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Rosen's mailbag - Feb. 4, 2015

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

Here is the Feb. 4 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:

Evander Kane, is he on his way out of the 'Peg? -- @swandad

Evander Kane
Evander Kane
Left Wing - WPG
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 22
SOG: 126 | +/-: -1
This is obviously an interesting and timely question, but to be honest I can't say yes or no with any certainty. He was a late scratch Tuesday and it was described by Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice as a coach's decision. Kane has not been playing well of late with no points and a minus-7 rating in his past three games, but Maurice had still been using him for 20 minutes per game until scratching him Tuesday. There have been a lot of rumors about Kane being traded in the past, but they had died down. They will undoubtedly pick up now. We'll have to see where this story goes in the next day or so, but it's definitely one to watch with the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline approaching. The fact that the Jets are in the picture for the Stanley Cup Playoffs makes it even more intriguing.

If the rumors of Tyler Bozak being traded by the deadline are true, do the Maple Leafs shop Phil Kessel as well? -- @rsgnl

I don't think the Toronto Maple Leafs are necessarily shopping Kessel as much as they are willing to listen to offers on him, if there are some. I do think teams have an interest in Kessel. The Washington Capitals could use a first-line right wing. The Los Angeles Kings could use a first-line right wing. The Boston Bruins … OK, I won't go there, but they're definitely in need of a first-line right wing. My guess is a team would have to blow the Maple Leafs away with an offer to get them to trade Kessel, but he's available.

Who do you see the New York Rangers pursuing for their need at center? -- @ZNYRBOSPITIND

Let me start by saying I don't think the Rangers have to do anything. I think they're capable of competing for another trip to the Stanley Cup Final the way they are currently built, as long as they're healthy. But if they can get a depth center so they could move Kevin Hayes to the wing it would be a move worth making.

Antoine Vermette is the attractive option, but Arizona Coyotes general manager Don Maloney will likely have multiple offers for Vermette. Maloney is a former Ranger and worked with Glen Sather, but I don't see him doing his old team any favors. If they come up with the best offer they'll be able to get Vermette. Bozak or Mike Santorelli from the Maple Leafs would also be attractive options. Bozak would probably be a better player in a third-line role with the Rangers than he is in a first-line role with the Maple Leafs. He or Santorelli would add a jolt of offense to the Rangers bottom six.

Who wins the Metropolitan Division in your opinion, and who finishes higher, the Rangers or the Islanders? -- @dese44

Until Kyle Okposo got hurt I was all-in on the New York Islanders winning the division. Without him they're already showing cracks. While they still have the lead, I'm not sure they'll be able to hold on to it. So with their games in hand, with Rick Nash chasing the Rocket Richard Trophy and perhaps the Hart Trophy, the fact that they have Henrik Lundqvist, and a healthy lineup (at least right now), I'd say the Rangers are my favorite to win the division. So, yes, since I'm answering the question today I do think the Rangers will finish ahead of the Islanders. I reserve the right to change my opinion on this because, well, nobody can stop me. But no, that doesn't mean I think the Rangers are better than the Islanders when the two teams are at full strength. The Islanders have proven that when healthy they are the best team in New York, and arguably the Eastern Conference. Okposo's injury comes at a bad time, and clearly his value to the team is high.

Does the Ducks' ridiculous record in one-goal games say good or bad things about them and their position atop the Pacific Division? -- @BigLoudMoore

I've been asking myself this question for a month. I'm leaning toward thinking their 23-0-6 record in one-goal games means they're not quite as good as their record indicates. Judging by their stats, I can't help but think it's an indication that they're a slightly better-than-average team that has a knack for making one more play than the opponent. I wonder if they're in danger of running out of luck and falling back to the pack, because on the whole the Anaheim Ducks are not an elite team by statistical measurements. They're 12th in goals-for (2.84 per game), 17th in goals-against (2.63 per game), 15th in power play (18.2 percent) and 16th in penalty kill (81.7 percent). Their fancy stats are average too; they're 15th in even-strength Corsi-for (51.2 percent) and 11th in even-strength Fenwick-for (51.8 percent), according to War-on-ice.com.

The stats, though, don't always tell the true story of a team. Last season the New Jersey Devils had the NHL's No. 1-ranked penalty kill, ninth-best power play, and they were sixth in goals-against -- they missed the playoffs because they were 0-13 in the shootout.

What are your thoughts on the Kings recent road struggles? -- @e_hodgens

Their road struggles (5-11-6 away from Staples Center) speaks to bigger picture problems going on with the Los Angeles Kings right now that I'll actually be breaking down in a story that is set to run Thursday. At the risk of scooping myself, I'll just say the Kings don't have the same drive as they have had in the past. They are putting up little resistance and aren't generating any pressure. They are trailing in games too early and too often. They are forced to chase, and their style is not conducive to chasing; it's conducive to playing with the lead and grinding away wins. But read the story I wrote. It'll be up Thursday. Plenty more in there.

Is the Tampa Bay backup goaltender situation one that should be solved through a call-up or outside acquisition? -- DustinKlavon07

For now it can be solved with Andrei Vasilevskiy. In fact, barring an injury to Ben Bishop, the Tampa Bay Lightning should use this month to gauge what they have in Vasilevskiy. It's a good test for the 20-year-old. They can play him a few times to see how he responds. If he responds favorably they might not need to do anything. If he struggles there are goalies on the market that would be available, including Jhonas Enroth and Michael Neuvirth from the Buffalo Sabres and Viktor Fasth from the Edmonton Oilers. Enroth, Neuvirth and Fasth have contracts that will expire at the end of the season. But for now the Lightning should get Vasilevskiy some playing time. He responded well when he was called up in December when Bishop was injured.

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