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Rosen's mailbag - Feb. 18, 2015

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Feb. 18 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:

David Poile is all in on the Nashville Predators for a deep postseason run, but I don't see them getting past the Chicago Blackhawks. Thoughts? -- @r0bertwaters

If Nashville and Chicago met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs today I would still pick the Blackhawks to win the series, likely in seven games, but I'm not nearly as sure of that as I was earlier this season. I'm picking the Blackhawks because of experience and their ability to rise up in significant moments, but the Predators are good. Man, the Predators are very good, and they will be significantly better with Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. Franson will help them move the puck and play with speed. Santorelli will chip in offensively in a bottom-six depth role. Nashville has scoring options throughout its lineup, and it has arguably the best healthy goalie in the NHL today, though the Montreal Canadiens and their fans can state a great case for their guy.

There are two things about the Blackhawks that would concern me if I was a fan of theirs:

1) Lack of depth on defense

2) Power play

General manager Stan Bowman has to figure out a way to add to the Blackhawks back end before the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline on March 2 at 3 p.m. ET. The Blackhawks don't need anyone spectacular, but they need a No. 5 or No. 6 defenseman who can be trusted to play 16-18 minutes. They are not deep at this position. It needs to be addressed.

For some reason the Blackhawks power play is only average. I don't get it. How can it be average when they run stars out there like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith? It's too cute, too fancy. Fancy doesn't work. The Blackhawks need to make it simple: pass, shoot, crash the net, score. The power play might be the difference in a Game 7 win against the Predators, if the two should meet in the playoffs.

Do you think Lou Lamoriello's job with the New Jersey Devils is in jeopardy? -- @mj21murphy

I don't, not yet at least. As far as anyone can tell Lamoriello still has the trust of ownership, but this will be an important offseason for him. He needs to hire a coach and he'll have to rebuild a good portion of the roster because a number of veteran players won't or at least shouldn't be returning, including Martin Havlat, Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Jordin Tootoo, Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky and Peter Harrold. There will be a lot of roster space here for Lamoriello to work with, but the Devils don't have many promising forward prospects and his recent track record in the free-agent market is concerning.

Which team do you think will be the busiest between now and the trade deadline? -- @Paulnyr

Keith Yandle
Keith Yandle
Defense - ARI
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 36 | PTS: 40
SOG: 168 | +/-: -27
If you're interested in the seller's market, watch the Arizona Coyotes. General manager Don Maloney has not hid his interest to rebuild and get younger, but he hasn't made any moves yet. Look for that to change in the coming days as the deadline nears and more teams become desperate for help and perhaps willing to pay a steeper price for players like center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Zbynek Michalek. Defenseman Keith Yandle is the big catch from Arizona, but Maloney has some leverage considering he's signed through next season. Maloney won't feel obligated to trade Yandle in order to get something for him.

Also watch the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins.

Edmonton could soon be parting with defenseman Jeff Petry, who has a right-handed shot that is a major commodity. The Oilers also could be thinking of a bigger move involving forward Jordan Eberle.

The Bruins could be thinking of trading goalie prospect Malcolm Subban ahead of the deadline. He's a valuable commodity, but they already have Tuukka Rask. If Subban goes, the Bruins better get a right wing that can play in their top-six right now. Hey, Eberle would fit perfectly. Just saying.

And, of course, everyone will be watching the Toronto Maple Leafs because reportedly they are going to get rid of everyone except defenseman Morgan Reilly. Yes, that was sarcasm; no, it's not ridiculous to think that everyone but Reilly is available.

What are you hearing about the Columbus Blue Jackets and possible trade deadline activity? -- @GoshKevin

I don't see the Blue Jackets doing much except maybe trading pending UFAs like Mark Letestu and Jordan Leopold provided they don't have interest in re-signing those guys. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen told earlier this week that the one thing he wants to see before the end of this season is a healthy team. The Blue Jackets have been besieged by injuries and that, more than anything, is the biggest reason why they're 11 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. When healthy they should have a tough team to play against, with Sergei Bobrovsky and Ryan Johansen providing the star power. They could use more star power, but overall they have a lot of good things going for them and it's not a situation where they need to consider anything drastic that could jeopardize their future just because they're not in the race now.

In your opinion, do the San Jose Sharks have any hope of making the playoffs? I'm going with no. -- @hannza

Whew, you're tough. They are in a playoff spot today, and that's despite losing seven of nine games this month and giving up four or more goals in five of their past six games. I'm still inclined to wait to see how the Sharks respond in the aftermath of playing the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium. They get four days off to recharge after that game and follow it up by playing seven of their next eight games at home.

But, and you had to know a but was coming, I have been questioning the Sharks since the preseason, when I predicted they wouldn't make the playoffs. A lot of people laughed at me for that one, but I didn't believe that they would be consistent enough and deep enough with good enough goaltending to get there. They might wind up getting to the playoffs, but all of my concerns have been proved to be legitimate. They are not consistent enough. They aren't deep enough. Their goaltending hasn't been good enough. They have been, as Todd McLellan told me earlier this week, "all over the map too much."

Would Scott Gomez be a cheap fit for the New York Rangers' fourth line? He can play penalty kill and power play and is a similar player to Dominic Moore. -- @JesseNulty

For starters, Gomez is not similar to Moore. Gomez is a skater and a distributor and a point producer; Moore is a smart, grinding center who plays excellent defensively and wins important faceoffs. I don't see similarities between them.

Secondly, Lamoriello has never made a trade with the Rangers. I'd be shocked if that changed with Gomez, a player he respects and who stayed in shape and bided his time this season until there was an opportunity for Lamoriello to sign him. There is a mutual respect there that leads me to believe Lamoriello won't trade Gomez to anyone, let alone across the river.

The Rangers could use a veteran depth center, particularly because I think Kevin Hayes might need to be sheltered on the wing in his first postseason, but Gomez is not the answer. The Rangers need a bigger center who can win faceoffs and can play against top lines when the matchups aren't favorable on the road.

Who stays on the New York Islanders top line once Kyle Okposo comes back, Anders Lee or Josh Bailey? -- @IanBirny

If Lee stays hot it's got to be him. He's been great on the left wing next to John Tavares. He goes to the net, takes up space, creates opportunities off of rebounds, etc. If he cools I'd expect coach Jack Capuano to go back with Bailey, Tavares and Okposo. Bailey, though, has proven he can play down the lineup and still be the same player. He might not put up the same points if he moves away from Tavares, but he plays a smart, sound, skilled game that could work in any position on any of the Islanders top three lines. He would be fine with Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome or with Brock Nelson and Nikolay Kulemin. The other question is, if everyone is healthy, is Mikhail Grabovski or Michael Grabner the odd man out? I guess one of them could move to the fourth line, but I really like it when Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas are together. Grabovski or Nelson could play center on that line though.


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