OTF Q&A: The Leftovers

Backup goalie wars, retired numbers, offensive regression and more in the next installment of our Q&A.

Even though our last Predcast was longer than the extended version of Ben-Hur, we somehow still couldn't fit in your questions. There were a lot of good ones though, and we didn't want to leave them unanswered. So let's get right to what you've been thinking about over this long summer:

Jon: I'll say 50/50. Hutton has shown he can be a mostly adequate goaltender if he's given plenty of minutes. However, he'll never get those kind of minutes playing behind Pekka Rinne. He should have gotten more starts last year, but the coaching staff obviously doesn't trust him as much as they should, or else they wouldn't have ridden Rinne into the ground.

Maz's new contract is only for one year, and they may want to get him a few more looks in the crease if the plan is to re-sign him to take over backup duties full-time.

Dan: I will bank on Carter Hutton having a good camp and getting the benefit of the doubt. 65/35 in favor of Hutton.

Caroline: I've never been all that confident in Carter Hutton's consistency, especially given the tiny number of games he ends up playing because of Rinne's dominance. I think if he shows any shakiness Maz is going to be given a chance, and it's entirely possible that he seizes the moment and doesn't let go. So at any point in the season? Let's say... 75-80% it goes in Maz's favor.

Alex: 90-95%. Most of my confidence is because your question asks if he will beat out Hutton "at any point this season" which I think is almost a sure bet. Hutton's average-ness is inevitable, and Mazanec's potential is too alluring. This is not to say that Hutton won't again have the back-up title at the end of the season in a playoff push, but Mazanec will likely be relied on more than expected.

Jon: I don't think either one of them could play Goose's role as well as he can, even if he is exorbitantly overpaid for it. But I certainly think either of them would be better than Eric Nystrom, and I'm presently on the fence about Gabriel Bourque.

Dan: Not sure if they're better in terms of talent, but I'd rather seem them on the NHL roster, just based on cap hit, speed, future, etc. And if I'm being blunt, Miikka Salomaki might be better at Nystrom's role than Colton Sissons.

Caroline: I'm honestly not that familiar with Watson/Sissons play so I can't give you an educated answer, but given that they're younger, not paid nearly as much (especially for Goose), and the positions they play are generally not the hardest to replace, my guess it that they'd probably be just as good in the long run - just not necessarily right away.

Alex: Yes. Paul Gaustad's health and age combined with Nystrom's hockey playing ability is not a great option. I'll take the young guns in that 4th line role.

Jon: I don't think so. In my mind, a team shouldn't retire a jersey just because the player was really good or a fan favorite. The player should be nearly be a generational talent and/or vault the team and franchise to a place they wouldn't have seen without them. That's why Rinne or Shea Weber should be the first one's retired, pending whoever hangs up the skates first.

Dan: Pekka Rinne's number 35.

Caroline: Nah, I don't think Kimmo will go up. He spent some good years here, but he's going to be remembered as a Flyer, not a Predator (despite having a captaincy here). He didn't have that extra-special oomph of impact on this team that's necessary for a number retirement. My bet is that Legwand goes up first. Rinne or Weber would probably be one of the next after him.

Alex: No to Kimmo. I bet they hang up franchise scoring leader David Legwand's number 11 first.

Jon: It shouldn't be a huge concern, but Nashville did have the 9th-highest shooting percentage of all NHL teams at even strength. That varies wildly from year to year though, so it's impossible to predict what will happen going forward. But it is at least feasible they may not be as fortunate this year.

Looking at each individual's total shooting percentage, though, not a whole lot really stands out other than Mike Fisher. He won't shoot 17.1% again. Ribeiro has always had a high percentage, Wilson seems to be following that path, and it's unknown yet whether Forsberg's 11% is his close to his true average.

If there is a slow down in scoring from the top-six, it should be helped by a better-assembled third line, and the defense. Plus, if the power play is even a little bit better, that will add to the overall goal total. Ultimately, I wouldn't expect offensive production to change too much this year.

Dan: I don't see it, unless Ribeiro takes a serious dive in production. James Neal is at his apex, Wilson & Smith are still young, and the third line will be better.

Caroline: I'm not expecting a regression based on the fact that we haven't really changed anything offensively and there's no real reason to believe that they can't continue to play as well as they did last year (March aside - gag). I think Wilson and Smith will be on new contract highs. Forsberg will want to avenge his lack of Calder-ation and prove that he wasn't a freshman flash-in-the-pan. Ribeiro will want to put up good numbers to avoid as much discussion of his civil case as possible (don't get me started on this). Neal will just keep being Neal. etc. etc. So I'm optimistic about our offense. Should be good.

Alex: They have the same top-six as last year and improved their bottom-6 significantly with the addition of Cody Hodgson and (probably) Kevin Fiala. I actually expect the scoring to improve a little.

Jon: Yes. These are professional hockey players after all. How long it would take would just depend on the situation. It'd be more of a shock to the system if he left mid-season rather than say, the off-season. Or if it were a few years down the line after the youth has had a chance to grow and mature, it may not take as long as you'd think.

Dan: In two years, I think they could. Weber's loss would likely coincide with Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro departing. So that would likely mean a promotion of the youth core and that might be okay, plus whomever they bring in as the trade bounty. But right now? Nah.

Caroline: Right now? Ehhhh... I think it would be a huge punch in the gut, both in the locker room and to the fan base. Especially the fan base. I don't think we're quite ready for it yet. I more or less agree with Dan - after another year or two of our younger players (especially defensemen) really proving themselves worthy and able, the locker room and the fans could handle Weber leaving, but right now the scars from Post-Season 2012: Almost an Apocalypse are still a little tender.

Alex: I hope it doesn't happen, but yes I think it could survive. While the natural captain choice would be Mike Fisher, it is probably time that Colin Wilson take a more senior leadership role. I think if Captain Weber was traded, you would see guys like Wilson, Josi, or Jones step up and command that locker room.


What do you think?

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