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As the success of the Canucks comes and goes, so do the fans. For the casual fan that’s still on board, you may not recognize the team, and for good reason. Initially billed as a retooling, this is a full rebuild. Remember the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup final? Only 6 of those Canucks are still around: Alexandre Burrows, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen, Chris Tanev, and Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
This will be the second year in a row that there is no goaltending controversy. Miller is the starting goalie and Markstrom is a backup that is more than capable. What’s more is that the plan for the future is clear: Markstrom may be the starter next year but the future is Thatcher Demko.
On defence, Edler and Tanev now make up the Canucks shutdown top pairing. Both can move the puck, and both are solid in their own end. The Canucks added size and toughness on defence by acquiring big defenceman Erik Gudbranson from Florida for Jared McCann which solidifies the second pairing behind the shutdown top pair of Edler and Tanev. Gudbranson is a former 3rd overall pick from the 2010 draft, and he’s a big, right shot, stay-at-home type. His style should make a good fit with the freewheeling left shot of Ben Hutton. Luca Sbisa should be a lock as the fifth defenceman, but the sixth man spot is anyone’s guess. The Canucks know what they have with Alex Biega, but also love the raw potential of Nikita Tryamkin, who is 6’7″ and 228 pounds.
The Sedins are destined to retire as Canucks. Hansen and Burrows are the other forwards that remain from the 2011 run to the final. They are both versatile, both can still skate, both can play up and down the lineup, and in any situation.
The Canucks lost Radim Vrbata during free agency, but the twins received scoring help in the form of Loui Eriksson. The hope is that with a healthy Brandon Sutter the Sedins will get some second line scoring support, leaving Bo Horvat to continue his development on the third line, along with linemates Sven Baertchi and Jake Virtanen. The 4th line would feature Mikael Granlund and Derek Dorsett. Emerson Etem has not had a great training camp, and after a standout MVP season in Swedish Hockey League, Anton Rodin could also make the roster.
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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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This is my guide to the Vancouver Canucks come opening night. Of course, come training camp things can change, but as it stands, this is how I see it. Below I will give explanations on why I think this is a solidly built team and why I think we are headed for the playoffs and on our way back to being contenders under Linden and Benning. Also keep in mind the line combos are a mix of what seems to be most likely and what I would like to see. At the end I will explain what I think about the state of the franchise and what I would do going forward. So here we go.
My Roster/Depth Chart (As it stands now)
Daniel Sedin(A) - Henrik Sedin(C) - Loui Eriksson
Anton Rodin - Brandon Sutter - Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen
Alex Burrows(A) - Markus Granlund - Derek Dorsett
(Emerson Etem, Brendan Gaunce)
Alex Edler - Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Nikita Tryamkin - Philip Larsen
Top 5 Prospects
- Brock Boeser - RW: Future Top Six All-Star 2-way, Scoring Forward
- Olli Juolevi - D: Future Top Pairing All-Star 2-way, Offensive Defensman
- Thatcher Demko - G: Future Starting All-Star Goalie
- Jordan Subban - RD: Future 2nd or 3rd Pairing, Offensive PMD
- Troy Stecher - RD: Future 2nd or 3rd Pairing 2-way PMD
Lineup descriptions and explanation and analysis.
[Line 1] Daniel - Henrik - Eriksson: Our first line that will lead our offense. The Sedins are getting older and need a new linemate that can get the most out of them. That's Loui Eriksson. A lot of people think about him as a 1 dimensional soft scorer like Vrbata, but he's much different. His two way game will complement the Sedins on both ends of the ice and give them an NHL goal scorer to play with. I'm excited for what this first line can bring. If this line can maintain a solid scoring place, which I think they can, the rest of the team will follow suit with our depth. Leadership starts from the front, and this line can get it done.
[Line 2] Rodin - Sutter - Hansen: Sutter takes his mantle as 2c for now, with Hansen on the wing. Hansen showed that he can be a late bloomer and has the ability to play in the top 6 last year. the 2nd line seems to be a good fit for him, especially given his defensive two way prowess, with his relentless forechecking and backchecking. Anton Rodin similarly seems as if he would play best in a scoring role, which would be exactly what he's expected to do beside Sutter and Hansen and is needed. That's a fast line that can defend well, and has a scoring still. Rodin is the wildcard but I mean, he's a 25 year old player. We've seen other older 'rookies' come and perform well from Europe when given the right linemates.
[ Line 3] Baertschi - Horvat - Virtanen: Horvat takes his mantle as 3c, taking pressure of of him to defend against top lines and perform/develop to the best of his abilities. We saw last year that Horvat and Baertschi had beautiful chemistry, and their main problem was simply that they should be playing third line rather than second. As third liners they would be incredible, rather than on the second line when they were just good. They're developing still, and need some pressure taken off. Virtanen adds a speedy imposing forechecking and backchecking presence that can add scoring off the third line. This line is very diverse and has the potential to be extremely impactful if they click. Those three should start building chemistry now. They could be one of the best third lines in the league if they click. I want to see this line in action the most.
[Line 4] Burrows - Granlund - Dorsett: Burrows and Dorsett provide an effective defensive presence of the fourth line. This is a very dependable fourth line that can defend against other teams when used, and not be a liability. This allows us to roll four lines as Willie D wants us too. Granlund is the wildcard on this line, hopefully providing an offensive spark in-between these two. Burrows doesn't think his offensive produciton is finished, if he can pass something on to Granlund and get him going, he will have really done his job for us. (I see Burrows being used more on special teams than on 5 on 5.) Granlund and Burrows are also two guys that can comfortably jump up a line or 2 without feeling out of place when injuries occur.
