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October 31, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Scott Burnside

Scott Burnside
  (1:01 PM)

Hello all. The NHL season is almost exactly one month old today. No shortage of topics to kick around. Now, where were we?

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Scott, on the Vanek trade, at first glance it did not seem to make sense as to why the Sabres would want Moulson, a good player for sure, but another veteran on the last year of his contract that would not seem to figure into their long-term rebuilding plans. So logic dictates the only reason they acquired him was to then turn around and try to trade him again at the deadline for another first round pick, right? If Regeir can pull that off, he would have essentially gotten two first rounders and a second for Vanek, which is way more than other recent UFAs like Iginla and Jagr got, not to mention getting nothing like Bouwmeester, Parise and Suter.

Scott Burnside
  (1:03 PM)

Jesse; Agreed on all levels. If, at some point, Moulson looks around and sees what he likes in Buffalo (okay, that's not likely to happen) I have no doubt Darcy Regier would discuss something long-term but even then nothing to stop him from dealing Moulson at the deadline to a team looking to bolster its offense and power play and then circling back in the summer. All in all terrific return for Regier as he tries to clean up his own mess.

Ed (Queens Village)

Metropolitan division looks brutal. Who looks primed to get hot and maybe threaten Pens for Metro Title?

Scott Burnside
  (1:05 PM)

Ed; I remain dismayed on a daily basis at how much junk there is in a division I thought would be as good as there was in the league. The great thing for fans of those teams is that anything is possible. I don't see anyone touching the Penguins barring cataclysmic injuries there but I am curious to see if the Rangers can get into a groove which will mean getting healthy and solidifying a hold on a playoff spot. The team that confounds me is Washington. I figured them to be a lock in either second or third but too many ups and downs for them so far. I expect they'll get better too.

FF (Kingston)

Who is the better Leaf goalie - Bernier or Reimer?

Scott Burnside
  (1:07 PM)

FF; Whichever one is playing appears to be the best. How lucky is Randy Carlyle? Talked to an opposing coach who marveled that the team doesn't change how it plays doesn't matter who is in net which is a coach's dream. In the case of the Leafs that means giving up a boatload of quality chances and then winning 4-0. I don't know if the question will be answered until late in the season although I think management would lean towards Bernier.

B-Diddy (Munstoeville, WYO)

Hi Scott-In regards to Varlamov - what can the league do if he's cleared of criminal charges but guilty of civil charges?

Scott Burnside
  (1:11 PM)

B-Diddy; The situation surrounding Varlamov, arrested on domestic violence related charges including kidnapping, will no doubt be very fluid in the coming days. And the NHL will be watching very closely how this unfolds. Whether the case ends up going through the criminal justice system or not the league has a pretty wide latitude in imposing punishment on its own. So, in theory, if the criminal charges are at some point dropped or the matter settled through a plea of some kind the league could then sort through the evidence and impose its own discipline although they won't do anything until the legal system runs its course.

Judeman5000 (Bakersfield, CA)

Hey ScottCan you think of other players who have had off ice troubles like Semyon Varlamov is having? I'm just wanting to know how those situations were handled. For instance, will the the team suspend him?

Scott Burnside
  (1:16 PM)

Judeman; The NHL is relatively lucky in the sense that compared to other pro sports NHL players seem to find themselves in legal trouble very rarely. Nikolai Khabibulin was convicted of drunk driving and was incarcerated in Arizona although the league did not impose additional punishment. Mark Bell was charged and convicted after a car crash in 2006 and the league subsequently suspended him for 15 games after he had served his sentence. Depending on the issues at hand the league can also mandate players get counseling which is administered jointly through the league and the players' association. The team also has latitude to impose its own sanctions. The players' association can always be asked to intercede on the player's behalf in these situations.

Mikey (Lackawanna,NY)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Scott, Do you think the Sabres can get good value in return like they did for T.Vanek by trading Ryan Miller?

Scott Burnside
  (1:19 PM)

Mikey; Happy Halloween to you, too. As noted thought Darcy Regier did a nice job on the Vanek deal but goalies are always a little different beast (just ask Vancouver GM Mike Gillis who never could unload elite netminder Roberto Luongo). There would have to be a dynamic where there was competition for Miller's services, and he would have to want to go to either place and to get maximum value Miller would have to want to at least discuss the possibility of signing long-term. Lots of factors to fall into place if Regier is going to get a big haul.

Dara (Florida)

Are the panthers ever going to get out of the basement? Its getting exhausting. Yeah we have a new owner, so many prospects, some thought to be great and a very medicore "goalie of the future"...how long do you think it will take to win on a consistent basis?

