Well folks welcome to our last chat before the Christmas break. Now, where were we?
Do the Rangers need to go out and trade for a defenseman or can they wait this out? Staal, Sauer, and now Eminger are out for extended time.
Matt; Yes, the Rangers aren't immune to the bug that seems to biting indiscriminantly around the NHL right now. And you're right the blue line has been especially hard hit. My sense is that with the roster freeze in play until Dec. 27 and Marc Staal seemingly getting closer the Rangers will try and ride this out as they have previous injuries this season. Obviously GM Glen Sather will reassess as the trade deadline approaches but there just aren't that many defensemen to be had that the Rangers would be interested in right now.
How long do you think Giroux will be out? At least he's started skating. The Flyers are one of the elite teams with him....and without him they are just average.
Amanda; That's the scary thing with these concussions is that it's so easy for players to have setbacks. You're right, obviously, skating is a good sign for Giroux and the Flyers. But who knows how long it might be before he's cleared for contact. No question without Giroux and now Chris Pronger the Flyers are a very different, read more beatable team.
Whats your take on Adam Henrique? Could he win the calder?
James; Talked to Pete DeBoer last week about Henrique and Adam Larsson. He spoke about their maturity and their poise. Both have been terrific but Henrique has been most impressive filling in down the middle with Josefson and Zajac hurt. No doubt he'll be in the hunt for the Calder if he keeps this up although Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is really a step and a half ahead of all the other first-year players so closing that gap may prove exceedingly difficult.
I guess Gabby is not getting results out of the Ducks! Do you see anything positive? I watch every game and it gets so frustrating to see a team with this talent constantly playing from behind. Its a shame if this is Teemu's last season. The guys around him need to bring it more. Can anything help? Shakeup roster?
Rick; Yes, disappointing for Bruce Boudreau who I thought might be one of those guys to have an immediate impact. GM Bob Murray is going to have to figure out if this is just one of those years and suck if up and hope to get a top two or three pick or whether he's got some core leadership issues. If, a la Paul Holmgren in Philly, Murray figures he needs a shake-up you have to figure Bobby Ryan will end up back on the trade block and would net a nice collection of assets in the form of draft picks and/or prospects. Still, does boggle the mind how bad this team is. The other question is whether Jonas Hiller is really you're guy and that will also have an impact on how Ducks proceed. Right now nobody good enough (outside Selanne, sadly).
Even with injuries this season has been a disaster for the Sabres do you see big changes coming?
Mike; I think disaster pretty accurately describes the season so far for the Sabres. Tied with Toronto for 7th isn't exaclty what Terry Pegula had in mind when he opened the vault is it? Good thing for the Sabres is that at some point they will get healthy and the East is full of junky teams so they don't have to play all that well just to make the playoffs. That said, hard to imagine that if they go one-and-done as they have the last two years or miss altogether that the pressure will on to make a change at either the GM or the coaching level. For me, this team still lacks a real leadership core and has since the departure of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury.
how about them devils?
dannyd; Lots of Devils fans on today and they're feeling pretty good about themselves as they should. Terrific performances from some of their young guys and now getting more from Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk who started slowly. I like the way Pete DeBoer is using Martin Brodeur (or rather not over-using him) and this looks like a team that will be difficult to dislodge from the top eight in the conference.
At what point should I start to dust off and clean my old Nordiques jersey. Jan 1st or May 1st?
Pierre; Likely May 1. The NHL will be in a position to begin relocation of the Coyotes any time after Dec. 31 but they won't be doing anything until they've fully exhausted potential ownership possibilities in Glendale (I know, thought that happened a year ago, too) and then will need to ensure a stable ownershp group and a place to play in a new market. That's the big hurdle; will there be an NHL rink in Quebec City and what's the time-line? By the start of the playoffs I would think that picture will come a lot more into focus and Quebec City will definitely be in the running.
What do you think of the Turris to Ottawa trade? Who will have a more immediate impact?
