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The replacements

Alex Ovechkin's Russian were defeated in a shootout by Slovakia Thursday night.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin's Russian were defeated in a shootout by Slovakia Thursday night. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Adam is away on this grey Friday in Toronto, but the Olympic spirit is peaking after a couple exciting games Thursday night.

This week, THN staffers fill in to answer your questions as the second-last weekend of the Vancouver Games is on the horizon.

With all the talk about the NHL not going to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, what are the possibilities of an agreement that the owners would allow players selected by their home countries to attend the Olympics; the NHL continues with its regular schedule during the Olympics; teams that lost players to the Olympics are allowed to call up an equal number of players from the American League (or other leagues) without any restrictions (i.e. waivers)? This would keep the NHL going during the Games and allow some players in the minors a chance to play in the NHL and showcase their talents.
Kevin Duncan, Halifax, N.S.


Kevin: First of all, I like your thinking on this. You provide an interesting alternative, but I don’t think it’s one the NHL will consider at this point. I believe, and I think everyone agrees, that when it comes to the NHL and the Olympics, you’re either all-in or you’re out. This should be a best-on-best tournament on the world’s biggest stage and if the NHL doesn’t see the benefit in that, it should simply ignore the Olympics and go back to having amateurs and college kids playing.

The problem is, the NHL hasn’t seen any discernible benefit from playing in the Olympics and with the potential for injuries and travel it sees it as being more trouble than it has been worth. The hockey has been compelling and entertaining, but it hasn’t attracted a huge new following for the NHL game. The same people who have been watching the Olympics are the same ones who watch hockey regularly, anyway.

There has been talk of making the Olympics an under-25 tournament, but I don’t see the NHL going that route, either.

Frankly, what I think will happen is the league will be forced to bow to pressure from the public and the players and will continue to participate. But that’s just a hunch on my part. Olympic participation is a collective bargaining issue with the players and I believe the NHL is making noise about not going in the future as negotiating leverage because it knows the players want to keep participating. That way, when they do negotiate, capitulating on Olympic participation will create the impression the NHL is giving up something in collective bargaining. But I also think if the league thinks the players will take Olympic participation in exchange for giving up guaranteed contracts or no-trade clauses, it’s dreaming. Hope that helps. -KC

I'm a huge Canes fan and I'm wondering what you think about the Ray Whitney situation. Do you think he will be dealt? Is Carolina's asking price too high in your opinion?
Matt, Richmond Hill, Ont.


Matt, if the reports of Carolina wanting a pick and a prospect are true, then, yeah, the asking price is too high. Not because Ray Whitney isn’t a valuable player with a Stanley Cup ring, but because of his contract situation. The 37-year-old left winger reportedly wants a two-year extension wherever he goes, plus he must waive his no-movement clause for the deal to go through in the first place. So in that sense, Canes GM Jim Rutherford is not dealing from a position of strength. If Rutherford can get a first-rounder for Whitney, he’ll have done his team right. -RK

I know common wisdom has it that draft picks are valuable and I certainly agree with that. But there's a simple fact that puzzles me when thinking about the value of, say, a second round draft pick in a trade: If you look at the list of draft picks from the second round from a typical year (say five years ago or more) you notice that only about half the players have played a single NHL game and only about one-third have played about 100 games, indicating an actual NHL player – and those are quite generous estimates!

With this in mind, how does it make sense to trade a solid, fully developed NHL performer like Alexei Ponikarovsky or Dominic Moore for a second round draft pick? To me, you only have a 33 percent chance of eventually receiving a regular NHL player of any kind, let alone a consistent 20-goal scorer. Sure, there's a tiny chance you might get a great player like a Paul Stastny, but it seems like a foolish gamble when you look at the cold hard numbers. Thanks for your thoughts!
Joe Johns, Toronto


Hey Joe, great question. There’s no doubt draft picks are valuable, but I get a strong feeling that in today’s game where 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds jump into the NHL more than ever, not only draft picks, but prospects tend to get overvalued by Average Joe Fan and some media members; there’s the perception anything young is gold and shouldn’t be given up.

Your reality is right: in the big picture not many second-rounders make it as bona fide NHLers. However, the more second round picks you have in a draft, the more likely you are to draw a star. Not only that, but if a team has a few second or even third round picks, they’ll be more likely to use one of them on a risky prospect with an intriguing upside (i.e. Nashville using one of their four second and third round picks last year to select injured Minnesota high-school behemoth Zach Budish.)

