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    THE DEBATE Hockey Podcast - Episode 245
    True Cup Contenders

THE DEBATE Hockey Podcast

THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast – Episode 245 – True Cup Contenders and the Departure of GM Kekalainen

Brad Burud/Blake Friars February 20, 2024

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THE DEBATE Hockey Podcast


True Cup Contenders and the Departure of GM Kekalainen

Listen to “THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast – Episode 245 – True Cup Contenders and the Departure of GM Kekalainen” on Spreaker.

In the episode, Brad Burud and Blake Friars serve as the co-hosts. Their expertise in the realm of hockey, particularly the NHL, is evident through their in-depth discussions and analyses. Brad Burud is known for his critical take on the NHL schedule and has been vocal about the league’s progression. Blake Friars brings his perspective as a knowledgeable hockey enthusiast, often providing insights into team dynamics and player performances.

Episode Summary:

In this stimulating episode of The Debate Hockey podcast, hosts Brad Burud and Blake Friars take listeners through a week in the NHL that, while scant on major news, was rife with intriguing gameplay and behind-the-scenes narratives worth dissecting. From discussing the Stadium Series to examining true Stanley Cup contenders, Brad and Blake tackle the subtleties of the sport with their characteristic blend of wit and wisdom.

After a quick critique of the NHL scheduling quirks, the co-hosts delve into the crux of their discussion, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of various teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. They provide a granular look into which teams hold the potential to emerge victorious in the pursuit of the coveted Stanley Cup, with a focus on roster capabilities and recent performances. The conversation takes an interesting turn as they discuss the implications of recent player injuries and their potential impact on the upcoming trade deadline.

Key Takeaways:

  • Brad Burud and Blake Friars discuss which NHL teams are true Stanley Cup contenders, emphasizing teams from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
  • Several scheduling mishaps and peculiarities are highlighted, prompting a broader talk about the impact of game timing on team performance.
  • The hosts speculate on trade deadline moves, specifically the influence of injuries and strategic trades on team dynamics.
  • A conversation on management changes and their effects occur, with Jarmo Kekalainen’s departure from the Columbus Blue Jackets being a focus point.
  • The duo also touches on disciplinary actions within the NHL, particularly addressing Jordan Bennington’s fine for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Notable Quotes:

  • “It just seems mean, a lot of teams looking for defensemen, a lot of teams looking for goalies. No goalies really out there and then guys getting hurt.”
  • “You can only load up on so many draft picks and all draft picks are educated hopes.”
  • “Mason Morelli, been friends with his family forever and watched Mason grow up…he’s as good a kid as you’re going to find.”

Tune into the full episode of the Debate Hockey podcast for a comprehensive analysis and unparalleled commentary on the latest happenings in the NHL. With Brad Burud and Blake Friars at the helm, you’re sure to be treated to expert insight and engaging discussions. Stay with us for more episodes that promise to keep you at the edge of your seat with top-notch hockey content.



Navigating the NHL: Insights on Contenders, Trades, and the Future of Hockey

The National Hockey League continues to be an exciting and dynamic realm, offering both surprising developments and complex challenges for teams and fans alike. In this deep dive into the latest happenings of the NHL, we unpack key insights, focusing on the true contenders for the Stanley Cup, the intricacies of the trading landscape, and the future trajectories that teams may take as they gear up for the playoffs.


  • Identifying the true contenders for the Stanley Cup requires examining teams’ adaptability, depth, and resilience as they approach the playoffs.
  • The trading landscape is shaped by a confluence of player injuries, team strategies, and pivotal decisions from management that can make or break a season.
  • The future of NHL teams hinges on their ability to navigate both immediate challenges, such as finding the right talent or dealing with injuries, and long-term sustainability in building a competitive roster.

True Cup Contenders: Success Beyond the Regular Season

In the crucible of the NHL playoffs, a team’s true mettle is tested beyond regular season performance. The conversation between Brad Burud and Blake Friars assessed which teams have the potential to advance through the grueling playoffs and clinch the coveted Stanley Cup. In consensus, they cited teams like Boston, New York Rangers, and Florida in the East, while Colorado and Vegas were touted as the teams to watch in the West.

