Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com NHL Insider Craig Custance stops by to chat about the latest news from the ice.
Custance joined ESPN in September 2011 as an NHL reporter for ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Insider and ESPN.com. He joined ESPN following a stint with the Sporting News. A graduate of Michigan State University, he lived for nearly a decade in Georgia working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where he spent time covering the late Atlanta Thrashers.
Send your questions now and join Custance Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (2:59 PM)
Hey everyone - excited to talk hockey on a busy Tuesday afternoon. Lots to cover, let's jump in!
If for some reason the Devils don't trade Parise, and aren't able to re-sign him, what could they get back for contract rights?
Craig Custance (3:04 PM)
Matt - I'm starting to see this as a scenario more and more likely to happen. The Devils won't trade Parise if they're in the playoff mix and it's sounding like they won't regardless. They want to keep him. But if we get close to July 1 and they still don't have a deal, they have to cut bait and try and get something return. If you remember, last year Christian Ehrhoff's rights bounced around between the Islanders and Sabres and the going rate was a fourth-round pick. With the success the Sabres and Blue Jackets had in signing guys after acquiring their rights mixed with Parise's value as a franchise forward, I would expect the value to be higher. Maybe as high as a conditional second-round pick if Parise signs.
Caps arent playing great but they are winning games and even were back as leaders of the SE until last night night (but can take it back again tonight). This is without Backstrom and Green. How do you see the caps fairing out the rest of the season?
Craig Custance (3:06 PM)
Based on their talent and experience, I think they win the Southeast. They're finding ways to win, and as you point out they're doing it without some key players. I like that they're taking care of Green's injury now, and ideally will have him healthy for the stretch run. I still think George McPhee needs to add insurance on defense in case Green can't stay healthy. You can't help but wonder if you can count on him at this point.
george (portland, tn)
What do you see the predators doing near the trading deadline?
Craig Custance (3:09 PM)
George - they're the team I'm most interested in at the deadline. I wouldn't be stunned if they try and add some offense in an attempt to strengthen their chance at contending and keeping both Weber and Suter. They'd still like to keep both defensemen but it's a bit of a chess match right now. Here's one scenario that could happen: If they can't sign Suter, they trade him for a huge package and then spin those assets into a player who can help the team contend now. The important thing for Nashville is that they keep progressing forward. They can't afford to take a step back in their development and expect to retain Weber.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Do you think we see any movement soon or just a flurry in the last few days before the deadline?
Craig Custance (3:10 PM)
Richard - I think we'll see movement soon. There's a group of general managers, including Brian Burke, who would much rather do their shopping in January rather than at the deadline. In the past, there was an advantage to waiting closer to the deadline because you could squeeze more salary under the cap, but many of the buyers right now have the cap space. That seems to be less of an issue than in years past.
Josh (Colorado )
What do you think of ryan millers rant yesterday? Cleaning house might not be a bad idea... what can the Sabers do?
Craig Custance (3:13 PM)
Jose - I had a front row seat for that rant, and you could tell frustration was boiling over with Miller who was embarrassed in front of friends and family. It seems most logical that a regime change in the front office would happen during the off-season so ownership has to determine if this team can compete right now. If not, the best thing they can do is sell off players of value and start positioning for next season. Tough decisions for Terry Pegula.
What moves are available for the Sabres? Could a team like Chicago make a play for Miller? Other than that, who wants our garbage players?
Craig Custance (3:15 PM)
The one thing lost in the ugliness of the loss to Detroit and Miller's postgame rant were his comments before the game. He was very eloquent in talking about his struggles in returning from a concussion. He spoke about how difficult it is for a goalie to focus when going through the process of concussion recovery and I think he's still working his way back. Because of that, I think it'd be a mistake to trade him right now. His value is down and he's still working things out. I wouldn't trade Ryan Miller.
Zach (Chicago (Michigan at heart))
Craig- Do you foresee any talk in the CBA negotiations that would reward teams more for wins? To me, it seems odd that Detroit has played the same number of games as St. Louis, has two more wins, and yet is behind them in the standings.
Craig Custance (3:18 PM)
I've had a lot of conversations lately with player reps about concerns heading into these CBA negotiations and none of them have mentioned the current point system. I think ultimately the players and the NHLPA both think parity is good for the league in that it makes more teams competitive, bringing in more revenue. Is it fair? That's debatable, but it has created some interesting playoff races.
Kings are finally scoring goals!!!! Will Gagne be back? Who do the Kings need to target in a trade? Will that trade cost us Bernier?
