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 (3:01 PM)
We've got EJ!
Your thoughts on the Fleischmann trade?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
I think it's one of those trades that kind of works for both teams and the needs that they have. Fleischmann had fallen out of favor in Washington and they had some talented offensive players there. That was a strength for them. So, they're moving a guy from a strength and getting a veteran, tough defensive player. I talked to McPhee and he said they're trying to be a better defensive team this year. Washington can decide if they want to re-sign him going forward. The Avs are moving in some young defensemen. They probably felt this was a time to move Hannan. It was one of those trades that made sense for both teams. We'll have to watch to see how it makes out.
Billy in philly [via mobile]
What's the flyers' move when leighton is healthy?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
I'm sure they're not really complaining too much right now. They're sitting tied for first in their division. It will be up to Leighton to be ready when asked to get back in there. They've gotten some good play in net right now. It depends on how Leighton looks and how the team is doing.
Heard you on the radio in Buffalo this morning- have you heard any new news on the sale of the Sabres? Larry Quinn has said that there isn't a signed letter of intent, but no one has really denied there's an interest.
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
I will only take what people are going to say. The statement from the team is straight forward. There's nothing signed right now. But as you point out, there wasn't any denial of interest either. He has ties to the Buffalo area. He's a big Sabres fan. My feeling about it is if he's interested about it, he'd push forward to make the Sabres into a team that can win the Cup. I don't think he's a guy that will come in there looking to move the team. But the current ownership has to want to sell the team and then they have to agree on numbers. That could be at the heart of the statement from the Sabres. I would say it makes sense.
Thrashers are playing well but I've seen this play before. So often we are 7th with 8 games left and then lose 5 in a row down the stretch. Tell me why this year might be different b/c I'm having a hard time buying in.
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
The reason this year might be different is because the roster is deeper and better than it's been before. In the past, they've been a team that's been really dependent on a few guys. They have a team approach this year. I love their coach. That was a terrific hire. I felt he would always do a terrific job. They're more of a team than they have been in the past. I'm not telling you to run out and buy Cup tickets right now, but I think they'll make the playoffs and be a tough out.
Andrew (Houghton, Michigan)
Who is your top 2 Teams from each Conference, and who wins the cup this year?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
I would say Detroit in the West. They've played great hockey since opening night. I like Washington, Philly, Pittsburgh in the East. Pittsburgh is playing great right now. Based on today, Pittsburgh is probably playing the best. If you had to pick today, it's probably Detroit and Pittsburgh. If you look at the standings, the points are really close.
Thomas (Los Angeles)
Re: my Kings. Time to worry or just a blip in the road?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
Well, it is a concern, because you don't want to go through long stretches like this. When I talk to fans about their teams when they move forward, you don't want to go through stretches where you're struggling. That would be a concern for me. They've got to right themselves. The West is very competitive. The division their in is very competitive. I'm sure the group there is putting their noses to the ground and trying to get the team to dig in a little bit. They've got to get going again. They've lost 7 of their last 8 and squandered their good start to the season.
With the returns of Marc Savard and Marco Sturm in the near future for the Bruins, would they be looking to unload a forward (Blake Wheeler perhaps)?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
It's possible, for sure. I'm sure they're having conversations. Probably been having conversations ongoing with certain teams. When those two guys come back, it will have to be something to be dealt with. If all of these guys end up healthy and back in the lineup, they have to make an accomodation for the cap.
Any truth to an eventual Semin to the Kings rumor? What would the Kings need to trade to make it happen?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
I talked to McPhee today and he wouldn't go into detail about any of the dealings with Semin. He's a free agent at the end of the year. He said that they're going to try and keep the players that they can. They have to look at how it would work within their cap structure. It seems like he gives them the best chance of winning this year by keeping him on the roster. If he becomes a free agent, I would think the Kings would have some interest. But this guy is going to want a lot of money. If he hits the market, it will be a matter of the fit and where can he get what he wants. His name will be one that gets brought up a lot.
EJ, is there any more news on the Coyotes ownership?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I think it's an ongoing process. It seems like they're moving in the right direction. They have a potential owner there. They've been working to make this happen and it's moving in the right direction. What I get from the Coyotes is the Yogi Bera line "It's not over until it's over." Until it's been finalized, it could unravel again. We've been down that road before.
You had the Blackhawks repeating this year... You stickin with them to win the Cup again?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
I didn't have them repeating, I had them going back to the finals. I had Pittsburgh beating them in the finals. You would be foolish not to be concerned with the Blackhawks. They've played a lot of games this year, more than anyone else, I believe. They've squandered some chances at points. It's a competitive conference. They're sitting in fifth place in the conference, but they could be in 10th by the time other teams catch up to them in games played. I have concerned about them. It doesn't help that Hossa got injured in practice and will be out another couple of weeks. I think they'll find a way to get to the playoffs, but it will be a struggle this year. Teams that win the Cup, it's difficult the next season. They did change over half of their roster, perhaps in hindsight, that ends up hurting them. Those losses have hurt them more than I thought they would.
When will the Avs get a backup goalie b/c Budaj is dreadful?
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
They've had Budaj there for several years and he's had varying degrees of success. They're operating like most teams, within their budget. They feel like he's a good fit and in a perfect world Anderson won't get hurt. Colorado is a pretty smart group. If they feel that he can't do a good job, they will probably make a move. There are a lot of goaltenders out there floating around, but they probably feel like it wouldn't be that much of an upgrade.
Whom do I start on my fantasy team.. Brooks Laich or Scott H artnell. What about my goalies... Bobrosky, Vokoun, and MIller. Only 2 sports and 3 decent goalies.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I would look at the standings. I would go with Bobrovsky and Vokoun. Those guys are playing for teams that are winning more. Vokoun is a good goalie and Florida has been more competitve. Bobrovsky is a definite. The Sabres have struggled defensively. As for the forwards, I would go with Laich. Both of those guys play similar roles. If you flipped a coin, one guy would score more than the other, but I would say the Laich would give you a little more.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
Looking at the numbers today, I think those two are identical: 6-11-17.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Thanks for the questions. Remember to turn into ESPNU Sunday afternoon, as I will be calling the play-by-play of the Yale-Union college hockey game, along with Barry Melrose. If you've got nothing else to do on Sunday afternoon, check us out!