Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat some NHL.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:02 PM)
We're getting EJ right now.
Steven (Knoxville, TN)
What is the likelihood that the Caps trade Alex Semin this offseason?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
Interesting question. They re-signed him last year for one more year to take him to the end of his restricted free agency. So now they've got him into his unrestricted free agency. When they did that, I thought they wanted to get him on the team for one more chance to win. He can be a drifter during the game, but he can score from a lot of areas in the offensive zone. Now, after a playoff disappointment, maybe they make a move. I think it could go either way. Because of their offensive firepower, the Caps could be a team that can afford to lose him in the right circumstance.
Vinny C (New York)
The anniversary for "Now I can die in peace", New York Rangers winning the cup was 16 years ago yesterday...When do you see the Rangers winning another cup?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
Not next year. Teams can change and young players develop, so they could be more successful than people thought. But I don't see them contending in the near future. But that could change. They have a good goaltender, so that's a start. They need an upgrade at center and they're short on defense. It will be a while before the Rangers are really a serious contender for the Cup.
Greg Fant (Greenwood, SC)
Hawks early favorite for next year, right?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
They have to be in a group of teams that you have to consider as teams with a great chance to win next year. In Chicago, it will depend on how they go about solving their cap issues for next year. The players they keep and those they hold will really determine just how much of a favorite they will be next year. Less than a week after they won the Cup, they look pretty good.
I am a long time Devils fan and would like to know why Lou will not hire a more offensive coach to go along with the way teams are playing now and also why he does not sign a real center to play with Elias?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
The Devils haven't hired a coach yet, so we don't know what direction he will go. We've heard some names, but it's hard to speculate because he keeps things very close to the vest. The biggest thing for me is that they need help in defense. That's where they had trouble in the playoffs. The Devils were a team that you could forecheck and you could create scoring chances close in because their defense wasn't strong. Look at the playoff teams this year and they all had strong defense. They need one or two more top four type guys that can play with tempo and move the puck.
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
As for a center, it's hard to determine who would fit where and how the chemistry would work. The more pressing need for the Devils is to get the defensemen who can move the puck and get it out of their zone quickly.
what is the smarter move for the penguins this offseason, a big time winger or a blueliner? I believe a blueline because of the success from a year ago.
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
I think it depends on what happens with Gonchar. If he re-signs and stays in Pittsburgh, then the focus goes to a winger. If they can't work out a new deal with Gonchar then they have to look at a new defenseman. It will really center around Gonchar.
James (New Haven)
Will there be any takers out there for Brian Campbell and his 7mm salary?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
It's real tough for someone to take on that kind of salary. I think Campbell can be a real helpful player for a lot of teams because of his defense. Under the right circumstances, he's a good fit in Chicago, because he can play behind Keith and Seabrook. But it's hard to pay him that much for a third defenseman. Perhaps they could move him to a team that has needs at defense and take on a lesser salary, maybe a team like the Devils? But they would run into cap problems too. It's a complicated deal. It's possible to move him, but I don't think it's an easy contract to move.
Evan (Florida )
do you know if the tampa bay lighting can trade for carey price
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
That's another good question. The Canadians GM has been weighing that, among other things. It depends on what offer he gets for Price from Tampa or another team. In the long run, they'd be better moving one of them, because they would bring a good asset in return. There might be an interest from Tampa. Goaltending is vital, especially with a team as young as Tampa.
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
I will watch that with interest to see what the Canadians will do.
Thoughts on the Leafs next year? Are they heading in the right direction at least??
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I guess that's one of those questions, where is there any other direction they could be heading? I wasn't crazy about the Kessel move. I think the other trades they made after that will help the organization. I will be interested to see what Burke does in the next few weeks. I think generally they're going in the right direction, but they have a lot of work still to do. They have some decisions to make in net. Their defense is big, but not that quick. And they're not strong up the middle or deep. That's a very important position. They're moving in the only direction that they can at this point.
Will (New York, NY)
What wingers are the Penguins pursuing this offseason?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
The Gonchar thing will be the biggest thing for me. It's a tough call on both sides. He's a legit player, but he's getting older. He's missed some games with injury. But he's a good fit. My tendency would be to keep him, but there has to be some value with dollars and term. If he stays, then the focus would be on a winger or two. One guy that interests me, that I would love to see play in Pittsburgh for a year or two, is Paul Kariya. Coming back from injury is tough, but I still think he has the wheels and foot speed to be a complimentary guy. I could see him playing with Malkin or Crosby. He's a little older now, but he's a good complimentary guy.
Sean (Orange County)
What is Ducks GM Bob Murray up to? Why hasn't he signed Bobby Ryan? When will Ducks fans find out if Nieds and Selanne are returning or retiring? Seems like four summers of this is just a little too much to ask of fans. What do you think?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Yeah, it's hard. These guys are still really helpful players that can help you win. Those guys seem to be leaning more toward retirement, yet they haven't made a decision yet. Niedermayer says he wants to make a decision around the draft, knowing that he doesn't want to handcuff the team moving forward. I imagine that decision is going to come soon. As for Bobby Ryan, that could be one of the things where they're waiting for the decisions of the other players. Anaheim is not one of those teams that wants to move into the upper regions of the salary cap. It gets tricky at that point. They would love to get Ryan signed, that seems to be what they're working toward. From a fans standpoint, you're worried, because teams aren't afraid to make an offer sheet to restricted free agents. Guys that are coming out of that first contract, they're getting paid a lot of money over a long term. That's probably part of the problem in the negotiation between the team and player.
Where does Tim Thomes end up ... Still a Bruin or traded?
EJ Hradek (3:32 PM)
Thomas indicated he liked it in Boston. He has a couple of years left at a pretty high ticket. Thomas got shuffled back to the bench with Rask playing well. I don't know what the market might be for him, but I like him, because he's a battler. It depends on the money and if you want to make a move. He might just want to be there in Boston. That might not be such a bad thing for Boston. Rask isn't making that much yet, so you're not paying two goaltenders $5-$6 million. It might be good for the Bruins to have Thomas there and have them battle throughout the year. Thomas has always been a competitor and he will always want to play and get back to the level he was at a couple of years ago.
EJ Hradek (3:32 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Lots to discuss, we'll do it next week!