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!
Buzzmaster (3:03 PM)
E.J. will be here shortly, everyone!
King (Howell, NJ)
EJ, what are you hearing, Thursday or Saturday for Brodeur's return?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
I'm hearing Thursday. Those things are always subject to change. It looks like he's on track to come back and play at home vs. Colorado.
Wally Z, Toronto
Does Brian Burke have a chance to make good things happen to the Leafs roster at the deadline, or will everything have to be worked out this summer? Any idea what 10 teams are on Kaberle's list?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
I would think there's a chance that Burke will make some positive moves, depending on what types of deals he can pursue. I'm sure that will be the guiding factor in what he decides to do. As for Kaberle, you can do the math and figure out that there are certain places that are wiser for a guy like him to go. Because he's used to playing in a market like Toronto, he may go to a bigger market.
Do you see the Hurricanes making a move especially since Justin Williams is hurt?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
The Hurricanes are in a chase for a playoff spot--six teams for four spots. They are in that mix. If they can find something that will help the team, they'll do it. Williams is an important part of their team, so it's tough to replace him. They were fortunate to acquire Samsonov last year. The Hurricanes may have a bit of an advantage because their schedule is a bit easier than a team like, say, the Rangers.
Could you see the Caps making a play for Khabibulin if he becomes available?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
Way back in the summer, prior to making a move for Jose Theodore, maybe they could have made a move for Khabibulin. At this time, with his injury, and the fact that he has been an important part of what has happened in Chicago, I just don't think it makes sense for the Hawks to change that dynamic with their goaltenders. He'll be a guy who may be of interest to teams looking to improve their goaltending down the line.
Giovanni (Brooklyn, NY)
EJ, Do you think the Rangers will get creative and make a major trade before the deadline?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I think that the Rangers will do whatever they can to improve their team. Part of their problem is that they do not have a lot of flexibility because of the salary cap. They have some guys who they might be interested in moving because they have overpaid for the production they've come up with. They will try but will be limited by the cap.
Robert (Raleigh NC)
The last 4 spots in the east are crazy! Montreal and New York are falling apart, Florida will fall apart if Bouwmeester is delt, Buffalo is still without Vanek and now without Miller, Carolina can't remain consistent and Pittsburgh can't stop anyone from scoring. So with all that, predict the last 4 playoff spots in the east.
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
You just said it--it's very difficult to do that at this time, being unable to forsee injuries. But at this point, of those teams remaining, I think Florida, the Rangers, Pittsburgh, and Montreal will make it. That would leave Carolina and Buffalo out.
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
And that should be good news for fans in Carolina and Buffalo, because I've been wrong a lot.
Fred from Winnipeg
You seeing anything in the Wings' game that makes you think burnout's setting in? After all, they had a long run last season, and we know how hard it is to repeat.
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
Clearly while the record has been terrific this year, they haven't been as good defensively, in large part due to the goaltending. Particularly, Chris Osgood has been inconsistent. They seem to be giving up a few more shots per game on average. They understand the calendar and when they need to bring the A-game. They've proved that in important games or games against top opponents. I think the fact that they have had a lot of hockey under their belts in the last year could be a problem in a long playoff series.
Do you think the Hawks need to make a move, or do they have a legitamate chance to make a deep run in the playoffs with the team they have?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I think the Hawks, with the team they have now, will be a dangerous team. They've been really the third-best team in the Western conference for most of the year. They are a young team entering into their first playoff opportunity. They are a dangerous group who could be more dangerous if they add someone. This is a big jump for them--just to go from a team on the outside to a playoff team. In a lot of ways, it's a year where expectations won't be as high as they were this year and the year after that.
Erik (Mechanicsburg, PA)
C'mon, E.J. Answer something tough for once. Ovechkin...Crosby...bad blood on Sunday. Good for the game or no?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
Great for the game. Two of the three top young players in the game, competing hard against one another, mixing it up a bit, with some trash talking as well. These are two young, competitive, ultra-talented guys who want to prove they are the best. Why would we want it any other way?
JIm (Buffalo, NY)
With Thomas Vanek and now Ryan Miller out of the lineup for the near future, do you see Darcy Regier making a move anytime soon to add some scoring or defensive help to take some pressure off of Patrick Lalime?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
I think the injuries have definitely given Regier a reason to think about making some moves. He's been a pretty conservative guy as a manager. I don't see that changing in the last eight or nine days. He'll see what is there, but if it doesn't make sense, he won't do it. He's not a guy who will panic.
With Marty back, does NJ crack the top 2 in the East or are Boston and Washington still better?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
They definitely have a chance. They are still pretty close in points with Washington. I think that Boston and Washington are 1-2, but NJ is right there--maybe a half-step behind them, then Philadelphia. They are all in pretty good position.
E.J. Will Philly make a move to bolster their lineup before the deadline? How will they solve their cap issue once Briere comes back? Is Biron our answer in the net?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Philadelphia will have some significant cap limitations. It will have to involve players on their roster leaving. With Danny Briere coming back in, they might have to shuffle a player to make that work. The fact that Briere has been out so long has helped them in that regard. As far as the goaltending, that has been their issue for years. Biron has been good enough to get them far in recent years, and I think they'll look to him to be the guy still. That said, if he stumbles, I don't think he'll hesitate to turn to Niittymaki.
Hey EJ, what kind of moves can you see the Devils making this deadline. I have heard suggestions of Pronger or Niedermayer, but do you think there is any chance Lou goes for that #1 center the team has needed for a while? Thanks.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
No, unless there is an injury. Zubrist has been a little banged up, and if the Devils do anything of importance, it will be to help their blue line. I think that is the area where they could really use an upgrade. But as for getting a Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer, it will be a tough deal to make. The Devils' chance of going to the Finals will certainly improve if they get either of those guys.
Ron- Columbus,OH [via mobile]
With the Blue Jackets chasing their first ever playoff spot, do you think they make a move at the trade dead line and who do they try to get?
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
They haven't been a team that scores a lot, so a boost up front could help. A team like Columbus that has different areas of need, if a player becomes available to them, they would need to take a look. Keith Tkachuk is one guy who could give them a boost. But for Columbus, they have to be careful not to trade away a piece of their future for a rental player.
Charlie (Hickory, NC)
Any thoughts on actual dealings the Senators will be making at the deadline? They need to retool a bit.
EJ Hradek (3:35 PM)
The Senators have already made one deal, and Brian Murray, the GM, is talking to the media about more deals to come. I don't know what direction they are going in. I don't think it was a great idea to trade away a first-round pick, even if it was later in the first round. This is a team that needs to consider a building process, so that surprised me. Based on Murray's words, he is going to try to make a couple of big moves by next Wednesday. I'll be curious to see what he can do and who he can move.
William (Sacramento, CA)
Is Claude Lemieux going to be on the Sharks' roster come playoff time? Will there be any room for him once Goc and Mitchell return?
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
I think he will be. I don't know that he will be a guy who will play every game. They will want to carry him to use when they feel he's needed, and to have his experience around the team. This is a guy who has had a lot of winning experience, and I think that is an important element he brings, maybe THE most important element he brings to San Jose.
Ron Chicago Il [via mobile]
Its really great to hear all of the talk surrounding the resurgent Blackhawks how do you think they will fare in the playoffs
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
I think they have a good chance to get through the first round. I think that would be a big achievement for them. After that, the road gets tougher. The focus for them should be finishing the season in a strong way. As we've seen over the years, strange things can happen in the playoffs. They should be a fun team to watch in the postseason.
EJ Hradek (3:39 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions, and we'll talk to you next week!