Greetings all. Just returned from an interesting weekend in Boston and preparing for next weekend's All-Star shindig. Now, where were we?
Was 3 games for Ference a fair punishment?
Alex; I thought that was about right. I am all for hammering guys for dangerous play and especially those with a history of not learning their lessons. I didn't like the play as Ference was going too fast in a dangerous area. He did say he tried to let up but not enough. And he didn't catch McDonagh fully from behind. And he has no history of that kind of play. So enough mitigating circumstances to figure that three games was about right.
Scott, you weren't as high as everyone else was on the Sabres acquisitions this offseason. So kudos to you. That said, are you hearing anything that might give us hope that change is on the Horizon?
kurt; It's hard to imagine that Lindy Ruff and most likely Darcy Regier will survive this disastrous year. As for making any changes by the trade deadline the number of big contracts will make it hard for the Sabres to find any cap relief. I suppose Derek Roy will generate some interest and he's got one more year left on his deal but I like Roy to be part of the turnaround in Buffalo. In short I don't see a dramatic overhaul in personnel but a dramatic overhaul of those in command.
What do you think about Columbus right now? It seems to me that they will need a complete re-build from top to bottom, starting with a new GM. But do you think that means moving Rick Nash too?
Andrew; The Nash situation is a tough one. He seems to be genuinely committed to making it work in Columbus but I don't see any quick fixes (in spite of Scott Howson's belief to the contrary apparently). I think there's little doubt Howson will be replaced in the off-season and I suspect another new coach will be installed with a new GM. But the team is poorly put together from the goal on out and there are contracts that will be almost impossible to move which means change will have to come from a line-up that has proven to chronically underachieve. Too bad for a good market that hasn't got what it's deserved on the ice.
Hey Scott, can you explain what the big factors are in your guys's power rankings? Blues don't lose at all last week, still only one point out of being best in the NHL (with less games played than Detroit, Hawks, etc) but yet they drop in power rankings......?
john; I was merely correcting my colleague Pierre LeBrun's overzealousness when it came to the Blues. (Just kidding really.) But as I noted very tough to separate the top three or four teams in the rankings. Notwithstanding the fact Pierre and I split them every other week accounting for differences in opinion there's always a mixture of science (special teams, current level of play, injuries) and some witchcraft. No slight against the Blues, of course, who remain one of the great stories of this season.
The Caps are reeling with Backstrom and Green out of the lineup. Do you think they need to acquire some bodies at the trade deadline and if so, who?
Chris; One of the dangers when a team is missing top talent is that you end of mortgaging the future for an uncertain present. Does adding a top six forward and a top puck-moving defenseman make sense if it costs you a Brayden Holtby (for instance) or one of the top picks/prospects that the Caps have assembled in recent years? Without Green and Backstrom this really isn't a real Cup contender so I am guessing George McPhee will be very circumspect about trying to plug those big vacancies via trades at the deadline.
What do you think of the odds that Phoenix trades Shane Doan? He's the most popular player, but they're going nowhere, well, until they move to another city. Shouldn't they get something for Captain Coyote now? Or would that signify a complete fold?
Matt; These are the great dilemmas every year. A similar question for Jarome Iginla in Calgary, too, although Iginla still has time to go on his contract. My sense is that if the 'Yotes stay close (and don't they always?) and there's no final decision on whether the team will be moved in the off-season made before the trade deadline Doan will hang on. GM Don Maloney won't be pressuring Doan, that's the respect he's earned with the franchise. But I also understand that in a perfect world (from Maloney's perspective) if the Coyotes are out of the hunt he would get a first-round pick or a top prospect for Doan who would be a welcome addition to any Cup-contending team (New York Rangers? Penguins? Detroit? San Jose? etc. etc.)
There is a TON of rumors concerning Evander Kane here in Winnipeg. It concerns his attitude and behavior off the ice...stiffing waitresses, refusing autographs and being a bit of a jerk to fans. There is also a ton of trade rumors involving Kane as well. Have you heard anything about either situation?
tdiddy; I have heard the stories about Kane's off-ice behavior only second-hand but I understand that in spite of a number of rumors throughout the season about Kane's asking for a trade that is apparently not true. But those are the issues when you play in a small, hockey-mad city (or even a big one) is that everything is magnified. Don't know if he's a bad tipper but it would only take one instance for it to become a big deal. Up to Kane to be mature enough to deal with those issues.
