Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
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 (3:01 PM)
We're getting EJ!
Does the Bruin's trade today with Florida change their strategy for the number 2 pick or do you see them trading another center (Savard, Krecji?) and still making a deal with Edmonton for Taylor Hall
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
Well, to be honest, it just happened, but my inital reaction is that I'm not a huge Horton fan. But he was in a tough situation, which he was a part of, but the team in Florida just hasn't been that good. Going to Boston, he'll have a better group around him. Better team. More structure. He was a high draft pick several years back. This could be a good move for him. The Bruins gave up the 15th pick in draft this year, but they still have the No. 2 pick. It's hard to say if it changes their strategy. Their roster is different now than what it was this morning. The two best players remain the same in the draft. Unless they feel they're more in the market for a defenseman, in which case, they could move a few picks back and fill a need there. Those are my initial reactions. As we hear more, we'll know more about which way they go.
Any chance the Hawks can move Campbell if they throw in Versteeg and/or draft picks to sweeten the pot?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
He's a tough contract to move. As you know, there's a large commitment over the next few years and for $7 million. You need to find a team that will take the money and the length. The Hawks would love to investigate the possibility of moving Campbell, not because of skill level, but because of his money and that he's the third best defenseman on the team. They need to find a team that has the salary cap room to keep him for the next few years. It will be tough for Chicago to move him.
with horton gone and the team struggling offensively, do the panthers try to package picks to move up or stay at three and draft connelly?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
It depends upon what Boston opts to do at No. 2. Drafting Connelly is an interesting proposition. He missed a lot of games due to injury. As much as scouts like his game, his injury history is an issue. This is the first significant move for the Panthers and their new GM. He's liked to drft players from the west and Connelly is a west product.
Are the Bruins done dealing? If not, what's next? We need defense. Who's most likely headed out? Thomas? Chara? Savard? Wheeler? Who comes in return?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
I am sure they've had a lot of conversations with a lot of different managers. Having the No. 2 overall pick, I'm sure they've had a lot of phone calls. They've signed a couple of guys and there might be room for another defender.
Jon (San Francisco, CA)
Do you have any idea of any moves Shero might be planning for the Pens this off season?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
I talked to Shero today and right now it seems like their biggest focus is trying to come to an agreement with Gonchar in a new deal. It's a tricky negotiation because of Gonchar's age and salary requirements and term that he's looking for. The two sides are talking and will continue to talk through the week. I think it would be in the best interests of both parties to find some common ground. It has to work for both sides. That's Shero's main focus now. If the talks break down and he leaves, I think Shero will turn his attention to add a defensemen or two. Ray is always looking to add another winger, an affordable winger that can maybe come in and play with Crosby or Malkin. But first, it's to get something squared away with Gonchar.
Adam (St. Louis)
After getting Halak and already having a lot of young defensive depth, it seems to me the Blues could still use a couple of forwards including a top 6 scorer. Any forwards you see as a good fit in St. Louis?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
St. Louis acquired a goaltender that they needed. He was the story of the playoffs. He's 25 and fits alongside the group of young players they've already acquired. They're looking for their young players to step up and take more of a role for their team. It might be good for them to add some depth on defense, as do most teams. I like what they've done over the last few years - they've restocked with draft picks and prospects. They took a little bit of a step forward two years ago, made the playoffs. Last year was a step back. The addition of Halak settles them in goal and he will provide a steady goaltender for the next decade.
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
They need to try and find some depth on the blue line, maybe some more speed.
What do you make of Nieds retiring?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
I think Scott has really struggled with the decision for a while, for a couple of seasons. He's a real thoughtful guy. He's got four young children. He's won just about everything there is to win the sport. He's won 2 Olympic gold medals, there's nothing left for him to accomplish. He probably just feels that he knows the effort it takes to play over an 82-game season, if it were just the games, he'd play, but he knows the commitment it takes. He's just not ready to do that anymore. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago. At the time, I got the impression that this was the way it was going to go. He's a first ballot hall of famer. I wish him nothing but the best.
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
It's a real loss for the Ducks, who will have to pull together some players to replace him.
Any hall of fame predictions?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
Joe Nieuwendyk, I think should be a given. Pat Burns, Florida's coach has been battling cancer. I think he has a career that's production is worthy of the hall of fame. He's won Cups. I hope the best players get selected. Dino Ciccarelli is another one. And I think Eric Lindros will be an interesting debate.
Paul B (Manistee, MI)
EJ,Where do you see Kovalchuk playing the 10-11 season? Will he stay in the NHL, and if so, where? Or does he take the money and run to the KHL?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
That's a great question. The rumor has been Los Angeles. It looks like they have the cap room to make a play, but they might be more interested in Patrick Marleau. That could change the dynamic if he's available. I'll be curious to see whic teams are interested. In a salary cap worl and in a league where centers and defensemen are so crucial to winning, how much can you pay a winger. This guy can score goals. There might be some surprising teams that we don't expect to make a move for him. You have to also look at the KHL as a possibility. I'll be curious on July 1 to see how that story unfolds. I don't think he's going back to Jersey, so it will be seeing which teams make a push for him.
What are some realistic moves the Sharks can make this offseason to continue to be an top level team in the West?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
Hang on, we've got the Hall of Fame selections...Ciccarelli, Cammi Granato, Angela James have been elected as players. This is the first year they've elected women to the hall of fame. So, Nieuwendyk not in. Interesting.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Back to the Sharks question. The Sharks have some interesting questions to make. They have some unrestricted free agents. It's important to keep Marleau. If they decide to play goalie roulette, there are a number of goaltenders on the market. Blake retired. Their defense was already a little short. Doug Wilson will have to do some work on defense. They could really use another puck mover. They could use two defensemen. Getting Marleau under contract and getting another defenseman are the two big moves for them. It will be a big week for Doug Wilson and 2-3 weeks to build the team into a Cup contender again.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
I'm really disappointed that the Hall of Fame committee didn't elect Pat Burns today. I think he has the credentials and he will be elected at some point. It's unfortunate considering the circumstances around his health. It's unfortunate to me. Enjoy the draft, the awards and all of the trades we're sure to have.