Scott Burnside
  (1:22 PM)

Dara; I feel your pain. After winning the Southeast Division two years ago (I've been dining out on predicting a Panther playoff berth ever since) it's been a gradual slide back below the surface. For me the biggest issue confronting GM Dale Tallon is what he's going to do with his goaltending. Agreed that Jacob Markstrom hasn't been what the team had imagined - yet. I think the rest of this season will say a lot about whether he can be the guy and if not then they've got to find someone that can get them back on track because there are very good pieces that will become very good NHL pieces in the next couple of years.

Willy (Vista, CA)

Do you think Dean Lombardi makes a move? The youngsters in Manchester are lighting it up, and the D in LA are coughing the puck up at terrible times. Does DL trade a prospect or two, and maybe one of youngish D Martinez or Muzzin, for a second line LW or a D help?

Scott Burnside
  (1:25 PM)

Willy; The Kings' start this season reminds me a bit of their start last season. I think Dean Lombardi is more likely to give those top-end forwards in Manchester a shot as opposed to trading any of that youth. This is a team built for the long haul and Lombardi will be very cautious about letting those pieces get away. My guess is he won't do anything vis a vis bringing in outside help until closer to the trade deadline if then.

Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scott, I read your blog and that save I made on Krejci at the horn last night did look kind of familiar, right? Glad you noticed. It would be nice if all of Ray Shero, Team Canada and the fans' memories of me ended at 2009.

Scott Burnside
  (1:26 PM)

MAF; Great save. You know that memory stuff isn't going to happen, right?

Jeremy (Kitchener)

With the way Kessel and JVR are playing are both locks for the US Olympic team? Who would you put in the middle of them if you were the Coach/GM?

Scott Burnside
  (1:28 PM)

Jeremy; Yes on Kessel and pretty much on James van Riemsdyk. Can he keep up this high level of play for the next month or so? If he can he'll be in Sochi for sure. Lots of competition, though, for a handful of jobs on the wing for Team USA. As for a center, hmm, might try Derek Stepan.

Sean (Newport Beach)

Scott, With all the injuries mounting up in the Ducks, can they continue to keep winning?

Scott Burnside
  (1:31 PM)

Sean; Great under-appreciated story are the Ducks. Spoke to Bruce Boudreau yesterday about the goaltending situation and how the team just feels comfortable whether it's Hiller, Andersen or Fasth (who is hurt but should be back skating when the team returns from their road trip). Interesting too given that the team is struggling on special teams which is unusual (on the PP at least) for a Boudreau team. Can they keep it up with Selanne now out for a bit with the mouth injury? They are playing with a lot of confidence right now so I'll say yes, they'll keep pace in the very tough Pacific.

Matthew (Pennsburg, PA)

Thoughts on the Talbot deal to Colorado for Downie?

Scott Burnside
  (1:35 PM)

Matthew; Hot off the presses yes the Avs have acquired Max Talbot for once and future Flyer Steve Downie. Spoke to Downie in Denver at the start of the year and he's matured a great deal, much better skill than people give him credit for having and in that sense will help a Flyer team that cannot score. Talbot will bring more veteran leadership and a third/fourth line presence that may help balance out a team that's pretty top-heavy up front when it comes to skill. A bit surprised the Avs would let Downie go but Talbot has the playoff experience that perhaps the Avs are already thinking will be important for them next spring.

Chris (ROC)

In your opinion in respect to the Sabres rebuilding attempts do you think they are going to be successful with stockpile of young players in recent drafts and future draft picks they are accumulating? Is there any precedence in past in which a team used this type of rebuild mode?

Scott Burnside
  (1:38 PM)

Chris; It's one thing to have the picks and the prospects it's another to have a system in place to nurture and develop them. Chicago and Pittsburgh went from bottom to top in large part thanks to drafting and developing elite players. Some teams never quite get it though. Atlanta/Winnipeg never got it right. The Islanders seemed to manage to squander a ton of great young talent under Mike Milbury. When a team is rebuilding as the Sabres are it is a question of whether you have all the pieces and that means management, scouting, coaching; not just the raw talent of Player A or B. Not sure there's much to suggest the Sabres plan will lead them to the top anytime soon based on that.

al (denver)

if there was an award for best line in the nhl (hey, there's an award for best goaltending tandem, so why not?), who would be the early front runners? would steen/backes/oshie make the list?

Scott Burnside
  (1:41 PM)

al; How great a start for Alex Steen (and the rest of his line)? Really under-rated two-way player who is absolutely in a zone offensively. Good for him and for a Blues team that saw its offense go dry against the Kings in the first round last spring. Might throw the Crosby/Kunitz/Dupuis line in there. And what about Joe Thornton's group in San Jose? Hard to argue with their success.

David (Denver)

Have the Avs just traded Steve Downie?

Scott Burnside
  (1:41 PM)

David; Yes. For Max Talbot.

Marc (Malden, MA)

What do the Oilers do? There's another team with a lot of young talent that finishes last every year.

