Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the latest news from around the ice.
Strang is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (1:00 PM)
Greetings hockey fans! Not too much longer until training camps begin. Lots to discuss in the next few weeks, so let's get after it. Fire away with your questions!
are you surprised by any unrestricted free agents that haven't been signed yet?
Katie Strang (1:02 PM)
Hey Alan. I am somewhat surprised that Martin Brodeur hasn't signed somewhere yet, but I suppose that makes good sense if you are him. With his age and resume, why play anywhere that wasn't the ideal fit? Best for him to bide his time, wait to see if any teams' needs change with training camp or early-season injury, and make a decision then
Given the number of Cup contending teams currently hovering above the cap (Bruins, Blackhawks, etc.), when do you expect the first domino to fall in terms of dumping salary? Any specific players you expect to see moved?
Katie Strang (1:04 PM)
I think we could see a Johnny Oduya or Niklas Hjarlmasson being moved. Those teams still have time to make moves, but they have to start figuring things out salary cap-wise relatively soon
Katie, can you see the Sharks struggling to make the playoffs this year? The Thornton / Marleau situation has been mishandled by Doug Wilson with his comments in the off-season, removing the "C" and "A" from their sweaters, etc.
Katie Strang (1:07 PM)
I agree that this summer has to be a disconcerting one for Sharks fans, no doubt. And their lack of activity this off-season was similarly puzzling. That said, I still think they have a really good group of players to build around, and a good mix of experienced veterans and talented youngsters. Their goaltending situation could be in flux with Stalock pushing Niemi, but I think the biggest issue is how they deal with this whole leadership direction moving forward. Do Thornton and Marleau take a backseat. Does Couture step up as "the guy"? We'll see but I still think they are a playoff team
Hi Katie, I hear a lot about the roll of the tuff guy being diminished, when I look at the Wings, I feel like that a big key there are missing and Pav and zet are paying for it. Any thoughts there?
Katie Strang (1:08 PM)
Detroit has traditionally been a team to employ speed and skill as its biggest assets. That hasn't changed. They are not the Bruins, and they don't have to be. You don't need to be a bruising team to win. Finesse has worked just fine for the Red Wings considering their current playoff appearance streak...
Hannah (Tampa, FL)
I would really like to know what you think would be realistic expectations for Jonathan Drouin and Victor Hedman with the Lightning this season? Also do you see Stammer getting over 50 goals? Thanks!!!
Katie Strang (1:10 PM)
Hey Hannah! Drouin has my early vote to win the Calder Trophy. He'll be coming into camp hungry and eager to winning a spot. Think Hedman's evolution as a defenseman has definitely gone overlooked recently, so would not be surprised if he gets the type of recognition he deserves next season. As far as Stamkos goes, there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to get there as long as he stays healthy
glenn (new york )
Will the Islanders find a top 4 dman before the season starts? Anyone from Chicago or Boston
Katie Strang (1:12 PM)
One interesting thing to me is that neither Grabovski nor Kulemin have no-trade clauses in their contract. Could be assets GM Garth Snow tries to dangle to lure that type of player. As has been the case for the team in recent years, bringing a player in via trade has certainly been much easier than trying to attract them as a free agent
Do you expect Hayes to open the season with the Rangers?
Katie Strang (1:14 PM)
Yes, I do. They can use his size and skill and the Rangers will have some open competition as far as the bottom six forwards go. Hayes' versatility -- natural center but plays wing as well -- should help him in Vigneault's style of play, too
Andrew (Long Island) [via mobile]
Do you think that a city like Las Vegas that thrives on tourism can host a successful hockey franchise?
Katie Strang (1:16 PM)
Yes, I do, but maybe that' s just because I like the idea of Sin City as a nice road trip for work :)One interesting hurdle, that my ESPN colleague Scott Burnside pointed out, is that because the city thrives on tourism and so many of its inhabitants work night shifts, regular game attendance could be an issue.Burnside delved deeper into the issue, so look for that on the ESPN.com hockey site sometime soon this afternoon
Doug (Long Island)
Quick...name the NYR's top power play unit for this coming year. I got MSL and Boyle on the point, with Kreider Stepan Nash up front. Sorry McD!
Katie Strang (1:17 PM)
McDonagh and Boyle, Kreider, Stepan and MSL
Greg (Norwalk, CT)
What do you think of AHL trying out the 3 on 3 OT for the last 3 mins of OT and making OT 7 minutes? Do you like the shootout? I personally have seen enough of it.
