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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Blues goaltending, Islanders front office

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the Jan. 25 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.

 

Do the St. Louis Blues trade for another goalie before the deadline or do they stick with Jake Allen/Carter Hutton? If not, will they turn their play around? -- @chm1691

The answer to the second question directly impacts the answer to the first.

The Blues are in a tricky situation because they invested in Allen this past offseason by signing him to a four-year, $17.4 million contract extension on July 1, shortly after they traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames. Allen's latest contract doesn't kick in until next season. If the Blues don't believe Allen is the answer, they have to trade him because they can't have him taking up $4.35 million on their salary cap to be the backup for the next four seasons. And that's what brings me to the second question.

If Allen can't turn his game around and start playing with some confidence and consistency, then the Blues will be in an impossible situation. They could try to acquire a goalie in the short term, maybe someone like Ben Bishop, but then they'd be giving up a valuable asset or assets to get a rental goalie who, frankly, isn't having a quality season either and is prone to injury. Perhaps they could look at other goalies on expiring contracts like Thomas Greiss, Jonathan Bernier, or, -- don't laugh -- Elliott, and hope one of them could come in, play steady and be the answer for a Stanley Cup Playoff run. But again, they'd be giving up something to get what they believe they already have in Allen. And none of it would solve their dilemma with Allen. They could try to acquire a goalie such as Marc-Andre Fleury, but he comes with two years and $11.5 million remaining on his contract. Fleury wouldn't go to St. Louis to play 1A and 1B with Allen. He'd go to be the starter for the rest of this season and at least one more season, if not two. In that situation, again, the Blues would likely have to trade Allen. The Penguins wouldn't take him in return because they believe in Matt Murray and don't need a $4.35 million backup.

Can you see why this is a tricky situation? It's not just this season that St. Louis has to be concerned with, it's four more after this season.

The long and short of it is the Blues need Allen to turn it around. It will save general manager Doug Armstrong a massive headache if he does.

Video: BOS@STL: Allen cuts down angle to snag Chara's shot

 

Do you see the New York Islanders bringing in a team president before the season ends to lead the coaching search? -- @CVancheri

I wouldn't put it past the Islanders to do that, but if I had to take a guess, and this is only a guess at this point, I think they'll let the season play out as is and re-evaluate everything when it's over. I do like the idea of bringing in a team president FROM OUTSIDE THE ORGANIZATION to oversee the hockey operations department. Notice the all caps, of course. The Islanders need someone fresh, someone with new ideas, a different plan, different concepts to come in and freshen things up. It should be up to that person, whoever it is, to decide if Garth Snow stays on as general manager or if he needs to be replaced. Newsday reported in early December that owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have been meeting with people across the hockey world to find the right person for the job. There's nothing to stop the Islanders from hiring someone during the season and frankly it wouldn't shock me if they did, but the vibe I get is that they will wait until the offseason to re-evaluate everything, from a new team president to Snow to coach Doug Weight to the roster, etc.

 

The Boston Bruins are a mess. If they're out of it at the deadline, do you think they'll ask Zdeno Chara to waive his NMC? -- @rayguarino

The Bruins are inconsistent, fragile, and prone to collapses. We've seen it at the end of the past two seasons. We're seeing it again. All of it is why Claude Julien is rightfully on the hot seat, even if he might still be the best available person to coach the Bruins. He's an excellent coach who is having a difficult time getting through to his players. That's a big problem. But regardless what happens with Julien, I don't think the Bruins will be out of the race by March 1, which is deadline day, and I don't think they'll ask Chara to waive his no-movement clause even if they were. My guess is Chara would have to come to management and say he'd waive it to go elsewhere. I don't see that happening, at least I can't see it yet. The Bruins have certainly had their issues, but the playoff race in the Eastern Conference is so tight and I can't see them falling out of it completely. No team is out of it completely. The Tampa Bay Lightning were last entering play Tuesday and needed to make up five points to climb into a wild card position. It's wide open and every team believes, even if it's hard to see the reasons in Boston right now.

Video: PHI@BOS: Chara extends Bruins' lead to 5-2

 

Who should the Montreal Canadiens target at the deadline (or before) in order to stand up better against the Metropolitan Division teams in the playoffs? -- @WayToGoPaul

Matt Duchene.

The Canadiens could also use a left-handed defenseman to play with Shea Weber, but I think they have a better chance to land Duchene, who would be a difference maker. They'd almost certainly have to include 18-year-old defenseman Mikhail Sergachev in the package to acquire Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche. That might be a deal-breaker for general manager Marc Bergevin, but it shouldn't be regardless of how coveted and highly valued Sergachev is to the Canadiens. Duchene is signed for two more seasons with a $6 million salary cap charge and he's 26 years old. He would give the Canadiens center depth that would feature Alex Galchenyuk, Duchene and Phillip Danault. Money would have to go back to Colorado to acquire Duchene and maybe Bergevin could convince Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic to take Tomas Plekanec if it means he also gets Sergachev and Montreal's first-round pick in 2017. Plekanec is signed for one more year with the same cap charge as Duchene ($6 million).

A common thread through the four top teams in the Metropolitan Division is center depth. The Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers have at least three centers who can command a scoring line. Duchene would put the Canadiens in that category as well. He might come at a heavy cost and it might crush Montreal's organizational depth on defense, but an optimistic Habs fan would say Bergevin can sort that out after the parade down Rue Ste-Catherine.

Video: CHI@COL: Duchene goes coast-to-coast, roofs wrister

 

Do you still think that Kevin Klein and/or Dan Girardi should be in over Adam Clendening when Marc Staal is back? -- @ManUtdTobbe

Yes, but not on an every game basis. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault needs to keep Clendening active and in games by putting together some type of rotation of him, Girardi and Klein based on the schedule, the wear and tear, and, of course, how they're playing. I know Clendening has good possession numbers, but he has been prone to egregious mistakes that have led to goals against. He renders his possession numbers meaningless when he coughs up the puck and it ends up in the back of the net, or when he doesn't pick up his guy in the defensive zone and it causes a goal against, or at least a high-danger scoring chance. But there's no reason for him to sit the way he sat earlier this season, scratched for 31 of 35 games. That does nothing for him or for Girardi and Klein. Assuming Staal is healthy coming out of the All-Star break, Vigneault needs to use all seven of his defenseman for the final 33 games. It could in a way serve as an experiment for the playoffs. It also serves as an experiment for the trade deadline to give GM Jeff Gorton a better idea of the price he should pay to get a right-handed defenseman.

Video: NYR@CBJ: Clendening nets second to tie game in 3rd

 

Do the Columbus Blue Jackets need to trade for a backup goalie, or do you think their current backup situation is good enough? -- @KevinZukerman

I don't know. Is that honest enough? I don't think they know yet either. The Blue Jackets need time to figure out if Joonas Korpisalo is ready to be a capable backup to Sergei Bobrovsky. They still have five weeks to figure it out before the trade deadline. And they need to figure it out because they are going to need a capable backup to Bobrovsky to get him through to the playoffs without a massive workload. The Blue Jackets have to play 24 games in the final 44 days of the regular season with seven sets of back-to-backs, including six that involve travel in between the games. With the way the Metropolitan Division race is shaping up, the Blue Jackets are going to need their backup to win them a handful of games, maybe four or five, in that stretch if they are going to get home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference First Round. So I don't know yet if they need a better backup goalie than they have right now. They have five weeks to figure it out.

Video: CBJ@OTT: Korpisalo kicks out pad to rob Turris

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