Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (12:01 PM)
Hello all. It sure took a lot longer than most of us imagined and who knows how significant the damage that's been done by the lockout but hockey is back. About time. So, now where were we?
So what happens to the conference realignment that was proposed pre-lockout? That pushed to the off-season?
When the lockout was in full swing I got my hockey fix by following the AHL, where Bobby Butler has been making an impression for the Albany Devils. What do you think are his chances of making the NJ team and what would his impact be?
Scott Burnside (12:02 PM)
Tom; That'll come into effect next season. My sense is they didn't want to rush it through in a shortened season so it's being penciled in for 2013-14 and I would think it will mirror the plan set out a year ago at the Board of Governors' meetings in California.
Scott Burnside (12:05 PM)
Hmm, a little technical glitch here but a question from Pete about Bobby Butler who has played well for the Baby Devils in Albany. I remember when he came out of college as a free agent and people were raving about his goal sense. He had 10 goals for the Sens in 36 games in 10/11 but really couldn't find a groove last year. Given the Devils' ongoing search for offense I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a shot with Pete DeBoer's group.
Seth Vanlerberghe (Rochester Hills, MI)
What would you put the odds that with this shortened season, the Sabres arise to claim the Northeast Division over the Bruins? With Thomas now gone in "Bean-Town", Buffalo has the most seasoned goaltender in the entire division in Ryan Miller. You think they can go far if they make it in?
Scott Burnside (12:07 PM)
Seth; I've been trying to hammer out my division predictions and I still think the Bruins' have the team to beat in the Northeast. Goaltending and especially goaltending depth will be pivotal and it looks like Anton Khudobin will back up Tuukka Rask. Agreed the Sabres will have the edge there but after last year's disappointments I need to see that the Sabres have got the right mix in the dressing room before I consider them division champ material.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Scott, why wasn't a bigger deal made out of the "Brian Burke Salary Recapture Clause" in the new CBA as it was being negotiated? Isn't this a MAJOR development where teams can retain salary AND cap space in trades. Sure that helps weak teams looking to jettison "bad" contracts, but it also helps contending teams acquire players if they could not otherwise have afforded their entire cap hit. Say the Pens want to re-acquire Sergei Gonchar, but they don't want to blow most of their remaining cap space on his 5M cap hit. Can they work out a deal with Ottawa where they only acquire 2.5M of his cap hit? That would be better.
Scott Burnside (12:10 PM)
Jesse; I agree this got a little short shrift in all the hooplah surrounding the end of the lockout but agree that it should generate a lot more wheeling and dealing come trade deadline time now that teams can eat some portion of a salary of a player they are trying to unload. It will be interesting to see how many or how quickly GMs take advantage of this although with the cap going down significantly next season there might be a signficant chill on deals as a matter of course.
Hi Scott, I'm not happy with the way they treated Burkie! Not cool. Do you think that Nonis will dramatically change the direction or philosophy of the organization?
Scott Burnside (12:12 PM)
Tiago; I agree. Not sure what ownership was thinking waiting until the eve of training camp to make this move. And the fact Nonis and the rest of the management team stays suggests changes won't be significant. Seems ultimately like a clash of personalities but this is a move that should have been made weeks ago. Classless.
Mitch Weinberger (Raleigh, NC)
Do you think the Hurricanes, with a lack of training camp, exhibition games, still a new coach without a full training camp, be a legitimate containder in the East?
Scott Burnside (12:14 PM)
Mitch; I love the Southeast. Outside of the Jets I think all four teams could win the division and even though it would be difficult with a compressed schedule I wouldn't be surprised to see all four of those teams; Florida, Washington, Carolina and Tampa; be in the hunt for a post-season berth. Not sure it hurts the 'Canes any more than any other team. All four have significant changes to incorporate into their lineups so I think it's pretty much a wash.
Mark (Denver, CO)
Good afternoon Scott. Should I be worried that Ryan O'Reilly hasn't signed with the Avs yet? His work ethic, playing ability and his strong connection with the fans have made him really popular here in Denver.
Scott Burnside (12:15 PM)
Mark; Agreed taht Ryan O'Reilly is a big part of a team I think could make a run at the playoffs. While I'm sure the Avs wished they'd signed O'Reilly (as the Stars wished they'd inked Jamie Benn and the Habs P.K. Subban etc.) teams can't talk to free agents restricted or otherwise until the CBA is ratified by players likely on Saturday evening.
Jamie (Charlottesville, VA)
Hi Scott, your Southeast preview has 4 teams from the SE in the playoffs! That doesn't leave much room for anyone else.... really?
Scott Burnside (12:16 PM)
Jamie; I know. Oh well. I actually did a list today and I'll live with that but I guess the upshot is that there are going to be good teams that struggle, have goaltending woes and will not be able to get it in gear. I guess I'm assuming that won't befall those top four teams in the Southeast. Yikes.
Wade Redden (Hartford, CT)
Scott, under the new CBA does my contract now count on the Rangers salary cap again even if I am playing in the AHL for the Whale? If it does, some are saying the Rangers don't want me to even play for the Whale because if I get injured they would not be able to buy me out next summer (which is necessary right before the cap drops). Is it true that teams cannot buy out an injured player?
