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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Artemi Panarin's contract, All-Star revamp's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Here is the Oct. 12 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:

Does the Nikita Kucherov contract open up a possibility for the Chicago Blackhawks to bridge Artemi Panarin, or do you think he'll get a Johnny Gaudreau contract? -- @k_corpstein

Kucherov signed a three-year contract Tuesday that will pay him $4.766 million annually. It's a remarkably cap-friendly deal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's not ridiculous to think Kucherov could score more than 100 goals for the Lightning within the term of the contract. But it also could benefit Kucherov, who could be in for a major payday, potentially doubling what he's getting in this contract, in three years if he doesn't sign an extension beforehand. It's a win-win because it helps the Lightning now and gives Kucherov more earning potential later.

The possibility to do the same with Panarin was there before this Kucherov contract and it remains there; it's just that now, the Blackhawks have a comparable to work with, provided Panarin puts up another solid season. That's good for Chicago. But it's not as if a two- or three-year contract would be bad for Panarin, either. He has said, according to the Chicago Tribune, he wants to remain with the Blackhawks on a long-term basis, but if he signs a shorter-term contract, it could take him up to his unrestricted free agent year or just before it. He's 24, so if he signs a three-year contract similar to Kucherov's, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of it, which would be the summer of 2020.

My guess is the Blackhawks would be OK with giving Panarin a shorter-term contract similar to Kucherov's, but if they can keep the cap charge within their ballpark, they could go longer on the term. There's no rush on this. Panarin has to perform again and prove he's not a one-hit wonder.

Video: STL@CHI: Kane sets up Panarin for one-timer goal

Your thoughts on all the veterans on waivers this year? -- @bugg1963

It's a sign of the times, the way the League is going.

We keep hearing coaches say it's a young man's game, well, it's a young man's league now. I have a story on the site Wednesday about how the line between the next generation and the now generation is as thin as ever. Nashville Predators GM David Poile told me for the story the new players coming into the League now are the most skilled he has ever seen. The game is about speed, skating and puck possession. Fringe veteran players are struggling to keep up. The salary cap is hurting them as well. Young players, particularly those on entry-level contracts, are cheaper than veterans, even those who are looking for a one-year, $1 million contract. There were 234 players 25 or younger who played in season opening games last season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That's up from 180 in the 2006-07 season. It's a fact the League is getting younger.

Any chance of the All-Star Game trying an age bracket thing like Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey 2016? Interesting concept. -- @mikeybox

I wouldn't rule it out, because the NHL constantly is looking to tinker with the All-Star Game format to keep it lively and fresh. It's definitely an intriguing concept. I wonder how the veteran players would feel about it, because I'm not sure any of them want to play an All-Star Game at the breakneck pace Team North America played in the World Cup. Who knows if that would happen in a midseason exhibition, but it'd be a lot of fun if it did.

I like the format of the All-Star Game now with it being divisional based and 3-on-3. I thought that was a lot of fun in Nashville last season. The John Scott storyline obviously stole the show, but overall I thought the All-Star Game was far more interesting last season than it was in Columbus the year before, when it was a straight game and there was no defense and no real emotion.

However, to your point, a Team North America concept in the All-Star Game would be intriguing, and I'm sure it would gain a lot of traction in the media. Team North America became the media darlings of the World Cup in Toronto. Nobody wanted to see that team eliminated because of how much fun it was to watch and cover.

Why did the Blackhawks cut Alexandre Fortin when he had such a successful camp on a line with Patrick Kane? -- @TylerDonnellyTD

Having not spoken to coach Joel Quenneville or general manager Stan Bowman about this, I'm guessing a bit here, but I think it's pretty obvious. Kane was always going to play on a line with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Quenneville would have been out of his mind to go away from that at the start of this season. That was always the plan. I don't think he wanted Fortin getting time on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. So they sent him back to Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to get more seasoning. Fortin is 19 years old. He might have had a good camp, but that's way different than being in the regular season for a team that thinks it can win the Stanley Cup again (I picked the Blackhawks, by the way). The other thing is Chicago already could have five Calder Trophy-eligible players on its opening night roster in Tyler Motte, Ryan Hartman, Vincent Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz and Gustav Forsling. That's enough to make Quenneville's head spin. A seventh, who is 19 years old, was unnecessary.

Is the Arizona Coyotes' net Mike Smith's to lose for now, or do they give Smith and Louis Domingue even time in net to start the season? -- @SkreegTheGreat

It will be more of a split than Smith's net to lose at the start of the season. The Coyotes begin their season with eight games in 15 days, including six on the road. I can see a scenario that has them each playing four of those games, or at the very least Smith getting five starts and Domingue three. If Smith plays well, he'll get the benefit of more playing time because he's the incumbent No. 1 now that he's healthy from having surgery in December on a core muscle injury. However, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett offered this quote to Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic for a recent article: "You perform well, you're going to play." Tippett also said, provided each is healthy, he won't ride one of them into the ground. So expect more of a split, at least at the start of the season.

Video: ARI@SJS: Smith stops the Sharks on the doorstep

What did you think of the World Cup of Hockey? Was it a money grab for the NHL or a good attempt to grow the game globally? -- @HW06

I liked the World Cup, seeing that it was the first time the NHL and NHLPA have done it in 12 years. Team North America was so much fun. Team Europe obviously worked, since it got to the final. There was a good buzz about it in Toronto for most of the tournament. I know for a fact, being in Sweden and Finland for the pretournament action, that there was a buzz about it in those countries too. The Swedes were everywhere in Toronto as well. They had a great turnout. I saw many of them at my hotel throughout the tournament, even after Team Sweden was eliminated. The interest in the United States would have been higher if Team USA played better, but overall I have heard from a lot of Americans who said they watched it and enjoyed the hockey. If you're a hockey fan, getting intense, fast-paced, meaningful hockey in September should get you excited. I liked that it was in one location, but I wonder in the future if it will, as it did in 1996 and 2004, bounce around a bit to different markets, in North America and Europe, before settling into one city for the semifinals and final. That could even add more buzz to the later stages of the event. Overall I really enjoyed being in Toronto for it and thoroughly enjoyed covering it. I love international best-on-best tournaments, so this was great for me.

Is the one-timeout rule the NHL's way of discouraging reviews? Seems to really take options away from the benches. -- @Bavoo

I think it's quite the opposite. The fact coaches have one timeout at their disposal adds to the strategy of the coach's challenge. It used to be coaches would use their timeout either after an icing when their players on the ice were so tired they were at risk of losing the faceoff and giving up a goal, or at the end of the game for strategizing how to score a game-winning or game-tying goal or defend against giving one up. Now coaches have to determine if a goal scored on a potential offside play or goalie interference play is worth challenging, because the risk is they lose that timeout, meaning they won't have it to use after an icing or at the end of the game. Giving coaches a second timeout is essentially giving them an out and it takes away the strategy of the coach's challenge. You can argue against the need for a coach's challenge if you want (I'm not doing it), but one timeout is sufficient. It might discourage a review, but only because the coach is strategizing.

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