[Depth] (Etem, Gaunce): Two excellent depth players. Depth players tend to play 60+ games every year Both of these players provide muscle, grit, and two way ability, as well as being very versatile. Etem can play left or right wing anywhere from 2nd to fourth line, and Gaunce can play left wing or center anywhere in the bottom 6. They will get minutes and games quickly once injuries start coming in, and then they will get their opportunity to stick. These two will actually be very important for us when injuries occur as they are definitely not liabilities, but rather bring something different.
[1st Pairing] Edler - Tanev: Our top pairing duo. They've shown they can handle the responsibilities of being the first pairing and leading the defence, all they needed was a little more help against top competition. And they needed more help on special teams so they could focus on their strengths. Edler ont he PP with some PK time, and Tanev on the PK. But by in large, a good group to lead the team into the season when healthy. The biggest thing for this pairing is staying healthy, and having a solid group behind them who can take pressure off. Well now the pressure is coming off, I think they will flourish.
[2nd Pairing] Hutton - Gudbranson: A new revitalized 2nd pairing. Gudbranson is going to do a lot for both Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev. He will provide Hutton with a reliable stay at home, and body bruising presence so he can play more freely and utilize his puck moving ability. Tanev will also in turn have another option who can match up against bigger, stronger forwards like a Lucic in EDM. Hutton will deliver solid crisp passes to up to the forwards to initiate the play and join them on the rush. I'm PUMPED for this pairing. This line together takes massive pressure off the top line being upgrades from what we've had in the past. (Also, Gudbranson helps Jacob Markstrom out a lot being a goalie with little NHL experience. He needs a crease clearing presence he can depend on. Just saying, Gudbranson adds A LOT to this team.)
[3rd Pairing] Tryamkin - Larsen: The second part of Benning's revitalized defensive core. Larsen will most likely get that bottom right spot so we can use his abilities on the powerplay. Tryamkin and Sbisa will battle for who gets that last spot to offer Larsen help in the defensive end. I think Tryamkin will beat him out so I put him here. Larsen get's limited minutes going in and powerplay time, and Tryamkin gets limited minutes and PK time. They can be very useful on special teams, as well as an effective third pairing. This is exactly what you want in a third pairing. Two guys that can play and contribute in other ways. You want guys that still bring something to the team no matter where they play. It's good for moral.
[Depth] (Sbisa): Sbisa is in this spot not because I think he's bad. I think he get's a lot of flack, but is a good player. Not fantastic at anything, but he's a solid third pairing guy that can play either side. I also think he is the most likely guy to get traded before the season begins, and Benning has stated he wants to upgrade the forward group with one more 2nd line winger. If he does pull the trigger on someone, Sbisa is likely going to be the candidate.
[Starting] Miller: Miller will start the season out as the starting goaltender. He is playing with something to prove that he can still go. And I think that with a well balanced and solid defensive core, he can play the way eh did for us when he first got here.
[Backup] Markstrom: Markstrom will get his fair share of games. Miller is getting older, and although can still play well, can't do it for as long of stretches as he used too. Markstrom will get a solid number of games and gear up to take the reigns next season.
Notes about the Lineup
- Our middle 6 will bounce off eachother and act more of a 2A and 2B rather than a 2nd and 3rd line.
- A lot of youth in the lineup led by a few quality veterans. Enough with the tanking comments. We have a lot of youth.
- Benning has completely revitalized and revamped our defensive core.
- Granlund and Burrows provide scoring on the fourth line, but also provide the ability to jump up in the lineup and allow Gaunce and Etem to take their place as well.
- That is a team that can roll 4 lines.
- Third pairing defensmen have important roles, which is a signifier of a good team. You want everyone on the team to feel like they are important and their contributions are needed so they can play at the best of their abilities.
Sedin - Sedin - Eriksson
- Sedins work their magic with Eriksson. They will be responsible for most of the offence generated being first liners and PP guys only. But with Eriksson, as a trigger man, and Larsen as a PP QB alongside Edler, they can be effective. Eriksson will be getting primetime treatment to produce offensive numbers. I think in this situation he can score 30 goals. Eriksson is more multidimensional than Vrbata and is more of a fit with the Sedins. This powerplay can be effective.
- Larsen has the potential to actually be huge for this team if he can show to be a good PP QB. I think Larsen will come to show that he is a quality QB, and might just be our best one. Benning realized the powerplay needed something new and fresh, and he went out and got 2 guys that bring a lot. Larsen helps Edler by being another option and makes space for the Sedins.
Baertschi - Horvat - Granlund
- Horvat Beartschi and Granlund should get the start on the second PP. Baertschi and Horvat showed they were effective on the 2nd PP unit last year. Benning and company believe in Granlunds creativity and offensive ability, especially on the powerplay. Well, if he's going to be a fourth liner, at least give him second PP time. It's a very young powerplay group, but it could be dangerous and more importantly, look completely different from the first group to make it difficult for other teams to prepare for.
- I get bold when I look at the backend. I think Hutton should almost be a lock for the 2nd PP with his puck moving skills. I also think however, Gudbranson, Tryamkin, and Tanev don't bring that much. Tanev would bring the most and add a calming influence, but I think we should be bold. Put someone like Virtanen or Hansen on the point. Both of them have mean clappers. Let them use it off the one timer. Virtanens shot for example, would be deadly if there is a broken play, or a good pass over to him. I'm sure he's working on his accuracy right now. He also has the speed to catch himself and get back on D if anything happens.
Penalty Kill 1
Horvat - Hansen
Tryamkin - Gudbranson
- Horvat pairs up with Hansen on the PK. The two know eachother, have played with eachother, and have showed to excell on the PK. I feel like they are our two best defensive forwards, and would make a good speedy group.
- Tryamkiin and Gudbranson would be the best defensive pairing on the PK. Why? It gives Edler and Tanev a second to catch their breath after playing top line minutes. Two big hulking, mean defensmen to block shots, backcheck, muscle people out of corners, and protect the goalie and crease. It's the spot they both excell at, let them excel, and by doing so, take massive pressure off Edler and Tanev giving them a second to rest.
Penalty Kill 2
Sutter - Burrows
Edler - Tanev
- Burrows won't be happy that his responsibilities dropped to mainly a 4th line and 2nd PK presence. But he will get his minutes when injuries occur and his versatility allows him to hop into any line. But with a full lineup, he is still most likely our second best pure defensive PK winger presence after Hansen. If Sutter is playing second line, then he would do best to play 2nd PK. Sutter and Burrows could be an effective duo, which will add a lot to making our special teams deep.
- Edler and Tanev are both manning the top line. Letting them be the 2nd PK presence allows them to again, catch their breath before they head out there so they can defend better, and play harder. This is especially important for Edler who would most likely also be getting PP time. But also another thing to think about is, they will likely get more second team lineups, and less top lineups on the PK which will go to helping them a lot. They could be fantastic if matched up a little easier.
Penalty Kill 3
Virtanen - Dorsett
Hutton - Larsen
- Now this is where it get's tricky. Sometimes in games you will simply have a long 3 or 4 minute penalty kill. You can't recycle the same two groups or they will get exhausted and exposed. This group is deployed in those situations. The problem is we don't really have a center for the draw. Jake Virtanen has played center before and wasn't terrible on the draw but he could be an answer, providing speed, tenacity, shot blocking, and grit in situations where we are desperate. Dorsett would be the leading veteran presence on the line to get them through the PK.
- Hutton and Larsen would be deployed in these situations due to necessity and not often. They are the last ones and would have to hold down the fort. It won't happen that often but when it does, I think they can handle those limited minutes.
Notes about Special Teams
- A lot of guys can potentially play a role in special teams such as Rodin and Burrows. That second team is wide open for whoever earns it.
- This team has much more specialists than in times of past.
- Different players find themselves in valuable roles.
- Doug Jarvis will also be huge in our powerplay getting better next season. That's 3 new additions to the first unit of the Sedins and Edler. That could really turn things around.
Pro Tweeners. (AHL/Deph Call up players)
- Andrey Pedan (LD): 8th in the depth chart right after Sbisa. Sbisa is the most likely candidate to be traded which could make him the 7th man which I think would be perfect for a guy like him. Speed, physicality, grit, and a whatever I have to do mentality. Great qualities for a depth defensman.
- Alex Biega (RD): Our 9th defensman, who could be 8, provided Sbisa is traded. Plays much bigger than his size which is aways good to see. Can play on the NHL level, but not consistently and for long stretches Perfect guy to lead Uitca and set and example, then hop up for some games.
- Ronalds Kenins (LW): Showed a couple seasons ago that he can be a valuable 4th line presence. Valuable as in actually game changing when playing a 4th line role with other forecheckers. He only has one style, locomotive mode, and when he strays from that, he becomes much less effective. It's hard to maintain that engine and not get injured, which he consistently has done, but if he can play like that in stretches, he can be useful, say at the end of the season when the team needs just a little more juice and spark to get them going.
- Mike Zalewski (C/W): Going to spend most of his time in the AHL. But he is very versatile and can play all 3 forward positions. Plays a good 2-way game and is defensively conscious. Good big body gritty guy that can step into a bottom pairing role if called up.
Notes about Tweeners
- We have a good amount of depth call up guys that can get minutes on a limited role.
- Subban and Stecher could also be players that get call ups in times of injury.
- Richard Bachman is likely to be the goalie call up when injuries occur.
Our very Impressive prospect list.
Top 5 Prospects: A Level Prospects (Potential NHL impact players)
- Brock Boeser (RW): Our number 1 prospect, due to his incredible freshman NCAA season. Last year, Brock Boeser had 60 points in 42 games with north Dakota, making him the highest scoring freshman in the schools history. That puts him in the same conversation as, and actually ahead of other NHL stars such as Travis Zajac, TJ Oshie, Zach Parise, and even Johnny Toews. All doing so while still putting up a plus minus of +40! He has a very effective 2 way game and excells in most facets. When it comes to offense he's the total package, able to score from anywhere, able to make plays, and evidently, abel to defend. He was the best player on the team, as a freshman, and led them to an NCAA title. Even The other guys on this list like Oshie, Parise, and Toews couldn't even do that. Brock Boeser arguably had the best freshman season in the schools history. He is showing day by day that he has serious top 6 and all star potential, and is following the path of other all star NHLer's before him, in fact he's doing better. Next year he will get to wear the A for North Dakota, which nobody has done since Johnathon Toews. He's on a good path. If history is any guide, he will spend one more year in college, dominate and then make the jump. Next year North Dakota will be losing a lot of seniors and quality players, Boeser will be challenged to still lead that team into battle and show his leadership skills. If he can even maintain the same pace without help, he will have shown great improvement. I think Brock Boeser is going to be a household American name one day, and a serious impactful force on our right side along with Virtanen.
