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Ask Adam - July 20

Off on a couple of week's holidays, Adam Proteau will return for his mailbag column on Aug. 3. In his absence several THN staffers have stepped up to answer your questions.

Adam, I have been a Ducks fan since they first came into the league. With the signings of Schneider and Bertuzzi, what's the chances of Selanne and or Niedermayer staying for another year or so??

Peter Hollman

Truthfully, it is looking as though both Niedermayer and Selanne will retire.

However, if just one were to come back, our money is on Niedermayer. He is only 33 years old and, even though he has accomplished everything anybody could hope to in hockey, the lure of one more Cup might be enough to draw him back.

And if he returns, the combination of Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Schneider gives the Ducks the best Top 3 defenders in league history.

- Mike Brophy

Are the Leafs playoff bound? I did some research on the new players and some of them look favorable. What do you think?

Philip Marfisi

Dear Philip, I think the Leafs are only marginally better than they were last year. Will that be enough to get them back into the playoffs after a two-year absence? I'm not sure, but I fully expect them to be in the hunt for a spot right to the very end of the season, the way they were last year.

I believe they'll either just make it and lose in the first round or they'll just miss and be out of the post-season for the third straight year.

As shaky as Andrew Raycroft was last season - and he was very shaky at times - he still won 37 games for them and they still didn't make the playoffs.

Even though Vesa Toskala represents an upgrade, how many more games can he possibly win for them?

In the end, I think the Leafs will remain in that no-man's land of mediocrity - not good enough to make the playoffs, not bad enough to get a high draft pick.

- Ken Campbell

Hi Adam, I am a Buffalo Sabres fan. In light of the recent happenings in Buffalo (losing Briere and Drury), what do you think of the Sabres' prospects for the playoffs? I see a lot of pressure on the young players, especially Thomas Vanek. Since they have cap room, I am also disappointed that the powers that be don't seem to be in the market for some veteran help, especially in the forward positions. Our No. 1 center is slated to be Tim Connolly, who I believe is one good hit away from having to retire.

Barb from Rochester N.Y.

Barb, fear not, your Sabres will make the playoffs. They won't win the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage will be tough, but they'll be there.

You have to look at this divisionally: Buffalo is still better than every team in the Northeast except Ottawa. Based on playing Boston, Montreal and Toronto eight times, they'll get their points.

True, Connolly has some durability issues, but players such as Drew Stafford, Clarke MacArthur and Michael Ryan are all ready for regular roles with the big club.

Vanek's performance will be interesting this year: he'll either step up and deliver or fall prey to the Ryan Kesler "am I worth it?" paranoia.

- Ryan Kennedy

I see that the Leafs have signed Darryl Boyce from University of New Brunswick . Do you think that the NHL will ever take the CIS seriously? There are lots of players in the CIS who could play for NCAA Div. I teams .

David Bloom

For the most part, NHL teams disregard the CIS as a developer of talent. Does that mean there aren't good players in the CIS? Absolutely not. There are some terrific players in Canadian university, many of whom are graduates of the major junior ranks.

The reason they're overlooked is because players on a fast track to a pro career choose either major junior or NCAA, which are heavily scouted. So most players in CIS are in the 20-25 age group, which is well past prime to get noticed.

NHL scouts are busy identifying talent in the 17-19 age group. Older players who slip through the cracks are generally juniors and seniors in NCAA. If a young teenage Canadian prospect was interested in playing CIS rather than major junior or NCAA, it wouldn't be long before advisors would steer him in another direction, where he's playing amongst the best in his age group. For this reason, I don't think the NHL will ever take the CIS seriously, I'm sorry to say.

All this doesn't mean CIS players are exempt from moving on to pro hockey and establishing an NHL career. But, unfortunately, it only happens once every decade or so, as was the case with Randy Gregg, Mike Ridley and Steve Rucchin over the years. They were late developers who didn't get noticed until they were in their 20s.

Could Boyce be the next? I'd never say no, but the odds are heavily stacked against him.

- Brian Costello

Hi, I'm a hockey fan from Quebec. Just a little question for you. Do you think the Canadiens could be a Cup contender in 2008-09 ? With all their young players like Higgins, Komisarek, Kostytsin and Price coming, I'm pretty sure they could be very dangerous.

Alexandre Bouchard

Alexandre, A Cup contender in 2009? Baby steps, my friend. Before Montreal starts talking Cup, it needs to become a team that knows in September it will definitely be playing beyond April.

It's been 10 years since the Habs were an automatic playoff team and they need to address that before thinking Cup. Ottawa has had an ultra-talented core for nearly 10 years and still hasn't won a Cup.

Still, your optimism is justified because there is certainly a solid core of youngsters in the organization. Proper development will be the key. But if you want to talk Cup, I think that's still a long ways off.

- Ryan Dixon

I'm a Habs fan in oil country (and no my question is not about Souray). The Habs are really deep in goal this year with Huet, Halak, Danis, and the future of the franchise Price. What do you see happening here? (will Price

be in the NHL this season??? is Huet trade bait at the deadline????)

Don Moore, Northern Alberta

Don, I don't think Price will be in the NHL unless he comes into camp and absolutely wows Gainey and Carbonneau. The Habs are slowly shifting their ways, but traditionally they like to let guys season in the minors for a bit and I think that's still the right move with Price.

Certainly there is a glut in goal and I think, if they're convinced Halak can handle the load, Montreal could move Huet. Moving Huet would make sense because he's a pending UFA and the Habs need help just about everywhere on the ice.

Still, if Huet regains the form he showed in 2005-06, they might be tempted to lock him up for another few seasons while Price develops.

- Ryan Dixon

My 12-year-old daughter recently came to live with me after having grown up in Texas.

I've been getting her interested in hockey, and she asked me the other day what's the NHL record for shots on goal during a game by a team that was shutout. Have any idea? I tried to search the NHL record book online but couldn't find it.

Danny Lopez, Ventura, Calif.

Hi Danny, please say hello to your daughter from the THN staff.

To answer your question, according to our good friends over at the Elias Sports Bureau, the most shots on goal by a team that was shutout was 52, has happened twice. The first time was Nov. 13, 1955 when Chicago lost 2-0 to Montreal. The second occasion was Dec. 10, 1996 when Detroit badly outshot Edmonton, but could only manage a 0-0 tie.

(Update: Both of those games took place in the regular season, of course, but as a couple of readers took the time to point out, Dominik Hasek saved 70 Devils shots during a 1-0 Sabres win in the 1994 playoffs.)

- Edward Fraser

Hey Adam, I was wondering if you could tell me what year the Chicago Blackhawks started wearing their black

alternate 3rd jersey?

Thank you, Simon Kane

Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time to write. The Hawks introduced that jersey in the 1996-97 season.

- Edward Fraser

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