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OCT. 6, 2016

3 P.M. ET

CHRIS McCLOSKEY: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our face-off conference call for the 2016/2017 season. In a moment, we’ll be joined by NHL commentators, Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire, as well as NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood, who will all talk about the upcoming season, which begins Wednesday night with a doubleheader.

This is a very special season for the NHL as beginning in January, it will celebrate its Centennial, and NBC Sports is very proud of its contribution to the growth of league during the first 100 years. From broadcasting the 1940 All-Star Game to Peter Puck in the ‘70s and the creation of the Winter Classic, Hockey Day in America, Inside the Glass, Wednesday Night Rivalry, NBC Sports has helped showcase the NHL in new and innovative ways.

Those efforts have also contributed to a growth in consumption. As many of you have probably seen, since the 2005/2006 season, NBC Sports has grown cable ratings 132 percent. Last year was the most watched full regular season on cable in 22 years. The top ten most watched NHL regular season games on record have all been on NBC. The top five most watched Stanley Cup Final games on record have all been on NBC.

NBC sports has also provided fans with more programming than ever. Since 2005/2006, the number of regular season games we’ve broadcast has increased from roughly 40 to 100 plus. And in 2012, we began televising every NHL Playoff game nationally, a first for the NHL at that time.

So we’re very proud of our NHL history here at NBC Sports. Next week a new season begins. Let’s hear from our speakers. First up, NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood.

SAM FLOOD: When hockey gets rolling, everyone on this call, it’s their favorite sport, and their passion is with pucks. We always say before each year, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. We plan to get better this year.

We’ve got some neat new ideas we’re going to roll into our coverage, starting with a thing we’re going to call Star Nights, where we’re going to take a player from each team and essentially follow them throughout the night. We’ll show them arriving at the building, where they’ll be the on ice interview for Pierre before the game begins, one player from each team. We’ll also roll in a feature about their background, where they played hockey as a kid, how they grew into a player, just get to know them and their family, so you have an understanding of that player.

We’ll then between periods, Keith and Mike will break down what they’ve done during that period. If it’s your Star Night and you decide to be a little lazy coming back up ice, you might get pointed out and mentioned you’re not playing as hard as you should. But hopefully, we’re talking about an amazing shift, a great power-play goal, or a short-handed defensive move that makes you appreciate how special these players are. We think it’s a great opportunity to sell the stars in this sport.

And the NHL and hockey players in general have a tendency to worry about the front of the jersey more than the name on the back of the jersey. We want to celebrate the names on the back of the jersey a bit more this year as we build stars and build the relationship with the fans and the players that make this game so great.

And then one other add for this year is our post-game producers and talent now know their job is to show every goal every night, and we’ll have a clock that counts down how many goals have been scored and how many of those goals we’ve shown, and every one of those goals will be shown on the post-game show before we leave air. We think it’s a fabulous way to celebrate one of the most exciting aspects of hockey, which is goal scoring, and not to show that the goalies just let goals in. We will also every night have the top five saves as selected by our expert panel of Mark Bellotti, our producer.

So that’s the plan to add a twist to what we’re doing, trying to push the game, the game we love, and make it better. What we love most of all is doing play-by-play. Once again, as Doc Emrick, the four-time Emmy award winner, who has changed hockey in the national broadcast by how well he calls the game, how passionate he is for the game, and how fun he is to work with. So I pass the puck to the great Doc Emrick.

MIKE EMRICK: Sam, thanks very much. Thanks to all of you for joining us today.

I guess a lot of this is personal because I’ve just come off quite an experience in Marquette, and I saw a community there on Monday and Tuesday and very early Wednesday morning that, like so many, where the sport is important, and realized anew that the gift that Eddie and Pierre and our other crew members are handed every year at this time to be ready and be prepared, but stand back and let people enjoy the games and the players and fill in the gaps where they are necessary.

Because up there I got to talk with no less than three aspiring announcers, none of them older than 16, and some college players from the past who are now coaching kids. None of this makes very good material for you today, I realize that, but given that we’re going to be celebrating the league’s centennial season and we get to see lots of ceremonial events this year, and all of this is perfect inspiration for me as we approach the start of our season with a doubleheader on Wednesday that is Blues at Hawks and Kings at Sharks, and then the next night, the banner raising in Pittsburgh against the Capitals. And the last time those three matchups occurred, there were handshakes at the end of it.

So the first three shifts of all of those games should be a lot of fun. I can only imagine what the Caps must be thinking when they hear the crowd cheer, the banner going up. Few places are as noisy as San Jose or as raucous as Chicago.