- Olli Juolevi (D): A beast 2-way defensman with real offensive abilities and instincts. Great playmaking, shooting, and offensive skills, coupled with great stick work, outlet passing, and defensive skills, combined with excellent skating ability and a 6'2 190 pound frame. It's a common problem with prospects, but the one thing Juolevi needs to do to be a star in this league is put on pounds of lean muscle to his large frame. If he can hit 200 pounds or so, I don't think it's far off to see a player similar to the combined style of a Olli Maata, OEL, or even a Roman Josi. His IQ is his best quality, far and a ways outshining all other defensman, and most forwards in the draft allowing him to cerebrally dissect the play even at high speeds. He was one of the best, if not the best defensman at the world juniors, a tournament that is dominated by 18, 19, and guys turning 20. Benning said in all his years, he has never seen a defensman at his age dominate like he did at the world Juniors, largely due to his IQ and smarts. He also won the memorial cup with the London Knights while playing the role of number 1 defensman. Everyone looks to Marner, Dvorak, and Tkatchuk for their super line, but in order to be that effective, you need a defensive beast, and outlet passing machine like Juolevi. Je didn't look out of place at all, but rather made a major impact scoring 21 points in his last 22 games. He can be a all star defensman for the years to come. He is good enough skillwise to make the league as early as next season, but he's going to need to add on pounds. When he arrives, if partnered with a guy like Gudbranson, he could be an absolute beast.
- Thatcher Demko (G): NHL starting, and possibly All-Star potential. In his junior year at Boston College he crushed all of Cory Scneider's old records, which is a great sign. His size, athleticism and style are almost a carbon copy of Cory Schneider in College, as that is the successful model goaltender BC looks for and Demko may be the best of them. It will take him a while as goalies tend to take a long time to develop and make it to the big dance. But all signs are showing that when he does, he can be a real all star leading between the iron pipes. If you want to win, you have to have a top goaltender, Demko in time looks like he will be just that. Also seems to be a great attitude kid which is huge when you need leadership from the backend. Remember the leadership Loungo brought? we need that again. I would also like to give a lot of credit to Benning for drafting him with our second round pick. Goalies are tough to find, and get in the right spot, and he seemed to snag one as good as any who comes out of the draft. A+ pick if you ask me. No questions asked.
- Jordan Subban (RD): One of the smallest players in the Canucks system, yet one of the most skills. Subban is always shocking people with how god his skating ability is complemented by his impressive offensive skills. Although undersized, his offensive intelligence, shot, playmaking ability etc, are top notch. He may be small but he is incredibly strong, including in his lower base, which helps him play against bigger players. Still very committed to playing defence and to his own end. Could be the next undersized impact defensman in the NHL. Next year he will likely spend one more year in the AHL to get his game at it's top level. But you can tell, he is just itching to get into the NHL. He has the same passion and fire that his brother PK plays with. I would love to see that in the lineup.
- Troy Stecher (RD): Signed as a free Agent, Stecher gets to come home and hopefully make his mark in Vancouver. Skilled offensive PMD with strong two-way skills and intensity. Played the role of number 1 defensman for North Dakota and wont the NCAA title with Brock Boeser. He was a top college free agent on the market, some put him at number 1. This year he will get to play a major role in the AHL and look to develop his pro game. I think he has a chance to be like a Ben Hutton and shock everyone with his skills, even if he doesn't make the team. Overall, a slightly undersized, but effective two-way defensman with puck moving and offensive abilities. Linden has spoken about how he has impressed him so far. Ben Hutton shocked last year, but we also had a lack of capable defenders. By some accounts so far, Stecher seems to be impressing the higher ups and raising his stock. I love a good hometown story, but he looks like he can make an impact as well. We could see him in blue and green soon.
Notes about top 5 prospects
- All of them seem to be close to NHL ready, with the exception of Demko, the goaltending.
- Our top 3 group look like they can be future ALL STARS
- Subban and Stecher are capable defensmen, who one will probably replace Larsen by next season.
- (I didn't include guys like Gaunce, Etem, Granlund, and Tryamkin, because I consider their spots almost already guaranteed.)
- That is a solid group of kids to incorporate. Finally we can see see the collection of talent we have to build a team, with a lot of leadership personality type of guys.
Honorable Mentions: B Level Prospects (Possible NHL role players)
- Guilliame Brisebois (LD): Another year as captain for his team, but has been traded to a better team for next season. Leadership personified, is willing to do anything he has to do to help the team win. Not a big scorer from the blue-line, but a solid 2-way presence with great IQ to be an impact. It's hard to gauge him when looking at stats, but the eye test and coaches will rave about his two-way ability. This year he will be on a better team, and then we will really get to see what he can do.
- Dmitry Zhukenov (C): The Russian born Center who finally made his debut in North American pro hockey. Played well, although not fantastic. But well. Solid offensive instincts and motor to never give up on any play. He could be a top 9 scorer if he adds muscle to the frame as well as continue to work. Next year he should come in fully adjusted, so we can really see what he can do.
- William Lockwood (RW): Speedy player who plays bigger than his size. Plays fast and hard. Shows offensive instincts and ability, but excels more in the work ethic type of game. Similar to a style of a Jannik Hansen or so. A few years in college could do great things for him. Great shot though, which will be a big part of if he can make it. Speed, scoring, and grinding off the wing, he can make it.
- Cole Cassels (C): One miserable season doesn't undue all of Cassels ability that he's shown or take away from his previous accomplishments. Coming off of injury and thrust into the pros, he didn't get a fair shake to adjust properly. This year will be huge, and might be make or break in his development. He still has a chance at becoming a bottom 6 shutdown center.
- Jakob Stukel (LW): I think Stukel has real stealer pick type of potential. Eye popping elite blazing speed mixed with the skill to handle it at that level. What hands. Seems to be an energy offensive spark and a hometown product. Let's go. Needs to add muscle and defensive game, but can potentially still be a speedy scorer. (CDC stop crying, Benning got a high volume CHL elite speed scorer, from Vancouver!)
- Tate Olson (LD): Picked in the 7th round, JB knows how to draft people, Olson is turning heads as someone who could beat the odds and become an NHLer someday. Seems to take large strides in his development every year. Already a competitive two-way force who loves to win. Will play whatever role is needed and plays it well. Good overall game but needs more volume.