Craig Custance (3:21 PM)
Ross - Aside from the Edmonton game, you're right. The feeling within the Kings room was that once they started scoring, they would get rolling. That may be what we're seeing now. I still think they target help up front, on the wing. Maybe Hemsky or Iginla if he hits the market. But i have to imagine Dean Lombardi would much rather make a trade while his team is rolling rather than do something out of desperation.
DonCherryParody (Coach's Corner)
YKNOW CHRIS DO YA AGREE WITH ME THAT WE GOT TOO MANY RATS RUNNIN AROUND THESE DAYS AND NOT THE GOOD RATS LIKE MY PAL KENNY THE RAT LINSMANN FROM THE BAHSTON BROOINS WAYTAGO KENNY! (THUMBS UP)
Craig Custance (3:22 PM)
Honored that DonCherryParody found its way to the chat.
Hello Craig! Do you think Mike Smith is the real deal in Phoenix? Looking at Bryz's struggles it makes you wonder if Tippett and Burke are just that good. And if the Coyotes move, how much of the current team do you think remains intact for next season, or would they be sellers? It would be a shame, since there's the basis of a contender there in the desert.
Craig Custance (3:25 PM)
I do believe Mike SMith is the real deal. Don Maloney thought his ability to play the puck would be a great addition to Dave Tippett's system and it's worked out that way. I don't think you can give Sean Burke and Tippett enough credit for the success in Phoenix. I don't know how much a pending move would determine if they're buyers or sellers. The players there feel like they have unfinished business and don't want to go anywhere, that includes Shane Doan.
What are the Pens going to do at the deadline?
Craig Custance (3:27 PM)
Great question. I think Ray Shero is still trying to formulate that plan so anything we suggest would be speculation. That said, I know Pittsburgh would love to add a top six forward. This team needs scoring help.
adam (edison, nj)
big devil fan and i hate the rangers but do u think the devils can catch the rangers for the division at the end of the year and also could getzalf or perry going to ny??
Craig Custance (3:28 PM)
Adam - No, I don't. Sorry. I'm bullish on the Rangers this season and really don't think they need to do anything as drastic as adding a Getzlaf or Perry. With Anaheim turning things around, I think the chances of Getzlaf and Perry going anywhere are extremely thin.
do you think the habs should get rid of pk subban ? he's got a hot head and does not seem to get it , on the other hand a lot of talent ...
Craig Custance (3:30 PM)
In my opinion, it'd be a huge mistake to trade PK Subban. I certainly wouldn't let Pierre Gauthier make that decision. If I were running the Canadiens, we'd clean house this summer in the front office and let a new group make those evaluations. But Subban is too young and talented to trade at this point in his career.
Dave (St. Louis)
Who do you have winning the Central Divisoin in Western conference? Runner up?
Craig Custance (3:31 PM)
1. Chicago 2. Detroit 3. Nashville 4. St. Louis 5. Columbus -- Central should get four teams in the playoffs. Best division in hockey.
Tom (Halifax, VA)
Hurricanes look to be moving quite a few pieces in the coming weeks (Gleason, Ruutu, Allen, perhaps more). Do you think they are likely to get mostly picks as compensation and bring up prospects, or get other contracts extending past this year and young players?
Craig Custance (3:33 PM)
Carolina will be very active at the deadline and have some attractive pieces, including the players you mentioned. I anticipate the return to be draft-pick heavy. They'll be dealing with contenders, and contenders aren't too eager to subtract from their current rosters. Just add. Carolina can actually position itself for a quick turnaround. There's a lot of young talent there and Jim Rutherford is about to acquire more. They won't stay down for long.
shawn (nova scotia)
is marc savard going to be back this year?
Craig Custance (3:36 PM)
Shawn - No. I don't think we'll see him play hockey again but I give him a lot of credit for turning a negative into a positive with his work with children suffering head trauma. I'm looking forward to seeing what else he does for the cause in the future.
Buffalo, spending almost to the cap this year, are not performing very well. Do you think Ruff might get the axe?
Craig Custance (3:37 PM)
Kirby - Everything has to be on the table at this point but so far Terry Pegula has given every indication that he's going to remain loyal and supportive to his coach. But at some point, somebody has to be held accountable for the lack of success in Buffalo.
Nick Lidstrom (Hockeytown)
I'm playing better this year than last (including the stat sheet). Do I win my 8th Norris, a Cup and retire into the sunset?
Craig Custance (3:39 PM)
Nick - As long as you're contending for a Norris, I think you'll keep playing. There was an assumption this would be it for Lidstrom, but he has shown no signs of decline and if that remains the case, I think he comes back. But only Lidstrom knows for sure.
Jeremy (New York)
What are the chances that the new CBA will include an amnesty clause. With this concussion epidemic becoming a great concern, I don't think its fair to penalize teams because of circumstances beyond their control.
