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)
EJ is here!
Jason (Long Island, NY)
Hey EJ! Do the Rangers go out and mortgage their future to acquire scorers with Gaborik out indefinitely or stay the course and build for the future?
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
I think the focus should be on staying the course with their core of young players that they've been drafting and building an identity with. With that said, you always have to be aware of the opportunities out there to improve your team. They have to weigh the type of player that could be available to them against the cost of taking away from the core of prospects they're developing. I think that they are not the old Rangers of years gone by where they are looking to shake the tree constantly. They like the players they're developing, but if they can add to that with a big player, they would consider that, but they're building for now and the next several years.
Hello Mr. Hradek,Now that the Sharks traded for White, and they have a surplus of defensemen, do you see them maybe packaging a defensemen with Setoguchi for a top winger? Kessel?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
The extra defensemen that they may have are not of the caliber that would attract that type of player. They could still use more mobility on their defense. They're trying to find that combination that can help win championships.
EJ, any chance we see Sid again this year? if so, when? i think he is done personnally...
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
I wish I had the answer to that question. I don't know. When you're dealing with concussions, you're into an area with real uncertainty. Each guy is impacted differently. Some guys are back in a short period of time. Other guys, it takes a good long time before they are back playing again. I have no idea, but I would hope that Sidney is improving and will be able to play soon. As a league, you always want your best players playing. Sidney's absence has really impacted things. With Crosby and Malkin both out of the lineup, I think it's taken some juice out of the lineup.
See the Pegula press conference? Pretty awesome..thoughts? Also, hearing any rumors out of the Buffalo camp?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I heard bits and pieces about it. I was fortunate enough to talk to him. He wants to embrace the history, the alumni. Certainly, Pegula has the financial werewithal to spend what's necessary to make this franchise compete on all levels. If you're a Sabres fan today, you have to have a lot of hope and hope that this franchise can move forward and get that elusive championship.
Even when the blackhawks win it isn't pretty. Can they make it into the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
They're in that group of teams that are just battling around the bubble for a playoff spot. It's been stop and start for the Blackhawks this year. Just when I think they've got it figured out, there's a bad loss. I think it's a toss up right now. They have a great group of players there. If you put me on the spot, I say they find a way to get in, but they'll need every single point between now and the end of the season to make it.
Stu (Newport Beach)
EJ, do you think the Ducks can survive any longer without Hiller? Do you see them making anymore moves before the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
No. I think the Ducks are going to have problems if Hiller doesn't get back in the lineup. He's having problems with lightheadedness. Like I said with Crosby, any time you have issues with the head, it's very hard to say when you'll return. Without him back in the net, it's tough. If the medical reports show that he won't be back, then they need to make some kind of move. Hiller has been great for them this year. He's been a reason that they've been able to hold up in the west.
Adam (Los Angeles)
EJ, Cooke steamrolls another guy from behind last night and doesn't get called. Letang breaks a guy's finger with a slash and doesn't get called. Any chance we'll hear from Mario about the NHL's and officials' failure to stand up for players' safety?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I don't think so. I don't think we'll hear from Pittsburgh in some way on this. Nor do I think we'll hear from Washington.
Rob (San Antonio, Texas)
What's your verdict on the Pens /Stars trade and is there anything new on the Kovalev trade?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I love it for the Penguins. I think James is a perfect fit for when that roster is intact. Good, young, fast goal scoring players. James is someone that fits that bill. Niskanen, I like that addition as well. They got a guy who came into the league a few years ago that had a lot of success. He's becoming a better defensemen. For Dallas, I like the move too. It's an interesting move. They save a lot of cap space for next year and get a guy who is becoming a No. 1 defensemen. Pittsburgh did really well.
Jason (Portland, OR)
EJ, are the Avs done dealing? I keep hearing Liles or Stastny could be moved. Any chance Adam Foote is picked up as a rental? Also, your thoughts on who "won" the trade between Colorado and St. Louis?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
There's a chance. I talked to the Avs yesterday and they wanted to take some time to re-assess where they are. They're having conversations with certain teams. This is a team that's really struggled with goaltending the last couple of years. They'll try to persue something the next few days and if they can make a move, they'll do it.
How far do you think the Coyotes can go this year? Injuries are piling up but the Yotes keep winning. Do they need to make a trade for some scoring?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
We have 20-some odd games to go and they bring a win streak into Philly tonight. The big thing is the goaltending in Bryzgalov. When he's playing well, they have a chance to win every night. They have to check the dollars in versus dollars out in the tight financial situation. They just can't afford to replace guys that get hurt. But they've won 7 in a row. They're feeling good. We'll have to see how they come out of their encounter with the Flyers tonight.
I hope everyone continues to doubt the Devils. I think it gives them motivation. See you in the playoffs!
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
The Devils are playing great. They're 15-1-2 in their last 18, as near perfect as you can get. They've been shot out of the cannon for the last 6 weeks. The bottom line is if the teams ahead of them continue to play well, it will be hard. But that hasn't happened. The teams ahead of them have stumbled. They're 10 points out as of now. The way to look at it is the way they've approached it - take it one game at a time. They have to be excited how they've responded to the adversity.
With Ryan Miller starting for the Sabres 70 games per year, what does the franchise do with Jhonas Enroth? I don't think it's out of line to say he might be a better goaltender than Miller in the somewhat near future.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I don't think so. Ryan Miller is a pretty darn good goalie. He's one of the best in the league. He led the USA to a silver medal in Vancouver. He's a good goaltender. I do think they play him too many games. He's a slender guy. When you're playing him that number of games, there's a chance of wearing him out. When you have a team with a fixed budget, that's an area you can save money. If you have a high level No. 1, you can save the money with the backup. But that could be an area in the future with new ownership that they could spend money on in the future to support Miller.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Thanks for the great questions. Enjoy the week to come. The trade deadline on Monday. Remember to follow me on Twitter: @EJHradek_ESPN, we'll be commenting on the trades all week there.
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