Welcome to Hockey Central: Ask the Insiders where fans get to pick the topics. This week, the Insiders answered several questions including whether the Maple Leafs should “sell high” on Nazem Kadri; what’s missing from the Vancouver Canucks; how much Corey Perry is worth and their one highlight from the career of Chris Pronger.
k23k: Would you sell high on Nazem Kadri in an attempt to acquire a proven asset or press on hoping he is the real deal?
Nick Kypreos: Keep pressing! Put all that time and effort into development and not see it through? Aren’t you curious to see how good this guy can be? High end skill is a rare commodity these days and when you see flashes of it do not be in any hurry to give it away. Think Chicago is happy they didn’t trade Patrick Kane? I’m not say Kadri is and will be as good as Kane but what I am saying is he might be and don’t you owe it to your fans and scouts who drafted him to at least find out first?
Doug MacLean: After the way Kadri has played, I would not consider trading him. Skilled centers are hard to find. He has become a difference maker for this team and he will continue to evolve and become a top player. The Hunter brothers told me he would become a real player and he is well on his way.
Chris Johnston: At this point, I simply don’t see the Leafs dealing Kadri. They’ve been rewarded with some good play from the 22-year-old centre after electing not to trade him in the off-season and, while Randy Carlyle clearly believes he can be a more complete player, the best is yet to come. On top of all that, Kadri has a chance to become the organization’s first homegrown success in quite some time. That alone makes him more valuable to Toronto than anything they are likely to get back in a trade.
Jeff_1616 asks: I’m a diehard, bleed blue and green Canucks fan who is quite discouraged by this year’s squad. This is essentially the same team that made it to the 2010 Finals, but there’s no way this current team is winning the Cup. What is missing?
Brad May: Jeff I appreciate your passion. I had the honour to play for the Vancouver Canucks and I know the passion that surrounds this team. I’ve lived it and I’ve felt it. I’m not as concerned about the Canucks right now as you are. I understand that the bar is set higher for this team and their fan base expects more wins. But the regular season is not the be all end all for the Canucks. It’s all about postseason success.
The shortened season changes many things. Most importantly your team has to be firing on all cylinders by game 48. Not game 82. There are only 20-plus games remaining and it is now the time for teams to start their ascent to the playoffs. I expect Vancouver will string some victories together over the next couple of weeks.
When you run a marathon, you will lose if you sprint too early. I believe the Canucks are following a game plan (preparation, rest, nutrition, conditioning days) and are trying to ramp up their performance to be their best at the most important time of the year — the playoffs.
That being said I feel they need a solid top six forward to complement a healthy Kesler when he returns. Another right-handed d-man would help too. Stay optimistic, I believe Mike Gillis will tweak his lineup at the deadline. The Canucks will be playing deep into the spring.
John Shannon: Your right Jeff, something is missing. And it’s more than just injuries. Certainly not having Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa’s on-ice talent has hurt the Canucks, but there doesn’t seem to be that Canuck “swagger” we have seen for the past few years. It’s that swagger that those two players have exuded more and better than anyone that really is a difference maker for me. I also think most west coast fans would admit the twins have been okay, but not great this season, and Jason Garrison has not lived up to the hope and hype of last off season. When you put all those things together, you don’t have that same team that has dominated the Northwest division in the past, you have a team searching for its identity.
And please note, I haven’t even mentioned the goaltending situation, which can hardly be healthy for either player and the team!
Dave Farmer asks: Isn’t it time to gut the upper management of the Edmonton Oilers from Kevin Lowe right on down to the coaching staff? Outside of one Stanley Cup run in 2006, we’ve been in rebuild mode for the last 15 years. One common theme is Lowe and Craig MacTavish who’ve got nothing done in Edmonton.
John Shannon: Dave, perhaps the Oilers did themselves a bit of a disservice before the season, hyping how good this team was going to be this year. If you check the pre-season predictions, most pundits didn’t have the team making the playoffs because there just wasn’t enough depth on the blueline, and the size of the forwards. And that didn’t account for any injuries that might happen. What this short season has proven is that the team needs some size up front, and help on the blue line. Kevin, Craig and Steve Tambellini know that for sure. I would also not give too much weight to this short season. It’s not a normal regular season with the strange and compressed schedule, and therefore fans and management should just wait and learn from it, but not make any long term decisions off of it. This is still a good core of players for an NHL team, and senior management have to make a few more modifications to the line-up before we really judge that the re-build is a failure. Now, if the team is in the same position and you ask me the same question a year from now, there might be a different answer.
Jeff Marek: It’s a tough call. If you look at this edition of the Oilers being part of a five year project then this rebuild really began in 2009 with the first round selection of Magnus Paajarvi so the math indicates management does have one more year with this group. But another whiff at the playoffs and the fans will probably start to howl for a sacrifice. And we know this owner is apt to make emotional moves so you may just get your wish, Dave.
