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Rosen's mailbag - Aug. 26, 2015

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Aug. 26 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run periodically throughout the summer. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Do you think that Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist have the ability/opportunity to hit the 40-goal, 70-80-point plateau? -- @purdstheword22

It's realistic to think that one of them could do it this season, but they're going to have to shoot the puck more than they did last season. I'd want to see each of them reach 250 shots on goal, if not more. Is it realistic for them to shoot that much? Why not? Dallas Stars forwards Jamie Benn (253) and Tyler Seguin (280) each had more than 250 shots on goal last season. San Jose Sharks forwards Logan Couture (263) and Joe Pavelski (261) each had more than 260 shots. Forwards Max Pacioretty (302) and Brendan Gallagher (254) each surpassed 250 shots for the Montreal Canadiens, who got 248 from Tomas Plekanec. Zach Parise (259) and Jason Pominville (252) each had more than 250 shots for the Minnesota Wild.

Tatar had 211 shots and Nyquist had 195 last season. Each played 82 games. The Detroit Red Wings were 14th in the NHL in total shots on goal (2,597). The League average was 2,633. Nyquist and Tatar need to shoot more.

Let's do the math. Nyquist and Tatar each scored on a shade less than 14 percent of their shots last season (Nyquist, 13.8; Tatar, 13.7). That's still a somewhat high shooting percentage based on last season's League average (8.50), but it might be sustainable going forward considering how smart each player is at positioning himself for high-quality shots, how many offensive zone starts he should receive, and how much power-play ice time he gets. Now, if they each had 250 shots last season and scored at the same rate (one goal for every 7.2 shots), they each would have scored right around 35 goals. The jump to 40 is a difficult one to make, which is why it's such a benchmark number in hockey, but it's conceivable to think one of them could make it next season with more shots on goal.

Do the Los Angeles Kings have enough offense to contend for the Stanley Cup? Is the defense strong enough to get through the regular season? -- @HockeyWorld59

At this point I'd have to say "maybe" to each because of a host of question marks and concerns. I'm just not sure what to think of the Kings at this point. I want to think they'll be good enough to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is why I picked them in our 30-in-30 series, but I'm not sold on them being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender at this point. That's not to say they can't be or won't be because we know their history, but the defense looks thin on paper, even with the addition of Christian Ehrhoff and the brilliance of Drew Doughty, and they're not as deep at center as they have been in the past. They have Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, but no Jarret Stoll or Mike Richards. Andy Andreoff and Nick Shore have a lot to prove. Trevor Lewis is serviceable, but he's not going to surprise anyone.

Another big concern that I have for the Kings is how they respond to Darryl Sutter's coaching. Sutter has been great for the Kings, helping them to win the Stanley Cup twice, but his hard-driving style is one that wears on a team after a while. We saw signs of that happening last season. Are the Sutter-led Kings going in the wrong direction?

Another concern is that the Kings have a way of dominating possession but not getting enough out of it. Last season, they led the League in shot-attempts percentage (55.37) but were 10th in shots on goal per game (30.9) and 18th in goals (2.66). When you dominate possession the way the Kings did, you would want them to generate more production out of it.

What else do the Boston Bruins need in order to get back to the playoffs? Could David Pastrnak reach 50 points? Who is the backup goalie? -- @tdeon26

The Bruins created a hole for themselves by trading defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames. They need another top-pair defenseman, particularly since it's getting more and more difficult to continuously rely on Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg because of their age and the miles they have put on their bodies through their NHL careers. Maybe a prospect such as Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow or Colin Miller develops, but the Hamilton trade created a hole in the lineup that general manager Don Sweeney did not fill. On that topic, Cody Franson is still an unrestricted free agent. Hello!

Pastrnak should get a chance to win a job in the Bruins' top six this season, which means a spot next to either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci. So, yes, if he wins that top-six job, it means he should have a chance to get to 50 points this season. He had 27 points in 46 games last season. Reilly Smith had 20 goals and 51 points playing with Bergeron two seasons ago. Pastrnak is far more dynamic offensively than Smith.

Malcolm Subban is the guy Bruins fans should want as the backup goalie. He has to earn it, of course, but you want to see Subban take the next step in his career after posting a .921 save percentage in 70 American Hockey League games in the past two seasons.

With Mark Giordano signed in Calgary, do you have a guess as to what the Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan contracts will look like next year? -- @kingsmithm

I honestly hadn't given it any thought until I read your question. The good news is that Giordano might have saved the Calgary Flames $1 million or more by taking the six-year term instead of $7.5 million or more in average annual salary. But it's still hard to predict what Gaudreau or Monahan each will earn in his second NHL contract because the sample size is too small. We need to see how they play this season before we can pin numbers on them. It also depends on the Flames' way of doing business, if GM Brad Treliving believes in bridge contracts or if he's willing to go longer term on second contracts. He clearly didn't want to go the bridge route with Hamilton, who signed a six-year contract. He clearly deemed Hamilton a special player who was going to be a big part of the Flames' core for many years. It's expected that Monahan and Gaudreau will receive the same treatment, but I need to see them do it for another season, and improve on what they did last season, before I can make logical predictions on either one's next contract.

Where do you think Cody Franson ends up? Do you like Phil Kessel with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, and why? -- @AJHans19

The Franson question baffles me only because it's baffling that he's still an unrestricted free agent. He is a top-four defenseman just sitting out there, waiting for a contract. I'm not sure why a team like the Bruins or Columbus Blue Jackets haven't signed him yet. They could use him. At this point it might benefit Franson to just wait until after training camps open. However unfortunate, it's likely that there will be a significant injury to a significant defenseman during camp, and that's when Franson would regain some leverage. He doesn't have much leverage right now.

As for the Kessel-Crosby or Kessel-Malkin debate, I weighed in on it heavily on Twitter on Tuesday and with this story last month. The short of it, I think Kessel would be a better fit with Malkin, but I'm not surprised that Penguins coach Mike Johnston is going to start him with Crosby and I wouldn't be surprised if it worked with Crosby too. But in terms of styles of play, I think Kessel and Malkin would mesh better than Crosby and Malkin for the reasons outlined in my story from July 8 and on my Twitter feed from Tuesday.

Have the New York Rangers offseason moves put them in a better or worse position to win the Stanley Cup? -- @FrankNYR911

I'd say they're in the same position as they were in last season because the core is the same, minus Carl Hagelin, who was replaced by Emerson Etem. The Rangers are still elite in goal with Henrik Lundqvist. Antti Raanta is a serviceable backup. The defense is the same as it was last season, with the only change being Raphael Diaz coming in as the seventh defenseman. The top six are the same, and the pairs could be as well. The forward group is still strong. I like the addition of Jarret Stoll because the Rangers needed another center who can win faceoffs, particularly in the defensive zone. Now they have two in Dominic Moore and Stoll. It also should push Kevin Hayes to the wing, where I think he can thrive in a top-six role, likely the one vacated by Martin St. Louis. Etem has more offensive upside than Hagelin and he's also a fast skater, though not as fast as Hagelin. Look for Oscar Lindberg to push for a roster spot in training camp. The Rangers want him to make the team this season. It's time. Rangers fans should be excited about the development of Hayes, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast. Chris Kreider should push for 30 goals this season.


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