The excitement of the world juniors is winding down this weekend, when Russia and Canada faceoff for bronze and Sweden and the USA showdown for gold. After that, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope the NHL and the PA can come to some sort of an agreement to end the most pointless lockout in sports history.
Meantime, with Adam away, THN staffers take over the mailbag to answer your questions this week, and next.
Hey Adam, so Jonathan Drouin has been the best prospect at the WJC this year, do you think he could end up going first overall or at least be the first forward picked?
Drouin may have been the best Canadian prospect at the world juniors, but Seth Jones, Elias Lindholm, Sasha Barkov and maybe even Robert Hagg were better overall. And though Drouin has out-pointed his Halifax teammate Nathan MacKinnon, you have to remember that MacKinnon was assigned a checking role, while Drouin was put on a scoring line.
MacKinnon played physical and did what the coaches asked. This is to take nothing away from Drouin, who is shaping up to be a top-five pick thanks to his offensive flair, but MacKinnon's all-around game - which includes elite skill - will still make him the top forward taken. -RK
Hi Adam, happy New Year. Wanted to know if Colton Orr is still part of the Leafs organization? Dallas Eakins is employing his team-tough mentality on the Marlies, meanwhile Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri are getting nailed with cheap shots and it bothers me. Thanks!
Walter Rocha, Toronto
Hi Walter. Happy New Year to you as well. Colton Orr is in the final year of his four-year $4-million deal with the Maple Leafs, after which he'll be an unrestricted free agent. The Leafs could have assigned him to the Marlies prior to the lockout (as they did with several other players, including Gardiner and Kadri), but they opted not to. Unlike most locked-out NHLers on one-way contracts, Orr is still free to sign with any American League team, because he was on an AHL roster (Marlies) at the end of 2011-12. That makes him eligible to sign an AHL contract for 2012-13, but so far, no takers, including the Marlies. –RS
If the lockout extends to the end of the season, are all players eligible to compete for their country in the World Championships, come next year?
Justin Sulpico, Vancouver
If the lockout isn’t over by the time May rolls around, NHLers will indeed still be eligible to play for their country at this year’s event co-hosted by Sweden and Finland.
The 2004-05 lockout didn’t conclude until July and NHLers took part in that event. Canada had players such as Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Simon Gagne – it wasn’t the absolute best they could have sent, but it was stacked with NHLers nonetheless. That Canadian team lost the gold medal game 3-0 to the Czech Republic, which had the likes of Tomas Vokoun, Jaromir Jagr and Vaclav Prospal. -RB
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