Steve; Well, given that Kyle Turris was doing nothing in Phoenix the bar is set pretty low for him and it wouldn't surprise me to see him get more opportunity right away in Ottawa. But long-term the Senators gave up a young defenseman in Rundblad that they'd been touting as a cornerstone of their rebuild in exchange for a guy that whined his way out of Phoenix. I like the package that Don Maloney got in return for Turris even if the full value either way won't likley be known for a year or two given how long it takes young defensemen to mature.
Scott,The Caps have changed their coach, and while that has helped the team defensively, it still wasn't the complete answer. Now we are left with a team that doesnt fit Dale Hunter's style of play. We aren't giving up goals but are basically creating no offense at even strength. Next step should be a big trade of one of the core players, but George McPhee has never made a big trade like that before. It is becoming apparent if one of those type of trades does not happen, this Caps team will not make the playoffs. What are your thoughts on the team?
Jim; The Caps remain one of the biggest enigmas of the season. You're right, defensively they seem to have found their groove again but generate so little offense from a line-up that is built to give opposing teams fits because of their depth. Looks like Marcus Johansen will play some with Ovechkin and Backstrom but agree that at some point you have to look at the core. With Mike Green still apparently miles away from returning there's even more pressure to adjust the line-up. Obviously Alexander Semin is a prime asset that might be attractive to another team given his skill and the fact he's UFA on July 1. But given his grisly play hard to find a trade partner especially if George McPhee is determined to get assets back. Bottom line is this team looks right now like it could easily miss the playoffs which would be one of the biggest shocks in recent memory.
As of today. who is the worst team and why? And, who is the best team and why?
Ice; Worst team? I think it's a three-way tie between Columbus, Carolina and Anaheim. Although all three had designs on a playoff berth this season all three have been crippled by a lack of confidence and underachievement from their top players. Best team right now? Boston and Chicago although the Bruins have been so impressive given their ruggest start. Terrific depth, great coaching and a team that doesn't seem at all satisfied with what they accomplished last spring. Very impressive.
Scott, what do you make of the controversy in Quebec about the fact that their new coach, Randy Cunneyworth, does not speak French?
Nick; May seem strange from the outside but that's just life in Quebec. If Randy Cunneyworth gets the Habs into the playoffs or even gets them to win four or five in a row I guarantee the issue will never get mentioned. But if they continue to reel because they're just not a very good team, well, fans and the French media will want to know why they didn't hire a coach with whom they can at least relate and can in turn relate to them.
With Crosby sidelined and Ovechkin not exactly in superstar form, would you agree that Toews Datsyuk Malkin and Stamkos are the current stars of the league?
Adam; Well, if I had to vote for the Hart Trophy for MVP tomorrow I think Mr. Toews would be at the top of my list. Stamkos has been terrific even as Tampa has really struggled and Malkin looks like he's getting back into that MVP groove. Datsyuk, slow start, is likewise part of a huge Detroit renaissance over the past month or so. I wouldn't forget the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler who have got Vancouver back in the hunt in the west, as well.
Any thoughts or memories on the great #27 who was retired? I know I miss him and it was great to welcome him home.
Tom; A real nod to Scott Niedermayer's greatness that Lou Lamoriello and the Devils honored him in such a nice fashion a couple of days ago. Actually got to spend a couple of days with the Niedermayer brothers after the Ducks won the Cup in '07. Very gracious even though Scott especially is very quiet and low-key. Although he'll always be somewhat overshadowed by Nicklas Lidstrom's play the two are both top five all-time in my book.
Do you believe the new-look Matt Cooke is for real? It was big talk before the season about how he couldn't do it. And now that he is doing it no one it talking about it.
BLT; Got a chance to talk to Matt Cooke in training camp and he was the first to say that all the discussion about turning over a new leaf was just that, talk. But he's proven he can be an effective player (he's still a big part of a very good penalty killing unit) without crossing the line. Kudos to him for being able to make it work. So far.
Why are there so many mediocre teams in the NHL or are they just good teams and the NHL has done a good job achieving parity?
