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Rosen's mailbag - Dec. 24, 2014

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Dec. 24 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:

Will my #SJSharks finally win a significant playoff series? -- @Doug_WilsonGM

Well, this is on you Doug. This is your team. This is your roster. You put it together…

OK, I know you're just a parody account of San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, but this is on him anyway because this is his team, his roster, all of his players. To answer your question, I think the Sharks have won a few significant series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did get to the Western Conference Final twice. That's significant. But for this team with this collection of talent, obviously just getting to the Western Conference Final twice is not good enough. And not getting back there since 2011 definitely is not good enough. The West is tough, but the Sharks should have done more with their talent by now. I'm not breaking any ground by saying that.

With that said, I don't think this is the season the Sharks win a significant playoff series. They look better now than they did early in the season, but I need to see them play consistent for 40-50 games before I buy in. And even then they still have to prove it in the playoffs. I'm leery about their goaltending and their young players. They talk about rebuilding on the fly, and to do that you have to go through some growing pains with your young players. It's hard to say that they're ready to beat teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues or even the Anaheim Ducks in the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are certainly going to need to shed a player to be cap compliant. Who do you think they should trade? -- @MSchael17

They're cap compliant now for this season. Why would they have to shed anyone? They have 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies. They don't have to trade anyone. If they want to add a significant piece then yes, they will have to shed a player to be cap compliant. But as of right now they're good. They got there at the start of the season by trading Nick Leddy.

But if you're talking about next season, when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will start taking up a combined $21 million on the cap and Brandon Saad will be due a new contract, the Blackhawks will have to make some changes to the roster. That's the nature of the business when you employ two of the best players in the world in their primes; you've got to pay them.

Any number of players could be available in a trade, and they're big names too. I'm talking about Patrick Sharp ($5.9 million), Brent Seabrook ($5.8 million) and Bryan Bickell ($4 million). Chicago wouldn't have to trade all three, and potentially could keep all of them, but GM Stan Bowman would have to get very creative. It also likely would spell the end of Johnny Oduya and Brad Richards in Chicago. Both can become unrestricted free agents after the season.

I wouldn't trade anybody off the current roster to worry about next season because the Blackhawks can win the Stanley Cup this season. But the summer of 2015 will be quite interesting for Bowman. Good thing he's earned the benefit of the doubt. Blackhawks fans should trust him. He's done this before, and done it successfully.

Where will Keith Yandle be playing by next spring? -- @SDFit87

I don't think it'll be in the desert. Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney should be able to get a pretty good haul for Yandle considering he's not a rental player, with one year remaining on his contract with a $5.25 million salary-cap charge after this season. The Coyotes need to rebuild and Yandle is the centerpiece for it, in my opinion.

There are a number of teams that could use a player like Yandle. I'm looking at the Detroit Red Wings first. They need a top-four defenseman in the worst way. They need a puck mover. Yandle isn't the righty that they need, but that shouldn't stop general manager Ken Holland.

The Red Wings have a lot of young, tradable players such as Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko and Anthony Mantha. They'd probably prefer to keep Mantha, but if they can get someone like Yandle it has to be a consideration.

The Dallas Stars need a veteran who can play 25 minutes per game on their back end. Yandle isn't the heavy body they need, but imagine him with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn; that would be something special to watch. The Stars have young defensemen John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka and they could put one of them in a package for Yandle. And Dallas has a lot of cap room coming its way, giving general manager Jim Nill all kinds of flexibility.

The Philadelphia Flyers need a player like Yandle in the worst way, though I'm not sure how they would work it with their cap situation. The New Jersey Devils are another team that has capable young defensemen and a pair of veterans in Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador who could be coming off the books. Don't count them out.

Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton, Anaheim … I could keep going here, but I'll stop now. I think you get the point.

Are the Winnipeg Jets for real? -- @RomeoBravo78

Good question. I think it's way too early to tell. I need to see if the Jets are still relevant in the Western Conference playoff race in late February. I need to see if general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff can help them out if they are by adding before the NHL Trade Deadline. I need to see how players such as Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele and Ondrej Pavelec respond if they are relevant in the last month of the season. I need to see Jacob Trouba in their lineup, but that won't happen again until February. Suffice it to say, I still need to see a lot.

All that said, the Jets have established a strong defensive presence and that's a good foundation for becoming consistent. Where they are now is not an accident because coach Paul Maurice knew he had to hone in on some defensive principles with the hope that the offense would build off of that. They've gotten strong goaltending. Their penalty kill is good. They are not sitting back. They have the puck more often than not. They're good on the road. These are good signs, but it's too early to tell if they're for real. I still need to see more. They haven't earned the benefit of the doubt.

Is Tyler Johnson's point-per-game pace sustainable? -- @DustinKlavon07

Maybe not exactly at a point-per-game (he has 37 points in 35 games), but Johnson is legit and there are enough offensive players on the Lightning that will support him to help him stay at or near this point-per-game pace. With all due respect to Steven Stamkos, the line with Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov has been Tampa Bay's best this season. It's dynamic, and Palat helps Johnson handle his responsibilities in the defensive zone as well. But most importantly those three possess the puck and create chances. Johnson has been on a tear of late with 16 points in his past 13 games. It's unlikely he stays that hot but he should continue to produce.

What team, if any, currently not holding a playoff spot will make the playoffs? -- @zschneido

That's easy -- the Boston Bruins, who are one point out of the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot at the holiday break. I can't for the life of me buy into the Toronto Maple Leafs right now, not with the number of shots they allow and the unbelievable amount that they rely on their goaltending and scoring. Sure they can score and yes they have good goaltending, but relying on scoring three-plus goals per game and giving up two or less despite allowing nearly 35 shots per game is not a formula for success come February, March and April. The Bruins are not as good as they have been in the past, and I think they're at best a wild-card team this season, but I think they'll still get in.

How do you think EPIX handled Clint Reif's death within the Winter Classic storyline? -- @ajshanus

With class, dignity, and respect to the Reif family, the Blackhawks and training staff members everywhere. It's a tragic story, but EPIX did not exploit it, nor did they attempt to dramatize an already dramatic and heart-wrenching situation. They did a fine job, in my opinion.


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