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Vancouver Canucks: The State of the Roster
(If I were the GM and Coach. / These are my predictions and opinions.)
***I will tell you up front. I love Jim Benning and what he has done here. Through smart trading, signings, and great drafting, he has rebuilt this franchise. I think we are in a much better spot than most around the league think. And I attribute that to MR JB. He filled so many different holes that this franchise had and now we are finally in a good shape feilding an NHL roster that can actually compete, as well as sporting a list of prospects that take note. We don't have a Stanley Cup roster, or the best prospect list in the league, but for the first time in a while, we have a good NHL team, with a great NHL prospect list. The rebuild more close to over than people think, and for that I say, good job Mr. Benning sir. I salute you.
Anyway... I have broken this down into 4 parts
- Current NHL Roster / Prediction (Forward, Defence, and Goaltending)
- Top 10 Prospect / Prospect Pool Assessment and Future Outlook
- Jim Benning Assessment / Positive and Negative Moves he has done
Starting Forward Group
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mikael Granlund
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser
Loui Eriksson - Brandon Sutter - Sam Gagner
Brendan Gaunce - Alex Burmistrov - Derek Dorsett
(Anton Rodin - Reid Boucher)
Notes about Forward Group
- Strength comes from depth in the lineup, rather than from top heavy star players. The Sedins may be on the first line, but it won't really feel like it. Our top 6 will feel more like 1A, 1B, and 1C, with a fourth line that can also play.
- We have strong Center Depth: (Henrik, Bo, Sutter, Gagner, Granlund, Burmistrov, Gaunce) Each player bring a different style and mix and match when creating the lineup. As you can also see, Benning really likes versitile centers who can also shift to wing if needed.
- Brock Boeser is the only rookie that makes the team. No Goldobin, no Juolevi, no anybody, but Brock Boeser, and Anton Rodin. (Does he still count as a rookie? I honestly don't know.) Still, he will at least be insulated with a veteran squad to ease the transition.
- The right side is the side where you'll see more movement in the lineup. The other 3 lines will juggle but seem like a lock. (Daniel - Henrik, Baertschi Horvat, and Eriksson Sutter.) The right side however has more motion with Gagner, Boeser, and Granlund being interchangeable.)
- Strongest opening day lineup that we have had in a long time. Rodin and Boucher are NHL calibre players, even if in depth roles. Top prospects will get opportunities as injuries occur. No more AHL forwards, disguised as NHLers. Every player on this squad is a legitimate NHL player.
Starting Defence Group
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto - Erik Gudbranson
Ben Hutton - Troy Stecher
Notes about Defensive Group
- Our Defensive group is fairly versatile, so we don't really know who is going to play with who come opening night. However, more importantly what that says is we actually have some pretty good depth on the backend. I describe it as having 6 legitimate top 4 defensemen. No top legitimate top pairing, or bottom pairing so it comes more down to chemistry, coaching, and matchups.
- We have 4 legitimate Special teams players for both PP and PK. Stecher, Hutton, Del Zotto, and Edler can play on the PP. Gudbranson, Tanev, Edler, and Del Zotto can all play on the PK. Versitile group with players that can play multiple roles.
- Our only real size and strength comes from Edler and Gudbranson, which leads me to believe Edler will take a reduced offensive role, maybe potentially making a PK pairing of Edler and Gudbranson? That's good enough for 2 pairings for each special team.
- Minutes will be more even than times of past due to the small parity in the players. I honestly expect different players to start different games until there are injuries and spots are solidified. Player chemistry will take a large role in who plays where.
- There are no rookies that make this defensive squad next year. Guys like Subban or Brisebois will get shots when injuries occur. (Subban has to secretly be wishing Troy goes down so he can get a shot. Just saying.) Biega is still a likely fill in as well along with Wiercoch. This insulation could help Stecher however avoid a Sophmore slump.
If I were to guess the lineup pairings Travis Green is going to go with, this is it. Again, they can juggle for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but I just think this works best for all players in my opinion.
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
- I'd start Edler and Tanev because they can be two stabalizing forces playing heavy 5 on 5, and second special teams. Edler and Gudbranson would be first string PKers and Stecher Del Zotto and Hutton are PP players.
- Power Play Special Pairings: (Del Zotto and Stecher = first pairing) (Hutton and (Open Spot) = second pairing) (I say Eirksson. Maybe he can snipe on the offside.
- Penalty Kill Special Pairings: (Edler and Gudbranson = pairing) (Del Zotto and Tanev = second pairing)
- Hutton also takes the role of special teams fill in in case anyone is in the box or is exhausted etc.
Starting Goaltending Combination
Notes about Goalie Depth
- Great competition for the starting job. Markstrom will start, but Nihlsson is right behind. Nihlsson could very well start a large number of games.
- Both players are similar size and play a similar style. This makes it easier for the team and defence to adapt to whoever is in goal. Good for the team in front.
- Both are young enough to rise up and take the starting goaltending job, making the other a possible expendable future trade asset if Demko makes strides.
Vancouver Canucks Top 10 Prospects and Future Core.
Honorable Mentions for the 5 that didn't make the list. All these 5 deserve a mention for being 11-15 for different reasons. We have fairly good depth as these names from 11-15 are not exactly slouches. So respect to them, even if not making the top 10.
- Kole Lind (RW)
- Michael Dipietro (G)
- Evan McEneny (LD)
- William Lockwood (RW)
- Jonah Gadjovich (RW)
10. Guilliame Brisebois (LD): A calm 2 way defenseman who oozes leadership. Everywhere he plays, coaches and players rave about his work ethic and commitment to the game. He may have the best intangibles out of the entire prospects group. It's your mental makeup that determines if you have what it takes to make it in the NHL. Brisebois has that without a doubt. With NHL good size, mobility, and IQ, his intangibles could be what pushes him to the NHL in a 2nd-3rd pairing defensive role.
9. Adam Gaudette (C/RW): A very skilled two - way center in the NCAA. Gaudette had a breakout year and is showing he has a lot more offense to give than people thought, especially his goal scoring ability. If he can continue his progression, he could see himself become a legitimate third line scoring forward in the NHL. He still has a long way to go however, so do not expect him anytime soon. Still, he has solid NHL potential and his stock is constantly on the rise.
8. Jordan Subban (RD): A very skilled offensive minded PMD who has begun to master the AHL. His speed, shot, and offensive skills are not in question. He fails to move up the depth chart play NHL games due to his lackluster defense. Hopefully after another season of working with his brother PK, he can address those issues enough to get a look. Subban is still very close to playing in the NHL, but until he refines his defensive game, we may never see that offence shine in a Canucks uniform.
7. Jake Virtanen (RW): At once a top prospect in the system, he has been passed down by quite a few. The good news however, Jake still has not lost the NHL level speed, strength, power, and shot that allowed him to have a decent rookie campaign at 19. After hopefully a strong offseason of training, he'll likely join Utica and become a top star forward. If he has a strong start to the season, he could be a legitimate possible call up after injuries occur to try and re-earn his NHL spot. Look for Virtanen to surprise at camp.
6. Jonathan Dahlen (LW/C): A very skilled and speedy offensive sparkplug. He brings a very similar game to Elias Petterson while just being a little bit older and a bit more behind. Teammates in Sweden, both showed they can be capable scorers against grown men in Sweden. He has great acceleration as well as the IQ and offensive talents to go along with it. Next year he will transition to the North American game in Utica. If that goes well, he will be on his way to the NHL soon.
5. Nikolay Goldobin (LW/RW): A superstar winger on every level but the NHL. Dynamic offensive package, but needs to work on the defensive end of his game. Goldobin has shown mastery of the AHL, but he has not shown defensive responsibility. He will be a top player in Utica, if not the top player, as he learns to refine his defensive game. However expect to see him called up after injuries occur relatively soon. If he can address his defensive awareness, he could be a legitimate top 6 player in the NHL.
4. Olli Juolevi (LD): The only future true top pairing defenseman in the system. The Canucks haven't had a true top pairing Defenceman in a long time. Juolevi is a two - way cerebral Dman who can to eat up minutes while consistently moving the puck forward. He has a strong overall game with no holes and has shown to be an elite passer and calming presence, while having elite skating and a good shot. His IQ allows his defensive game to excel as well. He may go to London due to his age, but after he bulks up, he will be in the NHL.
3. Thatcher Demko (G): Our future All-Star goaltender. It's early to give him that title as you never know with goalies, but all signs point toward Demko eventually being the number 1. He has a similar style to a Cory Schneider, and has outperformed Schneider on every level at the same age, including at Boston. He just needs time in Utica to refine his game before reaching the NHL. Goalies tend to take longer to reach the league, but once you have a young All-Star calibre goalie, they become invaluable.
2. Elias Petterson (C/LW): The future number 1 center to bounce off of our future captain Bo Horvat. He has electric speed, increible IQ, and a dynamic offensive skills. Still, while excelling at the offensive end, he is still very defensive conscious, and while skinny, still plays with strength and no fear. ha. He will also need to add muscle to his frame, but after he does, he could prove himself to be an elite offensive center in the NHL. He will be the number 1 offensive center, letting Bo be natural the elite 2C shutdown center he is.
1. Brock Boeser (RW): The only player that I expect to make the lineup next year as a rookie. He has real top 6 offensive potential. His defensive game is underrated, as he is a real two - way hockey player. He has elite skill and offensive ability, especially with his goal scoring awareness and ability. His high IQ and constant motor allows him to constantly be a force on the wing every play. He has no true weakness other than his skating being just good. If he can improve his first 3 strides like Bo, he will be an All star in the NHL.
Notes about prospect list.
- Our top 5 prospects all play different positions. Goldobin and Petterson can play hybrid, but it's good to have diversity in the group rather than an inlfux of one thing. If Boeser maks the club as well, Goldobin becomes the top winger prospects and Dahlen number 2.
- Our top 10 prospects all look to be on track to actually making the NHL. In times of past, we had to reach when we got down to 8, 9, or 10, but this year, it's looking like we have a strong group. Even if not for us, they still give value as NHL players.
- Brock Boeser is the only prospect makes the team next year. Yes. That means guys like Goldobin, Virtanen, and Juolevi will go back down for the time being. This is more due to the newfound depth in the organization through Benning's signings, but it allows everyone to truly develop and not be rushed.
Our future core/depth chart so far as I see it with no additions or changes. (Bolded are already in in nhl. I'm counting Brock Boeser because he is a lock I'm not entertaining the conversation. Expect for future alternate captain talks for this guy really soon. He's just that damn good...)
Goldobin - Petterson - Boeser (A)
Baertschi - Horvat (C) - Virtanen
Dahlen - Gaudette - Granlund
Boucher - Gaunce - Lind
Juolevi (A) - Stecher
Hutton - Gudbranson
Brisebois - Subban
People are still talking like we need to completely tear everything down and start from scratch like we're Colorado. That's honestly not neccesarry. This likely won't ever be the team of course, but it's a very good future mold to build from. A few trades here and there, combined with maybe a signing or two, and Benning could sneak us back into contention without tanknig. The biggest thing for me is Gudbranson, Stecher, and Hutton all taking steps forward next year. Juolevi will be alright, but if those 3 can start becoming bonifide NHL studs, then our defensive core will settle in, and then when Juolevi and maybe another top dman joins, we will have one hell of a group.
Jim Benning Assessment
To wrap up, I would just like to look at Benning's record and what he has done to put us in this position going forward.
Positive Moves he has done to build this Roster
- Trading for Markus Granlund. People hated him for giving up Shinkaruk, but it has looked to have payed off. Trust in Benning's talent evaluation.
- Trading for Sven Baertschi. Gave up a 2nd round pick I believe. Pick extremely well spent. He's been great for Horvat.
- Drafted Brock Boeser. A lot of people expected Konecny, as did I. Konecny is proving to be a good player in his own right, but Boeser looks to be a straight steal.
- Signed Sam Gagner. This deal is for fair money and excellent term. He will surely be an upgrade over say a Megna in the lineup. Also should help the PP.
- Bringing up Brendan Gaunce. He doesn't get much credit as he merely just didn't move him. But still, Gaunce is a good 4th line addition.
- Signed Alex Burmistrov. Signed him for dirt cheap to play a bottom 6 role. Burmistrov gets a chance to reprove himself and we get an upgrade over say, a Chaput.
- Extending Dorsett. Dorsett has definately been an expensive signing, but at the same time he's added a needed dependable 4th line presence and much needed grit.
- Extendiing Tanev. Tanev is one of our top pairing and most reliable defencemen. He has stepped up into a large role and has been a rock.
- Signing Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto is an NHL calibre top 4 defenseman with powerplay ability. Exactly what we needed to play with either a Tanev or a Gudbranson.
- Signing Troy Stecher. Troy Stecher has shown to be a stud of a College UFA signing. He pretty much immediately made the jump and was the right handed PMD we were missing. If he can continue to grow on both ends of the ice, he could be a staple hometown favorite for a long time.
