Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Hello All. Where did the summer go? Have a cup of Tim Hortons on the go, trip in the works to New York next week for annual player tour interviews and training camps two weeks away. Now, where were we?
Andrew (St. Louis)
Blues and Schwartz are far apart in contract negotiations. With Schwartz having no bargaining power is the only thing he can do is hold out? It seems to be happening a lot lately with players. How can this be prevented in the future? And how much do you think Schwartz should get paid on a 1 year deal?
Scott Burnside (1:05 PM)
Andrew; You hit the nail on the head with Schwartz's leverage which is none beyond not being in camp on time or if it drags on further missing pre-season and/or regular season games. He is a critical part of the Blues' offense along with Vladimir Tarasenko, a kind of second wave that has to continue to evolve if the Blues are going to compete with Chicago, Los Angeles, Anaheim etc. especially on the offensive side of the puck. No doubt the Blues are wary of giving too much to Schwartz (25 goals last year) with Tarasenko to deal with next summer. No doubt missing significant time especially for a young player is problematic for both player and team.
Thoughts on the Krejci extension? I love it, but as a fan I probably overvalue him. Wonder how it looks to outsiders.
Scott Burnside (1:08 PM)
Jeff; I think the external view is that he's worth the money and the term given his importance to the Bruins and comparable contracts around the league. He has proven to be an important playoff producer and he simply is a good fit with Claude Julien and this team. Of course this is a Bruins team that is having its first real cap crunch since winning the Cup in '11 so there is that but the question I always ask is if you don't lock him up to that kind of deal will someone else (yes) and how do you replace him? Short answer is that you don't.
Ed (Queens Village)
If you were Dan Bylsma would you take year off or wait for someone to get fired in-season to take over that job?
Scott Burnside (1:09 PM)
Ed; Always a tough call for coaches who suddenly find themselves without work. We saw John Tortorella jump quickly from New York to Vancouver and I think even he would admit some time away from the game might have been better for all concerned. But when someone calls with one of 30 jobs it's hard to turn it down. My guess is that Dan Bylsma will be back behind an NHL bench before Christmas (wonder how he likes Toronto?).
who do you see as the habs backup goalie this season? Budaj or Tokarski?
Scott Burnside (1:13 PM)
Ann; Well the 'darling' factor will certainly weigh heavily in Dustin Tokarski's favor given his gutsy performance after Carey Price's injury in the Eastern Conference final. And Peter Budaj certainly didn't help his cause in his brief appearance in that series. That said Tokarski is still young (25 later this month) and is he better served playing a lot of games in Hamilton or will he learn more playing a handful of games behind Price assuming Price stays healthy? Personally I'd love to see how the kid reacts to more regular NHL work after playing well against the Rangers.
Is it just me or will the Lightning be regretting not signing Brodeur and going with Nabokov instead? I think Bishop's health is a big question mark and worry about the backup goalie, still. Although one of the kids could step in, whats your take Scott?
Scott Burnside (1:16 PM)
Grant; For me it's not necessarily Bishop's health although there is that but whether he can replicate such a high level of play displayed last season when everyone expected injuries to key personnel to derail the Bolts' season. Some backsliding is inevitable but how much will there be? Bolts are close to the Bruins if Bishop plays at a similar level. As for the backup position am a fan of Evgeni Nabokov even though his play has not been what it once was. And that he was an attractive option with others like Martin Brodeur, Ilya Bryzgalov and others still available doesn't say much about faith in Brodeur or Bryzgalov et al to provide meaningful starts. Too early to turn the page on Brodeur but the backup situation in Tampa will be interesting to watch unfold.
For each conference, which teams do you feel will be the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment?
Scott Burnside (1:20 PM)
Kellen; West surprise; Not sure I have one other than I think Dallas didn't get to the post-season last spring by fluke. Disappointment? I wouldn't be surprised to see the Avs take a step back in Patrick Roy's second year. Still not sure the defense can keep them in the top eight in the west.In the East lots more room for movement and I will suggest the Blue Jackets will give Pittsburgh a run for the top of the Metropolitan Division. And I think the Rangers will be hard-pressed to be better than fourth in the Metro.
Matt (MD )
points wise, how much do you think Coach Trotz improves the Capitals this season?
Scott Burnside (1:22 PM)
Matt; When I mapped out my pre-season list of teams division by division I had the Caps moving to third in the Metro. Let's assume 100 points would put you in that neighborhood this season that would mean 10 more points under Trotz. I don't think that's out of the question at all.
Who is your sleeper team to win the cup?
Scott Burnside (1:24 PM)
Max; I'm not quite ready to make a final Cup pick (sorry Arizona fans it won't be the 'Yotes. That ship has sailed.) but the fascinating thing about the west is that I think you can make a case for six or seven teams not just to go to a Cup final but to win it all. In the east might be able to do that for three teams, maybe four. I'm curious about the Wild and whether their goaltending is stable enough for them to take a serious run at a final four/Cup final. And I think the Ducks are real, real close.
Garth Snow needs a defenseman...it will probably come from a team looking for cap relief. Who do you think are his best and most likely options?
Scott Burnside (1:28 PM)
David; We've only been harping on the Isles lack of defensive depth for a couple of years now. Boston is the obvious team looking to shed some salary and one that has a plethora of NHL defensemen. I know the common thinking is that the Bs will deal Johnny Boychuk or Matt Bartkowski. Like the idea of Boychuk in an Islanders jersey although I think Edmonton feels the same way and may have more to offer in terms of young assets. Also, Boychuk entering last year of deal and will be thinking Brooks Orpik-like dollar and term next summer. Worth the risk in the short-term? Tough call but a good, tough player and a right-handed shot to boot.
Ryan (MI) [via mobile]
Typical hating on the Avs, they're only going to get better!
