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Hey Darren, I heard you talking about the possibility of the GMs talking about Philly's counter to Tampa's 1-3-1 in their next meeting. What do you think will be the starting point of that conversation and how could it play out?
A: James, I have no doubt NHL general managers will discuss the 1-3-1 at length when they meet Tuesday in Toronto. However, discussion and embracing change or new legislation are two very different things. Admittedly, it was jarring to see the Philadelphia Flyers stop cold in their zone to offset the Lightning's reluctance to fore-check, but the 1-3-1 isn't new. Philadelphia has had success against it before, as have other teams, and it will be hard to develop a rule change to eliminate it. As my colleague Bob McKenzie found out in a flash poll involving the majority of NHL GMs, opinion on this issue varies. Some managers caution change based on the admission most teams play a 1-3-1 in some form and don't want to sound the alarm bells based on one game and the ground swell of reaction. Others fully support the need for discussion given the fact the NHL is an entertainment business and will argue what the hockey world witnessed on Wednesday was far from entertaining. It's hard to guess how this will play out, although based on the feedback received in the past couple of days, I suspect little if anything will be done…at least on the short term.
Pekka Rinne signed a seven-year, $49 million deal last week. Does this set any sort of precedent for Carey Price?
A: Jen, it's very likely Rinne's contract will be introduced as a comparable when negotiations on a new contract for Price commence in spring. However, like most negotiations enormous contracts like Rinne's are used as threshold examples but can quickly be brought down to a more team friendly average with lower paid goalies thrown into the mix as well. Both Price and Rinne are elite goaltenders. Rinne is considered a late bloomer, drafted in the 8th round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, while Price, whose five years younger, was selected 5th overall in 2005 and quickly anointed the next great Habs goalie. At the moment, Rinne is the better of the two, although the Predators are clearly on a roll and in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, possess two of the most dominant defencemen in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens continue to struggle with consistency, so while Price may double the $2.75 million he's currently earning, as a restricted free agent next summer, its unlikely Montreal will have to climb into Rinne territory to get a deal done.
Ken Hitchcock was rumoured to be in waiting to replace Scott Arniel in Columbus. Is the leash on Arniel and Howson longer than most of us think?
A: Kent, "rumoured" is the operative word. Hitchcock was on the Blue Jackets payroll and was asked to work with their AHL team as well as scout a number of the opposing teams Columbus faced. Hence, he was visible and because of teams' horrendous start, it was easy to leap to the possibility of a coaching change. However, if returning Hitchcock to the Blue Jackets bench was a possibility, why would the organization grant the St Louis Blues permission to speak to and ultimately hire the veteran coach? Obviously, Columbus is a hot spot right now and both Howson and Arniel are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. However, as of today (Friday), Howson says it's "status quo" in Columbus which means our game by game watch continues.
Dregs, is it time for the Leafs to start shopping for a backup goalie? Are they even considering it?
A: Danny; like most scenarios, I'm sure Toronto's management team has discussed the possibility. That said, the Maple Leafs have yet to hit a skid and while both Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens struggled this week in losses to Boston and Florida, both have also been very solid in relief of the injured James Reimer. Reimer is expected to return to the ice soon according to his agent, Ray Petkau. When he does, Toronto will have a tough decision to make. Does Ben Scrivens get sent down after a stellar performance in a shootout victory over the St Louis Blues or is Scrivens a better option to push Reimer as the Leafs back up? If Toronto decides to keep Scrivens, Gustavsson becomes a spare part with trade or waivers and the potential for AHL assignment a possibility.
Hello Mr. Dreger, I have been wondering a lot about the status of Evgeni Nabokov, while it is almost a sure bet he will be dealt will the Isles deal him sooner rather than later or might they keep him longer in a attempt to up his value by playing him more and hoping he gets on a hot streak? What is the market for Nabby like right now and where do you think he might end up, and will it happen sooner or closer to the deadline?
A: George; on Thursday night, speculation suggested the Columbus Blue Jackets were closing in on a deal with the Islanders for Nabokov. However, both teams quickly squashed that rumour. There is a market for Nabokov, but he does have a no-trade clause and the reality is goaltending and defence have been the two most consistent elements of the New York Islanders game. Isles GM Garth Snow is among the more active managers when it comes to initiating or participating in trade discussions, but it's still a tad too early to part with an asset that could fetch more in return later in the season.