But you know what I mean. The problem is that most of the Ducks' problems are too expensive to easily resolve; ie. attempts to deal J.S. Giguere. It will be interesting to see if anything happens with Scott Niedermayer if the Ducks stay out of the playoff picture.
Zakari (THE UP)
Do you think Huet and Niemi are a good enough one-two punch that can win a cup?
Scott Burnside (4:14 PM)
Zakari; I think they're better than people give them credit for and I think they are good enough to get the 'Hawks to a Cup final.
Scott, I'm curious if you think larger ice surfaces (maybe not Olympic sized but bigger) would improve the game? I enjoy watching games from the 70s and 80s on ESPN Classic because there seems to be so much more ice (and a lot less goalie and player equipment). Your thoughts?
Scott Burnside (4:17 PM)
Shawn; Having covered the Olympics with its bigger surface I think it is over-rated in terms of generating more offense. It simply allows teams to play an even more passive style because there's too much room to mount a sustained, physical forecheck. I think the Vancouver tournament will be dynamite because it will feature the world's best in NHL-style rinks. In short, the smaller the surface the more physical and the greater the chances of breakdowns and mistakes.
B-Diddy (Munstoeville, WYO)
What's the matter with Kyle Cumiskey, I can't seem to find any info other than he was put on IR due to a foot injury a week ago. And what's your point/place prediction for the Avs? Keep in mind they've played about 10 more away games than home games.
Scott Burnside (4:20 PM)
B-Diddy; Checking on Cumiskey and will let you know if I get an update as for predicting the Avs final place in the standings I would have said a week or so ago 10th or 11th but I love their resilience and I think they may hang on for the 8th place in the Western Conference which would be a major achievement for such a young team with a rookie NHL head coach.
Scott Burnside (4:22 PM)
Samantha; Merry Christmas. As for the other part of your X-mas wish, not sure I can help although big wins over Detroit and Dallas last week. They've got Florida, Tampa and St. Louis ont he road this week and they are brutal away from home so reeling off a couple of wins would be huge if they're going to try and claw their way back into the playoff hunt.
How good will the Red Wings be when they get completely healthy in February with the return of Franzen? Willl they contend with the likes of Calgary, San Jose and Chicago in the West?
Scott Burnside (4:23 PM)
Cam; Great question. The problem for the Wings - and teams like Calgary and San Jose - is that even being healthy the Wings may end hitting the post-season in a lower seed than they are used to. Trust me, a healthy Red Wings team, even with their personnel changes from the past two springs, is a scary proposition.
Luke (Saint Paul)
Have the Wild finally put it together? 5 Straight and 10-2-3 in last 15...
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
Luke; Definitely starting to break the right way for the Wild after such a miserable start. Getting points, too, even when they don't win. Still not sold on their offensive depth but assuming Martin Havlat can stay healthy the Wild can definitely get themselves back in the playoff hunt. The problem for them is that starting so slowly means they won't have much room for any prolonged slip-ups from here on in.
Luongo had a couple of "statement" games last week, but are we at a point where it's safe to say that barring injury Brodeur will be the go to netminder for Team Canada? What about the US - has Anderson made Quick an afterthought?
Scott Burnside (4:27 PM)
Jacob; I think that's a fair assumption. Martin Brodeur is going to be the man and it looks like Luongo has put some distance between he and Marc-Andre Fleury for the second spot on the Canadian team. As for the U.S. goaltending with Ryan Miller locked into the top spot it's an interesting battle with Tim Thomas having an up and down time of it and Craig Anderson continuing to play well. I still don't think you can count Quick out, though, as he's been solid for the Kings. Guessing it goes this way; Miller, Thomas, Anderson.
Wayne (Kansas City)
How are the Devils doing so well this year? They've had a lot of injuries and, at least on paper, they don't appear to be a top shelf team in terms of talent.
Scott Burnside (4:27 PM)
Wayne; I wish I knew then I could stop predicting they'd be lousy.
Steve (Charleston, SC)
Are the Sabres for real this year? Do they need to pick up a better backup netminder for Miller? We all would love to see Biron come back instead of Lalime.
Scott Burnside (4:29 PM)
Steve; I like the Sabres a lot. Tyler Myers is perhaps the best rookie in the NHL and Ryan Miller has been outstanding. Maybe a little more offensive depth would be nice, a veteran blue-liner to help out. But all in all a very solid team that could make some noise come April.