- Michael Garteig (G): Quality goaltender and hometown product. One of the top goaltenders in the NCAA last year closely behind Demko. Led his school, Quinnepiac to the championship game.... Where they proceeded to get demolished by Boeser and the North Dakota.... But still, he showed that he has talent in being able to get them there. He could be a quality backup behind Demko for the future.
I think that Benning has built an incredible group of young kids. The only thing he needs to solidify this group in my opinion is a impact center prospect in the 2017 draft. There are a lot of choices for us all throughout the first round. Yes, Nolan Patrick would be awesome, but I am not interested in tanking this season at all with the team we have. To name a few quality centers already turning heads, Gabriel Vilrardi, Kailer Yamamoto, Maxime Comtois, Sterio Mathews, Scott Reedy, Casey Mitelstadt or my favourite, hometown boy, 6'5 200+ pounds already, Michael Rasmussen. That's just to name a few. Benning knows how to draft. Keep our first round pick no matter what, and pick the best center you can. In the meantime, I would not be opposed to Benning using picks to upgrade the team in different aspects, namely the one area we need: a second line left winger.
But all and all, this team is in great shape. The NHL club is good enough to be a playoff team if you ask me, and our group of young kids is definitely one of the best in the league. Our top 5 prospects all look like they will be capable NHLers so far, and our next group of second tier guys look as if they have legitimate shots at making the league as well. Our top 3 group is also very diverse giving us a future all star goalie in Demko, number 1 defensman in Juolevi, and All star winger in Boeser. Subban and Stecher also seem to be capable PMDs as well. That's a fantastic top 5 to be in the pipes with a playoff worthy team.
Overall, I give Benning an A with what he has done with this franchise. He's been a great GM so far. Some notable moves on the team he's built, that he's altered from acquisition.
- Signing Eriksson (He should go a long way in helping the Sedins, and our top 6.)
- Trading for and Signing Brandon Sutter (He's going to be huge for Horvat and this team playing anywhere from Center, and wing from the 1st line to the 3rd line.)
- Signing Rodin (Although he was not drafted by him)
- Trading for Sven Baertschi (Second round pick well spent)
- Drafting Jake Virtanen (Some still question the decision, but we need his strong forechecking, speed, power game on this team. The offence will come. Mark my words Jake Virtanen will be a top 6 scorer.)
- Trading for Markus Granlund (Where would Hunter Shinkaruk fit in this lineup? Markus Granlund is a fit for this team because he has two-way ability, and can play center with his versitility. Then can play special teams, or move up in the lineup in case of injury. I believe in Granlund. His actual track record holds up quite well to Shinkaruk's if not better; and Weisbrod who has saw them both play and worked for them on a daily basis, and has shown he along with Benning are pretty good at evaluating talent. I think Granlund will be pretty much just as good as Shinkaruk, but time will tell.)
- Trading for Derek Dorsett (Expensive trade but as you can see, we need some leadership back there and a fourth line presence who brings leadership every night.)
- Trading for Emerson Etem (Nicklas Jensen wasn't going to play for us. Emerson Etem provides us with a good player than can play either wing and provide a needed presence. And he has the skill to not just play 4th line, but third, or occasionally second.)
- Keeping Brendan Gaunce (for two-way ability. Could be a dependable bottom 6 guy.)
- Signng and Calling Up Ben Hutton (Although he didn't draft him)
- Trading For Erik Gudbranson (McCann was a steep price. And arguably could have been that impact center we need to finish off our prospect pool. However, getting McCann at 23, and Boeser at 23, tells me one thing. Benning can pick early, or late in the first round and come out with a stud. I have 100% faith he will turn that first round pick next year into an impact center to help Horvat... that's if Granlund isn't that impact center himself... Just saying. But as you can see and probably already know, Erik Gubdranson brings a lot to this lineup now and into the future. I see him one day paired with Olli Juolevi on the top pairing, but one can only dream...)
- Drafting Nikita Tryamkin (In the 3rd round! What a steal. In his 10 games with us, he looked like a first round talent. Let's see if he can keep it up.)
- Trading for and Signing Philip Larsen (We needed help on the blue line for our powerplay. He went out and got a guy who can play bottom pairing minutes, and run the powerplay possibly better than any of our other guys. I think Philip Larsen is going to be huge. He rounded out his defensive game in Russia
- Signing Miller (Been a solid veteran presence for Markstrom as he has gotten into the flow of things. That's good for his development. He will play out 1 more year before Markstrom takes the reigns.)
- Calling up Markstrom (Or more importantly, sending him down to the AHL to dominate before calling him up. He let him get high focus minutes, develop his game for another year, then brought him up, and it seemed to have worked.)
- Drafting Boeser (With he 23rd overall. A lot of people, me included said Konecny. Benning stuck to his guns and Boeser looks like a homerun)
- Drafting Juolevi (With our highest pick in a long time, Benning took the best defensman in the draft. Potential to be a OEL, Roman Jose, Olli Maata, type of player with major impact. We lost out on PLD, but you can see just how valuable top defensmen are in this league.)
- Drafting Demko (In the second round. Secured a potential all star starter with our 2nd round pick with good timing to match up with the rest of the group.)
- Signing Stecher (Hometown boy with NHL regular potential.)
- The rest of his drafting with star players who aren't in our top 5. (Man this guy knows how to draft...)
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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.
