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Rosen's mailbag - Feb. 11, 2015

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

Here is the Feb. 11 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:

What order will the top four teams in the Metropolitan Division finish? -- @npv708

Time for me to flip-flop yet again. Last week in this space I said the Rangers would win the Metropolitan Division. Of course, that was before we knew about Henrik Lundqvist's vascular injury. I can't fathom any way that Lundqvist returns before the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline. In fact, I wonder if he'll be back before April. Cam Talbot is a quality NHL backup, but he's not Lundqvist. So it's time for me to change my tune again.

1. New York Islanders

2. Washington Capitals

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

4. New York Rangers

Here's why I went with that order:

The Islanders have the easiest strength of schedule left with 17 home games and 11 road games. They are 18-6-0 at home. Of their remaining 28 games, 16 are against teams that wouldn't be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the season ended today.

The Capitals need to get through the four-game road trip they start Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks. If they even get four points they'll stay in the hunt with 14 of their final 24 games at home, including nine of 14 in March.

The Rangers and Penguins play more road games than home games the rest of the way, but Pittsburgh's strength of schedule is easier with 17 of its final 29 games against teams that are out of a playoff position today. Granted, two of those games are against the Philadelphia Flyers, who have been notoriously tough on the Penguins, but Lundqvist's injury has knocked the Rangers down a few pegs and that's all it will take to drop to fourth in this division.

If you're a contending team and you're interested in Evander Kane, would you trade for him at the deadline? -- @Stars_AndSticks

Evander Kane
Evander Kane
Left Wing - WPG
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 22
SOG: 126 | +/-: -1
Yes, but only if you can make the trade without losing somebody of importance off of your current roster. If you think that Kane will be traded before the trade deadline and you want in on that action then you have to act now. But don't ruin what you have going for you just to make it happen. That's the key here. Perhaps there would also be a way to convince Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Chevyldayoff to wait to trade him because your offer will improve after the season is over. I actually think it benefits Chevyldayoff to wait anyway because offers might improve after the deadline. Kane is not going to help a contending team now, so he won't be getting any calls from desperate GMs. I think he should wait.

If the Detroit Red Wings keep winning but are ousted in the first round, does Mike Babcock stay or go? Second? Third? Same question -- @DougAnderson9

I don't think the decision will come down to how the Red Wings do in the playoffs unless they are either quickly knocked out in the first round or they make it to the Stanley Cup Final. I wouldn't be shocked to see them in the Final because I agree with what Babcock said here, that the Red Wings are getting better and better. Win or lose, if the Red Wings get to the Final, Babcock might feel a greater pull to stay. If they're knocked out early it might make Babcock question if he can win with this team. If he doesn't think he can he'll leave. If they get knocked out in the second or third round, I don't think that question comes into play. The argument can be made Detroit improved from last season and is only getting better.

But the biggest two things that this will come down to are money and power, each of which Babcock wants and deserves. I think he's the best coach in the League, and I think he'll become the highest paid coach in the NHL if he stays in Detroit or goes elsewhere. I've also heard that he wants to have a bigger say in personnel matters, maybe a title to go with it in the way that Patrick Roy has with the Colorado Avalanche as coach and vice president of hockey operations.

So here it is: If Detroit makes it out of the first round and is willing to give Babcock more power along with making him the highest paid coach in the NHL I think he stays. It's not too much to ask considering Babcock's resume and the Red Wings' talent.

Kind of hoping the Florida Panthers pull through and secure a playoff berth. Any chance they actually do it? -- @MSchae17

There's a chance, but I don't think it's going to happen, not this season anyway. The Panthers are a team on the rise and backed by quality goaltending from Roberto Luongo, but I don't think they're quite ready for the big time yet. It'll come, though. There are a lot of reasons to believe the team is finally heading in a positive direction.

They have a great stable of quality young players, including a couple future stars in Nick Bjugstad, Aaron Ekblad and maybe Aleksander Barkov. Jonathan Huberdeau has regressed a little, but he's talented enough to get it back and be the scorer that the Panthers need him to be. Vincent Trocheck might have a bright future. I like what I've seen from Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen, three players general manager Dale Tallon knew well from his days with the Chicago Blackhawks. Erik Gudbranson, still only 23, seems to have found his niche as a shutdown defenseman.

The Panthers also have championship veteran leaders in Willie Mitchell, Dave Bolland, Brian Campbell and Shawn Thornton. These guys have won the Stanley Cup (Mitchell and Bolland have won it twice). You need guys like that around to lead the young players.

They're going in a good direction and they're certainly in the thick of the race this season, but I think it's more realistic to say wait until next season when talking about the Panthers.

Does the NHL track percentage of shots attempted that miss the net? I would be money that the Blackhawks lead the league in this? -- @Gus_Savage

Don't bet. You'll lose.

It took me five minutes on Tuesday to calculate five teams that miss the net on a greater percentage of their shot attempts than the Blackhawks. I didn't continue calculating beyond that because I think five sufficiently proves that you would lose your bet.

The Blackhawks miss the net on 19.8 percent of their total shot attempts (630 of 3,173). The Los Angeles Kings (24.1 percent), Dallas Stars (23.2 percent entering play Tuesday), Anaheim Ducks (23.1 percent entering play Tuesday), San Jose Sharks (22.3 percent) and New York Islanders (20.9 percent entering play Tuesday) all miss the net more often than the Blackhawks. There are likely more, but you get the point.

Chicago was 15th in the NHL in missed shot attempts (630) and first in shots on goal (1,867).

What are the Rangers' trade options on March 2? -- @YJZimberg

This depends on how the goaltending situation shakes out. Everyone around the Rangers is saying Talbot will be fine, but there's no basis for saying that other than he's been good in a backup role. But so far in four starts as the No. 1 (small sample size, I know), Talbot is 2-1-1 with a 3.01 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. Those numbers have to improve, particularly because right now there is no room for error without a proven backup behind him while Lundqvist is out. The Rangers need a third-line center that can win faceoffs and loosen some of Derek Stepan's penalty-killing responsibilities (Antoine Vermette? Martin Hanzal?), but they might have to adjust and go after another goalie depending on Lundqvist's prognosis and Talbot's continued play.

If they can get a third-line center they'll be able to move Kevin Hayes to the wing and scratch Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak (if neither is moved in a trade) once Jesper Fast gets healthy. It would give them a bottom-six forward group that features a new center, Hayes, Carl Hagelin, Fast, Dominic Moore and J.T. Miller. Tack that on to a top-six with Stepan, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello and the Rangers would be a tough out in the playoffs, provided Lundqvist returns.

Who is one guy you see the Nashville Predators acquiring at the deadline that helps them become contenders? -- @JeremyR86

Cody Franson from the Toronto Maple Leafs would be a perfect fit. I'm not alone in thinking this. I'm certainly not the first to throw Franson's name out as someone the Predators could and should be interested in. But he's the right guy.

The Predators are already strong defensively, but Franson would bolster their depth and give them another puck mover on the back end. He would make them a better team by making their defense better. The Predators would be a tough team to hem in with Franson joining the likes of Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Seth Jones and Mattias Ekholm. Anton Volchenkov would move to the No. 7 spot, but coach Peter Laviolette could use him when he felt the team needed more bite on the back end. Franson likely wouldn't cost too much either considering he's expected to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and the Toronto Maple Leafs haven't shown much interest in the past about giving him a contract he wants.

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