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!
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
Hey. Let's get it going.
Jerry (San Jose)
If the Sharks don't reach the Stanley Cup Finals, is Doug Wilson's job in jeopardy?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
I would say there would probably be a review of all the management positions. If the Sharks get to the Finals and lose, it's different if they lose in the first or second round. This kind of stuff comes with high expectations. If they were to disappoint again, I'm sure they would review all of the upper management positions.
If the Avs keep this pace to they make a move at the deadline or do they let the cards fall where they may this year?I personally would like them to do the latter.
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
If there is a move for them to make that makes sense for them, I would think sure, they'll pursue it. I don't think they'll do it at the expense of one of their young players who are early draft picks, but if there is a move that puts them closer to clinching a playoff berth, I think they'll look into it.
Derek (West Virginia)
In your opinion, What do the Capitals need to do to ensure themselves a Stanley Cup bid?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
I don't think there's anyway to ensure anything, in life or pro sports. If they can stay healthy, that's a huge benefit. I think teams that win Stanley Cup or any championship in sports these days, they have the benefit of staying healthy. If things go well and they make a substantial run in the postseason..in really tight games, they'll have to lock those games down. When we get to the trade deadline, they might go out and make an addition that gives them a little more depth. This is a really good team. THey score goals. They have the puck a lot. Some might point to their defense and their goaltender, but right now, they're performing really well. They'll be a team that will have a chance to make a serious run for the Cup this year.
Tom (Rhode Island)
EJ, anyway you see last nights victory over the Bruins as a turning point for the Flyers? Also, if the slide continues, who do you see being traded?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think there's a chance it could be a spring board game for the Flyers. They begin a home and home with the Penguins tonight. With the slide they've been on and the hole they dug for themselves, they need to build on this. They couldn't follow it up before with performances after that. Good job against Boston, but they ahve another big game tonight.
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
As far as who would get traded, who they would prefer to trade and who has market value are probably two separate things. A guy like Danny Briere would open up some nice cap room. I think it's hard to move a guy with that kind of contract. I get the sense they're hoping it doesn't come to that.
Sebastian (Kingston, ON)
Who is your front runner for MVP? Ovechkin? Miller? Gaborik?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
That's a good question. I think there are a lot of terrific candidates right now and you mention three of them right there. There are several other guys who are going to continue to deserve consideration. I think right now it's one of those things that could change day to day to day. I can only say this about a guy like Gaborik who's been really great for the Rangers. I think it would be hard for him to get major consideration for the award if the Rangers continue to struggle and they don't make the playoffs. He's been everything they've asked for there, but unfortunately he hasn't had much support for the other forwards there.
Look into the future EJ, its the end of the season. Where do my beloved flyers end up in the standings? Also, Pens vs Fly guys, who ya got!
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
I have to say this is one of the few times that I've been on the mark. I felt going into the season that any stumble would really put a lot of pressure on John Stephens the head coach and there was a possiblity he could lose his position there. That's kind of played out so far in the first couple of months. I do think they have enough talent on the team that they can right themselves. I think if they're healthy come playoff time, they're not going to be a team that others are going to want to play in a seven game series.
Russ (Chicago(via Bogota))
Realistically, can the blackhawks play the rest of the season with all their stars or will we see the likes of Patrcick Sharp, Brian Campbell(package him up with a lower priced guy to make easier to swallow contract, Dustin Bfuglyien, etc. What are their chances of winning without some of these player(s).
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
I think right now the plan in Chicago is to make a run for a championship with the roster they have right now. They're in compliance with the salary cap with their current group. Where it gets dicey is if they have significant injuries and have to start calling people up to their roster. If they have smaller injuries and they can't put a player on Long Term Injury and they can't call up a guy. That happened last year in Calgary and they could only dress 15-16 players instead of the 18 you would normally dress. I think the plan is for Chicago to go through the season with the roster and then in the offseason, they'll have make some significant decisions to make sure they'll be in compliance with the salary cap going forward.
