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 (11:59 AM)
Hello all. Well, training camps winding down, final pre-season games (thankfully) coming to a close and the new season looms. Tuesday night can't come soon enough. I will be in Denver for the Avs' home-opener against Anaheim on Wednesday night. So, where were we?
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Scott, I have watched the past two Penguins pre-season games and by far the highlight for me was seeing the newly repatriated Rob Scuderi go down to one knee and block cross-ice passes down low. After four years of Jay McKee, Jordan Leopold, Zbynek Michalek and Douglas Murray, is it safe to say the Pens probably never should have let The Piece go. His ability to hold the fort around the crease was sorely missed...especially considering how Fleury "struggles" (to put it mildly) with loose pucks in his feet and a has a propensity to bat them into his own net (great). Ask any Pens fan how many times over the last 4 years there has been a scramble around the crease that nobody could clear and the puck eventually trickled over the line....only to have them immediately mutter "I wish we had Scuderi there."
Scott Burnside (12:05 PM)
Jesse; I was actually surprised to see that Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero was able to get Scuderi under the cap this off-season. I recall talking to Scuderi the night he signed his four-year deal with the Kings after the Pens' Cup win in '09 and it was really a function of the Pens not being able to match dollar or term (Scuderi earned $13.6 million with the Kings slightly more than the $13.5 million four-year deal he signed this summer with the Pens). Did the Pens miss the rock-solid defender? Sure. Did the Kings thrive with him in the line-up? Again. Sure. It will be interesting to see as time passes if Scuderi's impact with the Pens continues to be as great especially next spring in the playoffs but there's obviously a comfort zone for both the player and the franchise.
Josh S. (Philly)
Would you consider Giroux a top 10 forward in the league?
Scott Burnside (12:08 PM)
Josh; It wasn't so long ago that the question would have been is Giroux a top-five forward. I think this season looms as a real crossroads for Giroux who struggled last year in his first year as captain. I think he'll grow into the role and I think the presence of guys like Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit, leaders in their own right, will help ease that burden. To start the season though, I think you'd be hard-pressed to have Giroux in your top 10. By Christmas, though, there's also a good chance that list might include Giroux who seems to be fully recovered (or close to it) from his off-season golf injury.
Can you get me whatever Strang is smoking? Flyers in 7th place??
Scott Burnside (12:11 PM)
Matt; Ha, ha. Katie is rock solid and I think her prediction for the Flyers (I think I had them fourth in the new Metro Division) reflects just how tough it's going to be to find a spot in the top eight under realignment. If you assume the Pens are a lock and maybe the Rangers that leaves two spots and a lot of teams to pick through including the Flyers. How does their goaltending hold up? Can they escape the injury bug especially on the blue line? Do the kids like Couturier and Read and maybe Laughton earn their keep? I can see why Katie would have them missing the playoffs.
Phil (Escanaba, MI )
How do you see Brenden Morrow's addition to the Blues helping them push further into the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (12:13 PM)
Phil; I like the Morrow signing but I would have liked a Morrow signing pretty much anywhere. Yes, things didn't work out in Pittsburgh as most might have imagined but Morrow was pretty banged up by the end and the obvious familiarity/comfort with Ken Hitchcock from their days in Dallas can't be understated. He's the kind of guy that I can see providing critical moments in a tough playoff series like the one the Blues let get away from them in the first round against Los Angeles last spring.
Jason (Marion Ohio)
What do you think of the Blue Jackets chances of making the playoffs this year after finishing last season on such a hot streak?
Scott Burnside (12:18 PM)
Jason; Honestly I don't like their chances all that much given the depth of talent in the Metropolitan Division. But referencing an earlier question about the Flyers I would put the Blue Jackets in that mix of teams that will be scrambling for a final playoff spot in the Metro Division. Obviously Bobrovsky has to be Vezina-like again but I think it's reasonable to expect at least some drop-off in his play over an 82-game schedule. The power play will have to be better and they'll need to get more depth scoring most of which will be expected to come from home-grown talent. I like the path GM Jarmo Kekalainen is charting just think it's going to be tough to find a way into the top eight in the east.
What am I missing where everyone is picking NJ to be at the bottom of the Metro division? I get that they lost Kovalchuk, but they added enough players to be able to spread around the minutes/points. I get that they lost Clarkson, but I don't think that's as big of an impact as everyone is making it out to be.
Scott Burnside (12:22 PM)
Steve; I think it's a cumulative thing. No Parise, no Kovalchuk, no Clarkson. And there are concerns about the durability of the guys they've brought in like Ryane Clowe and Jaromir Jagr. Love Jagr's continued passion for the game and the young guys are going to see a real role model in terms of his preparation and attitude. But he's also seen his effectiveness decline in the last two seasons in the playoffs. Cory Schneider has been terrific and maybe between he and Martin Brodeur they cover up some of the holes but I think it would be a significant surprise if they end up in the post-season and I agree with most of the prognosticators that they're a team that could easily finish at the bottom of the Metro.
