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 (3:05 PM)
We're getting EJ, hang on one minute!
what is the Rangers next move...obviously a dman but who?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
I would think that you would want to try to find another veteran defenseman, because you can't have enough of them. I think they'll be on the look out for a reasonably priced veteran guy just to have on their roster, in case there is a need, through under performance or injury someone that they can plug into their group. In the bigger picture, I like the fact that the Rangers continue to try to do things with younger players. Drafting their guys and giving them an opportunity. They're on the right track there. There has to be a certain level of patience as these guys continue to mature and develop.
Dan (West Chester, PA)
Claude Giroux is the only Flyer on the East. That is absurd, right?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
Absurd I say!...It is. Clearly the Flyers have some guys that could have been on the team. Pronger is out with injury, but he would have been a natural as an all-star. But we have heard through the league that some players, through their GMs, took themselves out of consideration due to injuries and they wanted the time to heal. Personally, I try not to lose too much sleep with all-star selections, but I know that fans like to talk about it.
Do you think the Avs will make the playoffs? What's the trade deadline going to be like with so many teams in the hunt in the west?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
I think the Avs are going to make the playoffs. But I don't think anything out West is set in stone, that's for sure. The fact they made it last year and they're real competitive night in and night out. Craig Anderson was really good last year, but this year has only been OK. That will probably be how they make it or not, the goaltending. If you ask me, they're in, but that conference is so crowded.
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
As for the trade deadline, to be really fair, it's always hard to read it. I get asked this question every year, as do other people who do the same thing, but through my experience, I'll say that it's always hard to read. What we've seen the last few years have been some role player guys and guys with no more than a year left on their contracts. It will be interesting as we go through the next several weeks. There will be moves and it will be an interesting day.
Michael (New York)
What do you think about Marc Staal being included in the All-Star game? Is he a top 3 shutdown defenseman in the entire league?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
I think that Marc is having a good year, in my mind. He's playing against top players every night. He played over 30 minutes against his brother the other night in Carolina. I don't have a problem with him being selected. We can certainly make a case for other guys that were left off and if Marc were left off, I probably wouldn't have lost any sleep. But he deserves the consideration.
How does the NHL justify sending four Blackhawk players while only one from each of the conference leaders? Seems strange.
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
Yeah, it's unusual, but again, we don't know which players, through their GM, requested to be taken out of consideration. We do know that Detroit has had some players that are hurt, as with Philadelphia. In terms of the Hawks, they had a couple of players voted on to the team and two other players that were selected. We could go through each team and pick some guys that deserved to be on the team and others that could have gone a different direction. But long ago, I stopped being concerned about that. When there used to be bonuses to make the team, players were more concerned about it, but with out those bonuses, I don't think the players are as concerned.
Do you see the Kings making any moves sooner than later now considering they are not playing well?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
I answer these questions very similar when it comes to these teams. I think the GMs of these teams are always looking for their teams to get better. When their team is struggling, maybe there is more of a dissection of the roster. The Kings will be looking at it every day. If there is something out there they can do, I'm sure they will do it. They still have their eye out there on making a move and talking to teams that might be interested. The short answer is that they're looking to do whatever they can to do better, but not at the risk of injuring themselves in the long run.
Hi EJ - six games doesn't seem to be enough of a suspension for Kotsopoulos when you figure Stuart is out for 6-8 weeks on what was an obvious shot to the head / jaw. Your thoughts please.
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I'm always left wondering about some of the suspensions. There doesn't seem to be a consistency in terms of the length of them with the various incidents that happen. I think Kotsopoulos was taking advantage of a player that was vulnerable. He came in with a hit that was high and late. The league, I feel would be wise to have longer suspensions. But the league will tell you that there's a lot of pressure from managers and owners of teams involved. They run it as they see fit, but from the outside, I would like to see heavier suspensions and in that case, I don't think it would have been out of line.
Lou N. (Easton, PA)
Hi EJ. Do you see Holmgren sticking with the Boucher-Bobrovsky tandem the rest of the year, or might he jump in on Vokoun if Florida decides to sell at the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I think it would be real hard for them, because of cap considerations. That's the biggest issue there, with Philly pushed up against the cap. They would have to do something internally to make that work. At the end of the day, the circumstances will dictate. I could see them making that move, because they got close last year and goaltending was the problem. Right now, from what I understand, Florida is making overtures about re-signing Vokoun.
Rick (Philadelphia, PA)
EJ - If Pronger gets healthy, is there any place where the Flyers can get better? They have scoring depth, defensive depth, and strong goaltending. If there is really no meaningful place for the team to improve, does that make this the most competitive Flyers team in years?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I think the Flyers are loaded when healthy. They're deep on the back end. They have plenty of guys that can score. If anything you worry about the rookie goaltender and a guy who has been a journeyman. That would be the only place for an upgrade. But in a salary cap league, you're limited in what you can spend. But they're loaded and if healthy, they will be a handful.
if you were starting a team and could only pick one of the Sedin twins, which one would you pick and why?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
It's not hard for me. I would take Henrik. He's the center. Centers and defensemen are more valuable to the structure of the team. No knock on Daniel.
You guys were excited about a trim looking Luongo before the season. How do you think he has performed so far, and do you think Luongo will be ready come playoff time?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
The Canucks are playing great. They've only had 8 regulation losses in their first 41 games. Is he great every night? No. No one is. For him, it's about the spring. How he plays in the playoffs. This is a good team. He's thought by most to be a top goaltender. They prove their worth in the postseason. He's shown his worth in the regular season, but has yet to have the success in the playoffs. We'll talk more about his year when we get to the spring and see how he's playing in the playoffs.
Matt (Augusta, GA)
Are the Sabres buyers or sellers right now?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Right this minute, I would think they still see themselves as being able to get into the mix of the playoffs. They have four games in hand with Atlanta. They've won four of their last five. I'm sure they're trying to push forward for the playoffs. With that said, they have significant injuries. I think it will be a struggle to make the playoffs. I don't think they see themselves as a seller yet. There's also an excellent chance the franchise will be sold over the next several weeks and that will have an impact on how they see themselves in the coming weeks.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Thanks for all of the good questions. We'll do it again next week.