Greetings hockey fans.
Any new 100 point scorers this year? I think Washington's Backstrom and Semin are dark horses to pull it off.
Liam;I agree that both Backstrom and Semin have a chance to get to the 100-point plateau although it's interesting to note only three players; Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin; reached that level last year.I think Zach Parise should get there although with Jacques Lemaire that might be a stretch.What about a healthy Marian Gaborik?
Lately the NHL has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons - the 'Yotes bankruptcy, the Versus/DirectTV debacle, Paul Kelly being fired- could the start of the season not come soon enough?
Joe; Agreed. The best tonic for what ails the NHL is in fact its own product and especially the young talent that makes the game, in my humble opionion, as good as it's ever been.
Hey Scott, with Heatley gone from Ottawa, don't you think this is Jason Spezza's time to elevate his game. Put up or shut up, so to speak?
Wendy; Interesting question and there's no doubt Spezza will have to start asserting himself as a top talent - if that's the way he wants to be perceived. I think being left off the Canadian Olympic orientation camp list to begin with was a wake-up call for a guy who puts up lots of points. Not that Heatley was necessarily holding him back but I think there's potential for Spezza to have a big year and not just in terms of points but in becoming a leader.
are the sharks done, or could they still make a move?they could use a d-man. do they have they money??p.s. dose this deal help??
Preston; The Sharks are done. But the question is whether they are done like dinner. We won't know for sure until next April.
Tukka Rask is ready to play at the NHL level, can the Bruins get anything for Tim Thomas?
Todd; Well, I'm sure there would be a lot of teams lining up to acquire a Vezina Trophy winner who just signed a long-term deal. Not sure the Bruins will be interested in handing the starting reins to Rask just yet although it will be interesting to see how often head coach Claude Julien uses Rask this season. I'm guessing maybe 30 games. This is still Tim Thomas's show and with good reason.
Are the sabres youth ready to take the next step this year? (like we've heard for the past few seasons)
Ryan; Well, given that the Sabres don't generally rely on outside help the youth of which you speak better get ready to take a step forward. We saw how quickly things went off the rails last year when Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller got hurt. Lucky for them they're in a very mediocre Eastern Confernece but I still think they're life and death to make the playoffs.
Hey Scott, What are your expectations of the Pacific division? And what team do you think might be the biggest surprise in the Western Conference?
Mike; Hard not to like the Sharks to win the division again although I am intrigued by the changes made in Anaheim where GM Bob Murray has gotten younger and deeper offensively. If the Ducks goaltending situation gets resolved I think they could put some pressure on the Sharks. Dallas is in trouble, I think, to make the playoffs. The Coyotes are a mess. The team everyone will be watching, though, is Los Angeles and like a lot of people I think this is the year they take the step forward into the playoffs. That's assuming Jonathan Quick can deliver the goods in goal.
After the tumultuous offseason how do you think the blackhawks will respond this year? I agree with Joe I'm just ready for the puck to be dropped
Dave; I think the 'Hawks will be fine. Good coaching, great defense and lots of nice parts up front even with Marian Hossa out until November sometime. If Cristobal Huet can get over the yips he had last year the 'Hawks will challenge for the Central Division crown and the top seed in the west. I like them to return to the Western Conference final.
Hey Scott! I want to ask specifically about the Caps' place in the East this year. I think they could win the East and represent them in the Finals, but why should I be skeptical?
Hey Joe; Have a pivo for me (that's Czech for beer). Like the Caps to pretty much run away with the Southeast Division title again although I am still not sold on Semyon (that's how he's spelling it now) Varlamov or Jose Theodore as the kind of goaltending tandem that can get the Caps much past the second round of the playoffs.
Where do you see the Blues finishing if they are injury free this year? If they make the playoffs how far will they go?
Dan; That's a mighty big 'if' when it comes to the hard-luck Blues who always seem to suffer one or more catastrophic injury to key personnel. Already Eric Brewer is on the shelf and no one knows exactly when he'll be back. Still, love the Blues to make the playoffs again and maybe sneak their way into the second round. Blues fans deserve it.
