How do you feel about the return in the Derick Brassard trade? -- @db2021
Since you called it the "Brassard trade," I'll assume you mean the return from the New York Rangers' perspective. From their side, I like it. It's a smart trade by general manager Jeff Gorton. Mika Zibanejad is 23 and is 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds. Brassard is going to be 29 when the season starts and he measures in at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. So right there, the Rangers get younger and bigger, both good things.
In the past two seasons, Brassard had 118 points (46 goals, 72 assists) in 160 games (0.74 points per game); Zibanejad had 97 points (41 goals, 56 assists) in 161 games (.60 points per game). Remember, Brassard put up those numbers at 27 and 28 years old; Zibanejad did it at 21 and 22 years old. Zibanejad has room for growth, whereas you can make the argument Brassard won't get any better. If Brassard stays the same, he's a good player, definitely someone I'd have on my team. The difference is Zibanejad has the potential to be better than Brassard, and he's almost six years younger.
The other issue is cap space. Brassard is signed for three more seasons with a salary-cap charge of $5 million; Zibanejad is signed for one more season with a $2.625 million cap charge before he can become a restricted free agent next summer. The Rangers gained some cap flexibility for at least this season. If Zibanejad projects to be a $5 million player the way Brassard is now, it will mean he's producing in a big way for the Rangers and they will be thrilled with that. To top it off, the Rangers also received a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from Ottawa. That's just another quality asset to have that could be used in a future trade or to select a player with potential.
Video: Dan Rosen breaks down Brassard for Zibanejad trade
I heard other analysts say the Rangers are going to drop out of the playoffs? Do you agree? -- @AlexGrablauskas
They're borderline right now, whereas in the past several seasons on this very date I would have said or did say they were a lock. They have issues to iron out on defense and on special teams. Can they still rely on Dan Girardi at all? Can Brady Skjei play regular top-six minutes, potentially on his off side (right side) alongside Ryan McDonagh? Who is going to quarterback the power play now that Keith Yandle is with the Florida Panthers? Can McDonagh do that? Is it too much on McDonagh to ask him to be the No. 1 defenseman, No. 1 penalty killer and power play quarterback? Have they solved their penalty kill problems with the additions of Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, Zibanejad and Nick Holden?
Gorton said the Rangers' woeful PK last season (26th in the NHL at 78.2 percent) was a consideration in all the moves he made this summer. He talked about how another advantage about getting Zibanejad for Brassard is Zibanejad kills penalties. Great, but what does it mean that he averaged 1:25 of shorthanded ice time last season for the Senators, who had the 29th ranked PK in the League at 75.8 percent?
Will Kevin Hayes, who had 36 points in 79 games last season, have a bounce back season, returning to the form he showed as a rookie in 2014-15, when he put up 45 points in 79 games? Is Rick Nash going to score more than 0.25 goals per game, as he did last season (15 goals in 60 games), or he on the downside of his career with no turning back at this point?
All of those questions are fair to ask and impossible to answer now, which is why the Rangers are a borderline playoff team at this juncture.
Video: Breaking down the Rangers trade with the Senators
How would you rate the Arizona Coyotes rookie GM during this offseason? -- @tbritton31
Coyotes GM John Chayka has done a solid job so far, but I say that without any tangible results from on-ice play. I like Alex Goligoski as a cornerstone defenseman with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. That's a solid left side. I like Jamie McGinn as a quiet scorer who can get the Coyotes 20 goals and is making a reasonable $3.33 million per season on a three-year contract. You or I could have re-signed Shane Doan to a one-year contract, so I'm not going to go all nutso over that. It's impossible to evaluate Chayka on draft picks such as Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun, because we don't know how they will transition to professional hockey, or when they will. The fact is, the Coyotes still are a young team. The real evaluation of Chayka will come in about two years, when we see how much turnover he has made to the roster and what kind of team they have in Arizona.
Any other moves you foresee for the Minnesota Wild during this offseason? -- @AlexRowe30
I've wondered since the draft if Wild GM Chuck Fletcher were going to do anything major to shake up this roster, which clearly underperformed last season. He signed Eric Staal with the hope he stabilizes the center position, but it didn't stop me from wondering if Fletcher has something up his sleeve. I'm still wondering. I'm not sold that the Wild are done yet, that the roster they have now will be the one they go into training camp with in September. I wonder about defenseman Matt Dumba's future in Minnesota. He's still a restricted free agent. Fletcher told Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune assistant GM Brent Flahr is working on a new contract with Dumba's agent, Craig Oster, and the Wild don't foresee any problems. I'll believe it when it happens. Even if Fletcher doesn't do anything major, Russo reported they have $5.5 million in cap space still available and the plan could be to add another NHL forward. He brought up the name Matt Cullen, who is an unrestricted free agent after winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I'd sign Cullen as the fourth-line center. He can still skate. He's still good on draws. He's experienced and valuable and cheap.
Video: Chatting with Eric Staal on signing with the Wild
In your opinion, will the Washington Capitals finally get past the second round? -- @CAPITALS1952
I'd be nuts to make that prediction now, but I will say they're built to win the Stanley Cup. Their roster, with Lars Eller as the third-line center instead of Mike Richards, is better now than it was in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. However, Tom Wilson has to step up his game to provide some depth scoring as well as his physicality in the wake of losing Jason Chimera, who had 20 goals and 20 assists last season. Andre Burakovsky needs to pick up some of that scoring slack as well. He had 17 goals and 21 assists last season. Put it this way, they should get out of the second round with the roster they have.
How do you feel about Bob Murray's moves in Anaheim? What do you expect next from him and what do the Ducks still need? -- @mckalexander
Anaheim still has to get defenseman Hampus Lindholm and center Rickard Rakell under contract. Both are restricted free agents. The Ducks should have the cap space to do it with $9.27 million available, according to General Fanager. I expect they're next, and that's their most pressing need too.
I've said in this section and in other places that I feel it was unnecessary for Murray to re-sign defenseman Kevin Bieksa and center Ryan Kesler to the contracts they received. Those moves have stunted the Ducks and might be why Murray eventually has to trade Cam Fowler to create cap flexibility going into the season. That's not a decision I would applaud.
Bieksa was a nice addition, but he's an aging defenseman who isn't the same player he once was for the Vancouver Canucks. He's making $4 million for the next two seasons with a no-movement clause. Kesler still is a very good center who does a lot for the Ducks, but he's 31 and he's just now starting a six-year, $41.25 million contract.
I didn't mind trading Frederik Andersen because I like John Gibson and think he's ready to be a good and cheap No. 1 goalie making $2.3 million for the next three seasons. However, Jonathan Bernier is an expensive backup at $4.15 million. The Ducks could have gone cheaper there.
I don't mind Randy Carlyle as coach, but I would have liked to see some out-of-the-box thinking, perhaps going younger with an up-and-coming coach rather than someone like Carlyle, who hasn't won a playoff series since 2009.
Do the New York Islanders trade for a top-six forward? @19nobodybetter1
I don't see it happening. I know Islanders fans are dying for GM Garth Snow to make another move, but to get something you have to give something. Can the Islanders get a player in return who is better than Brock Nelson or Ryan Strome without sacrificing another key asset to do so, not to mention a young player like Nelson or Strome? I doubt it. I'm not sure why they would want to do that unless the trade was a slam dunk. They have had two straight 100-point seasons. They reached the second round of the playoffs last season. Yes, they lost Kyle Okposo, but they signed Andrew Ladd. They also got P.A. Parenteau, who has had a strong history with John Tavares. They don't have Frans Nielsen anymore, but the plan is to replace him from within. They trust the players they have. Nelson is 24. Strome is 23. Maybe Michael Dal Colle will be ready. Maybe Matthew Barzal is ready. Think about those things before jumping to the conclusion that right now they need another top-six forward. They are going to be in the playoff race, and maybe after the midpoint of the season the need will appear clearer and Snow can make a trade then. For now, I'd be patient.