- Trading For Erik Gudbranson. At the time, we had given up Jared McCann who seemed like a real stud. Turns out Florida didn't think he was NHL ready either, and Gudbranson provides a big strong defensive body. He could stand to play better, but still, he provides a much needed role.
- Signed Anton Rodin. He was injured pretty much all of last year, but he is resigned for this year and showed promise, even in a short stint while injured.
- Picked up Reid Boucher. Boucher is a good 4th line player and he's playing in a depth role which is perfect for him and us.
- Signed Patrick Wiercoch. Not the best defenseman, but as a 7th man, he is perfect and gives Juolevi one more year to bulk up and get ready for the NHL.
- Signed Anders Nihlsson. He let Ryan Miller go, and got a young backup who is similar size to Markstrom and plays a similar style. He'll provide healthy competition.
- OUR TOP 10 PROSPECTS: Jordan Subban is the last prospect on the list that is not a Benning acquisition I believe. This is the strongest prospect pool we have ever had and that doesn't the include young guys on the team, or Tryamkin, who could come back one day. He's revamped the whole pipeline. This should honestly count for more than one checkmark, but for this sake I will give him 1 overall mark for rebuilding the pipeline. In actuality this alone negates all the negatives he's done.
Negative Moves he has done to put us where we are
- Signed Loui Eriksson. This was a deal meant to help the Sedins and the young future by Eriksson providing a two-way scoring presence on the wing. He had one if his worst years with us, so hopefully that means he is due for a bounce back season. Either way, we have him signed long term. Either he needs to be traded or get better.
- Traded for Brandon Sutter. This is minor as Brandon Sutter is by no means a bad player. He is however, not better than Nick Bonino, and we paid extra to get him, as well as gave him a decent contract extension immediately. Still, he's not a bad player and a good third liner who can fill in the top 6 when needed while playing special teams.
Nuetral Moves that he doesn't get credit for
- Keeping the Sedins. They are lifelong Canucks and virtually untradable. The only thing you can do is build around them, which he did admirably.
- Keeping Bo Horvat. Trading him would have been brutal. He's our future captain. He was the best thing Mike Gillis left Benning in his parting.
- Keeping Alex Edler. Without him our defence would crumble over the course of the year.
- Keeping Ben Hutton. Nobody really knew just how good Hutton was, but Benning gave him a shot. Still, he was a Mike Gillis draft pick.
- Extending Jacob Markstrom. This was a no brainer as we needed him to backup Miller and be a bridge.
Overall Assessment of Jim Benning
Excluding our great prospect list that he has built, Jim Benning has contributed to 15 positive moves, 2 negative moves, and grandfathered 4 quality pieces. That is pretty damn good. For every 7 good moves he does, he tends to falter on one. Which also coincides with his drafting, with Virtanen being the only glaring pick that strikes you as subpar. The rest of the top 10 list were good acquisitions. Even if you combine the negative moves with the neutral grandfathered moves, he still doubles it. And honestly, of course you should count the top 10 prospect list as each pick takes talent and good decision making. In actuallity, this alone negates all of the negatives he's done. Year after year, he makes the nonobvious move and it pays off. Even his negatives are not that bad, or gamebreaking.
Overall Recap: The State of the Canucks Roster
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mikael Granlund
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser
Loui Eriksson - Brandon Sutter - Sam Gagner
Brendan Gaunce - Alex Burmistrov - Derek Dorsett
(Anton Rodin - Reid Boucher)
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Top Prospects List
- Brock Boeser (RW)
- Elias Petterson (C)
- Thatcher Demko (G)
- Olli Juolevi (LD)
- Nikolay Goldobin (LW/RW)
- Jonathan Dahlen (LW)
- Jake Virtanen (RW)
- Jordan Subban (RD)
- Adam Gaudette (C/RW)
- Guilliame Brisebois (LD)
- Kole Lind (RW)
- Michael Dipietro (G)
- Evan McEneny (LD)
- William Lockwood (RW)
- Jonah Gadjovich (RW)
Vanvouver Canucks All 25 and under team, (and lines I would make because why not.)
Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Petterson - Brock Boeser
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen
Johnathon Dahlen - Adam Gaudette - Markus Granlund
Kole Lind - Joe Labate - Jonah Gadjovich
Olli Juolevi - Troy Stecher
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Guilliame Brisebois - Jordan Subban
Overall Summary and Assessment
Benning has done an excellent job with what he has been given to work with. Every once in a while he has a slip up like the Loui Eriksson signing or past moves like picking Virtanen over Ehlers or Nylander, getting Vey for a 2nd and sending out Santorelli, or even paying Bonino plus pieces for Sutter, but overall he's done an excellent job. Overall, Benning has been a great General Manager for us when filling in the gaps and holes and rebuilding the crumbling franchise. He has also recently signed Travis Green, who I believe is going to prove out to be a great selection. He's in a much better situation than Willie to come in and make this his team. If he even gets the team to the playoffs by year 2 or 3, I think people will see that as a plus. He'll have room to work. But again overall, I am very happy with the job Jim Benning has done to make our team and Franchise what it is.
The Canucks are actually not in a bad place. We have filled almost all the holes we needed to be filled and now have a good NHL team and even better NHL future. Our team is good enough to be competitive in the West, allowing us to develop a winning culture, and hopefully get our young NHL guns some meaningful games. We have certainly upgraded both the forward and defensive group, and got younger and more athletic in goal. Most importantly however, we have a full squad that isn't going to need to dip into the AHL cupbaord to call up players who have no business in the NHL. Only NHL calibre players, or true capable depth players or prospects on this team.
Our prospect pool has been completely revamped with us being able to legitimately look 10 players deep and see legitimate NHL potential. We have multiple players that look like they can be impact NHL players. Our future outlook has never looked better with our mix of current young NHL players as well as quality prospect pipeline coming in. This may be Jim Benning's greatest strength as a General Manager.
Overall The Vancovuer Canucks are in a good spot for the future. Things are looking up, and I can't wait for the season to start. This will likely be the last hurrah of the Sedins, and I think that could give the boys an extra jump and have us surprise the league. But either way, good work Benning, and this team is in good shape.
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PROJECTED LINES IF SEASON STARTED TODAY:
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Loui Eriksson
Sam Gagner - Markus Granlund - Thomas Vanek
Derek Dorsett - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen
(Extra forwards: Reid Boucher, Nicolay Goldobin, Anton Rodin, Michael Chaput, Jason Megna, Alex Burmistrov, Scotty Upshall)
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
(Extra Defensemen: Olli Juolevi, Alex Biega, Patrick Wiercioch)
(AHL Goalie: Thatcher Demko + Richard Bachman)
***Brendan Gaunce out until November at the earliest according to Jim Benning***
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
With 1 more year left on their contracts and careers (possibly), the Sedin era should be coming to a close in 2018.
There is much confusion these days however for Canuck fans over where this team is headed. We had been spoiled in the Alain Vigneault and Marc Crawford era’s of this franchise. We have to go back before the West Coast Express to remember a time of consistent losing, which came shortly after a failed Mark Messier acquisition that turned out to be the worst signing in Canuck history. Honourable Mention: Loui Eriksson.
Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, and Brendan Morrison owned the team in 2002 through 2006. It was the start of some very fun and high paced Canucks hockey teams.
The Canucks also had a sell-out streak of 487, falling just 13 games shy of the NHL record of 500 straight sellouts by the Colorado Avalanche, who attained their mark in the Patrick Roy, Burnaby Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote days. It was a time when the Colorado vs. Vancouver matchup was fun to watch.
After the West Coast Express, the Canucks transferred over to the Sedin’s, who eventually became annual contenders to be in the top 5-10 in league scoring. Plus, we finally stopped our goalie graveyard of Arturs Irbe, Felix Potvin, Sean Burke and a host of others with the acquisition of Roberto Luongo.
Fast forward to 2011 and being a Canucks fan was pretty fun. We watched the likes of Kesler, Bieksa, Burrows and Hamhuis grow into leaders of the team.
Then 2013 hit, and the wheels on the bus stopped spinning round and round.
In an era of salary cap management and solid drafting, the bus that had carried so many Canuck fans started coming apart.
And so began the Canucks new direction of Trevor Linden and Jim Benning. The men who promise to restock the cupboards with high quality draft picks while keeping a competitive hockey team on the ice.
We can't dismiss the cupboards are getting better, but the competition hasn't been fierce with a 28th and 29th place finish in each of the last 2 seasons.
The top teams are changing in the NHL, and most would agree it was a good run by an organization that had previously had it’s share of tough times since it’s inception into the league.
Now we are stuck having to watch Toronto and Edmonton steal the majority of TV time. The sad part is, those teams are overdue for some winning. It’s their turn.
For the next few years, we will get our championship from the draft lottery. We load up with kids we believe will be capable of hoisting the Stanley Cup, and in 3-5 years we should have a decent team. It’s a long process. But we are OVER DUE for that next wave of elite Canuck players.
Bo Horvat will be the Captain next year. The Sedin’s will want to pass the torch eventually and let the kids take the top job. Why not allow the kids to play and learn to be the new face of the franchise. Did the free agent signings affect their growth?
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As the playoffs continue and the coronation of the next winner of the coveted Stanley Cup nears, National Hockey League fans all over the world sit on pins and needles game after game in breathless hope that their team will keep advancing through the perilous playoffs.
Each round brings heartbreak and triumph as one teams triumphant survival forces another team to hang up their skates until next years season rolls around. Whether your team is still in the running for the Cup or not, here’s a well-deserved break from the stress of the current playoffs. Here are five of the most memorable playoff games in NHL history.
1. 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals, Game 7: Islanders vs. Capitals
One of the most legendary games ever played, this semifinal contest went to seven games, but it was the number of overtimes required for Game 7 to end that makes it memorable. When Bryan Trottier scored with 5:23 left on the clock to tie the game, it would be the last time a puck crossed the goal line for quite some time. If fact, by the time the fourth and final overtime got underway, it was already Easter Sunday, and the Islanders goalie, Kelly Hrudey, had already made 72 saves. He got one more in the fourth overtime before teammate Pat LaFontaine shot and scored 8:47 in to give the Islanders the series. Its still the longest Game 7 in the history of the NHL.
2. 1993 Campbell Conference Finals: Kings 4, Maple Leafs 3
The Toronto Maples Leafs had been in a 26-year Stanley Cup drought by the time they met Wayne Gretzkys Los Angeles Kings in the Campbell Conference Finals in 1993, and by the time Game 7 rolled around, they knew it was a moment of destiny. Unfortunately for them, that destiny would end up being all about Gretzky. One of the best games of his already storied career, Gretzky scored each period and ended up with a hat trick — his eighth one in the playoffs — to put the Kings over the top. Arguably the greatest hockey player who ever played, Gretzky had promised to take the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals, and he delivered on that promise. No wonder his NHL jersey still sells to this day.
3. 2009 Stanley Cup Final: Penguins 4, Red Wings 3
That the series went to seven games during 2009s Stanley Cup Finals probably surprised few people. After all, the two teams had battled for the Cup just the year before. It was the first Finals rematch since 1983 and 1984, and the Penguins and the Red Wings did not disappoint fans hoping for a hard-fought contest. Because Game 7 was in Detroit, it looked as though the Red Wings would win the Cup again. After all, the last time a visiting team won a Game 7 in the Finals had been in 1971, but the Pittsburgh Penguins had other plans, and they held off a furious effort by the Red Wings to win by a goal.
The Vancouver Canucks had lost the previous two seasons quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks, so when they were able to get their revenge in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals, it was especially sweet.
The series, however, was brutal. The Canucks were up three games to none before the Hawks won three in a row. Game 7 went into overtime, but Alex Burrows was able to score his second goal of the game 5:22 in. Goalie Roberto Luongo recorded 31 saves, and the defending Stanley Cup champions were sent home.
5. 2006 Stanley Cup Final: Hurricanes 3, Oilers 1
When the Carolina Hurricanes found themselves in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, it was only because the Edmonton Oilers had battled back from a deficit of three games to one. An amazing game played on the Hurricanes own ice ensued. Aaron Ward scored. Frantisek Kaberle contributed a power play goal, and Justin Williams found the empty net, but it was the first-year goalie, Cam Ward, who garnered the most praise. Ward landed the Conn Smythe Trophy, and he earned it the hard way with 22 saves that game alone. The last time a rookie goalie had won the MVP award and helped his team win a Stanley Cup had been 20 years prior when Saint Patrick Roy accomplished it with the Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL Playoffs are some of the most fiercely contested games in all of sports, as is evidenced by this small sampling of five great games. Heres hoping the future of professional hockey holds many, many more.
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Bo Horvat started this season as the 3rd line centre behind Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter. Despite ranking 5th in TOI/GP for forwards this season, and with very little time on the power play, Horvat is leading the team this season in goals and points. He has been a professional through everything this season – good or bad. Horvat represented the Canucks at the NHL All-Star Game, and he did not look out of place, showing off his speed against Patrik Laine, and scoring 2 goals in the 3-on-3 tournament.