Do you forsee the Red Wings making a big deal this season still? Or do you think think they'll be content with the team they have currently? It seems we have alot of younger talent that isn't getting the playing time they may deserve as it is, and would hate to see them give some of that up to bring a bigger name player in, but its also the first time we've had cap room to make a deal in a few years
Tod; I think the Wings' big moves will be in the off-season when they will have signficant cap space. They'll also know if Nicklas Lidstrom is indeed done and the marketplace will also become more clear, ie., is Ryan Suter available? Shea Weber? What about Zach Parise? As for the trade deadline look for the Wings to pursue a mid-grade forward for depth (think Ales Hemsky) and maybe a depth defenseman.
Do you think Minnesota get 2014 Winter Classic?
Rob; Doubt it. I know Washington has been promised one in the next couple of years and with next year's event heading to Detroit I think the Wild will have to wait at least a year. They also might want to think about getting in the playoffs so they have some sort of profile that would entice the league into giving them a WC.
The Rangers moved Carl Hagelin to the #1 line and he makes things happen every game. Could he be a budding star?
Dave; Let's not put too much pressure on the former Wolverine but he's been a nice find for the Rangers - one of many actually. Consistency will be the key but you know John Tortorella is a guy that generally rewards effort with ice time and opportunity. Good for Hagelin for seizing the moment.
Do you think the bolts will make a trade before the deadline or will they wait till summer to shop?
Art; I suspect any moves the Lightning make will be in the form of futures. For instance if a guy like Jonathan Bernier became available that might be interesting to a team that has no goaltending to speak of. But this will be a very different trade deadline than a year ago when Steve Yzerman acquired Eric Brewer and earlier Dwayne Roloson.
What do you think the chances of the Jets making the playoffs?
Colin; Very small. The Jets, already terrible on the road, have started to slumber at home. Now they are still within striking distance but injuries are making it hard for them to get onto a roll and they simply aren't deep enough to ride out the loss of top guys like Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane for any period of time. Too, bad, too, because that would be a pretty fun place to catch some playoff action (for a change).
Any chance the Flyers can get a D man without the names Schenn, Couturier, Read or JVR being involved? Any chance Flyers could trade Bob for a D Man?
Richie; First I don't see any chance the Flyers will be trading Sergei Bobrovsky given that there's a 50-50 chance he's your playoff starter (or will end up playing significant playoff minutes for you). As for the collection of terrific young players I would be surprised if Paul Holmgren dealt any of that group unless it was in a blockbuster for a guy like Ryan Suter or Shea Weber and I doubt that will happen. Doubt if he'd move any of those guys for a Sheldon Souray or Tim Gleason or Joni Pitkanen.
You think 3 games was fair for Ference? Well then Bouque's hit should have been 30 games. If theres rampant inconsistency then "fairness" is impossible to gauge.
John; Fair point. I thought the Bourque elbow to Nicklas Backstrom should have been 10 to 15 minimum but Rene Bourque was a recent repeat offender. But agree that consistency continues to be a major issue for the NHL when it comes to disciplining its players.
Does the run the Islanders are on reduce or increase the chances that Nabokov gets moved? I'd love for that team to turn the corner, because the thought of a talent like Tavares being stuck in limbo is heartbreaking.
Andrew; I would say that Nabokov is playing his way right into prime trade territory. Don't see he's really the answer for the Islanders long-term. Strange how the Isles playing their best hockey after the season appears to have gotten away from them again. Big game tonight, though, against the sinking Leafs.
Do you think the Islanders re-sign or trade Parenteau and Nielsen? I think both have value to the team, but their contracts are expiring and Garth doesnt hang on to expiring deals post deadline.
Vinny; A follow-up to the previous Isles question; Parenteau is a great tale and I would be surprised if he doesn't remain an Islander. My sense is he's appreciative of the chance he was given there and obviously has great chemistry with guys like John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Nielsen not so sure about.
How do you evaluate the surging Anaheim Ducks? Can they make a playoff push?
ted; Well we know the Ducks are historically a streaky team. And they are 11 points back of 8th as we speak but have three games in hand on the Avs. The good news for the Ducks is that the teams ahead of them are all flawed in some way. Assuming good health and continued strong play from Jonas Hiller I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Ducks get in the hunt in a real way. Still, big, big hole to climb out of. In the end my guess is they fall short a la the Devils last season.
Trying to do some number crunching here to see what the CAPS have to do to make the playoffs. How many points is it going to take to make it in the playoffs for the Eastern Conference? And do you think the Caps make it?
Mike; Guessing 92 or so. And yes I think the Caps will end up edging the Florida Panthers for top spot in the Southeast giving them the third seed. Still like the Panthers to sneak into the post-season, though. That said, the way the Caps are constructed right now don't like them to hang around very long.
