You most likely know Brian Slagel as the CEO and founder of Metal Blade Records. But what you might not know about him is that he’s a diehard hockey fan as well. Slagel has given Metal Insider his NHL Playoff hockey picks before. So now that we’re down to the final four, Slagel once again gives us his picks for the Stanley Cup, as well as insight into what he expects to happen next year in the NHL.
Here we are with the final 4 of the NHL season. Now I do have to pat myself on the back a bit as I predicted a Vancouver vs. Boston final in January, but really any of the final 4 teams can win it all. I think the Sharks have it a bit tougher by letting the Red Wings take them to a game 7, but the Canucks play a similar style to the Wings and the Sharks beat them. In the East, Tampa is on a hot streak, but do not count the Bruins out. They lost the first 2 to Montreal AT HOME and still came back to win. Either way I think both series will be good and entertaining. I am still sticking with my Canucks/Bruins final with the Canucks hoisting the Cup. That said I would love to be in Tampa if they win it again! Or with Hetfield and Lars if the Sharks win it!
For the teams that did not make it this far, the look towards next season has already begun. Lots of work to do for many teams and I think it should be an interesting off season. Philly and Detroit need to get younger and the former champs Chicago need to find a better balance and a goaltender. Goalies will be a hot commodity in the off season as the Caps, Flyers, Hawks all need help there. For that matter no matter how far the Lightning go, they have to look for a goalie as well. Plenty of good young goalies are out there, but they won’t win you a Cup in the short term. The West still will have Canucks as the front runner as long as Luongo is there, but the rest of the West is still very close. A player or two here and there can make the difference. Speaking of goalies, how far would the Ducks have gone if they had a healthy Johan Hiller? Also don’t count out the Oilers next year. Another height pick and they already have a ton of great young talent. The East will be much different in Crosby and Malkin can come back to 100%. The Penguins did great WITHOUT the biggest stars of the game. Imagine if they had been healthy? Look out next year. As we saw with the quick rebuild the Lightning did a few key players can make a huge difference.
5 coaching vacancies will be filled as well. Retreads or young coaches? How long can Ron Wilson stay in Toronto? Many questions will be answered soon. Also will Winnipeg get their team from Atlanta? Looks like that may happen as well.
Enjoy the last part of the season. Then we have the long hot off season. Also a new CBA needs to get done as well after next season. Hope Donald Fehr is easier to work with this time. If we do not have the NFL in September, the NHL pre season is where you may find me!