Nikita Tryamkin started this season in the press box. He refused a demotion to Utica, instead choosing to stay in Vancouver. Due to all the injuries on the blue line, Tryamkin finally drew into the lineup on November 3. He hasn’t relinquished his spot in the lineup since, ranking 4th on the team in plus/minus, and leads the team in penalty minutes. At 6’7″ and 265 lbs, Tryamkin’s size got him to the NHL, but he has shown surprising mobility for a big defenceman.
Everyone loves an underdog, and Richmond’s Troy Stecher fits the bill perfectly. Undrafted and undersized for a defenseman, Stecher had a great pre-season, but was sent down to Utica to start the year. Since he got the call to return to the Canucks, he has excited the fanbase with his play. He can rush the puck with his speed and leads all Canucks defensemen in shots on goal and points.
In 2014-15, Luca Sbisa was everyone’s favourite scapegoat. In 2015-16, injuries kept him out of the lineup for half of the season. Finally this year, Sbisa is getting a chance to consistently show why the Canucks signed him to an extension through 2017-18. He looks far more comfortable on defense, making solid contact to gain possession of the puck and make a good first pass out of the zone. He has stayed healthy, and leads the team in plus/minus and hits. Solid.
Markus Granlund came to Vancouver via a trade with Calgary for Hunter Shinkaruk. There were a lot of armchair GM’s out there that called for Jim Benning’s head, but at this point in time, the Canucks are the clear winner of that deal. On Brandon Sutter’s left wing, Granlund has provided the Canucks with some much needed secondary scoring, playing in every game and potting 12 goals so far. Shinkaruk on the other hand has spent most of his season in the AHL. He has played 7 games for the Flames and has 1 assist.
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1. Olli Juolevi LD
2 Brock Boeser C/RW
3 Thather Demko G
4 Guillaume Brisebois LD
5 William Lockwood LW
6 Adam Gaudette C
7 Evan McEneny LD
8 Andrey Pedan LD
9 Brett McKenzie C
10 Tate Olson LD
11 Alexander Grenier RW
12 Carl Neil RD
13 Jordan Subban RD
14 Cole Candella. LD
15 Cole Cassels C
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The Vancouver Canucks had a dynasty in the making from the years of 2009-2012. Within that time period they won two presidents trophies, the division each year, a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2011. Since that cup run, however, they have not been able to replicate the same type of success. They won the presidents trophy the next season, but ultimately lost out in five games in the first round against the eventual Stanley Cup winners, Los Angeles Kings.
Four years later, and the Canucks find themselves in a much different situation. They’ve been a lottery pick team two of the past three years, and look as though they will be the leagues basement dwellers for years to come despite trying to stay competitive. What happened? How did this once ferocious and offensively gifted team fall off so fast without any signs of hope to replenish the good name of the Vancouver Canucks anytime soon? This team is in hockey purgatory.
A few reasons are at fault for this purgatory position the Canucks have found themselves in. Firstly, bad drafting. Between the years of 2005 and 2010, the Canucks have just one player on their roster that they drafted, Anton Rodin. He was a second pick in the 2009 draft; and even then, Rodin spent the last few years playing in Sweden. Just one of 34 picks panned out for the Canucks in those drafts. In other words, former General Managers of the club, Mike Gillis and Dave Nonis left nobody in the system for Mr. Jim Benning and company when they came into town back in 2013. Benning and Canucks President, Trevor Linden, continue to express the notion of acquiring 24-29 year old players in order to stay competitive. If just two or three more of those draft picks would have worked out and the team had a fallback replacement for Henrik and Daniel Sedin, maybe they would be in much better shape going forward. But that is not reality. The Vancouver Canucks lack top end players in their prime right now and are trading away assets and draft choices to acquire cast away players entering their prime with the hopes of them finding lightning in a bottle since they were unable to draft any of their own talent. Some examples of these acquisitions include: Emerson Etem, Sven Baertschi, Erik Gudbranson, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, and in their most recent efforts, Loui Eriksson. The first few players in that list were highly touted players coming into their draft year and were first round picks; but inconsistent play had derailed them, and they became expendable allowing the Canucks to try to revitalize their careers. However, none of these players have top end skill and talent that can replace franchise players, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who are 36 and in the twilight of their careers.
Having two future Hall-of-Famer’s in the line-up on a daily basis must bode well for any team, right? Wrong. As much as the Sedins have been a product of Success in Vancouver, they are currently another major reason for their purgatory status. Not at their own fault, but the team’s willingness and competitiveness to try and stay competitive until they retire– which many still be a couple years away. Sadly, IF Vancouver tries to stay competitive with the Sedins as their main point producers, and Jannik Hansen as their secondary scoring option, they will once again have a lottery pick. Rarely does the league see players regress from their prime and then revamp for a Stanley Cup run. This past season the San Jose Sharks had Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau step their game up and helped lead the team into the post season, and two games away from a Stanley Cup; but that is a rarity. If Vancouver tries to pull a San Jose and the Sedins pick up their offense with newly signed forward, Loui Erikkson, they will be sadly misguided from the Sharks fairy tale because the Canucks do not have a Logan Couture, or a Brent Burns, or even a Joe Pavelski. The Sharks aided their resurrection with the ability to find players in the 2005-2010 drafts and will be able to remain competitive for years. As mentioned earlier in this article, the Canucks have not done so. Thus, purgatory status remains.
Barring any type of massive move, the Canucks will have the Sedins signed through till the end of next season. They may not be done with hockey and could receive new extensions, which would ultimately set back the rebuild yet another season. Benning is working in an unconventional way to try and please ownership, the players, and the fans.
Thirdly, I do not place much of the blame on Jim Benning and Trevor Linden. Many have reported that the owners, the Acquillini family, are looking to sell the franchise. The belief from ownership is they need to put a competitive and winning product on the ice in order to get value for their team. Yet, sorry to break it to you, Francesco, the roster does not allow for that possibility without mortgaging the future. If this is in fact the case, then you’ve got to applaud Benning for what he’s been able to do, which keeping the Prospect reasonably pool intact, besides McCann, Shinkaruk, and Forsling. Jim Benning comes from a draft background so it’s odd to see him move so many draft picks, however. Since acquiring the job in 2014 he has traded away 11 picks since becoming GM; note some were acquired picks, but nonetheless, for a GM who got the job by being a great talent evaluator and an amazing drafter, he has given away 11 opportunities to find an NHL player for the Franchise. In a cap world, that is not the way to field a winning team on the ice. Luckily, He has drafted a good nucleus that seems like they could be the beginning of a new regime in Vancouver with Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, and Olli Juolevi.
The Canucks will try and compete for a few more years, this much is evident with the key word being try. Can Bo Harvat and Virtanen become top end talent a top 10 pick should be? Will Demko, Boeser and Joulevi become cornerstone pieces of the Vancouver Canucks in the future? We shall see, but one thing is for sure, this team will be in hockey purgatory for at least a few more years.
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Houston "We have a Problem";
Four little words but what an understatement.
Trade Deadline Day;
"Nothing happened today", okay it's over and in the past but the ramifications and perceptions are all out of proportion to a simple "Nothing happened today".
The public and league perception is that there were deals on the table, a list of players available and a perceived willingness of management to do a deal. For those players on the list, Vancouver isn't going to be home for long, for the league, those players don't have much value to the team.
For players, NMC, NTC's don't have much value in Vancouver, if management wants a player to move and they have one, somehow it goes public and if a deal isn't done, the player is ostracized.
League perception could now be, don't deal with the Canucks because they overvalue their players, will try to squeeze more out at the last minute, the first deal suddenly becomes not good enough, are run by committee so quick decisions take time. The next deals the Canucks do the rest of the GM's will smell blood in the water, the Canucks will feel the need to do something and therefore can be fleeced.
Public perception is incompetence or interfering resulting in a loss of trust.
Chicago approached the Nucks about Hamhuis with an offer, Canucks approach Hamhuis about the deal, it goes public, Hamhuis agrees to wave for cup contender in western conference, mentions Chicago. Dallas hears and makes an offer, Hamhuis publically says okay to both, two days later Chicago pulls the plug and makes their deals prior to deadline day, Dallas is left the only suitor, Canucks delay reach out to LA to pressure Dallas for a better deal, Dallas moves on to Russell, Canucks left having Hamhuis dangling in the air and now no deal, Canucks revisit Dallas offer, at 3:05 PM Dallas reports to TSN they are finished for the day, Canucks close up shop at 3 PM thinking there are no more deals, Dallas calls, no one answers, trade pulled from NHL central registry.
Many reason's have been floated about the "why" deals didn't happen, but by the way Benning's buddies, in the media, are circling the wagons there might be some truth other than stated. Blame ownership, blame the NTC, blame the player, blame a poor market, blame the other team, blame everyone and anyone, BUT DON'T BLAME MANGEMENT.
Plausible deniability, Dallas media reported Jim Nill said that the Nucks didn't answer the phone after 3pm. If they didn't answer the phone, then they didn't know, hence to the best of their knowledge, there was no deal. This screams of inexperience and .......
The concept that is was better to do nothing than to get something makes no sense. The Canucks could have saved money, not that is the prime reason and not to say they would not have retained some but, why not save 1.2 mil and get a 4 or 5th round draft pick? The money saved alone makes the deal worth any pick, especially if the player re-signs.
The idea the deal isn't done for such a low pick so the player isn't or doesn't feel disrespected doesn't wash either, do you think Dallas wants a player playing that feels his new club didn't value him? Especially if they think they might be able to sign him themselves, even if it is remote?
Does the league really believe the Canucks are willing to spend an extra 1.2 mil, not get a draft pick back all the while having the player re-sign at the end of the season and have the public fallout just to "look good"?
The ramifications of "Nothing happened today" might end up being as big for the team as Houston, "We have a problem" was for NASA, scrambling to do anything necessary to salvage the mission and turn a catastrophic failure into some kind of victory. Only this team doesn't have a thousand rocket scientists to solve the problem.
The team is using all their influence to turn public perceptions that it wasn't managements fault, it was _________ fill in the blank. The loss of trust by the public will hurt future sales of the brand, the Nuck management looks less than competent to the rest of the country (embarrassing for fans) and league. There are 29 vultures circling the team now, and they all know more than we the fans do.
This day will turn into a magnifying glass focused on management.
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Today's as good a day as any to make a blog post, I guess. What with the #yardsale7, Vrbata and Hamhuis on the block after the Canucks have slid even further from a playoff spot, and with new, young, more exciting players coming in to play after earlier deals and recalls and the like, the Canucks seemed poised to move on. There were plenty of rumours from teams that could have genuine interest and be a good fit. OK, maybe not so much for the #yardsale7, but for Vrbata and Hamhuis it seemed a possibility.
So what happened? We all saw Vrbata move off the first line and down the lineup as the season progressed, only to end up with an injury just before the deadline, but it still seemed someone might want to kick his tires at least for a lesser price. Hamhuis was certainly in the media spotlight - as much for teams' interest as for his interest to stay in Vancouver - but the teams that seamed plausible moved on and those that weren't even had a look.
Hamhuis for me is the least disappointing. Sure, he could have brought back the best return (Russell, the guy formerly on waivers and traded for a 5th, gets a possible 1st, a player and a prospect!) but if we do have designs on him coming back next year then to keep him and ride out the Edler injury so the games don't become a tire fire makes a lot of sense too. So long as he was playing ball on a few options and it came down to those teams not offering near enough (let me say that again: near enough, as in table scraps rather than not what we hoped for) then so be it. If we could get a 2nd/conditional 1st from the deal and anything else at all that's a move I make though, and hope to find something in the other assets.
Vrbata is a tough sell though, I get it. He had some value but that continued to drop so teams weren't going to give us a 1st for him. We'd still hope for a 2nd, but then when you have Brandon Pirri get only a 6th you have to wonder what's going on. Then again, Jiri Hudler got the Flames a 2nd and a 4th, and he's been underwhelming this year as well even if it was still better than Vrbata. You get a 6th for him like Pirri? You take it and move on, but you'd think you could retain salary on a pending UFA and get a 4th or 5th.
Now I know we never hear everything that goes on behind the scenes, but the talk we did hear was all only about Hamhuis, and frustratingly so. There seemed so much promise in Dallas and Chicago having a serious look, even if Washington seemed out early and LA seemed unlikely, and it looked like we could get Hamhuis a chance with a good team and get something back to help the Canucks. Then marginal names like Erhoff and Scuderi plus overhyped names like Russell entered the picture. But still it seemed Hamhuis could go to those same teams, and yet it still never materialized.
The way it all went down suggests some different things. Did Benning paint himself into a corner? Did he ask for too much? Did he leave other options until too late? Did he forget about everyone else he had up for offer? This is especially important after we saw a move that seemed to help the team right now at a redundant position while taking away from another area we could use help on in future, with fans wondering why and only being able to come up with a wait and see attitude in case it all came clear in other trades. It brings up the concern some have had about Benning with early trades and signings: is he able to assess and get proper value for NHL or near-NHL players?
