Chat with Craig Custance
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com NHL Insider Craig Custance stops by to chat about 2013 NHL draft which will take place over the weekend.
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 Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Craig Custance (2:00 PM)
Hey everyone! No slowing down this off-season in the NHL. An incredible Final is in the books and now we all head to Newark for a weekend of trades and drafting. A ton to talk about, let's jump right in.
Rich Betch (District 12)
Is this a good year to have the number 1 pick?
Craig Custance (2:01 PM)
Hey Rich - It's a fantastic year to be picking No. 1. Nathan MacKinnon is being compared to Sidney Crosby and Seth Jones is a legit franchise defenseman. There are at least five guys that will be playing immediately in the NHL next season which means Colorado can trade down and still get a good player. Colorado is in a nice spot right now.
charlie (spain) [via mobile]
Who do u think the avs will pick? Or will they trade down?
Craig Custance (2:04 PM)
Charlie - Spoke with Patrick Roy this week and he said they're going with Nathan MacKinnon unless there's some last second change. But he did say he's getting calls to trade that pick and would definitely consider it if they get a package that helps the team immediately. They're already pretty loaded at center so I wouldn't be surprised at all if they trade down, which teams rarely do anymore at No. 1.
Assuming Colorado takes MacKinnon first overall, who would be the smart pick for Florida, Seth Jones or Barkov/Drouin?
Craig Custance (2:06 PM)
Jackson - that's such a tough call. All great players, Drouin is absolutely electric. For me though, I'd lean toward the center or the defenseman. If you're making me pick one, I'm going Jones.
ray myrtle beach [via mobile]
Any possibility Letang traded for a top 5 pick?
Craig Custance (2:08 PM)
As colleague Pierre LeBrun reported last night, Letang turned down a deal averaging more than $7 million per season and countered with one asking for close to $8 million per. The Penguins preference is to get Letang signed but if it doesn't look good they have to consider moving him. If they can get a top five pick, all the better. But that's a team that wants to win now and as good as this draft is, having Letang on defense helps them in the short term more than a guy like Jones. If the Pens do trade Letang, the return is going to be huge. Teams will line up.
Brian (Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania) [via mobile]
Do the Flyer make more moves to move up and dump salary or have they reached the limit and stand pat at the draft?
Craig Custance (2:10 PM)
Brian - I'm not sure Paul Holmgren knows the meaning of stand pat. I can tell you, if they can find a way to draft defenseman Darnell Nurse, they'll try and make that happen. Comparisons made with Chris Pronger and he's an impressive young kid. Had a chance to sit down with him in Toronto and he's very mature. His uncle Donovan McNabb has taught him well how to be a pro.
If the Rangers decide to buyout Richards, would going after Lecavalier make sense and be a better fit for them. Having him lined up with Nash and Kreider seems real scary. Thoughts?
Craig Custance (2:11 PM)
Rob - Yeah, I mentioned NY as a possible destination for Lecavalier if Richards is bought out. Still some doubt as to whether or not that will happen though, that's a big check to cut for a player who can still play. But at this point in their careers, Lecavalier would be an upgrade over Richards. And yeah, him and Nash would be an imposing duo - lots of size.
George (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) [via mobile]
Craig, enjoy your stuff! Three questions please: (1) Where does Levavalier end up? (2) You're Ken Holland, What top 4 D-man do you bring in to upgrade? (3) Who represents East in Cup Final next year? Thanks!
Craig Custance (2:15 PM)
Hey George - Three questions in one? Is that allowed? Alright, let me tackle these: 1) He grew up a Montreal fan and has long rumored to go to the Canadiens. He has a connection with AGM Rick Dudley and they need to add size up front. Seems like a perfect fit. During his conference call, he mentioned his respect for the Red Wings as well. That's not a bad fit either. 2) I think the focus will be upgrading the forward corps. Defense looks pretty set in Detroit. 3) I want to see what happens in the off-season but it's hard to imagine the Penguins not being one of the two.
Steve French (Denver)
Is Paul Stastny on the trading block?
Craig Custance (2:16 PM)
Asked Roy specifically about Stastny and he said he'd be surprised if he was traded. But with his high salary and the possibility of adding MacKinnon, I don't know how you don't at least consider it.
If Toews and Kane win another Cup or two before their careers end will we be talking about them (and the Blackhawks) as being up there with the all-time greats? HOF worthy?
Craig Custance (2:17 PM)
Mike - I don't think there's any doubt that both players are on a path to the Hall of Fame. It's amazing what both have accomplished at 25 and 24. And that team is so loaded that I think they'll get another Cup before all is said and done.