Craig Custance (3:40 PM)
Jeremy - It may not be the same version we saw following the NBA lockout, but I wouldn't be surprised if the league and the NHLPA come to an agreement so that teams and players can get out of some of the bad contracts we've seen. Nobody wins when a guy like Wade Redden, who is a capable NHL player, is buried in the minors.
Will this be Marty Brodeur's last year?...If not does he resign a one year deal with NJ or look to play elsewhere?
Craig Custance (3:42 PM)
Marty said today in a story reported by the New York Post (I believe) that he's considering another season. I'm somewhat surprised to hear that since we've seen a decline in his play but he's still proven he can win games for the Devils. At some point, the franchise has to turn the page or at least have a goalie groomed to replace him and that hasn't happened yet. A prospect like Scott Wedgewood is still a few years off.
With Koivu injured, do the wild go after a scorer to stay in the playoff hunt?
Craig Custance (3:45 PM)
Mike Russo reported that Chuck Fletcher was burning the phones to try and add help to replace Koivu but Fletcher has to be careful. Minnesota is primed to be a really good team next year and even better the year after that and I wouldn't do anything that gets in the way. I know fans in MInnesota want to return to the playoffs but I wouldn't sacrifice the long-term plan in Minnesota just to fill in for Koivu right now. This team is on the right path.
Ice Ace (Alabama)
With the All Star game approaching, what teams will be glad for a few days off?
Craig Custance (3:47 PM)
The break can't get here fast enough for Buffalo, a team that is reeling and still trying to get healthy. The Penguins are battling to stay in the hunt while they recover from injuries, I'm sure that franchise could use a few days to rest and get ready for the stretch run.
Craig, with so many snubs for the All Star game, do you think the voting should be taken away from fans?
Craig Custance (3:49 PM)
Nope. I think the fans should have a voice in the All-Star game. And no matter how you do it, there are going to be people who feel slighted. You could argue that every team doesn't need to be represented - that would cut down on the snubs - but I kind of like that every fanbase has a reason to watch. I wouldn't change it.
Ty (Nashville, TN)
Do you think that Bobby Ryan will be traded from Anaheim?
Craig Custance (3:51 PM)
I still think it would take a big package to lure one of the big three forwards away from Bob Murray. Of the three, Ryan is the most likely to get dealt but the Ducks are now 6-3-1 in their last ten and Jonas Hiller is starting to come around. There may be less urgency to deal in Anaheim. If I had to bet, I'd say no.
USA Junior team, a big disappointment this year, with the amount of $$ being spent in Ann Arbor and developing players how does this happen?
Craig Custance (3:52 PM)
That tournament is more competitive than ever. Yes, USA Hockey has made major strides, but so have other countries. I see the program bouncing back in a big way next year. The fact that we're disappointed shows how much growth has been made.
Craig, Enjoy your work! How are Islanders going to get an impact scorer or top defenseman as Free agents won't consider the Isles at all. I assume the Islanders have zero chance of getting Parise even if they blow him away with a huge offer. The Islanders need veteran impact players to get out of this constant rebuild mode.
Craig Custance (3:55 PM)
Thanks Andre, appreciate it. You nailed it. Garth Snow's inability to land top free agents isn't because they aren't making competitive offers. Money isn't the problem. Players want to win and the Islanders have done nothing during the Snow era to convince free agents that they're close to winning. I would agree. They have zero chance of landing Parise and it will continue to be that way as long as the Islanders are stuck at the bottom of the standings. Would you sign with the Islanders if you were a free agent?
Do you see the Flyers going out and getting a defenseman?
Craig Custance (3:55 PM)
Any chance the Hawks can move Niklas Hjalmarsson?
Craig Custance (3:56 PM)
I wouldn't move him. A guy like him is especially useful in the playoffs where a big blocked shot can be a turning point in a game. I believe landing a defenseman is the No. 1 priority for Stan Bowman, not trading one.
Big money goalies can't be worth it. Goalies have headgames more than other positions. It's not worth paying 5 or 6 mil for a goalie if that means you can't put out a very solid top 4 defense and a good set of forwards. Agree?
Craig Custance (3:58 PM)
I tend to agree with that theory Matt, but you'd better get it right if you're going to go cheap on goaltending. Just look at Tampa Bay. Steve Yzerman bet on Roloson and it has been a disaster. I bet he'd be more than happy to pay 5 or 6 million for a guy like Henrik Lundqvist. Let's not forget that we saw a Stanley Cup finals last year between Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo, two of the highest paid goalies in the league.
Craig Custance (3:59 PM)
Well, that's a wrap everyone. Really appreciate the questions as always. See you again next week!