Welcome to the first edition of Hockey Central: Ask the Insiders where fans get to pick the topics. This week, the Insiders answered several questions including whether the Oilers should sign Jason Arnott, will the Maple Leafs move Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf and what kind of return could the Flames get for Jarome Iginla?
SHANE ASKS: Now that Shawn Horcoff is going to be out for at least 3-4 weeks should the Oilers sign a centre like Jason Arnott? Or do you think they will be ok with what they have right now?
DOUG MACLEAN: Tough decision on Arnott. He has had a lot of injury problems recently and didn’t help the Blues last year. Does he fit with the kids in Edmonton? I would look elsewhere for more of a third line checker type guy with fewer durability issues.
JEFF MAREK: I don’t see the Oilers rushing out and signing Jason Arnott for a return to the team that drafted him for a couple of reasons. I think first they want to see what they have depth-wise with Oklahoma City (specifically Chris VandeVelde) and short term they seem fine riding their top three centers, RHN, Sam Gagner and Eric Belanger. Plus it’s not a season ending injury by any stretch so if they can get by plugging holes that’s what they’d prefer to do.
JAMES HUNT ASKS: Do you think Dave Nonis is looking to move Phil Kessel and or Dion Phaneuf or is he leaning towards re-upping one or both of them? Thanks.
DOUG MACLEAN: I don’t think the Leafs are looking to trade these two players. They have to consider their options as both are UFAs in a little over a year. They need to figure out if they can sign Kessel and Phaneuf to new deals as they can’t afford to have them walk. The Leafs can attempt to sign them beginning July 5 (free agency day changed due to the NHL lockout). That is the big decision date for them. If next season starts with them unsigned, the leverage shifts to players.
JEFF MAREK: I think Nonis would listen to offers for both players but at this point unless there was a deal that blew him away I can’t see him moving either player.
TARO TSUJIMOTO ASKS: Has anyone asked Randy Carlyle about taking Mike Kostka off the Top PP unit? If so what was his response?
JOHN SHANNON: Firstly, anyone who uses Taro Tsujimoto as a pseudonym deserves a response. That famous fictitious draft pick of Punch Imlach’s Sabres in the early ’70s! I suspect that Randy quite likes Kostka on the point, he has some previous experience on the PP in the AHL, and combine that with his defensive talent, he is a valued option over putting a forward at that spot. Remember this is a short season, a compacted schedule, and Carlyle is forced to use players with experience on the point (when you can’t practice the PP as much as you want).
J_IGGY12 ASKS: Even if Calgary decides to try and trade Jarome Iginla, do you think they would get much in return?
JEFF MAREK: Last year at the trade deadline first round picks were thrown around like Pez, so that’s the opening bid for Iginla. And depending on the trading partner it would have to be a combination of picks and prospects. Not unlike the deal that brought Iginla from Dallas originally.
JEFF MAREK: No movement from either side, and the longer this goes on the more I see Colorado trading him. The philosophical problem here is the Avalanche would ask for a King’s ransom in return for O’Reilly and if they feel he’s that valuable what’s the issue then with paying him as such?
DES FROM NL ASKS: I understand that you want to protect goalies, but what do you think of all the goalie interference calls? In my opinion if the goalie is outside the crease and he and the player move into each other that should be fine.
JEFF MAREK: For me it’s called far too often and it appears the default now with many of the officials is to assume it’s goalie interference if it appears that way. I don’t like the “well, he’s out of his crease” argument, and feel whomever gets that piece of ice first claims it as his. Further, how about more diving calls on goalies who embellish the slightest bump in order to draw a penalty?
JOHN SHANNON: Last March the General Managers en masse demanded that the goalies be protected more. That came on the heels of the Ryan Miller/Milan Lucic incident in Boston. That protection is for all goalies, all the time both inside or outside the crease. Have the officials carried out the order to an extreme? Maybe. But when you think of the investment in top line goaltenders in this league, it probably is a good idea. To many people, it is similar to what happens in the NFL when the refs try to protect quarterbacks. QBs and Goalies are both expensive and stars.
KEN12 ASKS: How do you guys prepare for a hockey game airing on Sportsnet?
DOUG MACLEAN: Preparation is mainly done by watching games. You always try to watch the previous game the team played. it’s also important to speak with people close to the team regarding issues with club and talk to scouts who have watched team play recently.
JEFF MAREK: For me it’s an all day, every day process of watching games, reading articles and blogs and talking to people involved in the game at the player, coach and broadcast level.
JOHN SHANNON: I guess the best way to answer that question is to say, you don’t really prepare for a single game on a single day. The NHL season is relentless, particularly during this shortened season. Talking to teams’ officials, league officials, broadcasters and players is a constant event. Good hockey stories that pertain to one team will probably be appropriate for the others as well. You create a regular cycle of calling and talking or emailing people in authority to get stories, facts and opinions on a daily basis, seven days a week throughout the season. In preparing for a single game, you might make a few more calls to the teams involved, but if you are staying current with the whole hockey world, even those calls aren’t always needed for a specific game.