In this week’s mailbag, Adam Proteau answers questions on Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Josh Harding, Stephen Weiss and more.
It’s Friday. It’s mailbag. Thanks to all who submitted a question.
Just a quick question. I was thinking about the Sabres recent trade with Washington (Jaroslav Halak for Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla). I know the Sabres were more after Neuvirth, but then just looking at a trade of Halak for Neuvirth seems a bit off. My question is, shouldn’t the Sabres have the right to nix the trade since Klesla won’t play for them? Or even get like a compensation pick based off of salary. What if a high-end player refused to report to a team? That could really mess a team up if they gave up a lot to acquire them. Thanks!
Justin Compo, Buffalo, N.Y.
As you note, the Sabres made that deal primarily for Neuvirth. Klesla was essentially salary cap ballast that had to be included in the trade to make it work for Washington’s financial bottom line. So, when Klesla refused to report and said he’d be focusing on playing next season, it really wasn’t an issue.
Now, if a player didn’t want to go to a team and attempted to have the trade voided, he’s got the right to try. That’s what Lubomir Visnovsky did before an arbitrator rejected his request. But, far more often than not, a team that acquires any player makes inquiries as to the player’s willingness to play for them before the deal is consummated. In Klesla’s case, Sabres management simply didn’t care if he ever played a game for them. No harm, no foul.
It’s easy to look back on players like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux and say they were generational talents. Do you think Sidney Crosby fits into that category? And do you think there is a prospect on the horizon that has the potential to be a generational talent like Connor McDavid maybe?
Jared Mitchell, Acton, Ont.
Yes, Crosby absolutely fits into that category. There are scores of people afflicted with Crosby Derangement Syndrome who break into fits of apoplexy when this fact is noted, but the Penguins superstar is a high-pressure, high-performance player who rises to just about every momentous occasion he’s encountered. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’ve clearly not spoken with enough hockey industry people who appreciate the multifaceted game he brings.
As far as future prospects go, McDavid will be challenged by American phenom Jack Eichel for top spot in the 2015 draft. The 17-year-old can skate and see the game as well as any prospect who still can’t get into a restricted movie. The two of them will be profiled to death in the coming months, and the fact they each hail from different parts of North America will add flavor to the rivalry. Whether you watch a lot of junior hockey or not, odds are you’ll know Eichel and McDavid inside and out by this time next year.
(1) Do you know when the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs are scheduled? What is the last possible day for a finals game? (2) Do you have the scoop on Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild? He has not played since December.
Steve McGraw, St. Paul, Minn.
(1) This year’s playoffs will begin Wednesday, April 16. The last possible day for the Cup final is Wednesday, June 18. (2) Harding recently came back to the team, though an on-ice return date has not yet been set. With or without the acquisition of Ilya Bryzgalov, putting any pressure on him to return is out of the question. He’s just happy to have the camaraderie of the dressing room to help him live as normally as possible as a man fighting Multiple Sclerosis.
Do you think the Wings will use their last buyout this summer on their error from last year’s free agent signing of Stephen Weiss? Ken Holland has made some bad signings over that past few years with Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson and know it’s looking like Weiss will also be one of the errors. Or would they be wiser to put him on waivers and hope someone might take him off their hands? Enjoy reading your column. Thanks.
William Young, Plymouth, Mich.
I was mistaken in an earlier answer to this question. I believed Weiss could be bought out of his contract – and he still can – but because he was signed after the collective bargaining agreement was put in place, his contract cannot be amnestied. Only contracts signed prior to the NHL lockout qualify for such an option. Weiss can be bought out, but the remainder of his deal would follow the usual rules regarding buyouts.