The Big Fish…

The Boston Bruins face the Chicago Blackhawks starting Wednesday night. For two teams as old as the NHL itself, these two teams having never faced each other seems a bit far-fetched. True, though. I, for one, never thought I would ever see anything happen for a first time between two original six teams. Pretty cool to be able to watch, especially with two teams as good as they are. My thoughts have been drifting to what will happen after the Finals, however. With the world being turned upside down in Oilerland, things look to be shaping up to be quite interesting. I wonder…..

If the Bruins win, that will be two Cups in three years. With the cap going down, and some big players due for raises, does winning change their reluctance to part with Milan Lucic? The big winger is due for a substantial raise come next year, and is exactly what the doctor order for the “small, skilled” Oilers. If Hemsky and Horcoff are dealt with, that frees up just over 10 million dollars in cap space. It could happen, as the Oilers have the picks and prospects to do it, but the question is would the Bruins? I would think not, seeing as how big a role Lucic plays on the B’s. But does their organizational view change if they win again? Does it make it easier to trade the big winger, who has already become the prototypical power-forward and is just 25 years old? Maybe. I’d like to think so, because personally, I think Lucic is one of the biggest game changers out there. I wonder if David Krejici likes the room he gets when Milan is on his wing? How good would a second line of Lucic-Gagner-Yakupov look? Pretty good in my eyes. All that being said, the package would have to be pretty enticing for Chiarelli to bite, but with the way MacTavish is going, he might just trade away the Gretzky statue to get what he wants. The Bruins have Nathan Horton going UFA and I can`t see them resigning him( if they keep Lucic, anyway). Concerns with concussions, but skillset sorely needed here, I wonder what he would cost. Unlike Lucic, it would just be money, not players.  Interesting, indeed…

If the Blackhawks take the Cup, does it make the Oilers think twice about how  they build this team? A lot of people thought Chicago would be one and done after shipping out half of their team after their cup three years ago. Trading away pieces like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and others should have crippled the Hawks. The 2013 version though, looks just as strong, if not better, than the 2010 Blackhawks. The drafting of the Hawks has just been outstanding, and for a long time, as well. Even with the huge misses they made, like Cam Barker and Jack Skille, they were still able to pull out several useful players, that has been restocking the team for years. Guys like Brian Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Dave Bolland, and Marcus Kruger are the kind of depth most teams are looking for, and all were drafted by Chicago. Pretty nice to not have to buy those pieces in free agency, like the Oilers. Conveniently enough, Viktor Stalberg and Brian Bickell are set to be UFA this offseason, and are on the Oilers radar. Both offer a set of skills the Oil are lacking, but I have some concerns with both players. Bickell is on an absolute tear in the post season,scoring at a ridiculous clip. Every good game he has is going to drive up the price, and while I like Bickell, I don`t think he`ll deliver on the contract he will get. Stalberg is a little more intriguing, but the advanced stats say he needs to be sheltered, and I don`t think that is the type of player Edmonton needs.We have enough players that can`t play tough comp right now. I believe both will be heavily considered for the Oil, but my money is on Stalberg in Oil silks come September. Wait and see, I guess…..

I wonder if the OKC Barons will look a little different come training camp this fall. After the change in coaching up on th ebig club, if I was Todd Nelson, I would start getting my stuff packed, just in case. Nelson has done nothing short of a fantastic job in OKC, but I believ his coaching philosophy is different from MacT`s as well. Nelson was gifted the Golden Kids, sans Yakcity, and did not look that good. Once the kids left, and he got his roster back, the Barons turned around and shot up th estandings. Making it to the conference finals two years in a row is a big accomplishment in the AHL,considering the constant turnover and changing rosters. I would have to assume, however, Nelson might be more suited to coach a blue collar type team, like a Nashville or Phoniex , than an up tempo team like the Oilers. If MacT wants the two clubs on the same page, he`s going to need a coach that pushes the play like Eakins wants to. I don`t think thats Nelson. I hope he stays, because I don`t mind the results he has put up, but its not like a lot of the young prospects are flourishing either. Interestign to see what happens there….

After listening to the MacT`s presser and Kruger`s interview, I can`t imagine how hard it was for MacTavish to do what he did. Ralph Kruger oozes class, even over the phone. He seems incredibly bright, and I would wager he`s the type of coach that would look over last year, and fix his systems mistakes. Unfourtunatley, we`ll never know, but I really hope he gets work in the NHL so we can see how he would do with a real NHL roster. Good luck Ralph. All the best.


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