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Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 10, 2014

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Dec. 10 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Any more news out of Arizona on the trade front? -- @KylePineda2

All quiet for now as far as I can tell, but clearly at this point in the season general manager Don Maloney is in full evaluation mode, trying to identify who should stay, who could go and what he could get back in return. The issue is the Coyotes' sale to potential majority owner Andrew Barroway. That might be holding things up a bit in Arizona. Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this week that the sale "is still tracking" but isn't done yet. If and when that becomes official the Coyotes could hit the market in a big way, perhaps to the point where they sell assets to try to get into the race for top 2015 NHL Draft prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

Is there cause for concern with the Los Angeles Kings and their road record? -- @e_hodgens

I wouldn't be concerned about the Kings, their road record (3-5-4), or anything just yet. But let me stress just yet. They've earned the benefit of the doubt, and as long as they're healthy I expect the Kings to be in position at the end of the regular season to make another run at the Stanley Cup. But they do need to be careful here. They are trailing in the playoff race, and making up points in the Western Conference is not easy. I thought they needed to beat the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday if for no other reason than to get off to a good start on their five-game road trip. They lost 1-0.

Anze Kopitar has to start producing more and Marian Gaborik needs to stay healthy. Jeff Carter has no points in the past six games and two goals in the past 20. That has to change. Darryl Sutter re-united "That 70s Line" in Buffalo, but Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson combined for six shots on goal. They need to do more to stay together.

Another difference with the Kings is they don't have defenseman Slava Voynov (indefinite suspension), but general manager Dean Lombardi will not stand pat if he's not happy with the results for too long.

Will Bo Horvat win the Calder Trophy? Has he helped the Canucks? -- @Bolieve53

Shot in the dark here, but I'm going to assume you're a Bo Horvat fan. Let's call it an educated assumption based on your Twitter handle and avatar. You do say you're part of "Team Bo Horvat." Good for Horvat for having a team of followers.

As for winning the Calder Trophy, unless Filip Forsberg, Aaron Ekblad and several others dramatically fall off or get hurt, I don't see how Horvat can challenge for the rookie of the year trophy. He has five points in 16 games. He has a future for sure, but he's not rookie of the year material. He's not getting enough of an opportunity with the Canucks now to produce enough to join the race, but he's developing and he's learning alongside some great players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin. There's a lot he can and should gain from that.

Most think the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames are overachieving. Give some reasons why they are for real. -- @goverjkg

I don't think the Predators are overachieving. The Flames certainly are right now.

Nashville is for real because of goaltender Pekka Rinne and the defense in front of him. Rinne is showing once again how valuable it is to have an elite goalie. If he were healthy for more than 24 games last season the Predators likely would have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs; instead they missed by three points. Rinne also is lucky that he gets to play behind such a strong defense, including Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Anton Volchenkov. They control the game for Nashville and that's not changing any time soon.

Calgary is overachieving because it's hard to imagine the offense it has gotten from its defense is sustainable. Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell are defending far more than they're attacking. Eventually they're going to get burned. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are a legitimate top pair, but it's hard to imagine they're going to stay at a near point-per-game pace as a pair.

That said, I do think the Flames are good enough to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of how relentless they are on the puck and the quality of goaltending they can get from Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo. Even if Giordano and Brodie regress, they still will be among the best defense pairs in the League. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Josh Jooris have provided young legs, speed and lots of energy to the Flames' group of forwards. That won't change.

What are the chances of Jonathan Drouin, Bo Horvat and Curtis Lazar being loaned to Team Canada? -- @baskincase

There's a chance that all three go, or at least one or two of the three of them, but I typically am not a fan of NHL teams loaning players to play in the World Junior Championship. My belief is players get way more out of practicing and playing in the NHL than they can in a junior tournament. They've already proven themselves at the junior level. They need to establish themselves in the NHL, even if it means being an occasional healthy scratch.

In the case of all three of these players they are practicing, playing and developing alongside veterans who are showing them the way. I know the tournament isn't long (Dec. 26-Jan. 5), but why send them to a tournament where the skill level is far below what they face on a daily basis in the NHL. They are in the NHL for a reason. Keep them here and let them develop. Their junior careers should be over.

What exactly can Ron Francis do to fix the Carolina Hurricanes and break their postseason drought? -- @The_Hockey_Prof

They should seriously explore the idea of trading Eric Staal if they haven't already. And I have heard that they have been listening and monitoring since the summer, but that doesn't come with confirmation from the Hurricanes.

If negotiated properly, trading Staal could bring the Hurricanes a strong haul, likely a mix of NHL-ready players, prospects and/or high draft picks. They might be able to get a first-round draft pick, but the team acquiring him likely would be in the mix for a playoff spot, so it wouldn't be a high first-round pick. I think Staal could bring back a stronger return to Carolina than the Ottawa Senators got for Jason Spezza. At the very least the Hurricanes have to identify the fact that they have some good pieces to build around, but they need more. Staal could bring them more.

Staal has one more season left after this one on a contract that pays him $8.25 million per season. He's a wonderful player and loves playing in Carolina, but he's 30 years old and I have to believe he's had enough injury scares of late to realize that several more seasons of struggling, of rebuilding, is not what he wants to go through.

What do you think about the idea to move Kris Letang into a top-six forward position? The Penguins have young, NHL-ready defensemen. -- @Idlematt

I have been saying for a while that I think Letang could make a good forward. At times he can be a defensive liability but he has the skillset that would lend itself well to playing up front. So I would not be opposed to the Penguins at least experimenting with it. He can skate. He can move the puck. He can get to the net. He can do all the things that top-six forwards need to be able to do. I'm not opposed to it.


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