Why would Nashville, Tampa or Florida trade up when they are getting a great player regardless?
Craig Custance (2:18 PM)
Bill - Fair question. Comes down to preference. Some scouts believe that there's a slight dropoff after Jones and MacKinnon. So if you love one of them and can grab one for the right price, that's the consideration.
Do you think the Sabres will try to sign a big name player like Lecavelier? and trade miller for picks and prospects. I feel if they do this, the rebuild will not be as bad, and maybe Vanek stays...thoughts?
Craig Custance (2:20 PM)
Angelo - I'm not sure now is the time in the Sabres development to sign another big-time free agent. The smart move would be to get the best package possible for Vanek and Miller and load up on young talent in the process like they did in Pominville trade. And if you're Lecavalier, and you have your pick of teams, why would you pick Buffalo? I'm guessing he's going to a team he thinks can win a Cup soon.
Is it a mistake keeping faith in MAF? Do you think that is a reason letang rejected the offer?
Craig Custance (2:22 PM)
I don't think either are related. I think we're just seeing a classic contract negotiation play out in front of us with the Letang talks. As for your first question, yeah I think it is a mistake. I wouldn't be surprised if Fleury ends up bouncing back. He's a hard worker, loved by his teammates and as athletic as any goalie in the league. But the Penguins are trying to win a Cup now, and that's too big a risk to wait for him to come around.
Ryan [via mobile]
What do you think will be the best options for the Devils in this years draft?
Craig Custance (2:24 PM)
Ryan - Colleague Grant Sonier has the Devils picking Max Domi and that would be a nice addition for them. He's small but a dynamic player who team up well with Ilya Kovalchuk.
After the first 3-5 picks the quality seems to drop a bit. Some undersized centers and a few D men considerably below Seth Jones. I've heard rumors of both the Oilers and Devils trying to trade down. Do you think anyone will trade up to get picks 6-10 or are the teams who have them going to be stuck?
Craig Custance (2:25 PM)
Yeah, I'm not sure what the motivation would be to trade in that 6-10 range unless somebody slips. The people I speak with love the depth of the draft and say that players in the 10-40 range are very comparable. That said, there's always a draft-day surprise and that gets the phones ringing.
jaybee (london uk)
hearing any rumoreson avs moving that pick??? i have a feeling they want barkov and not mckinnon
Craig Custance (2:26 PM)
Jaybee - That pick is definitely in play. Roy said he wasn't very familiar with Barkov but said his scouts love him. But his knowledge of Drouin and MacKinnon is intimate and he genuinely seems excited about the prospects of landing one of them. It's all a big poker game at this point.
Ed (Queens Village)
Blackhawks Stanley Cup win one of most stunning you've seen covering NHL? Can you see a playoff team trading in to top 2 to select MacKinnon or Jones?
Craig Custance (2:28 PM)
Ed - I'd be very surprised if a team that isn't currently in the top five is able to land a top two pick. You'd have to give up a HUGE package to do that. As for the Blackhawks, I wouldn't call them winning the Cup stunning. Picked them in six (I swear, there's proof). But I will say the way in which they did it, with those two goals at the end was absolutely stunning if that's what you meant. It was awesome to be in the building for those games. Two great teams.
Andre (Los Angeles, CA)
Hi CraigWhat do you see the Islanders doing? Does Vincent Lecavalier make any sense for Islanders? Bobby Ryan's name keeps poping up along with Vanek. On the goalie front Luongo only makes sense if he is bought out. I think what Garth Snow should do is put a big package for Ryan and Jonas Hiller to address both key needs. Islanders and Anaheim have done deals in past. Proposed package of Nino, 1st rounder this year, either De Haan or Donovan, and roster player. what do you think?
Craig Custance (2:31 PM)
Andre - I love where the Islanders are right now. Great time to be a fan of that team. I think they're on the cusp of being a very competitive and fun team to watch for the next several years. I don't think Lecavalier is a fit there though. Vanek and Ryan would be interesting but don't see a scenario where the Ducks would send their starting goalie and one of their top three forwards in the same package. The big thing for me is the goaltending. Garth Snow has to bring in somebody who can provide stability in that role. Luongo makes a lot of sense to me.
Brett Riddle [via mobile]
Will the Dallas Stars trade up to get a top 4 pick or make any other deals? Also will they go after Lecavalier, Briere, or maybe bring brad Richards back?