Scott Burnside (1:29 PM)
Ryan; Actually thought we gave the Avs loads of love last season. They were full value for the division win but I think their play in the post-season illustrates that they're not there yet and there isn't a tougher place to play than in the Central.
Is Chicago any closer to trading someone to get under the cap? Who do you think it might be? Leddy? Sharp?
Scott Burnside (1:34 PM)
Eric; Interesting as I spoke with Stan Bowman yesterday for some pre-season stuff and I know he's interested in how David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey show along the blue line which might make a guy like Leddy more expendable. Kris Versteeg struggled, too, for the Hawks and presumably is a guy that could be moved. Bowman has been pretty adamant that he's not interested in moving Patrick Sharp even though his cap number ($5.9 million average for the next three seasons) does make him an obvious choice in terms of cap relief. Still, I'll be shocked if Sharp is moved and that the cap issue is resolved by smaller pieces being carved away.
Jaime Benn and Tyler Seguin are both top caliber talents and together form a pretty formidable top line combo. But what do they need to do to improve in 2014-2015 as a players and line-mates to help take the Stars deeper into the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (1:38 PM)
Kyle; Bright days ahead for the Stars that's for sure and while both need to continue to mature and grow that's an obvious answer I think that growth will be aided by the fact the Stars are much deeper up front now with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky joining the fray and guys like Ryan Garbutt, Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel establishing themselves as everyday NHLers. The better the offensive depth the less pressure on Benn and Seguin to do it every night. Seguin will be especially interesting to watch this season after being the subject of so much discussion before coming to Dallas and proving the naysayers wrong. He'll have to show he won't take anything for granted in following that up this season.
What are your thoughts on the Kevin Hayes signing? Should we expect him in NYC or in Hartford?
Is Rick Nash capable of being a 40 goal scorer in the NHL anymore or is what we've seen the past few seasons the reality of what he likely now is?
Scott Burnside (1:41 PM)
Brian; No room in the inn in Chicago so Hayes found a place where his opportunity to play sooner than later is dramatically enhanced. Big jump, though, from college hockey even as good as he was. My guess is that unless he blows the doors off or there injuries up front during camp he'll start with Hartford. But I also think that he'll finish with the big team and has a chance to make a significant impact.
Scott Burnside (1:44 PM)
Fred: Nash scored 40 in 2008-09 and of course last year had 26 with just three more in the post-season. Ouch. Have to imagine Alain Vigneault would be thrilled to see Nash reach the 30-goal plateau but given the lack of confidence shown during the post-season when he wasn't even finding meaningful power play time that might be a stretch.
What arena has the best playoff atmosphere?
Scott Burnside (1:46 PM)
Andrew; Hard to beat the Bell Center in Montreal as long as they aren't throwing junk on the ice. Still hard to beat Chicago and the United Center. Being at Nationwide Arena in Columbus was very cool where the fans gave a standing ovation even when the Blue Jackets were losing (although that stinking cannon has to go. Pretty much leapt through the roof every time it went off even though you know it's coming.)
Why so negative on the Rangers. Yes they lost depth, but they have young guns coming in to fill those spots. Nobody predicted the depth they had last year, so why can't they have the same success, along with a full year of St. Louis?
Scott Burnside (1:48 PM)
Mike; So many things fell the right way for the Rangers last year that I think it's unrealistic for it to happen again. Problem with relying on young guns is that sometimes they don't fire when you want. Brian Boyle will be missed and even more Anton Stralman. Rangers have to decide what to do with Marc Staal and yes Martin St. Louis on board for an entire year but what are the realistic expectations for a 39-year-old guy even if he is a Hall of Famer like St. Louis?
meve (Rochester,ny) [via mobile]
Does Reinhart stay on buffalo or ship him to juniors?
Scott Burnside (1:50 PM)
meve; My guess is that he'll get the nine-game look out of camp but that ultimately he'll go back to junior.
Am I being unrealistic to think that Victor Hedman will be a Norris finalist in the next few years (possibly next year)? Also, where do you see Drouin starting in the lineup? Next to Stammer or as a C3 similar to where Johnson began last season?
Scott Burnside (1:52 PM)
Tim; Great story Hedman's slow but steady progression. It's so hard for young defensemen to jump into the NHL especially with huge expectations and become all-around players (ask Seth Jones who is terrific but who had lots of ups and downs last year in Nashville). Hedman is going to be in Norris discussions and perhaps as early as next spring. As for Drouin I think the Bolts' handling of him last year shows they won't be putting him in positions where they don't think he can succeed which suggests to me deeper in the lineup maybe with the some second PP unit time to start with. Good thing for the Lightning is that they have loads of options and don't need to ask Drouin to do too much too early.
do the Preds really deserve to be lumped in with Buffalo, Calgary, and FLA as 75/1 odds? yikes..
Scott Burnside (1:57 PM)
kurt; I was shocked by that myself. In my pre-season list I have the Preds jockeying with the Avs (sorry Avs fans) and Dallas for the fourth spot in the Central. They were only three points behind Dallas for the second wild card last year and assuming Rinne is healthy they have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.
In the Nerds vs. Dinosaurs fancy-stat debate, it looks like the nerds are coming out on top. Will this spell the end of enforcers?
Scott Burnside (1:58 PM)
Jeff; I'm trying to educate myself from Dino to Nerd squad but it's tough. The fact more and more teams will commit more resources to advanced stats may simply reinforce what I think most people believe and that's that good teams don't need to have guys eating up cap space that can't play. Of course when you think that you see Doug Wilson, a smart guy and very forward thinking, sign a guy like John Scott. So, go figure.
Scott Burnside (2:01 PM)
Okay folks. Thanks for dropping by as always. Let's do it again next week. Be safe. Until next time.