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my totally biased personal top 30 list
(but be mind ive seen almost every player on this list at least a handful except Williamson, McNally and some ECHL guys..so im pretty sure i know a thing or two about most of these guys)
1 Jake Virtanen RW
2 Hunter Shinkaruk LW
3 Frank Corrado D
4 Ben Hutton D
5 Brendan Gaunce C/LW
6 Nicklas Jensen LW
7 Thather Demko G
8 Jared McCann C
9 Cole Cassels C
10 Alex Friesen C/RW
11 Evan McEneny D
12 Ronald Kenins LW
13 Jordan Subban D
14 Gustav Forsling D
15 Alexandre Grenier RW
16 Patrick McNally D
17 Nikita Tryamkin D
18 Andrey Pedan D
19 Dane Fox LW
20 Peter Andersson D
21 Henrik Tommernes D
22 Michael Zalewski RW
23 Anton Cederholm D
24 Joe Cannata G
25 Joseph LaBate LW
26 Kyle Pettit C
27 Mackenze Stewart D
28 Jermie Blain D
Bo Horvat is no longer in my list in a result of him making the team
Did tempted to go ahead and put Frank Corrado ahead of Hunter Shink due to HS's struggles meanwhile Corrado's impressive game ever since being re-assigned to Utica
Alex Friesen continues to impress me literally every shift giving 100% game in and out...just a non stop work horse. he has been the most consistent Utica forward up to date and he deserves to be in my top 10
Patrick McNally's impressive offensive numbers brought him back into my list since November. His future at pro level is still in question mark but i hope he gives it a shot. (I believe we still have his rights until next yr...idk how that works but im positive about this. so i wouldnt worry about him leaving our system just yet)
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?
It's officially been two days into the NHL Free Agency period. It's a time of the year where teams try to turn themselves from pretenders to contenders. All 30 teams have spent a combined 500 million over the past 48 hours. The Canucks have spent about 14 million of that 500 million on 5 different players.
Their biggest move came Tuesday, July 1st, the first day of free agency. The Canucks made their big Canada Day splash by signing UFA goalie Ryan Miller to a three year 18 million dollar deal. Where he will be making six million dollars a season. Now the 33 year old netminder is coming off a season where he split between the Buffalo Sabres and the St.Louis Blues. Miller has been diminishing over the past few seasons, but Benning and company hope he can regain his old form.
The Canucks continued the big signings on day two of free agency where they came to terms with Radim Vrbata. His contract is a two year deal, which will pay him five million a season. Vrbata is a 33 year old scoring winger who tallied 20 goals and 31 assists in 80 games last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Jim Benning did something Mike Gills never really did in his era in Vancouver, by adding a top 6 scoring forward.
Jim Benning also signed three more playes over the past 48 hours. The first player was Bobby Sanguinetti, the second was Dustin Jeffrey, and the third was Cal O'Reilly. Sanguinetti is a 26 year old defenceman. Sanguinetti played in the KHL last season and has played the rest of his career in the NHL and the AHL. Jeffrey is a 26 year old center. Jeffrey comes to Vancouver with the Desjardins connection. Meaning he split last season between the Dallas Stars and their affiliate the Texas Stars. He started the season playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played in 34 NHL games last season where he tallied 4 points. O'Reilly is a 27 year old center. O'Reilly spent last season playing for Vancouver's affiliate the Utica Comets. He had 45 points in 52 games last season. O'Reilly also brings 113 career NHL games under his belt, where he has tallied 41 points.
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The Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup marked the unofficial date for the National Hockey Leagues off-season to begin. The current CBA allows teams to use compliance buyouts on players in a two-year duration. Heres a quick reminder of how the NHLs compliance buyout policy works:
If a NHL team wants to buy a player out, they must put him on unconditional waivers for 24 hours. The team in the NHL with the least amount of points has the first crack to claim the player; this team will pay the full the cap hit to play out the rest of his contract. If a player has a no-movement clause, they can reject the waiver claim.
Teams can buy players out starting on Monday June 16 till June 30. Teams will be required to pay 1/3 of the players salary if theyre under 26. Players over 26 get 2/3rds of the remaining salary theyre owed.
Regular buyouts and compliance are the similar with the only difference being compliance buyouts dont count against the salary cap.
Per Transition Rule 53, a compliance buyout can only be executed on a contract entered into on or before Sept. 15, 2012. .
Here are some major buyouts from last off season:
Player Vincent Lecavalier Rick DiPietro Ilya Bryzgalov Mikhail Grabovski Danny Briere
Team Tampa Bay NYIslanders Philadelphia Toronto Philadelphia
Length 14 16 14 8 4
Total Amount $32,666,667 $24,000,000 $23,000,000 $14,333,333 $3,333,333
Yearly Payout $1,761,905 $1,500,00 $1,642,857 $1,791,667 $833,333
Heres a list of potential compliance buyouts for the 2014 off-season:
Team: Buffalo Sabres.
Player: Ville Leino, Age 30.
Current Contract: 3 years left at $4.250,000 per year.
2013-14 Stats: 58GP, 0G, 15A, -16.
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $4,000,000 $4,500,000 $1,222,222 $2,777,778 $1,722,222
2015-16 $3,500,000 $4,500,000 $1,222,222 $2,277,778 $2,222,222
2016-17 $3,500,000 $4,500,000 $1,222,222 $2,277,778 $2,222,222
2017-18 $0 $0 $1,222,222 -$1,222,222 $1,222,222
2018-19 $0 $0 $1,222,222 -$1,222,222 $1,222,222
2019-20 $0 $0 $1,222,222 -$1,222,222 $1,222,222
The lowdown: Leino has only played 66 games in the previous two seasons thanks to injuries. The Finnish forward was signed to a six-year, $ 27 million dollar contract in 2011 after Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres. Pegula wanted to show the fans he was committed to winning in Buffalo and handed out a combined $67 million to Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino. Leino has never scored more than 19 goals and 53 points, which occurred back in 2010-11 with the Philadelphia Flyers the season before Leino signed his multi-year contract. Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray hinted at the strong possibility of using a compliance buyout on Leino in an interview with WGR radio in Buffalo. NBCs Pro Hockey Talk reporter Joe Yerdon summed up Murrays radio interview:
Murray said theres a strong possibility that theyll use the compliance buyout on Ville Leino. Murray says they must still cross the ts and dot the is and have one more conversation with the owner about it.
