Chat with EJ Hradek
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Hradek in The Show on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
John (Spokane WA)
Whats up with the Stars this year.. they a playoff team in your opinion?
EJ Hradek (3:01 PM)
Right now, the answer to that question is no. Turco has been way below his usual level of excellence. They are a team that has given up too many goals, and they need to make a major turnaround in their play if they are to find their way to the playoffs. It's not gonna be an easy ride.
EJ, do you think this is the real Zherdev? we are seeing, this kid has a boat load of talent, but we do not see it everynight
EJ Hradek (3:03 PM)
He absolutely has a lot of talent. He's an inconsistent performer, but I get the feeling he'll always be like that. I think the key with a guy like that is trying to get more positive than negative. He's gonna make some mistakes and there will be nights when it looks like he's drifting, but he's got a lot of skill, and you wanna try to make it more positive and negative. So far that's been the case.
Jimmy (Palo Alto)
The Sharks are rolling EJ...please tell me it will continue when the stakes are higher come playoff time!
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
If I could tell you that, I'd be calling from Vegas. It's hard to say how things will turn out later in the year. There are so many factors, not the least of which are injuries and matchups come playoff time. I really like the Sharks this year more than any other year. I like the additions they have made on defense with Dan Boyle and Rob Blake. The new coach, Todd McClellan, has infused a little different game for the guys in San Jose. Right now, I love their chances.
Will the real Eric Staal finally start showing up on a consistent basis and will the Hurricanes make the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
I've always been a big Eric Staal fan. I don't think any problems he may have are from a lack of effort. He's certainly getting a lot of shots on goal, which means he is getting opportunities to the net. I think there is something a little bit odd about the Hurricanes' situation this year. There's a lot of pressure on Peter LaViolette. I think he's one of the guys that's really on the Hot Seat. As they were last year, I think the Hurricanes will be a team on the bubble to be in or out of the playoffs. If they miss, it will be the third straight year out of the playoffs after winning a Stanley Cup. I can't imagine that's ever happened before.
Detroit is leading the league in scoring but is having problems maintaining leads. Do you see Ken Holland making a trade for goaltending?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
I doubt it. They don't have a lot of cap space available, and they won the Cup last year with Chris Osgood. I think he has a lot of faith in Osgood, so I don't see that at this point. If, for some reason, it became a bigger problem as the season went on, I would think they would certainly consider it, but I don't think that is part of the plan right now.
EJ, did we see the real Rangers, the quick and hard forechecking team, against the Coyotes last night? Or did we see the real Rangers, the inconsistent bordering on lazy with issues scoring goals, against the Sens over the weekend?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think the real Rangers are more what you saw against the Coyotes. They want to be a team that plays with speed, forcing opponents to do things quickly. The problem I see for the Rangers is that they have trouble scoring goals, which puts pressure on their goaltender. Luckily, he's pretty good.
Mike (San Jose)
Can Patrick Kane develop into one of the top forwards in the league for the long haul given his small stature?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
I think so. I think the kid is a dynamic talent, and we've seen guys already who are smaller, like Martin St. Louis, who has already been an MVP in the league. I think his talent is quite significant, and he's a guy who will be fun to watch, and will develop into one of the top offensive players in the league.
Adam - Boston MA
With the Bruins playing so well, do they even need to think about adding someone like Shanahan? Good locker room guy perhaps?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
I like them right as they are right now. They seem to have a good chemistry and are playing well. Why thinker? I think sometimes, the best moves are the ones you don't make.
Cali (Howell, NJ)
EJ, the Devils are playing great hockey right now, do you think they can continue to weather the storm and stay in the playoff hunt with Weekes and Clemmensen until Marty comes back?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
If they can get their group healthy, and that means the return of Brian Ralston, and some of the other guys who have been banged up, they have a chance to do that. Clemmensen and Weekes have done that so far, and I think they can get by with a two-goaltender rotation. they do need to stay healthier, and it is certainly very competitive in the eastern conference. They have a chance to stay in the race.
Time to blow up the Sens? Or would they be selling low on guys like Spezza and Heatley?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I don't get the sense that's what they will do. They signed some of those guys long-term and it might be difficult to move them. I think in Brian Murray's mind, it's about making a tweak and getting the guys to play better. I don't think management in Ottawa is ready to blow it up. I think they'll make a deal for goaltending that could put them in a better spot. They are clearly not the same group that went to the final two years ago.
Logan (Columbus, OH)
The Blue Jackets are over .500 despite playing less than stellar hockey defensively. With so many players in, fans in Columbus saw a slow start coming. However, thru 20 games the Blue Jackets have 21 points and it is clear they are not comfortable with each other yet. When they gel, I only see them playing better. Are the Blue Jackets finally going to end their playoff drought?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
It's gonna be tough for them. The conference they're in is very tough. I think they're gonna have to have a lot of things go right to get in the playoffs. Unfortunately, I think they have to be patient; the team had so many other issues in the past several years. It takes time to kind of get it back on the right track. Blue Jackets fans have to be thrilled to have two rookies in the lineup like Broussard and Jakub Voracek.
I am starting to beleive the NYI got it right with Scott Gordon, what is the rest of the NHL saying about him and his "system"?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I don't know where the rest of the NHL stands on Scott. I like the hire. He was a fit for where they were in and who had success coaching in the AHL, and was ready to make the next step. There were other financial issues, considering the Islanders are responsible for the final year of Nolan's contract. It was good to see a guy like him get a chance. The Islanders are playing well and are competitive, and that is great news for them and their fans.
Hey EJ,Do you think the pens can get back to the cup this year? please answer!!! Thanks
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
Sure. Any team that has Crosby and Malkin as their top two centers, I think, has an excellent chance to be successful.