This isn't a Benning is the worst GM ever reaction. His drafting has been good, and he's had some decent UFA pick ups and even trades that look promising at this point. He's certainly had the opposite too though, and in the very least there's an argument to be made he gives up a little too much in deals where he doesn't necessarily need to.
The supporters will tell you not all trades work out and Benning is willing to go after what he wants when he wants it, but then where are the results when deals seem to be out there for our players? It's one thing to overpay to bring in players you want, but another thing to take less when moving players out when rumours of better deals are there.
Those arguments have all been said again and again, and I think Benning can be a good GM based largely off his drafting, but I legitimately have concerns over his trade and signing track record.
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Through 18 games this 2015/2016 NHL season, the Vancouver Canucks currently sit 3rd in the Pacific Division with a record of 7-6-5 (19 points, good for 15th in the League). This blog will detail both team and individual aspects of this Canucks team as they’ve been through the first quarter(ish) of the season, resulting in me giving them a letter grade (from A+ to F) for both the team overall, as well as each individual player. In the first section of this blog, I will be focusing on the Canucks team stats, to analyze how they actually match up against their peers league wide
The Canucks currently have a GF/GP of 2.83 and a GA/GP of 2.56, which is actually pretty solid considering their very average record so far. The goals are coming (9th in the League), and the goals against is pretty mediocre (14th in the League), so their record should be better, right?
Wrong. The Canucks have lost 10 one goal games this season, including 5 in overtime. While their goals against isn't terrible, the timing of the goals is. They've given up 22 goals in either 3rd periods or overtime (43.1% of total goals against), 3rd worst in the league only behind CAR(46.9%) and CBJ(43.5%).
The Canucks are also being let down on special teams. Their powerplay ranks 23rd in the League at 15.8%, and their penalty kill is 20th at 79.2%. Furthermore, they've given up 3 shorthand goals already, good for 3rd most in the league. Taking a look at PP and PK time, the Canucks have the 14th most PP time in the league, and the 22nd most PK time in the league. These stats tell us that the special teams should be benefiting them, since they are more times on the powerplay than they are shorthanded when directly compared to their peers. However, due to the poor conversion rate of their PP and PK, the Canucks special teams are actually hurting their chances of winning games when compared to their normal 5-on-5 play.
Face-offs have also been an area of concern for the Canucks. Overall, they win 49.3% of their draws, ranking 21st in the league. Looking more specifically, at even strength they win 49.4% of their draws (21st in the League), 61.9% of their draws when on the PP (5th in the League), and 40.2% of their draws when on the PK (27th in the league) Overall, they’re not fantastic, but not terrible either, however based on the stats, it’s pretty clear that they are struggling hard when shorthanded. This results in less puck possession for the team while shorthanded, and ultimately leads to more goals against.
In total, I would give the Canucks a “C-”. The even-strength play indicates a slightly higher grade, however the special teams and face-off driven possession, combined with the untimeliness of goals against really hurts them, and ultimately drags them down a few ratings.
In this next section of this blog, I will be rating the Canucks players individually, going in order from best to worst, separating them by position. These ratings take into account production, as well as expectations put on the players based on their salary, age, and playing time.
Jannik Hansen: A
Hansen has produced at a great offensive clip with 11 points in 18 games and is also a relentless checker who can play in all roles. In my mind, he’s the one of the best 3rd liners in the league.
Daniel Sedin: B+
Daniel has 16 points in 18 games, leading the team in points. Although the Twins aren’t as dominant every night they were a few years ago, they still produce at a high level.
Henrik Sedin: B+
Henrik has 13 points in 18 games, which is an alright offensive pace. He’s probably expected to produce a bit more based on his salary, but he’s still the straw that stirs the drink for the Canucks offense, and definitely could have had a few more assists. His line is not the one to complain too much about.
Jared McCann: B+
McCann made the team unexpectedly as a 19 year old rookie, and has performed exceptionally. He has 7 points in 16 games, and his 5 goals co-lead the team. He seems to be improving his defensive game as well as he learns the system and adjusts to NHL pace, and looks to be a future lock for the top-6.
Alex Burrows: B
Burrows is a consistent, hardworking, and tenacious player. He has 9 points in 18 games, and is steady at both ends of the rink. While he may not put up the numbers he did in his prime, he is still a solid contributor who can play anywhere in the lineup.
Brandon Sutter: B
Many people scrutinized Canucks GM Jim Benning for his trade to bring Sutter over from Pittsburgh, however, he has shown to be a good fit for the team. He has excelled defensively, and gives the Canucks a good matchup player besides Horvat, who may become overwhelmed at the age of 20. Sutter has also produced solid offence with 8 points in 16 games, and is another guy who can play up and down the lineup.
Chris Higgins: B-
Higgins is hard to judge, as he has missed most of the year with injury. Since returning however, he has a couple of goals, and has been relatively solid defensively. He currently has 2 points (both goals) in 6 games.
Brandon Prust: B-
Prust has exceeded expectations so far this season. While he’s currently out with injury, he was a solid player on the 4th line, and was doing well killing penalties. While not the fastest or flashiest player, he is effective, and has a respectable point total with 5 points (all assists) in 9 games. His toughness is also much appreciated.
Adam Cracknell: B-
Cracknell is another 4th liner who has exceeded expectations early this season. He has been solid defensively, and has scored some timely goals, with 2 goals and 3 points in 12 games. He is a very hard working player that gives it his all every shift.
Bo Horvat: C+
Horvat had high expectations put on him coming into this season, and they were probably unrealistic. After a strong rookie year, including a dynamic improvement in the second half of last season and postseason, Horvat has been given a much more significant role on the team this year. That being said, he’s only 20, so the tougher matchups have resulted in some mistakes playing against better players, as well as some slightly disappointing offence, having 6 points in 18 games. Still, Horvat is a resilient player, and has been getting his chances. I expect him to improve as the season goes on, much like last season.
Jake Virtanen: C+
Jake is a tough player to figure out. Physically, he has been great. He is physical, fast, and chippy. That being said, sometimes he doesn’t look too tenacious, and his effort level seems to vary from game to game. He is a young player, so inconsistency is expected, however it would be nice to see a bit more offense from him. Again, like Horvat, he’s getting his chances, but unlike Horvat, his defensive game isn’t too polished, so he doesn’t have the luxury of not being able to produce for long. He has 4 points in 14 games, and is expected to improve as the season goes on.
Derek Dorsett: C+
Doresett has played alright, but his new contract is pretty tough to justify. Tangibles are a hard specify the value of, and while he is a mentor and leader on the team, he needs to show a bit more on the ice as well to live up to his contract, with just 4 points in 18 games so far this year.
Sven Baertchi: C+
After lighting up the AHL last season, Baertchi hasn’t had too much of an impact at the NHL level this season. While he’s putting up a good point pace with 7 points in 15 games, he hasn’t played like a difference maker, and he has been pretty soft on the puck, especially near the boards. He still plays too much of a perimeter game, but does show promise.
Radim Vrbata: C
Vrbata has lost most of his confidence this season, and has no puck luck. He has been getting chances as well, but has been uncharacteristically not been finishing. This includes missing a few seemingly open nets, and simply just missing the net. I expect that once he gets a couple of goals (goes on a bit of a hot streak), he’ll be fine for the rest of the year. He has 3 goals and 7 points in 18 games, and needs to pick up the pace if the Canucks have any hope of making the playoffs.
Chris Tanev: B+
Chris Tanev has (quite easily) been the best defenceman for the Canucks this season. Offense has never been his strong suit, and he has 4 points in 17 games. Defensively however, he has been very solid, and he really been relied upon in all situations.
Ben Hutton: B+
Ben Hutton has really exploded as a blooming young star this season. While may fans didn’t really know about this NCAA gem (I had him ranked #7 for Canucks prospects in my July 2014 blog entry), he came in, made the team, and has just produced. His 8 points in 18 games are 2nd amongst Canucks defenders, and his defensive game is better than expected. His skating, smarts, and on-ice awareness may allow him to become a top pair defender in the future.
Alex Edler: B-
Edler had a great start to the season, and his 8 points in 17 games are very solid. The past 5ish games however, Edler (along with the rest of the defence) has looked a bit lost out there, causing giveaways and scoring chances for the other team. Furthermore, his mobility hasn’t looked very good, so he could be playing hurt.
Dan Hamhuis: C+
Speaking of giveaways and lack of mobility, Hamhuis has looked uncharacteristically poor this season. Hamhuis is still very good in his own zone, but his transition game has been subpar, and his offensive awareness is near non-existent. Again, like Edler, I thought he started the year pretty solid, but he has been playing with a revolving door of sketchy partners, and he may be playing injured. With just 2 points in 15 games, he needs to be better.
Mark Bartkowski: C+
Bartkowski is a great skater, in fact, one of the best skating defenceman I have ever seen suit up for the Canucks. However, that’s almost all that he can contribute. While he tries to play a rugged game, he is ineffective at it, and often gets out muscled in the corners or in front of the net. Also, his defensive coverage is spotty, and he is often left chasing the play. His transition game is fantastic, and his skating is much needed, but don’t expect him to be creative and create offense out of that skating ability (5 points in 17 games). He has a role on this team, but currently, he is playing a bit out of his depth in the top-4.
Luca Sbisa: C+
Sbisa has played quite well this season, proving a needed physical presence, and looking more confident. He has limited the amount of giveaways he has compared to last season, and may still have the promise to eventually be a top-4 defenceman, when playing with a solid partner who can cover for his occasional poor pinches and giveaways. He has just played 11 games, putting up 4 points, and is currently injured, making way for this next player in the lineup.
Yannick Weber: C
Weber looked great last season in my opinion, but lost a lot of confidence and looked overwhelmed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Weber has taken his poor pay from the playoffs and brought it to this season. For an “offensive defenceman”, he has just 2 points in 12 games, and has been poor defensively. He’s not dynamic enough offensively to be poor defensively, and with the poor play of other defenceman, his errors are sticking out even more.
Ryan Miller: B-
Miller had a hot start to the season, but has cooled down quickly. While the defence hasn’t helped him out much lately, he needs to be better, and can’t give up weak goals at poor times in a game.
Jacob Markstrom: B-
Markstrom has been solid, but really it is too early to judge with such a small sample size.
Richard Bachman: C+
He was a solid fill-in goalie, but with Markstrom back now, he should get some starter time in the AHL.
This final section of the blog will take a look at the player stat projections over a full 82 game pace, as well as my expectation for the players. I will also project our GF/GP and GA/GP over an 82 game season, compare it to past seasons and summarize the results.
Current Points (GP…G-A-P)
Projected Points (GP…G-A-P)
Expected Points (GP…G-A-P)
Projected total goals: 264
Expected total goals: 235
#1 for 2014/2015
#9 for 2014/2015
#1 for 2013/2014
#8 for 2013/2014
#2 for 2012/2013*
#7 for 2012/2013*
#2 for 2011/2012
#8 for 2011/2012
#1 for 2010/2011
#11 for 2010/2011
As you can see from the data above, the Canucks are “projected” to have 264 goals (using pure extrapolation). This is, of course, unreasonable, and would be either #1 or #2 in the league over the past 5 seasons. If this was the case, they should have a much better record, because their goals against is not that poor as to counteract this. With my “expected” totals (looking at the game in a vacuum where there are no injuries), the Canucks finish the season with 235 goals. This would put them in the #7-11 range for the past 5 seasons, which I feel is much more realistic, and perhaps even a bit optimistic.
Overall, the Canucks are scoring enough goals, but their defence has been subpar at best. If they want to have a serious chance of making the playoffs, the defence and goaltending has to be better, and they must maintain a GF/GP of around 2.8.
Please feel free to provide feedback on my article, and don’t forget to answer the poll questions! What do you think the Canucks need to improve this season, and where should they look to bring about these improvements?