How do the penguins fare this year on defense with the loss of key defensemen like scuderi and gill.
Zack; Things will look different along the Penguins' blue line with the Gill/Scuderi pairing gone but I think as long as Jay McKee stays healthy and with Alex Goligoski getting some more experience the Pens won't take much of a step backward.
Hey Scott, help me out here - what should I do about the Olympics in 2014?
Hi Gary; Sorry about that Phoenix mess. And Tampa. And Florida. But I digress. You heard Alex Ovechkin told my colleague Pierre LeBrun and I that he's prepared to go AWOL in 2014 if the NHL isn't the Olympics and I don't think it's an idle threat. It won't be as neat and tidy as Vancouver but I figure you'll end up giving in to the players on the Olympics if it means closing some of the loopholes in the current CBA. Just a guess.
In your opinion, have the Canes improved or regressed with their offseason moves? Do you expect them to be legitimate Eastern Conference contenders, or will it take another monster performance by Cam Ward to make a deep playoff run?
Stephen; Fellow Atlantean (is that a word?) I think the 'Canes will once again be a playoff team but don't have enough juice to challenge the Caps for the division title. But as they showed last spring there is a lot of character and resolve in that locker room and I think GM Jim Rutherford has added some nice depth pieces. As he always does.
You left Getzlaf off your 100 point scorer list?
Ryan; Error, error, error. Yes, Getzlaf should be knocking on the door of the century club.
Will Fluery get a fair shot? I would think he would be able to adapt better to the new NHL style vs. C.Lemieux (who did make the Sharks squad)
Mustard; I just don't see it. I didn't see Claude Lemieux either and in the end he was spare parts on a San Jose team that seemed desperate to add that magical missing piece. The Flames need scoring, true, but a 41-year-old dude that was putting in cement floors or whatever he was doing the past few years? Great story if it happens but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Scott Walker, Aaron Ward, same locker....discussAny chance future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic pulls a Farve?
Jeff; I know, I love it. Almost as much as Donald Brashear pulling on a Ranger jersey after his blind-side elbow on Blair Betts out of the playoffs. Yikes. At least Betts isn't sitting next to him in the locker room. Still, not surprised that Ward ended up back in Raleigh. It's a nice fit all around and now he won't have to worry, in theory, about Walker suckering him.
Scott, is the year all of the Central Division teams make the playoffs?
Tom; No. Nice idea, though. I think it's too much to ask both the Predators and Blue Jackets to make it. As we saw last year, the divisional-heavy sked makes it almost impossible for all five teams to make the playoffs and I think, frankly, both the Preds and Blue Jackets will be on the outside looking in.
Do I figure out I need to shoot the puck more this year and score 40 goals this season?
Sid; I don't know, looked like you got the hang of it in the playoffs.
Is there any chance the Avs will finish above last place this year? I love them but just don't see how they have really improved at all in the off-season.
Camron; Hmmm. No. I can't imagine a circumstance that will keep the Avs from occupying 30th overall.
IF atlanta were to sign Nik Zherdev as it's being reported....could atlanta have mabye the foudations for a great hockey team?
Luke; No. If the Thrashers do sign Nikolai Zherdev they will have added one of the great floaters in the game. There's a reason Ken Hitchcock couldn't wait to see the back end of him in Columbus and the Rangers fled like scared cats from his arbitration award. Danger, danger, danger.
Any truth to the rumor of Kessel to the preds? We need some serious offensive help...
Josh; Yes, I believe the Preds have inquired about what it would take to pry young Mr. Kessel out of Boston. He's going somewhere it's just a question of how much any one team is willing to give up (the Leafs are rumored to be ready to give up the farm). And you're right the Predators could sure use some offensive help if they hope to get back into the playoff picture. Still, not sure how Kessel, who struggled to get along with Claude Julien, would get along with Barry Trotz who also expects a lot out of his players at both ends of the ice.
