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're getting EJ!
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
Welcome back after the break. Let's get to your good questions.
Hey EJ, what do you think Nashville is looking for by the feb 28th deadline? How about a package deal for Mike Fisher and Gonchar?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
That would be a real bold move, that's for sure. I don't really think they can support that financial burden of those two contracts. I think Mike Fisher would be a nice fit, but their need is more for scoring. I don't think they'd have a need for Gonchar. It's interesting because of Mike's being married to Carrie Underwood, there's another tie to Nashville. I'm sure they would be interested in talking about getting him.
Do you expect the Habs to make any major moves at the trade deadline? If so, what names/positions are they looking for?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
There are so many teams in the running. Every team would like to upgrade their group somewhere. Having Markov out for the season, you can't really replace a guy like that, you just have to ask the group to replace him by committee. They could use another defenseman for depth. If they could find another centerman, that would help them. It's going to be tough because there won't be that many sellers. It will be hard to add anyone of significance to the mix. They'll be looking, but it will be tough.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What did you think of the NHL All-Star Game in Raliegh,NC?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think it was great. First of all, they were very fortunate because they had as good of weather they could imagine. Those of us that came from the Northeast and Canada, it's been dicey weather to say the least. It was joyous to see clear skies. I've never thought 53 degrees felt so warm in my life. The organizers did a great job of organizing things. Having been to Raliegh many times with playoffs and other series, you can see the growth of the city. It's obvious the Hurricanes have been a factor in helping the growth down there. It was a huge win for Raliegh. For the NHL, it was good. The draft was something different and fun. I thought it went off well. I would imagine next year it will be just as much of a fun time for the people there.
Shane (Chillicothe, Ohio)
EJ, Sid has been cleared and Malkin should be back soon..The Pens ready to make there run? I also think Kris Letang may be the MVP of the league is that a far fetch? Hes been great this year.
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
First things first, Crosby has only been cleared to do the light training. With those head injuries, you have to take it one step at a time. Hopefully he's on track to return soon. Malkin does seem close to returning, he's traveling with the team, but will not dress. I think the Penguins will be wise and conservative with those two players. Even if they were to finish the year in the bottom part of the playoff bracket, the Penguins are good enough when healthy that they can beat anybody.
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
Letang has had a terrific year. I can see your thinking. There might be some support for that, but I think the focus for Kris will be on the Norris Trophy and winning that.
Josh S. (Philly)
How dangerous do you think the flyers come playoff time?
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
I think they can be very dangerous. They're loaded, I've said that many times. They have a deep defense. This is a team that went to the Cup finals last year. At the end of the day for me, it will depend on how healthy they are and what matchups they get. It will really hinge on what kind of goaltending they get. That will be critical. But right now the Flyers are first in their conference.
Hi EJ. What can we expect for the Wild in th second half? They are so up and down. Chances they make the playoffs? Thanks
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
The chances are better right now than they were at the beggining of the season. They've had some bumps but they've overcome them. When I look at it, I think there's more of a chance that they'll be out than in, but who knows, maybe they can find their way in.
Josh S. (Philly)
Do you think bobrovsky and Boucher have really been that good this year? Or do you think that its a product of the flyers defense? seems like they have 3 solid defensive pairings.
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I think they've played well, but when you're on a strong team and a team that's able to score goals and provide a cushion for you,you clearly have a better chance to succeed. It's kind of a little bit of everything as to what's going well for those guys.
Adam (San Diego )
If the Blackhawks face the Canucks in the first round do the Hawks win in 7 or 6 games?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
Obviously, the Blackhawks have had the upper hand against the Canucks the last couple of years, but this is not the same Blackhawks team. They're not as deep. They have a rookie goaltender. There's something to be said about the Blackhawks confidence, but it's hard to say that they would just roll again. The Canucks are having a heckuva year and the Blackhawks are struggling.
I don't think any team in the West is going to stop a healthy Wings team from returning to the Cup finals for the 3rd time in 4 years. Your thoughts?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
It's hard to say, because of their injuries, they haven't had their full team together for a while. They've had a terrific year regardless. They're sitting at the top of the West, as they have for a few years now. But regardless of who makes it out West, you can make a case for any team to have success. It will depend on how healthy Detroit is and their matchup. You're right, they have a terrific group of players there and they'll be hard for anyone to handle.
Just read the "Pretenders/Contenders" story and I have to say you are giving the Hawks too much credit. They have been making the exact same mistakes all season and the ASB doesn't mean an entirely new team is playing for the second half of the season.
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
They've had a number of false starts where they've faltered. This trip might determine how much of a chance they have to push forward and make the playoffs. With their top guys, they have still got a really strong group of core players. It will depend on if the guys around them can rally enough support and if their goaltending can stand up. Because they won and they have that great core, I'm real hesitant to think they won't find a way into the playoffs. And if they do find a way in, they'll be a hard opponent for some people. You might be right and I might be giving them too much credit.
With Getzlaf coming back this week and Hiller still playing strong, can the Ducks carry their winning ways into February?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
I think a lot of it will depend on Hiller. He's been the MVP of the Ducks this year. Night in, night out, he's giving them a chance to win. I don't see any reason why that won't continue. He's been a pretty good goalie for the next couple of years now. Their defense is better now than it was at the beginning of the season. They'll be a team that's hard to knock out of the playoff chase.
were getting impatient here in DC with the lack of scoring, we keep saying, the media keeps saying theyll pick it up in time for the playofss, why am i very worried? when the heck are ovie, backstrom, semin and green gonna step it up? even if 1 does that would be a start
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
I would think there is reason for concern because of such a dramatic drop off in their offense. They're averaging about a goal less per game. The power play has struggled the last two months. George McPhee said they have to make some adjustments and they know what they are, but they have yet to implement them on the ice. But even with this kind of adversity, they still have a playoff spot. Maybe this regular season will serve them well in the playoffs. But I would think the lack of scoring are a reason to worry for sure.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
EJ, what do you think of the Lightning "rebranding" and new uniforms they just unveiled for next year? Giving every season ticket holder a new sweater with a microchip in it that gets them discounts is cool...but getting rid of the black from the color scheme and especially taking the lightning bolt off the pants is a huge mistake.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Since they changed ownership, there have been very few missteps over the last year. Hiring Steve Yzerman was a good move. He's made some good moves in his short time on the job. They've got a coach doing well. And when you talk to fans down there, they say they are happy with what the team is doing. I saw the uniform and I think they're nice and have a nice look to them. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on stuff like this because they've been pretty astute in running their business so far.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
We have 13 games tonight, so get to your TV and out to the rink to enjoy them. Talk next week.