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 2 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (1:59 PM)
Hey everyone -- last chat before the trade deadline for me, so let's dig in. Lots to get to!
What ever happened to all the Lecaviler trade talk? That seemed to be an annual thing around this time of year the past couple of years but now that the Lightning are clear sellers, I haven't heard a peep about him.
Craig Custance (2:02 PM)
A couple of things. For one, there is much more stability in Tampa right now than there has been since the Tortorella/Feaster days. Steve Yzerman has settled things down and Vinny has been steadfast in his desire to stay in Tampa (he has a no-move). Second, his contract is impossible to move at a cap hit over $7 million per year through 2020. Who is going to take that on? Plus, right now he's injured. So we're all spared the Lecavalier rumors.
ed (new jersey)
Where do u think the Rangers stand with Nash?
Craig Custance (2:03 PM)
Still in the mix. Still not crazy about the idea of giving up MDZ.
Brian (In class)
Do you think there is any chance the Rangers fall from first in the east, and if they do what are the chance you think the Devils will catch them. I mean the Rangers only have a 9 point lead on the Devils, and yes i know thats a lot but with the teams playing three more times, we could see that point lead drop too 3 within this rivalry. Let me know what you think
Craig Custance (2:04 PM)
Love what I'm seeing lately from the Devils and especially Ilya Kovalchuk. But I say there's no way they catch the Rangers as long as Henrik Lundqvist is the goalie in New York.
Jacob (St. Louis)
How in the world did Peters only get a 1 game suspension for his cross check to the head of David Backes. How could anybody really think that Peters didn't mean to cross check him in the head? I mean come on it was after the whistle. Thanks
Craig Custance (2:07 PM)
Just letting you vent here Jacob. I wasn't crazy about it but didn't think it deserved much more than that. I'm more concerned about the blindside dirty hits at full speed, like Bourque's cheap shot of Backstrom.
ted (cape cod)
Do you think teams have finally figured out how to out play the Boston Bruins?
Craig Custance (2:09 PM)
Ted - Not sure I buy that. Losing Horton and some of their depth on the wing to me is more the issue. Plus, we've seen nearly every team go through ups and downs this year. Detroit lost five or six in a row earlier this year. Chicago is just coming out of their ugly stretch. If Peter Chiarelli can bring in some re-enforcements up front before the 27th, Boston will be fine.
Will the Sabres try to clean house prior to the trade deadline? Other than Ryan Miller, which players do they have that other teams might want? Stafford, Boyes, Gaustad, Roy, Leopold?
Craig Custance (2:10 PM)
Joe - I honestly am not sure what Buffalo is waiting for. I would have started the housecleaning long ago. But yeah, they'll move some players although I don't think Ryan Miller will be one of them. I'd be stunned if Gaustad isn't dealt (Detroit?) and Roy might be an interesting option. Boyes' salary makes him tough to move.
Craig, all this news about Seattle as a potential landing spot for an NHL team has me very intrigued. I've never been a big follower of the NHL, but if we had our own team I would become an instant fan. In your view, what is the likelihood of Seattle having a franchise next year?
Craig Custance (2:13 PM)
Tyler - It sounds like there may be a solution brewing in Phoenix which would be bad news for the hockey fans in Seattle. But I know the league is intrigued by the idea of having a team in Seattle and if there's a suitable arena along with willing owner, they'll be in the mix down the road. I'd watch the news coming from Phoenix over the next couple weeks very closely.
What do you think happens with Ruutu for the Canes?
Craig Custance (2:14 PM)
Between his injury and willingness to sign a contract extension with the Hurricanes, the likelihood of Ruutu being dealt is low. But I haven't checked in on negotiations in awhile, they'd have to completely fall apart for Jim Rutherford to change course. He prefers to keep Ruutu.
Craig,Do you think Anaheim can pull of a run to make it into the playoffs?
Craig Custance (2:16 PM)
Zachary - We were just having that discussion on our hockey podcast. Both Scott Burnside and the CP's Chris Johnston think the Ducks are going to make the playoffs. I think they'll fall short. Phoenix, to me, is a playoff team so essentially you're betting that the Ducks will edge the Kings and I'm not ready to do that. Plus, I think Dean Lombardi will add a forward before Monday which helps the cause in LA. I know this, I'd want no part of the Ducks in the first round if they make it.
Arin (Dublin, Ca)
Would Clowe, Demers, Stalock, and #1 pick be enough for Nash?
Craig Custance (2:18 PM)
Probably not, plus I don't get the sense that Doug Wilson wants to touch too much of his current roster while making any deadline deals. If the Nash sweepstakes drag out into the off-season, I'd put the Sharks very high on the list of potential destinations, especially if they underachieve in the playoffs.
Mike (New Jersey)
IF Nabokov is dealt, and it seems a big IF, what are some potential landing spots? (Hoping to get a question answered, seems so hard to do!)
