Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com NHL Insider Craig Custance stops by to chat about the latest news from the ice.
Custance joined ESPN in September 2011 as an NHL reporter for ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Insider and ESPN.com. He joined ESPN following a stint with the Sporting News. A graduate of Michigan State University, he lived for nearly a decade in Georgia working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he spent time covering the late Atlanta Thrashers.
Send your questions now and join Custance Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (3:00 PM)
Hey everyone. Arrived in DC to cover Caps/Rangers but excited to spend the next hour chatting. Let's dive right in!
Mike (Middle Earth)
After 2 games each who do you have going to the conference finals?
Craig Custance (3:02 PM)
I covered the first two games of the Blues/Kings series and left St. Louis extremely impressed with the Kings. So they're the team I feel the best about making the conference finals. For some reason, I'm not quite ready to bury the Predators even though they're down 2-0. I'm going to make a bold prediction and say Nashville wins in 7. Love the push back the Devils provided last night but still think Philly wins that series. I'm withholding my judgment of Rangers/Caps until I see tonight's game in person. It's so hard to get a feel on TV.
Robbie (New York)
Hi Chris! Wondering what your take on the Bergevin hiring is, and what you would do with Scott Gomez and his bloated contract?
Craig Custance (3:04 PM)
Hey Robbie! You spelled Craig wrong, but that's cool. I like the question and I like the Bergevin hiring. It's hard to find a guy who is more well-liked around hockey and I think he'll do wonders opening the lines of communication in Montreal. I agree, they've got to get out of that Gomez contract but something tells me the new CBA will provide Montreal a better opportunity to do that than the current system.
If you were Doug Wilson, what moves would you make to get the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals?
Craig Custance (3:07 PM)
Hey Ben - Their PK has been bad now for two years and they looked awfully slow against the Blues. Something needs to be done to address both issues. The problem is, there isn't much young talent on the way and some of their contracts are going to be tough to move. My first order of business would be to see if I can find a taker for Patrick Marleau, perhaps to a team that misses out on Zach Parise in free agency.
Greg (Tower City,Pa)
Hello Craig what do you think the Oilers will do with the first pick in the draft,will they pick first or trade the pick? One more question which teams will make a bid for Johnathon Bernier this offseason? Thanks and go KINGS
Craig Custance (3:09 PM)
Hey Greg - The feeling among people I've spoken with about the Oilers pick is that they're going to hang on to it unless they can get a top pair defenseman who can play right now and I don't think anyone will do that. I think you take Yakupov and find another way to fill the holes on defense. It'll be interesting to see what Bernier's value is, there wasn't a ton of interest at the trade deadline. I have to imagine Tampa and Columbus would lead the way.
Matt (LA )
Read your article on Richards yesterday. I know the trade has worked out for both teams but if you had to pick who actually won that Philly LA deal?
Craig Custance (3:10 PM)
Matt - I hate to sit on the fence, but right now that deal is working out for both teams. I'd bet you both GMs would make that trade again tomorrow.
Joe (Cubicle Hell)
Hi Craig... i know it is early, but what are the chances the Red Wings can land Parise and Sutter or Weber this free agent season? Thanks for taking the time for us fans!
Craig Custance (3:12 PM)
You can rule out Weber, he's restricted and I can't imagine a scenario where he ends up in Detroit this summer. As for the other two, I'd put the Red Wings at the top of the list of favorites to land at least one of them. If the Nashville implosion continues, those chances go up even higher. I wouldn't be all that shocked if Detroit got them both as crazy as that sounds.
Craig, although the Rangers had a great season and I by no means am writing them off, I still view this year as a building year. They have several young forwards and the defense is basically all under-25. I think they will add an offensive piece in the offseason to contend for the next 5-7 years.