When you look at a player like Dominic Moore or Alexei Ponikarovsky, you have to take into consideration their contract status as well. These players are not and never will be centerpieces for building a franchise, but they can be very useful depth pieces for Stanley Cup contenders. While the contender does well to pick up a legitimate NHLer without giving up anything of consequence, the other team does well to rack up draft picks and rid themselves of an easily replaceable player in need of a new contract.

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Also, keep in mind that at the draft, the more picks you have, the more ammo is at your disposal to use in trades to move up and nab a prospect (perhaps in the first round) you really want who may be available longer than expected. The Blue Jackets in 2009 are a great example of this, when they made a couple trades to end up with defenseman John Moore.

Generally the player being moved in those deals is a spare part and the second round draft pick heading back is just compensation fodder that alone has little value, but together with other picks becomes much, much more valuable.

Draft picks are great, but you can’t underestimate the value of a legitimate NHL player who scores 20 goals or consistently plays a strong depth, defensive role around the league. It’s a known quantity for an unknown quantity. It’s all about asset management and the big picture for GMs; role players are more valuable to contenders, while stockpiling picks are more valuable for non-playoff teams in reconstruction mode. -RB

A while ago there was a big kerfuffle about the fact, from what I understood, the Olympic committee was not allowing Canada to keep its hockey jerseys (which were awesome) because they had a maple leaf on them and teams were not allowed to have symbols from their flag on its jerseys. However, Canada now has an even more obvious maple leaf on it. Please clear this up for me. Thanks.
Robin Young, Halifax, N.S.


Hi Robin,

There was a kerfuffle, but it was about more than the Maple Leaf.

The IOC has, for a long time, had unenforced rules concerning sport federations not being allowed to display their logos on team jerseys. The classic Team Canada jersey included a Maple Leaf with a skater inside it and C-A-N-A-D-A spelt out underneath.

However, that is the Hockey Canada logo and at the 2008 Beijing Games the IOC began enforcing its no-federation-logos rule with soccer teams and made it clear the same enforcement would be used for every sport  – that’s why Canadian skiers aren’t wearing the traditional yellow Crazy Canuck suits as well.

Hockey Canada was upset that, in a year when the Olympics were in Canada, it would have to change its time-honored jerseys. Whether that was because of tradition or due to marketing and merchandise sales is up for debate. But the IOC won and a new jersey-logo was created. -JG

I think Bob Cole should call the Stanley Cup final. What do you think? Will the Olympics slow down Washington’s attack? I think the media should stop talking about Tomas Kaberle's chances of being traded; he is our best defenseman. What do you think?
Dan Cearns, Janetville, Ont.


Hi Dan, I think Bob Cole strikes a nostalgic chord with every one who associates their hockey-watching youth with his vocal chords, myself included. However, magical as that old voice is, nobody wants to see him become the Willie Mays of the broadcast booth, so it’s likely best the CBC has already moved Jim Hughson in as its prime-time guy before Cole officially became what we’ll call the “Say What?!?” Kid.

Where I think CBC dropped the ball was letting Chris Cuthbert go during the lockout, enabling him to join TSN. Because CBC carries the Cup final, there’s no chance we’ll hear Cuthbert calling the play, which is a shame because I believe he offers a great blend of natural enthusiasm, hockey knowledge and never relies on gimmicks.

• Unless one of Washington’s super-snipers is felled by injury, the Olympics will just be another thing that can’t slow the Caps’ attack. Last time the Games were held in North America, Detroit sent 10 players – essentially half its roster – to Salt Lake City and went on to win the Cup.

• Last year Toronto GM Brian Burke said he got the sense that if he traded Tomas Kaberle, he’d spend the rest of the summer looking for somebody to provide what Kaberle brought, likely in vain.

Still, the Leafs need help up front and I do get the sense that – from both ends – Kaberle’s time in Toronto may have run its course. Where once he seemed content to play in a place he was just very comfortable in, I’m just not sure that’s the case anymore. If they do trade him, they’ll be moving their best blueliner, but they’ll also be dealing the guy who can return the most up front with the hopes their re-built back end can get by without one very slick puck-mover. -RD

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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