Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Erik Cole Coming to Boston? And More.

G'morning, Bruins Buffs. Plenty of information coming in from around the rink this morning.

The Boston Globe reports that winger Michael Ryder is back on the ice and skating around with a full face mask. He expects to be back in action and ready to score sometime in the next two weeks.

Also on the injury front -- Chuck Kobasew is expected to suit up for tonight's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The gritty winger managed to find his scoring touch before sustaining a leg injury at the beginning of the month. He'll grind next to Patrice Bergeron and PJ Axelsson.

Boston's mantra so far this week? Tweaks, tweaks, and more tweaks.

With the B's on a four-game skid, Coach Claude Julien decided to shake up his lines. The B's anemic offense hasn't been getting the job done, scoring only four goals in the last three games.

Phil Kessel has been bumped down to the second line, playing wing with David Krejci and Vladimir Sobotka. The speedy scorer hasn't tallied a goal since returning from a bout with mononucleosis a few weeks ago.

Interesting to see Sobotka on the second line. The guy couldn't crack the lineup out of camp, and now he's enjoying top minutes on the top team in the east. To be fair, he played a decent game against the New Jersey Devils last weekend.

As a result of Kessel's demotion, rookie Blake Wheeler has been bumped to the first line. Time to see if the big-bodied forward can pot a few with Marc Savard and Milan Lucic.

But perhaps the most enticing bit of information this morning comes from The Boston Herald.

The paper reports that Erik Cole expects to ship out to Boston in the coming weeks. The Oilers forward is supposedly telling friends that he expects to wear the black and gold soon.

The price for Cole? Nothing but speculation so far, but most sources report that the B's are dangling forward Vladimir Sobotka and defenseman Matt Lashoff as trade bait.

If I'm Chiarelli, I'd offer either Sobotka or Lashoff to the Oilers for Cole. Throw in a mid- to low-round draft pick to even out the deal if the Oil wants more.

But I wouldn't trade both unless someone else was shipping off with Cole. The two youngsters are promising prospects with the ability to step in and contribute at the NHL level.

Acquiring Erik Cole boosts Boston's power play immediately, giving it a much-needed left-handed shot. That's been missing since Marco Sturm went down and out earlier in the year.

Unfortunately, Cole hasn't been a dominant force for Edmonton this season. The winger only carries 12 goals and and 10 assists in 56 games.

Not stunning figures from a guy boasting three 20+ goal seasons before landing in Alberta. And, as many NHL fans recall, Cole won a cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-2006.

Still, Cole's figures this year aren't an accurate representation of his abilities. Nobody on Edmonton's roster has particularly stood out this season, considering its the most bipolar team in the league.

Other news on the trade front -- sources indicated that defenseman Jordan Leopold could be headed to the B's soon.

The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Avalanche are likely to trade him at the deadline. The Herald goes on to say that Boston could be Leopold's destination.

Acquiring Leopold gives the B's a boost on the blue line, especially in the realm of transitional play. He also has a bomb of a shot, making him a possible addition to Boston's struggling power play.

Expect more trade news in the coming weeks. Keep reading Backcheck with the Bruins Buff for the latest!


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