Craig Custance (2:33 PM)
Brett - It would take a lot for Jim Nill to move up from ten into the top four. I don't think that's going to happen, plus he's a guy who knows full well you don't need to a top five pick to get an impact player. The one player who I think makes a lot of sense to Dallas would be Shawn Horcoff. Wouldn't be surprised at all if Nill made a play there.
Brett Riddle in Big D [via mobile]
Sorry, meant to say I am from Big D
Craig Custance (2:33 PM)
Outside of Seth Jones, who do you think is the second best defenseman in this draft?
Craig Custance (2:34 PM)
Darnell Nurse. Big, physical, poised. Competitor. Knows what it takes to be a pro. Great bloodlines. I'm a fan.
Craig, rumours are that Bozak wants over $5 million per year to stay in Toronto. Shouldn't the Leafs just let him go and sign someone like Briere on a shorter term for less money (or maybe Lecavalier or possibly Brad Richards if he gets bought out for the $ that Bozak wants)?
Craig Custance (2:36 PM)
I like Tyler Bozak but that's a lot of dough for a guy I don't consider a No. 1 center. So to answer your question, I'd say yes. The better move would be to try and convince a veteran to sign a shorter term deal at center. Easier said than done though.
Peter Krupsky (Plymouth, MI)
Hi Craig - where do you see Plymouth's Ryan Hartman going? Thanks!
Craig Custance (2:37 PM)
Hey Peter - Hope you're well. Been meaning to make it back to Plymouth for a game. I'll defer to my colleague Grant Sonier who has the Capitals picking Hartman at No. 23.
Stephen (New York)
When do you think the deal to send NHL players to the 2014 Olympics gets done? Bettman said maybe monday what do you think?
Craig Custance (2:37 PM)
Is there any traction with the Hawks shopping Boland? What can they get for him?
Craig Custance (2:38 PM)
I do believe they're shopping him and it makes sense. With the cap coming down, just can't afford to pay him $3 million plus per season. As for the return, I don't have a great sense of that. Injuries slowed him down this year but he brings experience and grit and could play on my team anytime. It's just his salary is higher than you'd want so that will impact the return.
Buck (Cape Cod)
Whats the chance of the Sabres packaging Miller and/or Vanek with picks/prospects and trading into the top 5 or better?
Craig Custance (2:41 PM)
That's a very specific fit - you'd need a team that's on the market for a starting goalie and high-priced winger and they also need to be in the top five. Of the teams picking in the top five, only the Panthers really need a starting goalie. Not sure they'd move out of No. 2 to do it though.
Does the Tanguay trade affect the Avs' decisions at the top of the draft?
Craig Custance (2:41 PM)
No. They're leaning towards MacKinnon right now. Tanguay trade doesn't impact that.
Did you catch Crawfords speech during the parade today? My lord...
Craig Custance (2:43 PM)
I missed it but he deserves to celebrate any way he wants considering all he want through this season to prove people wrong. Was a stand-up guy the entire time, pleasure to deal with. Just hope he gave an "earmuffs" warning before dropping anything R-rated.
Craig, what are your thoughts on the Phoenix situation? Do you see them moving to Seattle or Quebec City for next season?
Craig Custance (2:44 PM)
Seattle. I honestly don't think there's a good solution for the fine people of Glendale. League finally has laid out a deadline and if it's not met, my money is on that franchise moving to Seattle in short order.
What is your stance on the Bobby Ryan trade talk? Will he come to Philly this year? If so, at what price?
Craig Custance (2:45 PM)
My stance? I believe Ryan trade talk is real and that it makes sense for the Ducks if they can help their defense. Problem for Philly is defense is not necessarily an area of strength.
Craig, thanks for doing this!So, let's say the Avs stick with MacKinnon #1 in the pick, where does that leave them in D? What's left at their early second round pick, will he be NHL ready? I say make a splash in free agency and go for Ference/Scuderi...
Craig Custance (2:47 PM)
Jim - Happy to do it. Love all the hockey interest in the middle of summer! You guys are the best. Roy believes that you can get an NHL defenseman later in the draft and history proves he's correct. But anyone they get with their second-round pick won't be NHL ready. D-men take a few years to develop. So, if I'm the Avs, I take MacKinnon at 1 (or trade down), go D-heavy the rest of the draft and fill in some gaps in free agency until those guys are ready.
Mike (San Diego)
Is it just me or is 4/$17M a great value for Shattenkirk?
Craig Custance (2:47 PM)
It is. Doug Armstrong is really good at his job.
Evan (Louisville, KY)
Hi Craig, thanks for the chat. Is there any chance the Jackets could package all three picks to move up to #1? I know the Flames offered up their three first rounders and the offer got rejected, but maybe that's only because they are in the same division as the Avs. Could you see this happening?
