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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Islanders' outlook, Doan's future

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the Jan. 18 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday through the course of the 2016-17 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

 

Where do the New York Islanders go from here? Has to be a huge push for the playoffs (not happening) or another rebuild, right? -- @SBradley93

In the immediate future, they have to try to win some games and see if Doug Weight can be an NHL coach. If he's successful, maybe he's the answer. It's way too early to even make that suggestion, but it's at least worth watching. From my seat, I think the Islanders will have a new coaching staff next season because I don't see how, even with a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they can get there this season. They are too far behind with too many teams to leap. But a respectable finish that features some breakout performances by, oh, say Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier would be good for their future. Then they'll hit the offseason, where they have to re-evaluate everything, hit the reset button, potentially hire a coaching staff, maybe a new management staff, and turn the attention to re-signing John Tavares. All is not lost in Brooklyn because of this bad season to date. A rebuild is not necessary, but a retooling is, potentially with a new management group and coaching staff who have not been around to see the unraveling of what was a good team. The Islanders need a fresh approach.

 

Do you think there is a contender out there who would trade for Shane Doan? -- @hockeybarbie

Yes. Absolutely. He's a knowledgeable, experienced leader in the NHL who is hungry to win. He would help a team's depth; nobody would acquire Doan at this stage to make him a top-six forward. He's not that on a contending team, and I would guess he would say the same thing. But if you want someone who can play in the offensive zone, who will be around the net, who has a good stick, and who can score on a good team, Doan can be a fit.

I'm skeptical if this is going to happen, though. Doan seems skeptical, too, based on his comments Monday. He talked about how it would have to be a perfect situation and how that is difficult to find in sports. You can't pick who is going to win the Stanley Cup and just say, 'I want to go play for that team.' They need to want you too. I have no doubt that there are teams that would want Doan and be willing to part with an asset, likely a prospect or a draft pick, or both, to get him, but is it a team Doan wants to play for? Would that team be the right fit for him? Yeah, I'm skeptical.

Video: TOR@ARI: Doan nets 400th career goal in 1,500th game

 

Do you think the Pittsburgh Penguins will have two 50-goal scorers? -- @HW06

No. Sidney Crosby is on a 55-goal pace, scoring 0.729 goals per game (27 in 37 games). He would be on a higher pace if he could play 82 games, but he missed the first six so he can max out at 76. I think Crosby will get to 50 goals, but it's going to be difficult because defenses will tighten up as the playoff races heat up.

Evgeni Malkin won't get there. He moved up to 21 goals in 43 games with his hat trick in that 8-7 overtime win against the Washington Capitals on Monday, but he is scoring 0.488 goals per game, which is not enough. Malkin will barely get to 40 goals if he stays at his current pace and plays 82 games. He could bump up his pace, but I don't think he will significantly enough to get to a 50-goal pace with 39 games remaining. He'll have to score 29 goals in 39 games, which would be 0.743 goals per game. That would be one heck of a long hot streak.

Video: WSH@PIT: Crosby finishes Sheary's nice cross-ice dish

 

Thoughts on the bye week for teams? -- @ccrruuuuzz

I understand Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock when he says he'd rather have four fewer back to backs than a bye week in the middle of the season. But I also understand it from the players' perspective and how it's great to get away from the grind for a few days. What person who works a full-time job doesn't want a vacation built into his or her schedule? I know I do. Most players also get one during All-Star Weekend, but to have another one is gravy for them. But they can't complain about the condensed nature of the schedule either. The NHL isn't expanding the amount of time the teams have to play 82 games. The Stanley Cup Final is not going to get pushed to July. I think having the bye weeks this season is a nice experiment. I'm very curious if they're going to last, especially in seasons when there is no World Cup or Olympics (should the NHL return to the Olympics).