Speaking of Chicago, I guess it’s time to bring in my network partner for over a decade from that city, Eddie Olczyk.

EDDIE OLCZYK: Doc, thanks. Great to be back with everybody. Lots of story lines, but I think a couple that I’m going to be zeroing in on to start this season, one is the defending Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins pretty much coming back with a full complement roster from last year, really only losing Ben Lovejoy, a regular all season long who had a terrific playoff, and I know Pierre and I mentioned Ben Lovejoy quite a bit during the Stanley Cup Final and played very well.

The Penguins are pretty much the same team coming back. Mike Sullivan back for the first year. The first thing I’m looking for out of the ‘Burg, obviously, with Matt Murray out right now, Marc-Andre Fleury is the guy. But what does Jimmy Rutherford, the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins do with Marc-Andre Fleury moving forward as this year goes on?

So that will be one story line I think will be front and center because, from the chair that I sit in, there’s no question in my mind that Marc-Andre Fleury is a number 1 goaltender, and as we all know from last year at the end of the year, he was a backup to Matt Murray who had a terrific first half of the season in the national league.

Two other places where the antenna will be up, one will be in Montreal, and one will be in Minnesota. So in saying that, again, for the tenth year in a row, I will pass the puck to Pierre McGuire.

PIERRE McGUIRE: Thanks, Eddie.

I have a lot of story lines, much like Eddie and Doc and Sam, but I’ll talk about divisions. The Atlantic Division, I think, has a chance to be a division that’s vastly improved, especially when you think about the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers.

Tampa being able to keep Steven Stamkos has been a huge off-season story. I think Steve Yzerman and Jeffrey Bennett in Tampa deserve a lot of credit with the way they handled that entire negotiation and were able to get it done. Steven deserves a lot of credit for actually signing there and being cap friendly so they could keep their team intact.

It’s going to be very interesting to watch the in-state rivalry of the Panthers and the Lightning. The Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators, the Buffalo Sabres, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have all improved themselves, and that’s going to be fun to watch in the Atlantic.

I’m also going to be watching the Central Division where Eddie calls a lot of games for the Chicago Blackhawks. I think Chicago is going to be vastly improved, even though they were a great team last year. They’ve got some young, fun players that we’re going to be able to watch this year grow into insulating some of the veteran players on that team.

Can’t wait to watch P.K. Subban and that unbelievably aggressive defense down in Nashville. Peter Laviolette, the head coach, and the Phil Housley, the guy who coaches their defense has to be so excited to have the chance to have Subban, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm. It will be a phenomenal story line to watch. Nashville may actually break through.

And I love the point that Eddie made about Minnesota. It will be amazing to watch how Minnesota responds to a different coaching message from Bruce Boudreau.

All in all, I can’t wait to get going. I know Doc talked about the back-to-backs Wednesday and Thursday. Let’s get it on.

SAM FLOOD: Thanks, Pierre. And we’re ready to take questions.

Thanks for doing this, guys. I hope you have a great season. Hopefully, I can get a question for Pierre, Eddie, and Doc. Pierre, first of all, we really have another talented rookie corps this year in the league. I’m curious your thoughts on Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, and how each might fare in their markets. Does the fact that the spotlight is squarely on Matthews in Toronto, does that affect him in any way?

PIERRE McGUIRE: I’ve known Auston for a while in terms of his body of work and watching him play and develop over time. I don’t think he’ll be eaten up at all by the theater that is Toronto. I think one of the big things is the fact that Mike Babcock, Lou Lamoriello, and Brendan Shanahan are there. That’s going to help a lot in terms of insulating him.

He’s going to start the year as a depth player for the franchise. I think that’s critically important. They’re not going to throw him to the wolves straight away. Quite frankly, I think Toronto, before all is said and done, like I talked about in the opening remarks, they’re going to be one of the more improved teams around. I really believe that.

Mike Babcock is a tremendous coach, as everyone knows. Freddy Andersen was a great acquisition. And the drafting of Auston Matthews makes everyone better.

And in terms of Patrick Laine, Eddie Olczyk played with a tremendous player years ago, a guy by the name of Teemu Selanne. I’m not comparing the two, but there are a lot of similarities. I think Patrick is going to do extremely well in Winnipeg.

How about the infusion of young talent across the NHL landscape in general? Do you feel like team north America at the world cup kind of epitomized how excited we all should be with this next wave of talent?