“I think Boston’s pretty clear. I think the New York Rangers are fully capable now… And I also think the Florida Panthers – Florida probably being the most difficult team to play in the playoffs.” – Brad Burud

The duo’s dialogue underscores the importance of not only a solid regular season record but also possessing qualities like postseason stamina and adaptability. Specifically, the discussion pointed to Tampa Bay as a stacked team, albeit one that might have depleted its reserves too much for future success.

“You can’t deplete the cupboards down… I think they’re going to surprisingly do better on Tanev than they do on Hanifin.” – Brad Burud

The multifaceted nature of playoffs-ready teams calls for depth in squad, experience in tight situations, and of course, that intangible competitive spirit necessary for postseason glory.

The Dynamic NHL Trade Landscape: Calculated Risks and Unexpected Turns

As the NHL trading deadline looms, teams face hard decisions, particularly with the unexpected element of player injuries, such as Wheeler’s for the Rangers, which introduced new gaps to fill. Burud and Friars discuss the pivotal role Calgary Flames could play as they potentially part ways with key defensive players Hannifin and Tanniv, making space for acquiring new talent that could shape the team’s immediate future.

“… If you’re Calgary and you can sell off and get guys back that help you now and help you in the future and still push to be semi competitive? That’s the goal.” – Blake Friars

The conversation illustrated the delicate balance between capitalizing on present opportunities and preparing for future sustainability. Calgary’s strategy will be instrumental in setting the tone for how aggressive measures can be melded with long-term team building. With potential roster gaps due to injuries and the strategic moves that come with trades, the NHL trade landscape remains a captivating chess match with high stakes.

The NHL’s Path Forward: Balancing Tradition and Innovation

In an unconventional twist, the Arizona Coyotes developed an independent streaming app to address the broadcasting woes faced due to Bally Sports’s impasse, exemplifying innovation within the NHL’s traditional framework. The move demonstrated a team’s willingness to pivot and meet fans’ needs, despite ongoing challenges, and could set a precedent for other franchises.

“… They developed their own app now where because of the Bally Sports debacle, they’ve teamed up with Sports… where you can buy it called Coyote Central.” – Brad Burud

Balancing the cherished, hard-nosed hockey culture with such forward-thinking initiatives is critical as the NHL forges ahead. Teams and the league as a whole must continuously adapt, whether in response to media rights challenges, evolving fan engagement, or the global expansion of the sport. The Coyotes’ example could be a harbinger of more progressive maneuvers to come as the NHL navigates its future.

Coupling these strategic insights with our passionate exchange about upcoming talents, like Mason Morrelli’s NHL debut for the Vegas Golden Knights, paints a hopeful and dynamic picture for hockey enthusiasts. His inspiring journey from minor to major league exemplifies the dreams and aspirations embedded deeply within the sport’s ethos. As we frolic through the NHL’s virtual corridors, it becomes clear that the league’s ever-evolving narrative is both steeped in legacy and primed for groundbreaking transformations.

From roster strategies to fresh talents making their mark, the NHL continues to be a theater where traditions are honored, yet adaptability and ingenuity are indispensable for success on the ice and beyond. The analysis of these key themes is merely a snapshot of a larger, continually unfolding story—one that sees the National Hockey League as a microcosm of resilience, excellence, and perpetual pursuit of greatness.

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Brad Burud/Blake Friars

Brad Burud brings the rock-solid old-school approach to the show. The Minot, North Dakota native grew up playing hockey, and spends his summers on the links. The diehard hockey fan watches tons of hockey and is full of comments and opinions. The Calgary Flames are his favorite team, and he is often accused of having a Western Conference bias. He is also the host of Flames Unfiltered. Brad brings the conservative, old school approach to the show. He is opinionated and hates losing a debate. Blake Friars brings the Canadian approach to the show. The Bienfait, Saskatchewan native grew up playing hockey for 16 years. The goalie is also a long time Roberto Luongo fan and claims the Vancouver Canucks as his favorite team. Rumors and a few photos have him in Oilers jerseys and cheering for the Habs. He denies it but tends to jump on bandwagons quickly. Blake brings the millennial approach to the show. He is candid in his approach and creates numerous laughs and bad predictions.

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