Scott; If winning/merit has something to do with the Wild hosting/being in the WC then Toronto has no business in next year's. For example (and in reality), San Jose could win the Cup this year and they STILL wouldn't be selected to be a visitor for a WC. That's just the lack of interest in smaller market teams.
Ben; Maybe it's more about the 'buzz' that surrounds a team and often buzz comes from winning, no? I would suggest that is San Jose did win a Cup they might get a shot. Certainly their chances would be better than if they didn't. Take Los Angeles, my guess is if the Kings went on a long run that would put them on the radar to be a visitor at a WC. And you're right about Toronto's presence having nothing to do with success on the ice but there's no denying the profile the team has.
With the Blues being set at Goalie for the next few years, do you see the Blues trading, Big Ben Bishop? If so who do you see needing goalie help.
Jake; Not sure what the Elliott extension means to Big Ben but Tampa certainly needs a goaltender for the future. The Islanders' situation remains in a state of flux although I know they have high hopes for Kevin Poulin. There appears to be no plan for succession in New Jersey. So there will be a few places looking to shore up netminding if the Blues decide to make a move.
What do the Leafs need to do or get to get back in the playoffs and stay there.
daniel; Once again the Leafs seem to have left the tracks giving up too much defensively and between the pipes. Penalty kill still a mess. And they lack enough offensive depth to overcome these mistakes regularly. Good test tonight vs Isles who are playing much better. A team they should beat. But will they? My guess is no.
Any word yet on the severity of my injury?
Jonathan; Looks like you won't be playing at the All-Star Game in Ottawa. But it's apparently not that serious.
The rumor has Detroit (among other teams) going after Ales Hemsky. Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather see Mr. Holland go after Tuomo Ruutu to add both a bit of secondary scoring as well as some grit. Your thoughts?
Otto; I would take Tuomo Ruutu any day over Hemsky when it comes to a useful rental. Ruutu more a Mike Babcock guy. Hemsky far too brittle for my liking and hasn't played in a playoff game since '06.
Scott, does the recent news that the Devils are going to have to borrow money from the league to meet operating costs for the rest of the season (a la the Mets/Dodgers in baseball) pretty much seal my fate that I am NOT re-signing there? Even though the current owners deny this.
Zach; I don't think the ownership issue will play into your decision as much as the opportunity to experience something different in your hockey life. I am guessing you've already decided to see what is available on July 1 and it's going to be mind-blowing in terms of term and dollar. Devils can't compete with what the Kings or Wild or any number of teams will be able to offer. That said I will still be shocked if you're traded at the deadline because the team needs the playoff revenues so desperately.
Hey Scott, Do you see the blackhawks making a move for a defenseman or possible goalie before the deadline? Any word on possibly moving one of the youngsters-Hayes or Shaw? Possibly Bickell or Stalberg?
Dan; Doubt if Stan Bowman will dislodge any of those promising youngsters; how good has Shaw been? And I think Bowman will ride Crawford/Emery and look for depth along the blue line.
Is Dean Lombardi going to add any players before the deadline?
zubin; I will be shocked if Dean Lombardi doesn't go hard after a top six forward. He needs to replace Ryan Smyth on the wing although he's much better down the middle now that Mike Richards is back. Still, not enough offense to take out any of the top teams in the conference and they're going to run into one of them right away in April unless they can overhaul the Sharks. Hemsky? Maybe. Ruutu (see above). Maybe a Dominic Moore.
Does Darcy Regier or Lindy Ruff get fired over the All-Star break?
Jeremy; Doesn't really make sense to fire either unless you have a candidate for either job that can come in and pay immediate dividends vis a vis getting this team ready for next season. My guess is that those changes come quickly after the Sabres are done at the end of the regular season.
What are the odds of Burke and Wilson each being fired by the new ownership of M.L.S.E. if the Maple Leafs do not reach the playoffs this season (yet again)?
Monsieur; No chance that Brian Burke will be removed. Almost 100% chance Ron Wilson will be canned if the Leafs limp out of the playoff race yet again.
You're take on the Flyers rookies, amazing the amount of time Read and the others get on both PK and PP, with all the injuries it's been great that they have stepped up when needed.
Karen; Those kids have been terrific and once again reinforce that Paul Holmgren is as good a GM as there is in the business. Now, how will they perform in the playoffs? Well, that's an entirely different question but it sure bodes well for the long-term future of this franchise.
Okay folks. As always a pleasure. Talk to you next week post-All-Star. Be well.