Looking forward to the next couple of years, do you think the Kings need any more pieces to put them over the top and make them a consistent cup contender? If so, what are they?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I think the Kings have had a great start to the season. They have a lot of terrific young players, both on their current roster and in their system. These guys will continue to get experience and get better, which is great. I don't think they have all the pieces in place. To some degree you have to be patient. You can't force young people to be blessed with experience without having to go through some things along the way. They've positioned themselves for the future and I like the team, but I don't think everything is in place yet as they might be in the next 2, 3, 4 years. As their young stars like Kopitar, Doughty and Quick as they continue to mature.
Come April, assuming they stay mostly healthy after Franzen returns, where do you see the Wings seeding at? Or do you see them in the playoffs at all?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
I have a hard time seeing the playoffs without the Wings after the last 15-20 years. THey still have some world class players on their team despite the injuries and the losses they've had. I think it will be a struggle this year, as opposed to other seasons. But I will still bet on guys like Zetterberg, Datsyuk to find a way to keep the Wings in the playoffs. Once there, if healthy, I see them as a dangerous opponent, because of the world class players I mentioned and the playoff experience and success they've had as an organization.
Christopher (J-town, Pa)
Hawks / Pens in the final---the new dream matchup for the Nhl? Seemed like the previous matchup was a thriller, less crosby, but boy it was a lot of fun to watch---a lot of offense if not for the goalies standing on their heads
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
I guess it's certainly high on their list. I watched those two teams play a couple of weeks ago in Pittsburgh and even though Crosby didn't play, it was a real entertaining game. I think really if you take Washington, Pittsburgh and Chicago, and maybe even Los Angeles the way they've come on with the young players and the market, if you're talking about dream matchups those teams would be included in various combinations.
marty b tying roy's record in montreal...greatest goaltender ever?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
Marty Brodeur is an unbeliveable goalie. He's going to have all the records and clearly any conversation about the greatest goaltender of all time has to include Brodeur. Whether he is the absolute best or not, I'm sure there will be Patrick Roy fans and Dominik Hasek fans and Ken Driden fans that will want to make a case for their guy. One thing is for sure though, the sheer numbers are going to support Brodeur.
Is there any rumors out there about Buffalo looking to bring a solid back up goalie to give Miller some more rest? With him most likely being the starting goalie for the USA I'm worried he will tire out and I don't trust Lalime.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
There have been various stories out there about that. I think those fears are legitimate fears with Miller, just because he's a lean guy. You'd like to manage his playing time as much as you can and not overuse him. I would say that Patrick Lalime did himself a favor in Buffalo by having a terrific performance against the Blackhawks. I'm sure that gave the team and the coaching staff a renewed confidence that they can put Lalime in to play 15-20 games in the season and not have a real significant fall off. That said, I do think that the Sabres would still entertain the idea of an upgrade if they could find the right guy at the right price.
Travis (Laramie, Wyoming)
Hello hockey Guru! Give me three reasons why the Avs could maintain their pace and win the NW division over the likes of JayBo and the Flames although I am thoroughly excited to see him in the playoffs for once.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I would say it has to start with their goaltending. Craig Anderson would have to continue to play at a high level. They would really have to continue to get strong play out of their young guys who have been important to them, like Duchene, O'Reilly, Galiardi. Those young kids have been really an important part of the success they've had in the early part of the season. Sometimes players like that will hit a wall in the second half of the season. If those guys can play well and the team can stay relatively healthy. I'd have to give them a shot to stay in the race for the division title.
Andy (Huntington Beach)
Why are the Ducks not signing Bobby Ryan? What is the thinking of Bob Murray on this one?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
That's probably a negotiation that's ongoing. Both sides are probably looking to find the right balance in a new deal. Trying to measure what kind of deals that are already out there for young players of that level. I would think the Ducks are going to be very interested in getting Bobby Ryan resigned. Barring something strange, I would assume they would get something done. Remember, the Ducks are a team that doesn't spend to a cap limit. They're working with a budget and I'm sure that plays into any decisions they make into player contracts.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Thanks again for the questions. We'll see you next week.