Mailbag: Tarasenko’s future, Devils playoff possibilities, rivalry games

Here is the Aug. 3 version of the mailbag, the place we reply your questions requested on Twitter utilizing #OvertheBoards. Tweet your inquiries to @drosennhl.

Do the St. Louis Blues nonetheless have any ongoing talks with groups about Vladimir Tarasenko? There have been combined studies about him nonetheless wanting out however talks appear to have died utterly. What are the possibilities he finally ends up with the crew this yr and leaves in free company? — @BeerLeagueSelke

It’s been quiet on the Tarasenko entrance with the Blues, however I imagine that is by design. I’ve zero cause to imagine the commerce request that he submitted earlier than final season has been rescinded, however that does not imply St. Louis needs to or has to commerce him. Tarasenko wasn’t traded final season and he was good, piling up 82 factors (34 objectives, 48 ​​assists) in 75 games to assist the Blues qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I do not assume Tarasenko’s worth within the commerce market is robust sufficient for the Blues to commerce him now or earlier than the season. They must get again a top-six ahead to interchange him, particularly since they misplaced David Perron in free company, who signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract ($4.75 million common annual worth) with the Detroit Red Wings. But Tarasenko is 30 years previous and coming into the final yr of an eight-year, $60 million contract ($7.5 million AAV). Why would a crew give St. Louis one in every of their top-six forwards for Tarasenko when he is on the flawed aspect of 30 and there is no assure that they are going to have him for longer than this season? Let’s not neglect his historical past of shoulder accidents. It may be completely different if Tarasenko is prepared to signal an extension upon being traded, however he could be doing that blindly. He has by no means performed for one more crew within the NHL so I’m hesitant to assume that he would marry himself to a brand new franchise with out ever taking part in for them. He additionally may be tempted by the chance to turn into a UFA subsequent summer time.

My feeling is Tarasenko will likely be with the Blues this season and they’re going to attempt to go on another magical experience with him and middle Ryan O’Reilly, who’s 31 and is one yr away from unrestricted free company, coming into the ultimate yr of a seven-year contract. It’s additionally potential they’ll get one or each to signal contract extensions earlier than or throughout the season.

Video: STL@MIN, Gm5: Tarasenko information third interval hatty

With the offseason acquisitions and training employees modifications together with additional growth of their younger gamers, can the New Jersey Devils lastly make a push for the playoffs? — @keithcaporelli

The Devils are undoubtedly deeper and located to be a greater crew with the additions of forwards Ondrej Palat and Erik Hauladefensemen John Marino and Brendan Smithand goalie Vitek Vanecek. I really like the additions of Palat and Haula. New Jersey wanted extra of a veteran presence in its top-nine ahead group. The Devils have it with these two. Palat might be good for Jack Hughes. He was for Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point once they performed along with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He performs properly with expert gamers. With Dougie Hamilton, Damon Severson and Marino, the Devils are robust on the suitable aspect of the blue line. That buys time for Simon Nemec, the No. 2 picks within the 2022 NHL Draft. Smith is a flexible veteran. He’ll play behind Ryan Graves and Jonas Siegenthalerprimarily shopping for time for Luke Hughes, the No. 4 choose within the 2021 NHL Draft who is predicted to play another season on the University of Michigan. Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood have the makings of a superb goalie tandem, however neither one is a certain factor. Either approach, it could’t be worse than final season, when the Devils used seven goalies and the one one who had a save proportion of .900 or higher was Jonathan Bernier (.902), who performed 10 games, none after Dec. 3 due to a debilitating hip damage.

But to make the playoffs, the Devils should at the very least crack the highest 5 within the Metropolitan Division, and that is solely adequate in the event that they’re higher than the fourth-place crew within the Atlantic Division. So, are the Devils higher than the Carolina Hurricanes? Hard no. Are they higher than the New York Rangers? Hard no, once more. Are they higher than the Pittsburgh Penguins? I do not see it. Are they higher than the Washington Capitals? Maybe. What in regards to the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets? That stays to be seen. They have been 18 factors behind the sixth-place Blue Jackets final season. They’re not higher than the Lightning, Florida Panthers or Toronto Maple Leafs, the consensus high three within the Atlantic Division. I believe the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators will battle it out for fourth place, however I’m not bought that New Jersey is best than each of these groups.

The Devils have improved this offseason they usually have some star energy coming in with Luke Hughes, Nemec and ahead Alexander Holtz. But I’m not able to predict that they’re going to make the playoffs, not with uncertainty in internet and the space they should go to be higher than they have been final season.

Video: Ondrej Palat joins New Jersey

Where do you see Pat Verbeek’s plan for the Anaheim Ducks going? All I do know is that he needs huge guys. Where does he search for scoring and defensive depth? Despite the John Klingberg signing, there’s nonetheless a major hole on protection? — @pucksngraps

There are gaps on the Ducks’ depth chart that should be crammed as a result of they’re rebuilding and it is a course of. Adding Klingberg on a one-year contract is huge for this season. It’s a trial run to see if the Ducks and Klingberg can prolong the wedding for a lot of extra seasons. He turns 30 on Aug. 14. He’s not too previous to be a giant a part of the Ducks’ future as a result of they don’t seem to be too far-off.

Verbeek, the Ducks normal supervisor, needs velocity and energy. That would not should imply huge gamers. It does imply quick gamers that may compete onerous on the puck. He has acknowledged many instances that he didn’t assume the Ducks have been quick sufficient final season. They have dynamic younger gamers in forwards Trevor Zegras and Troy Terryand defenseman Jamie Drysdale. They want extra. Forward Mason McTavish might be on the opening night time roster in a top-nine function. The No. 3 choose within the 2021 NHL Draft has measurement (6-foot, 213 kilos) and velocity. He’s the kind of participant Verbeek needs. They added forwards Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano in free company. That’s two top-six forwards who can skate and compete onerous on the puck. Strome is a playmaker. Vatrano is a shooter. They’re strong additions to enhance Zegras and Terry up entrance, simply as Klingberg is on the again finish to affix Drysdale, Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Ducks want extra gamers who’re quick and compete onerous on the puck, gamers who can defend properly and rating. They hope they’ve a number of coming with McTavish being joined by forwards Jacob Perreault, Brayden Tracey and Benoit-Olivier Groulx. They want time to turn into NHL gamers and will get an opportunity this season.

Video: Ryan Strome joins Anaheim

Thoughts on scheduling of rivalry games? Should some sort of favoritism be given in direction of rivalries or does splitting the schedule extra actually assist develop the sport/markets higher? — @mikeybox

I’m all for rivalry games, however I’m not all for too lots of them. It would possibly sound nice for the Rangers and Islanders, Maple Leafs and Senators, Kings and Ducks, Flames and Oilers, Penguins and Flyers, Bruins and Canadiens, and Lightning and Panthers to play one another as many as eight or 10 instances in a season, however that is an excessive amount of. I’d be good with 5 instances a season, which is at the very least another time than they play now. The Rangers and Islanders play one another solely 3 times, all by Dec. 22. That’s not sufficient. I’m not bought that each crew must play in each market. For instance, as a lot as followers in Philadelphia would like to see Connor McDavid and the Oilers come to city, I believe they’d be OK sacrificing that chance for one more sport towards Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Similarly, Crosby goes to play in Southern California issues, however an additional Ducks-Kings sport would probably entice the native fanbase extra. But the NHL scheduling matrix calls for each crew to play at the very least as soon as residence and away and the aggressive stability within the League makes it robust to argue towards that. Attendance figures space additionally robust (the NHL performed to 90 % of modified capability final season with 20.7 million followers going to games) so clearly the present system works.

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