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Scott Cullen
12/4/2006 4:39:58 PM

Quick hits on another group of young forwards, Stanley Cup-winning brothers and tracking down a bunch of names from the past in this week's edition of TSN.ca's NHL Mail.

On to the mail.

Hi Scott, The Boston Bruins are playing very well right now and trade rumours have diminished. Even though the Bruins are good right now, they could be great if they were able to get a top goaltender. Has there been any word on a goalie since Thomas has been playing good. One more thing nobody is talking about Boston making the playoffs, I just don't understand that. They have one of the best defenseman in the league and two good lines which they never had before and one of the best checking lines. What's your view on them, do you think they are a cinderella team this year, that could go all the way! Mike Bondy from Windsor, Ontario

Mike, Thomas' play seems to have put any goaltending acquisitions on the back-burner. Can the Bruins make the playoffs as they are currently constructed? For sure. I'm pretty sure I had them ranked 12th to start the season, so I'm fairly supportive of the Bruins' talent level, particularly with Marc Savard's presence giving them two legitimate scoring lines. If the Bruins are looking to make a move in order to get better immediately, I'd suggest adding another defenceman as Jason York, Milan Jurcina, Mark Stuart and Andrew Alberts are all guys that seem best-suited to 5-6 roles. - SC

Hey Scott, Can you tell me and the rest of Leafs Nation what is going on with Carlo Colaiacovo? Last I heard he was all set to make his comeback and then he had more injury problems, any set date on when we can see him back with the big club? Thanks, Will

Will, to the relief of fans around the world, Colaiacovo recorded three assists in three games with the Marlies on his recent conditioning stint and could be called up as soon as today (Monday) by the Leafs. - SC

Hey Scott, I have been noticing that Detroit has been choosing to put Joey MacDonald in the net in a couple of their last games. I noticed that whenever Chris Osgood is playing it is usually if not always MacDonald backing him up. Why has MacDonald been in net lately? Do you think there may be some issues between Osgood and the coaching, or any possible trade talk surrounding either Osgood or Macdonald? One last question do you think that Dominik Hasek will be able to stay healthy this season? Thanks, Nathan, Kitchener, Ontario

Nathan, the Red Wings have been using McDonald because Osgood is on injured reserve because of a hand injury. The Wings have also been using McDonald to back up Osgood because Detroit is making a concerted effort not to put Hasek into games when he doesn't have adequate warm-up. Thus, even if Hasek is backing up McDonald (while Osgood is hurt) and McDonald was getting lit up, Wings coach Mike Babcock insists that the Wings won't change goaltenders mid-period. That means the Wings are making a concerted effort to try and keep Hasek healthy. I can't possibly guess whether these efforts will actually pay off, but if Hasek doesn't finish this season healthy, it has to be the last time any team hands him a starting job. - SC

Hi Scott, With Kyle Wellwood on pace to score about sixty points and zero penalty minutes (he should get a few eventually) do you think he could be a candidate for the Lady Byng? Jonathan C.

Jonathan, While Wellwood's low (or non-existent) penalty minute totals put him in the discussion, the Lady Byng typically goes to a player who produces more than 60 points. Just looking at this year's top scorers, the likes of Dany Heatley, Martin St. Louis, Martin Straka and Patrick Marleau are all point-per-game scorers with single-digit penalty minute totals. The Leafs' best bet, even if a defenceman hasn't won the award since Red Kelly, might be Tomas Kaberle, who has just four penalty minutes. - SC

Bonjour Scott, I'm curious about Washington's young talent. I was looking up some first round draft selections over the past few years and I noticed that Washington has three European players from the first round of the 2002 Entry Draft - Alexander Semin, Petr Taticek, and Jakub Klepis. We know how Semin is doing, but how are the other two coming along in their development. How would they complement the already electrifying play of one Alexander the Great? Haaris - Laval, QC

