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 noon ET!
Scott Burnside (12:01 PM)
Wow, where did the time go? Feels like a long time since we hung and gabbed some pucks. So, where were we?
RAYGORDON REID ( JACKSONVILLE BEACH FLORIDA 32266)
QUESTION TO SCOTT BURNSIDE AT 12.25 PM WHICH DIVISON IS TOUGHEST
Scott Burnside (12:03 PM)
RGR; Tough question, if you'll pardon the slight realignment pun. The two Eastern Conference divisions are going to be a dogfight because of the math; eight teams and you've added a perennial contender in Detroit in the Atlantic and an up and coming Columbus team in the Metropolitan. So finding a top three spot to guarantee a playoff spot is going to be a chore plus the two wildcards on top of that. I'm still curious about the Pacific Division, though, lots of tough, tough teams and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see five teams come out of the Pacific and just three from the suddenly weak Central Division.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What Outdoor Venue do you think is a very bad site for the NHL since they use 6 in 2014?
Scott Burnside (12:06 PM)
Chris; I am among the few that wasn't all up in arms about six outdoor games. Love the two games at Yankee Stadium during Super Bowl week. Love the Dodger Stadium game. People are already jacked about that one. For me - and take a seat ultra-sensitive Canadian fans - I wonder about the Vancouver game if only because the threat of rain in the northwest is always there and because rain, not temperature is the great destroyer of outdoor games (witness the Heinz Field game in 2011).
Scott, Welcome back. I've been watching a lot of highlights and have been doing my research on Jonathan Drouin. Do you believe he is a first line guy down in Tampa? Also can Drew Shore, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad make Florida a contender?
Scott Burnside (12:09 PM)
Kyle; Thanks. It's good to be back. Knee-deep in previews etc. it's good to be in a hockey groove again. Talked to a couple of scouts before the draft who raved about Drouin and his natural goal-scoring ability and had a GM tell me he felt he was a potential scoring champ in the making. It will be interesting to see how the Bolts handle him. Early on looked like they'd like to see him with Steven Stamkos but you have to so careful with young guys and you know Steve Yzerman comes from a team in Detroit that understands the benefits of patience. As for Panthers let's through in Aleksander Barkov who will get every chance to make an immediate impact and the future is bright for the 'Cats. And who knows with Tim Thomas trying to revive his career maybe the future gets here sooner than people think.
Adam (Arlington, VA)
Scott, are you accepting any of the blame for the ESPN Top-100 Forwards list? Most knowledgable fans seem to agree that it is full of head-scratchers, notably the ommission of Bobby Ryan.
Scott Burnside (12:11 PM)
Adam; I would take 'credit' for the list if it meant more praise but as for the 'blame' I will only take my share of it as one of the many that ranked players individually. On a personal level a big fan of Bobby Ryan and looking forward to seeing him alongside new captain Jason Spezza in Ottawa where I think the Sens are a playoff team.
Scott: Is this the year that people finally recognize that Anze Kopitar is one of the top two way forwards in the game? And will Doughty be in the Norris mix?
Scott Burnside (12:13 PM)
Ross; I think people are getting there in just the same way it took awhile for people to understand what a talent Patrice Bergeron was (and continues to be) in Boston. So, yes, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kopitar make his way onto a Frank J. Selke Trophy final ballot. As for Doughty with Willie Mitchell looking like he's going to make a surprise comeback that will take some of the burden off Doughty's shoulders and as a result be a little more dynamic and thus catch Norris voters' eyes. So, I would say yes, he'll be in the mix.
Hi Scott,Even if Thomas makes Panthers, how much time will he realistically see? They won't hold Markstrom back will they?
Scott Burnside (12:14 PM)
Cappy; No, I think the Panthers are determined to find out just what kind of goalie they have in Markstrom. But by the same token if Thomas shows even a flash of his former self he's going to be a bonus to the team and to Markstrom. Regardless of your feelings about Thomas's politics and what he said or did in the past he's an inspirational story and if Markstrom can't learn from him, well, that would be a problem.
Do you think a deal gets done with Stepan soon?
Scott Burnside (12:15 PM)
Alex; I would be shocked if he's not in the opening night lineup. Both the player and the team need this to happen. Under realignment teams aren't going to be able to get out of the gate slowly or have prolonged slumps and still be in the mix for home ice or in the playoffs altogether so I think there's more than a little urgency on both sides to get this done. Or there should be.
