Here is the Sept. 3 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run periodically throughout the summer. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.
Let's get to it:
What big trades do you see coming up this year? -- @whoopoi
OVER THE BOARDS
Rangers' Zuccarello ready for camp
By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello has been given a clean bill of health and should be ready to go for the start of training camp next month, coach Alain Vigneault told NHL.com in a phone interview. READ MORE ›
Although it's impossible to predict trades, particularly when there is more than a month remaining before the regular season even begins, here is a list of players that could potentially be traded this season based on several circumstances:
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets: Unrestricted free agent after the season, team on the bubble, valuable asset as a multidimensional player who can play forward or defense, has a Stanley Cup ring, can net good return from a contending team.
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes: First-line center, expiring contract, playing for a team that has already gotten younger and isn't expected to contend. Staal is one of the most interesting players to watch this season for all these reasons. He wants to stay in Raleigh, but he also wants to win.
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes: It would take a team that believes it can contend, needs a No. 1 goalie, and believes Ward can still be a No. 1 goalie. His contract is also up after the season.
Erik Johnson, Colorado Avalanche: If the Avalanche aren't contending by the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline and Johnson hasn't re-signed, look for his name in the rumors. He would be a valuable addition to a contender.
Teddy Purcell, Edmonton Oilers: Depth forward on an expiring contract who could be available at or near the deadline unless the Oilers are in the thick of the playoff race, which might be pushing it this season.
Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers: He wants to win. If the Panthers aren't winning, he'll want to be traded.
Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers: Possible strong addition to a contending team that needs a good skating, puck-moving defenseman but doesn't want to lock into anyone long term.
Shawn Matthias, Toronto Maple Leafs: I felt he was signed by the Maple Leafs to a one-year contract this offseason just so they could get something in return for him at the deadline. I still feel that way.
James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs: Goalie on an expiring contract whose future doesn't appear to be in Toronto. He'll get moved.
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks: If the Canucks falter, look for Hamhuis in trade discussions. He's on an expiring contract.
Which young goalie do you see having the best numbers if given a starting role this season? Martin Jones (San Jose Sharks)? Petr Mrazek (Detroit Red Wings)? Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers)? -- @purdstheword22
Mrazek, provided he starts over Jimmy Howard.
Mrazek, at least in my opinion, has the biggest upside of the three you mentioned. He is also going to be playing on the best team of the three you mentioned, although I do believe the San Jose Sharks will at least be in contention for most of the season.
Mrazek proved a lot last season, particularly in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had a strong regular season too, though I'd like to see his save percentage jump above .920. It was .918 last season (29 games) and .920 for his career (40 games).
Talbot had a great March last season (1.66 goals-against average, .946 save percentage, 12 games), but his February was below average outside of his eight wins (2.80 GAA, .906 save percentage). That makes me question his consistency when put in a starting role. The Oilers also could struggle defensively, which will hurt Talbot's numbers.
Jones had a .906 save percentage in 15 appearances last season. He needs to be way better than that for the Sharks.
Who gets the most power-play time on the Detroit blue line, Niklas Kronwall or Mike Green? In Anaheim, Hampus Lindholm or Sami Vatanen? -- @pwjustin
It should be Green with the Red Wings and Vatanen for the Anaheim Ducks.
Green should play the point for most of the full two minutes of the power play. That will take some of the pressure off Kronwall, who played 3:13 per game on the power play last season. Green played 2:45 per game with the Capitals. I can see him closer to three minutes with the Red Wings and Kronwall dropping down into the twos. The Red Wings were third in the NHL last season in shot attempts on the power play (773), according to war-on-ice.com. Green's shot from the point should help them generate as much or even more shots. He is not going to play much on the penalty kill the way Kronwall will. He was brought in to help the power play.
The Ducks need to improve their power play by at least three or four percentage points. They were 15.7 percent last season, which was 28th in the League. It didn't stop them from winning a lot, but that was mainly because they set NHL records with 18 wins when trailing at any point in the third period and 33 wins in one-goal games. To rely on that happening to that level again would be foolish. Former Senators coach Paul MacLean was brought in to run the power play. Don't be shocked if Lindholm gets more time on it than the 1:37 he averaged last season, but Vatanen won't see much taken away from him. He averaged 3:07 last season and had 17 points on the power play. That's a decent rate of production for his total PP ice time (209:18). By comparison, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had 17 points in 282:11.
What is it going to take for the New Jersey Devils to make the playoffs? -- @amazingjr87
Patience and time, plus a No. 1 center and another scoring wing.
The Devils still need to give their young defense another year to develop. They're getting there and should be better this season than they were last, but if you're a Devils fan you want to eventually see a regular top six that features Damon Severson, Jon Merrill, Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas and either Steve Santini or Seth Hegleson with Andy Greene. John Moore might play his way into that mix. He has a chance.
Pavel Zacha might soon be the No. 1 center, but he obviously needs time to develop. In the meantime, the Devils don't have a No. 1 center and it would benefit them greatly to get one. If only they fell off trees like the leaves. They don't.
Mike Cammalleri is a good scoring wing as a veteran, but Patrik Elias is getting older and the Devils don't have much beyond that in terms of reliable wings who you can pencil in for 20 goals or more. They need another one.
With a glut of forwards and defensemen in Detroit, any clue how Ken Holland makes room or decides who to keep? -- @3rdShiftHockey
So you're asking me to pretend to be arguably the best general manager the NHL has seen in the past 20 years? Tall order. I'll try.
My advice is to let it play out. Bold, I know. But players will jump out, others will get hurt, and this stuff has a way of working itself out.
The Red Wings already know Pavel Datsyuk won't be ready to start the season, so there is one roster spot open. Johan Franzen is questionable at best, so there is the potential of another one. Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha will definitely be in the mix, but they have to make the team. The Red Wings are notoriously slow in moving their prospects up. You know that if you're a fan of the team.
It will be tough to crack a top seven that consists of Kronwall, Green, Danny DeKeyser, Brendan Smith, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and Jakub Kindl. Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul, Brian Lashoff and Nick Jensen will try. Holland won't care if they all start the season in Grand Rapids. It means none of them did enough in training camp to force his hand. If they do, someone from the top seven might get traded. Quincey and Kindl are the likely candidates.
Do you feel Olli Maatta can emerge as an elite defenseman? If so, is Kris Letang the correct partner for him? -- @_MAF29
Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins was emerging as a very good defenseman in his rookie season. If he didn't miss all but 20 games last season he might be emerging into elite status. He's extremely smart with the puck and his positioning seemed to never be in question when he played under Dan Bylsma as a rookie. He did the right thing most of the time and appeared to get more and more comfortable as the season pressed on, including through his time in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Asking him to pick up where he left off might be asking too much because of all the time he missed, but Maatta is still young enough at 21 that he has plenty of time to emerge into that elite status.
Letang would be the appropriate partner for Maatta for several reasons. For starters, Letang is a righty and Maatta is a lefty, so it works for them to be on their strong sides. Letang is a freewheeler who needs a smart and positionally-sound partner. Maatta is that. Maatta has offense in his game, but Letang would feel comfortable doing his thing knowing Maatta has his back.
What do you think the Sharks' lines will be on opening night? -- @slushyjake
Provided no injuries, here goes nothing:
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joel Ward
Matt Nieto - Tommy Wingels - Melker Karlsson
Barclay Goodrow - Chris Tierney - Ben Smith
Paul Martin - Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller - Brenden Dillon