Scott, what the heck is a fine for "player selection"? So now you can never put enforcers on the ice, even if they were already on the ice? Can you fine a coach for putting crosby out there on a 5 on 3 since that creates an unfair advantage?
Scott Burnside (12:25 PM)
kurt; Ha, ha. Agreed that this is a bit of a slippery slope for the NHL. Still, I still don't get the thought process of putting John Scott out to throw down with Phil Kessel. Ron Rolston has to be better than that. Scott deserves better, certainly Kessel deserves better and Rolston put himself, his team and the league in a bad spot by setting up the nonsense that followed. There was no need for things to have unraveled as they did and Rolston deserves a significant amount of the blame. I guess the NHL agreed and figured this was one way of getting their message across even if it does leave itself open to a lot of second-guessing.
Thoughts on Marleau, Thornton, and Boyle going into the season with each on the last years of their contracts? As a Sharks fan, I like it. It is amazing how many players have career years in contract years. If none of them have a bad season, I fully expect them all to resign on 2 or 3 year deals around $6 million each...
Scott Burnside (12:28 PM)
Mike; I agree. I think a balance of players looking for new contracts with a core of players who've been rewarded for their play or at least their promise with longer term deals is a nice balance. And the Sharks are approaching an interesting period with guys like Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski taking on more prominent roles and kids like Tomas Hertl knocking on the door. I'm with you strong seasons by Marleau, Thornton and Boyle and there's no reason not to bring them back but if one or more drop off it may make GM Doug Wilson's job easier in terms of turning over more of the roster after doing a nice job of getting faster at the deadline last year.
Kent Nilsson (Sweden )
Must say I was surprised by Alfie moving to Wings, but not many commentators have had any opinion to why. My opinion is that he thought he got promised something, compensation for the 1m$ year and then that was off the table and that pissed him off cause he felt he got shafted. What do you Think?
Scott Burnside (12:31 PM)
Kent; I think you're onto it. No question Alfredsson and the Sens never thought he'd be playing to the end of his last contract and when he did believed he was owed something more in terms of dollar and/or term having played for $1 million in the final year. But if you're the Sens and Alfredsson's role with the team may be diminishing then you have to separate yourself from the emotion of letting go of the face of the franchise and that's what happened. Although it's still shocking it may be the kind of move that ultimately helps both teams. Can't wait for those Detroit/Ottawa tilts this season. How about a playoff match-up to follow?
Daniel (Barcelona, Spain)
Actually I am Bruins fan BUT I was watching the World Championships this year and Stastny was lights out centering the first line with Craig Smith. Both ended up 2nd and 3rd in scoring. Considering the Preds depth on D and relatively low trade value of Stastny this summer and after drafting McKinnon I was very surprised not seeing the Preds approach COL to go for Stastny this summer and offer some of their D depth. Would have made super sense, since COL need D desperately and the Preds offense. The Preds would have put together a chemistry proven duo with first line potential. Why do you think the Preds are so defensive when it comes down to draft or trade for offensive players?
Scott Burnside (12:34 PM)
Daniel; Welcome from Spain. Agreed that Stastny's play at the World's was a revelation after a couple of disappointing seasons. Definitely played his way back onto the U.S. Olympic radar and given that he's in the last year of his deal and the Avs will be in tough to make the playoffs could well be on the trade market. And Nashville as you point out would be a good fit especially with Stastny's cap hit of $6.6 million softened if there is a deadline deal (as opposed to an off-season deal that would have been less palatable for the Preds).
Scotty, important to note that John Scott was already on the ice, AND the Leafs had the last line change. so technically, Carlyle put kessel out there against scott. FWIW, i'm fine with a fine/ suspension for scott for going after a defenseless player, but this fine for Rolston makes absolutely no sense.
Scott Burnside (12:35 PM)
kurt; Agreed that Scott was on the ice but if his instructions were to go after whomever lined up there it still falls to Rolston. But fair point.
Dom (Montreal, Canada)
What is your take on the Atlantic division? Looks like team are gearing up for old time hockey, do you think teams who play more of a skill game have any chance, i.e Mtl, Det
Scott Burnside (12:38 PM)
Dom; I think sometimes we over-state whether a division or conference is filled with physical teams or skilled teams. For me the Chicago/Boston final, one of the most compelling series I've been around in a long time, showed you can have terrific hockey with disparate styles. And that's what you'll have in the Atlantic. It's going to be a great battle of philosophies when you have the Habs, Detroit and Ottawa battling for spots with a Boston team whose identity is one of team toughness or the Leafs who led the NHL in fighting majors last season and were a playoff team. To answer your question, yes, I think those skilled teams will be able to compete (even if I still like Boston to win the division).
Bobby Ryan (Ottawa)
Not in the top 100 forwards? I'm coming in Hot!
