Owen Nolan has 30 points in 72 games and will be looking for a new contract in the off-season. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
The weather in Toronto is finally starting to improve, but I don’t trust Mother Nature enough to dive headlong into a creative-ish intro to the mailbag column just yet. If we go a full week without one damn snowflake falling from the sky, I should be back to my old self.
What do you think of the odds on Aleksey Morozov being lured back to the NHL next season?
Sure, he's 31, but he's been tearing it up in Russia – and has stayed pretty healthy since the lockout, and could make an immediate contribution to a team like Vancouver, Phoenix or Nashville, all of whom need scoring punch.
Keep up the good work!
Dave H., Barcelona, Spain
In 2006, Morozov signed a three-year deal to remain with Ak-Bars Kazan in Russia, and reports I’ve read have him stating he has no intention to head back overseas and play in the NHL.
Of course, an overwhelming contract offer could change his mind, but I think native Russians are far more likely to stay home if the money is anywhere close to the same as they’d receive in the NHL. Some players never completely adapt to the culture or demands made on them in North America, and I suspect Morozov is one of those guys.
Do you think that sometime in the next five years a team like the Capitals or Blackhawks could win the Cup?
Scott Roblin, Okotoks, Alta.
In a word: yeah. In two words: hell, yeah.
However, don’t forget both franchises have put together promising rosters in the past, but fell victim to varying combinations of bad circumstance and/or sub-par management and nothing came of that promise.
I hold more faith that the same fate won’t befall either the Hawks or Capitals this time around, but wouldn’t bet the millions I’ve earned in this job (writer’s note: sometimes my sarcasm makes me weep, and not with joy) that it’s a sure thing.
As far as you know, has the NHL considered calculating the salary cap after income tax figures?
For example, if someone who is paid $5 million in Dallas is left with $4 million after taxes, and someone in Montreal has to be paid $7 million to have $4 million left after taxes, then contracts and salary cap figures could be based on "after tax" money. That way, every team would be playing on a leveled field.
Alexandre L., Montreal
Let me guess – you’re an accountant, right? Yours is an interesting thought, but it wouldn’t prevent team owners from not spending all the way to the cap ceiling, which puts a significant dent in your leveled field theory.
I’m starting to feel the same way about the cap as I do about NHL officiating – there’s never going to be a solution that satisfies everyone. But the current system at least guarantees the heavyweight franchises can’t bully the poorer teams with their riches, and I think that might be as good as it gets.
I live in Ottawa, and would like to attend this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Do you have to buy tickets for the event, or do you just show up?
Matt Pedalino, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Tickets for last year’s draft in Columbus were free, and you’d imagine the NHL wouldn’t change that policy simply because this season’s festivities – and I use that word very loosely, especially after the first round is over – are in Canada.
The Senators tell me ticket distribution plans haven’t been announced yet, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled on the daily news for confirmation. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep over missing out on the event. Unless the Sens somehow land the first overall pick, you should get in the building without much trouble.
I am curious to receive your take on the Calgary Flames free agents upcoming this summer.
With the recent success of the Flames and subsequent solid play at both ends of the ice from Daymond Langkow and the healthy scratch of Kristian Huselius, do you feel Calgary is better off signing Langkow and letting Huselius walk into free agency?
Also, do you feel they will re-sign Craig Conroy and Owen Nolan, as they have both had great seasons? Thanks for your take. Go Flames!
Sheldon Lachambre, Calgary, Alta.
I wrote about the Huselius/Langkow debate in a column for our magazine a couple months back. I didn’t specify who my choice would be, but as you point out, it’s starting to become apparent who Flames management prefers to keep happy, and that group doesn’t appear to include Huselius.
That means Langkow almost certainly will be back in Calgary. As for Nolan and Conroy, I think it all depends on their contractual expectations. If either one wants more than a couple million per season, they’ll be playing in another uniform next year.
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