NHL Standings (ESPN Online)
Scott, let's be honest, from a competitive standpoint the new realignment and playoff format is dumb. And let's not even get into the pitiful division names they chose (why not Patrick, Norris, Adams, Smythe!). How many people do you think are secretly hoping a 100 point team finishes sixth in a strong division and misses out while an 80 point team from a weaker division makes the second "wildcard"...just to throw the whole thing into chaos in Year 1. Imagine Vancouver finishes sixth in the Pacific and misses the playoffs but Nashville finishes third in the Central and makes it. How will the Canadian media handle that?
Scott Burnside (12:19 PM)
NHL; A couple of questions on realignment. I didn't mind the six-division format but understood the need to smooth out time zone issues and travel issues and the four-division, two-conference setup works assuming we'll see two expansion teams in the near future. It is patently unfair to the teams in the east with 16 teams fighting for eight spots regardless of the wildcard teams. As for your final question if the Canucks miss the playoffs in any fashion there'll be an immediate cry for a Royal Commission into the playoff system. (Do they even have Royal Commissions anymore?)
Scott Burnside (12:19 PM)
And as an aside I still don't quite get while they decided to have an Atlantic Division without putting any Atlantic Division teams in it. But, oddly enough, no one asked my opinion on it.
Garrett (Long Island)
Hi Scott! What is your opinion of the Rangers, and how do you think their season will end up?
Scott Burnside (12:22 PM)
Garrett; As the previous Derek Stepan question noted he's a crucial part of the Ranger plan and so any time he misses in the regular season is a problem. But assuming Marc Staal can get back to a high level of play I think the Rangers should be a playoff team. I think Alain Vigneault was a good hire (just as I thought John Tortorella was a good hire in Vancouver) and will give the Rangers a little more breathing room. Assuming Henrik Lundqvist maintains good health they should be a strong second/third place team in the Metro Division.
Canes, playoff team?
Scott Burnside (12:24 PM)
Rick; I think a lot of things are going to have to go right for the 'Canes to get back to the post-season for the first time since '09. Cam Ward is an obvious key although I think Anton Khudobin could be one of the dark horse off-season moves around the league. Eric Staal says he's healthy but he'll have to prove no hangover from the serious knee injury. Jordan Staal needs to produce more, the defense is still a question mark. Short answer? I don't see them having the goods to crack the top eight in the east.
Jon (St. Louis)
What is your thoughts on Vladimir Tarasenko in year 2? Do you think he is ready to become a superstar?
Scott Burnside (12:26 PM)
Jon; I got to spend some time around the Blues in the middle of the season and there's no doubt Tarasenko hit a bit of a wall (it might have been around the time he literally hit a wall called the Los Angeles Kings) and didn't really get back in a groove. But he's going to have to become a front-line offensive player if the Blues are going to be the contenders lots of people believe they are (I think The Hockey News had the Blues as their pre-season Cup favorite). Great talent but another example of the big jump from playing in Europe (or college or junior) to being an elite NHL player.
bob nj [via mobile]
hi scott do u see the rangers making a deal for a tough guy i question there toughness on this team?
Scott Burnside (12:28 PM)
bob; Not sure that's a major priority for the Rangers (see Stepan, Derek) and if you think back to Alain Vigneault's teams in Vancouver they were more about punishing you with skill and speed than having so-called tough guys. And I think there's a pretty good level of toughness in that Ranger line-up. Maybe as we get closer to the trade deadline and the feeling is the Rangers are getting pushed around but I think that's a decision that will take some time to get to.
Leafs? Playoffs? Please.... that was fun last year. (And does Reilly stay with the club for the season?)
Scott Burnside (12:34 PM)
tc; Have to consult my Atlantic Division previews and I, indeed, have the Leafs finishing fourth in the division which should be enough to get to the post-season (having to factor in the records of the teams in the Metro of course). As for Morgan Rielly he's once again turning heads at camp. But at 19 it's still a bit of a stretch to see how he might fit into the group when Randy Carlyle puts pen to paper. What do the Leafs do with John-Michael Liles, for instance? If he stays is there room for Rielly and so on. But another nice piece for a Leaf team that suddenly has a handful of gem-like youngsters banging on the door. And you're right, the playoffs are always a little more interesting when the Leafs are there.
Tyler Toffoli (Los Angeles)
Scott; Am I ready to hit the big time and be a regular offensive contributor?