Craig Custance (2:49 PM)
Evan - I don't think that would be enough to do it. If you're trading that No. 1 overall pick, you're either getting a high-end NHL player who can play today or you're not dropping very far in the draft. Colorado wants impact players who can help immediately and Columbus' (or Calgary's) three first-rounders don't accomplish that.
This is the highest pick the Red Wings have had 1991, and they've traded 10 of their 22 first round picks in that time. Do you expect Holland to hold onto this pick in search of some scoring talent, or trade the pick?
Craig Custance (2:50 PM)
John - I'd be very surprised if Detroit traded their first-round pick. If you notice (Quincey deal aside), Holland has been hanging on to his first-rounders. They've been doing a stealth rebuild in Detroit and the young talent is on its way. I'd assume that continues in this draft.
Brett Riddle in Big D [via mobile]
Would Dallas have any interest in acquiring Ryan Miller or are they set thinking Lehtonen is their long term goalie answer?
Craig Custance (2:51 PM)
Don't see Dallas as a Miller destination. Lehtonen is a legit No. 1 and they have depth in the organization. Jack Campbell still could be pretty darn good too.
Craig:I have heard very little about what the Islanders are thinking about doing. Are we really going to make another pick and search the waiver wire bin or do you think we will make a splash. Any rumors?Thanks,Alan
Craig Custance (2:52 PM)
Part of it is that Garth Snow plays things very close to the vest. He's not one to orchestrate his plans. But they have cap flexibility and he's done really well in acquiring players in non-traditional fashion. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Islanders take advantage of the dropping salary cap and add through trade.
Dave (Vancouver, BC)
Do you think it will be busy in terms of trades on draft day?
Craig Custance (2:53 PM)
Yes, I think this weekend will be a busy one for all of us.
It looks like Bettman reached his limit in Phoenix. Are they moving to Seattle or Quebec?
Craig Custance (2:53 PM)
If it's not Phoenix, my mortgage is on Seattle.
Is my city getting an NHL team?
Craig Custance (2:54 PM)
Yes. Either the Coyotes or eventual expansion. NHL loves that market.
What are the chances Ryan Miller ends up in Philly? Seems like he'd be a fit for the Flyers and Philly seems to have enough assets to make the deal work for Buffalo.
Craig Custance (2:55 PM)
Dick - When it comes to goalies, I never rule the Flyers out of anything. I actually like that as a fit for Miller.
Rich (Ft Lauderdale, FL)
Do my FL Panthers stay at #2 and if yes, who do you think they will take? Is Drouin a possibility if the Avs take McKinnon?
Craig Custance (2:56 PM)
Drouin a very real possibility. I have a bias against wingers at that point in the draft but he's an incredible talent. They're in a really good spot.
Hello Craig, Have you heard anything about the Devils? Lou seems unusally quiet, I am wondering if the team's money woes are hindering their ability to trade and attract free agents. With the room under the cap, there should be more noise - and resigning Clarkson to be overpaid is not the noise I am looking for. Thanks!
Craig Custance (2:57 PM)
Kevin - Had a good chat with Lou after the GM meetings. He's trying to get a Clarkson deal done. And while he would never say it, I believe the ownership issues really hurt his chances there and in attracted free agents. If you're about to be a free agent, would you want to sign long-term with a team with financial issues? I wouldn't.
Eric (Chicago) [via mobile]
Craig, gut feeling...does Bickell re-sign or no?
Craig Custance (2:58 PM)
My gut says no. He has a chance to really cash in right now and Chicago has to make some moves to clear up cap space. But it won't be from a lack of trying. Stan Bowman wants him back.
Who are the Flyers looking at for the #11 pick??
Craig Custance (2:59 PM)
Would love Darnell Nurse. Don't think he slips that far though.
Dan M (S. Louis Mo)
Do the Blues have any pieces to trade and maybe get an early pick? or the possibility of getting Stastny from COL? Theyve had ties to Colorado before and Stastny would be a threat in STL
Craig Custance (3:00 PM)
Dan - The Blues are trying to win a Stanley Cup right now. Their window is open. So I don't see them giving up a ton of assets to trade up for a draft pick. Thought it was interesting to hear from colleague Darren Dreger that Perron is being shopped. Roy said he's not trying to trade Stastny.
Craig Custance (3:02 PM)
Alright everyone - thanks for taking the time to stop by and chat. Tons of great questions to choose from, wish I could have gotten to all of them. Hit me up on Twitter (@CraigCustance) if I missed you!