BP Mailbag: 2-14-14

Need some reading material for the Olympic break? Cartoony Newman is here to help with this week's mailbag.

@BoltProspects What are the odds of Adam Erne making the team next year? Might he replace Ryan Malone? #BPMailbag

Well, step one there is Ryan Malone, who has one more year left on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit. His actual owed amount is “only” $2.5 million, but he also has a limited No Trade Clause. He can submit a 12-team list of teams to which he’d accept a trade. Last June CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Lightning were trying to trade Malone and even offering a draft pick an enticement for someone to take him. Obviously there were no takers. There were also rumors that the Lightning had him submit his 12-team list after his limited clause kicked in on July 1. It’s possible they could buy him out this year, but with one year left, is it worth it?

The catch here for this specific question is Adam Erne will only be 19 next fall and therefore is too young for the AHL as a backup NHL plan. He’s also going to have to beat out Drouin, Suri, Connolly, Namestnikov, etc for at most, 1-2 spots. He’s not beating out Drouin, so he’d have to have a pretty impressive camp to make the team, Malone or not. His long-term worth is as a power forward though, yes. A more likely immediate replacement for what Malone was signed for could be Cedric Paquette from Syracuse.

The fact is Malone is a fourth liner now, who while he’s good for the room, doesn’t offer the club a lot in terms of variety or impact ice time. Getting out of his contract will be difficult, and there are just too many players ahead of Erne right now to think he’s the frontrunner. While he was great in camp leading up to his suspension, he’s been up and down a bit this season. He could benefit from dominating in Quebec City next year, though there may not be another choice. Odds are slim he makes the Lightning.

RSchmitz via BP Messageboard: Would you be willing to deal Palat for a guy like [Adam] Larsson?

Adam Larsson is a righty defenseman who went fourth overall to the Devils in 2011. He made the NHL club that same year, showing maturity beyond his years. He was asked to work on his defensive game last year and only managed six assists in 37 games. More was expected this year of Larsson, who saw some 20-plus minute nights in preseason. As the season began, he found himself as a healthy scratch in October. He hurt his knee around Thanksgiving and was put on injured reserve, and then when he was healthy he was assigned to AHL Albany where he has a goal and nine points in 14 games.

I mentioned him in a recent mailbag as a possible target because he’s young, is a righty shot, and can move the puck. The Devils and Lightning match-up well for a deal as the Devs have solid defensive depth. The Lightning have a surplus of young forwards and could use better balance between forwards and D.

Palat is a guy that is just too valuable for the Lightning at this stage, however. He does so many things that go unnoticed by most (likely not Lou Lamoriello), and he’s probably an alternate captain in the future. I don’t think they need Larsson that bad, especially with Koekkoek and Sustr trending up. A more likely piece to deal would be Brett Connolly, who’s in the AHL due to numbers (like Larsson) and has more offensive upside than Palat.

New Jersey has Zidlicky and Fayne coming off the books this summer as unrestricted free agents and Larsson can step right in on D again next year. Would Lou rather have young offense? Jagr, Carter, Bernier, and Gionta are all UFA’s this summer and Elias and Zubrus are both over 35. Brunner and Ryder are one year away from free agency. Hmmm…

@BoltProspects Will the NHL ever do anything with the horrible officiating? It's all a bunch of missed and made up calls #BPMailbag

My vote is Bobby “The Chief” Taylor takes over as head of officiating.

This is out of my realm of knowledge, but I know they’re trying to get everyone on the same page and consistent, but like MLB umpires, they’re humans and they make mistakes. A lot of them. And common sense can’t prevail because black-and-white rules take speculation and interpretation out of the calls.

My favorite – which I’ve seen twice now – is the puck being in the goalie’s glove and the glove across the goal line, though because the reviewer can’t literally see the puck, it’s no goal. Give that to a fifth grade class learning about deductive reasoning and see if they can get it right.

There simply has to be a better system of accountability for all involved.

That's all for this week. To submit a question, use the hashtag #BPMailbag on Twitter or reply to the story thread on our message board.