Was there any truth to the Marleau-to-Kings rumors? If so, are the talks dead now?
Thomas; No, those rumors were just that. Look for the Kings to try and re-sign Alexander Frolov. If they can't, then maybe something will break down the road but the Kings have done all the tinkering I think they'll do until they see how good they really are.
Hey Scott, how do you see the Islanders improving this year with NHL caliber goaltending, Tavares and Okposo?
BC; I do see the Islanders getting better. Although when you finish 30th getting better is a relative thing. But Scott Gordon is a good coach and he's got more pieces than a year ago. Playoffs? Sorry. But more competitive? Absolutely.
how will marty havlat fair this year under the wild's new system? 60 points? 80 points? 100 points?
Ryan; I assume that Todd Richards will be opening things up a lot more than Wild fans were used to with Jacques Lemaire. That should play to Havlat's strengths as a creative offensive force. They loved him in Chicago and if he's healthy he should edge into the mid-80s in point production. The question is whether there's enough secondary scoring in that line-up to get the Wild back to the post-season. Don't think so, at least right now.
Who is still available via free agency that is still worth signing? I'm shocked Blair Betts is still around after how he played last season, before being blindsided in the playoffs.
Andrew; Agreed on Betts who looks like the kind of player most teams would want; can kill penalties, skate, cheap. He's in the Flyers' camp on a tryout basis and wouldn't that be ironic if the ended up a Flyer and knocking the Rangers out of the playoffs?Petr Sykora is still available. Manny Malhotra. Michael Peca.That's just off the top of my head.
Scott,Can Ovechkin three-peat the hart trophy?
Taylor; I see only two reasons why he can't; Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The bonus for Ovechkin is that there will always be a bit of a bias against Malkin because he plays with Crosby and vise versa when it comes to handing out the league's MVP hardware.
Do you see Martin Brodeur staying healthy and playing a zillion games like he always did, or could last year be a sign that he can't be counted on for 70 games per season any longer? Or will he just hang up the pads once he gets those last few records?
James; Well, with Yann Danis as back-up Mr. Brodeur better get ready for another heavy workload. No offense to Yann Danis. I expect Brodeur will play out his current contract which has two more years after this one. Of course winning another Cup and/or more serious injuries might change that plan. Still, look for Brodeur to last at least that long.
Scott, Do you think the addition of Ryan Smyth and Justin Willams Help Anze Kopitar finally have the breakout season that he is capable of?
Gianni; I like the addition of Williams, Smyth and of course Scuderi on the blue line not just in terms of getting the most out of Kopitar but in adding some much-needed experience to the locker room. If the Kings are going to make the playoffs they're going to have to ride out the lows and not just go off the rails. All three of those guys have been there before and their presence in the room will be invaluable. Naturally, all of that means less pressure on Kopitar which is a good thing.
how far do u think the rangers will go this season with all these off season moves?
JT: Playoffs. Maybe. One and done if they get that far.
Even with the losses of Lupul and Knuble, the Flyers still have an elite top 6. With the addition of Pronger and assuming a good gamble on Emery, will the Flyers get past their cross-state rivals this year?
Curt; In my mind the Flyers have it all - provided Ray Emery can deliver the goods. He doesn't have to be Terry Sawchuk, just the Ray Emery of 2007. If he is that guy the Flyers are Cup bound. But as any Flyer fan knows, the Flyer crease is a black hole into which all sorts of netminders have disappeared. Stay tuned.
With Marian Hossa out until mid-November, who will fill the scoring void for the Blackhawks?
AJ; Nice thing for the 'Hawks is that they suddenly have terrific depth up front and will get scoring from Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews will get off to a much better start this season. Look for Dave Bolland to get more opportunity in Hossa's absence.
If the Leafs get Kessel, I think they will be a top 5 team in the East. Agree?
Chris; No. Don't think Kessel is that kind of player in terms of impact. Would he help? Sure. But can he get the Leafs from say 12th to 5th? No.
Okay folks. As always thanks for the time and the questions. See you next week.