NHL Mailbag: Which team is more likely to overreact after first-round playoff exit?

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(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Once the first round is over, things tend to get a little weird in the playoffs because other teams are starting to get stuff done as well. Heck, the last few days even saw an active playoff team make a trade. Otherwise it’s hot-take time and many markets are more than happy to oblige. Time to sift through what we can.

Let’s go:

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Ian asks: “Which team is more likely to dramatically overreact to their first-round upset: Tampa, Pittsburgh, Calgary, or Washington?”

Based on the takes this week, it looks like Pittsburgh. A lot of the other teams — Washington in particular — don’t have much wiggle room to make a huge move without unloading someone really important to the group, and besides, there’s plenty of ways to rationalize things.

For Tampa, hey, it happens. For the Caps, hey, they lost in seven games to a team that looks pretty good in the second round too, and plus, they’ve been through this enough times before that it’s old hat to not worry about early exits). For Calgary, at least they have a pretty good core and seem to have correctly identified the problem, even if they don’t really have much of a chance to solve it via conventional means (sending James Neal on a one-way mission to the moon).

But hey, the Pens might try to slam their window shut by trading Evgeni Malkin. Very smart. Very intelligent.

Ryan asks: “Which too-old guy would you bring in next year if you had to?”

Depending on the kind of money and role he’d take, Jumbo Joe Thornton seems like your pick here. He had 51 points at 39 years old playing just 15 minutes a night, has looked good in the playoffs, had very good underlying numbers, all that stuff.

I don’t even know who another option would be, honestly. You’d be taking a huge risk with Luongo, Chara has looked positively decrepit in this postseason, Patrick Marleau is Patrick Marleau, and Matt Cullen doesn’t do anything for you at all. Feels like it’s Thornton by a mile.

Henry asks: “Think Bobrovsky is worth the Panthers’ pursuit this summer? Should this postseason improve his next contract that much?”

First of all, don’t ask two questions like it’s one question. But “should it” and “will it” are two very different things. It, of course, should not. It, of course, will.

The big knock on Bobrovsky has always been that he crapped his pants in the postseason, and while I would argue that was usually for reasons that were not his fault, that didn’t always matter much to people.

Patronick asks: “Why the hell is Johansson on Boston’s top PP over Krejci when they can’t score?”

I guess the answer is, “Guys can do different things” and maybe Bruce Cassidy feels like they need someone with Krejci’s vision on the second unit while Johansson is more of an around- the-net guy or something like that.

I’m not a big believer that you should even have second power play units in the first place, and like you say, this shouldn’t be a thing of worrying about putting all your eggs in one basket since they’re not scoring in the first place.

I think the honest answer is that sometimes coaches just go looking for the best talent mix they can find and they don’t always find it. That’s maybe why Barry Trotz didn’t have Mat Barzal on the first PP unit until Sunday. You can definitely outthink yourself.

LJ asks: “Is Adam Fox just a defenseman version of Jimmy Vesey?”

Well yes and no. He is in that he’s a Harvard guy who spurned the team that drafted him (and the other that traded for his rights) to go to the Rangers. He also is in that he’s bound to be overhyped by local media and fans.

But he’s not in that his ceiling is and always has been higher than Vesey’s. Jimmy Vesey came to the Rangers on the heels of winning a Hobey Baker he probably didn’t deserve with the implicit promise that he would be a second-line winger (insofar as that was the role Nashville reportedly offered him in the playoffs). He was never that. Was never going to be that. Bottom-six forward, maybe middle-six if he got really lucky, but that was about it.

Fox, though, scored a ton of points all throughout his college career in a way that Vesey really only did in his last two seasons. Both went to Harvard in their DY+1 but Vesey really only went off in his DYs+3 and 4. Fox was well above a point a game as a freshman, continuing his pre-draft bona fides as a scoring defenseman. Fox is coming to the Rangers at 21. Vesey made his NHL debut at 23. Not hard to spot the difference there in terms of “room to grow.”

But to circle back to the hype thing, it’s good to keep perspective. Fox scans as a very good middle-pair guy who’s going to get a lot of power play time and probably make the most of it. A Tory Krug type, if you like. You really need defensemen like that, but to project him as a top-pair defender for the next however-many years.

Deej asks: “Who was the best trade deadline pickup, and why was it Mats Zuccarello?”

Well I mean it for-sure wasn’t. Matt Duchene ended the regular season very strong for Columbus and has arguably been the Blue Jackets’ non-Bobrovsky playoff MVP (I would also hear an argument for Seth Jones and Artemi Panarin, obviously).

Zuccarello has been great but come on. Watch the games.

Pardini asks: “Who is the fifth-best player in each division?”

Just kinda subjectively without a lot of consideration because who cares: Brent Burns, Ryan O’Reilly, Sean Couturier, David Pastrnak.

Unfortunately I simply do not have time to discuss this further.

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Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.

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