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[color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]We're back, Jack! I hope Jack Eichel reads this, because that would be a perfect intro to this blog. Or Jack Johnson, or Jack Hillen, or zombie Jack Adams, because it's almost Halloween and it would be very fitting if he read this and ate my brains.[/size][/font][/color]
The regular season started this past Wednesday, and this may be one of the most anticipated seasons of all time. You have two generational talents in McDavid and Eichel, you have a list of high profile rookies playing, making this possibly the best rookie year in recent memory. Then you have teams that have changed for the better by adding elite talent like Phil Kessel, Mike Green, and Brandon Prust.[/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
What really excites me for this season, is the fact that earlier this week, living legend Jaromir Jagr announced he is going to grow out his iconic mullet. I haven't been this happy since the Canucks put Linden Vey on waivers. Which was actually on the same day, so it's been a pretty good week so far. Apparently as far as the mullet goes, it was Twitter God Roberto Luongo who talked Jagr into it. Even though he's no longer the goalie for my team, this guy just keeps delivering. [/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
So aside from Luongo asking him to do it, why did he decide to bring it back? [/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
As a blogger who just makes stuff up, it's pretty obvious. Patrick Kane has one, Anze Kopitar pretty much had one. This is what it takes to be an elite player and win The Cup in this day and age. Jagr gets that, and he's constantly adapting to things like that in an effort to be the best 68 in the league. He's also the only 68 in the league, so that helps. Actually, he was the only 68 up until last season when Mike Hoffman started to use it. Seriously, get a different number! that one is for Jags. [/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
Sweet Upper Deck jacket![/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
I don’t know how long it’s going to take him to grow it out, but if he somehow fully grows it out by the playoffs, The Panthers will be a legitimate contender. This may be Jagrs final season as he turns 44 this February and has nothing left to prove other than that he can still grow out that mullet, and dominate players half his age. He may also be growing it out as he knows he has one last shot at The Cup, and this mullet is the best chance he has in doing so. Or he just really misses the 90s.[/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
I hope he still keeps going after this season, he’s always fun to watch and is the last remaining player of his era. It may be some time before another player with his skill and size combination comes along. As far as point scoring goes he is one of the all time greatest hockey players. As far as modern day longevity in hockey goes, he is the best. As far as sleeping with Czech models half his age goes, he is second to none.[/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]
We need more people like him.[/size][/font][/color]
If you haven’t noticed, the Vancouver Canucks have a glut of centermen both now and for the future.
They sent young guns Dmitry Zhukenov and Joseph Labate down to Chicoutimi and Utica respectively, but for some reason there’s still a gazillion centers – okay, 11. 11 centers – vying for the jobs down the middle on the big club.
Out of those 11, three of those are Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat, and Brandon Sutter, who will presumably take the top three spots. Another spot can be removed for Brendan Gaunce, who’s good, consistent game will grab him a spot on the team while veteran Chris Higgins is out with a fractured foot. He’ll be filling in as left wing on the third line.
That brings us down to seven. Seven guys vying for one, maybe two spots. It were as if the depth chart was hosting its own Bachelor(ette) TV show. So who are these potential bottom-liners?
We’ll start off first with Linden Vey. He’s the only one on the team that is victim (or in this case, Vey-ctim. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) to more hate than Luca Sbisa. Brought in because Bo Horvat’s NHL status was questionable at the time, Vey started on the third line, then dropped down to the fourth line, and slowly became a rotation player who spent a fair bit of time in the press box. He worked on his conditioning over the summer, but his face-off game still seems a little weak.
Alex Friesen is next. He’s small – smaller than Vey, even. He has good skill, as he was a solid contributor in different ways to the Comets’ Calder Cup run this spring. But it is his size that sets him back. If he can show to play bigger than he is as well as win face-offs, Friesen shouldn’t have a problem making the cut. As opposed to being cut. From the team.
Adam Cracknell has looked nice in a Canucks jersey so far – scoring the game-winning goal in the Kraft Hockeyville game against the Sharks – but he’s a depth addition. He’s likely meant to take over Cal O’Reilly’s role as top centerman and leader in Utica along with Blair Jones.
Speaking of which, it’s Blair Jones! Jones has an absolute blast of a shot, and he’s not a half-bad skater either. He’s looked good (or at least, better than others) in the preseason games he’s played in. He’s a fairly good skater and could handle the fourth-line role if given to him. However, it depends on the play of others to see if his name will land in the fourth center role on the depth chart.
Making a name for himself as a Canucks top prospect, Cole Cassels gained a whole lot of fame this spring by shutting down Connor McDavid, playing through injury, and leading his team to a Memorial Cup championship. He’s got skills, no doubt about it. But in the preseason games he’s been in so far, he’s showed he does need experience in the minors. Although he’s shown promise, he’s also shown he needs a bit more time and experience in the minors. He’ll do nicely on a Utica team trying to outdo last year’s Western Conference championship. He’ll make the NHL next year, perhaps?
Jared McCann is standing out among the competition right now. He’s working hard, showcasing his skills, and is playing like a real NHLer. To boost his skills, playing in the AHL would be ideal. Unfortunately for management, McCann would have to be sent down to his OHL team because of his age. McCann does look like he could handle an NHL role, however, and if he’s consistent in the next three games or less, he’ll get at least the nine game tryout and potentially an NHL role.
Finally, there’s Brandon Prust. An acquisition in a controversial trade, Prust has looked somewhat decent in place of Zack Kassian. He brings toughness and leadership in the dressing room, which is what GMJB is looking for. He also happens to be pretty good at face-offs, boasting an average last year of 51.6%, a career average of 49.8%, and a career high of 60%, according to faceoffs.net. He’ll likely be 13th or even 14th forward, as he has to compete with Ronalds Kenins, Jake Virtanen, and McCann for a spot on the ice
Who would I place my money on for the role? As bad as it could be, Linden Vey. He’s got big-league experience and Coach Willie Desjardins loves him… for some reason. He’s not a bad prospect, but should not play center and would not look good as Horvat’s replacement. I’d love to see McCann or even Jones steal the spot. It would at the very least give the Canucks some new blood in the lineup.
Original article can be found here.
Alex Edler: Coming off what was a horrendous 2013-2014 seasons, Edler proved why he is considered one of the Canucks best defenseman last year. Edler finished the year with a solid 31 points in 74 games but it was his production in the last 2 months of the season that makes me believe he will be a 40-45 point player next year. Over the last 2 months of the season, Edler almost doubled his point total with 14 points in his last 19 games; this upward projection near the end of the season leaves me feeling optimistic about Edler going into the 2015-2016 season but if there is one stat that I found shocking it was his 72 Giveaways. That is a lot of giveaways for a defenseman who is supposly a top pairing defenseman.
Projection: 10-12 goals 40-45 points (1PP, 1PK, Top pairing)
Chris Tanev: Arguably the Canucks best defenseman last year at the age of 25, there is still a lot of room for growth in Tanevs game. His 2 goals is probably an accurate representation of his shot, but I believe that given more PP time Tanev could reach 5 goals and 25-30 points. Tanev's even strength point totals are better than Edlers and I believe that he has the offensive instincts to be better offensively than Marc Andre Vlasic/Dan Hamhuis (25ish points 5ish goals). Except Tanev to get a more increased offensive role next year.
Projection: 5 goals 25-30 points (1PK, 2nd/1st PP, Top pairing)
Dan Hamhuis: A pending UFA at the end of the year, Hamhuis is bound to have somewhat of a comeback year. Coming off a strong WC where he had 6 assists in 10 games for Canada, he still seems to have the offensive instincts that saw him put up 37 points in the 2011-2012 season. (Granted he was playing with the tournaments top scoring Defenseman and was on the best team in the tournament) Combined with the fact that had had 17 points in his last 39 games (after he returned from his Injury) and I believe a 30 points season isn't out of the question at all.
Projection 4-6 goals 28-32 points (2nd PP, 1st/2nd PK, 2nd pairing)
Lucas Sbisa: CDCs favorite Whipping boy during the season, Sbisa had fewer turnovers than Tanev and Edler (46). Personally I saw a lot of growth in Sbisa games from Feb to the end of the season and the stats support that growth. Over the last 3 months of the season Sbisa had 7 points and was a +3, which was 66% of his offensive output from last year. Sbisa was also our only defenseman to record 125+ Hits and Block shots. Most of the hate for Sbisa came from Dec-Jan when he was -12 and recorded a 0 points, but the progression that he showed during the end of the season was promising for a guy who is still only 25 years old.
Projection 4-6 goals 18-22 points 150+ hits and Block Shots (2nd PK 2nd pairing)
Matt Bartkowski: I don't really have much to go off of for Bartkowski, but his 88 hits in 47 games seems to add a much needed physical presence on the back end. His 67 shots in 47 games also shows that he knows how to get the puck on net, something the Canucks were horrible at last season. His point totals aren't too impressive but 15 points is probably an acceptable projection for him.
Projection 3-4 goals, 15-18 points, 140ish hits (3rd pairing)
Yannick Weber: Coming off a season where he shot the puck like Shea Weber, Yannick Weber showed that he was more than just a PP specialist. His 11 goals and 20 points in 65 games bold well for the 26 year old, but it was his improvement without the puck that have many fans wondering if he could be a fixture in our top 6. Personally I see him becoming a solid 5th defense man if everything goes well for him this season and we might see a little more offensive this year.
Projection 8-10 goals 20-25 points (3rd pairing 1st/2nd PP)
Interesting fact: he could get 100 hits and 100 Block shots if he plays a full season next year
Frank Corrado: The first thing I notice when looking at Frank Corrado is his lower turnover rate (5 in 10 games) and his block shot and hit totals. If you project that over an 82 game season Corrado projects to be get 100+ in both hits and block shots. The other thing I noticed was his goal totals in the AHL the last two season, Corrado seems to have the potential to pot 10-12 goals during his prime which is something the Canucks really did lack in last season. Overall I think Benning made the right decision keeping Corrado over Clendening because I see Corrado as a top 4 defenseman and Clendening as a Weber type (good 5th defenseman) during his prime.
Andrey Pedan: Probably a half season or so from making the Canucks, Pedan is my definition of a "5 tool" defenseman. He can Skate, rip the puck, play a physical game, fight, and play a solid defensive game. Making huge strides in Utica since coming over for the Islanders, Pedan is looking like solid prospect who I would hope gets some games later on in the season IF we are not in a playoff spot.
Projection: Sbisa with more or a mean streak and a better shot.
Ben Hutton: My favorite defensive prospect, I believe Hutton will be a top 4 defenseman in the NHL within the next 2 season. Playing on a horrible Maine team last year, Hutton still had a great second half of the season that show him almost match his .66 PPG he had in 2013-2014 and finished the season with a respectable 21 points. Also playing on one of the worst team in one of the strongest divisions in collage hockey (Hockey East) also bolds well for Hutton development because he was matched up against some of the best collage talent in the country on a game-to-game bases (BU, BC, Notre Dame, are just a few of the powerhouse teams in H-east). I would like to see Hutton get 1st/2nd PP time and 2nd pairing minutes in Utica with a more increase role as the season progresses.
Ryan Miller: 29 wins in 45 games is nothing to sneeze at despite the consistent Miller bashing that goes on here. Miller definitely stole us some games last year but when he stunk he really did stink. I would expect somewhat of a more consistent year, considering that his wife isn't pregnant (somewhat of a distraction) and that over his career he is good for a solid 32-35 wins, .916% and a GAA of about 2.5.
Projection 65-70 games 35-38 wins .917% 2.5GAA
Jacob Markstrom: Based on my Miller projections, Markstrom is slated for about 12-17 starts, which he would have to win about 10-12 of them for us to be a playoff team. Markstrom is a big goalie that in my eyes could be a #1 but will have to work on his lateral movement and rebound control in order to fulfill that potential. I would expect him to be a backup for 2 years before taking over the starting job
Here's another look at the upcoming NHL draft, complete with analysis on team needs, who the risers are, the fallers, and those players we should avoid, with a focus on the top prospects available, of course.
Since Benning indicated we're going to likely be addressing team needs in this draft due to our position in it, here's a look at what the team needs actually are:
Canucks Team Needs:
We all know about our center depth by now. Cassels, Horvat, McCann and I suppose Gaunce and Labate for some extra meat. We are set with #2 2-way centers, for sure, and what's better, we started getting rid of the #2 one-dimensional guys like Schroeder. This will only translate to winning in the future. However, the clear #1 center, in particular a big workhorse like Getzlaf, is not there. Horvat has more of a Bergeron upside. Unless we are able to select a legit #1 center, then we don't need to burn a 1st rounder for another center.
We are also aware of the depth we have in goaltending I think, and how we're able to sign decent goaltending prospects without burning a draft pick. I probably would have passed on Demko last draft in favour of selecting Lemieux, but what's done is done. I wouldn't worry about goaltending for the time being.
As for right-shooting RWers, we have just selected Jake Virtanen, future all-star power forward. (Thanks Jim), and we still have Kassian available and Grenier is apparently knocking on the door. Jensen is also a RW, but a left-shooting one and his future with the team remains unclear. We could perhaps use more right-shooting natural RWers, but the amount of centermen available to us makes the need not all that important. Cassels can play there. Linden Vey. As well as Jordan Subban.
Left-shooting LWers include Bearcheese, Shinkaruk, Jensen, if he'd suck it up, Gaunce can play there, Kenins, and Ben Hutton, who's a converted LW turned defenseman. The depth is fine for now, but doesn't include any Luc Robitaille's.
