Sooo, I was wrong… I admit it, I was wrong. Well, of course I was wrong I picked LA and Pittsburgh to make the Stanley Cup finals. Of course the finals will be the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Boston Bruins, which starts Wednesday. Many hockey experts are wrong as well so I am not upset about my choice, it happens when you are basically flipping a coin, you are only right 50% of the time.
Things to keep an eye out for in this series is David Krejci leading scorer of the Bruins and possible Conn Smythe Candidate should the Bruins win. The goaltending which is always a factor in hockey might not be a humongous factor in this series (I said might not) because the way the Chicago Blackhawks have played in front of Corey Crawford this season indicates that as long as he does not let soft goals and makes the saves that come his way, the Hawks will take care of the rest. It is almost like Ken Dryden in the 70’s with the Montreal Canadiens, I am not comparing them in quality or style but the way the playoffs have gone it is kind of similar.
Chicago has been the best all season and Boston has proven that they can take on anything that you throw at them. Bruins need to watch out for Patrick Kane who has started to wake up and is scoring a lot more. Jonathan Toews who is arguably the best all around center in the league will be another player to watch out for. It will be very interesting to watch Toews and Patrice Bergeron plays against each other, because they are both great players all around.
I am not going to pick a winner this time, I already have and you could guess who I have picked, but to be safe I will not speculate. I do see the series going to 6 games though. I will say this, it will be a great series and could be a long one, because both teams are stubborn and can comeback in a game and in a series do not count either team out at any point.
Possible Free Agent Buyouts
Once the Stanley Cup finals end and the awards are given out every team will start to wheel and deal through the NHL Draft and when the free agent period begins. One thing that is interesting about this season is the compliance buyout, which had been added, in the recent agreement between the NHL and NHLPA. Basically teams can buyout two players and not have those contracts effect the salary cap in anyway of course the team will still have to pay the contract of the player they buy-out.
This could make the free-agent market get even bigger once the off-season starts to unfold and it will be interesting to see where the players go. Montreal and New York (Rangers) have already used one of their buyouts on Scott Gomez and Wade Redden. Both players would later on be signed by another team, but for a very low contract. This has probably set the bar for buy-outs and we could see some steals in the FA period.
Of course this is based off rumors, but the list grows everyday with the possible buy-out candidates and here are some possible players that will be looking for a new team.
Brad Richards (Rangers) Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky (Oilers) Daniel Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov (Flyers) Marc-Andre Fleury (Penguins) Thomas Kaberle (Montreal) Rick DiPietro (Islanders) Mike Komisarek (Maple Leafs) Ville Leino (Sabres) Steve Montador and Rostislav Olesz (Blackhawks) Mattias Ohlund (Lightning) Martin Havlat (Sharks) Dany Heatley (Wild) and last but not least Roberto Luongo (Canucks)
Of course this is just based of rumors and maybe none of them will be bought out in the end, but if majority of these guys get bought out imagine the free-agency craze. Many of these could still play hockey and I’m sure would take a small deal to prove they can still play. I’ll make a fearless prediction if Luongo does get bought out I see Pittsburgh possibly dumping Fleury and signing Lu to a short term deal. Stayed tuned ladies and gentlemen this upcoming off-season has the making of being a really hectic one!
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