Scott Burnside (12:41 PM)
Bobby; Tough list to crack. My guess is the move to the east after several years of being in the midst of many trade rumors may have seen your stock drop slightly. No better way to prove them wrong than by lighting it up with Jason Spezza who was hot himself when he didn't get an invite to the Canadian Olympic orientation camp.
Ahh ... Hockey's back and some normalcy returns to the work. Can't get used to the name - "Metropolitan Division"? Really? Anyways, any word on Stepan signing with the Rangers? Getting a bit silly. They also haven't looked that impressive yet in the preseason. Hopefully not a cause for concern.
Scott Burnside (12:44 PM)
Keith; Multiple reports at this time that Stepan and the Rangers are near a two-year deal which would make sense for both the team and the player. The Rangers should be a playoff team but they, like pretty much everyone else in the Metro, can't afford to be sluggish out of the gate and already missing Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin (shoulder issues from the off-season) having Stepan in the fold is key.
Scott Burnside (12:44 PM)
As a follow my good friend and colleague Pierre LeBrun reports the deal is done. Not sure on terms just yet.
How do you see the Caps finishing this season? Obviously, Ovechkin, Green, and Backstrom need to step it up a notch now that they are in a better division. But how good of a season can they all have?
Scott Burnside (12:47 PM)
Nadiv; I like the Caps to build on a dynamite finish to the '13 season (okay, not counting blowing a 2-0 and 3-2 series lead against the Rangers in the first round). Adam Oates is the real deal and Alexander Ovechkin seems to have developed a real bond there. M. Grabovski has to fill the gap left with Mike Ribeiro's departure but the goaltending should be solid and am a big fan of Karl Alzner and John Carlson even though Oates split the long-time defensive duo. I have them as a playoff team for sure.
Ovechkins on his way to Greece to be the first Russian to Carry the Torch after its ignited, but should be back in time for the Caps season opener (probably a little jet lagged). Do you see any problem with OVs departure prior to the season?
Scott Burnside (12:48 PM)
Rob; Good follow-up. I think it's great. If the Caps are okay with it why not? Went back and was reading some of the stories about Jack Johnson making an effort to march in the opening ceremonies before the Vancouver Games when he was still in L.A. I think these things reflect how important the Olympics are to the athletes and that is especially true with the Russian players this season.
Scott, would you agree with how the new divisions were created the NHL is paving the way for the Panthers to move? Doesn't make much sense to have the Florida teams playing teams up in Canada. Considering the lack of success, and lack of fan presence, doesn't this just seem like a golden opportunity to move a team to Quebec?
Scott Burnside (12:49 PM)
JD; Don't really think that's the plan in fact the NHL and the Panthers are set to announce new ownership in South Florida and that all but guarantees the team won't be going anywhere anytime soon. I think the reality is the new alignment with 16 in the east and 14 in the west sets up expansion in the next couple of years with Seattle looking like a sure bet for one team.
Scott, the Preds do still need a forward upgrade in my opinion. With all the current depth at the forward spots (and especially down the middle), who are some players they could target for an early season or deadline deal?
Scott Burnside (12:56 PM)
Boyd; Not sure exactly how things will unfold for the Preds especially offensively. Losing Viktor Stalberg for a month or so with a shoulder injury is a kick in the teeth for sure. But at some point guys like Colin Wilson and Craig Smith are going to have to assert themselves in terms of offensive leadership. Really like Filip Forsberg who came in the Martin Erat deal. But as mentioned maybe a guy like Paul Stastny at some point becomes a fit and the Sabres will have to decide at some point what to do with Thomas Vanek. Still, I'm guessing the Preds will be looking for help from within as opposed to shopping for an expensive addition at least early on.
Scott, who are you picking in the opener between the Hawks and Caps? Do the Hawks win after the banner raising and ring ceremony or do the Caps do what the Hawks did to the Kings last year?
Scott Burnside (12:57 PM)
Eric; Preparing myself for a season of being haunted by predictions so let's go with Caps 4 Blackhawks 3 in a shootout. (So, not as bad as what Chicago did to the Kings to open the season after the lockout ended.)
Dom (Brooklyn, NY)
Possible the Pens could pull off a trade for R. Miller given all of their young defense prospects?
Scott Burnside (12:58 PM)
Dom; GM Ray Shero would have to work some salary cap magic for that to happen as in the Sabres would have to take some salary back and that would be counter-intuitive as you add a guy like Miller to augment what you have not create a hole in your line-up in making that kind of move. Great storyline this season, though, where Miller ends up especially if the Sabres don't look like a playoff team (again).
Scotty, do you really believe this is it for SELÄNNE?
Scott Burnside (12:59 PM)
jeppe; Yes. Sad but true. The great farewell tour will begin Wednesday in Denver.
Scott Burnside (12:59 PM)
Okay folks. Thanks as always for dropping by. When next we meet points will be on the board and the real talk will begin. Look forward to it.