Was Mike Rupp the signing of the offseason or is he just on a hot streak (shooting over 22%)?
Scott Burnside (4:32 PM)
Chris; Not sure 'signing of the year' but I had a chance to talk to Mike last week and he's interesting because he's getting a chance to do all kinds of different things under Dan Bylsma and he's making the most of his opportunities. Great story and did you see the setup on Sidney Crosby's goal against the Avs on Thursday? I swear it was Evgeni Malkin. Nope. Mike Rupp.
How do you think the Filatov situation will play out? Does the fact that he's on fire in the KHL make it more likely that he'll either stay there or that the Blue Jackets will move him?
Scott Burnside (4:33 PM)
Kirk; I think the fact Filatov, who is still very much a boy, is lighting it up in the KHL tells you all you need to know about the level of competition in the KHL. I'd say it's 50-50 whether he ever plays again for the Blue Jackets but he's still a good young talent and it's way too early to give him away for nothing.
Tyler (Los Angeles)
Hey Scott,The Kings have been looking pretty good even without Capt. Canada. Do you see them being able to keep it going, and do they need to acquire some other piece to make a run?
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
Tyler; Agreed. It took a few games but the Kings have responded nicely which is the mark of a maturing team. As for changes I think it depends what GM Dean Lombardi wants to do with Alexander Frolov who looks like he's worn out his welcome in L.A. Does he keep him for whatever playoff run there is or move him at the deadline and try and fill in with offensive depth of another form? One thing to watch is the Ilya Kovalchuk situation in Atlanta as we're guessing the Kings would make a big play for Kovalchuk if he can't get a deal done with the Thrashers.
Peter Lavoilette in Philly.....thoughts?
Scott Burnside (4:36 PM)
Stanky; A big fan of Mr. Laviolette. Tough but fair. He's got a lot of work with a team that seems to have lost its way. They're also the kind of team that could jump up come playoff time and make some noise as they did two years ago going to the Eastern Conference final after finishing in the sixth seed.
Alisa (Southern California)
What is up with the Blues? Are any moves imminent? As much talent as that team has, they aren't playing like it. Why has Paul Kariya largely been invisible?
Scott Burnside (4:39 PM)
Alisa; Good question. Andy Murray is wondering the same thing. Seriously, though, think Kariya will come around (and he has a bit in the last couple of weeks). So much of the Blues' ills stem from their impotent power play which was so good last year and is just junk this year. Kariya has been on and off the top unit and now Andy Murray is handing the PP over to his assistants. Keith Tkachuk and Brad Boyes and Andy McDonald could help out by providing more consistent scoring. I still think the Blues are a playoff team, though.
Is it Tuuka time yet for the Bruins? Sort of makes the Thomas contract look a little worse the way he has been playing.
Scott Burnside (4:40 PM)
Paul; It's an interesting situation but if you're going to have a goaltending dilemma it's good to have at least one really good one and right now that happens to be Rask. But it's a long season and the Bruins aren't just thinking regular season. I still think Thomas will prove his worth for the Bs.
John G. (Raleigh, NC)
Aside from Team Canada, which Country will have the best chance to win the gold? Which Country has the potential to be a surprise in the medal rounds?
Scott Burnside (4:43 PM)
John; The field is pretty crowded. Swedes are of course defending gold medallists but have some injury issues with Franzen and Kronwall out and Lundqvist playing poorly. Russians will be loaded offensively but I wonder about their blue line with Andrei Markov hurt. Finns will have great goaltending and the NHL rink plays to their style of play internationally. The Czechs and U.S. and Slovakia probably the tier below. I still think the Americans may surprise with their goaltending and grit factor.
Would a Blackhawks-Penguins Stanley Cup Final be the most desirable matchup for the NHL in terms of capturing the interest of casual fans, and just the entertainment value of how both teams play? Who wins that series if it started tomorrow?
Scott Burnside (4:44 PM)
John; That was my pre-season pick for a Cup final. Hard to imagine, given Saturday's game, that it wouldn't be pretty terrific regardless of who was watching. But yes, I think that's about as good as it would get in terms of mass appeal at this stage.
Semyon Varlamov seems to have been forgotten in the RoY race. His numbers are pretty damn good at 11-1-2 .920sv% 2.36gaa. Are people forgetting he is actually a rookie because of his play in the playoffs last year?
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Danny; Fair comment. I think he'll need to play more to get into the hunt for the Calder but you are right on with his numbers.
