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September 24, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Katie STrang

Katie Strang
  (3:01 PM)

Hey All! Hope your week is going well. Lots to talk about already. Fire away!

Alex (Anaheim)

Do you think the Rangers will survive their early part of the season away from MSG and missing 2 key guys?

Katie Strang
  (3:03 PM)

Interesting that you say two key guys, Alex, since it actually may be three now. Both Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin are indeed expected to miss the start of the season while coming off shoulder surgery this summer, but what about Derek Stepan. As the contract stalemate continues and the vitriol only increases (see Glen Sather on MSG, Monday night), I wouldn't be surprised if he is unavailable for the opener as well. That would be a massive blow to the Rangers, considering those are three undisputed members of the top-six forward group

Ed (Queens Village)

I'm predicting a Blackhawks/Caps Final w/ Blackhawks winning it. Good or bad pick?

Katie Strang
  (3:06 PM)

I like your confidence in the Caps. I chose them to finish third the Metropolitan division, but I wouldn't be surprise if they challenged for the title. I do think the Blackhawks have a strong chance of repeating last year's Cup championship, though I am going with the Sharks out West. Great mix of experienced vets and promising young players like Logan Couture, who took a massive step forward last season. Add in 2013 Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi and I think they will be the team to beat. Predicting they duke it out with Chicago in the WC finals

Chris (Philly)

How will the Flyers handle Claude Giroux over the next few weeks? Will he be eased in to the lineup, or given big minutes from the get go?

Katie Strang
  (3:09 PM)

I think you'll get our answer tonight, when he is expected to make his preseason debut. Giroux has said recently that he is still building strength in the hand that required surgery last month. We'll see how limited he is in his play-making abilities; that should dictate how they'll use him

Johnny (New York)

What do you think of the Islanders goaltending situation- Nabokov seemed to tire last year & was bad in the playoffs. Poulin is unproven.

Katie Strang
  (3:12 PM)

By far and away their biggest weakness, in my opinion Johnny. Nabokov has Fleury to thank during the post-season last spring; had it not been for his utter and complete meltdown, I think more attention would have been paid to the fact that Nabokov really wasn't that good, either. He's 38 years old and will be expected to handle a heavy workload in an Olympic year that will result in a compressed, taxing schedule. Considering that the Islanders goaltending prospects are not much to write home about -- both Kevin Poulin and ANders Nilsson failed to impress last year -- this is a very shaky spot for the Isles

kurt (Buff)

Thoughts on Lafs/ Sabres brawl? I'm a bit impartial, but i blame carlyle for being a dope and lining up kessel next to John Scott. What did he think was going to happen? What do you think is a logical suspension for kessel?

Katie Strang
  (3:16 PM)

I think most of it was complete and utter nonsense. And once again it sort of dispels the notion that a "code" among players actually exists. It sure didn't seem like it did the other night. David Clarkson was probably the least inflammatory person in the whole equation, but the bone-headed move to leave the bench is gonna cost him an automatic ten games and put the Leafs in a pickle with the salary cap.I bet Kessel gets a game or two.All I know is that the best thing to come out of the whole debacle is this right here:http://www.downgoesbrown.com/2013/09/phil-kessel-suspension.html

Derek (NY)

Any chance Strome & Reinhart make the Isles opening roster?

Katie Strang
  (3:17 PM)

I will say this: Isles coach Jack Capuano has raved about Griffin Reinhart so far and he seems to be providing him ample opportunity to prove himself. Seems very impressed with his poise and play

dasru (NYC)

Thoughts on the Brunner signing?

Katie Strang
  (3:19 PM)

I think it was a shrewd signing. Brunner gives the Devils a skilled forward that is a proven scoring threat, adding to the team's depth up front. Lamoriello waited him out after expressing interest in free agency and probably was able to sign him at a significant discount as a result.

Darryl (Calgary)

How confident are the Flames in their goaltending? It's been a while since Rammo played in the NHL, and Joey McDonald is a career backup at best.

Katie Strang
  (3:20 PM)

To be honest, I'm not sure how confident the Flames are in any department these days. Pretty much everyone predicting them in the bottom five of the NHL

Brady (New York)

Why is Sather treating Stepan so poor? Is Stepan being traded?

Katie Strang
  (3:24 PM)

No, Stepan will not be traded. Regardless of Sather's tone, Stepan is still regarded as one of the organization's prized assets. Sather clearly used an MSG interview Monday night to apply pressure on Stepan as he awaits a resolution on his contract. The harsh criticism was a reflection on the Rangers' leverage in the situation -- Stepan has no arbitration rights, plus he wants to be considered a candidate for the US Olympic team -- though I can't imagine it helped matters much. Stepan is already resigned to accepting a two-year deal, though the two sides remain at an impasse on money. That stalemate seemed manageable before, but insulting the player might not help. Instead, it could strengthen his resolve and encourage him to dig in his heels for what he deserves.

