Hey, a little wrinkle being here on a Wednesday. But let's talk some hockey.
Are the Capitals really active players/leaders in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes as a few reports have indicated? Would a deal involve Semin and prevent them from solidifying their defense?
Hailey; I'm not sure 'leaders' is necessarily true but I think GM George McPhee will be looking to solidify his blue line and if he can add a top-notch forward. If it requires moving Semin I think that's an option and there is no question Kovalchuk would be an upgrade on a number of levels beyond straight point production. But the Caps will be one of maybe six or eight teams that will take a run at Kovalchuk if he can't get a long-term deal done in Atlanta.
The Kessel trade is wonderful. He is not on the same level with the elite forwards in the game and he is not exactly the fiercest competitor. Considering the circumstances regarding the salary cap and a player that did not want to play in Boston, Chiarelli deserves credit for getting great compensation (we're looking at a top 5 pick in a loaded draft plus a 30-35 in the second round) and also a first rounder that should be top 15 next season.
Brendan; Agreed, Mr. Chiarelli did a nice job in moving an asset that really didn't have a future in Boston. It will be interesting to see what Chiarelli does with those assets as they'll be pretty darned attractive to teams looking to move talent at the trade deadline and the Bruins could sure use a shot in the arm especially offensively.
Wheres Manny? I see several teams looking for goaltending and I wonder what happened to Manny Fernandez?? He played well in Boston last year, I figured he'd of signed somewhere by now..
aron; I think age and durability have conspired to keep Fernandez on the sidelines. He did play well for the Bruins - they won a Jennings - but I'm not sure his heart was in it anymore given his back/knee issues.
Hey Scott,I was happy through 2/3's of the Wings/Caps game last night only to have my spirits crushed when they lost when they should have won. My question is this, who can be blamed for letting that game get away? Ozzie, the defense (i actually thought they played well in that game) or the offense. My inclination is to put it on the offense, with having twice as many shots on goal as the Caps they should scored more goals and won that game. I'd appreciate to hear your thoughts, thanks.
Sarah; I feel your pain but that was a pretty good hockey game. Who knew Jose Theodore had that kind of game in him anymore? And I see Chris Osgood talking about having some rust given that Jimmy Howard's been so good for the Wings in the last couple of months. Interesting to see whether the Wings, who are getting healthier, can actually make a jump back into the playoff bracket in the west. Logic suggests they will but giving up at least a point against Washington when they led 2-1 late in the third are tough ones to take.
Avs running away with the Northwest? Duchene running away with the Calder?
Harv; Well I'd hardly call a four-point lead over Vancouver, which has a game in hand by the way, 'running away' with the Northwest. But still an impressive campaign for the Avs. Hard to see them anywhere but in the playoffs come mid-April. As for Duchene again no runaway there. I think Tyler Myers still holds the trump card at this point.
Hey Scott, as I'm sure you've heard, the wild put both Petr Sykora and Robbie Earl on waivers. So does this mean Fletchers opening up some salary space for some trades before the deadline? and if so, any predictions on for who?
Cody; I think Brent Burns will return to the line-up so that may be part of the Sykora/Earl moves. And I think Sykora just wasn't going to fit and his agent was making lots of waves and I think they just decided they'd had enough. Plus, Sykora hasn't really been the same since a shoulder injury last regular season. Unless the Wild get their act together in a hurry the only trades come deadline time will be in divesting themselves of potential free agents like Marek Zidlicky, Kim Johnsson, Eric Belanger and Owen Nolan.
When anyone talks about the next Winter Classic everyone says the best players should be showcased and the Pens, Caps and Hawks are always said to be in it but what about the Devils? They have the best goalie in history and also one of the best forwards in Parise and also have Zajac so why are they not considered when they have these guys to showcase?
Marc; I agree with your assessment of Martin Brodeur but the fact of the matter is the Devils have a low profile outside of New Jersey. Heck they have a low profile in New Jersey. The Winter Classic is about big picture, it's about putting players and teams who transcend the local market on the big stage. It may not be fair but it is what it is. The Devils will have to content themselves with a long playoff run and staying indoors on Jan. 1.
What is MTL going to do with their goalie situation? I would love for my flyers to have Halak for the future because my biggest gripe with the Flyers is they never stick with one goalie.But I gotta be greedy.. is moving Giroux the only way to get Halak? He's becoming my favorite flyer.
