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 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:01 PM)
EJ is here!
David (Tucson, AZ)
The coyotes are 4th in the western, do they have a shot at winnng the stanley cup?
EJ Hradek (2:03 PM)
They have a good goalie there. They score by committee, with several guys coming through for them. They're not deep because of the money they can spend. They have to stay healthy. It really depends on matchups. Last year, they got the Red Wings and that was tough. I think the first thing to consider is just making it. I think they will and from there they have a chance.
Why doesn't Corey Crawford get mentioned in ROY talk? Will the Hawks improved team play of late further his case?
EJ Hradek (2:04 PM)
I think he doesn't get mentioned quite as much because of two factors. I think people don't know that he's eligible still. He's been up and down with the Hawks the last few years. But he's still eligible. Second, he didn't start the season as their guy. Other guys got the attention out of the gates. I think in the last six weeks or so, he's gotten more attention. I think the race for the Calder is tight. I would say he's got a chance in the next six weeks.
how many of their last 19 games would you say the leafs have to win to make the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (2:06 PM)
I think they have to play real well. They need to be consistent. The weekend was tough because they lost a couple of points. They could have had wins in both of those guys, but they lost. They have to be consistent and hope that the teams in front of them struggle. They have to be focused on what they can control.
Blues fan here EJ. What do you make of all the moves St. Louis made? Stewart has been amazing so far!
EJ Hradek (2:08 PM)
I think they're looking to re-structure themselves moving forward. They've had some issues this season. They're in a tough conference. Where they are now, it will be tough for them. I like the moves they've made. The trade they made with the Avalanche, they helped themselves. They moves out some players that they don't have in their plans for the future. Brad Boyes, for example, they were able to move him out to Buffalo and get a second round pick. The management and ownership in St. Louis is re-structuring. That's an ongoing process.
Craig (St. Paul, MN)
Quiet deadline for the Wild. Good decision?
EJ Hradek (2:09 PM)
I wrote about that in my Insider blog when I reviewed the trades. Don't make a move just to show everybody that you made a move. This is a group that really overachieved. They've got some guys out right now. If they could have done something to help the team, they would have. If there's nothing worthwhile there, you don't force it. I'll be curious to see if the Wild get into the playoffs, because I didn't think they would, but they've been playing well.
Adam (Mississauga, ON)
If Jersey gets in at #8 or #7, does Lemaire get the Jack Adams?
EJ Hradek (2:10 PM)
I would think he gets a bigger award than that, if he pulls off something stunning like that. It would be something special. We shouldn't really put the cart before the horse. They're still 9 points back. They've got some tough games coming up. It will be a tough road for the Devils. A 17-2-2 run is pretty impressive.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Best NHL team so far this year?
EJ Hradek (2:12 PM)
That's a good question. As of right now, I would have to say it's a toss up between Vancouver and Philadelphia. I would say Vancouver because they're more proven in goal. I'm not a big Luongo is the best goaltender in the league guy, but he has more experience. I like teams that are strong up the middle, strong in goal and strong on defense. I really like those two teams. I don't think it's any surprise they are where they are. We have six weeks to go, but both of those teams are positioned well to mabye be a favorite in the playoffs.
Charles (Taunton, MA)
Hey EJ...love your stuff...my question is do you think the Bruins, with the moves they have made, are a top flight cup contender? This road trip through canada has been really impressive
EJ Hradek (2:13 PM)
I think so, because first of all, they have Tim Thomas in goal and he gives you a chance every night. As I said earlier, I like teams that are strong up the middle. They added Kaberle, which helps them on defense. He can make that good first pass and get the team with speed going forward. The Bruins are a contender and Tim Thomas can be special when he's on.
Andy (Hermosa Beach)
Do you think Penner can make much of a difference for the Kings?
EJ Hradek (2:15 PM)
They hope so, right? They made a move to get him. He's played in Southern California, so that's a plus. He's played on a championship team, so that's a plus. I talked to the team and they said they'll just slide him in with Kopitar. The West is tight and competitive, but this pushes L.A. a bit. We'll be watching closely for the chemistry and see if he can find his comfort level with the team.