Scott Burnside
  (1:44 PM)

Marc; A couple of questions on the Oilers and yes, I should have included them in the earlier question about teams that haven't got it right in spite of blue chip assets. Not sure what the Oilers do now; they have a new GM in Craig MacTavish who hired a new coach and the problems still persist. Poor team defense, not enough grit, work ethic to compliment the raw skill, goaltending has been suspect. At some point you have to ask; do they have the right players? Shocking, actually, how deep the hole is that the Oilers have dug themselves in such a short time this season.

Andrew (Toronto)

Hello Scott - wondering what you think will happen in goal with Minnesota. Is Backstrom still the #1 guy? With Harding's health issues, can you see him taking over the top spot?

Scott Burnside
  (1:46 PM)

Andrew; Lots of goaltending stories in the first month of the season and that includes the Wild. Terrific start, obviously, for Josh Harding and my sense is his injury isn't serious. But with N. Backstrom just back from injury the durability of that tandem is a huge question mark. Given level of play I would say the Wild have played better in front of Harding thus far. Lots of pressure on Chuck Fletcher to follow up last year's playoff berth with another step forward but not sure Backstrom is the guy that gets them there. And if Harding is on the mend does that mean going to a Plan B?

Garrett (Long Island)

Hey Scott! Its great seeing you on Hockey Night Live on the MSG Network. How concerned should the Rangers be about Nash returning? Also, do you see any scenario where Lunqvist doesn't resign?

Scott Burnside
  (1:48 PM)

Garrett; No question Ranger fans should be worried about Rick Nash's long recovery. There doesn't seem to be much of a timetable and that's got to be troubling for a team that has struggled so mightily to score. Getting Carl Hagelin back was big but Nash is key to getting back to and maintaining a playoff spot. As for Lundqvist hard to imagine they don't get a deal done even if he's struggled through the early part of the season.

Mike (California)

Any Shot Hertl might win Rookie of the Year? Also, even with East Coast bias, any shot of Niemi at the Vezina? Thanks Scott, have a great day

Scott Burnside
  (1:52 PM)

Mike; Just because we voted Alexander Ovechkin to the same All Star team at two positions doesn't mean there's an east coast bias. Okay, little pro hockey writers humor there. The writers don't vote on Vezina (the GMs do so any foul-up is on them) but I think Niemi is the front-runner. As for Hertl, the Calder is on the writers, and I think he'll have some stiff competition from guys like Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Seth Jones, Sean Monahan, Alex Chiasson but he'll be right in the mix if he can keep up a consistent level of production. That's the thing with rookies, the often tremendous fluctuation in level of play from week to week, month to month. But Hert's been impressive playing on the best team in the NHL right now.

Scott Burnside
  (1:53 PM)

Mike; Just because we voted Alexander Ovechkin to the same All Star team at two positions doesn't mean there's an east coast bias. Okay, little pro hockey writers humor there. The writers don't vote on Vezina (the GMs do so any foul-up is on them) but I think Niemi is the front-runner. As for Hertl, the Calder is on the writers, and I think he'll have some stiff competition from guys like Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov, Seth Jones, Sean Monahan, Alex Chiasson but he'll be right in the mix if he can keep up a consistent level of production. That's the thing with rookies, the often tremendous fluctuation in level of play from week to week, month to month. But Hert's been impressive playing on the best team in the NHL right now.

Tom (Chicago)

Scott, has Pierre talked to you since you suggest Giroux might not make the Olympic team? I imagine he passed out after reading it...

Scott Burnside
  (1:55 PM)

Tom; Pierre may share the same hometown as Mr. Giroux but he's a realist and understands that right now there's no way Giroux makes the Canadian team. What will be interesting to see is if Giroux can make a run in the next seven or eight weeks.

Stigs (Fort Washington, PA)

Do you think Kreider has finally turned the corner (in respect to confidence) and will continue perform as he did Tuesday night in LI?

Scott Burnside
  (1:56 PM)

Stigs; A good follow-up to the question about Hertl and rookies; it's all about the consistency. When a young guy comes up and has some success and then can't follow that up often it's about mindset and confidence and how to get that back. Agreed that Kreider will likely not get a better chance to have opportunities to showcase his skills than now. Ask me the same question in a month or so because I think that'll be a better test of where he's at.

Martin (Berlin Germany)

Hello Scott Do you believe the Sabres are trying to trade Christian Ehrhoff as well. I think his cap hit is manageable and they have paid the most aof the money already.

Scott Burnside
  (1:59 PM)

Martin; Greetings from Berlin. Hard to see that happening although you're right at $4 million a year it's a manageable cap hit. But he has seven years left after this one on the deal even though the real dollar value declines (this is another deal the NHL hated). Ehrhoff also has protection with a modified no trade clause so lots of factors conspire to keep him in Buffalo for better or worse.

Scott Burnside
  (2:00 PM)

Okay folks time to wrap up. Thanks as always for dropping by. Let's do it again soon. Be well.