Ryan; It does appear that Bob Gainey is listening to offers from Jaroslav Halak and if he could get Claude Giroux out of Philly I think he'd be mad not to do the deal. I'm not sure that works for the Flyers though. Is Halak the real deal? I'd like to see more than a few games before I dealt a nice young player like Giroux. Then there's the issue for Gainey about what he does to back up Carey Price whose early career has had more ups and downs than a carnival ride.
Don't look now but the injury depleted ducks are only 4 points out, and have re-established their home dominance with 8 straight wins at the Honda Center.they should be getting Koivu back this week or next and Selanne in a couple weeks, Guys like Kyle Chipchura, Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton are stepping up, if they can get a tough top 4 dman perhaps we will see the team many of us expected going into the season
Rob; Agreed that we finally seeing the kind of consistency we expected from the Ducks this season. Getting healthy and staying healthy will be key. I doubt, though, that GM Bob Murray will be doing much in the way of adding big pieces at the deadline. He is still looking beyond this season in terms of rebuilding so I expect more tinkering than anything and that's assuming they can stay within a shout of the playoff picture. If they slide back look for him to move some of his veteran pieces.
Do You Think The Boston Bruins Will Make The Playoffs Yes Or No
Daniel; Yes. But they'd better play better than they have the last couple of weeks if they want to hang around for more than five or six games come playoff time.
Regarding Carolina, is it ever good for team morale to dethrone a veteran captain? How do players react to something like this?
JC; Good question. The 'Canes today announced that Eric Staal was their new captain taking over for Rod Brind'Amour. Often when this happens the change has already been made emotionally in the room. I think of Dallas when Brenden Morrow was made captain over Mike Modano. That had already taken place in the room. The same is true in Carolina. It doesn't diminish what Brind'Amour has done for the team. I can't speak for him but maybe he's relieved given the crummy couple of seasons he's endured.
Hi, Scott:Isn't it inevitable that the Blackhawks will make a " rental player " deal before this year's trade deadline? If they wait until the off season, they will lose considerable leverage while also not securing an expiring contract that will reduce their salary cap. Thank you.
Tom; You are absolutely correct which is why you hear the 'Hawks mentioned in a possible deal for Kovalchuk. I think it's a question of what GM Stan Bowman is willing to peel off his current roster. The common names are Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker both of whom have excellent value for teams looking to get younger and more skilled - like the Thrashers.
Is Sacco the clear cut leader for coach of the year? He is leading a team that is closer to playing in the Juniors then in the Pros.
DJ; I'd say it's neck and neck between Sacco, Dave Tippett in Phoenix and Barry Trotz in Nashville. Have to throw Jacques Lemaire into that group as well. We'll see how those western teams fare in the final 25 games but they are your front-runners for sure.
Hey Scott, what do you think is going on with Malkin? Aside from some bright spots here and there (like last night) he seems to be uninspired this year.
Rob; I don't think inspiration has anything to do with it. Fatigue? Perhaps. Think about the amount of hockey he's played in the last couple of years. And he's a kid still, far less mature than Sidney Crosby or even Jordan Staal for instance. I predict a big, big second half for Malkin.
Do you think the recent Rangers offense resurrection is an aberration or a start of a trend?
Russell; Great question. Certainly Callahan and Dubinsky even the formerly dormant Chris Higgins seem to be catching on. The Rangers seem like a team, though, that when they get off the rails offensively it takes a long time to get re-focused. I'm guessing, though, we don't see the kind of dry spell we saw a month ago.
Hey Scott...my question this day: Is it really possible that the Wings' record of 18 straight playoff appearances could come to an end this season? I'm a Detroit native, and being an ex-pat over here, I get a lot of questions about my club, including whether or not Ville Leino and V. Filpulla are going to step up their game. Can you help me quell their nagging questions about my beloved Winged Wheel and its Finnish natives??
Pete; A number of questions about the Wings and with good reason. I still think they're a playoff team but it's not just a question of whether they can get healthy enough to deliver consistent starts - we talked about their loss against Washington earlier - but which teams they can count on faltering enough to get into the playoffs. Right now the Kings and Flames look vulnerable but it's going to take between 95 and 98 points just to get into the door in the west this year so it won't be easy. Still, I think they make it. Maybe just by the skin of their teeth of they make it.
Savy+Kovy? Would that entice Kovy at all to want to sign a new contract with the b's, not just as a rental?
Cody; Well, it's enticing to think about for three months but not sure the Bruins are in the market for a $100-million player which is what Kovalchuk will be looking for, give or take.
