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Rosen's mailbag - Oct. 8, 2014

by Dan Rosen

Here is the Oct. 8 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:

The New Jersey Devils appear to have four young defensemen and three veterans in their top seven. How do you see the playing time being split up? Is Eric Gelinas most likely to sit? Peter DeBoer seems to favor Jon Merrill and Damon Severson might be the best. -- @MattSuszko

First off, this should be an exciting time for Devils fans because their defense is loaded with potential. I would not be surprised if the three veterans -- Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky -- paired with three young players. I'm not 100-percent certain of DeBoer's affinity for having three lefty-righty pairs, but it could work as the Devils will have four lefties and three righties. In this equation, it's possible that Gelinas sits as the fourth lefty. It won't be Greene, Salvador or Merrill. That would put Severson in the opening-night lineup. But that's just my theory.

Do you think the NHL banning the spin-o-rama in the shootout is fair? -- @NimerHawks

The spin-o-rama always bothered me, so yes I think banning it is fair. The rule is to have continuous motion and the puck can't stop. More often than not the spin-o-rama violated those principles and put the officials in a precarious position. I also don't find it particularly exciting. In fact, I think it slows the shootout down. A player skates in with speed, basically comes to a stop, spins around and tries to score that way. I understand some people thought it had entertainment value. I never did. I thought it was odd and it violated the rules, not to mention it was completely unfair to the goalie. It created a greater chance for goalie interference. I'm glad it's gone.

Do you think the Nick Leddy trade to the New York Islanders was a smart one for the Chicago Blackhawks? Young, upcoming defenseman with lots of upside. -- @MSchae17

It was not ideal for the Blackhawks but they were in a position where they had to do something and clearing Leddy's $2.7 million salary-cap charge made them cap compliant to start the season. It was done out of necessity. I looked at Leddy and Johnny Oduya as the Blackhawks' most tradable commodities, but Leddy was a nudge ahead because of his salary, age (23) and, as you referred to, his upside. He is a slick puck-mover who has excellent offensive instincts, but he needs to develop his defensive game. Let's not forget that when games got tight in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coach Joel Quenneville shortened his lineup by benching Leddy. There was definitely a trust issue there. Oduya also was dealing with a lower-body injury, which may have hurt his trade value.

What kind of point totals can the Detroit Red Wings expect from Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco -- @Papa_stein1

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told me they're looking for as many as 60 points from Nyquist if he stays healthy. I think that's a reasonable number, but it'll need to come with at least 30 goals. If Tatar is in the 50-point range or higher I think it will be a successful season for him; he had 39 points last season. Jurco is tougher to figure out because he could go down to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. He has tremendous upside with his size, speed and physicality. If he's in the lineup he needs to be a threat to score. Forty points would be great, but might be a stretch.

What are your impressions of the New York Islanders' weekend moves? -- @tylermac

I gave kudos to general manager Garth Snow on Twitter when the trades were announced because I think he deserves a lot of credit for identifying a weakness and attacking it to make the team better as a whole. There are a lot of teams in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, and before these trades I thought the Islanders were at the bottom of that pack. These trades moved them into the top of that pack. To not give up anything off their roster in acquiring Johnny Boychuk and Leddy is a win-win for the Islanders. The next test for Snow is to re-sign them. Obviously Leddy, who can be a restricted free agent after the season, will be easier to get re-signed. Boychuk can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2015. The Islanders can't let him get away. He's a good defenseman, definitely top-four, with great gap control and a bomb of a shot from the point. Great job by the Islanders deciding to go big in their last season in Nassau Coliseum.

As a Carolina Hurricanes fan, should my best hope be to hope they draft Connor McDavid next year? -- @BuyMeABurrito

That's not how I would suggest you think heading into the season. I'm a believer in having hope in my team when the season starts. I'm a Mets fan. I know disappointment, but I still believe in them every season and hope they will get it figured out. Even this past season I was hoping they'd win 81 games, at least finish .500. They fell short, but they played some interesting baseball throughout the summer and that gave me my fill of entertainment. It's not looking good for the Hurricanes, especially now with Jeff Skinner out with a concussion. If it comes to March and they're close to last, yeah, sure, go ahead and worry about the draft. But go into the season with better thoughts than that. You never know in this game. Look at what happened in the 2005-06 season.

Are NHL teams moving to a non-fighting era, or is the "Heavyweight" division being dropped? -- @hawkeynut1

The era of heavyweight fighters appears to be coming to a close, and good for that. I've got no problem with players who can fight if they can also play. You need to have some skill to survive in the NHL today. The game is too fast and the players are too fit. No longer should teams hold a roster spot for a player who won't play a role on the team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I'm a big believer in that. Players like Milan Lucic, Jared Boll, Chris Neil, Matt Hendricks, Tom Wilson, Derek Dorsett and Matt Martin can play on my team because they do more than fight. They're physical forwards who have some skill and aren't afraid to drop the gloves if necessary, but only if necessary. The League has been heading this way for some time. I'm all for it.


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