Greg; That's a question for the ages, no?Seven points separate 6th to 13th in the Eastern Conference. A little bit less bunched in the West but still not much to separate the 'middle class' of teams there either. That's why you see so many coaches get tossed over the side. Teams are close and everyone knows that making the playoffs means anything can happen and owners/GMs are desperate to be in that top eight so they'll roll the dice with a new coach in the hopes of sneaking in. I think mediocrity is certainly part of it. That's what you get with 30 teams. But have to admit I love the races and the idea that a team like Philly in '10 can go to Game 82 not knowing if they're in or not and end up standing there at the end of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final. That's pretty cool.
Do you think the jackets should get rid of mason and what do you think he is worth in a trade?
jacob; Hard to imagine the guy that pulls on the Mason jersey now is the same one that rocked the NHL as a rookie. No question the Blue Jackets need to stabilize their goaltending or they're not going anywhere but to the front of the entry draft line. And somewhere a team would be willing to take a shot at Mason given how young he is. But as for getting anything back it'd have to be some other underachieving player or middling draft pick. That's my guess anyway.
Scott, who in your estimation has done the best coaching job thus far this season?
Neal; Two or three guys jump to mind; Kevin Dineen in Florida given the massive overhaul in the line-up. Mike Yeo in Minnesota given the injuries. Love what Claude Julien has done in turning the Bruins around and making them into a formidable opponent again. And finally how about the job Ken Hitchcock has done since coming into St. Louis. That team is going to be a handful for someone come playoff time.
Kessel isn't deserving of a mention for current starts in the league? Thanks for the chat!
Matt; You know I was thinking about Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul but not sure you'd put them into the class of 'league stars' at least not yet in spite of the terrific start to the season. Let's see where the Leafs are in a month or two before we put either of them in a class with Stamkos, Toews or Datsyuk okay?
Do you think Patrick Roy would be a good coach for Montreal? I have been reading some local media and it sounds like there is some interest regarding pursuing him.
Sam; Roy's name will always come up in discussion vis a vis the Habs because he's close (Quebec City is about four hours away) and he's still involved in the game with the Major Junior team he owns and operates in Quebec City. If the NHL makes a move to return to Quebec it will be interesting to see if Roy is involved in that franchise or whether he's returned to the Canadiens' fold. No question in my mind that Roy will be back in the NHL it's just a question of timing and geography (you'll remember his name has also come up in regards to the Avs and those rumors aren't done either given the up and down season the Avs are enduring).
Chances Parise ends up in a Wild sweater this season? Next Season?
Dan; A few questions about the Wild's lack of offensive depth (a factor that is even more urgent given recent injuries) and what they might do. Matt Hackett looked good in a couple of appearances but hard to imagine Chuck Fletcher moving Josh Harding and handing over the back-up role to Hackett at this stage. As for Parise I think he's far more likely to make his way to the Wild as a free agent on July 1 than as a mid-season acquisition given how protective Fletcher will be of his picks and young prospects. With the Devils playing well difficult to know what Lou Lamoriello will do especially if it becomes clear Parise isn't interested in signing an extension.
Can the Kings pull out of their current funk? I thought this was susposed to be the year that we actually did something? Do you still see them in the playoffs?
Allen; You're right, this was supposed to be the year they jumped in with the big boys in the conference. I'm not sold on Darryl Sutter as the answer to a team that is last in goals scored and last in 5-on-5 scoring. Too much talent to miss the playoffs but I'm not sure this coaching change gets them there. Even if they do make it I don't see them knocking off a top team and that will mean an off-season of turmoil in L.A.
did you see Marty Havlat injure himself going over the boards against the oilers the other day? http://www.csnbayarea.com/blog/sharks-talk/post/Havlat-injures-leg-leaves-arena-with-can?blockID=614400&feedID=2798Is this the most injury prone man in the NHL?
steve; This tells you all you need to know about how things are going for the Sharks and Havlat. Actually Havlat has been playing better of late but the Sharks still don't seem to be anywhere near in sync yet. I like Todd McLellan, though, and you know he's busting his hump trying to figure out what ails the special teams and trying to get all his pieces working in uniform. They lead the division but are only two points from missing the playoffs. Weird dynamic with so many good teams in the Central this season.
Okay folks, time to wrap it up here. Hope everyone has a terrific holiday time however you choose to celebrate it. And look forward to catching up next time. Cheers.