Craig Custance (2:20 PM)
Garth Snow has consistently said he wants to keep Nabokov and it sounds like contract talks are starting soon if they haven't already. So I'm leaning towards no on a trade. Plus, Chicago is steadying the ship and STan Bowman has consistently said he's not adding a goalie. Detroit isn't adding a goalie. Brian Burke has said he's not adding a goalie. There's just not a huge market right now for goalie help.
Craig - Do you see Shero at least sniffing around to see if any big-name winger or-dman can be had? The Hossa deal a few years ago sort of came out of the blue. The Pens are poised to at least make a strong run this year. Any rumblings that he may at least TRY and pull a blockbuster?
Craig Custance (2:22 PM)
Jeev - Haven't heard Pittsburgh in any blockbuster conversations. I see a quiet trade deadline in Pittsburgh where getting Sidney Crosby back in the lineup is more important than anything Shero can do.
What are you reading these days?
Craig Custance (2:24 PM)
Nothing and I'm looking for a good read for my flight to Bristol this weekend. Any suggestions?
Who wins a 7 game series. Vancouver or Detroit?
Craig Custance (2:26 PM)
Looking forward to Thursday's game between these two teams. I wouldn't be surprised if we get this question answered at some point this spring. My perspective is skewed because I haven't seen the Red Wings lose live in months. But if pushed, I'd say Vancouver in 7.
Andy (Upstate NY)
Craig, give us a name who we havent heard anything about but you think well be moved at the deadline. Someone so when it happens the headline reads "ESPN's Craig Custance: Trade Psychic". That would be catchy on a business card
Craig Custance (2:29 PM)
Andy - If I were psychic, I'm not sure I'd use those powers on NHL trades although I would have loved to been the one to predict the Erik Johnson deal last year. The one name that I'm fascinated by who you're not hearing much about is Alexander Semin. If you need scoring and have the cap space, wouldn't you at least consider rolling the dice on Semin?
Ben (San Jose)
Do the Sharks make any big moves (like Seto/Heater last year) if they don't win the cup?
Craig Custance (2:29 PM)
I never count Doug Wilson out of anything in the summer. They went to the Western Conference finals last spring and he still brought in nine new players. So yeah, if they don't win the Cup I could see him being aggressive.
Hey Craig, any chance the Devils are in the mix for Filip Kuba? With all their injuries I would love to see them add a D-man or two before the deadline! Thanks!
Craig Custance (2:31 PM)
Devils could use another D not sure about Kuba. I'm still not convinced we've heard the last of the Marek Zidlicky to the Devils talk.
Is a roster player/ 2 prospects/ and a first rounder too high a price for Nash?
Craig Custance (2:32 PM)
Depends greatly on who those players are. I'm thinking more two roster players, one prospect and first-rounder.
Do you see any chance that between the Devils, Pens, Flyers one of the teams would "rest" some stars near the end of the season to try and get the 6 seed? Seems to me that if you won't get 4th you want 6th. 5th place has a way harder game AND without home ice.
Craig Custance (2:33 PM)
No way Devin. You don't mess with the hockey gods and do something like that. Sends the wrong message to your players too.
Brian (Cary, NC)
canes have been playing good of late, you see them making a playoff push?
Craig Custance (2:35 PM)
Brian - Nope. But it supports Jim Rutherford's opinion that this team isn't far from being a contender. Good, young D. Franchise goalie. They need two scorers up front and I see Carolina being very active in that regard during free agency this summer. Maybe more than we've seen in the past.
What would it cost the sharks for Hemsky and would it be worth it?
Craig Custance (2:38 PM)
Hey Wes - I was just talking to an exec about the forward market and unlike defensemen, the market really hasn't been set yet. We still haven't established what a top six guy is worth. On the high end, Hemsky would bring in something similar to Penner -- prospect and first-rounder. On the low end, I'm thinking prospect and mid-range pick. I wouldn't pay Penner's price for Hemsky but would talk if I didn't have to give up a first-rounder.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Thomas/Krecji for Patrick Kane. Heck, I'd even through in Boychuck. Come on Craig, make it happen.
Craig Custance (2:39 PM)
Chiarelli told me point blank he's not trading Thomas. And I don't get the Patrick Kane rumors at all. Might have to look elsewhere for your scoring winger Marc.
I saw a report that the Flyers were out on the Nash talk....do you see truth in that? I would rather have Suter or Weber anyway
Craig Custance (2:40 PM)
I think they're out at the current going rate but if Columbus comes off their demands at all I wouldn't be surprised to see Philly back in. I agree though Bill. I'd rather have Suter and Weber too if I were Philly.
Hi Craig, lots of people saying Columbus is better off waiting until the offseason, so that more suitors are involved for a possible Nash deal. But wouldn't it be a potentially better idea to try to push a deal sooner before the deadline, when other GMs of underperforming teams (*cough* Dean Lombardi) might overspend due to the tremendous pressure on their team to produce?
Craig Custance (2:42 PM)
John - I'm firmly in the 'Wait until the summer' camp. Firmly. But there are a couple things at play. We don't really know how badly Nash wants out. Columbus and Nash may not want to drag this thing out until June. And you're exactly right. THere's no reason to wait if Dean Lombardi makes the right offer now. But wouldn't you rather have 12 teams in a bidding war than three?