How much will Biron's injury hurt the Rangers? Last 2 times the Rangers were in a shootout, the guys went to him for advice/ideas that seemed to work and the injury means he won't be there in those situations.
EJ Hradek (2:17 PM)
He has an injury, but that doesn't mean he can't be in the runway behind the bench if they feel like he is a good person for advice. The injury means that Lundqvist has to play every night down the stretch and that wasn't the plan. It's an ill-timed injury and puts them in a tricky spot. I'll be curious to see if they can add a veteran goaltender to the mix.
Jason B (Manitoba)
What are the NHL's plans for when the NFL and the NBA bothe endure work stoppages. Seems like a good opportunity for the league to capture some fan base in the US
EJ Hradek (2:18 PM)
The NHL has a new TV deal that's in the works right now. They're discussing that with several different partners. I would think that's decided in the next 4-6 weeks. There's an opportunity, yeah, to take advantage of that. But you can't really control what another league does. I've said it for a while now that since the league came back in 2005 that the league is on an up tick. Make it something that's easier to find and easier to consume. I think they'll go on that path and continue on that path.
Now that Toews has put the Blackhawks on his back, do you see them being a legit threat in the West?
EJ Hradek (2:20 PM)
I think the Blackhawks with their core guys, defensemen and forwards led by Toews, that they'll be a team that no one wants to play against. They have high end elite players that are well coached. Can Crawford hold up under the playoff pressure? But they have some guys that have won and they will be hard to handle for anybody.
Jason B (Manitoba)
With the changes the Canucks made at the deadline make them better?
EJ Hradek (2:22 PM)
I think they were depth moves and they give the coaching staff some more options. They give the group of forwards more depth, more toughness. They were very inexpensive moves to make. Are they earth shattering? No. But I think they are guys that can make an impact in the playoffs. They weren't terrific moves like some have said, but they were solid moves that helped their group. Some high energy guys that you can put in the back end.
Emily W. (Dallas, Texas)
Where do you think Brad Richards will end up. Is there hope for him in Dallas still?
EJ Hradek (2:23 PM)
I think there's hope, but it depends on ownership. If they can get this thing sold and if Brad thinks the new ownership can take this thing in the right direction. He was there in Tampa when they had new ownership and saw what happens when you have some novice owners come in. There have been rumors about Mark Cuban being in the NHL offices talking about what it would take to buy the team. I think Brad likes it there, but he wants to know what's going on going forward with the team.
Tom (West Loop)
EJ, any thoughts on why Detroit plays better on the road than at home? In the last couple of weeks they have blasted the Bruins, Lightning and Kings, while struggling against teams like the Stars (without Brad Richards).
EJ Hradek (2:25 PM)
That's a great question. I don't know. This is a veteran group, so it's not like they have the yips. Perhaps it's that the other teams are coming into Detroit and are geared up to play because it's the Red Wings. Knowing the organization, they have high standards. It will be interesting to see how they handle things at the Joe.
Seth Dussault (Easthampton, MA)
What do the Carolina Hurricanes have to do to make sure they hold on to the playoff spot that they are in right now?
EJ Hradek (2:26 PM)
Staal has to be healthy. If he's healthy and Ward is playing well, those guys should be able to lead that team to a playoff spot. But if Staal isn't healthy, that will be a big problem. There are about 4-5 teams clawing at one another at the bottom of the playoff standings.
Ranger fans must be happy for getting a solid veteran defenseman, otherwise standing pat at the deadline and not giving away the farm for a short-term fix. Your thoughts on the Rags moves (or non-moves)?
EJ Hradek (2:28 PM)
I think the Rangers were smart. You didn't want to overpay for guys that you're just not certain if they'll stay or not. They have stayed with their drafting and development. They were also able to add McCabe, who fits a certain need for them. Being around Rangers fans, I think they are very happy that they're staying the course with the younger guys and not getting rid of them making scrambling moves at the deadline.
EJ Hradek (2:28 PM)
Thanks for the questions! Follow me on Twitter: @EJHradek_ESPN.