The Verdict: 90% chance Buffalo buys him out. Maybe he heads back to Philadelphia or Detroit where he had earlier success in his career at $1.5-2 million a season.
Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Player: Alexander Semin, Age: 30.
Current Contract: 4 years left at $7,000,000 per year.
2013-14 Points: 65G, 22G, 20 A, +1
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $2,333,333 $4,666,667 $2,333,333
2015-16 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $2,333,333 $4,666,667 $2,333,333
2016-17 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $2,333,333 $4,666,667 $2,333,333
2017-18 $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $2,333,333 $4,666,667 $2,333,333
2018-19 $0 $0 $2,333,333 -$2,333,333 $2,333,333
2019-20 $0 $0 $2,333,333 -$2,333,333 $2,333,333
2020-21 $0 $0 $2,333,333 -$2,333,333 $2,333,333
2021-22 $0 $0 $2,333,333 -$2,333,333 $2,333,333
The Lowdown: Ex-Gm Jim Rutherford rewarded with Semin with a contract extension worth $35 million over five years after Semin scored at a point per game rate with 13 goals and 31 assists in the in the lockout shortened season. Jim had initially signed Semin to a one-year, $7 million as an UFA after the Washington Capitals chose not to resign him following the 2012 season. In 2013-14, the Hurricanes missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year and fired Rutherford. Ron Francis has now been hired as new GM and he may want to incorporate his own brand of Hurricanes hockey. The Hurricanes team to improve on their team defence and Semin cant really be trusted in key defensive situations. The Russian sniper is more known for his deadly accurate wrist shot and offensive instincts.
The verdict: 25% chance Carolina buys him out. Since Semins contract was signed after September 15, 2012, he is not eligible for a compliance buyout. That means his contract would count against the cap. Semin still was somewhat productive last season, producing at a rate of a $5-5.5 million. He has showed chemistry with the Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner. Semin isn't the problem of the Hurricanes, Francis needs to make them tougher and add more defensive structure to their game. Semin could easily score 70-80 points next year if Carolina team can bounce back.
Team: Columbus Blue Jackets.
Player: R.J. Umberger, Age: 32
Contract Remaining: 3 years left at $4,600,000 per season.
2013-14 Stats: 74G, 18 G, 16A, -3.
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $4,500,000 $4,600,000 $1,500,000 $3,000,000 $1,600,000
2015-16 $4,500,000 $4,600,000 $1,500,000 $3,000,000 $1,600,000
2016-17 $4,500,000 $4,600,000 $1,500,000 $3,000,000 $1,600,000
2017-18 $0 $0 $1,500,000 -$1,500,000 $1,500,000
2018-19 $0 $0 $1,500,000 -$1,500,000 $1,500,000
2019-20 $0 $0 $1,500,000 -$1,500,000 $1,500,000
The Lowdown: The Columbus Blue Jackets have finally drafted players that could potentially play for a Stanley Cup in a few years. Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner and Ryan Murray give hockey fans in Ohio hope for a bright future of winning. It would be safe to say RJ Umbergers days in Columbus are numbered because of the term and dollar value are unlikely to match Umbergers offensive output by the time he reaches the end of the deal. Umberger only played in the final four games of the six game playoff series versus Pittsburgh, registering one assist while averaging just over 12:30 TOI. This series proved that the Blue Jackets dont really need R.J. in the lineup, as it appeared he was taking the spot in the lineup of a younger player and made the Blue Jackets worse when he played. Umberger looked slow and out of place against a skilled Penguins team, resulting in the former Philadelphia Flyer and Vancouver Canuck draft pick finishing with -2 rating in the first round series. Columbus may even keep him around, as he does add some veteran leadership to a young team and the Blue jackets have.
The Verdict: 30% chance Columbus buys out R.J. Umberger. Blue Jackets sophomore GM Jarmo Kekäläinen may be more inclined to trade Umberger rather than buy him out, as he does still have some value but may have to retain some salary, because Umbergers production levels are starting to drop off significantly. Umberger asked for a trade in May and Kekäläinen may be forced to trade him rather than buy him out.
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Players: Jordin Tootoo or Stephen Weiss; Both players 32 years old.
-Tootoo: 1 year at $1,900,000 per season.
-Weiss: 4 years at $4,600,000 per season.
-Tootoo: 11GP, 1A, -3, 5 PIM (NHL). 51GP 6G, 12, -1, 104 PIM
-Weiss: 26 GP, 2G, 2A, -4.
Buyout penalty for Tootoo:
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $2,000,000 $1,900,000 $666,667 $1,333,333 $566,667
2015-16 $0 $0 $666,667 -$666,667 $666,667
Buyout penalty for Weiss:
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $4,000,000 $4,900,000 $1,583,333 $2,416,667 $2,483,333
2015-16 $5,500,000 $4,900,000 $1,583,333 $3,916,667 $983,333
2016-17 $5,500,000 $4,900,000 $1,583,333 $3,916,667 $983,333
2017-18 $4,000,000 $4,900,000 $1,583,333 $2,416,667 $2,483,333
2018-19 $0 $0 $1,583,333 -$1,583,333 $1,583,333
2019-20 $0 $0 $1,583,333 -$1,583,333 $1,583,333
2020-21 $0 $0 $1,583,333 -$1,583,333 $1,583,333
2021-22 $0 $0 $1,583,333 -$1,583,333 $1,583,333
The Lowdown: Ken Holland and his management staff established the National Hockey League's blueprint on how to stockpile draft picks build your team through the draft and you shall exceed. All the recent Stanley Cup winners have assembled talent through the draft accordingly. In the previous generation of the NHL the non salary cap era of clutching and grabbing the Detroit Red Wings were able to throw large quantities of cash at high-priced free agents thanks in part to the on ice success and the deep pockets of Red Wings Mike Illitch the Little Cesars Pizza Owner. The Red Wings have built up their depth tremendously through the draft and havent taken too many risks in free agency with the exception of three players Jordin Tootoo , Stephen Weiss, and last years buy out Carlo Colaiacovo. Ken Holland took a gamble on Tootoo, whos battled hard both on and off the ice. The former World Junior Canadian star has endured several suspensions and time away from the NHL for alcohol abuse. When Tootoo is on his game, hes a fourth line winger that can add instantly add a spark of momentum with a big hit or tough fight. Jordin hasnt been the same player since he left the Nashville Predators in July 2012 after he posted a career high of 6 goals, and 24 assists in 77 games.
