The big news in sports journalism this week came out of ESPN, where close to 100 people lost their jobs.
That includes hockey writers Pierre LeBrun, Scott Burnside, and Joe McDonald. Other sports also took a hit as long-time baseball writer Jayson Stark was amongst those axed, and several college football writers were informed they’d have to look for another job.
Of course the hockey cuts hit closer to home. All three of those journalists do tremendous work, and while ESPN’s on-air television coverage of the sport felt non-existant at time, the digital coverage and stories told at ESPN.com where tremendous.
For example, Burside’s long-form story in 2014 tracking the creation and selection of the United States Olympic team is one of the more fascinating stories I’ve ever read.
It was a sad day for the coverage of hockey. And hopefully those laid off, no matter what sport they cover, land on their feet soon.
In light of all this, I want to take a minute to thank those who have read, watched, and listened to anything I’ve produced since I made the jump to the NHL beat last September. Without an audience it just becomes noise, so thank your for giving it some relevance.
I’d also like to extend a special thanks to those who have subscribed on Patreon. It’s only $3 per month, but it actually goes a long way in helping me cover the costs of maintaining this site, hosting the podcast, and it makes my travel costs easier for events like the upcoming NHL Draft in Chicago and the Traverse City Prospects tournament in September.
Anyways, let’s dive into the mailbag:
Will Seguin really be healthy come October? How soon will we see Roope in a Dallas sweater? You expect a big shake-up on blue line?
— DallasSportsFan (@TheCrafty71) April 27, 2017
Tyler Seguin’s recovery is supposed to last four months, so I believe that he’ll be 100 percent healthy for training camp.
My bigger concern is the lack of a nice, long offseason where Seguin could train and try to rekindle some of that speed and explosiveness that was lacking this season.
During exit interviews Seguin talked about how his speed was lacking this season, and the offseason would be a great chance to hit the gym and work on his stride. Now he won’t have as much of an opportunity for that and he won’t skate for at least a month, so it’s something to keep an eye on.
Some people I’ve spoken to think Roope Hintz could play in the NHL next season as an injury call-up, he is coming over to play in the AHL this season.
Personally I’m more reserved on the prediction and think he’ll be an NHL option for the 2018-19 season after a strong AHL campaign.
Yes, I expect a shakeup on the blue line. Probably something done via trade.
What do you think Stars do about goalie situation? Which goalie options do you see them taking for the different outcomes re: situation?
— Jessica L. Meyer (@JLMMphotography) April 27, 2017
I’m 99 percent certain Antti Niemi will be bought out in June. And I think Kari Lehtonen will be back with Dallas next season in a back-up role and expected to play 30 to 35 games.
If I had my choice, the starting goalie would be Philipp Grubauer via trade. I’d also like to see Scott Darling in Dallas through free agency.
However, I think there is also a good chance the Stars will try and sign Ben Bishop in free agency. That’s an upgrade over Niemi, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having old, over-paid, and injury-prone goalies in Dallas.
does Chicago's poor post-season effect the likelihood of Scott Darling becoming a FA?
— Stars (@Stars24_7) April 27, 2017
I don’t think Chicago’s playoff performance will impact Darling’s decision. But I think he’s already made the decision to test free agency for two key factors:
1. He’s 28 and if he wants to be an NHL starting goalie now is the time to take advantage of that opportunity.
2. Chicago is already getting crunched by the cap next season. According to CapFriendly the Blackhawks already have close to $76 million committed against the cap for next season. The Blackhawks won’t be able to match what Darling is worth on the open market.
Do you think the Stars have a chance in acquiring Darling if he becomes a free agent?
— 🌟k8 🏒💚🥅 (@mismatch3d) April 28, 2017
I think the Stars would definitely be in the mix.
Top couple assistant coaches to target?
— Patrick Ochs (@PatrickOchs) April 28, 2017
Kirk Muller only signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens before last season, so he’s an option I’d pursue.
