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Cat and mouse

The Sedin Bros. are schedule to become UFA on July 1. (Getty Images)

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The Sedin Bros. are schedule to become UFA on July 1. (Getty Images)

When the cat (Adam) is away, the mice (the rest of the THN staff) get to play.

Regularly scheduled Adam answering will resume June 5.

I am a diehard Leafs fan, but the Leafs only exciting moment (in the past few years) was drafting Luke Schenn. This year there is a free agent frenzy with the Sedin twins in the mix. With Brian Burke being the mastermind of drafting the Sedins in Vancouver, do you think there is a chance he can bring them to Toronto?
Ryan Garrett, Markham, Ont.


Thanks for the question, Ryan.

Outside of Marian Hossa and Jay Bouwmeester, the Sedins are the most tantalizing free agents out there this summer. And, yes, I think there’s a chance Burke will bring them to Toronto, but I don’t think it’s a good one. Here’s why:

First off, the Canucks will do everything they can to re-sign the twins. Along with Roberto Luongo, they are the face of the franchise and have made Vancouver their home.

The Sedin summer-saga begins and ends with the Canucks. As far as the Leafs are concerned, although they are under the salary cap for next season and are in desperate need of an infusion of talent, Burke knows that even with the Sedins, his team can’t win for years.

More importantly, the salary cap is expected to fall dramatically in two seasons as the NHL adjusts to the recession we’re all feeling now. The teams with the best chance moving forward from then will be the ones with the most room under the cap to sign free agents such as Luongo, Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash and Olli Jokinen in July 2011.

And even if those players aren’t out there as UFAs, teams well under the cap will be able to swing formerly insane-looking trades with capped-out teams for top-end talent. So Burke would be wise to bide his time, and he knows that. – JG   

Hi Adam, just wondering, is it possible for a highly rated junior player to make it to the NHL if they don’t not go into the NHL draft? Or do they have no choice but to be drafted and that team holds their rights until a certain age? Thanks, and keep up the good work.
James Pake, Toronto


James: Unfortunately for players, they cannot decide whether a team selects them or not. They can, however, choose not to sign with the team and re-enter the draft two years later. NHLers of note who have done this include Matthew Lombardi and Jarret Stoll (ironically, Lombardi was originally selected by Edmonton, but signed with Calgary, while Stoll did the opposite).

Also, players can simply wait out their draft eligibility and become free agents, as Blake Wheeler did at the University of Minnesota. Wheeler had been drafted by Phoenix, but never signed. This season, he inked a deal with Boston. Thanks for writing! – RK

If Montreal traded for Vincent Lecavalier, would they have to give away the farm? If you were Bob Gainey what would you do in regards of signings, call-ups, and trades?    
Jeremy Girardi, Windsor, Ont.


Hi Jeremy,

If Montreal was to obtain Vincent Lecavalier, you can bet prime prospects such as P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Ryan McDonagh would be in the equation. Tampa would be looking for players to build a team around for the next five or 10 years.

If I were Bob Gainey, I’d let Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay walk as UFAs and start with a fresh crew. Now, if in the event Montreal did pull off a blockbuster on draft day to land somebody like Lecavalier, I’d then consider hanging on to one or two of those guys so the new stud coming in had somebody to play with. Thanks for your question. – RD

Where is "battling" Billy Smith when you need him? In this and last year’s playoffs I've seen many Detroit players (Holmstrom and Franzen to name two) clouding the front of the net and nobody is touching them!

Back in the good old days, goalies like Smith would slash, smash and almost kill the SOBs for standing in their sights. And when it wasn't the goalies, one of the heavy-hitting defensemen would clear the front of the net.

Do I like people suffering major injuries? No. But where in the rulebook does it say you cannot try everything possible to get a guy screening the goalie out of the way? Will a ref call a penalty? Most likely. But if the forward is hit hard enough, he will think twice before standing on the doorstep.
Bernard Krol, Assen, Netherlands


We speak the same language, Bernard.

The front of the net just isn’t the same as it used to be, is it? Where once intimidating defensemen like Chris Pronger ruled supreme, the cost of situating yourself on the edge of the goalie’s crease isn’t as steep – or scary – as the pre-obstruction shutdown era.

Sure, defensemen can let a guy know he’s there and goalies will still give the intruder a love tap on the ankles with his stick, but you can be sure the line to cross before a penalty is called is a heck of a lot more stringent. And that’s too bad, because these epic battles weren’t slowing down or taking anything away from the game – that can be blamed on rushing obstructions the NHL has done an admirable job of eliminating. But, of course, we have to set-up goals to excite the most fair-weather of fans and this crackdown is another pathetic example of that.

Calls ranging anywhere from interference, slashing, hooking, roughing and more can and will be called if any sort of force is used. In my mind, defensemen should be allowed to make life absolutely miserable for anyone willing to stand in front, with a limit, of course, determined by the discretion of the referee. Don’t get me wrong, the defense doesn’t have the right to go crazy, but they should be granted certain liberties.

It’s tough to use the Red Wings as an example of this, though. Tomas Holmstrom was a thorn in the side of any team’s defense before the crackdown and Franzen is a beast – or a mule – that would be impossible for anyone to budge or send a message to. – RB

Perhaps I am showing my hockey naiveté, but what is the possibility of Jim Balsillie pursuing an acquisition of the Islanders if the Coyotes deal doesn't happen? Mr. Wang is tired of ruining a hockey team, arguably, the two Islanders fans would still have a team relatively close (southern Ontario), the divisions could stay the same and, with the number one pick in the draft, they will have another building block (maybe they will hold on to this one, see Zdeno Chara and Roberto Luongo). This seems like a better fit for everyone, is it?
Spencer Seals, San Antonio, Texas


Spencer: I wouldn't rule anything out when it comes to Jim Balsillie's intention to buy a team and move it to southern Ontario, but I would have to think he wouldn't try to replicate the Phoenix situation if he's ultimately unsuccessful in this bid.

Like the Coyotes, the Islanders are committed to a lease that doesn't expire until 2015. There's also little chance that, despite massive losses, Charles Wang will put the Islanders into Chapter 11 bankruptcy the way Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes did, which made it some fairly low-hanging fruit for the likes of Balsillie.

I get the sense that if the Islanders are unsuccessful in their bid to improve their lot at the Nassau Coliseum and they do move, it will be to Kansas City and there's a good chance Wang will remain owner of the team. Hope that helps. – KC

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' question in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show every Friday from 3-4 p.m. EST on XM Radio channel 204. To send us your question or comment, click HERE.

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays, his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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