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 1 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (1:00 PM)
Hey everyone - We're almost a week away from the trade deadline. Things are about to heat up. Let's jump right in to our weekly hockey chat.
Do we really expect a commitment on the next Olympics in 6 months? The NHL would much rather have a World Cup tournament that it controls (and gets revenue from) and if they can stage a successful one next summer as planned, maybe they can could convince the players a World Cup is better than the Olympics (it is in soccer).
Craig Custance (1:03 PM)
Mike - Was just having this conversation with somebody about an hour ago. Rebuilding the World Cup makes so much more sense than sending players to South Korea in four years. Like you mentioned, it'll be a potential financial windfall and you can control where it's played. I think six months is optimistic but at the same time, if you're trying to build the World Cup, part of the appeal would be limiting the other times NHL players face each other in best-on-best situations.
The Bruins are in first for the Atlantic division and a few players did well in the Olympics, but do you see the Bruins making any big moves before the trade deadline? Or any moves at all to try to maybe get some experienced guys? What do you think?
Craig Custance (1:05 PM)
Corey - The Bruins don't need to do anything drastic at the deadline but I think Peter Chiarelli would like to shore up his D. If there's a puck-moving defenseman to be had, Boston would have to take a look. The problem is that the market for legitimate defensemen is pretty thin right now.
What do you think the odds are that Brad Boyes stays in Florida? I think he has been such a great addition and I don't want to see him go! I look forward to the year where the panthers are looking just to tweek the roster for their playoff run!
Craig Custance (1:07 PM)
Dara - Boyes has been a great fit in Florida. He's back to scoring on a regular basis and has been lights out in the shootout. I think his appeal in the shootout is what makes him a target at the trade deadline. If you're the Devils and can't win in the shootout, adding someone like Boyes could help boost you into the playoffs. At this point, I think Florida has to move him at the deadline. They're just not at the point where they can risk losing guys for nothing in the summer.
Craig, you wrote in your Metro Fixes article that the Caps should go after Ryan Miller and that the price may be steep. I'd love to see a trade like Miller for Neuvirth, Erat, and a 2nd round pick. Think it can get done? Or would Erat's contract make it a no-go?
Craig Custance (1:09 PM)
Hey Joe - I didn't write the Metro Fixes and actually disagree with the notion that the Capitals should pay a steep price for Ryan Miller. The only way I see Washington getting Miller is if the Sabres give him away and he falls into their laps like Vokoun a couple years ago. Their focus should be on adding a top four defenseman.
Jeppe Finland [via mobile]
How much of an impact player do you think Vanek would be come playoffs? Is he worth a prospect and a first rounder if you are Dean Lombardi?
Craig Custance (1:12 PM)
Yes. Depending on the prospect. But Vanek is one of the few true impact players available at the deadline and would help loosen up the scoring issues in LA. LA has to be careful since they gave up so much young talent to get Carter/Richards but Vanek is a definite need and would be a great fit in LA. I still wouldn't rule out a Sam Gagner deal either.
Anthony (New Jersey)
How do you see the Ryan Callahan situation playing out? I'm hearing trade rumors due to his demands for a new contract, but does this mean we'd be willing to let him walk at the end of the year if we do not trade him?
Craig Custance (1:14 PM)
It's not an easy trade to pull off because the Rangers need a player in return that can help them immediately. He's not the typical rental. And yes, there's always the risk that he walks for nothing if a trade isn't made. But that's still better than drastically overpaying a player.
Did anybody up their trade value during the Olympic tournament? I thought Tuomo Ruutu played well. When will we see the young Latvian goalie in the NHL?
Craig Custance (1:16 PM)
Hey Greg - I thought Ruutu and Ryan Callahan helped their trade value during the Olympics. Both played well and showed why they're so valuable when healthy. With both players, that's a big factor. Kristers Gudlevskis was awesome for Latvia and the Lightning were thrilled to see their young players get experience in the Olympics. But I don't think that makes him any closer to the NHL this year. Let's not forget he started the year in the ECHL. He's a competitor and there's a lot to like there but he's probably still a year away.