I’d also look at Todd Nelson (yes, I know I keep trumpeting him for an NHL head coaching gig), as a guy to bring in if he’d be interested in leaving his role with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Do the Stars have a defensive shutdown center prospect in the pipeline, that wins faceoffs? A Ryan Kesler type.
— Matt Kowalski (@MattKowalskiMN) April 27, 2017
A Ryan Kesler-type and a player that can reach Ryan Kesler levels are two very different things.
Jason Dickinson is the closest to that mold. I’m confident that Dickinson will turn into a reliable two-way center in the NHL and he does have first-round offensive talent that will surface from time to time.
At his ceiling Dickinson could reach a Kesler-type level defensively, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a 70-point scorer like Kesler was for back-to-back seasons in his prime with the Vancouver Canucks.
Guess on a nill blockbuster trade this summer?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) April 27, 2017
I’d probably be wrong with my guess. However, I do think that any big move will come in mid-June, before the expansion draft, rather than waiting until the first week of July.
Does Janmark recover from his rare knee injury? Does Hitch intrigue Val to come back?
— Dan Auer (@Dauer53) April 27, 2017
I hope Mattias Janmark is back at 100 percent next season. It’s so hard to predict what will happen with a genetic knee disorder, but I’m personally rooting for his recovery — it be a great story and Janmark is a good human being.
I don’t think Ken Hitchcock is the driving factor for Valeri Nichushkin’s potential NHL return. Lindy Ruff always got the blame in the past (right or wrong), but I think this falls more on Jim Nill and figuring out the right buttons to push and figure out the best situation for both parties.
Either way the Stars have Nichushkin’s rights for six more years, so if he wants to play in the NHL it’s going to be in Dallas.
I keep looking at lineup options & I just don't see room for 84 or Sharp: how will we have room for some others, such as 43?
— Christopher Barnard (@cbarnard82) April 28, 2017
I don’t see how the Stars can bring back Ales Hemsky and Patrick Sharp. I just don’t see the roster/cap space to have both back next season, and you could argue both will be with other teams.
The Stars could try and bring one of those players back, but it would have to be at a deep discount and a major pay cut for either player.
who is the next AHL defenseman to likely get playing time in the NHL next year? With the assumption that Honka is with Dallas to start.
— Harry Wagstaff (@jasonfivash) April 28, 2017
Dillon Heatherington would be my guess for the next call-up, while I think Gavin Bayreuther is the next AHL defenseman to get a full-time NHL job.
Who are you looking forward to getting in the draft?
— Daniel Teasdale (@Teasdale_Daniel) April 27, 2017
That’s a loaded question and difficult question to answer before the draft lottery is held this weekend.
So let’s double back to that next week.
In the meantime, let’s hope an NHL team drafts Sean Dhooghe. He’s only 5-foot-3, seriously, but he can skate and he’s got good hands.
@seanshapiro when will the Stars retire Zubov's number? When he finally returns to Dallas?
— Reid Zambardino (@Reid_Zambardino) April 28, 2017
No insight into this, but I think it has to happen sooner than later.
What are your general thoughts on how Pegula’s are running the Sabres, especially after “cleaning house” days ago?
— Joe Suhoski (@VaBeachRep) April 27, 2017
It’s a bit of a joke.
Since the Pegulas bought the Sabres in 2011 they’ve already gone through four NHL head coaches and two NHL general managers.
Personally I didn’t like how they handled the recent firing. It felt like they left Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma to dangle for a couple days, when it would have been more professional to axe both at the end of the season and not force both men to face the media circus in limbo.
I do have to give them credit for helping college hockey grow. Without the Pegula family Penn State wouldn’t have a hockey program and the Big Ten wouldn’t have a hockey conference, so they have contributed to the greater hockey good in some capacity.
What happens after Las Vegas takes a dozen goalies in the expansion draft?
— Andrew L-A (@KD5MDK) April 28, 2017
If Vegas takes a dozen goalies, which they very well could if they wanted to, the rest of the teams will hold them hostage and lower the value by not trading until George McPhee gets desperate to unload the assets for lower than market value.
