Puck Daddy - NHL

At least once a month here on Puck Daddy I'll post a piece that'll solely consists of a question and answer session with a past or present NHLer. I started with a buddy (who also happens to also be in the Son-Of-An-Islander Club) Eric Nystrom(notes), fresh of his free agent signing with the Minnesota Wild.

Friendship aside, Eric is an underrated NHLer that's about to be given a chance to break out in the Twin Cities. He skates better than people realize, and has a skill set he hasn't really been allowed to use yet. You don't score 110 points in 159 games at Michigan by just being sandpaper on skates.

While I'm still not used to the sanitized answers a reporter gets when the voice recorder goes on, I think he gave us some pretty good stuff. Enjoy.

JB: I'd like to hear how you feel about the direction things are going in Calgary; you know, with trading Phaneuf and Jokinen re-signing ... what's going on in out there?

NYSTROM: I mean, it's tough to say. Obviously Olli and Alex [Tanguay] are back for their second time around. Last time, fans and the media were all over Jokinen cause he was making like, $5 million, and it was stressful for him. To have him at the price they have him now?  He's gonna be a bargain. I think he's a great player. And same with Tanguay - he's back, and they got him for a bargain price. He's a guy that Iginla loves playing with cause he's such a great passer. They could still make a lot of noise.

People are saying that just because they re-signed two guys they're crazy, but those are two top-notch guys that can help make them a scary team.

Damn, that's saying all the right things. Do you really think Jokinen is worth $3 million a year now?

Well, he's a former 90 point guy in the league, you know? He's got a lot of offensive capability - in Calgary, there's a lot of pressure there - knowing him personally, there was times when he felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He likes it there, and he's the type of player that they like there, and like I said, I think they got him for a bargain price this year.

Do you think it's going to get better or worse for the Flames?

It's hard to tell, man. Every year, teams turn over so much, and obviously they have still have Iginla leading them there. He really is one of the classiest guys I've played with.

I had a great experience there, I learned a ton in Calgary. There's a ton of quality guys; I mean, obviously we were disappointed with the way things went last year, but they think they're moving in the right direction. It's hard to tell in the preseason, but I wouldn't count them out of anything.

One more Calgary question: Did you like the Dion Phaneuf(notes) trade?

It's hard to say. Dion's one of my good friends, it was tough seeing him get traded. As players, we have no control over that. He has potential to be a franchise defenseman in the league, and Toronto really wanted to move forward into the future with a player like that, and they gave up a lot in return.

Y'know, Matt Stajan(notes) puts up a lot of numbers, and Ian White(notes) is a great defenseman who stepped in for us. Hagman has all the skills, and I was lucky enough to play with Jamal Mayers(notes), who I don't think gets enough credit, but he's one of the best guys that I've played with, he was an awesome linemate. So I think [in] the trade, Toronto got what they wanted but Calgary got what they wanted too. So, it's hard to say - Dion was one of my good friends though, so it's hard to see that happen.

Okay, moving on to Minn ... let's start simple. How are you liking it so far?

So far so good, it seems like the guys are pretty upset about the past and they're looking forward to going in a different direction, so it's pretty exciting.

Nice. Where do you see yourself fitting in on your new team?

Well, it's still kinda hard to tell - obviously it's the preseason and everyone's still trying to earn their spot. That's the one thing with free agency, you go to a whole new environment and you have to kinda start from scratch, where in your old place they sorta know what you're capable of. In Minny, they've seen me enough, but I still have to earn whatever role I want on the team, and that's what the preseason is all about.

Alright man, last question: Are the Minnesota Wild a playoff team?

Yeah, of course I think we are. Every team is so evenly matched that's a thin line between being in the playoffs and out of the playoffs. Last year Minnesota just had a tough start, and that kinda hindered them. There were a few injuries too, so...

At the very least, I know one thing: We are absolutely not going to be a fun team to play against.

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