Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:01 PM)
We're getting EJ!
Martin (Des Moines, IA)
Hi EJ. Just how bad is the Flames' offense? Should fans be worried?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
If you look back to last year and it wasn't very good and dried up on them. This year, they haven't gotten off to a good start, so yeah, I would say there's room for concern. The good news is that they were able to come from behind and get a win against a rival. Maybe they can build on that. I always say you have to be strong up the middle and they don't really have what I would say is a strong group of centers. So, the puck doesn't get distributed well among the players. They're going to have to hope that they will get contributions from other people they bring in there.
Maple Leafs, 5-0?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
They have a great opportunity tonight, when they are playing the Islanders. But they have some significant injuries that they will be dealing with for a while. I would caution you and other fans that this league is very close in terms of the day to day competition. I wouldn't look past anybody. They're taking the right approach. It should be a good game.
Doug (Chantilly, VA)
While I'm happy the Caps are 4-1, they still seemingly go through the motions the first two periods before turning it on in the 3rd. Do I have cause to be concerned?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
Hey, 4-1 is 4-1. Don't throw the wins back. Don't overanalyze at this point. All of the teams are really close. Everyone thinks this is the year for their teams. The fact that they found ways to win 4 of 5 is great. You don't want to just be getting better, you want to be building on your performances. For a team that's got an eye on the Cup, they need to play well, have their younger players develop and have their star players honing their game throughout the year.
Phil (7'th Floor, First Cube on the Left)
Realistically, what can we expect this season from Taylor Hall abd Tyler Sequin? It seemed there was more hype for this draft than any in recent history. Was the hype because they are more talented than recent top draft picks, or because of how close in talent they were?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
I think realistically, it depends on the ice time and opportunity. Hall looks like he might be getting some more time. But these guys are both reallly talented young guys. I think they will show flashes. It's a long season. But I don't think there's a question that these two guys will be good players in the NHL down the road. They might not light the league on fire their first season, but both just need to get through the season fairly healthy, both physically and mentally.
EJ, The Devils seem to be in real trouble based on a lack of depth on D. How do you think they come back from this slow start?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
There is a lot of talent on that roster. I'm not going to write them off. It hasn't been the start that they wanted, there's no question. They have some work to do. You hit it on the head with their defense. That can help jumpstart your attack and get you going on a flow for your game. They have a couple of young guys that all you can do is let them learn and practice. They have some challenges there. They have to figure out how to use their forwards right now. It doesn't make sense to play Kovalchuk out of position after making a big investment in him. They have some work to do. When it's so close and you're losing home games early in the year, those are games and points you don't get back.
Aaron Yuknavich (Texas)
Will Brad Richards be traded from the Dallas Stars?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I think what you're inferring in that question is that Richards is a free agent at the end of the year, he makes a lot of money and the Stars don't have an owner in place. So if the Stars were to fall out of the race or just to get some assets for a player they're losing, they might. But if they keep playing well and stay in the race, it will be hard to trade him. A lot will have to do with how they play, a lot will have to do with their ownership situation. But we're just going to have to watch throughout the season. It will be a moving target.
Cam Fowler has been outstanding so far for the Ducks. Where would you have him ranked in the Calder race so far, and any chance he can win it this year?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
Yeah, there's certainly a chance. We're only a few games into the season. But he's in a little bit of a tough spot. He's 18 playing on a defense that has some issues right now. They're not that deep at the position. They've made some moves that should help them. It's a long season for 18-19 year old kids. Physically you get dinged up. Mentally it's a challenge to maintain your confidence. I think Cam will be a good player for a long time and it will be interesting to see how he plays in the coming weeks and months.
With Gaborik out for 2-3 weeks -- minimum -- and the Rangers offense already very thin, will this turn into a train wreck?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
That's the worry, right? When you have a guy like Gaborik that's such a big part of the offense, you're worried that there's a void there that no one will be able to fill. Ideally, you don't want to be without Gaborik. He can score so quickly. It will be up to some of these other guys to contribute. I'm going to see them play Colorado tonight. I'm curious to see how they do.
Justin (So Cal)
Will the league actually consider suspending Shane Doan for his hit on Dan Sexton (aka Big Sexy)? Or will they give the star treatment to a player who Phoenix fans overhype as a star?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
I think Doan is a good player. He brings a lot of intangibles to the table. But they do have a hearing later today. My sense is that he could be facing a suspension here. I think we're in a little bit of a gray area. I'll be curious to see what the league does. If you ask me if he is going to get suspended, I say he will get a little one.
jeff ( phx) [via mobile]
Mr. Hradek, avs are off to a good start ,do u see them as a playoff team ?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
Yeah, they were a playoff team last year and they have good young players. The keys for me is that Anderson needs to be good again this year. They need to get their power play going better. I think they've only converted 2 of 20 chances on the power play so far.
Rupert (The Lounge)
EJ, the new rumour is that Komisarek will be used as trade bait for a solid forward, this actually sounds like a good idea to me considering the Leafs stacked blueline and Komi's cap hit, your thoughts?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
I would think it would be a smart move. Mike's a big guy. He's coming back from injuries. The question is that Mike has a significant cap number and a term that has to be worked out. But you have to find a willing partner. For me, I don't know if I would be comfortable with that salary and the term for the kind of defenseman that he is. But I don't know what kind of match you'll find there. Komisarek is more of a stay at home physical guy.
Brendan (Kingston ON)
Howdy EJ, Jaro Halak looks to be the same goaltending phenom he was last year during the playoffs. Do you think he is the answer for a strangely inconsistent Blues team? Also, do you think that Erik Johnson will ever be a first-overall draft pick caliber player? Everyone keeps saying he will...
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
I think that Halak has been consistent throughout his career. Everywhere he's played, he's been pretty good. I don't think it's any surprise. Last year he had his coming out party. He's been a pretty consistent goaltender. I don't know if I would call the Blues inconsistent. They've got a 16-17 shot per game advantage. They have a great test tonight against Chicago. The Blues are a team on the rise this year.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
Thanks for all of the great questions. We'll do it next week.
EJ Hradek (3:32 PM)
And I love answering questions on Twitter, so catch me there: @EHradek_ESPN.