The combination of Gagne's return and the blossoming of Jeff Carter leaves the Flyers with a lot of offensive depth. Do you think they will try to keep the team as is or try to trade some of their depth for help on the blueline?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
That's an issue that their GM has had to deal with. He has signed most of those offensive players to longer-term contracts. Mike Knubel is the only one of the group of forwards whose contract expires at the end of this year. It will be an interesting decision for Holmgren. He likes the idea of having those forwards. If the Flyers get to the playoffs this year and have success, they will stay with this roster, and if they don't, they will look to make a change to get help on the blue line. It's a good question and tricky for the GM to answer.
EJ - Any thoughts on Colin Campbell's decision to only give 2 games to Mottau for his hit to the head of Franz Neilsen after suspending Thomas Pock 5 games for a similar hit? I know Campbell's defense, but do you buy it? It doesnt seem like his message to the league and his enforcement of illegal hits is consistent and as a hockey fan, I'm growing tired of the head hunting.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
I certainly agree. I'm tired of the headhunting. I was at the game and saw the play, and I would think it would have deserved more than two games, but there are a lot of things that go into his decision. I think he tried to get it right and often does. I would have liked to see more than two games.
Tony (Boston, MA)
I know this is a long ways away, do you see any teams trading away big name players such as Ilya Kovalchuck before the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
When you talk about big-name guys and trades, it depends on their contract status. Teams never want to get caught losing a player to free agency without getting something in return. A couple good examples are Gaborik and Jay Bouwmeester.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Those are good examples of guys who could be traded at the deadline. Kovalchuk's contract expires at the end of next season, and it's something they've probably considered, but I don't get the impression he's at that point yet.
With the Maple Leafs hiring Brian Burke (pretty much a done deal) will they unload Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle and will they be looking to position themseleves for the number 1 pick (tank)?
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
If and when Brian Burke takes over, he will assess the roster and do what he thinks is necessary to put the team on a track that will bring them a Stanley Cup. i don't think it makes sense for them to trade Kaberle, a terrific defenseman and underrated guy priced very well in the current market. As for Toskala, I think that might be a different issue, but again, when you move your goalie, you have to answer one question: can we find somebody better to take his place.
E.J.!!! Please, give me some GOOD NEWS about the Thrashers. It may take a while, but I'm sure you can muster something positive up.
EJ Hradek (3:32 PM)
They've played OK so far this year...they had a streak of, I think, four wins. Their offensive production is spread out a little more. Byron Young is producing some offense. I still see this as a team that has work to do and a long way to go before they are a strong team, but I guess you already knew that.
How close are the Bruins to a Stanley Cup contender?
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
The Bruins have been a real surprise for me this year. I think when you get into the playoffs, there are so many things they do different in a playoff series or playoff run. If they continue to play the type of game they are playing right now, they will be a handful in a playoff series. That's the challenge for a team like Boston. They do have several young guys there, and while those guys could get better, they also could end up in a slump or slide. But I really like what they've done so far this year.
Any news on the Blackhawks trade front? Was the Nylander for Byfluglien/Sopel reports real or speculation?
EJ Hradek (3:35 PM)
I heard that rumor. Chicago could use an experienced second center. So, from that standpoint it makes sense. However, the Hawks do have cap issues that might prevent them from moving forward on that kind of deal. I think they are working on several different types of moves, but really, everything depends on how they can maneuver the cap.
Jeremy Hull CA
With the amount of cap space the Kings have, do you see them making a splash for a top free agent in the future?
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
Not necessarily. It would depend a lot on who it is. They've really committed to their young players. That's the direction they are going. I think if someone became available that's been a particular need for them, they would have interest. A lot of their young guys right now will be in line for bigger deals in their next contract. They'll have to consider that when planning out their long-term cap plan.
Matt (Grand Rapids)
This time next year Marion Hossa will be playing for _______.
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
There's so many different possibilities. I'll be bold---he'll be back in Pittsburgh, playing for the Penguins.
What is your take on Laraque's stalking of Lucic on Saturday? It seems crazy for Lucic as a first liner to fight an enforcer like Laraque. Lucic is a middleweight (hence the fight with Komisarek) and that's a brutal tradeoff for the B's on the ice as well.
EJ Hradek (3:40 PM)
Laraque tried to get him to fight, and Lucic wisely didn't. If the game is in a different type of situation, and Lucic's hand isn't dinged up, I don't think he's the kind of guy who is frightened. He was under orders not to engage in a fight with Laraque, but I get the feeling we haven't seen the last of this, and at some point, he might end up engaging Laraque that way. Not a great tradeoff for the Bruins. George Laraque doesn't bring much to the table after the fighting ends.
Eddie B (Merrick, NY)
EJ, is there anything going on at all with the Lighthouse Project and the possibility of the Isles getting a new arena?
EJ Hradek (3:41 PM)
The last I heard, it was in the hands of the city of Hempstead. The county (Nassau) has signed off, but the holdup is within the city government. i can only say, in my time growing up in NY, political red tape has delayed a lot of things, and right now, that project is on hold.
Hey EJ, what should the Wild do about Gabby? He is a thorn in our side here in Minny, and just needs to go. Your thoughts? Thanks.
EJ Hradek (3:42 PM)
I think that management has made an effort to keep him in Minnesota. Gaborik hasn't accepted those offers and has been injured, so he's been out of the picture. I do forsee him being traded at some point. It is kind of a difficult trade for Minnesota because other teams know their position, but I do get the sense he will be moved.
EJ Hradek (3:43 PM)
Thanks for the great questions. We'll see you next week.