If you're the Ducks GM for the next week, what do you do to prepare the team for the stretch run.
Craig Custance (1:18 PM)
I've been beating this drum for a couple weeks now but the player I think is perfect for the Ducks would be David Legwand. Veteran center with playoff experience. Good two-way player. That would be my focus. Maybe a veteran defenseman too since the talented Ducks D is still pretty young.
Sorry about that. Read your article on the pending free agents and mixed them up. Love to see the Caps end up with Andrew MacDonald too. Not sure what they would have to give up though.
Craig Custance (1:19 PM)
Haha Joe, no worries. Thanks for reading! If I were the Caps, I'd make a strong pitch for Girardi. Rangers looking to move him if they can't get him signed before the deadline. He's exactly the kind of player they need in Washington.
doug maclean was on vancouver radio and said he heard the canucks may do something significant, have you any insight? Also, or may be related, do you think van is trying to move luongo?
Craig Custance (1:22 PM)
RM - Yeah, there's definitely the belief when you talk to people that the Canucks are willing to do something significant but asking prices are high. Right now, I think Luongo is all but immovable. The guy who makes the most sense is Alexander Edler. Especially if they can pry a younger center in return.
Marc (Malden, MA)
At the start of the Olympics, Patrice Bergeron was 5th line center/4th line winger. By game 2, he was first line winger, playing with Crosby. I hope that opened some eyes as to how good he is, I feel he's still underrated across the country.
Craig Custance (1:23 PM)
Marc - Still? I think his performance in the playoffs last year really opened a lot of eyes. I know in hockey, there are few players as widely respected as Bergeron. He gets the same respect from his peers as guys like Toews, Crosby and Datsyuk.
Caber (Buffalo )
Ryan Miller - some rumors have him staying, others being traded - what do you think and if traded, what can the Sabres get for him and Moulson?
Craig Custance (1:26 PM)
Caber - I think Moulson definitely gets traded and think the Sabres get a first-rounder back. Miller is such a tough call because goalies are just so hard to trade right now. The market for him is limited and the interested teams know it. If you're the Blues are you really giving up the house for Miller knowing you might be the only legitimately interested team? And if you're the Sabres are you really trading your franchise goalie for a 2nd round pick if that's all the Blues are willing to do? It's a complicated case. There will definitely be more teams in play for Miller this summer when they can just sign him and they have time to create an opening. Right now, it's not that easy.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how foolish is it to believe that the attention the Olympics give to hockey is beneficial to the NHL, in the long run? Idk the numbers but it seems to me that shutting down for 3 weeks will be good for the NHL's future for growth as more fans will be drawn by Olympic involvement
Craig Custance (1:28 PM)
JC - Really there's no metric that can definitely say there's a payoff for having NHL players in the Olympics. I'm not sure casual sports fans who watched TJ Oshie beat Russia are now going to randomly watch the Blues now. Not only did the league shut down for three weeks, the players are playing a condensed schedule for the second straight year. That takes its toll too. I'd be surprised if they play in 2018.
I know the Wild have spent some money the last 2 years, do you see them making a move at the trade deadline?
Craig Custance (1:30 PM)
Chuck Fletcher has to be careful because he paid a big price for Pominville last year. Considering the big tickets paid for Parise and Suter, you need young players coming. I can see the Wild making depth moves but I wouldn't give up a ton for a guy like Vanek when you can just sign him in the off-season if you like him. It's a balancing act. Fletcher's best move may be to wait until Heatley's money comes off the books and then make his move.
Is Callahan and/or Girardi asking for more than they deserve? I can see the case for Girardi, but Callahan seems to be asking for an awful lot being that he is a third-line player who scores about 20 goals a year, esp. that his role on the team has diminished with the arrival of AV.
Craig Custance (1:32 PM)
It's not really fair for me to say what those guys deserve. The reality is, the numbers we're seeing floated as Callahan's asking price are what he'd get on the open market. There's going to be a talent shortage in free agency because everybody is locked up to long-term deals and the cap is about to go up. That means teams will have money to spend. New York is trying to keep costs down but you can't fault Callahan for trying to get market value when Richards, Nash and Lundqvist are getting it.
