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 (11:59 AM)
Hey everyone - excited to host another weekly NHL chat. Lots to talk about - new coaches, trade rumors - let's dive in!
Bharath (NJ) [via mobile]
I understand the NHL wants to get "premier" teams in the winter classic but is it really fair to have teams play multiple times? (Flyers and Penguins) Personally I would have liked to have seen Rangers-Devils at Yankee stadium or MetLife stadium
Craig Custance (12:04 PM)
It's certainly not fair, but I don't think the league is striving for fair when it comes to the Winter Classic. This is an event put on to showcase the game and draw television ratings. Sidney Crosby draws ratings. So do the Flyers and teams like Detroit and Chicago. The Devils? The reality is they don't draw. My suspicion is that we'll see a game in Washington before NY and wouldn't be surprised if we saw Penguins vs. Capitals Part II.
Greg (North Carolina)
Well, with Maurice out, can the Canes lure Laviolette back from the Flyers?? Who should be the next head coach?
Craig Custance (12:07 PM)
Greg - I actually really like the Kirk Muller hire. He was well thought of in Montreal, did a nice job in Milwaukee and is the kind of communicator that works well with today's NHL player. The playoffs might be a longshot but that team was ready for a new voice and Muller was the right hire.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
Let's talk trades...Any chance of Ovie moving for a huge player package. If he does'nt smarten up, why not? And any chance my Jets will/could move Big Buff. Same idea as ovie...ANY team will take him and the Caps/Jets can get a bundle in return.
Craig Custance (12:12 PM)
According to CapGeek.com, Ovechkin has a no-trade clause that kicks in July 1, 2014 so if they wanted to deal him, it'd have to be before then. But, in my opinion, there's no chance he gets dealt. He's still one of the premier talents in the world, and is capable of leading that team to greatness if he buys into the work ethic and responsibility on defense Dale Hunter will demand. As for Big Buff, that contract is a whopper and it also includes a modified no-trade. Because of his salary and cap hit, I'm not sure he'd bring the kind of return the Jets would need to make it worthwhile.
Mitch (New york)
Saw in RumorMill that Bobby Ryan may be available. What would it take for a team like the Islanders to pick him up. They have the space and pairing him with Tavares would be great.Would a future first rounder (given were islanders expect to finsih) and a couple of smaller pieces work?
Any chance the Leafs can get in on Bobby Ryan? Would Schenn, Grabovski and Kadri get it done? Thanks for the chat
Craig Custance (12:18 PM)
Lots of interest in Bobby Ryan this afternoon. All indications point to Anaheim making some sort of major move, and soon. Bob Murray won't just sit and wait while this team goes into a tailspin. I don't think trading Bobby Ryan is out of the question at all. I look at the James Neal trade as a starting point when you're talking about what it would take to land him. In Alex Goligoski, the Stars got a commodity that every NHL team covets - a young puck-moving defenseman. So it'll take more than a decent roster player and prospect to lure Ryan away from the Ducks. As for the Leafs, would you really blow things up right now to land a 30-goal winger? I know Brian Burke is very familiar with Ryan, but Toronto sits at No. 2 in the East right now. What's the motivation?
Blues are playing well since the coaching change. Post-change bounce, or will it continue?
Craig Custance (12:21 PM)
I love the phrase dead cat bounce, but I don't think it applies to the Blues. GM Doug Armstrong deserves a ton of credit for bringing in Ken Hitchcock when he did. While some other franchises showed (are showing) too much patience, Armstrong made it clear that mediocrity wouldn't be accepted. Hitch has that team playing as a unit and the way that a team without any superstars like the Blues are have to play. I think it continues. Big test tonight against a Caps team that will be rearing to impress a new coach.
kerry fraser (Toronto)
2 minute penalty on Matt from Toronto for asking the same question on 2 different chats
Craig Custance (12:21 PM)
Sorry Matt, rules are rules.
Scottie (D Town)
It's so cold in the D. When will we win our next Lord Stanley?
Craig Custance (12:25 PM)
If you form your question as a rhyme, it gets answered. Especially when you reference one of my all-time favorite songs. Gotta love T-Baby (yes, I had to Google it). Anyways, the Red Wings are certainly as much a contender as anyone although their days of being ahead of the pack are long gone. Mike Babcock was joking the other day about how much he misses the pre-parity NHL when Detroit was so much better than nearly every team. It was much easier then. For them to win, they need to stay healthy since they just don't have the depth they used to. Jimmy Howard has made some great strides this year, so i like them in the mix.
Ovie for Stammer? We would love to have him up here in the D.
Craig Custance (12:27 PM)
Steven Stamkos will be playing in Tampa Bay for a long, long time.
Not Caps/Pens part 2! Caps deserve a different opponent. How about Chicago? Not a natural rivalry, but a great game every year.
Craig Custance (12:28 PM)
I like that matchup although I wonder if the Blackhawks would rather wait and try to host another one. Maybe at Soldier Field?
Tom (Butte, MT)
please televise the Montana Games
Craig Custance (12:29 PM)
I'll see what I can do.
Who is the current MVP?