Katie Strang (1:18 PM)
I know it's blasphemous to say, but I actually like the shootout. I think it's fine as it is, purists be damn. I don't think 3 on 3 hockey is much more representative of real hockey anyway
Daniel, Alberta [via mobile]
Who do you think will be assistant captain to Jamie Benn next year? I'm thinking Horcoff, Seguin, Daley and Gologoski as options.
Katie Strang (1:19 PM)
I think these are all good options, but I have to also imagine that Spezza will be in the mix as well. Might not have thrived wearing the "C" in Ottawa, but I think he's still a good leader to have inside your room
Katie, why so much interest in expansion? if you ask me, the league should be contracting to keep up the talent level if anything.
Katie Strang (1:20 PM)
Two words: expansion fees
Johhny Canuck (Smithers, B.C.)
Lot's of chatter about expansion again? Is there anything to the Seattle-Vegas rumours?
Katie Strang (1:21 PM)
Nothing imminent, no. Those two are certainly among the front-runners and the league is always open to pursuing options to expand but there is nothing formal to do that at this time
Mike [via mobile]
Mike green will trade ?
Katie Strang (1:23 PM)
Might actually be worth seeing how he performs with the likes of Niskanen and Orpik leading the way on the back end. Might provide him some more room offensively to produce. Could see him thriving again with a little less pressure and responsibility
Is the NHL definitely going to expand? I hope not as the level of play will decrease. What are your thoughts?
Katie Strang (1:24 PM)
I think the NHL will definitely expand, especially with the 16-14 split as it stands. The issue is not if, but when and where. The timing has to be right
Dustin Morley (Norton Shores)
Katie, I recently learned that you're a Grand Rapids native. With the Griffins doing so well lately, and possibly boasting a lineup this year featuring Mantha, Jurco, Pulkkinen, Mrazek, Sproul, Ouellet, Backman, and Marchenko; is there any reason I shouldn't be more excited for the Griffins than the Red Wings this year?
Katie Strang (1:26 PM)
Haha, indeed I am Dustin! Nothing wrong with getting amped for a good ol' Griffins game at Van Andel (do they still have dollar beers at games? asking for a friend..) but you have to imagine that at least a few of these players will compete for spots in training camp with the Wings this summer. I'll be at prospects camp in Traverse City next month so I will give you my scouting report on who looks good when I get back!
Kelli (Montreal )
Hi! Who do you see as the habs next captain?
Katie Strang (1:26 PM)
Gut feeling is that it will probably be Plekanec but I would not be shocked if it were Pacioretty or Subban either. I kind of like the idea of it being the latter
Doesn't Oduya have at least a modified no movement agreement? Chicago's plight is the most interesting because they seem to be handcuffed no matter what.
Katie Strang (1:28 PM)
He does, and handcuffed they are indeed.Might make Leddy a more likely candidate.
Flyers place in the Metro this year? Seventh?
Katie Strang (1:29 PM)
Easy Easy Matt. I just wrote a story today about John LeClair giving Hextall the endorsement as GM. I think if Philly can stay healthy, they will finish third or fourth
If Pitt decides to move on from Fleury will they ship him off at the deadline? Is Reimer a possible replacement?
Katie Strang (1:30 PM)
probably depends on what the market looks like and what they feel like they can get for him in return. But Rutherford's comments about not extending him yet makes it clear he has something to prove, I think.
Who starts in goal for the Wild at start of regulation?
Katie Strang (1:33 PM)
Good question. Have to imagine that is the burning question heading into training camp for Mike Yeo and the entire Wild Organization. If Harding is healthy, that's my guess. If not, well, then I may even venture to say Brodeur
Do you think the Bruins make a trade for a top line winger? And who do you think are possibilities?
Katie Strang (1:34 PM)
cap constraints are going to make that difficult, even if they unload salary by trading, say,a defenseman. Had to walk away from Iginla for $$$ reasons in free agency and he's a hard guy to replace.
I think Ben Bishop will be the most important player on any Eastern Conference team which is big to say, if he plays like he did last year and doesn't get injured he will lead what I think is a young really stacked team deep into the playoffs. What do you think?
Katie Strang (1:34 PM)
Totally agree. Tampa is the team to watch and I think so much of that hinges on Ben Bishop's health and success
In your opinion, is Mike Johnston Pitts head coach after this season?