EDDIE OLCZYK: When you have the best hockey players playing across the world, night in and night out, regardless of where they’re from and how old they are, you’re going to get entertaining hockey, and we see that on most nights in the National Hockey League.

There’s some really, really talented players, and you mentioned the world cup and Team North America, man, you got some guys on there that are -- you know, that have had success in the league and that are -- I mean, they’re proven studs. It’s a young man’s game, and I think what you see with the salary cap now is that, when you see some top heavy guys up at the top of the totem pole, it really forces teams to go young and force a lot of these young players in the National Hockey League into roles on their specific teams.

That’s just the nature of the beast because you have cost control for the first couple of years of these guys coming into the league, and they may be better than 75 or 80 percent than anybody in your organization. Yeah, maybe you’d like to keep them under wraps for a year or two, but if they’re good enough and they’re obviously cost friendly, I think that plays into it.

But the experience that they get at the World Cup, if they haven’t been in a national league before, or guys that have obviously played and had great success, whether it’s Aaron Ekblad or Brandon Saad, guys that have been around the block a couple of times, it’s a young man’s game, and you see a lot of tremendous young players night in and night out, just not the premier guys that you think about that have been around for five, six, seven years. We’ve got a lot of great young talent in this league from a lot of different parts of the world.

Finally, Doc, how has it been for you to call these games with so many young players on the rosters? Has it been a lot different than, say, maybe 10, 15 years ago?

MIKE EMRICK: Oh, yeah. One thing, if you compare the speed that we saw 15, 20 years ago, and even back into my first year, which was 1980, it was so much different then.

And it’s a story I mentioned to you, I think, maybe one before, after Bill Barber retired -- and this was a guy from the 1970s that was very prominent in Philadelphia. He and I were watching an old tape of one of the games in which he played in the 1970s shot from the same camera angles as what they were doing currently at the time we were watching it, and he said, in my day, the guy that could skate stood out, and now it’s the guy who can’t.

Now if you can’t skate, you’re not even in there. You’re somewhere else. You’re in one of the other minor leagues or maybe not playing at all. Speed, of course, is what was emphasized as the key to the Pittsburgh Penguins success, and we know how those things get copied. If it they hadn’t been already, they certainly will be now.

It’s fun to call when it moves along at a continuous flow. It’s fun when it’s occasionally bombastic too, but I think the blend we saw last year in the Stanley Cup Final was thoroughly exciting and was just a pleasure to see.

And in the case of our location, we were very close to it all, and we got to see that speed close up, and I hope it translated well to people at home.

This question -- two questions, actually, for Sam. First off, Sam, can you extrapolate anything regarding your upcoming coverage from what were probably lower than anticipated, or at least lower than they wished, numbers coming out of the World Cup of Hockey for ESPN?

SAM FLOOD: I actually went up to the final game of the World Cup of Hockey, and it was a great scene up there. I thought Toronto did a fabulous job. It was fun being in the building, fun to watch hockey in that way. I think it’s not relatable to what happens on U.S. hockey for the NHL. I think it’s a different event, different entity.

I thought it was a fabulous effort by the league, and I think it is a different time of year to be showing up at the hockey tournament. So I’m glad there was more hockey out there for people to see.

And one follow-up on that. As the executive producer for NBC’s coverage, did you take particular interest regarding how ESPN covered that tournament versus how you do your coverage for NBC?

SAM FLOOD: I really didn’t get to watch much of it, to be honest. I got the opportunity to go in the building, which it’s always fun to be in a building watching a hockey game. But we feel good about where we are with our hockey. I think they did a nice job. They hadn’t done hockey in a long time. To see them get out there and have the opportunity to do hockey was fun. They have plenty of people in their building that are passionate about this game, and I love that.

I love the fact that the more people that love hockey, the better off it is for the entire sport. So it was great to see their passionate hockey people got to touch and be part of the sport they love.

Hi, gentlemen, thank you for doing this. I sort of wanted to expand on what Pierre said during his introductory remarks. You mentioned Nashville. Being the Nashville representative on the line, I have to ask about the Predators. Of course, we know the move they made this summer, but looking at everything the team has done the last several months, from hosting a great all-star weekend, to trading for Ryan Johansen, to going on the longest playoff run in franchise history, I’m of the mind that this season may be the most heavily watched in Predators franchise history. Pierre, just looking to see if you agreed with me on that count.

PIERRE McGUIRE: Well, it’s interesting that you bring that up. I was at a lunch today with some executives from NBC, including Mr. Flood, and that’s the first thing I brought up during that lunch was the fact that I think Nashville’s going to be a huge story line. They’re primed for a breakthrough.