I think a more realistic thought is Vegas taking four of five goalies, starting a bit of a bidding war and maximizing the value of their available assets.
Is it a option to give LV the Anaheim-Pick so ghey pick Lehtonen?
— Florian Wieser (@fwieser55) April 28, 2017
I’m sure it’s an option, but I wouldn’t waste a first-round pick like that.
Do you know of any Stars summer hockey dates yet? Ex. Development camp
— Mel (@MelanieFunky_) April 27, 2017
When we have them I’ll tweet/post them right away.
Typically development camp is the first or second week of July.
You last week and other Stars fans have mentioned that the team should sign Caps Dman Karl Alzner. Exactly what would he bring to the table
— William Shawn Ladd (@ShawnSN385) April 27, 2017
Karl Alzner is a reliable defense-first defenseman and he’s durable.
He hasn’t missed a regular season game since he became a full-time NHL player and I think he would fit well in Hitchcock’s system.
I asked this question the other day to my brothers: who is the Russell Westbrook of hockey? Huge numbers, no support kinda guy.
— Tom Dorsa (@TomDorsa) April 27, 2017
I’m slightly changing the criteria here, because Russel Westbrook’s NHL equivalent is Corey Perry.
Both players are supremely talented and both are extremely annoying to play against. They both fit into that mold of a player that 29 other fan bases will hate, but you would love that player if they were on your team.
Both players were also MVP candidates in their prime. Remember, Perry won the Hart Trophy in 2011.
Plus, Westbrook is a Ducks fan.
Russell Westbrook arrives for game 4 with his ‘Mighty Ducks’ jersey.
Name on the back is ‘The Brodie’.
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 8, 2016
Which Marvel characters match the Stars players? Especially Star Lord.
— Andrew L-A (@KD5MDK) April 28, 2017
Let’s just go with Guardians of the Galaxy characters for this exercise.
Star-Lord: Jamie Benn, captain of the team. Was separated from family (Jordie) by powers he couldn’t control.
Groot: The goalie situation, it blew up in an attempt to defend the goal. Now it needs to re-grow.
Rocket Raccoon: Tyler Seguin, keeps needing off-season surgeries. Type of guy who would tell you to steal someone’s leg in the middle of a heist.
Drax: Dan Hamhuis, the one member of the team you often forget about but is rather underrated.
Gamora: Victor E. Green, because they are both green.
What summer movie are you most looking forward to?
— Shanny Claus is coming to town to punch nazis (@Shannysland) April 28, 2017
I bought tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 the other day.
Are you going to see Fast and Furious 8? Or 12, or whichever one it is.
— Rose (@roseoftexas1) April 28, 2017
Already saw it, not a bad summer movie. If you like any of the other Fast and Furious movies it’s worth your time.
Who is Rey's parents?
— Austin Cobb (@aacobb) April 28, 2017
She has to be Luke Skywalker’s daughter, right?
Which pair of @NHL Players would you like to see team up on The Amazing Race?
— Tanner Wilson (@TexSR_Tanner1) April 27, 2017
I’m taking this beyond two players and suggesting an NHL-themed Amazing Race season that could be filmed next April.
Here is how it works:
-When the NHL playoff field is set the goalies from the 15 non-playoff teams (remember Vegas brings us to 31) are cast as teams on the Amazing Race.
-Filming would start the first week of the NHL playoffs the series would run up until the NHL Awards ceremony, where the winning team will be announced right after the Hart Trophy is given to the league MVP.
-And here is the best part, Ilya Bryzgalov is the host.
Why won't ABC renew Battlebots? #wewantseason3
— Punished Darian (@DarianMcB) April 27, 2017
Hopefully it’s just a stall tactic to build anticipation and it’s allowing teams to build their biggest and baddest bots.
I still think having dogs travel on the team plane is a good idea. I wonder what breed Hitch prefers?
— Rose (@roseoftexas1) April 27, 2017
This is a pressing question we’ll have to ask Hitch at the next media availability.