Katie Strang (1:35 PM)
Yes. Jim Rutherford is not going to pull a panic move even if they do struggle. Transition takes time and they just went through a significant one
One reason the Devils make it back to the playoffs, and one reason they dont?
Katie Strang (1:36 PM)
Corey Schneider has a great year. Mike Cammalleri and Jaromir Jagr can't carry the offense on their own
Katie Strang (1:37 PM)
And just FYI, I am not trying to ignore these Ryan Malone questions from a bunch of you. Looking into it right now...
Mike (New York)
Anything with the Malone rumors and the Rangers?
Katie Strang (1:39 PM)
Sounds like there is something there, but asked if he has received a training camp invite and was told "not yet"
Trevor (Yellowknife, NT)
Hey Katie,Which team(s) do you see making the biggest jump up in the standings from last season?
Katie Strang (1:40 PM)
I sincerely do think Edmonton is going to improve. I mean, they have to, right? Also think Buffalo could surprise some people
In all the years and all the ridiculous cities bantered about as a potential host city for an expansion or relocating NHL team, I still haven't heard anyone mention Milwaukee? I know its not the biggest market, but hockey is actually played in Wisconsin as opposed to KC or Vegas. With the thriving Hawks just down the road, this seems like a no brainer. Especially with the city looking to build a facility for the Bucks. You'd figure the NHL should be able to get in on the ground floor.
Katie Strang (1:43 PM)
Jack I just spent the weekend in Madison, which is another great town with a love for hockey. I also had mac n cheese pizza there, which is more than enough to earn my endorsement. Think Wisconsin has a strong enthusiasm for hockey but not sure if it's "big-market" enough for the NHL to justify considering the other viable expansion markets
Mike (New York)
So you're suggesting that Garth Snow signed two players to above market value contracts with the hopes of trading them in the same offseason for a Top 4 Defensemen. Just wanted to clarify.
Katie Strang (1:44 PM)
You think the Islanders have a strong track record of making shrewd signings? Just clarifying...
With ownership now shifting and the move to Brooklyn do the Islanders now become a destination franchise? - Will Snow and Capuano last the year?
Katie Strang (1:46 PM)
If the Isles struggle out of the gates, I have to believe that Capuano is gone.I think the recent sale is an overwhelmingly positive step forward for the franchise. Don't think it becomes a "destination franchise" until they start winning but having a new ownership group with deep pockets and a commitment to improving the club is definitely a coup
Katie Strang (1:47 PM)
BTW, though Malong has not received anything official as of this afternoon, I'm told it is "definitely a possibility" that he could get an invite
who do you think wears the C for the Rangers this year? There really isn't an obvious choice.
Katie Strang (1:47 PM)
I actually think there is: Ryan McDonagh
I think the Hawks' brass would love to move Leddy over Oduya. Leddy has been good, but I think more was expected of him. Maybe another team will take a chance on him developing a little late since he's still young. Hjalmarsson & Oduya have great chemistry and I just don't see the Hawks wanting to break them up.
Katie Strang (1:48 PM)
I agree with you Mickey, but I'm guessing that if they were having an easy time shopping Leddy he would've already been dealt.
Katie - the Flyers already aren't healthy. Their best and possibly only NHL caliber defenseman is out indefinitely. I think Matt is right about the 7th seed.
Katie Strang (1:50 PM)
Very possible, but I'm not overwhelmingly impressed with the Metro as a whole. Assuming Timonen can't play, that would obviously be a big blow to Philly, but I like some of the depth signings they made with Del Zotto and Schultz. I think at least one of those deals will pay off
Will the Penguins still finish at the top of the Metro? Will CBJ make the leap to win a playoff series? Will the Rangers make the playoffs considering all the players they've lost?
Katie Strang (1:50 PM)
I do not think the Pens will win the Metro, I do think CBJ wins a series and I think the Rangers will make it, but just barely.
Does Carlyle last the year in Toronto? Bylsma a possible replacement or do they wait and try and land Babcock?
Katie Strang (1:51 PM)
I am still shocked that he is around as of now, to be honest. But, like Capuano, I see Carlyle as a coach with a very short leash
Most stacked division this year is....
Katie Strang (1:52 PM)
Katie Strang (1:54 PM)
OK all we are going to end there for today. Thanks for all of your questions and hope to see you back here again next week! Have a great holiday weekend :)