I had a chance to talk with P.K. Subban right after he was traded -- he was actually over in Europe. And we were talking about the trade and the emotion of the trade for him. And the one thing he talked about was he had never been coached by anybody who had anywhere near the resume of Phil Housley. He’s so excited to play for Peter Laviolette, but he’s thrilled to death to play in a system that Phil Housley is going to help orchestrate.

Knowing the players that are there, knowing Coach Laviolette, knowing the leadership quotient that is missing when you trade away a Shea Weber, there’s somebody that’s going to have to step up and be that new leader. Can it be Mike Fisher? Can it be a Ryan Ellis? Can it be a Roman Josi? That part I don’t know.

But I know one thing, they’re going to be must see TV. The Nashville Predators will be a dynamic, fun team to watch all season long.

I just had one more question, either to Pierre or to Eddie. Part of, obviously, the common denominator through the biggest trades in the NHL since 2000 in the calendar year 2016 has been David Poile. He’s been at it for a very long time. He seems to have a gain with every single change that the NHL has gone through. What makes him such an effective general manager and allows him to make these trades like he did this year?

EDDIE OLCZYK: I would say that I think just Mr. Poile’s experience of understanding and having the ability to be in one spot for a long period of time. I mean, I think there is something for that. He’s got tremendous help with the assistant general manager there in Paul Fenton, who does a terrific job. When you look at how this team has been able to draft.

Yes, you make moves, and you’re bringing players in. You make the trade with Ryan Johansen, which was a terrific trade. The draft that they’ve had, especially on the back end and in net over the years, has just been absolutely tremendous.

Where it’s been a little bit of a slow spot for them is that the forward position, they haven’t been able to hit a home run like they’ve been able to do on the back end, a lot of times on the back end, or in goal they haven’t been able to really get that stud forward like they’ve had some stud defensemen on the back end.

So I think the people that he has working for him, the people that he has working next to him, and his ability to be able to understand change and understand the way that the game is going and having the ability. Even with some lack of success and not going in long runs, he’s still been able to hold that position. It’s a credit to Mr. Poile and what he’s been able to do over his career.

Like I said, when you have good people working for you and alongside of you, it makes it obviously a little bit easier. But you’ve got to change, and you’ve got to change with the times. They certainly tried to do that and be a little bit more of a skill team and get some quicker players there.

To me, with everything that Pierre said and the moves that they’ve made, I still have the question as whether or not in the goal, the guy in goal can be that guy. He’s had his opportunities to take this team on his shoulders and move forward. He’s yet to do that in the playoffs. And Pekka Rinne at some point, with that frame of 6'5", 6'6", 220, has to take that next step.

A couple of years ago, the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks are going at it in the playoffs, and Corey Crawford was out of the playoffs and not playing -- he was the backup -- and Scott Darling outplayed Pekka Rinne. So at some point here, I think a lot of the underground eyes of the National Hockey League and people that follow this game on a daily basis -- and just speaking for myself and just hearing things is that, look, it’s time that Pekka Rinne takes this Nashville Predators team to a different level.

Doc and Pierre, and we talk about it a lot is that, if you don’t have it -- and that’s goaltending -- you’ve got absolutely no shot to win. They need Pekka Rinne to play to the numbers in the regular season in the playoffs, and if they do that, then there’s no question that, as Pierre said perfectly, that they become a must see team moving into the ’16/'17 season.

PIERRE McGUIRE: And I’ll just build off of what Eddie said because I completely agree with everything that he said. The most important thing in terms of describing Mr. Poile and his managerial style, proactive rather than reactive. He has been extremely aggressive, whether it’s Filip Forsberg, whether it’s Mike Fisher, whether it’s Shea Weber for P.K. Subban deal, he’s been extremely proactive.

And the only way as a manager in the league that you can be proactive -- and I went through a few of them. Some of them are reactive, some are proactive. The only way you can be proactive and be successful is to be insulated with an amazing staff, and they have that in Nashville.

Phenomenal amateur scouts, great pro scouts, and a really good assistant GM in Paul Fenton.

With all the talk about how competition gets better and better throughout the season -- Eddie, you mentioned at the outset, you’re going to have your eye on the Pittsburgh Penguins. We haven’t had a repeat Stanley Cup Champion since the Red Wings in 1998. How about the chances of this very talented Pittsburgh team, which are returning a lot of personnel? What are the chances of winning the Cup for the second straight year?

