Gustav Nyquist (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
In this week's online mailbag, Adam Proteau answers questions about Gustav Nyquist's value to the Red Wings, Dallas Eakins' future in Edmonton, potential changes to the Florida Panthers' roster and more.
Another week, another bag o’ mail to sort through. If you don’t see your question here, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate you taking the time to submit it. But this isn’t a perfect world. I mean, if it were, we’d have Christmas at least – at least – twice a year. Anyhow, thanks again.
Greetings, Mr. Proteau:
If the Red Wings make the playoffs, does Gustav Nyquist get any love in the Hart Trophy voting? His run over the last 25 games has been incredible, especially given the lack of supporting cast due to injuries.
Andrew Lee, Kingman, Ariz.
Greetings, Mr. Lee:
Nyquist has been a much-needed revelation for Detroit, but no, I’d say his reward for helping the Red Wings to a playoff berth would be playing in the post-season. A player would have to play multiple positions – goalie, first-line center, assistant to the GM – at an astonishing level to get the Hart Trophy nod simply because of a tremendous 25-game run. Voters have to take the entire regular season into account, which is why Sidney Crosby is the frontrunner in the minds of many.
Besides, I think you could make the argument the Red Wings’ MVP this season is not a P(layer), but head coach Mike Babcock. He’s taken a roster often indistinguishable from Detroit’s American League affiliate and kept it in playoff contention throughout the year. With due respect to Nyquist, that's more important than any goal he's scored.
At the beginning of the season, you wrote enthusiastically on the Oilers' hiring of Dallas Eakins. Have you revised your opinion - not on the man - but his readiness and/or ability to be an effective NHL coach in 2013/14 or in the next year or two? Or is this one of those prognostications you wish you could have over?
Claire Ponsford, Surrey B.C.
Picking the Oilers to make the playoffs this year is a prognostication I wish I could have over, but no, there’s no doubt in my mind Eakins was ready to be an NHL coach. If he hadn’t decided to go to Edmonton, his services would’ve been snapped up by another team very quickly.
Now, his first season with the Oilers has gone about as poorly as it could go, but that’s not all on Eakins. He didn’t have stable goaltending until Ben Scrivens (and later, Viktor Fasth) arrived. And their core of young talent clearly needs altering; to that end, major trades almost assuredly will take place this summer. You shouldn’t give up on a player after one tough year and I’d say the same about Eakins.
Will the trapezoid ever be removed form the game? There are so many goalies who think they can handle the puck that it would increase scoring chances. I'm a Carey Price fan and he can handle the puck Martin Brodeur-style, but even he makes mistakes from time to time that create scoring chances. It also (like the new rule) keeps hits from behind down.
Shane Oliver, Brandon, Man.
There’s no sense the trapezoid will be removed in time for next season, but there are many people under the NHL umbrella, including players, coaches and GMs, who aren’t fans of the rule and want to change it. Those people don’t believe a goalie should be punished for being adept at puckhandling – and they also think goalies who make mistakes roaming freely would create more scoring chances for the opposition, and by extension, more excitement for fans.
What you always need to bear in mind with situations such as this is the NHL’s slow-moving rules changes process. For better or worse, the league is reticent to take meaningful steps without a slew of testing and consultation. There’s a degree of value and wisdom in that approach, but it also can be frustrating for fans who clamor for evolution and adaptation in a more timely fashion. So yes, you can continue to hold out hope there will be a correction with the trapezoid. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking it will happen immediately.
Do you see the Florida Panthers picking up any big name free agents in the off-season (or making a big trade), given their new owner and his commitment to winning and spending money?
Jon Price, St. John’s, Newfoundland
The Panthers’ acquisition of Roberto Luongo was a shot across the bow of sorts from new owner Vinnie Viola indicating he has the resources and willingness to boost Florida’s payroll, which remains the lowest in the NHL. A quick perusal of the free-agent names on the market this summer shouldn't inspire anyone to imagine Viola can spend his way to success there; more likely is a trade or two (or four) – but even then, the Panthers aren’t teeming with assets other franchises are lining up to land.
Sure, that’s not true when it comes to Jonathan Huberdeau or Aleksander Barkov, but Panthers GM Dale Tallon isn’t trading either young star anyway. So Florida is in the same position most teams are – they have to surrender something of value in order to get something back. That will be Tallon’s challenge, but at least he’s got someone writing the checks who wants to write bigger numbers on those checks. For now, that’s a good start for this beleaguered organization.
Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. Ask your question on our submission page. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Adam on Twitter at @ProteauType.