Neil Smith: The Oilers have been trying to rebuild their team for a long time, you are right. Kevin Lowe was hired as the GM successor to Glen Sather and after a number of years passed the torch to Steve Tambellini. Ownership has changed during this time as well. Craig MacTavish had been the head coach under Kevin Lowe as GM but then was replaced by Pat Quinn when Tambellini took over. Quinn was replaced by Tom Renney who was replaced this summer by Ralph Krueger. That’s a tremendous amount of turnover from ownership, to management to coaching. I believe that the Oilers have a great group of young players now and with patience and the right moves through trades, free agents and the draft, they are destined to be Stanley Cup contenders.
Rob asks: Will Corey Perry re-sign with Anaheim or did the Ducks use all their cash on Getzlaf? If Getzlaf is worth $8.25 million x eight, what will Perry command?
Jeff Marek: Boy, is this ever the biggest decision any GM in the NHL faces this season. Wow. First off Bob Murray needs to do everything in his power to try and re-sign Perry, that’s the best-case scenario. He needs to sell him on Anaheim’s commitment to winning for the entire balance of the eight-year deal as well. And considering he success of the Ducks this season, it’s an easier sell than it’s been in the past. Now, if Perry doesn’t indicate he’ll re-sign then the decision is this a) trade him at the deadline and get the most you can b) keep him and make a push for the Stanley Cup hoping you can pull off a sign and trade before he tests free agency. As for price tag, I think he’s right at that number that Getzlaf got but if he tests the market, all it takes is two teams to covet the player and the salary could even go north.
Chris Johnston: As a former Hart Trophy winner, Corey Perry will be looking to get in excess of $9 million on his next deal. That will almost certainly be too rich for the Ducks. What I’m most curious to see is if Anaheim works out some kind of sign-and-trade agreement — remember they can sign him for eight years while others can only get him for seven years — or if they end up losing him for nothing. One scenario I don’t envision is Anaheim dealing Perry before the April 3 trade deadline. They’re currently second in the Western Conference and have their sights set on the Stanley Cup.
Mark asks: Now that the Chicago Blackhawks have lost a couple of games, what does head coach Joe Quenneville need to do to make sure the team remains focused after it`s ridiculous start? It seems like in the recent past that teams with amazing regular season records are perfect candidates for first round playoff upsets.
Doug MacLean: I’m not worried about the Hawks. With the leadership of Toews, Keith, Hossa, Sharp and Kane they will find a way. Coach Q will lean on these guys. I’m still concerned about their goaltending, although they have been great until the last couple of games.
Mike Keenan: Mark, the Blackhawks had a great start! Joel Quenneville and his staff will continue to address the details of play for each individual as well as team. The challenge now is to get the team emotionally engaged to the level they had during the streak. They have the internal leadership to achieve these results quickly.
Neil Smith: I’m sure that Joel Quenneville and his assistant coaches were beginning to worry about the aftermath of their winning streak long before they lost to Colorado. I assume that Joel would be keeping the players mindful that the Stanley Cup is the only real prize of lasting significance. He needs to keep focusing the players on the fact that streaks come and go, but your name on the Cup lasts forever.
Peter asks: If Chris Pronger never plays again in the NHL, what would be your most memorable moment from his career?
Nick Kypreos: Ah… Chris Pronger. Peter, do you even have to ask? By the way, I’m still waiting for my apology from him for that vicious cross check to the back of my head in ’96 and by the way Grant, totally not my fault! Peter, this guy played to win every time he stepped on the ice and for that I have a ton of respect for him. Pronger certainly isn’t retiring with as many friends in the game as some others, but others didn’t retire with as many accolades as Pronger. One of the best blueliners in history.
Brad May: It’s inevitable that players’ careers end. Some end quicker and more abruptly than others. In Chris’ case, his eye injury and concussion problems were/are serious. If this means Chris’ career is over, I think back to 2006/07 and Chris’ performance throughout that season and of course his dominating play in the playoffs. He did it with skill, toughness, suspensions, goals and assists. I had the pleasure to play on that team and hoist the Stanley Cup alongside Chris and all of our amazing teammates. The day after we won I got a phone call from our PR department with the Ducks asking if I’d like to accompany Chris Pronger and J.S. Giguere to take the Stanley Cup on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. This was an incredible opportunity that I was able to share with Chris and Giggy. Life was pretty good that day!
Mike Keenan: Peter, hopefully Chris Pronger will be able to return to good health. I am sure his most satisfying moment in his career was winning the Stanley Cup. Chris had many individual accomplishments but winning the Cup always ranks at the top. He played a major role in his team’s success.
Cimba asks: How and why was Claude Julien not fined for his tirade against league officiating following their loss to the Canadiens? Who and what determines what is a ‘fine-worthy’ offence?
Doug MacLean: My understanding was that he was more critical of Montreal players than the refs. Keep in mind we don’t always hear if a coach is fined.
Mike Keenan: Cimba, the evaluation of the coaching behavior in the NHL is under the authority of Colin Campbell. If there is an incident, the officials file a report with Mr. Campbell and he and his staff review the situation. He then makes a determination if a fine and/or a suspension is necessary.