With the departure of John Tavares and the emergence of Mathew Barzal, is this the perfect opportunity for Joshua Ho-Sang to be the next breakout star for the Islanders? Possibly a second-line center behind Barzal or his linemate? -- @Final20Hockey
Ho-Sang won't be the Islanders' second-line center. I think Brock Nelson or Anthony Beauvillier will fill that position with Barzal, the Calder Trophy winner, moving into the No. 1 spot vacated by Tavares, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent. Ho-Sang needs to play in the top six or at least the top nine to be valuable to the Islanders. If he can play a consistent two-way game, he has the skill to be a breakout player. But with six goals in 43 NHL games and 18 goals in 100 American Hockey League games, he's not exactly lighting it up. It'll be interesting to see the rope he is given by coach Barry Trotz, who last season was patient with younger forwards Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana, Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson in Washington. Trotz's patience paid off because they all played a role in helping the Capitals win the Stanley Cup.
Video: Brian Burke on Tavares' deal, Isles' needs and more
Rumors of the Vegas Golden Knights and New York Rangers being frontrunners for Erik Karlsson, especially if Bobby Ryan is involved. Do you think the Rangers would do this? -- @KREIDERMAN20
No. I've been told that rumors of the Rangers being involved in trade talks with the Ottawa Senators for Karlsson are 100 percent false. The Rangers are in rebuilding mode and they're not in the market to trade any of the prospects they have acquired in the past 12-plus months to get Karlsson.
With the addition of John Moore, the Boston Bruins have a glut of NHL defensemen. Do you think that means GM Don Sweeney might try to trade (Torey Krug is the best chip they have) to bring in a scoring winger? Possible targets? -- @tdeon26
I would bet Sweeney is already checking on this. I agree that Krug is the best chip the Bruins have. Signing Moore, who is bigger (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) but skates and moves the puck just as well as Krug (5-foot-9, 186 pounds), should make Krug somewhat expendable. Krug and Moore are each 27. As you mentioned, the Bruins have a glaring need for a scoring wing to play with either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron, depending on where coach Bruce Cassidy wants to slot right wing David Pastrnak.
What do you see the Minnesota Wild doing this offseason? What "tweaks" do you see GM Paul Fenton making in the future? -- @TJRinger1
They have "tweaked" already, to use your word. They signed defenseman Greg Pateryn, center Eric Fehr, right wing J.T. Brown, left wing Matt Hendricks and goalie Andrew Hammond on Sunday. The moves aren't sexy but they bolster depth. What I'm waiting for is Fenton to pull of the bigger trade to change the culture in Minnesota. I still wonder about forwards Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker and if any of them are on the trading block. Zucker is a restricted free agent. I answered a question above about the Bruins and their need for a scoring wing. Niederreiter, Coyle and Zucker would fit, but the Wild's need would be at forward if they made this trade and the Bruins' surplus is on defense. The Wild would make the trade to shake things up because of their repeated inability to get the job done in the playoffs.
Do you think Brooks Orpik comes back to the Washington Capitals? I doubt GM Brian MacLellan is comfortable with the third pairing of Christian Djoos and a rookie. Considering his age, Orpik may want to stay for one more year regardless of price. -- @Cappie2020
This was brought up at the press conference to introduce Capitals coach Todd Reirden on Tuesday. MacLellan said the Capitals are talking with Orpik about a return after they traded him to the Colorado Avalanche, who then bought out the final year of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent. Now that Calvin de Haan has signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, it could open the door for the veteran defensemen available to start signing. Orpik is in that group with Paul Martin, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges. If Orpik doesn't return, colleague Tom Gulitti brought up the idea to me that maybe Martin is an option for the Capitals. Reirden was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins when Martin played with them.
Video: Todd Reirden is named the Capitals' new head coach
Do you think it was easier for John Tavares to walk away from the New York Islanders considering Garth Snow and Doug Weight were axed? Easier rejecting strangers rather than friends. -- @ImaJonesing
Heck no. Did you see Tavares' press conference in Toronto on Sunday? He nearly teared up talking about leaving the Islanders. He said his gut was torn apart about the decision. His letter to Islanders fans had those same sentiments. This was painful. But he did what he felt was best for him. He signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs because he saw an opportunity to live out a childhood dream and to be a perennial Stanley Cup contender for his hometown team.
Leaving the Islanders, regardless of who runs the team, was hard on him. It's understandable that Islanders fans don't want to hear that, but it's the truth.
How do you grade the Detroit Red Wings pickups on Sunday? -- @Mr_Wright19
I'll say B-minus. They're fine. Nothing crazy. They added forward Thomas Vanek on a one-year, $3 million contract and goalie Jonathan Bernier on a three-year, $9 million contract. They also re-signed Mike Green, who did become a UFA, to a two-year, $10.75 million contract. Vanek is a scorer, so he will help the Red Wings improve from last season, when they were 28th in the NHL with 2.59 goals per game. He'll also provide healthy competition for some of the younger players trying to earn their minutes in Detroit. Bernier paired with Jimmy Howard gives the Red Wings the goaltending depth that should allow them to compete for 82 games. They know what they're getting from Green, who is still a good player on the power play and a threat at 5-on-5.
The Red Wings left room for further growth of their younger players including forwards Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina, and defenseman Dennis Cholowski.
A lot of talk here in St. Louis about maybe letting a few of the RFAs walk and going after a guy like Patrick Maroon, who is somehow still out there. Would this make sense to you? -- @Akers813
It makes sense for the St. Louis Blues to go after Maroon, a forward who is from St. Louis, but I don't think it needs to be at the expense of their RFAs, a list that includes forwards Robby Fabbri, Oskar Sundqvist and Dmitrij Jaskin, and defensemen Jordan Schmaltz and Joel Edmundson. The Blues have done a great job revamping their center depth with Ryan O'Reilly and Tyler Bozak joining Brayden Schenn and, likely, 19-year-old rookie Robert Thomas. They believe Thomas can eventually move up the lineup, which would push O'Reilly or Schenn to the wing. Adding Maroon would give the Blues great depth on the wing. They already have Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, David Perron and Fabbri, provided he stays healthy. How about starting the season with Schenn, Tarasenko and Schwartz as the first line; O'Reilly, Fabbri and Maroon as the second line; and Bozak, Steen and Perron as the third line? That, or some other combination of those nine, would certainly work well.