Here is the Sept. 20 edition of the weekly mailbag, where we answer your questions asked on X. Send your questions to @drosennhl and @NHLdotcom, and tag it with #OvertheBoards.

How many goals for Alex Ovechkin this season? -- @TopGolfLegend

More than 40 assuming he stays healthy and plays at least 70 games.

Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals left wing, has given us zero indication that he's ready to slow down. He scored 42 goals in 73 games last season, and 50 goals in 77 games in 2021-22. He may have turned 38 years old on Sunday, but he's defying Father Time because his shot is still the best there is in the NHL.

As a Capitals fan should you be concerned that the next few seasons will be more about Ovechkin chasing a record rather than a Cup? Will this end up being a distraction? -- @theashcity

It's a fair question, but I think each can happen simultaneously. It is possible Ovechkin's chase will help the Capitals in the standings more than it will hurt them. That happened last season, when he was chasing 800 and Gordie Howe, who at the time was second in NHL history with 801 goals. The Capitals won five games in a row leading up to Ovechkin's 800th goal, which he reached by scoring a hat trick at the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 13. Washington would lose its next game, but it won five in a row again from Dec. 17-27 as Ovechkin pursued Howe, who he passed with two goals in a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 23. The Capitals’ lull came after that. With Ovechkin's immediate chase of a milestone behind him, the Capitals went 15-24-6 in their final 45 games and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ovechkin's goal total will be a constant storyline that follows him and the Capitals until he breaks Wayne Gretzky's record. He is currently at 822, 72 behind Gretzky, so that is unlikely to happen this season, meaning it's not going to be as much of an everyday discussion as it was last season. Although it won't be a distraction, the Capitals may want it to be present because they seemed to feed off it a year ago.

El-Bashir on Ovechkin's development over his career

What's the outlook for J.T. Miller this season? He just doesn't seem like a sensible fit for Vancouver. -- @CanucksWontWin

Miller had 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 81 games last season, including 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 35 games after Rick Tocchet replaced Bruce Boudreau as Canucks coach on Jan. 22. If that's not a fit, then what is your definition of fit? The Canucks need Miller to be good. He's been talked about as being a part of their leadership group behind captain Quinn Hughes, a group that also includes center Elias Pettersson and goalie Thatcher Demko. He's in line to be Vancouver's No. 2 center behind Pettersson. The Canucks need him in the middle as opposed to on the wing. He's a huge part of a power play that has to score because they may have some shortcomings at 5-on-5, particularly defensively. He's a short-handed scoring threat, which is why he played more on the penalty kill under Tocchet (2:04 per game). Miller isn't the primary scorer on the team. That's Pettersson, Hughes, and heck, even Andrei Kuzmenko, but he can be a point-per-game player again and he will play significant minutes in all situations. That's a fit.

Are we more likely to see progression or regression from New Jersey? -- @VincentCento

Regression in the regular season, but that doesn't mean anything for the playoffs.

The Devils set their record for wins (52) and points (112) last season. Progression would have them breaking those marks. Though not out of the question, it's not expected, especially since I think it'll be harder for them this season as the hunted rather than the hunters. They will be taken seriously at the start. I don't think the NHL thought the Devils were for real until halfway through last season, when they kept proving that they would not regress. This is a good team, but 52 wins and 112 points will be tough to top. That said, the Devils don't need to top it if they can use the lessons they learned from their playoff experience last season. They should be a playoff team again, and a hardened playoff team at that. They ran out of gas last season against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Second Round, plain and simple. The Devils now have a better idea of how to manage an 82-game season when you have bigger aspirations come playoff time. They may not win as many games in the regular season, but they'll win enough to qualify for the playoffs, and then their experience will matter provided their goaltending holds up.