Scott Burnside (12:19 PM)
Wade; Bob McKenzie at TSN was exploring these options and sadly it does look like one of the options for the Rangers is to not have you play at all, pay you for this season and then use one of their amnesty buyouts next summer. And that is correct, an injured player cannot be bought out hence the notion of simply shelving a player like you or Scott Gomez who is in a similar position.
Seth Vanlerberghe (Rochester Hills, MI)
Hey Scott, With the shortened season & essentially making every game more pivotal, do you anticipate "major" changeover regarding the 16 playoff teams from a year ago with upwards of 6 or more new teams getting in (ala the Lightning, Sabres, Canes, Avs, Ducks or Wild)? Thanks so much for a response.
Scott Burnside (12:21 PM)
Seth; I wouldn't be at all surprised to see major upheaval although it was interesting to see that of the teams who were in playoff spots after 48 games last season only one team, Phoenix, moved up into the top eight and one team, Minnesota, moved out by the end of the season. To your point though will those in the top eight at Game 48 look a lot different from a year ago? I wouldn't be surprised.
Adam (New York)
Of the three players the Panthers have given tryouts to, Marek Savtos, Alexi Kovalev, and Andrei Kostitsyn, how many of three make the team and what is the Upside to all three in helping the Panthers repeat as Southeastern Champions
Scott Burnside (12:24 PM)
Adam; Funny I was talking to Dale Tallon last night about the guys he was thinking of inviting and he's basically looking at as many options as possible in order to coax as much offense out of his team as possible. It would depend on A. Kostitsyn's attitude given the trainwreck of his brief stay in Nashville being out late during the playoffs with Alexander Radulov. Pretty strong dressing room in Florida, though, with Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski et al. In terms of skill set I think Kostitsyn has best chance to make biggest impression (on the ice of course).
Other than the obvious names (ex. Luongo) what players do you envision being floated around as trade pieces? Any teams actively searching for a big name addition?
Scott Burnside (12:26 PM)
Devin; Well Luongo is the big name that's for sure. As for other deals I know the Ottawa Senators would like to add some defensive depth with Jared Cowen out for most if not all of the season with a hip injury. But as is often the case at training camp time most teams I think will stand pat and see what happens with some of their kids and injuries that crop up before trying to pull off a deal. That said everything will be magnified so if a team has a bad week or 10 days that's cause for significant concern.
Jaromir Jagr (Dallas, TX)
Scottsy my friend, now that the dust is starting to settle on the lockout, what one personnel move from the off-season did you forget about that now when you see it makes you go, "Wait, that guy is on that team?" Did you know I now play for the Stars? And Bob Hartley is the coach of the Flames? And Brad Stuart is on the Sharks?
Scott Burnside (12:28 PM)
Jaromir; Good point as it does take a bit of a refresher course to remember just who ended up where. I was talking to Joe Nieuwendyk about you the other day, though, and he is really looking forward to the impact you and Ray Whitney will have in that locker room. No playoff appearances in four years is a long time in that market. But the guy I'm curious about is Derek Roy who appears healthy and has lots to prove in Big D. Should be interesting times there even if the Cowboys don't care that you're back.
Brendan Shanahan (League Discipline Office)
Scott, now that the lockout is over aren't you happy to get back to covering the most exciting parts of hockey....namely whether a questionable hit was a "head shot," how long suspensions should be, which players are the most "gutless," and whether a team initiated a brawl too quickly or not quickly enough after their goalie got elbowed in the face. Nothing but good times coming!
Scott Burnside (12:29 PM)
Brendan; What's the over-under on the first big case for you? I say 10 days and I'll take the under. Yes, can't wait for weekly Shanaban Video Session.
Chris (Long Island)
Scott, I see articles about datsyuk ang kovalchuk staying for KHL ASG, with datsyuk asking for permission and receiving it, But there has been no word on the Visnovsky, is he going to report? Does Strome and Neiderietter make team? Is reinhart NHL ready?
Scott Burnside (12:31 PM)
Chris; The simple answer is all those guys will have to report. If they get permission to stay and play in ASG that's one thing but the rules are clear, if you've got a valid NHL contract the KHL has agreed to honor those contracts and they shouldn't be allowed to play in the KHL or anywhere else. And if a guy like Visnovsky or Kovalchuk stayed beyond the ratification of the NHL CBA then the IIHF should step in with sanctions that could include suspension from international competitions. With the Sochi Games a little more than a year away I don't see that happening.
Matt (NY, NY)
How do you see Rick Nash fitting in with the Rangers? What is your outlook/prediction for them this season?
Scott Burnside (12:33 PM)
Matt; I don't see it being an issue at all. I expect he'll have a big year although it was interesting to see Brad Richards struggle at times to get into a groove last year. A lot of people love the Rangers to be the Cup representative from the Eastern Conference and lots like them to win it all. I think Pittsburgh stands in their way but I think on paper those are the top two teams in the conference.
Matt (Orlando, FL)
Scott, when can we expect a full schedule to be released? I speak for all hockey fans when I say, havent we waited long enough?!?!?!