Looks to me like Washington/Pitt/Chicago/San Jose have to be considered the favorites... Of the rest who would you view as the most likely to do some damage in the playoffs?
Joey; Well, there's always New Jersey although their recent history in the playoffs (not advancing beyond the second round since 2003) still is a warning flag for me. And Buffalo has the potential to produce an upset (heck they were leading the conference at one point this week) in the second round or beyond. Vancouver if they shored up their blue line could be dangerous in the west as well. And oh yeah, the Red Wings.
What do you make of the situation in Philly? The team is so streaky right now I don't know what to make of them. Plus Mike Richards is now battling with the media
Mike; Yes, they're an interesting team and I should have included them in a list of teams that has the potential to make some noise playoff time. Or they could get busted out in the first round in five games. Mike Richards needs to get over himself. I would have taken the 'C' from him when John Stevens was fired and given it to Simon Gagne or Chris Pronger. They'll need to straighten out their goaltending, too, now that Emery is back. Wow, where have you heard that before in Philly? Just every single year since Ron Hextall was a pup.
Afternoon Scott, do you think Patrice Cormier's hit will set the bar as far as blows to the head go? I think his AHL career is done.
Mustard; Well Cormier was playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and I will be surprised if he's not suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs, too. I would hope that Dave Andrews, head of the AHL, would then uphold that ban and deny Cormier, a New Jersey prospect, the opportunity to play in the AHL this season. The kid will be lucky if he doesn't go to jail for his hit on Mikeal Tam.
Do you think Sather will send Redden and/or Rosival down to free up some room for a non-Gaborik goal?
Bryan; I don't think Sather has the gumption to do it.
With secondary scoring clicking lately, and outstanding goaltending and special teams can anyone beat the Sharks (including the Hawks) I say if both teams play their A+ games sharks would win a series 4-3 or even 4-2.
Steven; Once again the Sharks are among the creme de la creme in the NHL. Mentally, though, I remain skeptical that they are anywhere near ready to win a Cup. Get back to me after they advance to a Western Conference final - which I think they will do this spring - but until then anything they do during the regular season is white noise.
I know it has been a while since it happened, but do you think the Blues firing Murray was the right decision? As a avid Blues fan, I thought he was doing a great job with the program.
Peter; I felt bad for Andy Murray who made lemonade out of a bunch of lemons last season. But his style definitely grates on people and it seemed clear he was no longer being heard in that room. Doesn't say much for the character of that team, I suppose, but I understand the decision. It will be interesting to see which way Doug Armstrong goes in terms of a coach when he takes over as GM in the off-season.
Varlamov seems to keep re aggrevating that knee and groin of his...I dunno if the Caps are confident in Theodore but I think he has the ability to play like he did against the Wild a couple of years ago, but the Caps seem to love Varly...your take?
Kevin; I think the Caps' goaltending is the biggest hurdle to getting to a conference final and maybe beyond. Varlamov is still untested. Theodore way too inconsistent to instill confidence in the dressing room. A bit of a bind for GM George McPhee.
So no mention for Scott Gordon for the Jack Adams? So with DiPietro back in teh fold, how long before Biron is moved? What could they obtain for him? I am hoping a 2nd or 3rd rounder.
Kevin; Good point. Scott Gordon will definitely get a look if the Isles sneak into the playoffs although it's much harder to do that in the west than the east. Not much of a market now for Biron but at some point something will open up. As for value I will be surprised if it's as good as a second round pick.
Do you see any indication that the Flames can turn it around and still make the playoffs?
Kyle; Oh I think the Flames are a playoff team but it's weird given their talent how brutal they can be. Like now. The problem for them is that if they don't move back up the standings they'll draw a Chicago or San Jose in the first round and then it'll be hello golf links in a hurry.
Will Quick see any time between the pipes in Vancouver or just someone with a front row seat?
Josh; No. Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas are locked into the top two spots and in fact I wouldn't be surprised to see Miller play every minute.
Which teams appear to be in trouble financially? Which do you view as the most likely team to be moved next? Do you believe the league will expand to Southern Ontario in the next two or three years?
Joey; How long do you have? As for teams moving I think unless the Lighthouse Project gets more traction the Islanders will pull up stakes. It might be just to Queens or it could be to Kansas City but I think they'll be on the move before a team like Atlanta (too many obstacles to moving right now) or Phoenix whose new prospective owners will give it a shot in the desert.
Where will Turco end up? And will Auld be the goalie in Dallas at the end of the year?
