With Nicklas Lidstrom lost to retirement, how will the Red Wings make up for the gap? (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
One Stanley Cup final game down, as many as six more to go. Are you surprised at what you’ve seen so far? Who do you think will emerge as the biggest out-of-nowhere hero in the series? And most importantly, why am I asking you questions I can’t hear the answers to, especially when this is a mailbag where I answer your questions? The answers to those questions will not be found below, but I’ll do my best to deal with the ones you’ve submitted.
Now that Nicklas Lidstrom has retired, what is going to become of the Red Wings? Nobody can replace what Nick brought to the table and this seems like a team that doesn’t have the young talent to compete with the NHL’s best teams anymore. Do you think rough waters are ahead for them?
Melanie Rogerson, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Given that the Wings are considered the NHL’s model franchise, you bet against them at your own peril. They’ve got more than $28.5 million in unused salary cap space for next season (though a new CBA could change that number) and assuredly will pursue Predators defenseman Ryan Suter and Devils winger Zach Parise with a furor.
But even then, they’re likely to also lose blueline veteran Brad Stuart (whose family issues could cause him to sign with a team in California) and will have to use a sizeable portion of that cap space if they wish to retain the services of unrestricted free agent center Jiri Hudler.
Complicating matters further is the fact the other teams in Detroit’s division don’t appear to be getting any weaker. The Blues and Hawks have tons of young talent; the Predators always make lemons into Lululemon yoga pants; and the Blue Jackets will be able to re-stock their system with the rewards from a Rick Nash trade.
So yeah, GM Ken Holland is not going to face an easy task in coping with Lidstrom’s departure. Fortunately for Detroit boosters, if there’s any management team that’s up to the challenge, it’s the Red Wings’.
Adam, I am a New York Rangers fan and I’m hearing that Justin Schultz of the Wisconsin Badgers wants to play for the Rangers and his buddies Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan. I also understand the Rangers can sign him on July 1 of this year. Is compensation required? Can you explain how this is possible since Schultz is a second round pick of the Ducks?
Robert Senior, Utica, N.Y.
First of all, there has been no information I’m aware of that suggests Schultz is destined for the Blueshirts. Lots of people “hear” lots of things, but I don’t put stock in any of that scuttlebutt.
That said, the Rangers could indeed sign Schultz on the first day of July. But so could 29 other teams. He becomes an unrestricted free agent because, as a draft pick who the Ducks have been unable to sign since they selected him in 2008 – and as someone who is no longer registered to study at his NCAA school – he is permitted to become a UFA under the collective bargaining agreement.
As such, no compensation for the Ducks is required. They continue to try and sign him within the 30-day exclusivity window that began when he de-registered from college, but at this stage, he’s expected to remain unsigned and try hitting the jackpot on the open market. Schultz, who turns 22 July 6, has his stock very high right now and with the premium placed on puck-moving defensemen, he’ll have no shortage of offers from the best teams in the league.
Hello Adam, In light of your recent article backing female hockey fans and the disrespect CBC's new endeavor has shown us, I was wondering what you thought of the complimentary pair of men's underwear that came with my latest issue of THN? If that isn't sexist I don't know what is. Maybe next time they can send me a thong or maybe even a sports bra!
Bobbie Ruthig, New Hamburg, Ont.
There was certainly no ill will intended with THN’s decision to provide an added gift with the purchase of our magazine. The maker of the men’s underwear is an advertiser who wanted our readership to sample their product. We are aware not all of our readers are men – our statistics show a roughly 80/20 split in male/female readership – but simple logistics make it impossible for us to personalize each special gift issue according to gender. Hopefully you can re-gift the underwear to a man in your life.
Adam, is it time for bigger nets? Wider nets so players can pick the corners more often. There are not enough quality scoring chances anymore.
Paul Domke, Vancouver
A question like this always brings out the worst in some hockey people. The first ones to jump up like their hair is on fire are usually those brave stalwarts of the status quo who argue low-scoring games are the most wonderful thing since the word wonderful was invented and that anyone who suggests otherwise is a hockey loather of the first order.
Of course, that’s a flat-out falsehood and an example of the arrogance that’s at play with the hockey establishment. Some of us can appreciate low scoring games while also holding the opinion too many low-scoring games is a problem for a product that is supposed to entertain more than hardcore hockey types. That’s why few suggestions should be casually dismissed and why bigger nets definitely should be examined as a potential balm for the drop in offense.
Granted, it’s not the sole solution. But if, say, you increased the net an inch or two at the top and sides, I honestly believe it wouldn’t affect the game in any meaningful way other than people’s unwillingness to let go of overvalued traditions.
Consider the shallower nets the league experimented with at its Research And Development camp last summer: There was absolutely no way the average hockey fan could tell there was any difference between the regulation-sized nets and the new versions, yet the reduction in net depth would open up more ice at either end of the rink and give players more room with which to work.
Unfortunately, the fact the NHL didn’t even green light that minor change makes me skeptical they’ll soon decide to increase the net size. But that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.