Scott Burnside (12:34 PM)
Matt; Agreed. But can't release schedule until the players ratify which they are doing electronically so I would think by Saturday night we'll know. Expectation is that camps will begin Sunday. Hang onto your seats.
How do you think the Caps do this year?
Scott Burnside (12:37 PM)
Matt; I think they are a playoff team and could well win the Southeast although the health of Nicklas Backstrom looms large. He went to see a specialist ahead of team physicals after he got his bell run playing in the KHL. Given that he lost half a season to concussion issues last year after Rene Bourque's cowardly head shot that is cause for concern. But I like the Adam Oates hiring and I think Ovechkin will jump back up with a change in system.
Winnipeg is in my opinion going to be screwed in the Southeast in this 48 game season. How do you think the league is going reduce the burden of the unfair travel requirements on the Jets to allow them to have a fair chance to make the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (12:39 PM)
Aaron; Short answer to that is the Jets will have to suck it up until next year and realignment. Now there may be some allowances built into the new schedule with maybe some longer road trips to cut down on the number of three, four-day trips to the south but it doesn't matter how you cut it the Jets will have the travel cards definitely stacked against them.
I dont hear alot of people talking about the flyers. Yes they lost some peices since there last game but they have the most players playing in the ahl/oversees out of any other team in the league which is 11 guys.. with the core of this group being young i think they have a good chance and if bryz plays good then i dont see why they cant win it all this year. FLYERS NATION BABY WHOAAAAAA
Scott Burnside (12:42 PM)
chris; I think the issues for the Flyers are two-fold. Is the defense durable enough for a condensed schedule especially with the loss of Matt Carle (and of course the continued absence of Chris Pronger) and is the goaltending solid enough. That's a tough division and while there's lots of talent up front I'm not sure the Flyers are a lock to make the playoffs.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Under the "Brian Burke Salary Recapture Clause," can a team keep different percentages of salary and caphit? For example (and I'm not saying this would happen), can the Bruins trade Tim Thomas and agree to pay his entire salary if the other team takes the entire caphit?
Scott Burnside (12:44 PM)
Marc; No, I don't have the numbers in front of me but there's a formula of how much salary a team can eat when trading a player but it can't, as I understand it, be the entire shot.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Scott, With a 48-50 game schedule will there be any surprise teams in the playoffs this year?
Scott Burnside (12:47 PM)
Rich; I expect there will be. The question now is which ones will provide that surprise? There aren't many teams you can't make an argument for in a shortened season, even a team like Columbus, if a goaltender gets hot, some young players step to the fore, they avoid injuries, anything is possible. Over the course of 82 games water tends to find its own level. Playing just 48 means that some teams that don't necessarily deserve to be in the top eight will end up there. Should be fun.
Mitch Weinberger (Clayton, NC)
Scott, I am a die hard Hurricanes fan and wondering what your opinion is of how they will do this year. The lockout I believe hurt Coach Muller as he didnt have a full training camp to really work the boys on his intentions. New players on the team (especially Semin) need to get familiar quick. With the scheduling Im sure being a game every other night, there will be no time on to get any side coaching. I believe they are playoff team, but then I have thought that every year. Thanks
Scott Burnside (12:49 PM)
Mitch; Big fan of Kirk Muller and love the addition of Jordan Staal. They have to stop giving away points in shootouts/overtime and they need to be better in their own zone but I think they will be. Semin is going to be interesting. He's got 35 or 40 goal potential but we've also seen him fade away. Raleigh remains one of my favorite stops on the circuit.
Is the league making any concrete plans to ease tensions with fans from the lockout? So far I haven't heard anything from the league except a handful of apolgies from Bettman, Jacobs, Sabres, and the Pengs.
Scott Burnside (12:51 PM)
Devin; Not sure yet. I think there'll be a lame apology or welcome back painted on the ice on NHL rinks but for instance the NHL can't just give away the Center Ice cable package or things like as it's all connected to cable fees etc. I talked to a number of executives who believe the best strategy is to throw open the doors on the 19th and get out of the way, let the fans enjoy what was taken from them.
tim Ca [via mobile]
What do you think of the Kings this year?
Scott Burnside (12:53 PM)
tim; Love them. They'll return essentially the same line-up that won the Cup and assuming Jonathan Quick is healthy no reason they don't win the Pacific and go on another long run. I still think it's so hard to win back to back that I can't get onboard a repeat bandwagon but Darryl Sutter will have this squad ready and they won't be sneaking into the playoffs on the last week of the regular season as they did a year ago.
I'm thrilled that Teemu Selanne gets to play an abbreviated season now, but might he come back for a final full campaign after this?
Scott Burnside (12:54 PM)
Alex; Great question. Hard to imagine that this won't be it for Teemu. And it'll be a sad day when he does hang them up. But if the Ducks were to enjoy some success this season and make the playoffs maybe he'd give it one more go since this season, in theory, won't take the normal toll on him and his body.
Scott Burnside (12:55 PM)
Okay folks, thanks for stopping by. When we next meet I maybe on the road in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia but look forward to catching up then. Until then, be well.