Cup winner is often imitated

BOB STAUFFER

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

It has often been said that imitation is the best form of flattery, and that is certainly the case when it comes to success in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The 1980s Edmonton Oilers won with offensive flair and panache, showing the way for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the early 1990s.

The New Jersey Devils won three Stanley Cups between 1995 and 2003 with goaltending and defence, and other NHL organizations like Dallas followed suit.

If the Detroit Red Wings close out the deal in this year's Stanley Cup final against Pittsburgh, much of the credit will go to the Wings plethora of puck-moving defencemen.

OUTLET THE PUCK

The combination of perennial Norris Trophy candidate Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, emerging stud Niklas Kronwall and trade deadline day acquisition Brad Stuart has limited their playoff opposition's ability to sustain a forecheck in Detroit's zone because of their ability to outlet the puck.

A couple of sources around the league believe that puck-moving d-men will continue to increase in value, in part because of Detroit's success.

This could be either a good thing or a bad thing for Edmonton Oilers' general manager Kevin Lowe and his on-going discussions with restricted free agent Joni Pitkanen.

About three weeks ago, Lowe said the most likely scenario for Pitkanen was that the Oilers would sign him to another one-year deal, as the Pitkanen camp was rumoured to be asking around five million a season for a multi-year deal.

Detroit's success is likely going to help Pitkanen's bargaining position.

However, it also might help Lowe's position if he opts to move Pitkanen.

Right now, the Oilers are deep on defence.

They are going to get a healthy Sheldon Souray back next season to go along with Pitkanen, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeskhov - all four of whom can move the puck.

That doesn't include war horse Steve Staios, the physical Matt Greene and Ladislav Smid, who one day should be a top-four guy.

Don't forget the organization also has Taylor Chorney and Jeff Petry in the system as well.

While the Oil look to be slick for years to come on the back end, other than Ales Hemsky the current squad lacks another true elite first-line forward.

Shawn Horcoff is an excellent two-way centre but is a slightly miscast as a first-line guy. Sam Gagner is going to be a first-liner one day, but might not quite be ready for prime time.

With the extra depth the Oil have up front and question marks surrounding where Jarret Stoll or Raffi Torres fit in next season, you have to wonder if the Oil could land a star by doing a two- or three-for-one with Pitkanen being the key to the package.

Ottawa, San Jose and Tampa Bay are all organizations that have top-line talent and could be making moves this summer.

The Lightning are in the middle of an ownership change, so nothing is likely imminent there, but who knows what will happen once Oren Koules and Len Barrie get that team.

There is no guarantee that the Sharks will be able sign UFA Brian Campbell. If they don't, could Lowe entice them into taking Pitkanen-plus for say Patrick Marleau?

Ottawa, meanwhile, needs to shake it up after a very disappointing finish to the season.

TORRES IN THE MIX?

Wade Redden is pretty much done in the nation's capital, and there have been rumours that the Sens have coveted Raffi Torres Ottawa for years.

Does Pitkanen, Torres and something else decent get you a shot at, say, Jason Spezza?

Time will tell what happens with Pitkanen.

Based on Detroit's success, you can make a strong argument that the Oilers would be best off to keep the Finnish defender.

But the organization tried hard last off-season to upgrade top-line talent by taking runs at free agents Michael Nylander and Paul Kariya, and extending an offer sheet to RFA Thomas Vanek.

For some reason, I don't think Lowe has given up the pursuit in landing a true top- end forward, and Pitkanen very well might be the bargaining chip Lowe is willing to play.


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