Here is the Sept. 16 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday in the Over the Boards blog during the 2015-16 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.
Let's get to it:
Do you think Derek Roy will make the Washington Capitals? With Eric Fehr leaving, we have an opening at 3C or 4C. Jay Beagle and Michael Latta also options. -- @CapRat82
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It certainly is reasonable to think he can and will, especially because, as you mentioned, there is a need for more center depth in the bottom-six forward group. I know Roy has bounced around a lot (the Capitals would be his sixth team since the 2012-13 season), but he's only 32 years old and still has some offensive upside. He had 32 points in 72 games last season split between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators. He had 37 points in 75 games with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14. Fehr, as the Capitals' third-line center last season, had 33 points in 75 games. Roy's production would fall right in line with Fehr's. The difference is Roy doesn't play the penalty kill. Fehr averaged 1:23 of ice time on the PK last season.
Andre Burakovsky is the most interesting player to consider with this question because the Capitals have to determine if he is going to be a center or a wing for them this season. He's a natural center, as general manager Brian MacLellan has said, and most likely would be fit for the 2C role, but it appears that right now is Evgeny Kuznetsov's to lose. Burakovsky might play the 2C role at the start of the season if Backstrom isn't ready because he's still recovering from offseason hip surgery, but once Backstrom is back it lines up to be him at 1C and Kuznetsov at 2C. Is Burakovsky the 3C, or is he the left wing on Kuznetsov's line? I think he's a top-six player. The Capitals think so too. He should be in the top-six regardless of position.
That leaves the potential for Roy to make the team as the 3C with Jay Beagle as the 4C and Michael Latta either on the wing or an extra center. Brooks Laich is also an option at center or wing.
Do you think the Capitals finally have the team around Alex Ovechkin to make them contend for the Cup? -- @MeierGilles
Two Caps' questions this week, guess Washington fans are pumped, as they should be. The answer is yes, I do think the Capitals have the team around Ovechkin to contend for the Stanley Cup this season. I like the coaching philosophy, the style of play, the commitment from the players, the depth up front, the consistency that you have to expect from the defense corps, and the elite goaltending they should again receive from Braden Holtby. I like all the ingredients in Washington now.
What do you think happens with Brock Nelson and the New York Islanders? Don't need another Nino Niederreiter situation here. -- @NY_luvs_DDUB
Impossible to predict. I have no clue. I really don't. Newsday's Arthur Staple reported earlier this week that Nelson's agent, Ron Salcer, and Islanders GM Garth Snow hadn't even talked in six weeks. Staple reported Salcer recently called Snow and was waiting to hear back, so maybe there is dialogue going on now. The fact is Islanders owner Charles Wang has a steadfast rule that if a player is not under contract by the start of training camp he sits out the entire season. The rule has its flaws, particularly because I don't think it's practical in the game today because of the salary cap restrictions teams have and the contracts players desire, but it's his rule and he has stuck by it, so he deserves credit for being vigilant with it. Nelson and Salcer have to know about this rule. It should frighten them, if only because Nelson is coming off his entry-level contract and has no arbitration rights. The Islanders are in control here.
Nelson is an important player for the Islanders, but let's also remember that as hot as he was in the first half last season was equivalent to how cold he was in the second half. Of his 20 goals last season, 14 came before Christmas, in 32 games. He had six goals in his final 50 games. But that can be chalked up to a player who was red-hot and the League figuring him out. The Islanders, and Nelson, have to hope that in his third season he will be able to be more consistent.
They need to get him signed and in camp on time. The Islanders are in control of the process, so I don't see them budging too much.
Do you think Zachary Fucale will end the year as a member of the Montreal Canadiens or another NHL team? -- @gelboustany
This all depends on where the Canadiens are in the standings near the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, what their needs are at the time, the cost of those needs, and if they have a trade partner that needs a young goalie. Unless something crazy happens with Carey Price, it's clear Fucale's future isn't in Montreal. That's not to say the Canadiens are opposed to holding on to him as a security measure as he continues to develop, but Price isn't going anywhere any time soon. Fucale could be one of Montreal's best trade pieces, so if the need is there and the price is right I can definitely see him being moved this season.
Do you think Eric Staal and Kyle Okposo sign extensions with their current teams, or where do they end up if you had to guess? -- @AJHans19
No for Staal, yes for Okposo.
I just don't see how Staal's time with the Carolina Hurricanes will continue beyond the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. The time might be right for him and the Hurricanes to move on for reasons that could and probably should benefit both sides, none of which have to do with Staal's leadership or his desire to win in Carolina. It just isn't happening, and that's the problem. The Hurricanes are rebuilding and probably won't be a serious playoff contender this season. Staal has to have the itch to win now considering he'll turn 31 years old on Oct. 29 and hasn't been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2009. It doesn't appear, at least with the way the Hurricanes are set up on paper, that he'll be going to the playoffs with them this season either. In addition, re-signing Staal would take a significant financial investment from a team that has an owner in Peter Karmanos looking to sell his majority share. Yes, this also presents a problem for the Hurricanes with Jordan Staal, but I'm a firm believer that business is business and the idea of brothers playing together, while all nice and dandy, isn't always realistic. Hard decisions have to be made. This is one of them. I do expect Staal to be traded to a playoff contender this season. Here's looking at you, Montreal Canadiens. Here's looking at you, Vancouver Canucks.
As for Okposo and the Islanders, I think it gets done there eventually, maybe a four-year contract with an average annual value in the neighborhood of $5 million or slightly more. That'd be a raise from the $2.8 million per year he has been making on his current five-year contract. He's a legit goal scorer and obviously has good chemistry with John Tavares. I'm not sure why the Islanders would want to mess with that.
The Islanders were able to get Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk before the start of last season. Who gets dealt for cap purposes before the start of this season? -- @CVancheri
First off, how are you, Chris? Yes, Chris and I go back to covering high school football in Northern New Jersey. He's one of my most engaging followers. Good to get a question from you for the mailbag.
Leddy and Boychuk fell into the Islanders' laps last season because Snow was patient, smart and shrewd. He had the cap space and realized the problems of the Chicago Blackhawks (Leddy) and Boston Bruins (Boychuk), understood their needs, and made it happen. He should have been nominated for the General Manager of the Year Award off those two trades alone.
As for this season, it wouldn't shock me if the New York Rangers traded a defenseman, possibly Kevin Klein ($2.9 million AAV). They have Raphael Diaz, and Dylan McIlrath either has to make the team or be subject to waivers on a return to Hartford of the American Hockey League. I don't think he'd clear waivers. Maybe he gets traded. That definitely wouldn't shock me.
The Detroit Red Wings could also be thinking about trading a defenseman, most likely Kyle Quincey ($4.25 million AAV). They've got seven NHL defensemen along with several young blue-liners that played under coach Jeff Blashill in Grand Rapids of the AHL, including Alexey Marchenko, Nick Jensen, Xavier Ouellet and Brian Lashoff. Trading Quincey would clear some space, give GM Ken Holland some flexibility, and allow for a younger defenseman or two to make the team out of camp.
There are potentially others as well, such as Calgary Flames goalie Jonas Hiller ($4.5 million AAV). Hiller could be waived if the Flames decide to go with Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio. Calgary would almost certainly have to retain salary in any trade involving Hiller.
Those are guesses, Chris, just guesses. I'm not saying anybody is getting traded.