PuckEmpire Mailbag #1

This is something I’m going to try and do once or twice a month, just to answer my follower’s questions on basically anything. Could be about the NHL, could just be personal questions, whatever is good I’ll try to answer, but it’ll be hard to get to everything since I get hundreds of responses to my story. If your question isn’t answered this time, keep asking in my future stories.

Q: Opinion on the whole LTIR situation?

Honestly… hot take that I know I’ll take some hate on. I don’t mind it.

I know a lot of people hate on Tampa Bay, and now Las Vegas for it, but the way I see it is that it opens the opportunity for bigger trades to happen which makes for a lot more fun and hype surrounding the sport. Also, usually, when teams do it, it involves them losing a significant player from their lineup.

The Lightning had to run an entire season without Nikita Kucherov, the Golden Knights are without Mark Stone, were without Alec Martinez, and now without Reilly Smith. It’s not like they’re gaining the cap space for free.

I can definitely see why people hate it and if the league fixed the rule I wouldn’t really care, but I’m not up in arms about it either. I just don’t really care.

Q: Who is the most underrated player in the NHL?

It’s hard to name one person the most underrated but I’ll name some that I think deserve more credit.

Jason Robertson would be here but he’s gained media attention over the weeks. I’d say Jeremy Swayman is definitely up there, I’d say Sean Durzi in Los Angeles is criminally underrated as well.

I’m not sure if he’s underrated, but he’s definitely overhated, Robin Lehner. He’s a very talented goaltender and the Golden Knights have been missing him for sure.

As I said, there are many underrated players around the NHL so I’m definitely missing some, but those are a couple that came off of the top of my head.

Q: Who do you think will be the Wild Cards in the Western Conference?

Probably Nashville and Dallas. As a hockey fan though I’m hoping for Vegas (sorry). They’re realistically the team that can give Colorado the best run for their money in Round 1, especially considering they’ll be able to activate Mark Stone by then if he’s healthy.

Q: What inspired you to create this account?

I’ve known since I was 13 years old that I wanted to do something in sports for work since that’s what I’m talking about in real life most of the time.

When I created this account originally it was just for fun, started off as an analysis page and then shifted to news as well. It was just a hobby at first but since then it’s become a full-time job and has given me a ton of opportunities. Pretty dope, hoping to keep going up from here.

Q: Do you think Peter DeBoer should be fired by Vegas?

I really don’t think he should be, but the Golden Knights have shown they don’t care about discarding pieces so I wouldn’t be surprised.

I just think the Golden Knights have been decimated by injuries this season as I mentioned earlier. Just an absolute plethora of players struggling to stay healthy and it’s forced Vegas to run with a lot of players from Henderson over the course of the season.

Q: If the Maple Leafs fail again, who goes?

I’d assume they take a bigger look at the goaltending this offseason if Jack Campbell still doesn’t return to form following his rib injury.

I’m also curious to see if they’d move any of their core, but I don’t think they will. They’ll likely sign Campbell to a bridge deal as a 1B, dump Petr Mrazek somewhere. Maybe move their pick and a prospect for a player with term, potentially a goaltender. It’ll be interesting if they’re another first-round bounce.

Q: Who is your Stanley Cup favorite?

1. Florida Panthers

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

3. Colorado Avalanche

4. Boston Bruins

5. Calgary Flames

Q: What do the Anaheim Ducks need to do to become contenders?

Honestly, just keep doing what they’re doing. Pat Verbeek has done a great job as GM so far, gaining tons of future assets for expiring contracts that weren’t going to return to Anaheim this offseason.

Don’t rush the rebuild, they already won a ton more than anybody expected this season, and were in the playoff race for months before falling behind. Keep adding prospects and young pieces, and you’ll keep improving over time. SoCal hockey is going to be insane in the next few years with the Kings and Ducks emerging.

Q: Should Thatcher Demko be in Vezina talks?

Despite his recent struggles, I don’t think anybody really comes close to Igor Shesterkin. I don’t even think there should be Vezina talks, it’s his.

Q: Are Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane done in Chicago after this season?

Patrick Kane I think will be moved (assuming he wants to be). Jonathan Toews, even if he wants to be moved, I think it’ll be hard to move out his horrible contract, even if there’s just one season remaining on it after this season.

I think both will be gone from Chicago by the 2023-24 season, though.

Q: Do you think the Rangers can go on a Stanley Cup run?

I like that they added depth, and I think it gives them a better chance against Pittsburgh in the first round, but I just don’t think they’re good enough to beat any of the four Pacific Division teams in a seven-game series.

We all know what a star goaltender can do come playoff time though if they get hot, so who knows… maybe Shesterkin pulls off the carry.

Q: Who is a sleeper Cup contender in each division?

Atlantic – Boston Bruins

Metropolitan – I don’t really think any of them win it

Central – Minnesota Wild

Pacific – Los Angeles Kings

Q: Will the Winnipeg Jets ever make a deep playoff run with their current core?

Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I think it’s time for a rebuild in Winnipeg.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s extremely hard for the Jets to attract top free agents or stars through trades, because the market just isn’t desirable, even with the passionate fanbase there.

I think they need to build their way through the draft again, trade for some prospects who aren’t close to UFA eligibility and just try again. I think their window is over now.

Q: What is your favorite team?

I’ve been asked this question for like two years so I’ll just answer it.

I grew up a Pittsburgh Penguins when I began watching hockey in the 2012-13 season. My first playoff’s I had to watch that pathetic effort by the Pens against Boston in the Eastern Conference Final (poor Tomas Vokoun… my Matt Murray before Matt Murray).

The past two seasons though due to my page, I haven’t had my entire focus on the Penguins as I try to cover the entire league. For the one site I write for over at Hockey Royalty, I cover the Kings, with plans to relocate to LA at some point and cover them in person.

So yeah, growing up it was the Pens, now I don’t have one, I just like good hockey.

Q: Will Houston or Quebec City get a franchise within the next 10 seasons?

Houston, maybe.

Quebec City I don’t think will ever get one.

Q: Are the Edmonton Oilers playoff contenders?

Don’t think so sadly. Don’t like their goaltending or their defense for a playoff run.

Q: Did the Bruins give up too much for Hampus Lindholm?

I don’t think so. They only have Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron for so long, and they were really lacking a top-pairing LHD heading into the playoffs, so the addition of Hampus Lindholm helps that.

Did they give up a lot? Yes. But when you’re a contender, you don’t really care about futures, you just want to win, and that’s what the Bruins are gearing up to do.

Q: What do you see the Blue Jackets doing with Patrik Laine?

Before this season I would’ve said I don’t think Patrik Laine is a good fit in Ohio, but he’s changed my perspective on that. He’s not really in the spotlight there and he’s just able to do his own thing while not under the microscope of the Canadian media.

I think he’ll end up sticking around there.

Q: Best move the Devils can make this offseason?

Probably will need a goaltender with MacKenzie Blackwood’s health and consistency issues and Jonathan Bernier’s future being uncertain.

Q: How long until the Coyotes are out of Arizona?

I honestly don’t think they’ll be moving out of Arizona anytime soon, although I know NHL fans are hoping they will be.

I think the NHL allowing them to plan to play in ASU for multiple seasons just shows that they’re willing to wait for them to turn things around.

Q: Are the Sabres finally trending in the right direction?

I really like what Buffalo is building, they’re adding players that want to be there, and building a winning and competitive culture with the way they’ve performed at times this season.

I also liked bringing in Don Granato to replace Ralph Kruger. Granato is a player’s coach, and just simply a better coach. It’s been a sneaky good addition to the team.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *