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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Jacob Trouba request, Pacific playoff teams

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the Sept. 28 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.

Let's get to it:

With Jacob Trouba not reporting, do you think any of the other big unsigned restricted free agents will do the same thing? -- @rayguarino

Trouba didn't report because he doesn't have a contract, not because he requested a trade. He's not holding out. He doesn't have a contract. He's not signed. He would have to pay for his own insurance to be in training camp. He doesn't want to do that. No one blames him for it.

The same holds true for Johnny Gaudreau with the Calgary Flames, Tobias Rieder with the Arizona Coyotes (he's still playing for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey 2016), Rasmus Ristolainen with the Buffalo Sabres, Nikita Kucherov with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm with the Anaheim Ducks.

Again, these aren't holdouts but rather unsigned players who are not going to report to training camp without a contract.

Video: WPG@LAK: Pavelec, Trouba deny Kings early in the 1st

Do you think the New Jersey Devils have any shot at getting Jacob Trouba since Adam Larsson got traded? If so, who could they give up? -- @AlexGrablauskas

I wouldn't rule out Devils general manager Ray Shero in anything. I didn't see the Taylor Hall-Adam Larsson trade coming. Nobody did. So Shero gets the benefit of the doubt of being involved. He proved as the Pittsburgh Penguins GM that he is one of the NHL's busiest managers when it comes to trades.

However, and this is a "huge" however, if the Winnipeg Jets want a left-handed defenseman in return for Trouba, I'm not sure the Devils have much to offer in that regard. In fact, I'm sure of it. Their lefties are Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, John Moore and Seth Helgeson. The Jets can do way better than any of those guys in a trade for Trouba. I don't think Jets GM Kevin Chevyldayoff is going to trade him for prospects either. He'll want a bona fide NHL player, one who might have as significant an impact as Trouba, in return. Can't blame him for that.

So, no, I'm not ruling out Shero because that would be lunacy based on his history, but I don't think the Devils have what the Jets want.

Which of the non-California teams has the best shot to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Pacific Division? -- @JeffGodley

Oof, tough question. I don't think any of them are going to the playoffs, but the closest in my opinion will be the Flames if the Gaudreau contract situation doesn't become a problem that drags into the season, or at least deep into the season. He's too important of a player for them.

I think the Edmonton Oilers are going to take a significant step forward and be more competitive this season, but as of now I can't see them pushing for a playoff berth. Though I like the Vancouver Canucks' top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Loui Eriksson, I'm not a fan of their forward depth, defense or goaltending. The Coyotes still are building and aren't ready to be a playoff contender yet.

I think the division will be closer this season than last because the Flames, Oilers, Canucks and Coyotes got a little better in the offseason, but I still rank at least five of the Central Division teams ahead of the non-California teams in the Pacific Division.

Be sure to get back in touch with me when I'm proven wrong on this one, OK?

Does the infamous Phil Kessel tweet set a dangerous precedent for NHL player/coach working relationships? -- @Burnie08mac

I don't think so because the people who seemed most angry about Kessel's tweet were the Team USA players. They didn't like it that one of their peers, a player who has worn the red, white and blue and played with many of them at international tournaments, including the Olympics, sent a tweet that would not have been sent had Team USA done well without him. They probably know the tweet was directed at management and not them, but considering how they must have felt at the time, at how they were being criticized for their failure, they probably saw what Kessel did as pouring on, and it bothered them because he is one of them, even if he wasn't selected for the team.

I'm not suggesting this won't happen again because it most certainly can and probably will, but I don't think Kessel's tweet set a precedent that will now be followed enough to become a trend. It won't have to, though, because the next time it happens it will create a firestorm of some proportions, the level of which will be determined by what is written in the tweet.

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Kessel hits both posts on one-timer

How much does the result in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 hurt John Tortorella's reputation and his relationship with his Columbus Blue Jackets players? -- @lunz71

Tortorella's reputation takes a pretty significant hit with Team USA's winless tournament. It was already beaten down quite a bit, but the team he took and the way he coached in the World Cup deserves criticism and does allow people to question whether the game has passed him by.

In fairness to Tortorella, I don't think the game has passed him by. I think he still is a passionate and bright hockey man and he could do well with the Blue Jackets if given time. But I can't get behind some of the decisions he and Team USA general manager Dean Lombardi made for the roster. I also can't get behind some of the decisions Tortorella made in coaching the team.

The roster itself was flawed because it was built to win against Team Canada when in fact no country has enough depth right now to put together a team that on paper is as good as Team Canada. Tortorella and Lombardi needed to build a team that could win against Team Europe and Team Czech Republic, because that would have been enough to get it to the semifinals, when it would have faced Team Sweden and had a chance to win. It wouldn't have had to deal with Team Canada until the final, at which point you take your best shot in a best-of-3.

That said, once the roster was set, Tortorella did way too much tinkering with his lines and defense pairs. The players never were given ample time to establish chemistry. Team USA's offense suffered because of it. Tortorella deserves the hit for that. He knows it and he took it.

Why won't the NHL get rid of shootouts and just do 3-on-3 until there's a winner? -- @BrianMatteucci

The answer is twofold.

1. It's too much to ask the players to play continuous 3-on-3 until there is a winner. They wouldn't go for it, the GMs wouldn't go for it, and the League wouldn't ask them to even try it.

The playoffs are different because the stakes are way higher and it's 5-on-5 overtime, not 3-on-3 with all that open ice and extra skating necessary.

2. The shootout, like it or not, remains an entertaining element of the game for fans. Look at how many stand and cheer during the shootout. Look at how many highlights are created by shootout goals. NHL GMs did not want to get rid of that element.

The idea of 3-on-3 was to get more tie games decided in overtime. That was the point of going to 3-on-3.

In the 2014-15 season, when overtime was a 4-on-4 format, 44.4 percent of the games that went to overtime were decided in overtime (136 of 306). Last season, the first with the 3-on-3 format, the percentage bumped to 61.1 percent (168 of 275). The 107 shootouts last season were the fewest in one season since the shootout was implemented in the 2005-06 season.

My point is that 3-on-3 put a significant dent in the number of shootouts, but it didn't eliminate them. It was a success, but it remains hard on the players who play it because of the amount of ice that has to be covered and the pressure they're under. One turnover or mistake could lead to the winning goal against. Pretty much every mistake leads to an odd-man rush or a breakaway. That's the part that makes it exciting too.

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