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Mailbag: What Desjardins expects from Kings; Quenneville's next step's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Here is the Nov. 7 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which runs every Wednesday. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.


You know a little about Willie Desjardins through the article you guys wrote. What impact do you think his style will have on the Los Angeles Kings? -- Pwruzzo_22

The key is speed of play in the offensive zone. The knock on the Kings is that they're too slow for the NHL today, but Desjardins' thought on that is how fast someone skates in open ice doesn't matter when they have the puck in the offensive zone. What matters instead is how quickly you think, move the puck, get open, find time and space for yourself, and how quickly you shoot the puck. The Kings are typically strong in the possession game, but they need to play quicker when they are in the zone. Desjardins is going to ask them to let the puck create their quickness. The Kings will have to move their feet more in the zone, not be as stationary, so they can get to open spaces, the soft spaces where the defense drops off a bit and use those spaces to their advantage. These are the little things in the game that when done well add up to big results. I can't tell you if it'll work, but that's what he's going to ask of the Kings. The story we did together was about how offensive players find time and space for themselves. A big key is quick puck movement because it can get the defense scrambling.

Here is Desjardins' Coaches Room story.

Video: In-depth look at the Kings' recent coaching change


Is there any team you would say SHOULDN'T be trying to find a way to get Joel Quenneville on their staff? -- @PTPJacob

It goes without saying how good Quenneville is and that he would be a terrific addition to any team that is looking to or thinking about making a coaching change. There are some that certainly are thinking about making a change, so maybe they speed up their plans now because Quenneville is available after he was fired by the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. However, is that what Quenneville wants? That we do not know. Maybe he wants a break from coaching. Maybe he wants to sit out a while, take a vacation, just relax and think about something else other than hockey. I'm not sure, but those questions are part of the equation. Quenneville knows he'd be on any team's short list if they want to make a coaching change. He also knows he might have a larger pool of teams to pick from if he waits until the offseason. He doesn't have to be in any rush to take the next job. If he is, he'll let any team that calls him know of his interest and I doubt a team would hesitate to go after him if he's interested and they've been thinking of making a coaching change.


Can the Vancouver Canucks compete for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot this season or is it too early to tell? -- @TJRinger1

The early returns suggest they can, which is unexpected, but I need more than early returns to form an educated opinion on the Canucks. That's why the six-game road trip that kicked off with a 3-2 shootout loss at the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday is huge for Vancouver. It's a massive test. The Canucks still play at the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. These are teams that are either in the same situation as the Canucks (Sabres, Rangers, Islanders), a step ahead (Wild) or multiple steps ahead (Bruins). Even after, they play two at home against the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets before going to California to play three games in four days. I need to see where the Canucks are in the standings and how they're playing overall after this stretch of games, which ends Nov. 24, before I can form a real opinion on them.


What do you think about Brett Howden so far? His projection was a third-line center but now he seems to be a better version of Derek Stepan. -- @HeyimbanuPeter

Impressive. Howden, the Rangers' rookie center, has not looked intimidated or out of place since the start of training camp. He looks like he's improving too, which is exactly what the Rangers want and need to see. It's unfortunate that he got injured against the Sabres on Sunday and had to miss the game Tuesday with an upper-body injury, but it doesn't appear he'll be out for extended time. What I like about Howden is he has the ability as a 20-year-old to play an all-around game in the NHL and he seems to thrive no matter who is on his line. He's found chemistry with Jimmy Vesey and Jesper Fast of late. It looks like a solid third line for the Rangers, one that can change the pace of games and turn solid defense into offense. I made the comparison of Howden to Stepan in a conversation I was having with one of the Rangers players. It's funny, by the way, how they both wear No. 21. The response I got from the player was that Howden has a lot of the same attributes as Stepan, except Howden skates faster.

Video: NYR@ANA: Vesey sets up Howden for tap-in goal


What do you make of the Metropolitan Division? Is the streaky play a product of early-season inconsistencies or has the power in the East shifted to the Atlantic? -- @C_Diercks

The Islanders are blowing up the Metropolitan Division that we all expected to see. They're 6-0-0 against divisional opponents, with two wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes, and one each against the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. That is as big of a reason why the Metropolitan Division seems to be different this season. On the other side, the Sabres and Canadiens are playing better than initially predicted, at least by me. It shows me the power in the two Eastern Conference divisions is evening out. It's not right to say it has shifted to the Atlantic Division yet because I think there are still more legitimate Stanley Cup Playoff contenders in the Metropolitan Division. For example, I don't expect the Red Wings and Ottawa Senators improving to the point where they will be able to stay in the race. They allow too many goals. The Florida Panthers should be better, at least going by what their roster says on paper. Maybe the win in Finland against the Jets on Friday gets them going in the right direction. But the Metropolitan Division is a good indication of the NHL at large, with some hot, some cold and a lot of parity. That leads to inconsistent play.

I expect as the season progresses that the Penguins and Washington Capitals will start to lock it down more defensively (they've been too loose in the first quarter) and that will help them improve. They're already legit contenders, obviously. The Islanders may be for real. The defensive structure is there and the goaltending has been solid. They can build off that. I have a to-be-determined point of view on the Hurricanes, Devils, Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets because they've been inconsistent, hot and cold. The Devils have been especially difficult to figure out. They start hot, 4-0, but then lose six of seven (1-5-1) before blowing out the Penguins 5-1 in Pittsburgh. And then they go and lose 7-3 in Ottawa on Tuesday. What gives? Carolina is the same way, now 0-4-1 in its past five games and 2-7-1 in its past 10 after starting the season 4-0-1. That speaks to the early-season inconsistent play you brought up.


What do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs are asking for to trade William Nylander? Could the Minnesota Wild be a potential suitor? -- @Wild4running

The Maple Leafs are likely doing their due diligence at this point and talking to teams about Nylander, who remains a restricted free agent. Nylander will be ineligible to play in the NHL this season if he's not signed after Dec. 1. Part of Toronto's asking price should be a right-handed defenseman who can play in their top-four group. Toronto has to be careful with the salary cap, though, because it still must sign Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, who both can become restricted free agents after this season. So, too, can Kasperi Kapanen. Jake Gardiner can become an unrestricted free agent.

The Wild could be a trading partner if interested because they have Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon, both righties who are reasonably cost effective. Dumba is signed for this season and four more at $6 million per season. Spurgeon is signed through next season at $5.1875 million per. The Wild need a young, dynamic forward like Nylander, who can play wing or center, but are they willing to part with a still young and dynamic defenseman in Dumba, 24, or Spurgeon, who turns 29 on Nov. 29? The Hurricanes, with righties Dougie Hamilton, Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce and Trevor van Riemsdyk are also going to be in the mix if Toronto decides to move Nylander. I think Pesce is the most intriguing. He's 23, solid in his own zone, strong on the puck, physical, and in the first of a six-year, $24.15 million contract ($4.025 million AAV). The Maple Leafs don't need anybody flashy. They need a stable, reliable, cost effective yet impactful right-handed defenseman as part of the return package for Nylander, if that's what they decide. Nylander will make any team he goes to a better one.

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