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Dreger's Mailbag: Habs' challenges and Justin Schultz

Darren Dreger
3/30/2012 12:07:56 PM
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Got a question on the latest news and rumours? E-mail Hockey Insider Darren Dreger and he'll answer your emails at dregereport@tsn.ca!

Hi Darren, do you know the latest status of Nathan Horton? Will he be back for the playoffs?

Eddy Farina

A: Hi Eddy. Nathan Horton's status for the playoffs remains unchanged. The Bruins are hopeful, but Horton is still suffering from concussion symptoms such as some minor dizziness. However, he has been exercising vigorously, getting his heart rate up, etc., so there is some reason for optimism.

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Hey Dregs,

You rocked the Twitter world with that Gauthier news!!! Aside from hiring a new head coach, what's going to be the toughest task for the new Canadiens GM this spring?

Tom,
Montreal

A: Deciding who stays and who goes and the best way to handle both scenarios. Starting with Carey Price, the foundation for a relatively quick turnaround is there, so the new GM is going to have first assess the organization and then determine how extensive the renovation project is going to have to be. Canadiens ownership has a difficult task in hiring a new leader. There are a number of qualified, but somewhat inexperienced candidates out there, but a lot of damage can be done by those who go looking for the big splash trade or free agent signing - something the Habs will be mindful of as they go through the interview process. A more experienced GM will take stock of what there is to work with and map out the direction of the team from that point. Resisting the urge to lob a grenade at the Canadiens full NHL-AHL roster could be among management's toughest tasks. 
 
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Mr. Dreger,

Big Oilers fan here. Taylor Hall is having his second season-ending surgery in as many years. Now they say this one is something that's been bothering him since junior, but should fans like me and the Oilers brass be concerned about this so early in his career?

Mike,
Toronto

A:  Mike, it's understandable, given Hall's run of injuries this early in his career, some are labeling the young star as injury prone.  However, his current injury (torn labrum - left shoulder) is an issue that has plagued him since junior.  Hall said he felt fine and would have played through it, but, medically, it made more sense to surgically address the problem now to give Taylor the necessary time to fully mend and build strength for next season. What shouldn't be expected is a change in how Hall plays the game. He plays hard - perhaps reckless at times - but always on the edge which is a big part of the reason of why he is a special talent and will be an impact players for years to come for the Oilers.

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Hi Darren,

Firstly just wanted to say how much I enjoy your hard work and I consider you one of the best in the business (yes I am kind of sucking up, however I have never emailed the Hockey Mailbag before).

My question relates to the Ottawa Senators' offseason, as I have already judged this season as a success regardless of what happens hereafter. The Sens will be one of the lowest committed salaries this offseason so where do they spend their money?  Of course Karlsson is going to command $7 million-plus (?), but Kuba is coming off the books and I believe we will finally stop paying Emery too.  With a few RFA's that should not be hard to sign, if Murray wants to he could do a lot. Should Suter and or Praise become available do you think Murray goes after one or both? And do you think the Sens start planning now for a post-Alfie life?

Matt Reitsman

A: Matt, your "sucking up" has finally paid off. Ottawa is not going to be among the big spenders in the offseason. In fact, expect the Sens to be a low budget team as per instructions from ownership. That's not to say Bryan Murray won't kick tires on the big name free agents and if either Parise or Suter show interest it's also possible Eugene Melnyk opens the vault, but that's not the plan right now. Ottawa is hopeful Daniel Alfredsson will return for another season and there's good reason to believe that will be the case.  As for Karlsson...he's enjoying a sensational year and will undoubtedly command a big number, but that number won't start with a 7...at least that is what Ottawa is hoping. 
 
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Hey Dregs, LOVE the column.

My question to you is about Justin Schultz. Bobby Mac stated on Insider Trading that Schultz is most likely heading to UFA. If he does, who are the teams most likely to land him? Would the Oilers be one of the teams most interested, considering the need for defenceman?

T.J. Bahra

A: T.J., you my friend have submitted the easiest question of the week. Provided Schultz officially opts for unrestricted free agency, pretty much every team in the NHL will express interest and the vast majority will make a pitch to sign him. He's projected to be that good. Edmonton has a number of good prospect d-men that need three or four years to develop, however, Schultz is ready to step in to the NHL now and I'm sure the Oilers will kick tires as well. Teams are curious as to why Schultz doesn't want to sign in Anaheim, but that won't stand in the way of the feeding frenzy that will be created when or if he becomes a UFA. I have yet to identify a team that doesn't believe Justin Schultz is likely to become a very good NHL defenceman.

Darren Dreger

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