Craig,I know you already answered a Caps question, but I think the Caps could pull off a trade with the Sabres but not for Miller:What do you think of a Laich, Marcus Johannson, and Dmitry Orlov for Ehrhoff, Ott and Moulson deal? Rather than Buffalo getting picks, it gives them 3 NHL bodies, which is more of what they need right now than prospects. The Caps get a top 4 LHD, a great 3C and a top 6 scoring LW.Would be one of those trades that pushes the Caps to the playoffs this year and allows Buffalo to rebuild with a much better base than they had. Your thoughts?
Craig Custance (1:35 PM)
Why would the Sabres want Brooks Laich and his contract? They're embarking on a rebuild where they want to stock their system with talented young players and that trade doesn't necessarily help. Moulson is going to net them a first-rounder by himself. Think you might have to go back to the drawing board on that one John.
TJ Oshie (St. Louis, MO)
Craig, I can't remember your stance on the shootout to decide NHL games. Most "real fans" hate it as a gimmick that has far outlasted its utility and would rather go back to having ties. But now to take it to the next level, what do you truly think of the Olympic shootout rules where one player can take every shot...cool or dumb? Yes it was exciting that one time, but it even further minimizes the depth of the team. It would have been just as exciting if it had gone to the 15th round and Nikita Nikitin had to shoot opposite Brooks Orpik to see who could finally score to end it.
Craig Custance (1:38 PM)
I'm actually pro-shootout which I realize is an unpopular stance. I still haven't been to a game where fans aren't on their feet cheering a shootout. And it's a good way to end games with a winner over the course of an 82-game season. I'm not sure where I stand on the international rules. It was a lot of fun to see Oshie try and singlehandedly beat the Russians. But at the same time, I think it would get old if a Blackhawks/Blues game just became Oshie vs. Toews. My only tweak would be to extend the current overtime session so fewer games are decided by shootouts.
Jason (Philadelphia, PA)
Graig,What move do you see the flyers making? They have neve been one to just sit around at the deadline. I am not thinking anything big but maybe a d-man. Maybe Daley from Dallas or possibly Big Buff if price isn't too steep. But they could fool everyone and swing for the fences and try to pull Weber out of Nashville now that he can be traded.
Craig Custance (1:40 PM)
Jason - I'd never count Paul Holmgren out for anything. They could use a boost on defense and if they could land a legit No. 1 defenseman, I believe they'd be willing to include Couturier as part of the package. I'm not ruling anything out in Philly.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Craig, I asked before the Olympics what player that many people (especially on the east coast) might not have heard of would have a breakout star performance. I thought it might be OEL on Sweden or Voynov on Russia. But it turns out the answer has to be Mikael Granlund right?
Craig Custance (1:41 PM)
Granlund for sure. We all love Jamie Benn and have for awhile but I think some casual fans might have been exposed to just how good he is. Even Drew Doughty had to raise some eyebrows. He's so good.
Lorne (Los Angeles)
Craig, you mentioned the Caps need for a top four defenseman, and then in the context of Boston's needs, that the D pool is thin....so, who then might be available, especially considering that the premium on a top 4 defenseman is so high?
Craig Custance (1:42 PM)
Lorne - That's the problem. There just isn't a lot of help to be had. If Girardi doesn't sign an extension, I think the Rangers move him. I think Byfuglien can be had for the right price. But you're right, premium d-men just aren't out there. And the asking prices will reflect it.
Being west coast based I can say that watching Bergy in the playoffs the last couple years opened my eyes to how good he really is. Now, can the same be said about watching someone a little more under the radar named Marc-Eduoard Vlasic (and for that matter Drew Doughty)? Does anybody on the east know who this is or just think about Vlasic pickles when his name comes up?
Craig Custance (1:44 PM)
Ben - Good call on Vlasic. Add him to the list of people who helped their reputation in the Olympics. I'd also put Ryan McDonagh on that list too. He was so good with Ryan Suter. New York fans know it but that was good exposure for him.
I feel as though the penguins need to add a 3rd line winger and become a tougher team to play against. Any thoughts on this potential and players Ray Shero is looking to add before the deadline?