On defense we have Clendening, Corrado, Sbisa, Tanev, Weber, Stanton, Pedan, Tryramkin, Subban and Hutton. The most we can expect out of these guys is a #4 defenseman on a contending team. This is what Tanev is. Too limited offensively to be a top pmd. Too slight to be shutdown. He's a bit of a tweener guy, or a defensive #4 guy. Corrado is a Tanev clone. Same build, same style, same upside. Clendening tops out as an offensive #4 guy imho. He's skilled, but not skilled enough to carry and offense and not defensively adept enough for a top-pairing role either. Sbisa is a left-shooting version of Bieksa with less physical attributes and offense. Sbisa peaks out as a #5 on a contender. We've already seen the best of Weber, who's a bit of a one-trick pony on the power play and was instantly figured out by Calgary in the playoffs. He's a #5. Stanton appears to have peaked as well as a #6 or #7 guy. Pedan is a goon. Tryramkin is a big, big dude, but is still aways away from NHL starts, and an eternity from reaching his potential, the mythical Zdeno Chara, if that is to happen. Subban and Hutton are both offense-only wildcards and it should be interesting to see what happens with them here, but there are big holes in the games of both players. This defense is screaming: HELP!
Derp? The team needs defense, clearly, and Benning realizes this and has already acted by acquiring Clendening with some offensive upside, and at least securing a physical player for awhile with the Sbisa contract. Also, he sees the need for scoring from the backend by activating Subban and Hutton. But all these moves involving non-bluechippers are relative bandaids. The REAL move he attempted was trading up for last year's 1st overall to select Ekblad. Ekblad is the difference-maker that a winning team needs and if Benning wants to build up a solid legacy here, he'll need to figure out how to pull it off. The urgency to do so, as defensemen take longer to develop, is growing by the year and that's why he's figuring out where Hutton and Subban can progress right away. If he doesn't address the defense, then his upcoming core group of centers and wingers will be wasted on a team with little pushback in their own zone. He'll have to scramble to make some more trades, and that will burn these forward prospects that we need. And he'll have to sign UFA's, and a difference-making one inside his prime is rarely available.
So about the 2015 draft, with a focus on defense:
Luckily for us, this draft year features a few potential difference-making defensemen. That doesn't happen every draft year. The Canucks might want to take advantage of that, if they can land one at 23rd overall. That's fairly possible.
Noah Hanifin is a can't-miss stud #1D.
Zack Werenski is NHL ready and will contribute right away. Potential top-pairing.
Rasmus Andersson is also NHL ready. He appears to be in our reach. He's a two-way defenseman, RHD power play quarterback with a great shot.
Ivan Provorov is ranked a bit too high imho, but he is NHL ready. Potential top pairing.
Ryan Pilon is a year behind Provorov in readiness perhaps, and has less offensive upside, but his 2-way potential is great. Potential top pairing like Girardi.
Oliver Kylington is a year behind Pilon, but has more offensive potential. He still needs to gain strength, but his speed is awesome. I don't believe that he's fallen as far as rankings indicate and some team will pick him up early, but he won't be the next OEL. Potential top pairing like Yandle.
Jeremy Roy is like Kylington, but with a far higher bust potential. He'll likely need some years of AHL time to round out his game. Potential top-pairing like Letang, Green.
Juulsen is a few years away, but projects a top-4 2-way defenseman down the road. Seems more like a #3, but long-shot top-pairing?
Vince Dunn had a HUGE 2nd half and playoffs. A crazy 31pts in 24gp down the stretch. He absolutely caught fire and had scouts saying Keith! Keith! That's what has put him on the 1st round radar as of late. He's light and needs to build strength of course. Could be as good as Kylington or better in some years. But is he strictly an offensive defenseman? At least he has a somewhat workable frame, unlike Jordan Subban. Potential top-pairing like Fowler.
Dermott also had a great playoffs and 2nd half in Erie. He gained a lot of strength as the season wore on. As good as Pilon or better. Potential top-pairing like Girardi.
Zboril was hurt. But he finished his season at a ppg pace over eleven games. Q or not, that's decent. He'll need to build some strength though, and stay healthy. A lot of people are on the Zboril train now, and i'm saying he's the best Q D in this draft, but the best Q D 1st rounder recently was Kulikov, another import. If you're really impressed with Kulikov, okay then. Seems like a #3,
Stephen Derocher, Erie Otters, put on some weight and had a great playoffs. NHL GM's will notice. He's a future 2-way defenseman. Available later on.
Caleb Jones is down there in his team's lineup, but he should be a riser just because of his brother Seth alone. Available later on.
Jeremy Roy. Got hurt. Struggled to maintain 1st round status. I felt he looked out of sorts in the playoffs, constantly getting walked, and him and Barzal absolutely needed a good showing in the U18 to try to salvage their seasons. They delivered some points against the weaker teams in that tournament. Some other team will pick them up too early. Let them. If they fall to us, then let them fall some more.
Matt Spencer. Slowed WAY down late. Too bad.
Chabot. Also slowed down late. Still ranked high though.
Carlo. Hey, he's tall! He'll never be known for his offense, but what he had shown early on seemed to slow to a crawl late.
These guys aren't falling far, but they're not rising either. They or similar types should be available later on.
Cernak is strictly a defensive defenseman. Could be available late, but he has NHL size.
Gabriel Carlsson is the Swedish Carlo.
Jacob Larsson is the Swedish Cernak.
But at what point do you select a forward instead?:
That's the real question, isn't it? One that only Benning can answer though. If it were up to me, I'd take a chance on undersized Dunn with his amazing 2nd half, perhaps Kylington with his great speed, Andersson with his great shot and two-way ability, take a long look at Dermott and even Zboril (sigh...) before taking a look at forwards in our range or the potential faller forwards.
As for trading up for a defenseman, the only one worth it is Hanifin, and that will cost us Horvat, Virtanen, or both. Too costly, but like last year, there will likely be talk about it.
People need to remember that yes, we have some prospects now, but we're hardly elite in this regard, and in a big trade scenario we're still not dealing from a position of strength. Even with the abundance of centers, we're still going to need them all going forward due to the spots on the wing to fill.
Do we want another 2nd line forward? Or maybe a one-dimensional sniper that may work out? Sure, but maybe in later rounds they're are available. Where was Johnny Hockey selected? Tyler Johnson?
The need for defense could have been alleviated by selecting Shea Theodore instead of Hunter Shinkaruk in the 2013 draft, for example, especially after we just drafted Horvat earlier in the round, but now the need grows even more dire.
I have a feeling that a bluechipper defenseman will be available to us in this draft. We should probably select one, considering team needs, and the needs for a winning team going forward.
So as you guys have probably heard by now, we are less than 2 weeks away from my favorite time of year and more importantly the only time of year where you can aquire a Franchise player for the price of a draft pick.
In the past our prospect pool has gone from being the worst to one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL. Much of this can be attributed to Gillis, yes Mike Gillis had a positive impact on this team. Say what you want about how he handled draft picks, trading them away for pending UFA's who never turned out. Gillis's body of work over his last 3 drafts is pretty impressive for someone who may have "set the team back a couple of years" with his drafting ablility
Here are his picks from 2011
You may be saying "well this draft was a write off" but if you look at some of those names and a couple of them are on the break of making the time next year.
Grenier has really impressed Benning and Co over the course of Utica's Calder Cup run and will get a long look next year in Trainning Camp.
Labate has just signed a contract with Utica and will be there next year. The book is still open on him but some people believe that he could be a very good prospect if he has a strong year next year.
Blomstrand absolutely light up he ECHL his year, scoring almost a goal a game. He may never become an NHLer but his production in the ECHL will get him a long look in Utica next year and we all know how good Travis Green has been in developing talent over the last 2 years
Corrado will be on a NHL roster next year as he is Waivers Eligible. Some question what his true upside is, but this Canucks fan can see him becoming a solid 4-5 for the Canucks.
Jensen: His shot is at an NHL level already, but his inconsistence has cost him a spot as one of the Canucks top prospects. He could very well still become a 2/3 Tweener (Higgins/Hansen type player) but with only a year left before he is Waivers eligible the clock is ticking and he will need a strong summer and training camp to get a extended look next year.
Brendan Gaunce Alexandre Mallet Ben Hutton Wesley Myron Matthew Beattie
It's weird that after are 2011 cup run that we had basically no draft picks, but Gillies did a decent job in getting some players with NHL upside
Gaunce has been the poster boy for how hard work can get you places. He may not be the most skilled player in the world but his improvement thoughout his first AHL season are impressive non the less. Gaunce seems to have bottom 6 forward written all over him and IMO if his offensive starts to come around he could be another 2/3 Tweener, but many have him pegged as a 3/4th line centre who can produce 25-35 points a year while being defensively responsible. I would except him to get into a few Pre-season games next year and may steal a spot on the roster, but thats being optimistic.
Hutton, not many have heard of Hutton before he was signed his year. Hutton was a converted forward who has excellence offensive instincts. Hutton could very well become the crown of the Canucks defence prospects next year as he already has played against older competition at the University of Maine and was dominent in what is considered the toughest conference in Collage hockey (Hockey-East) which feature powerhouse programs such as Boston Collage, Boston University, and Notre Dame.
1 Bo Horvat Hunter Shinkaruk Cole Cassels Jordan Subban Anton Cederholm Mike Williamson
2013 was a benchmark year for the Canucks maked by the Luongo saga coming to a surpising end, which show Cory Schneider being traded for BO HORVAT.
Horvat, well I don't need to example this pick, everyone is raving about his maturity, work ethic, and the steep learning curve that cames from making the jump for Major Junior to the NHL
Hunter Shinkaruk I was a big fan of his pick because of Hunters potential to be a dynamic top 6 forward, sometime this team really lacks in it's farm system. The jury is still out on whether his first season in the AHL was a success or not, but he is still at last 1 season away from making an impact on the Canucks
Cassels was the Canucks most intriguing prospects his year. He dominated the OHL and ultimately won Major Juniors hockeys ultimate prize, the Memorial Cup. His defensive game is what makes him so intriguing, Cassels plays a very solid defensive game which some believe is almost NHL ready. Excepted to report to Utica next year, Cassels will get a chance to prove that he maybe one the of steals in the 2013 draft.
Subban, having a Norris Trophy winning brother makes him the already most talked about 4th rounders in the draft class. There is no doubt that he processes Elite offensive instincts, evident by his 25 goals as a defence man on one of the worst teams in the OHL but the questions about his defensive are what made him a 4th round pick. Subban will be in Utica next year and it will be interesting to see if he can translate his offensive success to the AHL.
UDFA (undrafted free agents)
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(single) All he did was bash the team the whole game, he must be a Canuck-ticon.
(plural) If you don't cheer at the game the Canuck-ticons have won.
The Canuck-ticons are only able to express negative comments about the Canucks, and will only ever seem to be content with the complete annihilation of everything Canuck.
Canuck-ticons are a sad species, they are unable to enjoy or compliment anything Canuck. They are the "fans" that can see no future for the Canucks as a positive one. Every year the team must be blown up, if another team fails it is allowable to have such excuses as injuries or officiating, but not when it comes to the Canucks for a Canuck-ticon, defense sucks, every other team has better players, players are just paid too much, had a bad year?, trade him, fire him, what they should have done..., and the only way to win is to get rid of everybody for the first overall pick! (it is so simple, for the formula see Edmonton). That's how you win a Stanley Cup.
Is there any way to get a Canuck-ticon to change sides? Must it always be dark and destruction, or will they always stay with us, in the same manor. Is there a way to tricking them into becoming Edmon-ticons (exciting times over there, with plenty of seats on the band wagon soon to be filled)!
Interested on your thoughts... should be Good... (I don't think they can see positive words)
I never thought I'd be analyzing a Flames second round playoff series in October. I knew we were trending up, but wow, what a development year. And, Like I've said all season, thats what its about, we are developing and win or lose, in the long term we are winning because we have drafted well and are only just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the success our prospects can expect down the line. Much like Winnipeg will soon be reaping the benefits of good drafting, finding gems in the rough through trades and free agents.
Anyhow, onto the series. Overview, I totally expected Winnipeg to beat Anaheim, simply riding on their momentum, size, and young naivety. But, Anaheim swept em, now, that doesnt tell the whole story, anyone who watched the series knows that it was extremely close each game. Two years down the line when the Jets are a little more developed and finely rounded, they will be much more dominant. Anyhow, Anaheims time is now, there star/core players are all at or nearing 30, their window will be open for maybe another 2 seasons tops after this one. So they are hungry, and will be playing as such.
Calgary, how did they get here, well they played as a team through the season, batled through gobs of injuries and call ups, and managed to get into the playoffs. Against Vancouver they rode a wave of momentum built from the excitement of making the playoffs along with a little sprinkle of just about everything you need to win a series. They were able to win a road game, they got solid goaltending, they didnt get hurt, they banged away and created chances on the forcheck, and now, here they are competing with Anaheim.
