I’m back from a week off! And still hurting for introductory paragraphs for the mailbag. So this will have to do. Thanks as always for your postcards and letters, and remember, if you want your question returned, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Adam, what are the chances of Keith Ballard and Roberto Luongo being traded? Did the Flyers make the right move in trading Richards and Carter? Can Boston repeat as Cup champions? Can the Canucks get it done in 2012?
Steven Mey, White Rock, B.C.
A lot of questions! Get ready for a whole lot of “no” answers.
After this summer’s cavalcade of blockbuster trades, I’d never presume that any player’s contract is unmovable, but I’d say it is highly unlikely either Ballard or Luongo goes anywhere this season. Ballard has four years left on his contract and a cap hit of $4.2 million per year; there’s nobody who wants to pay that for a blueliner who has lost his confidence and was a frequent healthy scratch for Vancouver during the playoffs. He could be moved or bought out a couple years from now, but not anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Luongo’s monster contract doesn’t expire until 2022. Fair or not, the book on his post-season play will not improve until he wins a Stanley Cup. To move him would require taking a risk-laden contract in return and GM Mike Gillis has not shown a propensity to take on risk-laden contracts. I think Luongo stays in Vancouver this season; and his future beyond this year depends on his performance in the playoffs.
Now, quickly: I am skeptical the Flyers made deals that will allow them to improve on their performances the past couple seasons. Not saying it’s impossible for a now younger core of forwards to follow the defense corps’ lead and lean on Ilya Bryzgalov to take them to a championship, but the goalie hasn’t really proven anything in the post-season.
I also think Boston will have a tough time repeating as champs. Back-to-back Cups are rare in the modern age. To me it’s still all about Tim Thomas; if he’s as stupendous as he was last season, they’ve got a shot.
Finally, I’m not picking Vancouver to win the Cup this year. They’ll still be an amazing regular season team, but I think they missed their best opportunity last season.
Adam, I know Washington got veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun for a good price, but do you think signing him to only a one-year contract will affect the team after the season? Do you think after this season, he will be back up on the market for another team to sign and leave Michael Neuvirth to be the no. 1 goaltender?
Jacob Imeson, Peterborough, Ont.
I presume you mean, “affect the team negatively” and I think it all depends on how the Capitals perform. If they win a Stanley Cup, don’t you think owner Ted Leonsis will find a way to keep Vokoun? I don’t have a doubt in my mind he will. And if it doesn’t work out, GM George McPhee owes Vokoun nothing and can give the No. 1 job to Neuvirth. Vokoun’s deal is the epitome of a low-risk, high-reward contract and I don’t know of anyone in the hockey world who thinks it’s a bad deal.
Adam, what do you think of the rumors surrounding a potential relocation for the New York Islanders? As far as I can tell, the NHL has never moved a franchise with a Stanley Cup banner in the rafters and it would seem an unlikely move to make now.
John Robb, Ayr, Scotland
You can say many things about Isles owner Charles Wang’s stewardship of the franchise, but you cannot say the man isn’t genuine in his attempt to keep it in Long Island. Despite being on the wrong side of the recent referendum to publicly finance a new arena to replace decrepit Nassau Coliseum, he is willing to listen to all kinds of solutions to avoid relocation.
Of course, as we saw during the referendum, some things are simply out of his control. And with the serious economic turbulence being experienced in the U.S. right now, who knows what type of mood either the public or private sector will be in over the course of the next few years? They may eventually have no alternative but to look to Brooklyn (future home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets) or Kansas City.
But the NHL certainly realizes the value of a team in the greater New York area, so you can also expect Gary Bettman to contort himself and press for a non-relocation solution at least as much as he’s done for Phoenix. So no, I don’t see the Isles moving in the near future.
Dear Adam, Why did Pekka Rinne of the Preds get nominated for the Vezina Trophy and not Jonathan Quick of the Kings? Everything the “experts” said about why Rinne was nominated, such as he carried his team all year when they were not scoring, you could say about Quick’s situation in LA. I think Quick is very underrated and should have been nominated. What do you think?
Braden Searle, Ottawa
I wasn’t one of the GMs who vote on the Vezina and can’t tell you what their rationale was for collectively voting for Rinne instead of Quick.
Yes, Quick did play very well for the Kings last season, posting a career-best 2.24 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. But Rinne’s numbers were better (2.12 GAA, .930 save percentage) and I think most people, myself included, believe Nashville had and has far less depth and overall talent than the Kings do. That’s why I think the GMs were well within their rights to choose Rinne over Quick.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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