With 45 points in 48 games, Erik Karlsson leads all defensemen in scoring and has 11 more points than Brian Campbell of the Panthers. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
It’s amazing that people are calling for mandatory helmets in NHL warmups after just one frightening accident, yet after numerous horrific eye injuries, mandated visors still isn’t a priority. But that’s a column for another day. For this day, we’ve got the mailbag.
Hey Adam, Based on Erik Karlsson’s fantastic numbers so far, do you think he ought to be considered a candidate for the Norris Trophy?
Travis Dewar, Ottawa
While Karlsson has had a fantastic year so far (including 38 assists, second only to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin for tops in the NHL), I don’t think he’s got the impact at both ends of the rink that you see coming from Norris favorites Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara. The good news is Karlsson is just 21 and only in his third NHL season, leaving him plenty of time to round out his game. I don’t think Sens fans will be all that crushed if they don’t see his name among the three finalists at season’s end.
Dear Adam, I am a huge Sens fan and I have been very surprised with where they are in the standings at the moment. As THN had doomsday predictions for the Sens, why do you think they have had success? Do you think if they can transfer it into a strong playoff performance?
Ryan Robineau, Ottawa
As I said on Twitter last week, I’m fully prepared to admit the Senators have proven us wrong. Clearly, their veteran players had something to atone for after last season’s horrendous showing – and they’ve done just that. Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar, Filip Kuba and Chris Philips all have played much better and goalie Craig Anderson has given them consistent netminding.
I still worry that a serious injury to one of their key players during the playoff drive may reveal a lack of depth, but I also think the coaching of Jack Adams Award frontrunner Paul MacLean could help them battle through that. In any case, the Sens have shown that cynics doubt them at their own peril.
Hey Adam, I think it’s pretty obvious the Washington Capitals won’t win the Stanley Cup. So who are the two teams THN believes will make it into the Cup final now?
Eric Duncan, Toronto
First of all, I wouldn’t be quite so prepared to count the Caps out. Since Dec. 26, they’ve gone 8-3-0 and a couple of notable free agents (namely, Alex Semin and Mike Green) could be peddled in a trade to boost their fortunes.
But I hear what you’re saying. They certainly don’t look to be as much of a Cup challenger as, say, the defending-champion Bruins, stingy Rangers, always-solid Sharks or the first-in-the-West Red Wings. I can’t speak for everybody at THN, but if I had to predict a Cup final today, I’d go with Boston coming out of the East, and Chicago (who I wrote about here) winning the West.
But who knows? I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see a Blues/Blueshirts championship showdown, either. Remember, not too many people were picking the Bruins to win it all at this time last season.
Hey Adam, with all the excitement in Winnipeg about the Jets, and the new football stadium being built, do you think Winnipeg has a chance at a Heritage Classic (if the NHL does it again) or a Winter Classic?
Jesse Tabak, Winnipeg
The short answer is, yes, I do. The NHL has shown it isn’t prepared to put on a Canadian-based outdoor game every year, but even if it did so every other season or every few years, sooner or later it would be Winnipeg’s turn to play host. There’s no doubt the league would have less to worry about in regard to a possible weather-related letdown and cancellation if they were playing in Manitoba – and there’s also no question the rabid fan base would support it fully and completely. To me, it’s a question of when, not if.
Adam, I may be a bit blind to the money issues that may effect this trade proposal, but doesn't a trade of Ilya Kovalchuk to the Kings make sense? The Devils may be in the playoff hunt, but shouldn't they consider the future, particularly one with Zach Parise?
The Kings could use some scoring, without using Ilya as a special-teams handcuff, and have some disposable assets in Jack Johnson and Jonathan Bernier, which might not be offensive, but the Devils do need to consider a goalie for the future and improve the defense around him. L.A. may have to relinquish some picks or roster players, but I think a deal like this could benefit both teams.
Justin Thomas, Waukesha, Wisc.
You make a compelling argument, but here are a few problems with it. For starters, Kovalchuk is the Devils’ leading goal-scorer and one of their best players. As THN senior writer Ken Campbell argued during a recent debate, Kovalchuk has five shootout-winning goals for New Jersey this year, and those five points could wind up being the difference between that franchise making or missing the playoffs. Hard to give up on a guy like that.
That said, the Devils are in serious financial trouble – some believe they’re on the verge of bankruptcy – and with Parise to sign, GM Lou Lamoriello may be forced to examine all options. But be honest, if you were Kings GM Dean Lombardi, would you really want to pick up a contract that runs until 2025 when you could just as easily wait until Parise hits the unrestricted free agent market this summer and deal with him on your own terms? I don’t think I’d be so eager to do that deal.