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 3:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:30 PM)
E.J. will be here in five minutes, everyone!
MJ: (Manassas, VA)
I am a long time Islanders fan. Is there any hope in the near future or, should I just go to the grocery store and pick up some paper bags to wear on my head?
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
I'd say, in the near future, things look tough. But that's what happens when a franchise doesn't stay committed to building a team. I think the only track left is the one they're on, which is to rebuild patiently through the draft. Unfortunately for Islander fans, that will take time, but if done correctly, it's a road back to respectability and contender status.
Brian (San Francisco)
Hey EJ, after watching the Wings easy handle the Sharks and the Blackhawks in the past few weeks, do you think that they are the team to beat? I mean, it truly looks like they can just flip the switch when they want to these days, no?
EJ Hradek (3:39 PM)
I picked them to win the Cup again this year, so obviously I think they are the team to beat. I don't think any team can truly flip a switch. I think the Red Wings do have some areas where they need to improve, particularly team defense and goaltending, but this is a very talented group, an experienced group, and one that knows what it takes to win in the spring. They will clearly be in the mix.
Mike (Toms River, NJ)
Hey EJ, Just wondering what, if anything, you think the Rangers may do. Is there any interest in Prucha around the league? I want to keep him in NY, but it seems like Renney doesn't like him. One game without a point and he's back in the pressbox.
EJ Hradek (3:42 PM)
I look at the Rangers and I think they have a good team, but one that is somewhat flawed and depends too heavily on the goaltending. I think they're a group that will make the playoffs, but will need a lot of things to right to get past the second round in the East. As for Prucha, that has kind of been a bit of a mystery. I do think he would probably benefit from a change of scenery.
Marc (Malden, MA)
True or False: Marc Savard is the most underrated player in the NHL.
EJ Hradek (3:43 PM)
I don't know if it's true or false, but he's definitely on that list of most underrated players. I think Mark's game has really evolved since he came into the league with the Rangers. His game has matured, and he has matured. He is a big part of why the Bruins have had so much success this year.
EJ, please tell me that the Flyers will survive the rash of injuries they have right now?
EJ Hradek (3:45 PM)
OK, I'll tell you that! I think they will. I think it's hard to predict, or impossible, to predict when or if guys are going to get hurt. Philadelphia seems to have had some bad luck with that over the past several years. I think they are a deep group with as good a chance as most teams would in dealing with an injury problem.
Ash Carter (Tulare, CA)
Do the Ducks have what it takes to upset the Sharks in a possible playoff series?
EJ Hradek (3:46 PM)
I think that would be a really good, hard, physical, entertaining series. It's been a series that I've been hoping for for the past few years, because it would engage fans throughout California. In my mind, the Sharks would be a favorite, but there's not such a big margin that the Ducks couldn't win a best-of-seven series. If they meet based on what I said so far, I'd take the Sharks, but it would be a lot of fun.
Will the Pens work their way out of the hole they dug and make the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:48 PM)
I'm less sure about that today than I was last week. There's no question they are in a funk and in a competitive league, even a talented team like Pittsburgh can't afford long streaks of poor play. It'll be interesting to watch the Penguins in the next week or so and see how they respond to adversity.
What are your thoughts on Sundin nearing his Canucks debut?
EJ Hradek (3:49 PM)
I think Sundin is going to have a tough road. It's hard for anybody to jump in in the middle of the season. It's harder if you're in your 30s. Mats would be wise to proceed with caution, because the risk of injury in these types of situations seems to be greater than normal. I will be curious to see how he fits in on the ice. It'll definitely be one of the stories that we follow in the second half of the season.
Is Zach Parise turning into a top 5 player in this league?
EJ Hradek (3:51 PM)
Top-5 is awfully lofty, but he gets better with every passing game. He's a winner, and he's got terrific talent. I don't know if he's a top-5 yet, but he's certainly a guy that's moving towards that conversation and is certainly a guy who I'd want on my team were I trying to win a Stanley Cup.
Dustan (Nashville, TN)
How do you think Steve Sullivan's return will help the Predators?
EJ Hradek (3:53 PM)
Steve Sullivan has been out for a long while with a chronic back problem. If he's healthy, he's a guy who can help a team that needs to boost its scoring. They are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. But he has been out a long while. There's no telling if he could handle the bumps and bruises that you get playing in the NHL. I hope Sullivan comes back and contributes, because he is a talented guy and it was a shame to see him go on the shelf for so long.
What big names might move before the trade deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:55 PM)
The biggest name and the longest name is Jay Bouwmeester. He's in the final year of his contract. It seems that he does not want to return to Florida or sign a long-term deal, which means they would likely have to move him or risk losing him without getting anything in return. He's a strong puck-moving defenseman, and those guys are few and far between. A lot of teams will be interested.
EJ. How do the canes look we have won 3 in a row and 7-3 in our last 10 games. What are the chances we make the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:58 PM)
They've certainly been playing better. They're one of those bubble teams that will be in the fight all the way to a playoff spot. They may be able to push the Capitals for the SE title, but more likely I see them as a team that has a chance to get one of those last two spots in the East. They would benefit it Rod Brind'amour could find his way, or can push his game back to where it had been in the past. He struggled this year coming off of knee surgery. He can be better in the second half. That will really help.
Hey EJ. I am going to the Devils vs. Canes game tonight in Raleigh. What is your predicition for the game?
EJ Hradek (3:59 PM)
There'll be skating and a puck on the ice. No, that's an important game. The Devils have been playing well, and this is a measuring stick for Carolina. I think it will be a close game. I don't really have a pick.
EJ Hradek (3:59 PM)
Thanks for the great questions! See you next week!