Hearing rumors of a 3-2-1-0 point system for regular-season games again. Are you hearing anything about that? -- @tblewis99

There is zero truth to this rumor. I've been told by an executive at the NHL that no consideration is being given to changing the point system for regular-season games to three points for a regulation win, two points for a win in overtime or a shootout, and one point for a loss in overtime or a shootout. It will stay two points for a win in any fashion, one for a loss in overtime or a shootout. But that doesn't mean all wins are equal. Regulation wins are already worth more than wins in overtime or a shootout if you go by the tiebreaking scenarios. If two teams are equal in points, the first tiebreaker to determine who is ahead in the standings is the greater number of games won in regulation, which puts a greater emphasis on regulation wins. If teams are even in points and regulation wins, the second tiebreaker is the greater number of games won in regulation and overtime. And if teams are even in points, regulation wins and regulation/overtime wins, the third tiebreaker brings shootout wins into the equation.

Here's a tough one: What's a realistic point total for Erik Karlsson on the Penguins? -- @olwebbhead

It won't be 101, which Karlsson had last season with the San Jose Sharks. That's likely a once-in-a-lifetime season for Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman. Points will be spread around more evenly with the Pittsburgh Penguins when you factor in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Rickard Rakell, Jeff Carter and Reilly Smith. Before I cop out and say I don't know how many points to expect from Karlsson (70? More?) I have to know if he's playing on the first power-play unit. If yes, that should boost his total because he'll be with Crosby, Malkin and Guentzel, once the forward returns from surgery he had on his right ankle. Karlsson had 27 power-play points last season with the Sharks, who ranked 25th in the NHL on the man-advantage at 18.4 percent. The Penguins, who ranked 14th in the NHL last season (21.7 percent), could have a top 10 power play with Karlsson. If he’s on the second unit, though, the power-play boost won't be as great. Letang and
Karlsson are both right-handed, so ideally the Penguins would split them on the power play.

Karlsson’s offensive zone starts at 5-on-5 will also adjust because of Letang. The Penguins can alternate their top two defense pairs in offensive zone starts because both Letang and Karlsson are point producers. It's hard to predict, but if he plays 82 games, I think Karlsson will get in the neighborhood of 75 points.

Does Karlsson turn Pittsburgh into a Cup contender?

What's your prediction for the Flames this season? -- @SamRitter18

I think the Flames will be competitive in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, but I have them on the outside looking in once the playoffs begin. I have the Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Seattle Kraken and Canucks as playoff teams from the Pacific Division, and the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild from the Central Division. Or, at least, that's what I think now.

Some impactful players are in need of bounce-back seasons if the Flames want to make the playoffs, chief among them forward Jonathan Huberdeau and goalie Jacob Markstrom. There are also questions regarding the future of forwards Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund, and defensemen Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Jordan Oesterle, Oliver Kylington and Dennis Gilbert, each of whom is entering the final season of his current contract. Will some of them be traded if the Flames are on the playoff bubble leading up to the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline on March 8? If yes, that could kill their chances of being a playoff team.

Huberdeau is better than the 55 points (15 goals, 40 assists) he finished with last season, though he may not again reach the 115 points (30 goals, 85 assists) he had with the Florida Panthers in 2021-22. It was a struggle for him to adjust after playing for so long in Florida. The change in coach from Darryl Sutter to Ryan Huska, who was an assistant last season, should help, but Huberdeau doesn’t drive plays. He's a playmaker, but he needs to have chemistry with the players he plays with, and that has to be established. He never quite got that last season.

Markstrom has to be better than he was last season or the Flames have zero chance. He was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy in 2021-22, when he went 37-15-9 with a 2.22 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and nine shutouts. Last season, he was 23-21-12 with a 2.92 GAA, .892 save percentage and one shutout. The Flames need him to be .910 or better. The only goalies who played at least 41 games last season and got their teams into the playoffs despite a sub-.910 save percentage were Sergei Bobrovsky of the Panthers (.901 in 50 games) and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Wild (.908 in 46 games). With that being said, Alex Lyon played most of the games down the stretch to get the Panthers into the playoffs, and Fleury split starts with Filip Gustavsson, who had a .931 save percentage.