Reading suggestions: just looking at what I have on my table right now: Indian Nocturne by Antonio Tabucchi is fun and weird and short enough to do most/all of on a plane ride. About a Mountain by John D'Agata is kind of a long and brilliant semi-lyric essay about Yucca Mountain. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell is great. Just read Inherent Vice by Pynchon which was trippy and brilliant.
Mark (Denver, CO)
Craig, try The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen. It's really great. Should the Avs try to trade Statsny this year?
Alon (Brooklyn, NY)
Abraham Lincoln The Vampire Hunter, fun read.
Craig Custance (2:44 PM)
Thanks for the reading tips. Will definitely hit the airport bookstore. I like Stastny. I realize he's overpaid but just look at how many teams need a good center, they're not easy to find. I wouldn't trade him.
Gut feeling. Where does Nash end up?
Craig Custance (2:44 PM)
Love the up-tempo style of play the HABS have been playing under Cunneyworth, any chance he is coaching there next year?
Craig Custance (2:46 PM)
Cunneyworth has done a great job steadying things in Montreal. I think he's opened some eyes. But I think the Canadiens would have to make the playoffs for him to get the job next year.
Does it make sense for the Flyers to try to shop Bob on the open market since they are basically stuck with Bryz anyways? Should Vancouver make similar moves due to a near identical goalie situation?
Craig Custance (2:47 PM)
The wildcard to the Bryzgalov situation is the potential for an amnesty clause coming out of the next CBA. If the Flyers get a one-time opportunity to get out of that contract without any salary cap ramifications before next season, I have to imagine they'd do it.
Flyers Done dealing ?
Craig Custance (2:48 PM)
Paul Holmgren's focus was adding depth on defense and he has done exactly that. I'd pencil them in as done dealing unless the Nash asking price comes down.
Will the Red wings make a trade?
Craig Custance (2:49 PM)
Yes. Nothing crazy though. Think bottom pair veteran defenseman and bottom six forward.
Sven Linsson (Sweden)
Adam Henrique will win the Calder Trophy as top rookie?
Craig Custance (2:50 PM)
He's emerged as the favorite. Nugent-Hopkins has been cleared for contact though and should be returning to the lineup. Don't count out a late run by RNH.
Are the Jets being coy about their making a play to trade for Selanne?
Craig Custance (2:51 PM)
No. If the Ducks continue to win, Selanne isn't going anywhere. He wants to make the playoffs with Anaheim more than he would want to return to Winnipeg.
Is there any hope for the Caps? The problems seem to run really deep right now...
Craig Custance (2:53 PM)
Without a healthy Nicklas Backstrom, this team isn't particularly good. They play in the SOutheast though, so there's hope. But something's definitely wrong in Washington.
bryan Fink (St. Louis )
What happens to Chris Stewart on Deadline day
Craig Custance (2:54 PM)
Doug Armstrong is quiet and a bit unpredictable. But my prediction is that Chris Stewart stays with the Blues. So to answer your question, nothing.
Any help comin for my Blackhawks in the C or D department?
Craig Custance (2:55 PM)
Yes, although I would have liked to see the Blackhawks land either Gill or Grossman. Especially Gill though, that was a tough blow for them. But Stan Bowman will get a d-man.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Justin Faulk's name is starting to get mentioned for the Calder. Is he going to end up short because of a slow start or is it just not enough notoriety being in a small market as a young defenseman?
Craig Custance (2:56 PM)
Faulk deserves to be in the Calder mix but it's tough for a defenseman to win the Calder, especially one from Carolina. He's in the conversation though, for sure. He's a good one.
Rinko Rikovic (Poland)
Why has Paul Martin been so bad for Pittsburgh this year? Worst plus-minus on team!
Craig Custance (2:57 PM)
I don't have an explanation for Paul Martin. None at all. I like him as a person and a player and he hasn't been particularly good, wish I had a better answer.
Petr Bovodas (Czech Republic)
Your dark horse for make playoffs now is...???
Craig Custance (2:57 PM)
Anaheim. ALthough my gut tells me they fall just short.
With Datsyuk out for a few weeks after minor knee surgery, do you think the streak comes to an end against the canucks?
Craig Custance (2:59 PM)
Drew - I've been wrong on the streak a few times now. I really thought it was going to end against Nashville. Datsyuk is a huge blow though. Going to be tough to beat Vancouver without him. My prediction - Canucks 4, Red Wings 2.
What about Read for the Calder? Leads rookies in goals and is a strong 2 way player and plays high minutes on the PK!!
Craig Custance (3:00 PM)
Yup, definitely in the mix. Give credit to Bob McKenzie at TSN who picked Read for the Calder this summer. Great call.
Craig Custance (3:02 PM)
Alright everybody, handing the chat baton off to Pierre LeBrun. Go head over to his chat from 3-4 for more trade talk and tell him I said hello. It's been fun, great questions as always.If there's something I missed, send a question for our weekly mailbag here: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/mailbag/_/id/40243/craig-custance