EDDIE OLCZYK: Well, they’re sitting in a pretty good spot. That’s the extent of it really. Mike Sullivan came in, and for the second straight Cup, the Penguins organization makes a coaching change somewhere along the regular season. Danny Bylsma did it a couple of years ago, and Mike Sullivan did it this year.

I think there’s something to not a lot of change with this team. We’ve seen it in the past. Chicago two years ago didn’t make a lot of change, and they ended up coming up a little bit short. You need to be healthy. You need a lot of luck, and you need world class players. Certainly, the Penguins have that.

Again, I keep going back to what will the Penguins do. What will Jimmy Rutherford do with Marc-Andre Fleury? There’s no doubt in my mind that he wants to be a number one goaltender. He wants to play. He wants to play a lot. Matt Murray got the net. Can he bounce back to where he was last year?

To say a percentage, I would not -- I don’t think I would want to sit here and say that I give a certain percentage chance, but you look at the Eastern Conference, why not? Why can’t they give themselves a chance to get back to the Stanley Cup Final?

They’ve got depth. You saw the three lines. Doc touched on it earlier, the speed factor. When you think about really what happened last year, not only bringing in some of the young players, Conor Sheary and Tommy Kuhnhackl, but the moves that were made to bring in quicker players, faster players to complement two of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Whether it was on the back end, getting Trevor Daley, obviously, he was hurt in the end, but bringing in a guy like Justin Schultz that play fast and make plays and are not afraid to put pucks tape to tape. The acquisition of Carl Hagelin made them an extremely quicker team.

So, yeah, why not? Why not? I’m a big believer in having lived it as a player, until somebody can knock them off the pedestal, they’re the team, and there hasn’t been a lot of changes. They’ve got guys that are there and are going to be there for a long time. But, again, I keep going back to what will happen in goal? Matt Murray is going to be out for whatever it is, six, seven more weeks, whatever it might be. How does Mike Sullivan handle that situation? Because at some point something’s got to give. I just really believe that.

Look, if it ends up being Marc-Andre Fleury, there is a couple of teams in the league, I don’t think there’s any doubt they could use a guy of his abilities, but, again, it’s how much cap space do you have? Will the Penguins -- are they even considering that? You have to think that they are, but that is something that we’ll be keeping a real close eye on, but they’ve got a hell of a chance, there’s no doubt about it.

Doc and Pierre, what do you think?

PIERRE McGUIRE: Well, I was just going to say I was part of the Penguins team that repeated in ’91 and ’92. We would not have repeated in ’92 with the same team from ’91. The thing that was so smart from Craig Patrick, Scotty Bowman, and the management team there, they were extremely aggressive in the trade market. They identified the weakness of the team early, and they addressed it as the season went along.

That was the main thing they needed, toughness and depth. So they added Kjell Samuelsson and Rick Tocchet and Kenny Wregget in goal. They traded away a Hall of Famer in Paul Coffey, and a future Hall of Famer in Mark Recchi. But that’s the creative management you need to have if you’re going to repeat in this NHL.

I would be surprised -- and everything Eddie said is really accurate. But I would be surprised that the Penguins would be able to repeat if they did not make a creative move either before the trade deadline or at the trade deadline. I would be shocked if they could repeat with the same team going forward.

MIKE EMRICK: And I think too one of the things that overshadows teams that do have -- if you assume the immediate help of Matt Murray when he comes back in November. One of the overshadowing parts that I know that all of you on the line are aware of is the fact that, if all of this extends past the season, there’s that expansion draft for Las Vegas coming up, and you’re only allowed to protect one. So will that force their hand at some point before they even get to the point of the expansion draft?

That’s why what Eddie pointed out about an interesting year to be watching number 29 in Pittsburgh is dead ahead for us.

This is for anyone on the call who wants to take that, but I’m curious -- and I understand it’s early, but I’m curious where you would rank Connor McDavid right now in terms of if you were placing him among a ranking of all NHL players.

PIERRE McGUIRE: I’ll take it first because I was just on a poll for TSN that will be running soon. I had Connor McDavid rated at the second best player in the league right behind Sidney Crosby.

EDDIE OLCZYK: That’s something I would have to think about. I would not have him in my top five. As of right now, he’s only played 40-whatever amount of games. Obviously, the young man has incredible upside. We all understand that. Maybe have another conference call right around the all-star game, and he might be the second leading scorer in the National Hockey League.