Goaltending: Barring the bad game 6 start, which could have happened to anyone, Hiller played stunning lights out hockey for Calgary in the first round. One thing I noticed as the series progressed, was that, Hiller, catching with the wrong hand, forced alot of players to take their shots a little differently to try to go blocker high on him, which, I think threw a couple of players off. Hiller also carries with him that grudge factor, playing against his former team, which, even though he doesnt need it, could give him the inspiration to grab the next gear up. Im fairly sure Hartley will go with Hiller, but, should he choose Ramo, that would be fine too, Ramo played amazing hockey down the stretch, and I wouldnt mind seeing either goalie in, although it will likely be Hiller.
As far as the Ducks go, Andersen is young, he played good eneough against the Jets, but he is not a legit #1 goalie in the NHL in my eyes, not yet anyways. Advantage: Calgary
Defense: Anaheims defense, as I mentioned in my entry on them in the first round, is, at best, average. That said Cam Fowler played a strong series against Winnipeg, and of course Boucheman is a solid shut down guy. The Flames will be without Giordano, despite the fact that he's skating again he's still a ways away from a return, so Brodie, Russel and Wideman will have to be munching up minutes like mad. Engelland really stepped up in the Vancouver series, normally I don't want to see him more then 10 minutes a game, but, without Gio, and with our D prospects not ready to step in full time, I don't mind him playing 20 minutes a game. He's big, and can get some good hits in on Anaheims big forwards. Brodie and Russel are young, Brodie especially, so they will no doubt be able to keep their energy up, as for Wideman, well time will tell. Overall I give Calgary a very very slight advantage, only because I really don't think Anaheim have much of a D core.
Offense(Forwards): Well Ill come right out and say it, Anaheim has a clear advantage here, Getzlaf and Perry are two of the best in the game, Kesler is a great playoff performer. Anaheim is deep at the forward position, they have clutch guys, they defanetly have the advantage, especially when you take into account that Monahan is playing hurt. Monahan, Johnny and Bennett will no doubt have their day as a feared trio, but being as they are 20,21 and 18 respectivly, they simply can't match the top 3 on Anaheim in terms of experience. Hudler will have to lead them by example. In order for Calgary to stand a snow balls chance in you know where, they are going to have to play physical and try to get into Anaheims head. Ferland will have to continue at his frantic hitting pace, if we get a healthy Bouma back this would be a huge uplift. If Calgary can find a way to limit Getzlaf and Perry, while getting by Kesler, they have a small chance at advancing, but thats a tall order.
Calgary MUST figure out a way to win 1 in the Honda Center, I don't know if this is a mental thing or what, but they have to get over it and take either game 1 or 2. Coming back to the Dome I think the momentum will give them a victory or 2 in the first 4 games.
Series Prediction: Well, I purposely didnt predict a winner when I posted my Calgary/Vancouver write up, superstition I guess, so I won't post a prediction here. Ill say this though, 6 games.
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Regular season games
Stanley Cup playoff games
SEASON 1: 2006-07 ( 1-2-0 + 1-4 = 2-6-0 )
10/31/06 L Nashville 3, Vancouver 2
12/08/06 W Vancouver 4, Carolina 3 (OT)
01/11/07 L Minnesota 5, Vancouver 2
04/13/07 L Round 1, Game 2: Dallas 2, Vancouver 0
04/19/07 L Round 1, Game 5: Dallas 1, Vancouver 0 (OT)
04/23/07 W Round 1, Game 7: Vancouver 4, Dallas 1
04/29/07 L Round 2, Game 3: Anaheim 3, Vancouver 2
05/01/07 L Round 2, Game 4: Anaheim 3, Vancouver 2 (OT)
SEASON 2: 2007-08 ( 7-2-0 )
10/10/07 L Philadelphia 8, Vancouver 2
10/28/07 L Detroit 3, Vancouver 2
11/27/07 W Vancouver 4, Anaheim 0
11/29/07 W Vancouver 2, Columbus 0
12/18/07 W Vancouver 5, New Jersey 0
12/20/07 W Vancouver 3, Dallas 2
03/06/08 W Vancouver 6, Nashville 2
03/08/08 W Vancouver 4, St. Louis 2
03/17/08 W Vancouver 3, Phoenix 1
SEASON 3: 2008-09 ( 2-2-2 + 0-1 = 2-3-2 )
11/04/08 W Vancouver 4, Nashville 0
11/06/08 W Vancouver 1, Phoenix 0
11/12/08 OTL Colorado 2, Vancouver 1 (SO 2-1)
01/13/09 L New Jersey 5, Vancouver 1
01/15/09 L Phoenix 4, Vancouver 1
04/02/09 OTL Anaheim 6, Vancouver 5 (SO 1-0)
05/09/09 L Round 2, Game 5: Chicago 4, Vancouver 2
SEASON 4: 2009-10 ( 3-1-0 + 1-1 = 4-2-0 )
10/27/09 L Detroit 5, Vancouver 4
11/03/09 W Vancouver 4, New York Rangers 1
01/07/10 W Vancouver 4, Phoenix 0
03/30/10 W Vancouver 4, Phoenix 1
04/23/10 W Round 1, Game 5: Vancouver 7, Los Angeles 2
05/11/10 L Round 2, Game 6: Chicago 5, Vancouver 1
SEASON 5: 2010-11 ( 4-2-1 + 1-0 = 5-2-1 )
10/09/10 OTL Los Angeles 2, Vancouver 1 (SO 2-0)
11/21/10 L Phoenix 3, Vancouver 2
12/08/10 W Vancouver 5, Anaheim 4 (SO 1-0)
01/26/11 W Vancouver 2, Nashville 1
02/09/11 L Anaheim 4, Vancouver 2
03/16/11 W Vancouver 4, Colorado 2
04/07/11 W Vancouver 5, Minnesota 0
05/24/11 W Round 3, Game 5: Vancouver 3, San Jose 2 (2 OT)
SEASON 6: 2011-12 ( 3-3-1 + 0-3 = 3-6-1 )
10/26/11 L St. Louis 3, Vancouver 0
11/29/11 W Vancouver 4, Columbus 1
12/01/11 L Nashville 6, Vancouver 5
01/17/12 OTL Los Angeles 3, Vancouver 2 (SO 2-1)
02/15/12 W Vancouver 3, Colorado 1
03/14/12 L Phoenix 5, Vancouver 4
04/03/12 W Vancouver 5, Anaheim 4 (SO 3-1)
04/11/12 L Round 1, Game 1: Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 2
04/13/12 L Round 1, Game 2: Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 2
04/22/12 L Round 1, Game 5: Los Angeles 2, Vancouver 1 (OT)
SEASON 7: 2012-13 ( 2-1-1 + 0-2 = 2-3-1 )
01/30/13 W Vancouver 3, Colorado 0
02/12/13 W Vancouver 2, Minnesota 1
03/05/13 OTL San Jose 3, Vancouver 2 (SO 2-1)
04/25/13 L Anaheim 3, Vancouver 1
05/01/13 L Round 1, Game 1: San Jose 3, Vancouver 1
05/03/13 L Round 1, Game 2: San Jose 3, Vancouver 2 (OT)
SEASON 8: 2013-14 ( 4-3-0 )
10/30/13 L Detroit 2, Vancouver 1
11/22/13 W Vancouver 6, Columbus 2
12/08/13 W Vancouver 3, Colorado 1
01/29/14 L Chicago 5, Vancouver 2
02/26/14 W Vancouver 1, St. Louis 0
03/19/14 W Vancouver 2, Nashville 0
04/07/14 L Anaheim 3, Vancouver 0
SEASON 9: 2014-15 ( 1-2-0 + 1-0 )
11/11/14 W Vancouver 4, Ottawa 3 (OT)
12/17/14 L Dallas 2, Vancouver 0
01/27/15 L Anaheim 4, Vancouver 0
04/23/14 W Round 1, Game 5: Vancouver 2, Calgary 1
SEASON MISSED: 2015-16
SEASON 10: 2016-17 ( O-0-0 + 0-0 )
10/25/16 X OTTAWA @ VANCOUVER
11/29/16 X MINNESOTA @ VANCOUVER
50 games: 27-18-5 ( 1-2-0, 4-3-0, 2-1-1, 3-3-1, 4-2-1, 3-1-0, 2-2-2, 7-2-0, 1-2-0 )
Stanley Cup Playoffs
15 games: 4-11 ( 1-0, DNQ, 0-2, 0-3, 1-0, 1-1, 0-1, DNQ, 1-4 )
65 games: 31-29-5 ( 2-2-0, 4-3-0, 2-3-1, 3-6-1, 5-2-1, 4-2-0, 2-3-2, 7-2-0, 2-6-0 )
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ROUND ONE VERSUS THE FLAMES
The Complacent Canuck Says:
“Listen man they’ve got the edge on us because our top 6 players are about equal, the goaltending is about equal, but their depth players are doing a better job. As well as their defensive core are out producing ours. If Calgary remains as disciplined as they have been and the Canucks continue to be undisciplined (league leader in bench minors) Then Calgary is gonna run over Vancouver in 6.”
So how exactly do you choose which line is superior, total points? Listen man, several Calgary players have over achieved this year, not to discredit their coach who got them to buy in. They just all played and an unexpected, elevated level throughout the season similarly to how the Canucks over achieved during the 2011 regular season. A year in which several players simultaneously had a breakout season. Sure they’ve beaten the odds all season and managed to scramble their way into a playoff spot, however their youthful enthusiasm will not trump hardened playoff experience from a core that knows what it takes. Sure they didn’t bring home the whole biscuit. However they played enough playoff games over seasons past- since Calgary’s last playoff experience, to total up to around an entire season worth of games. The Canuck’s veterans have more playoff games played than the junior players on the Flames have had regular season games played.
On to analyzing the team’s lines, the Canucks and Flames top lines tallied 201 and 202 points respectively, so the top lines are about equal. That’s a pretty fair assessment. Although the Canucks now have Vrbata on the second line, he’s a 1st line player, but still gets to rip it up on the PP1 unit. Since the Canucks have a better depth chart and can distribute the scoring throughout the lineup better than the Flames. The Flames have also lost quite a bit of scoring touch with Bouma getting injured. Sure the Flames edge the Nux in defenceman scoring totals however Giordano is no longer in the lineup, and Brodie (Who got 41 points) has only scored at a pace of 25pts per 82 games since Gio went down. His scoring touch is no longer what it was while riding shotgun to a potential Norris favourite. Wideman had a great season offensively too, his best totals since 2011-12 with the Caps. Here’s the thing though, why did the Caps let him walk? That was because he’s a liability in the playoffs and was exploited by other teams on a regular basis. He had a team worst -7 in 14 games with only 3 points to offer.
Here’s something nobody is talking about that I don’t get. Everyone is pointing at the numbers of points produced by Calgary’s back end, but they are awful at containing puck possession teams (Nux system) that fore-check well (Hansen, Horvat, Dorsett come in here) The Canucks may not do very good in terms of winning faceoffs to gain the aforementioned possession, but this is where Horvat comes in to take important draws. On top of that, this is also why he’s that -8 like everyone likes to throw around. He gets a lot of defensive zone deployment because he’s the most reliable in the dot. The Flames haven’t been the greatest faceoff team either (26th in the league to Van’s 29th) However to their credit they have pick it up in the latter half of the year and will get the edge in that department for this series.
Dorsett may have bad ‘Corsi’ numbers, but he has many intangibles that make up for it. For a grinder that can fight, he tallied a decent amount of points, all the while playing a shut down role. Bo Horvat had a mediocre start to the year but has been spectacular from the all star break and beyond. Jannik “Stone Hands” Hansen may not have the greatest underlying numbers but he’s a work horse that hounds the puck carrier and causes a lot of turn overs, even though he may create many him self. He also scored a fair amount of points this year. More than anyone expected anyway. He may not have the greatest finish, but he creates plenty of chances to at least get an attempt at finishing.
Now the Flames have some good scorers in their bottom 6, however the Canucks have had several different players come through the bottom 6 throughout the year and both teams bottom 6 units have perform admirably, more so close to equal to each other, with no clear steps on one another. The thing is the Canucks have more prospects on the verge of making a difference at the NHL level than Calgary does because most of their higher end talent has graduated and stuck at the next level. The Canucks have more bodies that they can put in to replace those who go down. They’re depth chart will be able to take more of a beating and still have players continue to step up. They will endure more than a Calgary depth chart which is already deteriorating as the playoffs approach. Meanwhile several Canucks that have been out for a bit, are 95% ready to go, and can almost be slotted back into the lineup (Richardson, Kassian, Matthias)
As for the goaltending situation, the Canucks clearly have the edge, some of which should not even be a question. Not only has Lack played spectacular down the stretch (.985 SV% in the final 2 games played), if he falters out of the gate, the Canucks still have a bona fide #1 starter to take his place. On top of that they also have better 3rd stringer and better 4th stringer options than Calgary has available at their disposal. Meanwhile Calgary has two goalies that are #1B tenders. Not to take away from their fine performances as a tandem this season. I’d just argue that Miller edges Hiller and Lack edges Ramo. Lack may have zero playoff experience going into game one, however Hiller was notoriously bad for his starts played in Anaheim during the playoffs, and this may be arguable but I see lack as slightly edges out Hiller’s performance from the games leading up to the post-season.
