If I'm not accused by readers at least once a week of all but ignoring the NHL's Western Conference franchises, the first thing I do is check with the IT department to ensure my email isn't on the fritz.
With that in mind, I present a mailbag column with a 2:1 ratio of West/East team questions. That oughta quiet them down, at least for a week or two.
As a diehard Sharks fan, I think the loss to the Red Wings is really no surprise, but still disappointing. In your opinion, how much does the Sharks bottoming out to Detroit have to do with them choking? Or do you really think the Red Wings' experience took over the series?Either way, what I saw was the red jerseys dominating Team Teal in almost every area. (Sigh).Thanks for your time,
I wouldn't go so far as to say the Sharks choked. I would say they appear to be following the same pattern that the New York Islanders of the early 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers of the mid-80s Â– and now, the Ottawa Senators Â– followed in their development into champions/contenders.
That pattern: you have to lose big before you win bigger.
Thanks to the presence of veterans such as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, people assume San Jose has a veteran team that should've run roughshod over all of their playoff opponents. In reality, they've got the youngest roster in the league and as such need at least another year before they can truly be considered one of the odds-on favorites to win it all.
As I noted in the blog, the odds of Marleau being placed on the trade block this summer increased exponentially after his poor showing against the Red Wings; he'd likely garner at least one above-average veteran in any deal. If you add to that a proven, puck-moving producer on the blueline (i.e. Sheldon Souray), I think the Sharks have the makings of a bona fide, perennial Stanley Cup threat.
Is Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun on the trade block? This year, he had an injury that allowed backup goaltender Chris Mason to step in and show he can do the job, and quite well at times.When Vokoun was healthy, he played the majority of games, but he never looked comfortable. It was not his fault the Predators were a disappointment in the first round, but his salary could be used to sign players Paul Kariya and, more importantly, Kimmo Timonen.And I can't imagine a team like Florida or Phoenix (maybe even Detroit if Dominik Hasek retries after this season) wouldn't trade a big defenseman or a nice draft pick for a goalie who stood on his head for five years before the Predators were good.What do you think Â– does he get the boot, or get another chance?
Brian B., Rochester, N.Y.
Vokoun would certainly be an attractive, if pricey ($5.7 million a year through 2010-11) option for more than a few teams, including the ones you mentioned.
But if I'm a rival GM and I note Mason (a) makes $1.25 million next season; and (b) he's a free agent in the summer of 2008, I focus my sights on acquiring him instead of Vokoun.
Granted, that makes it far less likely the Preds re-sign their major unrestricted free agents, but I think GM David Poile already is resigned to the fact Timonen won't be re-signed, so he'll focus all his efforts on Kariya.
Either way, the Preds likely will have to break up one helluva goaltending tandem to continue as a contender. The sole solace for Nashville fans: their team won't be alone, as San Jose, Anaheim and Minnesota will have to follow suit in that regard.
Has Darren Eliot gone crazy? Larry Bird?What's your two cents on where Chris Drury stands in terms of greatness?
Far be it from me to question the sanity of another columnist. I've been called every name in the book (and some they don't have books for), so I'm always wary to rip a fellow member of the yaparazzi.
Do I agree completely with Darren? No. Can I see where he's coming from? Yes. Is Drury one of the best two-way forwards in the game today? Hell yes.
If Drury guarantees a Cup victory, follows through on it, wins the Conn Smythe, and becomes the highest-paid free agent this summer, will he be considered among the all-time greats in any sport?
Um, I think he'd still have a ways to go.
I'd compare Drury more to Robert Horry than Larry Bird. He comes through in the clutch more often than not, but he's not the type of player any GM would build a team around.
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