I’m back from vacation – and I have to say, although your questions kept coming at a steady pace during the ponderous NHL lockout, as soon as it ended, the mailbag questions began flooding in. So today we’ll try and get through a bunch of them and get back to some semblance of normalcy. As always, thanks for the submissions. And enjoy the return of the world’s top hockey league!
Hey Adam, with the new salary cap and Evgeni Malkin's contract counting down do you think the Penguins will look to trade him this year or next year to save cap space? They could easily get a more stereotypical second line center and a glorified winger to play with Sidney Crosby or some draft picks and top prospects. What do you think?
Kent Cameron, Balderson, Ont.
Let’s nip this in the bud right now: absent some wild and unexpected turn of events, the Penguins aren’t trading Malkin. Pittsburgh has just four players (Crosby, James Neal, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury) signed beyond the 2013-14 campaign and are scheduled to have some $40 million in salary cap space when Malkin hits the market.
Now, that probably means GM Ray Shero will have to make some difficult decisions on the rest of the roster, but if there’s one thing we know about NHL teams, they do not trade stars unless there is an ownership issue. Pittsburgh has no such problem and Malkin is a beast. You can never say never, but this is about as close as you can get to saying never.
Hey Adam, Which team(s) do you think the shortened season will hurt the most in regard to playoff chances? I personally think it will hurt veteran teams the most, that the every other night pace will cause extreme wear and tear on older teams like the Wings and Sharks. Glad to have hockey back!
David York, Mount Gilead, Ohio
Interesting question. My inclination is to take the opposite angle and say that young teams could well be less successful in a shortened year. Look at the Dallas Stars, a franchise that brought in veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney last summer: the addition of experience should mean teams understand how best to survive and maintain a compressed schedule. Younger teams might not have that ability to know when to go pedal-to-metal and when to preserve their energies; for that reason, I can see such a team burning out.
The two teams you mentioned aren’t likely to suffer that fate. Of course, they could be on the outside of the playoff race looking in for a variety of other reasons, but I don’t believe the age of players will be the deciding factor for any team.
Adam, with the new CBA expiring 10 years from now, will we see another lockout in the 2022-23 season?
Parker Moore, Lakeville, Minn.
Nobody can say for certain one way or another what will happen years from now. There could be another labor war eight years from now (when both sides have the option to end the current CBA), but I would hope NHL owners are no longer willing to try and test the NHLPA’s unity as they clearly did this time around. PA boss Don Fehr proved to be nobody’s boogeyman and fully capable of making a deal – and if the owners are willing to work with him next time, there’s no reason for this league to ever cancel another game.
Adam, what will happen regarding the trade deadline in a shortened season? Will it be the same time or will it be pushed back? Otherwise, surely every team will be a 'buyer' as everyone will still be in playoff contention.
Will Rossetti, Guildford, U.K.
The trade deadline has been set at April 3 this year, meaning teams will have plenty of time to evaluate their Cup chances before deciding to be buyers or sellers.
Hi Adam. I have been a long-time Washington Capitals fan and have supported them through their ups and downs. At this stage of the current Capitals I do not know how much more they can get better as a team with George McPhee as the GM. My question is, do you think the Caps would ever get rid of McPhee or will the job security that he has had continue?
David Dunkelberger, Newville, Pa.
Hi David. No NHL GM (with the possible exception of Lou Lamoriello) has lifetime tenure. And don’t kid yourself – the Capitals have to demonstrate they can do some damage this season, because if they disappoint again, I can see widespread change to the lineup and the organization as a whole. Yes, McPhee has been in charge of the franchise since 1997, but owner Ted Leonsis has watched as the team has burned through five coaches and won’t continue to tolerate a revolving door behind the bench for much longer. It’s a results-driven business and McPhee needs some extended positive results to stick around for a long time.
Adam, they haven't mentioned anything about realignment yet. I would have thought it would be a part of the new CBA. Considering it was part of the Winnipeg agreement, it should have been addressed. Has anything been announced?
Troy Toske, Hammond, Wis.
Nothing has been announced as of yet, but I’d anticipate realignment happening in the 2013-14 campaign. The league and players have to negotiate the terms, but there is a clear desire on the league to move Winnipeg to the West and implement a revised divisional/conference setup. It’s going to happen and it won’t take long.
Hi Adam, Just wondering whether there was any real discussion as part of the CBA negotiations, as far as we know, on the subject of expansion to Quebec City and Markham or possibly Seattle. Is it more a matter of “when” than “if” at this point? Thanks.
Anthony Bowyer, Washington, D.C.
The people I speak to believe it is only a matter of time until Quebec City regains an NHL team and Toronto gets its second team. The NHLPA was aware of the rumors of expansion, but there was nothing finalized in that regard in labor negotiations. Still, the hundreds of millions of expansion fees the league would receive should be too tempting for it to turn down.
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