You could just see, I think, what Pierre is talking about, where he has him rated so high, whether it was to play in the world cup or the flashes of brilliance this last season in Edmonton, and I think Tom McCollum want to give one, but I think there are a few guys in the league right now that would be a little bit ahead of Connor McDavid.

MIKE EMRICK: Yeah, in terms of body of work, I agree with Eddie. Flashes of brilliance are two words I was going to use that Eddie has. And they do describe him. If you look at the highlight reels, why wouldn’t you describe him that way? But just for the flashes of brilliance, top ten, but, again, the body of work is so short.

Pierre, of course, has a depth of his body of work that goes beyond what he’s done professionally, but I would say top ten, just based on that. In terms of pinning it down, it’s a little hard until we see one full season and then are able to evaluate him against the other players that are, year after year, top ten players.

You guys were talking about the Predators over in the central, just sticking with the Western Conference for a second. You guys had the Sharks and the Kings on opening night. Maybe Doc, Eddie, and Pierre, if you could all weigh in on the Pacific Division and some of your favorites out there out west.

MIKE EMRICK: I’m one of the guys who like the Sharks to repeat in the regular season. I don’t do any picking for Stanley Cup until two weeks after the trade deadline. I suppose that sounds like a couch, but I’ve never done that before because I think so much, especially the way our trade deadline goes now, so much changes in the complexion of these teams, and you need to give them a couple of weeks to settle in.

So you can translate that as a couch if you want, but I’ve seen so much happen over a period of time back through the years that you just wind up being embarrassed.

I had the Pirates winning 98 games and finishing second to the Cubs this year. I don’t know how much you should even trust me on anything.

SAM FLOOD: Hold on, Doc. They were behind the Cubs, but they were just a couple of notches below.

MIKE EMRICK: I know. The fact that they added Michael Boedker and David Schlemko impresses me. That’s the reason. The other guys can probably do a lot better with Anaheim and Los Angeles, who I think are the other two that are going to finish in the top three in the Pacific, but I’ll leave that to them. But I do like the Sharks.

EDDIE OLCZYK: It’s Eddie Olczyk. Doc touched on Anaheim. Very intriguing coaching change there obviously. Bruce Boudreau out, now in Minnesota, and Randy Carlisle back with the Anaheim Ducks. To me, I think the window there is probably as wide open as it’s going to be. I mean, you have two studs up front in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who are just incredible offensive players and guys that aren’t afraid to make it look mean every once in a while. Certainly, we love that aspect of it.

But the depth on that team offensively is still a concern for me. They have tremendous amount of depth on the back end. Pierre probably would be able to elaborate on this a little bit more. I don’t know what the situation is right now with Hampus Lindholm right now contractually, but they have a lot of defense, and Bob Murray and his staff have done a tremendous job there of really signing and drafting some really good defensemen over the years.

I think that for them, you know, Doc was talking about moves and trades, as Pierre was earlier, to me, look, you don’t find many teams that are looking to move 25 and 30 goal scorers. I get it. But teams are looking for defense, and the Anaheim ducks have a -- and the Breeders Cup will be in the first weekend of November. I think you can see this as well. They have a stableful of thoroughbreds on the back end, in my humble opinion. So maybe they would think about moving one of those D-men or two to get an offensive guy that can finish because I think that’s the one thing that is separating -- I don’t want to say separating. That’s one thing that might be a hurdle for them again is that do they have enough offensive flair and finish outside of the two big guys there to take that next step?

So I’m really looking forward to seeing what Anaheim does moving forward.

PIERRE McGUIRE: I think the Pacific is going to be really difficult. One of the reasons why, what Doc was talking about with San Jose, what Eddie was talking about with Anaheim. I would never discount any team run by Dean Lombardi or coached by Darryl Sutter in Los Angeles. Dave Tippett is probably the best coach in the league that nobody really talks about. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal coach. It will be interesting to see what he can squeeze out of Arizona.

But what Eddie talked about is really important, and I really think one of the breakthrough players this year in NHL will be a young team in Anaheim by the name of Shea Theodore. He’s a fantastic talent with amazing skating ability, huge defensive upside. They push hard from the back end, and I think with Randy Carlisle being there, as Eddie was talking about, and Trent Yawney, his assistant, helping him out, I think the sky is the limit for Anaheim. There’s not a lot of teams in this league that are prepared to trade number 1 goalies. They traded Freddy Andersen to Toronto because they trust John Gibson and they know it’s his time.

I think Anaheim is going to be a phenomenal, phenomenal story to watch, but in particular, two names that aren’t used now that maybe will be, one is Shea Theodore, one is John Gibson.