Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at noon ET!
Craig Custance (12:00 PM)
Hey everyone! Let's jump into another pileup of hockey questions.
Craig:Heard rumors yesterday that the Kings have inquired about Thomas Vanek. A package of Tyler Toffoli, Martin Jones and a #1 pick was being bandied about. Is that about what the Islanders should expect to get in return for Vanek or could they get more?
Craig Custance (12:04 PM)
Alan - Whoa, that seems like a steep price to pay for a rental, even one as good as Vanek. I'd completely expect the Islanders to trade Vanek if they can't get him signed to a contract extension although I don't think they'll be able to completely recoup the price they paid for him. I'd say, No. 1 pick and prospect. Not two prospects. And if I'm the Kings, I'm not including Toffoli. And trading Jones thins things out behind Quick in light of the Scrivens deal. I like the Kings as a potential destination, just not at the price you mentioned.
I know it's still early but do you see the Sens and Hurricanes as buyers or sellers this year and, if buyers what will each be searching for? Thanks.
Craig Custance (12:07 PM)
I'd expect Sens to be buyers, looking for some scoring on the wing. The challenge there is managing salary on a budget. The Hurricanes are an interesting one because of their depth in goal. In a perfect world, Jim Rutherford is able to move a goalie for somebody who can help immediately, especially on defense. But the reality is that he may have to settle for draft/picks prospects in dealing one of his goalies.
Bolts vs Leafs tonight, who do you got and why? To me it depends on which Leafs team shows up but I don't want to discredit the Bolts they seem legit.
Craig Custance (12:10 PM)
Tom - The Leafs join the Devils as two of the toughest teams to predict this season. I'd pick the Leafs in this one - evenly matched teams but Toronto has been good at home.
Erik Bruckner (Pittsburgh)
Craig, the Pens and Ducks seem like a good match for a potential swap. The Pens need young help on the wings, and the Ducks would like to sure up the back end. I could see a potential Simon Despres for Emerson Etem or Kyle Palmieri swap. Thoughts?
Craig Custance (12:12 PM)
Erik - I think you might be overvaluing Despres in this instance. I wouldn't trade Etem or Palmieri for Despres. It's an interesting thought though, a good old fashioned hockey trade. It's just not often we see teams swap prospect for prospect. It happens, but typically contending teams use those prospects to add veteran help in positions of need. If Despres is dealt, I'd expect it be for veteran help up front.
Garry (San Jose)
Since Vancouver the ability of WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) to catch drug cheats has increased immensely. You just to look at the number of athletes caught in sports like Cycling where drug testing is a lot more common than the NHL. All atheletes going to Sochi will be tested. NHL players will be tested for drugs that the NHL does test for often, or at all, do you think we might see someone get caught?
Craig Custance (12:15 PM)
Garry - PEDS are believed to be less of an issue in hockey than in sports like cycling but I'm not naive enough to believe they aren't being used in the NHL. NHL players going to Sochi have to be on high alert in regards to PED use, they'd have to be really ignorant to get busted right now. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say nobody gets caught.
Hello Craig. With the Ryan Miller trade winds swirling, I wanted to get your take on the possibility that the Wild make a trade for him. With Josh Harding battling MS, and with the inconsistent play of Backstrom (when healthy) the Wild cannot expect to lean on Darcy to make the playoffs in the tough West. I would expect the Sabres to demand a Charlie Coyle or Jason Zucker type player with a 1st round pick. This also bodes well for the Wild targeting Vanek in free agency, along with the pieces in place, to have Miller sign long term.
Craig Custance (12:17 PM)
I like the Wild as a destination for Miller, perhaps a close second to St. Louis. Chuck Fletcher has to be careful though, he gave up a lot to get Pominville, so you don't want to get in the habit of losing prospects at every deadline. Especially in the cap era. I'm not giving up Coyle or Zucker for a rental, that's for sure. Maybe if I get a window to negotiate an extension with Miller, but I'm not sure the Sabres will be willing to do that.
