Hello all. Welcome back. Where were we?
Hey Scott-Can we expect to see an end to the Leafs' futility this year with a trip to the postseason?
Hello Aaron: Sorry. Not enough pop up front even in the mediocre east. I think they'll be better than people think but not good enough. Next year, though, bet on it.
Hi Scott. A yearly question seems to be: who will the Flyers' starting goalie be on March 1? Any guesses?
Lou; If I knew the answer to that question I'd be working in Las Vegas as a soothsayer (discuss amongst yourselves). I am guessing Michael Leighton. Unless it's Tomas Vokoun. Or Jose Theodore. Or....
Hey Scott, do you think that the Sharks new goalies are what they needed to get over the hump and finally win the Stanley Cup and are they improvements over Nabokov?
Ryan; I must admit I'm not totally sold on the Finnish Flashes Niemi and Niittymaki. They'll put up solid regular season numbers for sure but so did Nabokov. Yes, Niemi did win a Cup but I think the Sharks' problems go deeper than goaltending when it comes to getting over the hump.
Everyone is talking about how the Canucks have the best defense in the west. What about the Wings? Not only do they have one of the best defensemen in the history of the NHL in Nick Lidstrom, but they also have some of the best defensive forwards in the NHL with Datsyuk who leads the league in takeaways by a landslide every year, Zetterberg who is one of the hardest workers, and Franzen who is a 1st or 2nd line grinder and scorer.
Kody; I think people are probably touting the Canucks' blue line as opposed to team defense but your point is well-taken. The issue for the Wings will be durability but if healthy agreed they are a formidable team that will be very tough to score against.
Hey Scott, What do you think this season holds in store for the Sabres? do you think Vanek will hit 40 goals and Stafford will (finally) play up to expectations?
Matt; Couple of Sabre questions out here today. Vanek may well hit 40 if he can stay healthy. Stafford is among a group of young Sabres that needs to take a step forward not just in production but come playoff time to assuming a leadership role; the kind of leadership that was sorely lacking against Boston in the first round last spring.
What do you think of my blue jackets. By the way, you are the best at what you do. Thanks so much!!!
Ryan; You make me blush. But thanks for the kind words. Wish I had a more optimistic outlook for the Blue Jackets. But I don't. Too slow on the blue line I think to play the way new coach Scott Arniel wants them to play. Steve Mason will have to have a monster bounce-back year. And still no true number-one center to play with Rick Nash although I will say Antoine Vermette had a terrific year for the Jackets last year.
What are your thoughts about Letang and Malkin running the points on the Pens Power Play? The power play was pretty bad even with Gonch last year, over or under 12th rank in PP this season.
Dave; Lots of options for Dan Bylsma with Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Mike Comrie but like the idea of Letang and Malkin getting a chance to run the PP from the back end. I would think anything short of top 10 with the man advantage will and should be a disappointment for the Pens.
Since the Kings didn't land Kovalchuk, do you see them maybe trading Quick for some scoring help and moving Bernier into net as the starter?
Sorry if this answer already appeared but having a few technical difficulties. Short version; doubt if the Kings will move Quick even if Bernier assumes the starting role as I think he will at some point. That said, the Kings will likely be looking for more offense unless Ponikarovsky does what he couldn't do in Pittsburgh last spring.
Hey Scott! Where's the Atlantic Division preview? Also, who exactly do you think gets shed off the Devils to get under the cap? Thanks
Mike; It's in editing as we speak. I at one point had both Flyers and Devils in 4th in the east so it slowed the process (ended up going with Flyers and Devils in 5th).Am guessing the Devils will wait and see what the long-term prognosis is for Bryce Salvador and if he will go on long-term injury. They could then consider going with a smaller line-up and see if they can get under the cap without having to dump more bodies.
How many player break 100 points this season? Who are the most likely candidates to join the 4 from last year?
Gus; Great question.There were four last year and I am guessing there will be twice that many with Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Daniel Sedin and Joe Thornton able to get up to the 100-point mark.
