NHL mailbag (continued)
Play George McPhee for me and tell me what you'd do with Alexander Semin. Do you sign him or trade him before the deadline? Who might be a buyer?
He's still a restricted free agent when his contract expires this summer, so no need to rush into any Kovalchuk-style pre-deadline decision. That said, I'm sure McPhee has run the numbers and knows he's going to have to make the tough call this summer.
No doubt, Semin's a special talent, and when he's on his game his impact is on a plane just below that of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The kid has magic in his mitts, but he has a few scratches and dents, too. He's something less than durable, having played more than 63 games just once in his career. He doesn't take many penalties, but he has a propensity for taking them at the worst possible time. And though he's capable of making an impact away from the puck, he often appears less than motivated to do so.
Semin is imperfect, but he's a package that most teams would be happy to live with if they could afford it. And the Caps might not be able to. McPhee already has more than $32 million committed to just 12 players for 2010-11 and he has one must-sign: center Nicklas Backstrom, who deserves a healthy chunk of the space McPhee has available. After that, he has to deal with the improving Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr, heart and soul guys like David Steckel and Boyd Gordon, and key defenders Shaone Morrisonn and Brian Pothier. That group won't leave McPhee with a lot of jingle in his pockets.
Semin will be looking for a significant raise over his current $5 million. At this point, I'm not sure McPhee can justify it in terms of his contribution, let alone find space for him under the cap. At least if he's forced to trade him, McPhee can expect a package that matches or exceeds what Boston got for Kessel.
What are the odds that we will see at least one team either fold or relocate within the next five years?
I think you'd get better odds betting on Gary Bettman making an unannounced appearance during the pre-game ceremonies at the Winter Classic to sing "All The Single Ladies." Seriously. If that sucking money pit in Phoenix wasn't abandoned for sunnier economic climes, it's pretty clear that a town would have to be sealed off from the rest of the world by the EPA for the league to consider it unviable.
Expansion, though? I pretty much guarantee that's going to happen and probably within your five-year frame. The money is too significant and it bypasses the players and goes directly to the owners (at least under the current CBA). Best bets? Toronto/Southwestern Ontario and Kansas City, with Quebec City and Las Vegas in the mix.
I was watching the Flyers-Penguins game [on Thursday night] and the Flyers pulled their goalie with the face-off in the Pittsburgh zone and two seconds left in OT. The announcer said that if the Pens scored, the Flyers would lose the point from regulation. That can't be right, can it? Why would they take away a point from a team trying to win a game?
It's not so much about penalizing an effort to win as it is a competitive integrity thing. You don't want to see a team "accidentally" losing a game that might impact the standings in a way that benefits that team.
Rule 84.2 lays it out. In part: A team shall be allowed to pull its goalkeeper in favor of an additional skater in the overtime period. However, should that team lose the game during the time in which the goalkeeper has been removed, it would forfeit the automatic point gained in the tie at the end of regulation play, except if the goalkeeper has been removed at the call of a delayed penalty against the other team.
The rule's been invoked a couple of times in the past. For example, there was one game late in the 1999-2000 season when Rem Murray of the Oilers scored into the empty net to take the point away from a Canucks team that had to have a win to stay in playoff contention. Probably won't see it much in the future, though. It's become a less viable tactic since the shootout was added because a team can grab the point it needs there.
Of course, you'll still see the occasional case like this one when a short clock and an offensive zone face-off make it worth the risk.
Things are getting ugly here in Tampa. I think the Bolts are in desperate need of a shakeup. What do you think about trading Alex Tanguay?
I think the line of takers will be as long as the one clamoring for a sequel to GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. There's always someone willing to take a chance on veteran whose game has hit the skids, but what exactly would the Bolts get in return for a guy carrying a $2.5 million cap hit who hasn't scored in 14 games? Whatever it is, it probably won't offer much help to a team that's won just one of its last 11. Remember, Tanguay wasn't exactly a caliente commodity when he was free over the summer, and he hasn't done anything to improve his stock since then. I think they're stuck with him.
Andy Murray: fire him or stick him in a gorilla suit and shove him in a cage with a real gorilla that's being shipped back to Africa?
Interesting suggestion, Mr. B, but I'll say Murray is fine where he is. I certainly understand why Blues fans are frustrated with the team's consistent inconsistency, but that's the hallmark of a young team, isn't it? Expectations, both internally and externally, were grossly inflated by that hot finish last season, but the Blues were running before they knew how to walk. This team is talented, but it needs time to work through its growing pains. Murray's done enough to deserve the chance to work through those pains with them.
Oh, and say hi to Mortimer and Randolph for me.
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