Realistically what chances do you give Steven Stamkos making it to Sochi with his setback yesterday? If you don't see him going who do they take in his place (Marty St Louis)???
Craig Custance (12:20 PM)
Sounds like today went better for Stamkos and that they were just being careful yesterday so that's good. But it's a reminder of just how delicate the Lightning have to be here, especially with a guy like Martin St. Louis waiting and ready to go. Does anybody really think Team Canada's gold medal chances decline considerably with St. Louis rather than Stamkos? I don't. I'd put it at like 60 percent that Stamkos goes.
You said in a recent hockey today podcast that you don't see the lightning keeping their 3rd place in the eastern conference standings by years end. What makes you think this? Bishop has leveled off to about a .920 percentage and they still continue to win, add Stamkos after the break and goal scoring should go up, I don't see a hard transition for the team when he comes back. Thanks
Craig Custance (12:23 PM)
John - If I remember correctly, Scotty asked me if I thought the Lightning could win the conference which I said no to. I think Boston wins that division, but I don't see any reason why the Lightning can't finish in the next spot. My prediction is that there is a little letdown when Stamkos comes back. It's just human nature for a team that's been pushing.
Hello Craig,It's time for an important question. Pretty frustrated about the game-tying goal by Detroit against LA when the puck hit the backend netting and then Quick and went in. It was obviously a no goal but the rules stated that it was none-reviewable. Since then we (me and my Kings) dropped five straight. Talk about momentum switch.Anyway, my suggestion is that we slowly make it a Big Brother game. Why not? We have the technology so why not get things right. Here's my suggestion: every time when there's an obvious mistake by the referees there should be a little blue lamp that means that there would be a overruling by Toronto. Then referees can just call the shots and wait for Toronto to step in if there's an obvious mistake. Saves time, saves energy. This would not mean overruling penalties or offside unless they score on a wrong call. A goal is a goal and they have to get it right! Also if there's goalie inteference or viceversa then Toronto would have the possibility to say: wrong call, it's a goal or no goal. So whenever the play is linked to a goal there would be a chance to overrule it by Toronto. What do you think? A little blue lamp?C'mon, this is genius.
Craig Custance (12:26 PM)
Jeppe - I'm with you. I think there are still plenty more calls we can send to the Toronto war room to make sure they are correct. That said, you don't want to slow the game down too much. It's a fine line. But your idea sparked another one - why not have fiberoptic lights and sensors on the netting so that the netting lights up if the puck hits it? Let's use the technology that's out there!
bob nj [via mobile]
hi craig do u c the rangers trading callahan or giradi and what the rangers get back in return ?
Craig Custance (12:27 PM)
bob - I don't. The Rangers have as good a shot as anyone in the East outside of Bruins/Pens. I understand that you can't let assets walk for nothing but they're trying to win games and playoff series in New York. The best way to do that is to keep those two.
i know everyone is focused on miller as the big trade deadline goalie, but is there any chance we see brodeur get shipped to a contender if the devils fall out of it? or does his age scare off potential suitors? his playoff resume speaks for itself.
Craig Custance (12:29 PM)
Al - The only way I see that is if Brodeur goes to Lou Lamoriello and asks for a trade. I anticipate Cory Schneider getting the majority of the starts here on out so maybe that will happen, we'll see. But even so, I'd rather trade for Miller and if I can't get him, than Tim Thomas before Brodeur. It's not just his age, his recent production has dipped.
Stu (Newport Beach)
Craig, what moves do you see the Ducks making for their playoff run? Is Emerson Etem in play for a trade?
Craig Custance (12:31 PM)
One name I think might be of interest to the Ducks is David Legwand in Nashville. I like the forward depth in Anaheim, but it never hurts to add a veteran center. Plus, it might help keep him away from Chicago, which wouldn't hurt Anaheim. That said, I wouldn't trade Etem for a rental. Not in a million years.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Craig, what is your opinion of how the refs handled the potential M-A Fleury vs. Petr Budaj ultra-bantamweight battle last week? Those were the same refs that did the VAN-CGY fiasco and they seemed determine to not let this one escalate. Just as well because you know all Ray Shero would need is for Fleury to turn an ankle or suffer a reverse Brent Johnson in a nonsensical goalie fight in a blowout. Plus it came out later that Budaj is actually a blackbelt in martial arts. When asked about that in the presser, Fleury said "I did not know that." Okay then.
