Here is the March 9 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the 2015-16 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.
Let's get to it:
How great would an Anaheim Ducks/Washington Capitals Stanley Cup Final be, and who wins? -- @chrisrahn
Judging by what I listened to Monday night (Full disclosure: I couldn't watch it live because I was driving home from Philadelphia), it would be pretty spectacular. Those are two teams that know how to play high-level hockey and they really don't have any weaknesses. There is also a hunger inside each because of recent playoff misses. You'd have two of the best goal-scorers in the world, Alex Ovechkin and Corey Perry. You'd have two of the best centers in the world, Nicklas Backstrom and Ryan Getzlaf. Each team can roll four lines and three defense pairs. And you have the built-in storyline of Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau going against his former team for the Stanley Cup. It would be a lot of fun, especially for the Capitals, because they'd win it.
Do you see any teams using offer sheets to sign one of the big [restricted free agent] defensemen this offseason? -- @rayguarino
A lot of people wonder why general managers don't use the offer sheet as a way to either drive up the price for a player so to affect a competitor's cap situation or to actually sign that player away from a competitor. It's a legit question, and I sometimes wonder why they don't use it myself. For example, why didn't any GM take a flier on Steven Stamkos five years ago? He was ripe for an offer sheet, and it didn't happen.
The problem with offer sheets is twofold:
1) GMs believe they'll have to overpay by an exorbitant amount to actually get the player because if the terms in the offer sheet aren't high enough, the team with the rights to the player will match and move on. That's the equivalent of doing the negotiating for the team with the rights to the player.
2) If the offer sheet is high enough that the team with the rights to the player opts not to match, that only means the draft-pick compensation is also significant. For example, last year, a team would have had to sacrifice its first- and third-round draft picks if it signed a player to an offer sheet with an average annual value between $3.65 million and $5.479 million. You can't trade for these picks. They have to be your original picks. The compensation only increased from there. Draft picks, particularly first-round picks, are arguably the best commodity in the NHL today. It used to be top prospects, but now it's high draft picks.
So, no, I don't see an offer sheet coming this offseason, but I'm holding out hope anyway.
Could you see Eric Staal's numbers go up on the New York Rangers or is it too late for his numbers to go back up? -- @ccrruuuuzz
Staal has been good for the Rangers so far, and I expect that to continue. He'll produce, likely at a better average rate than he did with the Carolina Hurricanes this season because he's surrounded by better players and the Rangers are a deeper team. The Rangers' depth, particularly when Rick Nash gets back in the lineup, will cause matchup problems for the opposition, and that will give Staal some favorable matchups. He didn't get many favorable matchups while with the Hurricanes because there are fewer players there who are legit scoring threats. New York has three scoring lines and a fourth line that can possess the puck and have some dangerous shifts. But even if Staal doesn't produce on the score sheet, his value to the Rangers will be measured in other areas, including faceoffs. He instantly became their second-best option in the faceoff circle behind Dominic Moore. That will take some of the burden off of Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. And that's key too.
Video: NYI@NYR: Staal nets his first goal as a Ranger
Which team has been the biggest surprise since the All-Star break? -- @HW06
The Boston Bruins, and that's why I think coach Claude Julien should be at least a finalist for the Jack Adams Award.
I've been waiting for the Bruins to fall apart, mainly because their defense isn't good enough and they were being carried by a ridiculously good power play through the first half of the season. Their power play was 28.1 percent, first in the League, after 41 games. It has since dropped more than 7 percent and is ninth in the NHL, but it hasn't hurt the Bruins, who are 12-5-2 since the All-Star break.
I thought they'd crack and fall apart after that 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 9, especially because it was their final home game before a six-game road trip. They went 4-2-0 on that trip. They went 0-for-6 on the power play and lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 28. Maybe this is the moment, I thought. Nope. They're 4-0-1 since, including a 1-0 overtime win at the Lightning on Tuesday.
The Bruins have been dreadful at home (15-16-4) and their defense isn't dynamic or deep, but they're hanging in and they have a chance to win the Atlantic Division. I'm actually quite shocked.
Bigger chance of winning the Norris Trophy: Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Drew Doughty? -- @phaneuf_trash
First off, what's with that Twitter handle? Change it.
I'd say it would go in this order: 1) Karlsson; 2) Doughty; 3) Ekman-Larsson. I don't have a problem with that either because I'm a huge fan of Karlsson's game and I think the way he can affect a game from an offensive standpoint is unique for a defenseman in the NHL these days.
But I'm hoping this is Doughty's year. He deserves it. For me, he's right there with Duncan Keith for the best all-around defenseman in the NHL. He does it all in every zone and in all situations for the Los Angeles Kings, and he does it while playing half the game. It's time for Doughty to win the Norris.
Who will reach 1,000 points first, Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby? -- @DanielTell90
Ovechkin needs 45 points, and Crosby needs 81. Simple math suggests it'll be Ovechkin.
Crosby is averaging 1.33 points per game in his NHL career to Ovechkin's 1.16. Since the start of last season, Crosby is averaging 1.056 points per game (150 points in 142 games) and Ovechkin is averaging .972 (141 points in 145 games). Let's just assume they keep that pace and stay healthy, Ovechkin needs 46 games to get to 1,000 points; Crosby needs 77.
That said, the fact that Crosby is even 81 points away from 1,000 despite playing in 692 games (Ovechkin has played in 824) is an astounding statistic in today's NHL.
Video: CGY@PIT: Crosby gives the Penguins their second lead
It's up for debate, but which team has the best forward depth? It's a crucial aspect come playoff time. -- @Kurt_Schwerman
Great question. I'll rank them one through four in each conference based on my own opinion:
EAST: 1) Capitals; 2) Lightning; 3) New York Islanders; 4) Rangers
WEST: 1) Chicago Blackhawks; 2) Ducks; 3) Kings; 4) St. Louis Blues
That should tell you something about how important forward depth is. There are a lot of quality teams that have two scoring lines, but to win in the playoffs I'm a believer that you need three scoring lines and a fourth line that isn't going to be a possession drag.
Do you think the New York Islanders have a shot to win the Eastern Conference assuming they get out of the first round and someone knocks out the Capitals? -- @RTaub_
If the Islanders get out of the first round and don't have to face the Capitals in the second round because they were knocked out in the first round, then yes, of course they have a legit chance to come out of the East. It's fairly balanced outside of Washington. But one step at a time, OK.