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Darren, do you see the Oilers trying to trade Ales Hemsky before the deadline and who do you think might be interested in him?
A: Rudy, both the Oilers and Ales Hemsky have difficult choices to make. Hemsky, as you know, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, so between now and then Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini is going to have to determine what Hemsky's open market price is and whether re-signing the 28-year-old forward is worth it. If Hemsky's asking price is too high or he decides to test free agency and the possibility of change, then no question the Oilers will consider trading him at or before the trade deadline. Despite his string of injuries, Hemsky is a very valuable commodity. Game-breaking players are hard to come by and in my mind, Ales Hemsky is a game breaker.
Hey Darren, do you have any ideas/hints on what the feeling is among players/owners going into the CBA talks? Is it doom and gloom like seven years ago? Is there confidence that there won't be any work stoppage or is it something in between? And what could be the sticking points in the negotiations?
A: Alex, it's still too early to say, although there doesn't seem to be the same sense of "doom and gloom" that plagued the negotiations leading up to the lockout seven years ago. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spent considerable time updating the owners/governors on league preparations earlier this week during meetings in California. Daly also spoke at length to the media on Tuesday and stated the NHL is waiting for the NHLPA to engage in CBA discussions, but doesn't expect that will happen until late January or early February. There will be many contentious sticking points between the two sides and some believe the NHL will fight hard for a lower players' share in league revenue. Currently, the players absorb 57 percent of the generated hockey related revenue and multiple team sources suggest an acceptable split in the new CBA will be 50 percent or lower. However, any change will be met with considerable resistance and will likely only happen with a significant accompanying concession.
Do you think the Blue Jackets are going to stick it out with Derick Brassard or has the situation gotten so bad that they have to move him? If so, is there interest right now?
A: Eric, I believe the Columbus Blue Jackets will hold on to Brassard until an offer surfaces they can't refuse, or worst case, they determine he's simply not a fit. Young players always generate interest and Brassard's availability would certainly spark trade talks. As was reported earlier this week, Carolina offered Tomas Kaberle and a second round draft pick to Columbus for Brassard and Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson declined.
My question is in regards to the new conference format. Everyone seems to be focusing on the uneven new conferences. Do you think that by having two conferences with just seven teams that this will put the NHL on the road to another expansion? Thanks.
A: Kyle, the uneven structure of the conferences offers a couple of possibilities. Expansion doesn't appear to be on the NHL's radar and those who allow for the possibility suggest it won't be considered for another five years, but the approved realignment does promote the long-term consideration of two new franchises. Also, there's the uncertainty of the future of the Phoenix Coyotes. If ownership isn't solidified, some believe Quebec City will be a viable relocation option. If that turns out to be the case, it makes sense Quebec would shift to the east creating an 8-7 split among the four conferences. Keep in mind, this remains all highly speculative.
With Ron Wilson's contract being up this year, and there seems to be word on management and Wilson to get an extension, is there any update? One could only speculate that Brian Burke might have an opening for the recently fired Carlyle? It might be too early, but they DID work together in Anaheim.
Thanks for taking the time to read this,
A: Tony, following Carlyle's dismissal, Brian Burke quickly doused the growing speculation by offering Ron Wilson a vote of confidence via Twitter. At this point, there is no reason to think Wilson won't be given an extension, but the Leafs brass evidently sees no need to rush this decision or negotiation. Burke insists Wilson's future in Toronto won't be negotiated publicly, so assuming the Leafs don't suffer a mid or late season collapse, we may receive nothing more than a press release announcing a new agreement. If things don't go well for Toronto, it makes sense Carlyle would be considered along with Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins as potential replacements.