Craig Custance (3:14 PM)
We always talk about the window of opportunity to win in the NHL and I agree, the Rangers are in the early stages of that window. But you have to take advantage of the opportunities when they arise and the East is wide open right now. They might not have a better chance to win a Cup than they do this season.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Who says no: Thomas/Krecji/Lucic for Patrick Kane
Craig Custance (3:14 PM)
Why are other Ranger fans still talking about the Nash deal that didn't happen? Wasn't it a better move to not dismantle this young team for Nash who is unproven in the post season?
Craig Custance (3:15 PM)
Yes. I agree completely Ryan. Just look at how good Kreider has been. Columbus would want him to be a part of a package for Nash and he's made the transition from college to the NHL playoffs look easy. If they lose to the Capitals though, I think it's something they'll have to revisit in the summer though. Especially if they don't feel like they can get Parise.
rangers/caps are going to OT in game 7. who wins and who scores the game winner?
Craig Custance (3:17 PM)
Rangers and Ryan Callahan.
I'm a Rangers fan. I have many friends who are Rangers fans. I go to all the games. I don't know anyone who wanted to see that Nash deal happen. We did not want to mortgage our future for one more player whose contract the Rangers could not even afford. Every fan I know is happy the Rangers did not make the deal.
Craig Custance (3:17 PM)
Well, there we go. Thanks Dan!
Zach Parise (New Jersey)
Just to let you know, I'm signing with Boston come July 1.
Craig Custance (3:18 PM)
Wow, thanks for stopping by Zach. Might want to wait until your team is eliminated before breaking that news.
If you had a choice to build a team around Crosby, Lidstrom Ovechkin, Toews, Lundqvist or any other NHL player, assuming he's in his prime, who'd you go with and why?
Craig Custance (3:19 PM)
I'm allowed Lidstrom in his prime in this scenario? I'm picking him. There's a reason the Red Wings never have missed the playoffs since he's been around. If I were a GM I'd build around D and centers so Crosby and Toews would be in that conversation as well.
Thanks for writing off the Devils in yesterday's podcast. Here is a nice plate of crow. Dig in!
Craig Custance (3:20 PM)
Haha, I did write them off. I definitely deserve that. That was a great win for them yesterday.
Blues are pretty much done in the series, right?
Craig Custance (3:23 PM)
Jim - Losing Pietrangelo is absolutely huge. You never want to count any team that has advanced this far out and I can assure you the Kings aren't counting the Blues out. But if they don't have their franchise defenseman, it's a tough hill to climb. Jonathan Quick is given us no indication to think he'd crack in this series.
Preds definitely aren't toast right? Please tell me we still have reason to hope?
Craig Custance (3:24 PM)
I'm not giving up on Nashville. It's a different situation than Blues/Kings because Nash lost two games on the road. If they can take care of business in Nashville at home, they're right back in this. And I actually think the Radulov/Kostitsyn situation might rally the team a little bit.
I need to pursue you on some of your luongo statements. in the past couple of weeks you wrote that luongo is "nearly impossible" to trade, but later wrote GM gillis "almost certainly" would move luongo. did you change your mind or will a deal fall in the middle? i proposed that vancouver played schneider in the first round to give the team a spark, but also to increase schneider's asking price in the offseason. gillis admitted to increasing hodgson's playing time in order to receive more in a deal, so it is possible. the canucks really have three options.1) resign RFA schneider (either through arbitration or more likely a 2/3-year deal to set up a big UFA payday) and keep luongo. this is more of a stall strategy.2) resign schneider. move luongo. it will be very tough to move luongo. vancouve would most likely have to take back a lot of salary in return.3) trade schneider, keep luongo. the most-plausible option. gillis sees what colorado got for varlamov. luongo got his team to the cup final and with the right guys around him could again.
Craig Custance (3:28 PM)
Here's where I stand on Luongo. When Schneider started playing I checked in with a couple GMs to see if his contract could be moved. Let me put it this way - they thought it was unlikely. But since then, I can tell you with absolute certainty that at least one team is considering it. I don't think the Canucks would do anything during the playoffs just to increase a guy's trade value. Their focus was on winning games. The biggest factor could end up being just how big Luongo's list is of team's he'd be willing to be traded to.