Scott Burnside (12:37 PM)
Tyler; I think the short answer is yes. There's been enough turnover in the Kings' roster and y our play late in the season and in the playoffs should give you ample opportunity to play in the top nine and see some power play time.
Fleury gets his you know what together and Pens win the Cup. Right?
Scott Burnside (12:39 PM)
Mark; I think that would be a good, safe bet. But what are the chances of that happening? I remember talking to him before the start of the playoffs last spring and it seemed like he was in the right frame of mind but he came unglued. The problem is that every bad goal, every off game is going to raise those questions up and down the lineup and in the coaches' office. No question it is the team's Achilles heel.
Are u ready for hockey??!! Big time Flyers fan here. What do you think of their additions? and are they a play off team this year??
Scott Burnside (12:41 PM)
Wes; You'd better believe we're ready for some hockey. Spent a couple of days at the Flyers' camp and was impressed with Vincent Lecavalier's attitude and how he looked. He needs to stay healthy obviously. Mark Streit is going to be a big help on the power play and in the Flyers zone. Big question is how does Claude Giroux respond to his hand injury and to an off year and can the defense stay healthy something that hasn't been the case for a couple of years. I have the Flyers fourth in the Metro and a playoff team.
MMorris (Minneapolis. MN)
With Callahan out for possibly a month and the Stepan contract seeming no where near done, will the Rangers be ready for the first few weeks of the season?
Scott Burnside (12:43 PM)
MM; If you're a glass is half empty person I would say the absence of Callahan and the potential absence of Stepan would be worrying. But if you're a more optimistic sort I think you look at the time as an extended tryout for some of the younger players or players that otherwise might not get a chance on the power play or penalty kill if both Stepan and Callahan are at full strength.
Will Calgary be the worst team in the division? Who starts in net after Kipper retired?
Scott Burnside (12:46 PM)
Mac; Talked to Bob Hartley yesterday and he's a realist acknowledging they're likely the only NHL team that doesn't know who will start in Game 1 the first week of October. One thing for sure they won't carry three netminders and the reports on Karri Ramo from Europe are strong as are the reports on Reto Berra. Does it matter that neither has much or recent NHL experience? Just not sure Joey MacDonald is number one material. In short, yikes. And yes, hard to imagine the Flames won't be anywhere but at the bottom of the Pacific.
Ed (Queens Village)
Which team that miss playoffs will make it this year?
Scott Burnside (12:48 PM)
Ed; I like Phoenix to have a big bounce-back year this season. I think the Flyers will be back in and Nashville, in part because the Central might be the weakest division in hockey, I think will snag the third spot in that division.
Hi Scott,Heading to the Bruins-Wings preseason tilt tonight. Anything in particular I should watch for on the Wings' side?
Scott Burnside (12:51 PM)
Cappy; Curious, like everyone else, to see how Daniel Alfredsson fits in after cutting the cord with the Senators. People can't stop raving about Danny DeKeyser and it'll be interesting to see if he can jump back into a top four role after his injury cut short his playoff turn. Have fun. Going to be fun to see the Wings adjusting to all of their old friends in the east this season.
Does Landsekog look as if he's recovered from his injuries last year? Oh, and...HOCKEY!
Scott Burnside (12:53 PM)
Andrew; Yes, appears to be fine and in fact has been skating with Paul Stastny and Alex Tanguay in training camp thus far.
With this being their first full season on the team, will the wild's big name pick ups from last summer help the team get past the first round of the playoffs? and maybe do we see another big pick up (Vanek) this year sometime?
Scott Burnside (12:56 PM)
matt; I'm not sure the question is so much the impact of Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Jason Pominville but rather do the Wild see a continued evolution of their young players like Zucker and Granlund and Coyle and Brodin. That, along with the health/play of the goaltending will be the factors in a) making the playoffs and b) not being one and done again.
Why is everyone so happy about hockey coming back? You know the Blackhawks are going to take home the Cup again so you may as well not even play the games. Here comes the first repeat since the Wings in the late 90s.
Scott Burnside (12:57 PM)
Eric; Blackhawks might be as well-positioned as any team since the 1997-98 Red Wings to go back-to-back but the odds just say it won't happen. But that's why we play the games, right?
Scott Burnside (12:58 PM)
Okay folks. Good to shake off a little rust and get back in the groove. Let's do this again next week. Until then, be well.