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 (3:00 PM)
We're getting EJ!
Todd(PA) [via mobile]
Hey EJ why are the Flyers trying to rid themselves of Gagne? When he came back from injury is when they came back to beat Boston and eventually go to the Stanley Cup.Your thoughts?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
That's a good question. They see a guy that has a lot of injury problems, with one year left on his contract. They'll probably not re-sign him. If they can move him, they'll have more cap room and help the team longterm. But I like him. I agree with you, he battled through some injuries and he was an important part of the team and the playoff run. This is more of a long term than short term thing.
Bob Dooley (Alexandria,VA)
What moves do you see the Washington Capitals making?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
I talked to George McPhee and he's pretty comfortable with the team. There has been some speculation of whether or not they'll ad an experienced goaltender. The plan right now is that they might go with the two young guys. There's time between now and opening night to make some moves that they deem necessary. There might be some additional players they get on the roster as well. They might add a veteran type guy.
Bill (Pasadena, CA.)
Hi EJ, how likely is it, that Kovy signs a shorter term deal with the Kings? Thanks.
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
I don't think if it's more likely or not. The issue there is the cap hit. That's what it comes down to. If you're talking about a short term deal, you're still going to want substantial money. That's why teams go with the long term deals now to stretch out the cap hit. That's the decision they'll have to make. The Kings are holding on where they think he fits into their cap structure.
Any chance the Boston and Savard situation becomes problematic?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
No. There's plenty of time for them to work that out. My feeling is that he'll get moved. There are teams that need centers in the league. His cap hit is reasonable. They're looking at young players to determine what they have, what they can get, what they might be able to trade. That might happen in the next couple of weeks or it might stretch into September. There's no reason to rush a trade at this point in the year.
the sabres had a pretty good year (and a lousy playoffs), but with all due respect to Niedermeyer, they haven't addressed the need for a scoring wing, or a puck moving D. Do they have any options at this point?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
Options for a big player in free agency, probably not. But they tried to draft a different type player in the last couple of years, a bigger guy. I think it's really status quo there as far as the players they have. They might be in a situation where they make a trade, but they'll likely have to give up someone that's been there for a while. But it takes two to tango, you need someone who is interested in the player you're trying to trade.
Which rookiee's are in a good situation to make an impact on their respective NHL club, and do you have any early ROY predictions?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
You have to always look at the No. 1 pick. Hall is going to a team in Edmonton that's rebuilding. He's going to get to play there. He's shown he can play at a high level already. If I have any favorites at this point, I'd say he's the guy. I would have to look at Jonathan Bernier in L.A. to see if he qualifies, because he's a possibility too. But I'd have to go with Hall.
Mike (St. Louis)
Do the Blues take a step back this year with their inability to replace the offense produced by Tkachuk and Kariya?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
I think the Blues are going in a different direction. They want to give their young players more of a piece of the action. There will be new guys counted on. Kariya at this point, it will be interesting to see if there's a team out there that will take a chance on him. It was time for those two to part ways.
Josh S. (Philly)
Will michael leighton be the starting goalie for the flyers come the start of next season?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
As of now, yeah. They may revisit Marty Turco, if he's still on the open market, but right now, based on their numbers, you'd have to say that Leighton and Boucher start the season as their goaltenders. But we'll see what they do with the rest of their roster.
Any chance the Rangers move Rozival and Redden to Hartford(because they'll NEVER move those contracts in a trade) to clear out the cap space to sign Kovy?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
Really, really, really, really, really doubtful. I don't see it in the cards as I talk to the rest of the team and they say they're not a player there. I don't think he's a fit there. Certainly, if they were going to do something with one guy, I don't think they'll do something with two guys. Plus, I don't think they've ever shown anything that they would do something like that. And it sends a bad message to any future free agents that you might do something like that.
With the Hawks matching the Sharks offer sheet for Hjalmarsson, who else do you see the Hawks moving? Even moving Huet doesn't get them far enough under the cap to fill out a complete roster.
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I'll answer this way. I don't think they're going to trade Patrick Sharp. I don't think they'll move Niemi. I think they do something with him. When you're dealing with the cap issues like the Hawks have, it's a very complicated CBA. Veteran players, cap hits, etc. There are different things that the teams can use to get around the cap. They don't have to be compliant until the start of the season.
Commit2 The Indian (Chicago)
The Stanley Cup was less than a month ago and all of these trades and dumps are killing my Blackhawks' buzz. Is Niemi the next player to go? If so, who can the Blackhawks get to fill the void in net?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I don't think they'll lose Niemi. It's a possibility, depending on how he and his agent want to procede with their negotiations. But they'll still have their core players moving forward. Toews, Keith, Kane. There will be more pressure on those guys to perform. The supporting cast won't be as deep. They'll still be a contender, but it will be a challenge for them to compete as well as they did this year. They won't be as deep.
Wallace (Chico, CA)
Do u like the Zherdev signing for the Flyers?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I would say it's low risk because of the contract. But I'm not a big Zherdev fan. I don't know if he helps you win. He has the skill and he'll be enthusiastic about being out of the league for a few years. They could have done something else and been better served to spend that money else where.
Modano in Detroit? Do you see him pulling a Teemu and waiting until Dec/Jan to sign? Or would he play on opening day?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
I think if he's going to play, he's going to play on opening day. I don't know for sure that he's going to play. I don't know if he's ready to make the committment to do the things that he needs to do to play at his level, but if he is, I'm sure there will be teams interested.
Is there any chance Carey Price DOESN'T sign with the Habs, or is it a matter of money at this point?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
I think it's a matter of working out the right deal. It's kind of an odd negotiation, because they already traded away the other goaltender and it gives leverage to the Price camp. It's a matter of term and money at this point.
What teams would take redden, roszival or drury?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
Yeah, if the Rangers gave them something significant along with them, in terms of draft picks or prospects. That's what happens with the cap era, you're not allowed to trade salary cap space, but if you have cap room, there are ways for you to take on someone's contract, along with a benefit to you. But it will be hard, because those guys get a lot of money.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
Thanks for chatting everyone.