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Rosen's mailbag - Jan. 7, 2015

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

Here is the Jan. 7 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:

Do the New York Islanders need to acquire a defenseman and/or forward before the deadline? -- @CVancheri

I'm not sure they NEED to acquire anybody, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if general manager Garth Snow was active before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 2. Snow has obviously shown he isn't afraid to make a move to improve his team. That's the benefit of having a lot of assets in either draft picks or prospects.

If Snow is looking to make another splash, I'd look for a left wing to play on the top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. Easier said than done, though, and I wouldn't pay a premium price for it. Right now a premium price for a top-six wing is a first-round pick plus a player. The bar was set when the Pittsburgh Penguins anted that up to acquire David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers.

Snow might also look to acquire a depth defenseman, a veteran who could play on the third pair, maybe help out on the penalty kill, which hasn't been good.

Who do you think the Minnesota Wild will go after for a goalie after this year? Big names out there in free agency? I want to have Alex Stalock. -- @JCZERN

I'm not sure they'll go after anyone. Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom are signed through next season. Unless they trade Kuemper (Backstrom is not tradable with a $3.4 million salary-cap charge), they might have to go the same route. Kuemper is certainly a tradable commodity, but the potential free-agent goaltending market isn't all that remarkable. We're talking about Antti Niemi, Viktor Fasth, Karri Ramo, Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth. It's not terrible, but is it worth trading a 24-year-old goalie in Kuemper to make room for one of them? I'm not so sure.

I also think it's too early to determine Kuemper is a bust or ready to be a No. 1. He is still being evaluated. Has he struggled of late? Yes. But he's still young and he's played 60 games. I don't think you can fully evaluate a goalie until he plays at least 100 games. That gives you a better gauge of who he is, and if he can be a No. 1.

In addition, I don't see a reason why the San Jose Sharks would trade Stalock. He is signed through next season at a reasonable $1.6 million cap charge.

Do you think Teuvo Teravainen can have a lasting impact on the Blackhawks this season during a playoff run? -- @BenSendsu

Nope, and he shouldn't be asked to have a big impact on the Blackhawks this season. Down the road? Yes. This season? No. That's why the Blackhawks have Brad Richards on a one-year, $2 million contract. He's been excellent in his role, and the fact he has developed chemistry with Patrick Kane is huge. Now Joel Quenneville doesn't feel the pressure to play Kane with Jonathan Toews to get the best out of Kane. He is getting the best out of Kane with him on a line with Richards. The reason Teravainen is with the Blackhawks now is because Kris Versteeg got hurt, but Versteeg will return in about a month and that should be when Teravainen goes back to the American Hockey League. Getting some seasoning in the AHL will make him a better player for Chicago next season.

What needs to fall in place for the St. Louis Blues to finally get Lord Stanley's elusive piece of hardware? -- @SIMPDogMilionar

Everything. How about that for an answer. Everything has to fall into place for any team to win the Stanley Cup in any season. For the Blues, that means quality goaltending, top-six forwards who consistently generate quality scoring chances and hold the puck in the offensive zone, and depth scoring. I'm not mentioning their defensemen because I think that group is just fine.

St. Louis lost to the Blackhawks last season because it never got a timely save from Ryan Miller and it didn't score enough. The Blues scored eight goals in winning Games 1 and 2; they scored six goals in losing Games 3, 4, 5 and 6. They lost to the Los Angeles Kings in 2013 for similar reasons; they couldn't score. St. Louis had 10 goals in the six-game series. The Kings held them to six goals in a four-game sweep in 2012.

I like the Blues lineup this season better than I have in recent years because of the emergence of Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, and the addition of Jori Lehtera. They need two scoring lines that can beat you in a multitude of ways, forcing the opposing coach in a playoff series to pick his poison. If they can get that from Tarasenko, Schwartz and Lehtera along with David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen, they'll be dangerous. But again, they need the goaltending too. I can't tell you right now who will start in goal for the Blues in the first game of the playoffs. Nobody can.

Who gets Ryan O'Reilly? -- @jtthenutt

So you're assuming he is going to get traded. I think that's a good assumption. I don't think the Colorado Avalanche have any interest in paying him $6.2 million next season and taking up $6 million on their cap. I'm not sure he'll get traded this season, because more options could open up for Joe Sakic and the Avalanche after the season. But I agree, I think he will get traded.

There are a lot of teams that could use a player like O'Reilly, who could be a top-six winger or center. The New Jersey Devils are a perfect fit, and they have some promising young defensemen that could entice the Avalanche. The Ottawa Senators are another team that come to mind when thinking of O'Reilly, but are they willing to pay him $6 million? He'd become their second highest paid forward behind Bobby Ryan.

Earlier this season I was telling people that I thought Mike Green and a mid-round draft pick for Ryan O'Reilly would make sense for both the Avalanche and the Washington Capitals, but I don't think that's the case anymore. I think Green is too valuable to the Capitals right now and I wouldn't be surprised if they ride him out this season and let him walk in free agency. Washington is coming on and has a chance to make a run in a wide-open Eastern Conference. O'Reilly could help the Capitals, but Green is more valuable at this point.

What kind of moves might Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis make prior to the trade deadline? -- @bjaywhittington

If anything he should trade players, pending unrestricted free agents in particular, in order to get draft picks and/or prospects. If he wants to make a big splash in that department he'll try to trade Eric Staal. I've mentioned in this space before that trading Staal should at least be a consideration, particularly if the Hurricanes are going into a deep rebuild. This season has become all about the 2015 NHL Draft. The Hurricanes have a chance to get a potential franchise-changing player in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. They're not going to make the playoffs, so it would be smart for Francis to try to get what he can for players like Tim Gleason, Jiri Tlusty, Jay McClement and even Andrej Sekera, though re-signing Sekera wouldn't be a bad idea if he's willing to stay. Trading Cam Ward, who carries a $6.8 million cap charge into next season, could be difficult, but should be explored as well.

Who are the top college UFAs this season? -- @arwisneski

Full disclosure: I don't follow college hockey closely enough to answer this question without seeking assistance. So I sought assistance from Nate Ewell, the Deputy Executive Director at College Hockey, Inc.

Ewell, the former vice president of communications for the Capitals, said there isn't a consensus No. 1 guy this season like there was last season with Christian Folin (UMass-Lowell) and in 2013 with Danny DeKeyser (Western Michigan to the Red Wings).

However, here are three names to keep in mind:

Kenney Morrison, Western Michigan: Western Michigan coach Andy Murray is good at developing NHL players having coached in the NHL. Morrison has good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and Ewell said he has a booming shot. He has 12 points in 18 games this season.

Austin Czarnik, Miami of Ohio: He's small (5-foot-9, 160 pounds), but dynamic offensively. He recently passed Eichel for the national lead in assists. He has 21 in 20 games; Eichel has 19 in 16 games.

Matt O'Connor, Boston University: He's a 6-foot-6 junior goalie who is benefitting from playing on the same team as Eichel. Scouts are getting a good look at O'Connor because they're coming to watch Eichel. O'Connor has a .939 save percentage and 1.76 goals-against average in 17 appearances, including 14 starts, this season.

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