Can Shane Doan get a ring? I am a Kings fan but truly I think Doan deserves it
Craig Custance (3:29 PM)
There's not a more stand up, classier guy in hockey. Can you imagine of the Coyotes won the Stanley Cup? That'd be an incredible story.
Has Holtby proved himself to be the answer in goal moving forward?
Craig Custance (3:31 PM)
Great question. Was just talking to somebody at the rink here about that today. You have to love his approach during this postseason. I think he's done enough that the Capitals can feel comfortable coming back next season with just him and Neuvirth.
Hey Craig-I was just wondering, what are the odds of the Leafs acquiring Bobby Lou? This is, of course, if he actually gets traded.The leafs have been connected to many rumours involving marquee players such as Ryan Getzlaf, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Chris Pronger, Drew Doughty, Steven Stamkos... you know what? I could go on and on, but I'm gonna stop there. My point is, these rumours never came to fruition. So, is there any actual chance we can get him, even though he has no hope of living up to the value of his contract?(we are desperate enough for goaltending to be okay with that)
Craig Custance (3:33 PM)
I'm not sure Brian Burke would be too keen about bringing in Luongo. He's been very outspoken about his feeling about those kind of contracts, it would be hypocritical then to go and trade for one. The only wildcard is Nonis who brought Luongo to Vancouver. Maybe there's a way Nonis convinces his boss Luongo is the answer. If I'm Toronto, I'd call Boston and check in on Tim Thomas first.
Mike (Ithaca NY)
Assuming there's an amnesty option in the next CBA; on the scale of 1 to Scott Gomez, odds of the Caps using it on Ovie?
Craig Custance (3:35 PM)
Wow, tough one. If I were in charge, I'd do it. The salary is out of whack for the production and it's only going to get worse as he gets older. But there are other factors, like he's the face of the franchise. Fans in DC might not react real well if their star player left for nothing. You still have to sell tickets.
Most underrated player in the playoffs so far?
Craig Custance (3:36 PM)
You know who I really like Dan? Slava Voynov in Los Angeles. He's going to be really good. If you're in a fantasy hockey league, grab him next year. He's already making an impact this year.
Zack (New Britain, CT)
Asked Burnside this too, but wanted to see your take on it.Best Defenseman, best center, best goalie and best winger so far in the playoffs?
Craig Custance (3:38 PM)
Hmmmm - How about: D-man: Keith Yandle; Center: Giroux; Goalie: Quick and winger: Dustin Brown
Matt (DC )
whats with all the hate for the Capitals. They finally start playing playoff hockey like everyone wants them too and now they get villified for not playing like they use to. It seems if they win that they still lose in the eyes of the media. Why is that?
Craig Custance (3:40 PM)
Really? No hate here for the Capitals. I think their transformation is very admirable. The Ovechkin answer wasn't hate, I just think his salary doesn't justify his production. Still like him as a player. I give this team a lot of credit for adapting under Hunter.
Jason (Columbus OH)
What are the chances the Hawks trade one of their top 6? And if so who do you see them targeting this offseason?
Craig Custance (3:41 PM)
I'm not ready to blow up the Blackhawks just yet. They definitely have to do something in goal, so I'd make a move there but I'd give this core at least one more year to make another run before I did anything dramatic.
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ)
How come nobody, even the cup years, ever pick the Devils, to you know, win anything? How come nobody picks Parise to re-sign with the Devils, especially if we go to the ECF or...wait for it... win the cup? If the Devils get to the ECF or Finals, everyone will pick against them anyways and than speculHow come nobody, even the cup years, ever pick the Devils, to you know, win anything? How come nobody picks Parise to re-sign with the Devils, especially if we go to the ECF or...wait for it... win the cup? If the Devils get to the ECF or Finals, everyone will pick against them anyways and than speculate about Parise landing in some other city, don't you think?ate about Parise landing in some other city, don't you think?
