OTTAWA ON - NOVEMBER 29: Chris Kelly #22 of the Ottawa Senators skates away dejectedly while Tom Gilbert #77 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates his goal with teammates Andrew Cogliano #89 and Ladislav Smid #5 during a game at Scotiabank Place on November 29 2010 in Ottawa Ontario Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Aside from beginning two extremely (at least in Edmonton) popular franchise models, it seems like Detroit and Pittsburgh were also at the forefront of a trend - the international defense. Just two Canadian defenseman won the cup during those two years, and a look at the rosters shows a pair of teams heavily weighted with Americans on the blueline.
|Brad Stuart||Rocky Mtn House, Alberta||Kris Letang||Montreal, Quebec|
|Niklas Kronwall||Stockholm, Sweden||Sergei Gonchar||Chelyabinsk, Russia|
|Nicklas Lidstrom||Vasteras, Sweden||Mark Eaton||Wilmington, Delaware|
|Andreas Lilja||Helsingborg, Sweden||Hal Gill||Concord, Massachusetts|
|Chris Chelios||Chicago, Illinois||Brooks Orpik||San Francisco, California|
|Brett Lebda||Buffalo Grove, Illinois||Alex Goligoski||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Brian Rafalski||Dearborn, Michigan||Rob Scuderi||Syosset, New York|
Detroit's top seven had an equal split of Swedes and Americans, with only late-season acquisition Brad Stuart representing Canada. Kris Letang was the only Canadian on the Pittsburgh defense, the other six consisted of one Russian and five Americans. It seemed the key to the cup, other than icing a pair of the best forwards in the world was to build an international defense. But the Chicago Blackhawks, the name of a hockey team and another popular franchise model, used a largely Canadian defense to win the cup.
|Brian Campbell||Strathroy, Ontario|
|Jordan Hendry||Nokomis, Saskatchewan|
|Duncan Keith||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Brent Seabrook||Richmond, British Columbia|
|Brent Sopel||Calgary, Alberta|
|Niklas Hjalmarsson||Eksjo, Sweden|
The Blackhawks used five Canadians and one Swede on their way to The Stanley Cup, reversing the mini-trend created by the Red Wings and Penguins.
The next supposed dynasty, the one with management that has self-admittedly (and supposedly) mirrored each of these models within the last two years is building a defense for the long term. Which of the three models will the Edmonton Oilers follow?The current Edmonton defensive group who look to have a long-term job with the Oilers have a heavy international influence with three Americans, a Czech and only one Canadian.
Ladislav Smid - Frydlant V Cechach, The Czech Republic
Ryan Whitney - Boston, Massachusetts
- Bloomington, Minnesota
- Farmington Hills, Michigan
With five defensemen set, there are two spots up for grabs. A number of prospects in the system are capable of filling those vacancies, but given the team is already well on it's way to the Pittsburgh defense and the Oilers have a Canadian on the roster, it's now doubtful that any of the following Canadian prospects will be a part of the eventual cup winner:
- Longueuil, Quebec
- Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Lethbridge, Alberta
Alex Plante - Brandon, Manitoba
Of course, the Oilers could trade Peckham, opening up a spot for one of the young native blueliners.
- Kosice, Slovakia
The Pittsburgh defense consisted of five Americans, so both of these guys have a shot.
Each of these Czechs are long in the tooth and probably not the best option for this dynasty. A younger, smarter, more Finnish option would make sense though.
Joni Pitkanen - Oulu, Finland
His first tour of duty in Edmonton ended with Pitkanen receiving a bum rap, but he remains a stud capable of playing twenty-six minutes a night and playing in all situations and he'll be 27 years old next season. Also - he's Finnish.
Ericsson wasn't part of the Detroit Cup win, but he was part of the team that lost to the Penguins in the Cup finals in 2009.
Of course, the Oilers need to add more defensive depth in the draft and there is one player out there who solves both the issue of international defensive depth and more Finnish.
I'll have more on Jokipakka as the draft approaches, but a smooth-skating, slick-passing Finnish defenseman used to be a staple of Edmonton Oilers hockey - it should be again.
Of course some, though not all, of this is tongue-in-cheek, the Oilers do have five defensemen set to handle the defensive duties for a number of years. If that's the case, what will the defense look like in 2011? What about 2012? Please feel free to leave your educated guesses, hockey fantasies and wild and crazy team-building trades in the comments.