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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Ranking League's best Sweden-born players

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the Nov. 8 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday throughout the 2017-18 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

With the [2017 SAP NHL] Global Series coming up, who are your top three Swedish players in the game? -- @briantodd34

No. 1 is Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson . Frankly, it's not close. The defenseman is that good. I don't have to waste words here giving all the reasons why he is so good. Just watch him play. No other defenseman in the NHL plays like Karlsson.

No. 2 is Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman . It's amazing how he can skate and carry the puck up the ice with his size. He skates and moves around the ice like a little man. He is 6-foot-6.

No. 3 is Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom . He should have won the Selke Trophy by now. I think he's going to go his entire career being somewhat underappreciated because he plays with forward Alex Ovechkin.

Honorable mention: Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm and Ducks forward Rickard Rakell. I'm almost ready to put Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander in this category, but in fairness I still need to see more.

For goalies, it's Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom has had a solid start to the season, though. He has been better than Lundqvist.

Video: SAP Stats breaks down the top Swedish-born NHL stars

 

Who won the three-team trade? -- @avengemyplan629

That refers to the blockbuster on Sunday that had the Ottawa Senators getting center Matt Duchene, the Nashville Predators acquiring center Kyle Turris (and then signing him to a six-year, $36 million contract extension), and the Colorado Avalanche getting a haul of seven potential players, including three prospects and three draft picks.

I'm not trying to cop out on an answer here, but I really like this trade for everyone involved. I really do. I think it works on all accounts.

The Senators got the best player in the trade, Duchene, but they gave up a lot to get him, including Turris (who was in the last year of his contract); 18-year-old forward Shane Bowers, who was their first-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft (No. 28); a conditional first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and their third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Goaltender Andrew Hammond also went from Ottawa to Colorado in the trade. Duchene instantly becomes the Senators' best center, which is important for them. They had strong center depth with Turris, Derick Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. It's better now with Duchene.

I think Duchene is a winner. He got his wish to be traded by Colorado (he made a request last Christmas, according to Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic) and should be motivated to get a chance to advance into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014 and advance past the first round for the first time in his career. He has played eight playoff games. He said he thinks he can win the Stanley Cup with the Senators. The pressure is on.

Video: How Duchene, Turris fit with new teams after trade

The Predators needed a second-line center to slot between Ryan Johansen and, when he returns healthy, presumably Nick Bonino. They could use Colton Sissons or Calle Jarnkrok in that role and move Bonino to the wing. Either way, their center depth lines up among the best in the Western Conference, which in theory should give them a good chance at going deep in the playoffs again.

Turris is a winner because he got the big contract he wanted and is still going to be playing for a Stanley Cup contender.

Finally, I love the haul Colorado got, turning Duchene into seven potential players, including 19-year-old defenseman Samuel Girard, who will make his Avalanche debut against Duchene and the Senators in the first of two NHL Global Series games at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN5, RDS, ALT, NHL.TV).

The Avalanche are rebuilding and had to get a young defenseman with top-two or top-four potential in any trade for Duchene. They got that; Girard has a chance to be a slick offensive defenseman.

Forward Vladislav Kamenev, who also came to Colorado from Nashville, has a chance to be a top-nine forward. He's a wild card, but worth it for the Avalanche, especially with Girard coming on board.

Bowers is an unknown, but was scouted well enough to be a first-round pick in June. The added draft picks, including a 2018 second-round pick from Nashville, obviously benefit the Avalanche, who continue to go with a youth movement.

This trade works for everybody involved. It was the exact type of blockbuster hockey trade that we don't see nearly enough of these days.

 

Who's the next big name to be traded? -- @CarterHudBlog

It's a guessing game, but I don't anticipate anything as big as we saw with the Duchene trade coming in the near future. Those are, as I mentioned, rare.

The big name everyone wants to bring up is New York Islanders center John Tavares, but I don't expect anything to happen on that front for a while, especially with the Islanders in the thick of the playoff race and the fact we don't yet know what is happening with their bid for land to build an arena near Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The arena situation has to be part of Tavares' thinking when he contemplates his future. The Islanders won't do anything to jeopardize their chances of re-signing him. They will exhaust all efforts doing that before thinking about trading him.