 

What defensive move can you see the New York Rangers making come deadline? -- @ant_decicco

I wouldn't put it past general manager Jeff Gorton from making a bigger trade to help the defense before the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline on March 1. The Rangers have been willing to make a splash in the past, and I don't see why they wouldn't be now, especially with goalie Henrik Lundqvist turning 35 years old the day after the deadline passes. The Rangers have a shrinking window to win with Lundqvist, and Gorton can't let that pass without at least putting them in the best position to do so.

Ideally, the Rangers would acquire a top-four defenseman who can play on the right side. Kevin Shattenkirk would be the dream acquisition. The St. Louis Blues are in a race and believe they're contenders, which makes acquiring Shattenkirk difficult. But I won't discount the idea. What's the right price? Are the Rangers willing to trade forwards J.T. Miller or Jimmy Vesey? I'm just spitballing here, but it's something to consider because Shattenkirk isn't coming cheap. You also have to have some sort of guarantee he would re-sign as an unrestricted free agent. The better move is to wait until the offseason, acquire Shattenkirk's rights in a trade for a low-round draft pick, and sign him to a long-term contract, but that doesn't help the Rangers this season. What about Jacob Trouba? I'm not sure of his long-term future with the Winnipeg Jets, and maybe they want to get some certainty. He would be a fantastic addition for the Rangers, who would likely have to trade Brady Skjei and more to even be in the running for him, if the Jets are inclined to even trade him. Again, just spitballing here. Or do the Rangers look elsewhere for a cheaper option like Cody Franson of the Buffalo Sabres, a righty? Do they not care about strong side and go look to acquire lefty Johnny Oduya (Dallas Stars) or Brendan Smith (Detroit Red Wings)?

The point is there are options available, and I think the Rangers will do something to help out their defense. I'm not ruling out the bold move, even if it's hard to see it happening right now. There's plenty of time before the deadline.

 

Can Claude Giroux be considered a franchise player being 117th in 5v5 points this year? -- @coalman5000

Not when you put it that way and look solely at what he's done this season at 5-on-5. But the big picture has to be considered, and I think Giroux is a franchise player for the Philadelphia Flyers. He's not the best player in hockey, as Peter Laviolette once famously called him, but he's pretty darn good and has been for a long time. He was 22nd in the NHL in scoring with 38 points in 46 games entering play Tuesday. Yes, 21 of his points are on the power play, but those count too. That's a big reason the Flyers are even in the playoff picture: They were fifth on the power play at 22.6 percent. Giroux and the Flyers have to be better at 5-on-5; they were 20th in 5-on-5 goals for (75) and last in 5-on-5 goals against (98). But I think it's wrong to question Giroux as a franchise player simply because he hasn't had a great first half to the season at 5-on-5. Prior to this season, 39.8 percent of his points (206 of 517) came on the power play. It's 55.2 percent this season. It's big picture versus small picture. I'll look at the big picture first.

Video: VAN@PHI: Giroux slides shot past Miller for SO winner

 

What/who should the Columbus Blue Jackets target at the trade deadline to make a serious run here? -- @JD312

A third- or fourth-line center who can win faceoffs, a depth defenseman, and a backup goalie if in the next month coach John Tortorella discovers he's not sold on Joonas Korpisalo and his ability to win five or six games from late February through the end of the season. Columbus needs depth to finish the season strong. After a five-day break from Feb. 20-24, the Blue Jackets play 24 games in the final 44 days with seven back-to-backs, including three home-road. Fourteen of their final 24 games will be on the road. It will be a grueling finish to the regular season, and Tortorella needs a backup goalie he trusts so he can rest Sergei Bobrovsky and have him ready to go for the playoffs. They have time to figure out if it's Korpisalo. As for the center, the Blue Jackets were 28th in faceoff winning percentage (47.7 percent) and last in defensive-zone faceoff winning percentage (45.3 percent) entering Tuesday. Getting a center who can win some of those draws could be important down the stretch, and especially in the playoffs. Defensive-zone draws in particular get magnified in the playoffs. And it's always good to add an experienced depth defenseman. Nothing fancy, just someone who if called upon will play a predictable and reliable game.

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