Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 31, 12:28 PM ET
Chat with Scott Burnside

Buzzmaster
  (4:01 PM)

Scott will be here soon!

Chris, South Pasadena, CA

Will the NHL ever put a clamp down on these mid-year unretirements (like Sundin, Forsberg, Niedermeyer, etc.)?

Scott Burnside
  (4:06 PM)

Well I think there are certainly some duscussion about it last year, with what happened with the Ducks. It is a little different this year, with Sundin, although it seems pretty clear he wants to come back this season, but I do not see it as an epedemic. I do not think we can put Shanahan in the same boat, since he thought he was returning to the Rangers, which now will not happen. And after watching the Ducks get booted from the playoffs, I think GMs will be careful about brnging back players midstream. Forberg came back last year and had minimal impact. It may be annoying for fans, but I do not think the league will legistlate players into making a decision.

John, NY

Scott, Watching the Rangers on Sat. night i was wondering if they were going to have a up and down year like last year?

Scott Burnside
  (4:08 PM)

Certainly Saturday's loss did reveal some incosistencies in the Rangers' game. But I think this is a team that has shown that they are consistent, for the most part. They have a sound defensive scheme and their goaltending is very good. I do think that they have not found a comfort zone for Gomez and Drury, which is a work in progress in year two of their careers in New York. But it is a pretty solid team, as their point production shows. Can they challenge for a Cup? Well they made some major changes after being handled by Pittsburgh and I think they are better suited for a deeper run next spring.

Mike (NYC)

Any idea where Shanahan ends up? As a Ranger fan I'm hoping he doesn't end up with the NJ Devs.

Scott Burnside
  (4:12 PM)

Well I think New Jersey is a possibility. A few factors will play into this. He has three kids and we wanted to stay in New York for minimal upheveal in his family lifer. So I think if he can stay close to home he will, and the Devils can use some offensive help. I think the Blues are anothe option and would be very interested, if Shanahan feels he can move that far. Thje Blues have cap room and have just lost Oschie which leaves a hole at F. I also do not think you can discount the Flyers at this stage either. It is not really who can afford him, but who can make the best fit, given his situation.

Keith, Columbus, OH

I'm not confident with the caps goaltending. Johnson is a good backup but Theodore is inconsistant do you think it will be a problem all year?

Scott Burnside
  (4:16 PM)

Yes I do. I think what we have seen from Theodore, through the first month of the season is exactly what we could have expected to see. That is some periods of fine display followed by periods of very poor play. It is that kind of up and down performance that has marked his career for the past six years. peoplem forget that he did not become the starter in Colorado until later in the going last year, and that was only because Budaj could not take the job himself. Now Cristobal Huet has not exactyly set the woprld on fire in Chicago, but one has to beleieve the the Caps ended up with a definite set back in terms of goaltending when they could not sign Huet. Can Theodore string together enough quality starts to get the Caps deep in the playoffs? I don;t think he can. And I would not be surprised if we saw a lot more of Johnson than we expected when Theodore took over in Washington.

Mclovin(San Jose)

Is San Jose the best team so far this season?

Scott Burnside
  (4:19 PM)

Yes. I think they are the best team in the West right now,a nd their handling on detroit last week was an important benchmark for them and coach Todd McLellan, defeating his old team. They are perfect at home which is a departue from last season at the tank. They have great balanced scoring. Boyle has produced the type of blue line offense the Sharks were hoping to get when they got him from Tampa and they are getting good goaltending from Nabakov and Bouche. Now some would give the edge to Montreal, but right now I would agree that the Sharks are the best team on ice.

Doug, Port St lucie FL

Scott have you had a chance to see any kings games and if so What is your impression so far?

Scott Burnside
  (4:22 PM)

I have not seen any live, but I have seen parts of a lot of them. I think they are what we expectred. They have not found a No. 1 goaltender and it is a team that misses Jack Johnson and a team that is still a work in progress. They are last in the West, by a point or two. I think what one must keep on eye on is signs that Terry Murray is getting a message through down the road. It is hard to lose all the time, and it is a culture that surrounds them. They are going to get better.

Neal (San Carlos, CA)

Which offseason signing looks like the smartest move? Hossa to DET, Malone to TB or Toronto letting Sundin go?

Scott Burnside
  (4:25 PM)

Interesting options there. I am not sure we qualify Malone quite yet, although they are playingbetter. For me the biggest surprise has been the play of Nikolai Zhadev in New York. The Rangers acquired him in large part because the Blue Jackets were sick of him, and he has blossomed in New York and is one of the leaders in +/-. I think another interesting signing, that was under the radar a bit. Hagman going to Toronto. The Leafs are a pleasant surprise and he has helped a young offense stay in games.

Sean, Dallas TX

What do you see as the main reason with the Stars' meltdown? Is it loss of personnel, or is Hull trying to change the identity of the team this year with no success?

Scott Burnside
  (4:29 PM)

Sean, very good question. The Stars are 30th overall in goals allowed per game, which is totally against type for them. I think part of it is the change in personnel. Avery has not found his comfort zone and Turco has had a rugged month. This is simply too good a team, though, to be this bad for a long period of time. The good thing is that they do not play again until Friday and by Zubov and Lehtinen both should be back, and should stabalize this team. Hull and Less jackson, are unhappy, but it is a still pretty early, especially for a team that should have a lot more going for it.

Lunk, DC

I heard rumors of Shanahan looking at Pittsburgh as a place to land. Does that make sense to you? Pittsburgh seems to be ripe for a scoring winger than can convert feeds from Crosby and Malkin. Fedotenko and Sykora don't seem to be clicking.

Scott Burnside
  (4:32 PM)

Maybe it makes a little sense. I would surprised if that is where he ended up. I would think they would be thinking a little bigger than that, with all due respect to Shanahan. I think they would be looking more to Gaborik. I am not sure Shanahan has enough speed to fit into the Pens' uptempo style.

Daniel (Anaheim, CA)

With the Ducks getting their scoring touch back, do you think they can make a run at the Wings and Sharks at best in the West?

Scott Burnside
  (4:35 PM)

Yes I do. And I think we have seen over the past 6 or 7 games what they are capable of. I think adding Hedican is a nice move. He is a Cup winner and another veteran body. I am still not sure they have enough down the middle to compete with SJ or Detroit or even Dallas, assuming the Stars get back on track. There are rumors about Sundin, although it would take some creativity with their cap space. My one concern is whether the Ducks have the offenive depth, since much of their production has come from their big guns. Right now they are one of the top two or three teams in the West.

Joel (East Longmeadow, MA)

Back to the Stars for a moment. Did you see the game turned in by Avery and Ott in Boston the other night? I understand what players like that bring to the table, but knee hunting and boarding then walking away from the man-to-man fight is cowardly. These two (Ott at very least) should at very least be benched by their team.

Scott Burnside
  (4:40 PM)

Well I know that game left a sour taste in a lot of people's mouths. Mike Modano seemed disgusted by the play of the whole team and some of the behavior of a smaller group. Now he did not identify anyone, but people feel like he was talking about Ott and Avery. I understand the need to play with an adge, and Avery brought that with the Rangers, when he played the Rangers won. The Stars were hoping for that kind of impact, and Ott plays a similar style. I think it will be interesting to see how the Stars respond down the road and to see what role Ott and Avery play the next time around.

Nick Buffalo, NY

Hey Scott, so what do you think of Buffalo so far this year? WHo do you like tonight, Buffalo or New Jersey (w/o Broduer)?

Scott Burnside
  (4:44 PM)

Good question. Second part first, it is a tough situation for Kevin Weeks, a rarely used backup who has sat down for a month and now he has to stand in for Marty who is out for a while with an elbow injury. This will be an interesting test for the Devils. Losing Brodeur for any period of time will seriosuly test the. The Sabres are one of the biggest surprises. vanek is on fire, leading the NHL with 11 goals. They ar egetting great goaltending from Miller, who was not all that consistent last season, and the Sabres are back to being a team that can hurt you with three scoring lines and an underappreciated defense. I know Lindy Ruff does not want people to notice this team, but if they keep it up they will be on everyone's radar soon enough.

John (San Francisco, CA)

What do you feel is the reason for Patrick Marleau's turn around from last season and is he back or do we need to wait and see a few more games?

Scott Burnside
  (4:47 PM)

It is always a bit of a tough call, after 10-12 games to pronounce a player returned or a bust or whatever. But there is no doubt that he has benefited from the change in coaches in SJ. He is playing with more confidence around the net. I think the jury will remain out until the playoffs roll around, especially given his perfomance the last few years. But he does has 12 points in 123 games and is +7 and doing the kids of things you expect from your captain. All signs are pointing in the right direction as far as a rennainsance for Marleau.

Jorge (Chicago, IL)

With all the changes in Chicago, and their rotating goaltending situation, do you see the Blackhawks making the playoffs, and if so how far do you think they can go?

Scott Burnside
  (4:51 PM)

I beleive they are a playoff team, and they sure better be given the stakes that are at play. Not just for Tallon and Quinneville, but for everyone there. Yes the team underwent an overhaul in the offseason and that spilled into this season when they fired Dennis Savard just four games in, but they have played well under Quinneville. They are fast and physical and are playing better defense, although probably not as sound as one would like and their goaltending is a problem. People expected Khabibulin to be gone, but Huet has been outplayed by him. They are a good, entertaining team, and I expect them to make the playoffs and maybe even win a round.

Ryan (Pasadena, CA)

Can the Wings count on Osgood for quality goaltending if they make the playoffs?

Scott Burnside
  (4:54 PM)

I think the short answer is yes. He proved it last spring when he took over for Hasek. He is capable to take a team the distance. Critics will suggest that playing goaltender for the Wings is easy, and that you just have to show up to collect the Ws. But he was solid in the West semifinal adn was solid when he had to be against Pittsburgh. People will always question him, but he is good enough to have three Stanley Cup wins.

Patrick(Hoboken)

So what does it take for the Pens to get Gaborik? Staal, a number 1, and something else?

Scott Burnside
  (4:56 PM)

Well that will be the interesting question. If I am Ray Shero, I do not trade Staal under any circumstances. But there are enough moving pieces with the Pens to put together a package. Maybe it involves Letang and No. 1 pick. Gaborik's value will be determined by his health. It is hard not to be excited if you are a Pens fan thinking about Crosby and Gaborik combining. If there is a name I keep off my list, though, it is Jordan Staal.

Jon (Portland, OR)

Do the Bruins have a chance for the playoffs this year? It looks like the Northeast Division is going to be pretty tight (who knew Toronto will keep things interesting?). I know it's early, but what does the team need (maybe in trade) to be a lock?

Scott Burnside
  (5:00 PM)

I think the Bruins are a playoff team. And I am not sure they need anything in terms of a trade as much as they need to stay healthy. If Chara can stay healthy the blue line is improving. And Tim Thomas continues to impress. You keep wondering if the performance will run out, but here he is leading the NHL with a .944 save %. He is second with a 1.83 GAA. If the Bruins keep getting that type of goaltneding and solid D, the fact that they are not too explosive probably won't matter and they will probably be somewhere in the top 8 in the spring.

Scott Burnside
  (5:01 PM)

Thanks again, as always, for the questions and let's see what November reveals!