Here is the Sept. 30 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 the New York Rangers will re-sign Keith Yandle? If so, what does the new contract look like? -- @EbenezerZane
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I'm 50-50 on this. A lot will depend on how the Rangers play this season, where they stand at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, the maturation of Brady Skjei, and the cap. The Rangers should be a contender, so they should be in buying mode come the deadline, so it stands to reason Yandle would be safe if he is still unsigned at that point. The maturation of Skjei matters more than anything here because he's a left-handed defenseman, like Yandle, and he would be a lot cheaper to have on the roster in Yandle's spot than Yandle would be. Yandle is making $5.75 million this season, according to war-on-ice.com. He's only 29 years old, won't turn 30 until just before training camp starts next year. Negotiations for his next contract could start with an average annual value of $5.75 million, give or take a small amount. That might be too rich for the Rangers, who already have Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Kevin Klein locked in for $18.9 million total in salary cap charges next season. Skjei might be Yandle's replacement, unless the Rangers try to trade Staal or Girardi, who is a righty.
Who stands out more for the Buffalo Sabres this year, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane or Jack Eichel? -- @MTH4214
They'll all stand out, but Eichel will make the biggest splash because he'll have the spotlight on him more than the other two guys and I'm fairly certain after seeing some of his preseason and reading all about him, quotes from everyone around the Sabres and media members who have seen them play, that he will be the real deal. I expect O'Reilly and Kane to have big impacts on the ice as well, but all eyes will be on Eichel and he will stand out. It will help him that the Sabres should have O'Reilly and Kane on the top line with Tyler Ennis, which means they will face the top defense pairs whereas Eichel, who could play with Matt Moulson and Zemgus Girgensons to start, will have it slightly easier.
Should the Montreal Canadiens trade a defenseman to make space for Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi and Mark Barberio, who can be lost on waivers if sent down? -- @matszabqc
They don't have to. They're under the cap. That said, I'm not alone in thinking that if the Canadiens can figure out a way to trade Alexei Emelin they should do it. That would save them $4.1 million against the cap for this season and the next two. It would open the door for Tinordi or Pateryn. For now, the top-six defense group consists of P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, Tom Gilbert, Nathan Beaulieu and Emelin. Pateryn is probably No. 7 and there is a battle for No. 8 between Tinordi and Barberio. They both require waivers to be sent down, and they're completely different types of players. Tinordi is a stay-at-home guy and Barberio can move all around the ice. It really depends on the type of defenseman the Canadiens want to keep, and if they want to keep eight. A trade would open the door, but it's way easier said than done at this point.
Will the New Jersey Devils trade Travis Zajac to the Toronto Maple Leafs? Can they get back James van Riemsdyk for Zajac? -- @james235045
I guess the possibility of both happening does exist, at least according to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger this past weekend, but I'm failing to see the logic in it from the Maple Leafs' perspective unless Tyler Bozak is going back to New Jersey and not Nazem Kadri, whose name was floated in the report. I see no logic in it from the Maple Leafs' perspective if it means van Riemsdyk is going too, unless Toronto is able to secure a defenseman like Damon Severson or Eric Gelinas in the trade. And if that was the case, in particular with Severson, I'm not sure it makes sense for the Devils because of his potential upside. The Devils are trying to build around a young defense and a top goalie. It would help to have Kadri or van Riemsdyk, but it doesn't make them that much better this season because they still won't have a No. 1 center or a front-line scorer. Kadri is a No. 2 center and van Riemsdyk is a complementary scorer behind a star, like Phil Kessel. The Maple Leafs would love to have a young defenseman like Severson, but getting Zajac doesn't solve their issue of not having a true No. 1 center. And they'd be stuck with Zajac, because he's signed for this season and five more at a cap charge of $5.75 million. He had 25 points last season. He's 30 years old.
Realistic expectations for Alexander Semin? -- @jasonealexander
Sorry, had to do it.
OK, as for Semin, I expect big things from him, especially if he continues to establish chemistry with Alex Galchenyuk. That duo, possibly with Lars Eller as the third player on the line, has the potential to give the Canadiens a strong second scoring line behind Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher. I expect a huge season out of Galchenyuk, and Semin might be able to benefit from that. Semin has the mercurial label attached to him, but he has always been good when he is in a contract year. He has a one-year contract with the Canadiens, so this is a contract year for him.
His best season with the Washington Capitals was 2009-10, when he scored 40 goals and 84 points. It was the second year of a two-year contract. He then went three straight seasons on one-year contracts and scored 152 points in 186 games, including 44 points in 44 games with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2012-13. Semin then signed his five-year contract with Carolina and fell flat in the first two seasons, leading to his buyout during the offseason.
If Semin can score in the neighborhood of 20-25 goals and produce 50-55 points, that would be great value for a player who is making $1.1 million this season. It's realistic to expect at least that much from him, especially in a contract year.
Thoughts on the Calgary Flames regressing and becoming this year's Colorado Avalanche part 2? -- @sup_ya_sieve
All the analytics suggest the Flames will regress, and maybe they will slightly, but I don't see them becoming what the Colorado Avalanche became last season for two reasons:
1) Calgary general manager Brad Treliving identified during last season that the way the Flames were winning, with poor possession numbers and unsustainable late-game differentials such as their League-best plus-36 goal differential after the second period, was not a formula for long term success. He identified it and went about fixing it during the offseason by acquiring defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Michael Frolik. Both should help the Flames have the puck more this season, which in theory should reduce the amount of times they have to try to come back late in games.
2) The Flames' defense, when healthy, is superior to what the Avalanche had last season.
The Flames will have to improve their underlying numbers such as their shot attempts percentage (44.4), which was 28th in the League. They can't rely on having so many comebacks. But they know all that and tried to rectify it by adding to an already strong defense group and a talented forward group. The Avalanche did not identify their needs last offseason and it burned them.
Do you see the Capitals as legit Stanley Cup contenders this season? -- @mpfCaps
The Capitals have, on paper, the best team top to bottom, coaching staff included, that they've had in the Alex Ovechkin era, which is entering its 11th season. Their time could be coming.