Craig Custance (1:45 PM)
Steve Ott would fit that description, eh? I think he'd be a great fit in Pittsburgh, although he really likes Buffalo and wants to stay. Maybe he gets traded and returns as a free agent.
Donnie (Lindenhurst, IL)
What was your pre-season Stanley Cup match-up and who do you have as your potential match-up as of today?
Craig Custance (1:47 PM)
Hey Donnie - I'm not sure I want to talk about that right now since I picked the Senators to come out of the East. I thought with good goaltending and them finally being healthy along with the addition of Bobby Ryan they were poised to make a run. Now I just hope they make the playoffs so I don't look too bad. I had the Kings winning the Cup and coming out of the West. I still don't mind that pick.If I get a mulligan on the East, I'm going Boston. I just thought it would be asking too much for that team to make another long run after last season. The Bruins are just so easy to like though.
Craig - I'm a Ranger season ticket holder so I'm putting my money where my mouth is - I'd rather get young assets than no assets for Cally / G. If they aren't as strong for the playoffs, so be it if it means they can build toward being a true contender for years to come w increased cap flexibility.
Craig Custance (1:49 PM)
Anthony - I hear you and definitely can get behind that thought process. But outside the Bruins and Penguins, wouldn't you put the Rangers at the top of the next tier in the East? It's such a tough call. Maybe there's a way for the Rangers to collect prospects and picks for Callahan/Girardi and then spin those assets into someone with term on their deal who could help them this year. That would be the ideal.
Jason (Portland, OR)
The Avalanche have been a great story and barring a total collapse they should be in the post-season. If you're Sakic and Roy what kind of deal do you make for a playoff run without blowing up their young core? Who would make a good fit for Colorado?
Craig Custance (1:51 PM)
They've got to add defense but not do anything that hurts them down the road. This isn't their year so I wouldn't do anything significant but at the same time you want to reward your players for overachieving this season. Maybe they could get a guy like Kyle Quincey back to add some depth. That might make sense.
Ben (St. Paul)
Michael Russo floated the name of Martin Brodeur to the Wild as a possible acquisition for the team's desperate need at goalie. Do you see him, or any other goalie not named Miller worth acquiring if you are Chuck Fletcher and the Wild?
Craig Custance (1:53 PM)
Depending on what they have to give up to get him, I don't mind Brodeur but you want to be careful you're not just trading for a name. I'd rather see them go get Tim Thomas. Dale Tallon said he doesn't want to trade him but would keep an open mind if Thomas wants out. I could see Thomas stealing a playoff series more than I could Brodeur at this point.
If you where going to compile a team of NHL players from each state in the US (past and present) what state would win and who would be on the team?
Craig Custance (1:55 PM)
Dan - I absolutely love that question. I need about 5,000 words to answer it but Minnesota, Mass and Michigan have to be on the short list. I might turn that into a blog post someday. Remind me.
Any chance the Wings make a play for Edler? They do love their Swedes!!
Craig Custance (1:56 PM)
Yes. Not only do they like their Swedes, they like Edler. They wanted to draft him his draft year and just missed out. Their top scout in Sweden really likes Edler. They were also in on him during the off-season in trying to make a deal. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they circle back.
Gut call, a week from tomorrow Ryan Miller will be wearing ____ jersey?
Craig Custance (1:58 PM)
Oh man. I honestly flip flop on this daily. Coin toss between Sabres and Blues. Ask me again during the next Tuesday chat before the deadline.
Steve (New York )
Can Andrew MacDonald be a serious impact player?
Craig Custance (1:59 PM)
I think Andrew MacDonald is a useful player who can help him a team. I wouldn't call him a serious impact player.
Jake (Sad Island)
What's the best case scenario for the New York Islanders at this year's trade deadline? I desperately want to get off Sad Island.
Craig Custance (2:00 PM)
Best case? A first, second and prospect for Vanek. A late first for MacDonald. And I don't blame you.
Craig Custance (2:01 PM)
Alright everyone, thanks as always for the questions! Hit me up on Twitter if I missed you - @CraigCustance