What's your take on Josh Harding. Will he be one of those long time backups who will be able to carry a team when he finally gets a chance (like Hasek or Anderson), or will he end up the second coming of Manny Fernandez - a highly touted player who's a back-up for so long that he falters when finally given a chance to be a #1?
Scott Burnside (4:46 PM)
Douglas; Always lots of interest in Josh Harding and he's an interesting guy. Appears to have the tools but really hasn't had much of an opportunity. He will after this year, somewhere, as he is long gone from Minnesota if not at the deadline then July 1.
Bill (Pasadena, CA)
Hey Scott, 94 over/under on the amount of points to make it into the playoffs in west?
Scott Burnside (4:47 PM)
Bill, last year Anaheim had 91 as the 8th seed. I think it'll take a couple of more this year so I'll say 93.
Do you think the Rangers will be able to find a good fit for the third spot on the Gaborik/Prospal line? Is there anyone even left for them to try there?
Scott Burnside (4:48 PM)
Walt; I read a rumor that the Rangers were looking at Pavol Demitra when he gets healthy. If that's the case then desperation has finally arrived at MSG. In short, there are no easy fixes to finding a third for the top line. At least not until we get a lot closer to the trade deadline which may be too late for the Rangers.
Myers perhaps the best rookie this year? what about Del Zotto, he got off to a very good start and has dropped a little, he has to be one of the best dmen the rangers have.
Scott Burnside (4:50 PM)
Eric; You are correct which is a bit of a problem for the Rangers. But Myers has been terrific and along with Victor Hedman are the two best rookie defensemen at this stage of the season in terms of their all-around game.
Quinn (Palo Alto)
Do you think Alfredsson will indeed play out his entire career in Ottawa, or will enough of a desire for a Stanley Cup hit him (like it did Ray Bourque and others late in their careers) that he'd ask to get moved?
Scott Burnside (4:52 PM)
Quinn; Alfredsson is under contract through 2012-2013 and I can't imagine him in another jersey Cup or no Cup. Of course he's only due $1 million in that final year so he may be attractive to a contender as a rental and that may make sense by then for both he and the Sens.
Bill (Pasadena, CA)
Scott, why do you think the NHL chose Los Angeles as the site for 2010 Entry Draft?
Scott Burnside (4:53 PM)
Bill; L.A.'s turn plus it's close to Vegas where the awards will be held again so the NHL is hoping to string the two events together and get more bang for their buck especially at the awards (ie. hoping more people will cover the awards and then just hop over to L.A. for the draft).
Adam (Lake George, NY)
What's your opinion on long term deals? It seems in many cases that teams are darned if they do, and darned if they don't.
Scott Burnside (4:54 PM)
Adam; You're right it's really a crap-shoot. The deals Malkin and Crosy signed look like gold to the Penguins and maybe even Ovechkin's deal in Washington provided he doesn't injure himself and have to retire five years in. But there are lots of others that are driving GMs crazy like the Daniel Briere deal, Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and on and on.
Scott Burnside (4:55 PM)
An answer for an earlier question on Kyle Kumiskey. Word from the Avs is that he hurt his foot against the Flyers Nov. 23 and is out indefinitely.
What are the five toughest arenas in the NHL?
Scott Burnside (4:57 PM)
Toughest for reporters? For opposing players?I think the five best environments are Montreal, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Philadelphia and MSG.
Steve (Derfield ,Illinois)
What is your opinion on what the Blackhawks will have to give up next year to meet the cap after signing the big 3?
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Steve; Not much news here but I think the 'Hawks will look at trying to move Brent Sopel and then there is Cam Barker and perhaps Patrick Sharp although I think GM Stan Bowman will do his darndest to keep Sharp who does a little bit of everything. But it's not going to be easy or pretty for the 'Hawks moving forward.
Andrew Wilson (Reno NV)
Right now both Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley are sitting close to the top with 19 goals each. Who is your pick to finish with more goals and more points?I'm going to take the underdog and say Marleau beats Heatley in both goals and points....but I doubt either of them will be able to keep up with Thornton.
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Andrew; Nice problem for the Sharks to have. I'm with you and will go with Marleau just because people have been so down on him in San Jose. I wouldn't be surprised to see him catch Thornton either. The big question is whether all three make the Canadian Olympic team. Looks like yes.
Scott Burnside (5:01 PM)
Thanks folks. Time to check out. Join us Thursday night for our weekly 'game of the week' or we'll catch up here next week.