Craig Custance (12:32 PM)
Loved it. I thought they handled it perfectly. Anything that keeps hockey from becoming a sideshow and punchline among major professional sports. I hope it's a sign of things to come.
Is Anton Khudobin a legitimate starting goalie moving forward? Are the Hurricanes a playoff team? Will 3 inches of snow shut this city down for 3 days? (I think the answer to all three is yes)
Craig Custance (12:33 PM)
Absolutely. Only because they play in the East. Yes (having lived in Atlanta, I know how snow or even the threat of it can shut things down).
Craig I was at the game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday - it was awesome even though it was delayed and well below freezing. Ratings nationally and in NYC were huge. I can't imagine the NHL is going to ditch the multiple outdoor games any time soon.
Craig Custance (12:35 PM)
We all keep waiting for one of these games to flop and they just don't. They're a hit. I saw no impact at all on the Winter Classic from having the Stadium Series. I'm already looking forward to covering the Soldier Field game. I don't think there will be as many next year as there are this year but I do think the success may embolden the league to continue aggressively playing these games. So, essentially, I agree with you Anthony.
Caber (Buffalo )
What can the Sabres get for Miller, Ott and Moulson .. also, with solid play, they are close to moving out of the #1 pick, that would be a mistake to win a few meaningless games - or are the top 2 picks comparable?
Craig Custance (12:38 PM)
Caber - Moving that trio will add at least another two first round picks and a few more prospects into the mix in Buffalo. I don't think it's a mistake to win a few more games and move out of the last spot. For one, it's a lottery. There's no guarantee that finishing last gets you the first pick. It's better to try and instill a culture of winning with some of those young players. And this draft doesn't have that bonafide No. 1 overall pick. There's debate about who should go No. 1 which means picking second or third wouldn't be the end of the world.
Sarah (Tampere, Finland)
Do you think Finland will win gold at Sochi with ANTTI NIEMI on the bench?
Craig Custance (12:39 PM)
I think Sweden wins gold in Sochi but I like Finland to medal. Put me down for bronze. Some great goaltending options for the Fins but you can only play one.
If the Blues land Miller, does that make them the favorite in the West?
Craig Custance (12:41 PM)
Oh wow. Great question. I'm not sure what their weakness would be. They'd have a shutdown pair, depth on D. A ton of forward depth and an elite goalie. It's just hard to say anyone is a favorite over the Blackhawks, who have proven it before. They'd be right there though.
Would you trade kris Letang?
Craig Custance (12:41 PM)
What should fans expect for changes in Dallas this year? Playoffs beginning to look like a long shot despite flashes of brilliance. More moves to be made this deadline and offseason, any ideas as to what may happen?
Craig Custance (12:43 PM)
Stars headed in the right direction, just not there yet. Could see them move Fiddler and Whitney. Wouldn't be surprised at all if they're getting calls on Trevor Daley who might get a decent return. I think they'll move at least one defenseman before the trade deadline.
A Blues-Hawks Central Division Final would be absolutely epic, right? And as of right now, who would you give the edge to, Craig?
Craig Custance (12:43 PM)
As of right now, Blackhawks in 7. Ryan Miller might change that though if St. Louis adds him.
What is your take on Gustav Nyquist? Will he remain a big part of the Wings' offense if/when they get their injured forwards back?
Craig Custance (12:44 PM)
Love Nyquist. He's in Detroit to stay. He's legit and has earned icetime regardless of who is healthy. He's a good one.
Craig Custance (12:45 PM)
Alright everyone, I have to make a phone call that can't wait. Apologies for cutting this early. Hit me up on Twitter or in my mailbag if I missed you. Thanks for stopping by!