Dan (Long island)

Hey Katie,Do you think the Barclays center is viable long term to be an NHL arena ? Did you go Saturday ? Very underwhelming and my group of friends who are season tix holders at the coliseum, myself included will not be getting tickets there. Way too much of a hassle to go 35 times a year.

Katie Strang
  (3:26 PM)

Yeah, I do. It's certainly not ideal with the obstructed views and limited seating, but considering the Islanders' longstanding attendance issues, I'm not sure it's going to be much of a problem. Aesthetically, it's quite an upgrade over the Nassau Coliseum (though I admit I found its antiquated charm endearing and its sight lines top-notch), but I can understand fans' frustration. Might also have to be some transportation provisions. I had an extremely easy commute, but I heard it was a tough go for some of those coming from Long Island

Ricky (Detroit)

Pittsburgh has an incredible top six, but will the extreme lack of depth in the 3rd and 4th lines come back to bite them?

Katie Strang
  (3:29 PM)

I think their goaltending remains a bigger issue. Regardless of how well he plays in the regular season, I think it will be awfully difficult for Marc-Andre Fleury to shake the memories of last spring's trainwreck in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Now Vokoun is out with a blood clot and the plot thickens. I don't see this playing out well, despite Pittsburgh's tremendous talent up front

Reilly (NY)

Katie, what's the point in BizNasty and Clarkson appealing their auto-10 game suspension? This isn't a Shannahan opinion and his thought of how many games the players should get, this is in the rulebook, cut and dry not if's, and's or but's about it... Is it possible for the games to be reduced, or is it 10 games or nothing kind of appeal?

Katie Strang
  (3:31 PM)

Have been wondering the same thing myself, as these appeals seem to be a colossal waste of everyone's time. You may not like the rule, but the rule is pretty straightforward. You leave the bench and it's an automatic ten games. Unless they have video evidence proving otherwise, I don't understand what grounds they are using to appeal

Jim (CA)

Will the Flames be among the worst teams in their conference?

Katie Strang
  (3:32 PM)

I can't imagine any reason why they won't be among the worst in the league, let alone their conference

Jeppe (Finland)

Who will be the first coach fired?

Katie Strang
  (3:34 PM)

Would not be surprised if it was Peter Laviolette. I really don't expect Philly to be very good this year, and though it should probably be Paul Holmgren to get the axe if they falter, the coach is usually the first to go

Neil (Woodbury)

What reason, other than collusion, is there for the Isles not toffee sheet Derek Stepan? Either they get the player or jam the Rangers by forcing a non-bright contract. It's collusion, right?

Katie Strang
  (3:35 PM)

I think there is also some reluctance to start a nuclear war with their biggest rivals. Though, on paper, I think submitting an offer sheet would be a fine idea for the Islanders, I'd bet money that the Rangers would answer back with a poison pill down the road.

Eric (Chicago)

Katie, don't you know by now that the Sharks are always everybody's trendy picks and they never can get over the hump. Please pick somebody else from the West. San Jose can't and won't get to the SCFs. Thanks.

Katie Strang
  (3:36 PM)

Ok, but I will say that I have never picked the Sharks before. That's usually Pierre. I'm allowed to pick them once :)

Jason (Chicago) [via mobile]

Hi Katie, glad to see hockey back again. Two part question does Jonathan Drouin make the bolts opening day roster? Also is gonna be put on the same line as stamkos and St. Louis?

Katie Strang
  (3:39 PM)

Yes, I believe he stands a good chance to make Tampa's opening-day roster, Jason. Not sure yet on the second question as they seem to be trying him out at both center and on the wing. Sometimes a team starts a young guy on the wing to alleviate some of the defensive responsibilities but the Bolts seem to think he's well suited in the middle. We'll see

Ryan M (Monroe,NY)

Katie, I'm a huge rangers fan, I love Derek Stepan and would love for us to re-sign him for the long term, with this ongoing contract negotiation dispute, do you see Glen Sather trying to bring in someone via trade of his caliber, if that's even possible

Katie Strang
  (3:41 PM)

The Rangers are very much limited by their lack of salary cap space, another big reason why the team is holding firm in contract negotiations right now. They don't have a ton of maneuverability and a big reason why is their decision NOT to buy out Brad Richards this summer

Erick (NY)

Girardi, Mac, Staal (now healthy), J Moore, MDZ (better system for his game... hopefully) and Stralman. Top 5 Def grouping in the league?

Katie Strang
  (3:43 PM)

Definitely one of the strongest. And a young group as well. Would really help though if they had someone with a big shot that could bolster the power-play, too

Katie Strang
  (3:44 PM)

Ok, guys and gals, we're gonna wrap this up for today. You can stick around to chat with Craig Custance. He's coming up at 4 p.m.Until next week, Cheers!