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Welcome Mats

Mats Sundin retired with 564 goals and 1,349 points in 1,346 career NHL games. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Mats Sundin retired with 564 goals and 1,349 points in 1,346 career NHL games. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

If it wasn’t enjoyable enough being at the first game of the NHL season – between two Original Six rivals, no less – it got a whole lot better for your faithful question-taker-and-answerer when he checked out the press box seating arrangement and realized he’d be watching the game beside none other than CBC play-by-play legend Bob Cole.

Sometimes this job rocks. And sometimes it really rocks.

Let’s go to the italics…

Adam, as a diehard Canucks fan, I agree with your reasoning about the Canucks’ potential problems, even if I think they'll be slotted two spots higher.

But I have a comment on the continuity (or lack thereof) of your rationale behind the Flames winning the West. You picked them to be first because you believe they play in a very weak division (which I agree with), yet you also pick the Oilers to make the playoffs and the Wild to be near the playoff bubble. If the Northwest is that good, I don't see how the Flames can do that well.

I will also point out that the sophomore season of very good rookie goalies have generally been very poor, even if said goalies go on to win the Cup in the following years. For that reason, I think the Blue Jackets will be a playoff bubble team, as opposed to being a No. 6 seed (which is probably only going to be two points more than the seventh seed, but it's the spirit of the thing).

However, if I am wrong, I guarantee you I will apologize and point out that you were right at the end of the season.
Josh P., Abbotsford, B.C.


Josh,

I heard the same questions when I put in three Southeast Division teams in my Eastern Conference playoff picture and I understand the paradox to which you’re referring.

Still, given league parity and three-point games muddying up the playoff race all season long, I think it is possible for the Flames and Canucks to be joined by one of the Wild or Oilers in the post-season and still beat out the likes of the Red Wings, Sharks and others for top spot in the West.

What I mean is, the fight in the standings is going to be closer than ever because of the NHL’s smoke-and-mirrors standings system, but that doesn’t change the expansive talent gap between the Northwest’s best and worst teams.

And it’s possible you’ll be right about the Blue Jackets needing Steve Mason to reprise his outstanding performance from last year. But remember, this team made the playoffs with one of the worst power plays of any playoff team in league history; sure, that’s partly due to Mason, but you’d better believe the contributions of Ken Hitchcock – and a number of his other players – had a lot to do with it as well.

Wouldn’t you say a full year of Derick Brassard might take some of the pressure off Mason? How about the potential superstar play of Nikita Filatov? The Blue Jackets aren’t just about Rick Nash or any other player.

Don’t worry about apologizing, though. All predictions should be taken with a silo full of salt. And the only thing any reasonable fan should demand is that their team play an entertaining brand of hockey.

Hey Adam, based on the general play of many of the young players and new additions to the New York Rangers throughout the pre-season, Chris Drury does not seem to fit. I see him as the perfect fourth line center who plays as a penalty-killer and power play specialist to take important faceoffs. He's been invisible throughout the pre-season and hasn't been the offensive player he appeared to be throughout his tenure as a Blueshirt.

If Artem Anisimov is a solid NHLer and with Brandon Dubinsky and Vinny Prospal as the other two centers, do you think the Rangers are the most effective team for Drury?
Spoon Edwards, New York


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Hey Spoon,

As soon as I read about somebody’s play in pre-season games, my eyes go into quick-glaze mode. As I wrote yesterday, the pre-season… Does. Not. Matter.

Moreover, the Rangers aren’t paying Drury $7 million a season for fourth-line minutes. If his production isn’t commensurate with his salary, it’s a classic example of another gaffe-tastic Glen Sather strategy. You can’t blame Drury for taking the money, but you definitely can blame the organization that offered it to him.

If he struggles all season, your best hope is for Montreal GM Bob Gainey to come knocking next summer to take another massive contract off Sather’s hands. Absent that development, I’m afraid you’re stuck with Drury until the summer of 2012.

Yo Adam, will Marian Hossa ever win a Cup with Chicago?
Kayla Adam, Ilderton, Ont.


Yo Kayla,

It’s entirely possible, especially considering Hossa will have the next 12 years to try and get the job done. And considering the term of his unmovable contract, it’s highly unlikely he’ll get a shot to win it anywhere else.

Adam, with the big changes the Lightning made in the off-season, I feel the biggest things they need to improve on are defense and the power play. Who will anchor the power play? Kurtis Foster is an unknown, but had a good camp. Do you feel he will emerge as an offensive weapon?
Dave, Tampa Bay


Dave,

Please see my above remarks on what gets proven in training camp.

As for Foster – I don’t know if the Bolts would want to put all their hopes on a player who suffered an awful injury  less than two years ago.

That’s not to say Foster can’t step in and help. But I think it’s more likely you’ll see Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet give a number of different players (Andrej Meszaros, Mattias Ohlund, Victor Hedman) a chance to run the power play.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if Tocchet turns to one of his forwards to do the job.

Hey Adam, Mats Sundin just retired and I was wondering if you think he deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Austin Arsenault, St. Andrews, Ont.


Hey Austin,

I do think Sundin should be in the Hall. As I regularly point out, being honored by the HHOF is all about your contributions to hockey, not just to the NHL. Although Sundin didn’t rack up individual awards or first-team all-star honors while he played in North America, he will always be a legend in Sweden for the achievements he made while representing his homeland.

To me, that’s good enough to get the guy a plaque.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on TheHockeyNews.com. Proteau also answers readers' questions in every issue of The Hockey News magazine and on The Hockey News Radio Show 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.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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