Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:00 PM)
EJ will be here shortly, everyone!
Which team do you think hasn't been playing up to its potential so far?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
The first one that comes to mind is Anaheim. I thought the Ducks would get off to a much better start, but right now, there are a lot of faults in their game. They are undisciplined, give up too many goals, and their penalty-killing isn't very good. They need to be smarter on their own end and try to clean that up. They've been a disappointment to me so far.
What do you think of the Bruins? Is this what we're in for all year?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
That's a good question. It might be. This is a team that has had some changes to their lineup this year, and they've had some significant injuries. When they get Savard back in the lineup, it'll help their lineup and scoring quite a bit. They lost Kessel in the beginning of the season as a salary cap casualty. I don't think they will be the team they were last year. It'll be a struggle to meet the high expectations they had formerly.
Ernie (baltimore md.)
What do you think the capitals chances are for winning the cup this year?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
They have a good chance. They are one of the three teams in the Eastern conference that has a legitimate chance to win. Philadelphia, Washington, and Pittsburgh are the teams to beat in the East. The question will be, what kind of goaltending will they get from Theodore or Varlamov. Can they win the Cup? They certainly have a terrific chance to get into the finals, and once you're there, you have a great opportunity.
Matt (St. Louis )
Should Blues fans be concerned at the lack luster start of the Blues particularly at home?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think you have to be. In a very competitive league, and in a very difficult conference, especially with the emergence of Los Angeles, Colorado, and Phoenix, you have to be concerned if you have the scoring issues St. Louis has. At home, they're 1-5-1 this year. That's not good enough in this league. This is certainly a reason for concern in St. Louis.
In your opinion, what is the biggest issue at the upcoming GM's meeting?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
There are a few, but the most front-and-center one is continued discussion on hits to the head and how to make the game safer from that standpoint. The discussion about whether to remove the trapezoid is interesting. I wasn't for that rule when it was introduced. Also, there will be a contentious discussion about the idea of tampering in the league. That discussion could be heated in the next few days.
Phoenix has been playing much better but the fans are still not showing up. Are they still in wait and see mode or no matter how good they are, no one will show up?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
When you consider what happened this summer where there was a good possibility the team wasn't even going to be there this year, it made it hard for people to get ahead of the game and sell tickets. It's tough to garner support, but winning would certainly help, and they haven't done much of that. It's an uphill proposition.
Bernard (Princeton, NJ)
NJ Devils are playing over their heads or are a solid team who can contend in the East?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
Despite a couple of injuries, they have gotten off to a good start. I see them as just outside of that group of three in Pittsburgh, Washington, and Philly, but they are well-coached, which gives them chances above and beyond their level of talent.
Hailey (Columbia, MD)
When is the Nylander saga coming to an end?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
We know this much: Nylander has cleared waivers. He may be on his way to play in Russia as part of an agreement with the KHL, and it could be the best solution for all involved. It is one of the dangers in a salary cap league when you sign a guy to a long-term deal. Certainly at the end of the day, Nylander wants to simply play hockey, but it's up in the air as to where. It'll be decided in the next couple of hours or days.
Charlie (Hickory, NC)
Murray keeps talking about adding another player to my Senators. Any idea who he is targeting?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
If you're looking for a specific player, I don't know what specific moves he can make. Anything he does has to fit salary cap-wise. He should be looking to spruce up his offense, another forward if possible. They seem pretty set in goal. I don't see it as a complete team at that point, so he has some room to add a forward or a defenseman.
Any favorite memories of any of the players that were recently inducted into the HHOF?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
What a group of players, huh? If you've been following hockey for the past thirty years, how could you not have great memories of them. Brett Hull's natural ability to score goals stands out. Steve Yzerman's evolution into a two-way player and leader. Brian Leetch's unbelievable skill and his ability to move up the ice and make the game look easy. Luc Robitaille--everyone out there who has been told they're not good enough, he's an inspiration. This group was a one-of-a-kind type group. All of those guys, their careers resonate with a guy who has covered and followed hockey for as long as I have.
Alex (Libertyville, IL)
Another day, another Hawks injury, with the Tribune reporting that Bolland is having back surgery and probably missing 2-3 months. Should I be incredulous over the amount of injuries that have hit the Hawks (and the rest of the league) so early in the season, or thrilled that they're still in a tie for 1st in the Central without so many of their regulars?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
With the number of injuries we've seen in the league, I'd be thrilled about how well they're doing, and that Toews is back in the lineup. There will always be injuries, and Chicago has had their share, but I'd be pretty happy with the way things have started. They'll have Marian Hossa coming to the lineup, which will be a huge boost for them.
If you had to pick now which goaltender would you deem to be the starter for team Canada?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
Marty Brodeur. He's come out and played pretty well in the beginning of the season. It's no secret why the Devils were 8-0 on the road. He provides a calming influence on his team. It's Marty's job to lose at this point. In 2002, when Canada won, he started the Olympics as the No. 2 guy, so just because a guy is starting early doesn't mean he'll be there at the end.
Will this finally be the year that the Sharks make some noise or has their window been shut?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
I think the Sharks have a terrific opportunity to contend for the Cup. It's been well-documented that they have struggled and have been a disappointment, but this will be another opportunity to get over that hump. To me, they'll have this question constantly this season, but they'll be the only ones who can answer it come springtime.
Michael Cohen (NY)
Shanahan to the Rangers?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
With their recent injuries, there's always a chance that will take place. It seems to me a little bit of a ship that has sailed. Right now, I think it's somewhat of a longshot.
Mustard (Kingston, ON)
So Giguere said he would rather retire than be a back-up. Is he taking tips from Iverson? That being said is he wanting to force a trade or does he really want to stay in Anaheim.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
I think he still sees himself as a viable starter in the NHL. He's probably been asked a number of questions by the media. At this point in his career, he's not ready to play a No. 2 role, and good for him. He helped his team get to a Stanley Cup, so I'm not surprised he said that. I think maybe it's a bigger issue than saying he'd rather retire than be in this role.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)