Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:31 PM)
We've got EJ!
Hi EJ, what is your take on the rangers vs pens tonight? Do the rangers have a chance? Thanks Chris
EJ Hradek (4:33 PM)
Of course they have a chance! The Penguins are barely over .500. The Penguins had a good weekend and won a couple of games, but we're not looking at the '77 Canadiens here. They've been up and down. The Rangers are usually pretty competitive with the Penguins over the years. It should be a pretty good game.
Chris H. (Long Island)
What is going to take to make the Isles a respectible franchise?
EJ Hradek (4:36 PM)
Oh boy...how long is this chat? Do we have hours here to discuss this? I think with all sports franchises, it always starts at the top. They seem to be using the franchise in a bigger real estate play on Long Island. Perhaps in several years from now everything will be great for the Islanders and we'll all be saying that Wang knows what he's doing. They have a lot of young players and they need time to mature. You can't take a kid out of 3rd grade and put him in high school. It's the same in hockey. You can't take an 18-19 year old kid and expect him to play like a veteran. You hope that they can contribute to a winning program. My fear is that Charles Wang operates in a very different way that we've seen. I have not seen an owner who operates very hands on being very successful.
Are the LA Kings playing over their heads right now? If so how good are they?
EJ Hradek (4:39 PM)
Are they going to finish the season on this pace, which would give them 60 wins or so? No, I don't think so. This is a good hockey team. They've really got the corner stones in place. They have a big guy in Kopitar and surrounded him up front with some talented forwards. They have Doughty on defense, an important player and piece on the team. Behind him, they have a good young, puck moving type in Jack Johnson. Then they have two really good young goaltenders. Quick has been terrific so far. They're well-coached. They don't hurt themselves too often. Their penalty killing has been great. This has been a real good hockey team. By the standards today, with all of the parity, this is a top 5 team in the league.
Kings vs Sharks tonigh big matchup. Who wins and who stars for both teams?
EJ Hradek (4:40 PM)
I love this game. It's a great matchup out in San Jose. It's kind of a statement game for each team. The Kings have gotten off to great start this season. They're playing a team that's been the top team in the Pacific game the last couple of years. They're looking to make a statement by beating them. San Jose is not in their usual top spot early in the season. They would like nothing more than to go and show the Kings that they're going to have to go through San Jose. I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be a fun game to watch tonight.
EJ - what is your take on the Bruins goalie situation? Is it more important now in the NHL to have two capable goalies on the roster to handle the demands of an 82-game season? Or would you recommend dealing one of the two?
EJ Hradek (4:43 PM)
I don't think that the Bruins are in a position to deal either guy. Here's why, you're not going to deal Rask. He's their franchise goaltender for the future. He's under contract for the next couple of years at a reasonable price. You look at Thomas and he's in his mid-30's. He's on a contract that's hard to trade, even if they're interest. The goalie market is one that there's not a lot of interest right now. I really think that Thomas fits so well with the Bruins. That's the only team he's been with in the NHL. I like the dynamic of Thomas, the older guy and Rask, the younger guy. You can play the guy who's playing the best. It's a real nice mix they have. I don't think it makes sense to trade either guy.
Jim Clark (Long Island, NY)
So where does Wang move the Islanders to in 2015? His recent actions of stripping the team to a bare minimum is what people do when they move or sell a business.
EJ Hradek (4:46 PM)
It's hard to know. It's hard to get inside his head as to what his plans are. It's a very complicated political situation on Long Island. It has been since I was growing up near there. I'm sure he's working behind the scenes to get what he wants, which is the Lighthouse Project. I don't know what he's going to do with the team. I don't think there will be another arena built in Queens. All of the new stadiums and arenas built in the New York area in the last 3-5 years, I don't see that happening. If Wang sees that he's not going to get the project, he might think about Brooklyn, where the Nets are supposed to be moving in a couple of years. It's always easier when there's already a building in place. I think he still is pushing for the project, so he can move forward with that.
Andy (Newport Beach)
EJ, are the Ducks for real? Hiller is keeping them in games, Lupul is practicing and Sutton will be back on D soon, will they stay in the playoff race and maybe make a run at the Pacific Division?
EJ Hradek (4:49 PM)
I think that they'll stay in the race. They have some real horses up front. You have a bunch of high end players there. The question will be, will the defense be good enough? They were really in a bind up there. They've had a nice run here. They had a six game win streak snapped. It's hard to say who will be in and who will be out. But with the goalie situation and the big horses up front, I think they have a good shot.
Hey EJ, what do you think of the whole thing around Colin Campbell that came up today?
EJ Hradek (4:50 PM)
I'm not aware of anything with Colin. I've seen some notes about it on Twitter and online. I've been in transit today, so I haven't had a chance to look at everything. There's something out there so once I get finished completing my travels today, I'll take a look. It might just be nothing, but I have seen things on some websites and on Twitter, so I will be taking a closer look.
What can Lou do to fix the Devils?
EJ Hradek (4:53 PM)
Wow. Another question that could take a while to answer. He could look into trading one of his forwards to get a defenseman. Just as an example that would make sense to me, sending Arnott to Toronto for Kaberle. They make similar money. Toronto is desperately looking for some scoring help. A trade like that would help the Devils. They're not strong on defense and they don't have a high end or second-tier puck moving guy. Something along those lines would make some sense to me. But those kinds of trades and getting any kind of quality defenseman is difficult because teams aren't giving them away.
Do you think the Canucks can take care of the Buffalo tonight? It looks like a great night of Hockey. Any predictions for tonight? Thanks again Chris
EJ Hradek (4:55 PM)
Well, I think Luongo is getting the night off. Buffalo won their first home game of the season in a great effort by Vanek. Vancouver is a great team. They're strong. It should be a good game. Buffalo has to be feeling good after the win at home and getting some points on home ice. The qustion and topic is a good one. Should be a good game.
Fred (Long Island)
Do you think Gordon was developing the kids on Long Island right? Or do you think the move to get rid of him doesn't really change anything? Think any "good" FA would ever go there?
EJ Hradek (4:57 PM)
I think big picture, it really doesn't change anything. They don't have the personnel there. Maybe there are players there that will play harder for the new coach, I don't know. As for working with young guys, I haven't seen a lot of growth in guys like Tavarez. Is that Gordon's fault? I don't know. Maybe some of these guys aren't as good as they thought. We'll see. Gordon worked hard to get the team to play a certain way. But I think at the end of the day, if you don't have the players, no matter who the coach is, you're going to have a hard time winning games. In the immediate, I think it would be good for the Islanders to get a win.
blues/avs tonight: who do you got? do you think perron will be active?
EJ Hradek (4:59 PM)
Good Western Conference battle. Right now, I think the Blues are a little beat up. They have some guys out of the lineup. Oshie will be out a couple of months. That's bad news. A lot of these teams in the West are competitive. The teams are going to be fighting for points and positioning. The games will be hotly contested.