Can Alex Ovechkin have another 50-goal season? And do you think maybe the Washington Capitals can get Mike Green back as a rental? -- @MeierGilles
Yes on Ovechkin. The Capitals forward is on a 51-goal pace (28 goals in 45 games). He hasn't had one of his typical surges in more than a month, like when he scored eight goals in seven games from Nov. 22-Dec. 6. My guess is that means one of those is coming soon.
Regarding Green, it's funny you ask, because this is something I've been thinking about. The Capitals could use another veteran defenseman, if only to ease the ice time on Brooks Orpik, who is averaging 20:42 per game. He shouldn't be playing that much. Green, who plays for the Detroit Red Wings, would help the Capitals on the power play too. They could keep John Carlson on their top unit and use Green on the second unit. That would take some of the pressure off Carlson, who is averaging 26:09 per game. It also would make their second unit a greater threat than it is now.
Video: DET@CHI: Green fires home a scorching one-timer
However, Green is a right-handed shot, so he wouldn't even play in their top four. He's not going to play over Carlson or Matt Niskanen, the other righties. It would be like acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk all over again. What Washington needs is a lefty to put in their top four; one who could play on the power play would be ideal.
The other option is to stand pat. The Capitals have added at the NHL Trade Deadline in the past and it has never worked out. Like Jerry told George in "Seinfeld," "If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right."
Would it be interesting if the Ottawa Senators win the draft lottery this season? -- @Final20Hockey
It would be. What would the Senators do? Oh, the options.
Selecting defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who turns 18 on April 13, would be a must. He's a potential generational star. You don't pass on those players. Dahlin is the consensus to go No. 1 in the 2018 NHL Draft. That's the easy part.
Would Dahlin replace Erik Karlsson? Could the Senators more easily trade Karlsson, who would have one year left on his contract, if they get Dahlin?
Certainly, they could. I'd argue they should. Why pay Karlsson when you can get Dahlin on an entry-level contract for his first three seasons and have him under your control long after that? If done right, Karlsson should fetch the Senators a terrific return and they would be able to replace him with Dahlin, a Karlsson-type defenseman in his skating and his skill who might eventually be better than the Senators captain once he gets older and adjusts to the NHL and the North American game after his time in Sweden.
Or, just food for thought, what if they kept both of them? Not a bad option.
Why don't elite players go to the free-agent market more? Out of John Tavares, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson, do you think any of them would actually go UFA or get traded? -- @briantodd34
It's a great question, and there isn't a simple answer other than when teams get their hands on an elite player, they tend to dig in and convince him to stay. The added perk, of course, is teams can offer an eight-year contract to retain their player, but seven years is the maximum length on any contract with another team. I'm not sure how much that extra year matters. Maybe it does to some.
Video: MIN@OTT: Karlsson blasts in one-timer for PPG
But you bring up three elite players who might buck the trend that has been followed by Ovechkin, centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, center Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, forward Patrick Kane and center Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, center Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, and center Henrik Sedin and forward Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. Of Tavares, Doughty and Karlsson, I think Doughty is most likely to re-sign and Karlsson is most likely to be traded. I'm somewhere in the middle with Tavares, though my gut feeling all along is he will re-sign with the New York Islanders.
I don't think the Los Angeles Kings are going to mess around with Doughty. They'll sign the defenseman when they get the chance. The only way they won't is if he doesn't want to re-sign. There is a school of thought that he'd like to return home to Toronto, but I'm not sure that's so true. Doughty loves L.A. He's in a great spot on a good team. Why mess with that?
Karlsson shouldn't have to feel pressure to give the Senators a hometown discount, and it's fair to wonder if they'll be able to afford the defenseman at market value and still be able to field a competitive team. If they can't and he knows it, he might ask for a trade.
I think the Islanders need to know Tavares' plans soon, as in before the trade deadline on Feb. 26. If the center isn't going to sign, they must trade him. They can't let him leave with nothing in return. The Islanders, with their defensemen and goaltending, are a bubble team, and I don't think they're good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. They can't go for it, fail, and then lose Tavares. If he plans to sign, get the deal done and get it announced as soon as possible.
With Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks, who is/are the top candidates for the Norris Trophy? -- @BenGriecoSports
Doughty perhaps should be the Norris Trophy favorite now, even if Hedman were healthy. Doughty is driving possession (53.45 shot-attempts percent) and generating offense with 30 points (seven goals, 23 assists), and not just on the power play, with 20 even-strength points (four goals, 16 assists). He's scoring big goals (four game-winners) and playing the most minutes (NHL-high 27:09 per game). The goal of a good defenseman is to spend the least amount of time defending. Doughty is doing that as well or better than everyone in the NHL this season, considering the minutes he plays.
Video: LAK@VAN: Doughty wires a wrister to put Kings ahead
Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban also is having a season worthy of Norris Trophy consideration. Subban has stood out this season for his offense, with 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists), and his defense. He has become one of the best defensemen in the League at exiting the zone with possession; his play through the neutral zone is terrific.
New ownership for the Carolina Hurricanes wants to increase fan engagement, and the best way to do that is going on a playoff run. Will the general manager now be allowed to be a buyer at the trade deadline? You get the feeling that this team is close and has the pick/prospect depth to add. -- @T_Faltin
I don't know what immediate plans Carolina general manager Ron Francis has, but Hurricanes fans should be excited about new owner Tom Dundon and what he said he wants to do. Dundon wants to make Carolina a destination for players. He wants to make Carolina a place where players are comfortable, where they know they'll have first-class amenities, where they know they can win. Building a new practice facility, which Dundon has said he will do, is key. Don't underestimate how important it is for the players to have a first-rate facility to call home. They play 41 games at their home arena and spend a lot more time at their practice facility. The Hurricanes are in dire need of an upgrade, and Dundon has talked the talk about giving it to them. He has the financial wherewithal to make it happen. How it impacts what they do at the trade deadline this season remains to be seen, but getting into the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be a great way to start the Dundon era.
NHL team likely to climb the standings and make the playoffs that isn't in a playoff position right now? -- @GraphersDelight
I still want to believe in the Chicago Blackhawks, though my belief took a hit Sunday so I am starting to wonder if it's their year. It could, however, be the Colorado Avalanche's year.
Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser or Islanders center Mathew Barzal [for the Calder Trophy]? -- @ahmadtimsah
Why not Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy?