The mailbag is starting to get awful full of late, so don't be discouraged if I don't get to your question right away. We've got all summer to deal with your wishes and worries.
With their many needs on the forward lines, could you see the Bruins drafting Angelo Esposito if available at No. 8? I know they are worried about salary cap issues (that's what happens when you over pay for free agents like they did last summer). Also, with their budget, who could they go after in the free agent market?
Timothy Flanigan, Schenectady,N.Y.
I could definitely see the Bruins taking a chance on Esposito. He's more or less in the same boat as Phil Kessel was last year Â– a former No. 1-rated pick who played himself down the ranking lists with a so-so draft year showing. But I wouldn't be shocked to see him fall even further.
As for Boston's chances to make a significant splash in free agency: With more than $33 million already locked up in player salaries next season, they're far more likely to trade someone such as Glen Murray than sign another Chara or Savard type.
Firstly I would like to thank you and everyone else at The Hockey News for your brilliant coverage of the NHL. As I am from Melbourne, Australia we don't get that many games televised throughout the season and there is little to no news coverage on the NHL, therefore your coverage means quite a lot to hockey fans in Australia.Onto the questions. I myself am a diehard Flames fan and having listened to almost every Flames game this season I noticed, as did pretty much every other Flames fan, a substantial decline in the consistency of their defensive performances in comparison to past season. It became clear that with Darryl Sutter behind the bench the Flames were a much more defensively accountable hockey team.Do you think that he will take the coaching spot back off Jim Playfair or do you see Playfair continuing for another season? All interviews seem to lean toward Playfair staying on, but there is feeling of uncertainty toward his future at times. Also, do you see Sutter making many big moves in free agency this year?Thanks,
Matt W, Melbourne, Australia
I speak for everyone (especially Art Director/World-Class Photoshopper Jamie Hodgson, the only one of us that's been to Australia) at THN when I say thanks kindly for the compliment. After the beating we've taken from Edmontonians this year, our delicate sensibilities could use a few kudos.
I don't think Jim Playfair was the root cause of Calgary's problems this season and I don't believe Sutter would have fared any better. Now, if the Flames start the 2007-08 campaign losing 10 of their first 15 games, it won't matter whether it's Playfair's fault or not, because he'll be gone regardless. And if that does come to pass, I'd imagine Sutter won't step behind the bench on anything other than an interim basis. It's just too difficult to serve as both coach and GM in this league anymore and, as always, the real power lies in upper management.
The Flames have $29 million locked up in salaries next season Â– and that's before the raise that's due to Dion Phaneuf. They'll almost certainly lose Roman Hamrlik to unrestricted free agency Â– and Brad Stuart will be a tough guy to re-sign Â– so filling their holes on defense could be the first priority. They also need to get younger, but with greybeards Tony Amonte, Darren McCarty and Jeff Friesen sure to be shown the door, that shouldn't be a problem.
Why are the Stanley Cup playoffs being dragged out an extra week or more? Ever since Gary Bettman came to the NHL, series are all screwed up. I'm getting a little annoyed with it. Two thumbs down to Bettman.
The playoffs are being dragged out to accommodate U.S. TV rightsholders. And why shouldn't they Â– I mean, it's not as if they're not showing every minute of every game or something.
When will Toronto be close to good or good? When will they make the playoffs?
I love rhetorical questions. Toronto is close to good Â– they're about 90 miles from it to the south (i.e. Buffalo) and 250 miles from it to the east (i.e. Ottawa).
Yukkery aside, I think the Leafs take a big step back next season. They've got way too much money tied up in too few players; and if Mats Sundin signs for anything more than $4-million a year, they'll have even less to try and improve with.
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