Haaris, Semin has emerged as a quality scoring winger, which allows the Capitals a little offensive balance when they play Semin and Ovechkin on separate lines. Taticek hasn't been able to live up to being drafted ninth overall by Florida and has recently returned to the Czech Republic, where he's playing with Kladno. Klepis was drafted by Ottawa and traded to Buffalo before the Caps acquired him. He's starting to pay dividends this year as a bona fide NHLer, but his offensive upside is limited, so he's more likely to play a third-line role in Washington. - SC

Hi Scott: What has happened to Kerry Fraser? I have not seen his name in a box score this season. Has the helmet driven him out of hockey? Thanks, Chuck Nielsen, Indianapolis, Indiana

Chuck, TSN's own James Duthie had an interesting little piece with Kerry Fraser earlier this week, which you can see here. Fraser suffered a foot injury in the off-season and was rehabbing. He made his return to the NHL this week. - SC

Hey scott, I was wondering, with the Sens recent winning streak, do you think they truly have turned it around, or do you think it was just a fluke? Who do you think is the best player on the Sens right now? Do you think the Sens will even make the playoffs? Kevin Ettlin, Iroquois, Ontario

Kevin, I do think the Sens have turned the corner and, assuming decent health, will solidly be in the playoffs, because of the contributions from the second and third line, along with steady goaltending from Ray Emery. The best player on the team would be Dany Heatley, though I have a real appreciation for what Mike Fisher brings to the team. - SC

Hey Scott, I really liked your rapid fire analysis of those rookies/prospect in the last mail bag. Care to try a few more? I'm going to include some AHL guys, if that's alright: Guillaume Latendresse, Robert Nilsson, Travis Zajac, Nicklas Bergfors, Lauri Tukonen, Dustin Boyd, Dan Paille, Valtteri Filppula, Benoit Pouliot, Jussi Timonen.Thanks! Andrew

Andrew, sure, I enjoyed the rapid fire, so let's load it up again:
Latendresse - Adds much-needed size and a physical element to the Habs forward lines. He's good on the cycles down low and his soft hands and touch around the net makes him a good top-six forward. He could still improve his skating and conditioning.
Nilsson - A very skilled player who will warrant another look with the Islanders before too long. He's still only 21, so it's much too soon to write him off as a top prospect.
Zajac - I've been really impressed with how smoothly he's transitioned to the pro game. He has good size and skates really well for a big centre and, potentially, could be a first-line player in the future.
Bergfors - A solid two-way winger whose offensive game is developing quite nicely. Only 19, he's the leading goal-scorer for Lowell, so Bergfors could get a shot in New Jersey this season.
Tukonen - A quality prospect for the Kings, but he's not having a good season so far and is currently out with a knee injury. Long-term, however, he should be a regular in the NHL.
Boyd - Has continuously improved, throughout his junior career and into the pros, and is now the best Flames scoring prospect. Considering how well he's played since starting in the AHL this year, Boyd seems like a good fit as a top-six forward.
Paille - Works really hard and should have a long NHL career, but his offensive limitations make him a good third-liner.
Filppula - His name makes me double-check every time for one thing, but so far I've only seen him in a very limited role with the Wings. He's done alright with that, but needs to be more assertive if he's going to climb the depth chart.
Pouliot - A skilled forward that has finishing ability, but his intensity and willingness to sacrifice are questions in my mind. Right now, I think he'll have a hard time living up to his lofty draft status.
Timonen - An interesting enough prospect who I watched going against brother Kimmo last week. However, I think Jussi needs to get better in his own zone before he sticks in the NHL.
-SC

Hi! What is Shane Churla doing today? Last time I heard he was scouting for the Calgary Flames. Best Regards, Lasse, Sweden

Lasse, I'm not sure what his itinerary is specifically for today, but Churla is now a regional scout for the Dallas Stars. - SC

Hey Scott, I have Brenden Morrow on my pool team, but he's been kind of disappointing this year as he hasn't lived up to his captain designation by producing a lot (at least in my view), to add to that he's been constantly on and off the DTD status. I'm thinking of dropping him. Is this a good idea or should I just wait and hope for the best? Thanks, Fahim, Hamilton

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