Calgary is the underdog in this series however you wouldn’t think it so with most analysts, and even EA sports simulation, choosing Calgary over the Canucks. However these are the same analysts who expected Calgary to be a contender for the McEichel sweepstakes before the season. Furthermore those guys at EA simulated a Bruins, Kings Stanley Cup Final. Neither even made the post-season. It’s odd that the media is in a way making out the Canucks to be the underdog by having more faith in Calgary. Hartley likes being the underdog team so that his guys will play loose without feeling as much of the pressure, so they can just go out and play. However the media won’t let him go into the post-season without the pressures of expectation. Maybe it’ll end up being counter-productive to take the pressure of the Canucks. I suppose it’s just more enjoyable to watch a Cinderella story come alive in front of you. Also, the Canucks let down the analysts who pick them in previous post-season campaigns. Perhaps doubting them is a form of revenge. However if you look really closely at this matchup and actually pay attention to the factors that will swing the series in a team’s favour, the Canucks are equal to or edge the flames in almost all of them. Lastly, just to throw this out there.. Bob Hartley hasn’t won 4 games against the Canucks in 3 seasons (14 games) since becoming the Flame’s head coach. Yet so many Flamers fan seems to think he’ll get 4 W’s in 5 or 6 games. That’s laughable. I’m going to enjoy browsing the Calgary Puck Forums after this series is heading to the Saddledome with the Nux holding a 2 game lead.
Here’s the thing about Calgary’s band-aids. They’ve done a good job of patching up a flat tire to help the team skid into the playoff picture. However your chemistry with your line mates begins to deteriorate when the lines are constantly shuffled. On top of that, the intensity ramps during playoff time. You have to do everything a little faster and play a little bit harder each shift by getting into the next gear, to retain the flow of your game. Something the Canucks will have less of a problem with because their roster is healthier, and vastly more experience under these conditions. Junior or College playoffs just don’t compare because the stakes just aren't nearly as high. Until you prove you can do damage in the National League Playoffs, there is no penciling someone in as a playoff performer.
Flamers Fans say:
“The Canucks have close to a hundred playoff games in recent years, but how many cups do they have in that time? Close to a hundred game for one finals appearance and no cups for the 2 girls? Experience is useless if it leads to failure.”
Spoken like someone who’s likely never experienced failure enough to understand the price that success comes at: Countless failures. You succeed because you failed and continue to try your best. Anyone skillful at anything would understand this process. So I suppose that excludes you.
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata
Shawn Matthias - Brad Richardson - Derek Dorsett
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen·Zack Kassian·Linden Vey (4C if Richardson can’t go)·Sven Baertschi·Brandon McMillan·Cory Conacher·Nicklas Jensen·Brenden Gaunce
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Kevin Bieksa - Luca Sbisa·Ryan Stanton·Adam Clendening·Frankie Corrado·Alex Biega·Bobby Sanguinetti
Ryan Miller·Jacob Markstrom
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monohan - Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond - Mikael Backlund - David Jones
Paul Byron - Joe Colborne - Markus Granlund
Michael Ferland - Matt Stajan - Josh Jooris
· Brandon Bollig
· Sam Bennett
· Drew Shore
· Emile Poirier
· Ken Agostino
TJ Brodie - Dennis Wideman
Kris Russell - Deryk Engelland
Corey Potter - David Shlemko
· Mark Cundari
· Tyler Wotherspoon
Kari Ramo (May miss 1st round)
· Joni Ortio
I laugh whenever a Flames fan uses Setoguchi as an example of depth. Hilarious.
Written by Brandon Webb
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How do you win a Stanley Cup?
I asked Trevor Linden that in Penticton, when the young stars were playing the week before NHL training camp opened up.
He said, "Build a playoff team, then get them through the regular season."
Well, the playoffs have been confirmed. Now we see if this team has what it takes.
Here is how the lines will look, heading into the postseason:
Because we do not know when Zack Kassian or Brad Richardson will return, we still need to factor them into the lineup for next week.
1. Sedin - Sedin - Burrows / Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
2. Higgins - Bonino - Vrbata / Matthias - Bonino - Vrbata
3. Dorsett - Richardson - Kassian / Kenins - Horvat - Hansen
highlighted means currently injured
4. Higgins - Horvat - Hansen / Matthias - Vey - Dorsett
Where does Kenins fit in once Richardson and Kassian return. Maybe Kassian and Kenins take turns in and out of the lineup.
On Defence, Alex Edler must be with with Chris Tanev. Edler is at his best when he has a solid stay at home defence partner like Tanev to cover his mistakes.
1. Edler - Tanev
2. Hamhuis -Weber
3. Bieksa - Sbisa
What do you think the lines should be? Have your say below...
Check our latest podcast ep! We talk about trade deadline, what that means for the Canucks, injuries, the latest roadtrip and more!
Have a beer while you listen
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Let's go back to the good ol' days, shall we? The one where Canucks win back to back Presidents' Trophies. We exorcize some demons beating the Blackhawks in game 7 OT after being up 3-0 in the series. Ryan Kesler dominates the Predators in round 2 of the playoffs. The Canucks make the Stanley Cup finals on a Kevin Bieksa goal so bizarre that Cory Schneider (and probably 1/2 of Rogers Arena) had no idea what had happened. And then the ups and downs in the finals against the Bruins which had Raffi Torres scoring a game winning goal with 20 seconds left in game 1, Alex Burrows scoring a goal 10 seconds into OT in game 2, Max Lapierre's happy dance after scoring the winning goal in game 5, and eventually succumbing at home in game 7 prompting the ugly events that took place in downtown Vancouver that night.
Back in those days, the Canucks dominated with a lineup predicated on mostly skill over size. But over the course of that ill-fated playoff run we got beat up, and injuries took their toll. As the years passed basking in the limelight of making the finals, we started to get old. Our skill players were still pretty good, but seeing as Father Time waits for no one, the extended seasons of battling caused our top players to lose a step or two.
As time went on this problem only seems to have been exacerbated. Having to play the Pacific Division giants of Anaheim, San Jose and LA 5 to 6 times a year is a grind, and at times these California teams have utterly dominated the Canucks with their size, speed, and tenacity. With only 3 teams guaranteed to make it out of the new Pacific Division each year, the question remains - what is the best way to compete in this tough division?
Some critics of the Canucks claim that they are too soft. Although they may be somewhat undersized, I would not say that they are soft players. Even though they may get outmuscled by some of the bigger teams, I would argue that the Canucks still play a reasonably hard game.
A lot of these critics also suggest that the Canucks overcompensate for this by acquiring only big, tough players. And to be fair, some of these players are needed. We got a start on this process by trading Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian, who is a work in progress. We effectively traded Cory Schneider for Bo Horvat, who is a tank. Most recently we drafted the Zdeno Chara-like Nikita Tryamkin (6'7", 230+ lbs) in the 3rd round last year. Also, don't forget about the acquiring of Shawn Matthias. Despite this influx of size, you still have people arguing that we should have taken the bully-like (I mean this in a good way) Nick Ritchie instead of Jake Virtanen 6th overall in this year's draft - and at 6'1" and 210 pounds, Virtanen is no slouch. At the end of the day I would be happy with either pick, but I really like Virtanen and it's pretty cool that they took a local boy who will play his heart out for his home team.
Another issue with the Canucks that was notably raised by John Tortorella was that the core group of the Canucks is going 'stale'. Many people insist that the only way to regain our former glory is to trade away our core, finish in the bottom of the standings and draft high-end talent like Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. While it's definitely true that as our core players age (past their prime) their production will regress, I strongly believe that many of them still have value. The character, humbleness, passion and generosity of Henrik and Daniel, Burrows, Bieksa and Hamhuis truly exemplify what it means to be a Canuck. I can think of no better role model for our young players to train under. For these reasons I think it would be a mistake to trade them away (in such a case where a NTC would be waived).
So how do the Canucks proceed? How can we get back to an elite team not only soon, but for many years to come? Like many of you, I have also closely followed the Canucks player and administration moves over the past year. New GM Jim Benning and President Trevor Linden have made many moves since taking office, molding the team to fit their long-term vision. From these moves it is clear that the front office is focused on producing a depth of smart, coachable, hard-working two-way players with a bit of size mixed in.
The end result of this is that our prospect depth is now deeper than it has ever been over the past decade. We have young forwards like Horvat and Vey already making an impact, with other players like Virtanen, Shinkaruk, Gaunce, Jensen, McCann and Kenins poised to contribute over the next few years. And don't forget Jordan Subban - I expect him to fill out over the next few years and compete for a roster spot. And Tryamkin clearly doesn't need to fill out anymore. I'm pretty sure he fights bears in his spare time for fun.
The point of all of this bluster is that with our recent moves we are setting ourselves up for future success. No one in their right mind will claim we are Stanley Cup favourites, but as long as you make the playoffs you have a shot. And we are definitely playoff contenders - whether or not we keep that up is yet to be seen; the end of the season will be a grind for sure.
I would love to talk more about how I perceive the Canucks are modelling their team, but this post is already long enough - I'll have to make another one about that. If you made it through the whole article, you have my appreciation! Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or reasonable criticisms I would be interested in hearing them.
If the Canucks are to make the playoffs, they will most likely have to face a California team in the 1st round (and 2nd round if that happens), who all have been a struggle for the Canucks since being eliminated by the 8th seeded Kings in the 1st round in 2012. However, this year the Canucks have started off a respectable 2-1-1 against the California teams. They prepare to face all 3 again, but let's compare how the Canucks' stats to those of the California teams.
The playoffs are known for heightened physicality and all 3 of these teams are physical (especially the ones in SoCal) and so far the Canucks are far behind in this category. One can argue that it may suggest the Canucks have the puck more, nevertheless however, hits are an important part of the game. Not to mention, the Blackhawks are 2nd last right now in hits and they've had lots of playoff success.
Kings-1109 (2nd in the league)
Ducks-10209 (4th in the league)
Sharks-813 (17th in the league)
Canucks-643 (27th in the league)
Blocking shots is an important part of hockey. It leads to the goalie facing less shots, most of which are from the middle of the ice. The Canucks are an above average shot blocking team, but still fall short to the Ducks & Sharks. However, like the hits this could show that the Canucks have more offensive zone time, so they don't need to face as many shots.
Ducks-538 (7th in the league)
Sharks-526 (9th in the league)
Canucks-499 (13th in the league)
Kings-421 (28th in the league)
Faceoffs let teams start with possession and can even be the difference between winning and losing. However, they are quite far behind the California teams in this department.
Sharks-52.0% (8th in the league)
Ducks-51.7% (9th in the league)
Kings-50.9% (11th in the league)
Canucks-48.6% (21st in the league)
Corsi for percentage in brief measures a team's shot for (including missed and blocked shots) vs. shots against (once again including missed and blocked shots). In the past few years the Canucks have always been good in this category (even last year), but this year they seem to have less impressive possession. This also means the Canucks probably should have more blocked shots in theory than the Ducks and Sharks, yet they don't. Although, despite the fact the Canucks seem to get outshot, I'll look at shooting percentage after to see if stats say they just wait for quality shots.
Kings-53.4% (3rd in the league)
Sharks-52.2% (11th in the league)
Ducks-50.2% (18th in the league)
Canucks-49.9% (20th in the league)
Second to only the Ducks in shooting percentage. Makes sense why the Sharks and Kings would have lower shooting percentage, but the Ducks appear to be taking better shots or just simply have better finishers.
Ducks-8.05% (11th in the league)
Canucks-7.42% (19th in the league)
Kings-7.37% (20th in the league)
Sharks-7.21% (22nd in the league)
The most important stat, however (other than wins obviously) is the goals for vs. goals against differential. Overall, the Canucks rank 3rd in this, but it's way too close to make a huge deal out of it.
Sharks/Kings-+9 (tied for 11th in the league)
Canucks-+8 (14th in the league)
Ducks-+6 (tied for 16th in the league)
Now for my quick recall of the games so far against them:
The Sharks outplayed the Canucks I thought for pretty much the entire game, but Miller stood on his head and stole the win. Can't depend on that.
The Kings also outplayed the Canucks, but before Canucks started to get scored on it wasn't as bad as it was against the Sharks. However, this was a day after the game against the Sharks.
The Canucks have been quite competitive with the Ducks this year (major step up from last year where the Canucks never beat the Ducks and lost 9-1 once), with both games ending in a shootout. However, both teams were dealing with major injuries in these games most notably Corey Perry & Dan Hamhuis, both of which will miss the game tomorrow.
Overall, I don't think the Canucks could win a playoff series against any of these teams, but the most competitive matchup would be Ducks vs. Canucks. However, I think the Kings and Sharks would both easily handle the Canucks (repeat of 2012 and 2013, respectively). Although the team's success lies in the future. Any thoughts?