Video: ARI@NYI: Tavares roofs deflection past Domingue

There is also a thought the Islanders might need a new goaltender, someone to play ahead of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, to make a run this season with Tavares. I don't know who that goalie would be. I've heard Philipp Grubauer of the Washington Capitals as potential trade bait, but is he an upgrade over what the Islanders already have? Would the Capitals take Halak, who is a pending unrestricted free agent, in return to be a backup to goalie Braden Holtby? Halak is making $3 million more this season than Grubauer, according to CapFriendly.com. The salary cap money might not work out.

I also wonder what the Buffalo Sabres are going to do with forward Evander Kane, what the New York Rangers are going to do with forward Rick Nash, what the Red Wings will do with defenseman Mike Green, and if the Maple Leafs will do anything with forwards Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk? Everyone I just named is a pending unrestricted free agent, like Tavares and Halak.

 

The Predators now have three centers in place. Who is better as the new fourth center, Colton Sissons or Calle Jarnkrok? -- @KevinC60

I like Sissons for that role because I think Jarnkrok could be a good wing on the third line with Bonino. I think Jarnkrok's versatility gives coach Peter Laviolette more freedom to use him in different ways. Sissons can lock down the fourth-line center role and play it well. He has speed and can score, which means the Predators should have the ability to roll four lines with him. They would with Jarnkrok too, but I like him on the wing as well, and think he'd be a good fit with Bonino and either Scott Hartnell or Kevin Fiala. Don't rule out the possibility that Bonino would move to the wing to play in the top six, or that Sissons and Jarnkrok each play on the wing and Nashville uses Frederik Gaudreau as its fourth-line center. General manager David Poile laid out those possibilities in an interview with The Tennessean after the trade. The point is, the Predators have depth at center they've never had before.

Video: NSH@PHI: Sissons, Fiala connect for nifty goal

 

How well will defenseman Samuel Girard fit into the current Avalanche roster? Does he slot with Tyson Barrie or more of a third-pair role? -- @TylerDonnellyTD

Girard seems like a good fit. He's 19, so he fits the age for a rebuilding team. He is quick, mobile and offensive minded but isn't a slouch on the defensive end, which fits with today's game. He's not big (5-foot-10, 162 pounds) but has time to add some muscle. I like the look of him and think he can be a top-four defenseman in Colorado for a long time. I'm not sure he's a No. 1, but he has top-four potential. That's what the Avalanche see in him too. As for where he starts, that's up in the air for now. It was hard to tell in practice Tuesday because the seven Avalanche defensemen were mixing and matching partners. At the end, it looked like Girard would be with Andrei Mironov, but that could easily change when they practice Thursday. The Avalanche are going to work Girard in slowly. They're working on systems play with him this week so he's up to speed to play against Ottawa on Friday. It's going to take some time.

Video: DAL@NSH: Girard scores his first career goal

 

The Islanders forwards have been dynamic lately. John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal have been hot. The power play is clicking. Do they need a goaltending move or are they contenders as is? -- @mikeybox

I addressed the goaltending issue above. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what could be out there for the Islanders now that would work. We don't know what is transpiring behind the scenes, but teams aren't keen on trading goalies this early in the season. I mentioned Grubauer as a possibility, but that was speculation. That said, I agree with you on the look of the Islanders now, they are playing well and their power play is finally getting its mojo going. Barzal is legit. He's a true No. 2 center for them. That's another in a long line of reasons it's so important to get Tavares to re-sign. Bailey has terrific hands, some of the best in the League. He can make plays in tight and with defenders around him. His vision is excellent. He's underrated.

Video: Bailey discusses his current performance

It's hard to say if they're a goalie away from being legit Stanley Cup contenders because Halak and Greiss can run hot and cold. Catch them when they're hot and they look unbeatable. Catch them when they're cold and they allow goals that make you cringe. It's their inconsistency that would worry me if I were an Islanders fan. That makes the idea of acquiring a more consistent goalie enticing, but realistically I don't know if that is possible at this point or if it's totally necessary. The Islanders, though, have a glut of defensemen who could be trade commodities, including Calvin de Haan, who can be a UFA after the season. They also have forwards Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang, who could be valuable trade chips. I'd just worry about giving away too much of the future in pursuit of a goalie now.

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