Which would be the most likely trading partner for Columbus in a Rick Nash deal?
Bob McKenzie: I will take the Los Angeles Kings, simply for two reasons. Number one, they are the most motivated buyer. Of all the teams that are looking for a big piece to add, they need a scoring winger, they've got to make a move, they can't go into the playoffs, or even make the playoffs with what they've got. The second reason: they've got the chips to play with. They've got netminder Jonathon Bernier, they've got defenceman Jack Johnson, plus, plus, whatever it takes to get it done.
Aaron Ward: I'm going with Boston. As the deep thinker on this panel, I'm going beyond the fact that Nash's style would fit well with the Boston Bruins, I'm looking at it from the perspective surrounding Nathan Horton – there are a lot of questions surrounding his situation right now. His durability may come into question, and also, according to capgeek.com, it says that they can afford him.
Marc Crawford: I'd say the New York Rangers. I think Los Angeles is going to get Jeff Carter, and why I think Nash compliments the Rangers is because he's a big power forward and he will complement those skilled scorers like Gaborik and Callahan.
I don't think you're messing with the chemistry because what comes out of the Rangers lineup will probably be prospects and maybe one player out of their lineup, perhaps a guy like Dubinsky. And players don't mind when you get a great player in. And Rick Nash qualifies as a great player. Rick Nash, he excites that team and he lets them know they're going for it.
Who is more likely to make the playoffs, Montreal or Winnipeg?
Crawford: I say the Winnipeg Jets. And the reason I say it is they've got 14 more home games. They've been dynamite at home, if they can win 10 of those at home that means they'll only have to win five or six on the road.
Ward: Montreal. I went through both schedules: games against top-four teams in each conference, games remaining against non-playoff teams in both conferences – these are virtually identical. They both have the great advantage of home ice, so it came down to the coin flip. Heads, Montreal won.
McKenzie: I said Montreal, and it was only because I wasn't given the option of the New York Islanders, who I think probably have a better chance than the other two.
First Dion Phaneuf was named most overrated in a Sports Illustrated player poll, now Phil Kessel is named the star most easily intimidated, what does this speak to: perceived individual shortcomings or a pronounced anti-Leaf bias?
Ward: Perceived individual shortcomings. You battle against these guys. You get a feel for them and it comes down to personal experience also. It comes down to reputation where, sometimes it's hard to shake those things in the National Hockey League. It's almost like high school when you get in these locker rooms. You share your stories, your experiences, what you feel about people and sometimes they carry on a life of their own.
Crawford: I believe it's perceived Leaf bias. If these guys were playing on the team I coached last year in Dallas, they'd be Louie Erickson and Sheldon Souray. And people wouldn't be talking about them like that.
McKenzie: I'll say perceived individual shortcomings. Not actual real shortcomings. It's almost like a personality thing. When Dion Phaneuf was in Calgary, other players didn't like him. They don't like Dion as a guy on the ice and maybe off the ice as well, a little bit. And the same thing, when Kessel was in Boston, he was not a well-liked guy, and comes down to being more personality driven than performance even, I think.