Craig Custance (12:36 PM)
That's a fun question and always a tough vote for us writers at the end of the year. Off the top of my head without doing too much statistical analysis, here's my top three:1. Claude Giroux, Flyers - He's quickly helped Flyers fans get over the loss of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. What an exciting player to watch.2. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks - He does everything well. He's on my very short list of players I would build a franchise around.3. Brian Elliott, Blues - Okay, maybe not but he deserves mention for being 10-1 with a 1.31 GAA. I'm in the camp that goalies don't get enough Hart Trophy consideration.
Why does everyone keep thinking that Boudreau is going to find another NHL gig soon? This guy did nothing with a team loaded with young talent and basically showed the world his lack of coaching and leadership abilities on 24/7. What has he done to warrant another NHL job?
Craig Custance (12:39 PM)
Besides get to 200 wins faster than any other coach in NHL history? And win four straight division titles? If I were in charge of a young team like, say the Islanders or Avalanche, I wouldn't hesitate to call on Boudreau.
What are the Lightning missing this year that would let them play for the Cup?
Craig Custance (12:41 PM)
They need help on defense and you have to be at least a little concerned about their goaltending in the spring. I wouldn't be surprised to see Steve Yzerman be fairly aggressive as the trade deadline gets closer to address some of those issues because the team as it stands right now isn't a Cup contender.
for the record, kerry fraser is from sarnia...
I think I speak for Ducks season ticket holders when I say we are in tar and feather mode. Am I justified in wanting a new head coach?
Craig Custance (12:43 PM)
I think Randy Carlyle is one of the game's best coaches but I'm also of the belief that teams may tune out the same voice after awhile. Like Boudreau, I don't think Carlyle would be unemployed for long but I think you are justified to ask that question.
Jim (St. Louis)
Glad to hear Elliot get a little love. What else does this guy need to do to get a little recognition? Stop freight trains?
Craig Custance (12:44 PM)
Okay, that made me laugh.
Rich (Bayonne, NJ)
If Iginla becomes available, wouldn't Detroit be a logical landing spot? They have a lot of cap space, plus their minors are loaded with prospects.
Craig Custance (12:46 PM)
Plus Ken Holland loves to add stars who may be a little past their prime but especially motivated to win a Stanley Cup. Mike Babcock knows Iginla well from their time together with Team Canada. Holland told me a few weeks ago that he's open to being a little more aggressive at the trade deadline this year than in years past so I wouldn't rule this idea out. The Kings would also be a good destination for Iginla, if he decides he's had it in Calgary.
Who are your top five coaches right now?
Craig Custance (12:47 PM)
Love the question Scott, but I want to give it some thought. I'm saving that for Friday's mailbag.
Love the chats Craig, keep it up. Is Ryan Johansen of CBJ the trade chip to cure the Jackets goaltending (ie Schneider out of Van or Bernier out of LA)?
Craig Custance (12:50 PM)
If we learned anything this year, it's that Columbus isn't as close to contention as previously thought. That's why I think it'd be a huge mistake to include a young talent like Johansen in any deal. They need more guys like him, not less. But I agree, it'd make a lot of sense for Columbus to take a long look at Schneider or Bernier, I just don't know what it would take to land them. The price for Schneider goes up daily and if I'm Vancouver I'm rethinking the notion of trading him at all.
Craig.....do the Bruins have the best goalie tandem in the NHL? If not....who does?
Craig Custance (12:52 PM)
Yes, they do. I also like the tandems in L.A., Vancouver and Minnesota. I'm really curious to see if Chuck Fletcher spins that goalie depth into some scoring help at some point this season.
John (Lakewood, CO)
Another listless (heartless?) performance from the Avs last night. While there is a decent amount of talent in the young guys, they seem to really lack veteran leadership to grab folks by the you-know-whats and get them to step it up. What can we do?
Craig Custance (12:55 PM)
If this team continues its trend of fast starts and then following it up with an inability to maintain it consistently throughout the season, you have to take a long look at the guy behind the bench. Joe Sacco deserves more time, but I wouldn't be overly patient either.
Joe Thornton (San Jose)
I pass too much. What can motivate me to shoot more?
Craig Custance (12:58 PM)
I know Joe Thornton frustrates Sharks fans at times with his pass-first mentality but when your vision is as good as Joe's you keep doing what you do best. I don't see him dramatically changing his game anytime soon.
Richard (Chino Hills, CA)
Do think Dustin Penner will eventually find is game this season or is he going to be dead weight?
Craig Custance (12:59 PM)
What roster moves/system changes should Washington make to finally clear the 2nd round in the playoffs?
Craig Custance (1:00 PM)
Dale Hunter's focus will be making sure the entire team is on the same page defensively and that should be the priority. You can't have some of your forwards playing on both sides of the ice and not all of them if you want to advance beyond the second round.
What do you think about Tampa playing Wings Wednesday you think Stevie Y. has the most butterflys?
Craig Custance (1:04 PM)
Should be fun but he doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would get overly nervous about something like this. He's a competitor and will want to win. I wouldn't be shocked if he and Ken Holland have a friendly wager on this game. Yzerman is going to address the media this afternoon in Detroit, so I'll have a better idea of how he feels then. Thanks for all the great questions everyone! If I missed something, don't hesitate to click the mailbag link and ask it there. I'll make sure I get it in Friday's mailbag. Have a great week!