Steve; Good question. How about Washington? After watching Patrick Lalime for the Sabres last night Sabre fans have to be looking at an upgrade in terms of Miller's back-up. Turco will be unrestricted at the end of the year and his contract will make him harder to move even at the deadline but I think someone will be interested in his experience for a playoff run. How about Ottawa?
I just can't see Cristobal Huet winning a Stanley Cup - agree or disagree?
Andy; I know lots of people have that same problem. How about imagining Chris Osgood with three Stanley Cup rings. I think it's entirely possible if not likely.
Heading into last nights game, the islanders were 9-1-2 in their last 12 games - including shutting out both the Devils and the Red Wings. Granted, they lost to Pitt last night - but they came back to tie the game in the third after being down 3-0 and 4-1. Is it time to take these young islanders seriously?
Justin; I don't think people haven't taken them seriously but they still have to be more consistent. They have also given up 17 more goals than they've scored and are the only team in the Atlantic with a negative goals for/against ratio.
What are the chances the Panthers make an acquisition or two to make the playoffs this season? They're two points out right now in the logjam that is the East,
jimh; I don't see them making a big move come trade deadline time. They're another team that has to show more consistency if they're going to show up for the dance for the first time since 2000.
When are people going to realize that the Avs are this year's version of Chicago (the difference being that the Avs are going to win the division THIS YEAR)? The only way I see Vancouver competing down the stretch is a trade for Kovalchuk. No way they're anywhere near the top of the division after that road trip without some scoring help.
B-Diddy; Well the Canucks do have the NHL's leading scorer in Henrik Sedin and I think the issue is more of defensive depth especially with Kevin Bieksa out long term and the Mathieu Schneider thing not working out. The Avs should be able to hold on given the Olympic road trip the Canucks have to endure but nothing is a given at this stage.
Is Giguere done or does he just need a change of scenery?
Kirk; Good question. Like to think it's the latter but it may be the former for a guy whose style was always more about blocking shots than stopping them. If that makes any sense.
What does Colorado have to for next season to not end up like the blues or blue jackets? Do you see a major regression coming next season?
Matt; Good follow-up on the Avs. The Blue Jackets were counting on a lot of first and second year players to continue their evolution this season after making the playoffs last spring. It just didn't happen. In a big way. The Avs' success is rooted in the play of young players although they don't rely on one player like the Blue Jackets did Steve Mason. Still, a valid concern vis a vis young players hitting a wall.
Whom do you see the Bruins targeting in an attempt for more offense?
Zach; Well, aside from the oft-discussed Kovalchuk, Ray Whitney, depending on the Ducks' positioning maybe Teemu Selanne or Saku Koivu. Alexander Frolov could be dangled by the Kings. There aren't a lot of big names, though, that will likely be on the move.
Hey Scott - love these chats... Work with me here - ignoring Marty Brodeur - who we know is dominant - if we were simply rating defenceman and forwards - where would you rank New Jersey in the East?
Mike; Interesting. Probably behind Washington, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.
Scott, for the Canuck players who are in the Olympics, are they able to sleep at their own places?
Eric; Great question. Don't know but I am guessing for team-building and security and ease of movement they will stay in the athletes' village with their respective countrymen.
Given their financial situation, do you see the Coyotes making any moves at the trade deadline? If so, what kind of deal do you think will make sense?
Ryan; The 'Yotes will have a small amount of money to play with. Pending injuries it will be more tinkering than anything. Obviously adding some veteran offense would be nice but that's not likely going to happen.
What are the chances of the Red Wings moving to the East?
Kris; Barring some movement of franchises - like a team headed to Vegas for instance or Kansas City - zero.
Hey Scott. What do the Sharks need to do in order to play in next years winter classic? I am tired of seeing all of these northeast teams playing in nationally televised and promoted games. I feel the NHL needs to do a better job of showcasing all of the talent on the west coast.
Jb; I don't mind the idea of the Sharks playing in a Winter Classic. Might be nice if they didn't implode in the playoffs first, though.
Who wins tomorrow Caps or Pens and why?
Jim; Caps. Theodore on a rainbow right now. Caps and their fans better enjoy it while they can. 4-3 in a shootout.
You mentioned you'd rate our Sabres defenceman and forwards 3rd in the East... really? I love it, but it seems like a reach even to a homer like me!
Larry; I was thinking overall blend of forwards and defensemen. I talked to a coach the other day whose team had just played the Sabres and he raved about their balance and skill. Raved.
Okay folks. Off for a few days next week but will reconvene our weekly chats shortly thereafter. Thanks as always for the time and the questions.