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A long weekend

Evgeni Malkin has been at the center of trade rumors since the Penguins were ousted by the Montreal Canadiens in seven games. (Getty Images)

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Evgeni Malkin has been at the center of trade rumors since the Penguins were ousted by the Montreal Canadiens in seven games. (Getty Images)

If you’re growing weary of delays between NHL playoff games, remember, it could be a lot worse. You could be stuck watching NHL pre-season hockey, the biggest waste of time and ice since, well, this.

On to the usual business, with the usual pre-question clarification: If you’re a regular mailbag reader, you know I can’t get to every reader submission. You also know that I’ll use some questions for the website mailbag, others for the THN magazine edition of Ask Adam and others for THN Radio on XM Home Ice Satellite 204.

So check out all versions to see if you’ve been served.

Adam, greetings from the sunny state of Florida. Now that the Panthers have finally done something right with the hiring of Dale Tallon as GM what do you think he'll be able to do to get the Panthers moving in the right direction?

Tomas Vokoun seems to be the biggest name I hear being talked about. What kind of return do you think the Panthers would get for him realistically? What other tradeable assets do the Panthers have that would get a decent return?

Being that I watch them all year it's rather difficult to look at their roster and appraise it in an unbiased way (and I don't mean that in a good way. I don't think 90 percent of the team is worth a third round pick). It'd be nice to have a little hope for a change going into a new season for the Panthers. Thanks.
Sean Giesler, Sunrise, Fla.


Sean,

Hard as it may be to hear, I think Tallon will have to be patient in his rebuild of the Panthers.

Most people suspect he’ll unload Vokoun – and while that very well could happen, I think the way these playoffs are transpiring (with big names Martin Brodeur, Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo out of the tournament early and low-priced netminders still around), it will be extremely tough for any GM to pawn off a goalie (especially one with a $5.7 million cap hit next season) and expect equal value in exchange.

Simply unloading his contract will likely require another Panthers asset to be thrown into the trade package. But cap space is now considered almost as valuable as a star player, so Tallon will have money to play with in the months after Vokoun is moved.

And you’re correct when you say there isn’t a whole lot on Florida’s roster that, if traded, could trigger a quick standings turnaround for the Panthers. But I think Tallon will have no choice but to break up the core of Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and David Booth.

That’s not to imply all three young players will be moved. But keeping the trio is a de facto vote of confidence in them – and I’m sure a longtime Panthers fan like you knows they haven’t done anything to deserve that type of magnanimous gesture.

Adam, I am curious why it is that, when teams play in Canada, they sing the Canadian and American national anthems at the games and when they play in the United States, they only sing the American national anthem?
Tammy Morin, Sudbury, Ont.


Tammy,

That’s not quite the case. All American NHL teams will play both anthems, but only when a Canadian team is providing the opposition (the exception begin Buffalo, which plays both every game). Same goes for the converse: if two teams from north of the 49th parallel are playing each other, you’ll only hear the Canadian anthem played.

The bigger question in a lot of peoples’ minds is, why do they play the anthems at all? And that’s not to disrespect soldiers, or any nation.

The anthems can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but those occasions are rare. More often, they are simply an excuse for B- and C-list singers to put themselves in the public spotlight with their Mariah-Carey-crossed-with-a-hyena vocal gymnastics. We’re here for a good time and not a long time, so I say get on with it.

Adam, I have heard several rumors about pending changes to the collective bargaining agreement after it expires. One of the rumors deals with the NHL implementing a ‘soft’ salary cap like the NBA, which would allow teams like Pittsburgh and Washington to keep the players they’ve drafted instead of having to trade them away because of a lack of cap space.

I think that is a great idea. Your thoughts?
Mike Drakulich, Midland, Pa.


Mike,

I was an advocate of the soft cap system prior to the formation of the NHL’s current CBA and I see no good reason to depart from that position now.

As you noted, a cap that rewards teams for savvy drafting and development is an improvement on the current system, which really is only about constant talent redistribution (and of course, franchise values above all else).

I also love the NBA’s efforts to keep star players with their first team by guaranteeing them more money if they choose not to leave. That would be manna from heaven for places like Edmonton and Buffalo.

The NBA’s setup shows us that a more flexible cap arrangement doesn’t protect teams from mismanagement. But at the very least, it gives GMs some degree of leverage – and that’s what the NHL is missing right now.

Hi Adam. I have noticed that there seems to be an abnormal amount of sticks breaking this year. Not just from slashing, but from players taking shots, passing and taking passes etc. Unreal!

Is this situation being studied or is my imagination running wild? Incidentally I am not "the" Ron MacLean, although I had the name first! Thanks,
Ron W. MacLean, Chemainus, B.C.


Hi Ron,

The shattering stick epidemic has been around for as long as composite sticks have. And since wooden sticks are all but extinct among NHL players, I’m afraid fans will be stuck watching players fumble around sheepishly after their sticks explode for a long time to come.

Personally, I hope a composite stick breaks at a crucial juncture of Game 7 of the Cup final. If enough fans and teams were sufficiently disappointed and incensed, the stick industry might have to seriously consider alternatives. But right now, the status quo will remain in place.

Hey Adam, I was wondering: If the Pens trade Evgeni Malkin, where would he most likely be going and for whom? Also do you see the Oilers in playoff contention next year?
Michael Debinski, Edmonton


Hey Michael,

Not to burst your bubble, but if Penguins GM Ray Shero dealt one of his top two stars in a season when that star (a) played in the Olympics, and (b) had two appearances in the Cup final in the previous two seasons, he should be removed from his position.

In all honesty, I’d expect Jordan Staal to be traded before Malkin. Stranger things have happened, but teams don’t just waive the white flag on prodigious talent – especially when a team’s goaltender is more to blame for an early playoff exit.

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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