Here is the Sept. 4 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which runs every Wednesday. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.
Cale Makar wins the Calder Trophy? -- @BradleySeaton15
I'll say yes. The Colorado Avalanche defenseman will win the Calder Trophy in a season that I think will feature two defensemen as finalists (Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks). The Calder Trophy, given annually to the top rookie in the NHL as selected in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, has been awarded since 1933 and a defenseman has won it 11 times, the last being Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers in 2014-15. Makar will get the ice time to win it because Tyson Barrie was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Erik Johnson (shoulder) might not be ready to start the season. Considering how Makar fared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, when he had six points (one goal, five assists) and averaged of ice time 17:22 in 10 games, he shouldn't have any trouble adapting. Makar, who turns 21 on Oct. 30, is older than some of the other Calder Trophy candidates. Hughes turns 20 on Oct. 14; his brother, New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, and New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko are 18. Makar is on a team that will score and he could play on the first power-play unit, so he'll rack up points.
Jack Hughes and Kakko will be terrific NHL players, but there are more questions about them going into their rookie season than there are about Makar and Quinn Hughes, who could be used on the Canucks' first power-play unit with forwards Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser. If Makar is healthy, we know he is going to play a huge role for the Avalanche.
Video: CGY@COL, Gm3: Makar scores in NHL debut
Can we review the new rules governing coach's challenges applied to the upcoming season? -- @jason_bassani
The first notable change is the addition of a third category to allow a coach to challenge a missed stoppage of play in the offensive zone that leads to a goal. A coach already was permitted to challenge for goalie interference and offside. The point of the new challenge category is to give a coach a chance to have the NHL review and potentially overturn a goal scored after the puck hits the protective spectator netting, after it's illegally high-sticked to a teammate in the offensive zone, after a hand pass in the offensive zone, etc. The goal is reviewable provided the puck stays in the offensive zone after the infraction takes place. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said these are black-and-white calls that are determined conclusively by video review, which is why the League felt comfortable adding this category.
The other change is significant: A minor penalty for delay of game will be assessed for any failed coach's challenge, and any subsequent failed challenge will result in a double-minor for delay of game. The former rule allowed for a delay of game minor to be assessed only for a failed challenge for offside. Now any failed challenge will be penalized. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the theory is that the League doesn't want an abundance of challenges, so including something as punitive as a delay of game penalty should hopefully limit the amount of 50/50 challenges.
Mark Stone never seems to crack the top 10 forwards on any list, but his numbers are stellar. Why do you think that is? -- @DerekSchoen
These lists, like the top 20 lists the NHL Network did this offseason, are created to foster conversation and lively debates. Stone is a terrific player, and if the Vegas Golden Knights forward was listed among the top 10 forwards right now it'd be hard to argue against it. He does so much in all three zones. Give him a full season with Vegas and my hunch is he'll be a 35-goal, 80-point player who again will be in the running for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL. He had 73 points (33 goals, 40 assists) in 77 games with Vegas and the Ottawa Senators last season. The Senators were lean offensively, yet Stone had 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 59 games before being traded. He had 12 points (six goals, six assists) in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games for Vegas. He has scored at least 20 goals in five straight seasons and if healthy should have his second straight 30-goal season. Beyond the obvious numbers are the subtleties of Stone's game that make him so valuable. I think he's the right wing version of Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron because he can dominate in all three zones and makes any teammate more dangerous because of his ability to see the ice and create second-chance opportunities in the offensive zone.
Video: Mark Stone lands at No. 13 on the list
Now that the offseason is pretty much over, what are your realistic expectations for the Rangers? -- @KREIDERMAN20
I've been saying all summer that Rangers fans should expect them to make the playoffs, but I'm not prepared to predict they will. By that I mean fans should have high expectations, but the competition in the Metropolitan Division is loaded and the Rangers have a lot of questions to answer, too many for me to say right now that I think they'll be a playoff team. But I think they'll be close, competing for a spot into late March/early April.
The additions of forwards Artemi Panarin and Kakko, and defensemen Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox, plus the likely arrival of forward Vitali Kravtsov to the NHL, bring the Rangers out of the rebuilding phase. They're mostly built, but they're young and need time to develop. The continued improvement of forward Pavel Buchnevich; the fact they have a legit No. 1 center, Mika Zibanejad; and the continued development of forwards Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and Lias Andersson, and defenseman Libor Hajek are all positives. But will Chytil, Howden, Andersson or Ryan Strome step up and be a legit No. 2 center behind Zibanejad? That's a big question. I believe goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be energized by the changes and motivated to prove to critics that at 37 years old he's still an elite goalie. He'll come back strong and be pushed by backup Alexandar Georgiev and maybe rookie Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers should limit Lundqvist's starts to 25-30 before the NHL All-Star break and 50-55 for the season. Will they? I'm not sure what happens with left wing Chris Kreider, who is entering the last season of his contract. He'll be good at the start of the season and will help young wings Kakko and Kravtsov, but what happens if he's traded?
Which team is most likely to start the season on a hot streak? -- @tealforreal_96
I like the Nashville Predators' schedule in October and can see them getting off to a fast start. They play nine of 13 games at home, where they were 25-14-2 last season. Eight of their 13 games, including six at home, are against teams that didn't make the playoffs last season. They play only Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in October. They don't have a back-to-back until Nov. 29-30, when they play at the Carolina Hurricanes and at the Florida Panthers. They have games against the San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals, Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames. Win two or three of those games and I could see the Predators starting the season with eight or nine wins in the first month, setting themselves up nicely in the Central Division.
Video: 31 in 31: Nashville Predators 2019-20 season preview
Do you see Alain Vigneault succeeding in Philadelphia in his first season? He was very effective during his first season in New York. -- @jin_winberg
I didn't pick the Philadelphia Flyers to make the playoffs when we did our 31 in 31 series last month, but that's me going against the grain of Vigneault's career. Each of the three teams he has coached made the playoffs in his first season. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games before getting swept by the Buffalo Sabres in 1998. The Canucks defeated the Dallas Stars in seven games before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in five in 2007. The Rangers went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. That's a good track record, but the Metropolitan Division is loaded, with all eight teams claiming reasons they should make the playoffs. That puts the Flyers in a precarious spot and puts a lot of pressure on 21-year-old goalie Carter Hart. Vigneault had a proven No. 1 goalie when he got to Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) and New York (Lundqvist). Hart has the look of a long-term No. 1, but he's played 31 NHL games. The other concerns I have for the Flyers is depth scoring and how much Vigneault will rely on 32-year-old defensemen Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. Vigneault had a tendency, especially in New York, to rely on veterans. In Philadelphia, he needs to lean on 22-year-old Ivan Provorov and 23-year-old Travis Sanheim and potentially 22-year-old Philippe Myers as much, if not more, than on Niskanen and Braun. He also should get plenty of miles out of Shayne Gostisbehere, who is 26.
The Flyers upgraded their roster after finishing 16 points out of the playoffs last season, but the Devils and Rangers also made significant upgrades. They won't all get in. My prediction now is the Devils join the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes as the playoff teams from the Metropolitan Division.
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