Scott, Agree or disagree: no team has more pressure on them this year than the Capitals?
Gabriel; I think that is an absolutely fair statement. Will be writing about that pressure in a piece later this week.
Hi Scott, what has been the feedback from teams that start the season in Europe, have the felt it has been benificial or a hassle?
Paul; This is the first year I haven't been to Europe for the Premier Games and I think it's beena mixed bag. Some teams, especially younger ones, like the idea for team-building. It adds some different dynamics to getting ready for the season. But it does take away from the focus of camp too much for some coaches and GMs' liking. The results are mixed, too, when they come back to North America. Bottom line is don't expect it to go away anytime soon.
Scott, What do you think of the Qubec parade to get an NHL team? do you think they will get a team back?
brian; Interesting from a political standpoint as there is no way a new building gets built without some form of government assistance likely from all three levels of government. And no building means no team. Honestly, I don't see it happening as they will be behind Winnipeg for sure and maybe Southern Ontario when it comes to new Canadian franchises either through relocation or expansion.
Will Tavares take off this year liek Stamkos did in year 2? and what do you expect from Hall/ Seguin this year?
kurt; I think the biggest difference is that Tavares doesn't have a Martin St. Louis to help guide him in the way that Stamkos did in Tampa. Yes, Doug Weight is there on the Island but his age/durability may hamper his ability to be a mentor. That said I wouldn't be surprised to see Tavares really blossom as an all-round player, better on face-offs and in his own zone.
Can the young team in Edmonton do what the Avs did last year, or are there too many quesitons marks, starting in net? And what about Malkin for 100 points - you think he has less of a shot than the other 4 you mentioned?
Hal; Unless the Oilers get remarkable goaltending from Khabibulin who will have to spend some time in jail it appears for his drunk driving conviction or the other kids I think it's too much to ask of the Oilers. Still, talked to my friend Mark Spector of Sportsnet who lives in Edmonton and he was raving about all of those kids so it should be fun to see how they come together - or if.
Do you think the Kings leigitmate Cup contenders or are they still a year or two away?
Mike; I think it will come down to the goaltending. Can Quick/Bernier do the job. I think Quick's struggles down the stretch hurt the Kings' confidence going into the first round against Vancouver and they almost pulled off the upset. Maybe that experience galvanizes them for this spring. Pretty tough road to travel though in getting through Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit and/or San Jose to make it to a final or even a conference final.
Scott, it looks like to me that the SE race will come down to WSH or TB. Washington has a better offense, but TB is no slouch either. Do you feel this will be a two horse race this year?
Eric; Honestly I still think the Caps run away with the Southeast and the Eastern Conference even though Tampa and Atlanta and even Carolina will make it tougher within the division.
Do you think Paul Karyia will make an early comeback? And if he would which teams would be interested in his services?
Shawn; Interesting idea. I would be surprised. Kariya is a very deliberate person. He will not come back, unlike say a Peter Forsberg, unless he is 100%. That's my guess. And if he believes he needs the whole season off that's what it will take. Now, if he's progressing before the trade deadline I am sure lots of teams looking to add some offensive pop will be interested because the cost will be modest compared to other rentals. How about Pittsburgh? Or Anaheim?
With Kovalchuk's contract settled and the line he is set to play on (Parise and Zajac) do you see career highs a realistic as far as Gs, As and +/-?
Flad; One of the interesting storylines will be whether John MacLean really does loosen up the Devils' offensively. If he does then all three of those guys could be enjoying career years.
Now that things have had a chance to fall into place, what do you think will end up being the best offseason move/signing?
Reggie; I think Marty Turco's presence in Chicago will be huge come next April. And I think the Penguins' additions of Martin, Michalek and Comrie will add up to another Cup run.
Hey Scott -- what do you think of P.K. Subban's chances for the Calder? He has an awful lot of good qualities (good hands, great feet, good ability to read plays, poise, excellent attitude and work ethic), but suffers from defensive lapses stemming from his exuberance. Will the lapses count against? Will his potential offensive contributions outweigh the lapses? And if anyone's wondering where the attitude and poise come from, you can check out a TVO interview his dad, Karl Subban, did on YouTube.
Jason; I think Subban will have a lot of eyes on him vis a vis the Calder. Like John Carlson in Washington, performed very well in the playoffs, but does sometimes go off the rails. He is a great kid, though, very thoughtful and another reason why the NHL has so much going for it in the future in terms of its up-and-coming stars.
Just read the pre-season power rankings. Flyers ranked underneath the Devils and Pens?! They Flyers have one of the strongest blue lines in hockey right now and the goalies have played well while not being big name tenders. And with as easily as they handled the Devils in the regular and post season do you really see them as a third place team in the division already?
You'll have to excuse my partner Pierre LeBrun who did the first power rankings. Luckily I am on deck to fix things up next week. I would have had Pens, Flyers, Devils in that order from the Atlantic.
Do you see Cam Fowler successfully pulling off a Drew Doughty and playing his entire rookie season?
John; Fowler's an interesting case as he hasn't had the pre-season hype that Subban, Carlson, Gudbranson et al have had which may work in his favor. Ducks won't rush him, though, so the first nine games will be interesting to see how he fares and whether he gets sent back before the clock starts ticking towards free agency.
Scott, we saw last year that Halak can carry a team to a deep postseason run. Can he lead the Blues to the playoffs?
Duane; Still don't quite understand how the Canadiens feel they're better off without Halak but that's not the question. To your point I believe Halak will lead the Blues into the post-season. As for a deep run, pretty tough competition but Halak has certainly shown he's up for the challenge when the money's on the table.
Scott - I see you picked the Hawks to go to the Finals again. What makes you think they can get back there, seeing how many of your peers feel other Western Conference foes are more formidable? Who will they miss the most from last year's team?
Erik; I simply believed that the losses to the 'Hawks' line-up in the end wouldn't be as big a setback as others believe. In fact I'm not so sure they won't help in the long run. Lots of players on that team who haven't won, who are hungry, like Turco and Fernando Pisani, and they sent two or three top kids back to Rockford who will be looking for a chance during the season. And the core of Kane, Toews, Seabrook, Keith, Bolland et al is keen and motivated. Plus, who can beat Chicago in the spring?
Do you think the Flames make the playoffs this year?
Martin: No, I do not. Too many thin spots in that line-up and too many good teams to jump over to get into the playoffs.
Scott - I was surprised to see Bill Guerin released from his tryout with the Flyers. As a Sabres fan, I would love to see his veteran leadership and grit in Blue and Gold. Any chance he ends up in Buffalo (or anywhere else, for that matter)?
Scott; I must admit a soft spot for Bill Guerin. Class guy and I agree someone somewhere must have a spot for a guy who can still bring it offensively and would be a nice fit in pretty much any dressing room. Buffalo makes sense. What about Toronto?
I love my Avs but their preseason has me very worried. Will the lack of talent and veterans come back to haunt us? What do we need to sneak back into the playoffs?
Matt; Pre-season means nothing (there's an insightful statement no?) but I think the issue for the Avs is going to be taking steps forward instead of doing a Columbus and somehow exhaling after over-achieving. Like Joe Sacco, though, and I like the core of young leaders they have. I have them in the playoffs again next spring for what it's worth.
Where do you think the Rangers will finish this year? I'm sure a part of this is bias, but I really feel that with the offseason they had and the way they played in the preseason that there is no reason why this team can't finish anywhere in the conference.
Matty; I think I had them 11th or 12th in the Eastern Conference, fourth in the Atlantic. Too thin down the middle, no Prospal to start, ridiculous Boogaard contract and too young along the blue line to get in. But you're right. They could end up anywhere between 5th and 12th.
Okay folks have to book a little early today. But starting next week, like a good television series, we will be moving to a new day, Tuesday, at 4 p.m. Hope to catch up then. Thanks as always.