Skip to main content
Over The Boards

Mailbag: Team USA roster decisions, Rick Nash rebound

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the Sept. 21 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run through the course of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 into NHL training camps and through the regular season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

How about the Team USA roster decisions, and is younger blood in the decision-making process needed? -- @ChrisWasselDFS

I didn't like it when USA Hockey announced the roster for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, and we have seen why. It built a team to try to defeat Team Canada, which was a bad idea from the start. You have to build a team to win the tournament. Yes, that team most likely would have to win against Team Canada at some point, but that team has to win against other teams too. Team USA wasn't built to win in this tournament. It didn't have the patience to defeat Team Europe. It didn't have the skill to defeat Team Canada.

In my opinion, you don't win these tournaments with snarl, grit, jam, grind, etc. All of those components help if you also have speed, skill and chemistry. You win these tournaments by allowing the players to play together, to grow together. You win by allowing lines to come together. You win by limiting turnovers and by capitalizing on your opponent's turnovers. You win by playing with the puck and by dominating in scoring chances. Team USA has never developed chemistry in the lines because coach John Tortorella has been putting them in the blender at the first sight of trouble. Team USA has turned over the puck way too much and hasn't been able to generate enough of a forecheck to force turnovers. Team USA has not had sustained possession time. It has not generated enough quality scoring chances.

Yes, I think younger blood is needed in the decision-making process. Team USA should have gone to Stan Bowman instead of allowing him to be the Team North America co-general manager with Peter Chiarelli. Jon Cooper or John Hynes should have been given the opportunity to coach the team. They're more open-minded to how the game is played now than Tortorella. Tyler Johnson, Chris Kreider, Justin Faulk and Kevin Shattenkirk should have been on the team in place of Brandon Dubinsky, Justin Abdelkader, Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson.

All that said, USA Hockey still is in a great place. All you have to do is look at Team North America to see what I mean by that. The future is there and the future is bright. It's filled with fast, energetic, skilled players like Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin and Brandon Saad. Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba and Shayne Gostisbehere look like exciting anchors to the defense in the future. Goalies John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck are good and only getting better.

Do you see Rick Nash bouncing back to being a 30-plus goal-scorer if he stays with the New York Rangers? -- @HSkadhauge

I can see it. I don't see 40-plus, which he had two seasons ago, but if Nash is healthy, I think he can and should score at least 30 for the Rangers. He still has the size and he still knows how to use it. Nash is a threat every time he decides he wants to play inside the hash marks, in front of the net. When he plays on the inside, he can be as good as they come in the NHL because of his size and skill. He scored 42 goals two seasons ago because he played a lot on the inside. He slumped to 15 goals last season because he didn't, and because he missed 22 games with an injury. Nash is way better than how he played last season. His critics will be out in full force if he gets off to a slow start. He should be motivated based on his performance last season. Get inside, get to the front of the net, and he'll score. I think he'll do it.

Using the first 15 games as a reliable indicator, how short is Michel Therrien's leash with the Montreal Canadiens? 5-10? 4-11? What if Montreal starts 1-6? -- @Gongfu_Hockey

I want to say the leash is short, but Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been loyal to Therrien so far, maybe to a fault, so I wonder if there is even a leash on him. The media in Montreal might be calling for a change if the Canadiens get off to a slow start, but I doubt that will matter too much. Remember, owner Geoff Molson gave Bergevin carte blanche to trade P.K. Subban, a move that nearly turned that city upside down for a little while. I wonder if he would step in and tell Bergevin to make a coaching change. And if Bergevin is loyal to Therrien, I wonder if he'd make him the fall guy. I think Therrien stays on firm footing in Montreal regardless of a slow start. But I also don't think the Canadiens are going to get off to a terribly slow start with Carey Price back in net.

Video: WPG@DAL: Trouba gives the Jets a three-goal lead

What do you think happens with Jacob Trouba? Does he play left side, go back to third pair, or get traded? -- @rayguarino

I don't think a trade is an option, at least not yet. He's too good and too young for the Winnipeg Jets to give up on him because of a contract negotiation. They need to come to an agreement and get him into training camp when he's done playing for Team North America at the World Cup.

Last week, I had Trouba on the right side of the third pair, but upon talking to a few people during the World Cup, I found out that Trouba more likely is going to move to the left side to play with Dustin Byfuglien. Coach Paul Maurice tinkered with that at the end of last season, and it makes sense because they need to get Trouba into the top four with Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom and Tyler Myers. I also think the Jets need to find some power-play time for Trouba, but that's going to be difficult with Byfuglien and Enstrom, especially if they want to run two power-play units featuring one defenseman on each.

Which two teams do you have coming out of Group B? -- @jayhops74

Team Sweden and Team North America.

I think Team Sweden will frustrate Team North America enough with its discipline, structure and excellent defense to win their game Wednesday. But I also think Team Finland is going to give Team Russia fits on Thursday and find a way to win that game. I really liked the way Team Finland played against Team Sweden on Tuesday. There is a lot of pride on that team, and it will play well against Team Russia. I did not like how Team Russia played against Team North America on Monday save for that stretch of about 10 minutes in the second period, when it scored four goals. Team Russia has the ability to do that, but it'll be harder to do against a stingier Team Finland. Team North America will get through on goal differential.

How good do you think Sebastian Aho will be this season for the Carolina Hurricanes? -- @AwaitingAndrew

He'll be OK. He'll have some good moments and some bad moments. He's young (20 years old) and thin (172 pounds). He'll get pushed around a little, and it will be tough for him. I think coach Bill Peters might make him a healthy scratch a few times so he can watch from the press box. But I think it'll be a good season for him too, because it'll be a learning season with a team on the rise. Patience with Aho will be the key. Carolina has the ability to be patient.

Think the Buffalo Sabres make the playoffs this season? -- @sabrethemoment

I made this prediction last month. Yes, I think Buffalo is one of four teams from the Atlantic Division to get in. I think it'll take about 95 points, and the Sabres will be good enough to get right around that number if their goaltending holds up. They should be better up front with Jack Eichel a year older and Kyle Okposo in the mix. They have balance on defense, which will help. Robin Lehner needs to prove he's a capable No. 1 goalie. If he does, Buffalo gets in. That's my bold prediction of the season.

Will the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup before I die? -- @CFN_Intern

I don't know how old you are, but for your sake and the sake of your loved ones, I hope they do.

View More