Well here I am writing this blog from sunny Ft. Lauderdale where there is no snow and no sign of hockey. Work has kept me busy this week in Florida and it's been difficult finding time and news about hockey; if it wasn't for the internet I would be completely disconnected from the game I love. Ft. Lauderdale is the home of the Florida Panthers yet there is no news or talk about the Panthers and their turn-around season. You wouldn't know that the team made the playoffs and may possibly finish first in their division.
Despite having a good team, the Panthers are struggling at the gate and will probably be one of many American NHL teams to finish in the red. If the proposed realignment of the divisions goes through, it should help attendance with Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa in their division. I'm sure Gary Betman is thinking that hockey fans will schedule holidays in Florida around their teams visits to the state. Most Maple Leafs fans don't get a chance to watch games in Air Canada Centre so it conceivable that fans will travel to Miami or Tampa Bay to watch their team. Unfortunately it's a sad dilemma that the two Florida teams have to rely on fans from visiting teams for financial support.
Glad to see Betman using his creativity and thinking outside the box yet I don't see the realignment solving the financial woes of Florida. To put it bluntly, the only thing that is going to save these struggling markets in the U.S is a lucrative T.V. deal. If Canadian hockey fans are the answer to failing U.S markets, would it not make more sense to move a struggling American team to Canada? With no T.V. deal in sight, it would be in the league's best interest to have nine teams in Canada over the next few years.
Enough about Florida and a little talk about the Oilers!
The play of Dubnyk as of late has definitely convinced me that he is a bonafide starting NHL goaltender. Of course I'm not really all that surprised since I've been advocating Dubey these last few months. Oilers can go into the the Summer knowing their goaltending situation is perfectly fine.
I'm not that concerned about the defence especially if the Oilers are able to sign soon to be unrestricted free agent Justin Schultz. Regardless of what Anaheim does, Schultz will choose his final destination. The Oilers do need a top pairing defenseman yet they can afford to wait one more season to see if anyone develops in the system. Oilers should try to add some depth on the back-end but their number one priority is finding some size in the top six up-front. I'm not completely sold on Hartikainen and it may be a smarter move to have him playing in the bottom six. I kind of like the idea of having a fourth line of Paajarvi - Lander - Hartikainen. I know it won't happen but it would be an interesting line of skill and speed. If my memory serves me right, both Zetterberg and Datsyuk played bottom six minutes for their first year in Detroit.
With the season over, the Oilers will be finishing 29th overall. It will be an interesting draft because after Yakupov, it's anyone's guess who goes second. There is talk that the Oilers may trade their first round pick or even possibly move down the draft. I honestly don't see it, the team is still rebuilding and moving out of the top three in the draft often back fires.
Well time to finish up, I believe the beach is waiting for me!
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