Here is the March 2 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the 2015-16 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.
Let's get to it:
What do you see in Matt Murray's future? It seems he's making his full NHL transition now with Marc-Andre Fleury. -- @_MAF29
The plan appears to be in place for the Pittsburgh Penguins to have a Fleury-Murray show for the foreseeable future. It makes sense. Fleury is an unquestioned No. 1 NHL goalie and should still be that in Pittsburgh through at least next season, maybe even beyond. He's signed for three more seasons after this one with a $5.75 million salary-cap charge, but I think the Penguins have to look at the rest of this season and next season only. They can easily slide Murray into the backup role with Jeff Zatkoff set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Zatkoff will sign to be a backup elsewhere. He's a good backup, but he's not a future No. 1 goalie. Murray might be. And that's what the Penguins have to try to figure out next season. Get him 30 starts. See how he does. If he fares well, it might be time to look to trade Fleury in the summer of 2017. He'd still be a viable No. 1 goalie. He'd still have two years remaining on his contract. Murray might be the heir apparent to Fleury, but the Penguins need at least next season to figure that out. If they need more time, they've got it because of Fleury's contract.
Did the New York Rangers do enough to get by the Washington Capitals again? -- @jmess1994
I think we've seen time and again that regular season success doesn't always equate to success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so it'd be foolish for me to say the Rangers can't defeat the Capitals in a playoff series. They can, but I don't think they would and I don't think there is anything they realistically could have done to make them the favorite in a series against the Capitals assuming everyone is healthy. That's not a knock on the Rangers, it's a compliment to the Capitals, who are unquestionably the best team in the NHL this season.
I have no issue with the Rangers acquiring Eric Staal, or the price they paid to get him. Their window to win is now. They will eventually pay the price for not having all of the draft picks they have traded away, but that's the price most teams have to play to improve their chances of winning now. Henrik Lundqvist turns 34 years old Wednesday. The window is most definitely now, and that's why they got Martin St. Louis two years ago, Keith Yandle last year, and Staal this year.
The problem the Rangers have is they're not as good as the Capitals. It's a big problem. It's one they might be able to overcome, but they'd definitely be the underdog.
Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin can flat out fly. Who in your opinion would be the perfect complement on that line? -- @purdstheword22
You're right about Athanasiou and Larkin, those two are lightning fast. Detroit Red Wings teammate Brad Richards said they're the two fastest players he's ever played with in his career. I honestly think you can put Richards, Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk in between those two and their speed will be a difference for the line. I don't think putting them with a center who is just as fast is paramount to their success. If anything, I think they need a center who has the ability to make plays and be responsible defensively. They need a player who has the ability to work with their speed and ensure the puck goes as fast as they do sometimes. From what I've seen, I haven't minded Richards in between them, especially because it keeps Zetterberg and Datsyuk together on a line. Riley Sheahan could also work, but I'd be more inclined to play a veteran center with the two rookies.
Video: DET@FLA: Larkin beats Luongo on the power play
Do you think it was smart of the Red Wings to not make a move? -- @krazykyler19
It was smart to not make a move if the only moves available to GM Ken Holland required him to trade a first-round draft pick. Unless the Red Wings were going to get an impact defenseman with term remaining on his contract, it wouldn't have made sense for them to trade a first-round pick. They have a good core of forwards that has a good blend of veterans, younger players coming into their prime, and rookies like Larkin and Athanasiou who are starting to blossom. I've been a believer that they've needed another top-four defenseman for a long time. They got Mike Green, but he's not enough. But I also don't think that top-four defensemen was available to them at the NHL Trade. Kris Russell wouldn't have been the answer. He could have helped them now, but there's no guarantee he'd re-sign. In addition, the cost that the Dallas Stars paid to get Russell was high for a second-pair defenseman on an expiring contract. They gave up defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick that becomes a first-round pick if the Stars reach the Western Conference Final and Russell plays in half of the Stanley Cup Playoff games. But the Stars clearly felt they needed to upgrade their "D" to win in the Central Division. The Red Wings aren't in the same position. Dan Hamhuis wasn't available to them because of his no-trade clause. I still think the Red Wings need to address their defense this summer.
Video: NYI@DET: Green scores goal during 5-on-3
Should I be disappointed with the lack of my New York Islanders making a bigger move? -- @ChrisSala11
Great question. I can't tell you how to feel, but I thought the Islanders were going to acquire a forward to play in their top six group. I also thought they'd try to acquire a rental defenseman if they could. I thought PA Parenteau would have been a nice fit and would acclimate easily since he's been there before. Jiri Hudler is another player that would have been a nice fit. Same with Lee Stempniak and Teddy Purcell. But general manager Garth Snow clearly didn't want to part with a high draft pick or top prospect to get a rental forward. I don't think you can blame him for that, but I also do believe at some point you have to go for it as a team. He's clearly not at that point yet. As for defensemen, the pickings were slim and the prices were high, so no complaints there.
I expect Snow to acquire a top-six forward and a defenseman in the offseason, although now it could be to replace Kyle Okposo if he doesn't re-sign and Travis Hamonic if he's traded. My guess, and it's only a guess, is Snow will make a trade with the Edmonton Oilers involving Hamonic. The return could be Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. That's just me spit-balling, but it makes a lot of sense. It also doesn't help the Islanders now, and I think the Islanders needed help now.
But it's up to you if you want to be disappointed or excited about the prospects of going to the playoffs again. I'd choose the latter.
Do you think the New Jersey Devils did the right thing trading three players for three picks and one player? Will they lose goals without Stempniak? -- @jrfracing18
They did the right thing, and as solid as Stempniak has been for them this season, he's replaceable.
The fact that the Devils have given their fans hope for a playoff berth this season is surprising and, I'd have to imagine, quite fun too. But GM Ray Shero has to act in the best interest of the organization for long-term success and, as much as it might hurt some fans, he can't let success in the short term cloud his judgment. The Devils are not at the point yet with their re-development to hang onto potential unrestricted free agents for the sake of maybe climbing up the standings to get into the playoffs. They needed to get something for Stempniak. They got a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick. That's more ammo for Shero. He needs to keep accumulating the ammo before he starts loading his gun to fire. I actually thought they'd trade David Schlemko too. I'm also not surprised they traded Eric Gelinas because he wasn't a favorite of two coaches (Peter DeBoer and John Hynes). That's a red flag.