Craig Custance (3:44 PM)
Eddie - My biggest issue with them was their defense and I hate to say it but Brodeur. That's why I picked against them. If they win the Cup, I certainly think the chances of re-signing Parise increase dramatically. But if they lose in the second round, I think an opportunity to test free agency at this point would be too hard to pass up.
Why do you think Gaborik is struggling in the playoffs so far?
Craig Custance (3:45 PM)
Ryan - It's a good question and something the Rangers need fixed if they're going to win it all. I've been on the West for a good majority of this postseason so I'm really looking forward to watching this game here in DC tonight to get a look at him.
Ben (San Jose)
Radulov and Kostitsyn break curfew during a playoff series? Are you serious?
Craig Custance (3:47 PM)
Yeah, that's pretty bad. Love how Nashville has handled this though. They do things the right way there.
John (Richmond, VA)
In the first round, The Caps got no coverage because all of the articles/blogs came from ESPN Boston. In this round, the same goes for ESPN NewYork. Can we get a story from the Caps side of the equation?? Or start an ESPN DC?
Craig Custance (3:48 PM)
John - Scott Burnside, Katie Strang and myself are all here in DC for the game tonight representing ESPN. I think we'll get one for you.
Travis Weaver (Columbus OH)
What do you think the Blue Jackets are more likely to do, trade for a goaltender like Antti Niemi, or put a qualifying offer down for a RFA like Lindback or Rask?
Craig Custance (3:51 PM)
Travis - I think they'll consider all options there in Columbus. I have no idea if the Blue Jackets would be on Luongo's list but I bet they'd even consider that if they are. They haven't ruled out an offer sheet either, although it seems like we speculate a lot more about offer sheets than they actually happen.
If the Preds win tonight, any chance Trotz gets bold and keeps Radulov and Kostitsyn out for game 4?
Craig Custance (3:52 PM)
Yes. I think that's a possibility. If the guys rally together and get a win, I'm not sure it sends a great message to plug those two right back in the lineup.
Craig-Better route for a team looking to make a splash this summer, sign Parise/Suter or deal for Nash?
Craig Custance (3:53 PM)
If you can land Parise or Suter, that's the better move since you're not giving up assets to make it happen. Either way you're paying a lot of money.
Matt (DC )
Quick follow up, if Ovechkin was canadian, do you believe he would be getting praised for adapting to Hunter's style like Yzerman did with Bowman? I feel like the media (not you) is trying to force an issue that is not there.
Craig Custance (3:56 PM)
It's a fair question. People do seem to be a little more willing to be critical of Russian players. Give Ovechkin credit, he's not complaining about the declined icetime at all. He spoke again this morning and said as long as the team is winning he's happy.
Any shot at the Flyers trying to move Bryzgalov? Seems to be the only thing Holmgren didn't get right this off-season.
Craig Custance (3:57 PM)
He looked good last night so he still has time to redeem himself in these playoffs. But if he's average and NJ knocks out the Flyers, all bets are off this off-season. If the new CBA comes with a tool to get rid of bad contracts, like amnesty or a buy out period, I think it'd be a consideration.
I think the Blackhawks miss Dustin.
Craig Custance (3:59 PM)
And Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell, Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg and Antti Niemi.
Why no love for Ekman-Larsson from anyone? He's going to be a consistent all-star real soon.
Craig Custance (4:00 PM)
You're spot on Adam. I wish I would have mentioned him in the underrated question. He went No. 6 in the 2009 draft and I wonder if Tampa could do it over, if they would take him instead of Hedman. He's a fantastic player.
Craig Custance (4:01 PM)
Alright everyone, that's a wrap. Great questions as always. We'll see you next week!