Weiss, on the other hand has is well known for his inconsistent stretches of hockey. Weiss has also never played in a full 82 games average. In his twelve-year career, Weiss is only averaging 57 games a year. In his last two seasons combined with the Panthers and Red Wings, Weiss has only appeared in 43 games, scoring 3G, 5A, -17 and 37 PIMS. So far, the Red Wings have lost on Weiss' investment to the team. The former Plymouth Whaler contract could haunt the Red Wings for years if he doesn't step up his game and the Ken Holland chooses not to buy him out. Hollsnd may have to convince ownership that buying out Stephen Weiss is necessary if Detroit wants to be able to resign players that can help keep them a playoff contender.
-50% chance Detroit buys Tootoo out.
-50% chance Detroit buys Weiss out. If Detroit cant find a willing trade partner to take Tootoos contract, they should strongly consider buying out Weiss.
The Red Wings maybe chose to give Weiss another chance, as he had three-plus twenty goal seasons and has a 0.59 PPG over his career. Helen St. James of the Detroit Free Press hinted at Tootoo's future on Twitter: " Ken Holland says it's likely Red Wings will use compliance buyout on Jordin Tootoo if no trade possible"
*Detroit used one of their compliance buyouts on Carlo Colaiacovo last year, so Ken Holland can only buy one player out this off season.
Team: Los Angeles Kings.
Player: Mike Richards, Age 29.
Contract Remaining: 6 years at $5,750,000 per year.
-Regular Season: 82GP, 11G, 30A, -6, 28 PIMS
-Playoffs: 26 GP, 3G, 10A, -6, 17 PIMS; Won Stanley Cup with Kings.
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $7,000,000 $5,750,000 $1,611,111 $5,388,889 $361,111
2015-16 $6,000,000 $5,750,000 $1,611,111 $4,388,889 $1,361,111
2016-17 $5,500,000 $5,750,000 $1,611,111 $3,888,889 $1,861,111
2017-18 $4,500,000 $5,750,000 $1,611,111 $2,888,889 $2,861,111
2018-19 $3,000,000 $5,750,000 $1,611,111 $1,388,889 $4,361,111
2019-20 $3,000,000 $5,750,000 $1,611,111 $1,388,889 $4,361,111
2020-21 $0 $0 $1,611,111 -$1,611,111 $1,611,111
2021-22 $0 $0 $1,611,111 -$1,611,111 $1,611,111
2022-23 $0 $0 $1,611,111 -$1,611,111 $1,611,111
2023-24 $0 $0 $1,611,111 -$1,611,111 $1,611,111
2024-25 $0 $0 $1,611,111 -$1,611,111 $1,611,111
2025-26 $0 $0 $1,611,111 -$1,611,111 $1,611,11
The Lowdown: Mike Richards was signed to twelve year, $69 million contract by the Philadelphia Flyers. Two years later, Richards was dealt to the LA Kings for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and 2nd round pick (G Anthony Stolarz). Richards and former Flyer teammate Jeff Carter wounded up in Los Angeles and helps the Kings win a Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014. Richards was a Selke finalist in 2009 the NHLs award for the best defensive forward and was considered to be one of the top two-way centres in the NHL. Although somewhat undersized, Richards brought a physical presence to the Flyers and Kings and would crank it up come postseason. Richards now has 26G, 61A for 87 points in 124-career playoffs game split between the Flyers and the Kings. He lost the Stanley Cup in 2010 to the Blackhawks when he was a Flyer, but redeemed himself winning the cup twice in three years. Richards is starting to appear much slower and his physical condition has come under scrutiny this year. Perhaps Richards could be getting a little too comfortable with the laidback lifestyle of Los Angeles.
The Verdict: 50% chance Los Angeles buys out Mike Richards. With two Stanley Cups, an Olympic Gold Medal, and a World Junior Championship Gold and millions of dollars already earned, Richards has already accomplished what only some can dream of. The native of Kenora, Ontario is no longer the player he was when Paul Holmgren signed him to a laughable twelve year deal. The Kings may choose to move on from his deal. Hes still an effective player still producing 0.50 PPG but hes starting to show signs that his body is slowing down because of the hard-nosed style of play Richards has endured over the years. Los Angeles has an abundance of young prospects ready to make the jump to the NHL and will have to scrape up all the cash they can find in order to keep their Stanley Cup core in order. The Kings have the potential to be a dynasty if Dean Lombardi can properly manage his roster.
Team: New Jersey Devils
Player: Anton Volchenkov. Age: 32.
Contract Remaining: 2 years at $4,250,000 per year.
2013-14 Stats: 8A, ,+3, 20 PIMS in 55 games.
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $4,250,000 $4,250,000 $1,416,667 $2,833,333 $1,416,667
2015-16 $4,250,000 $4,250,000 $1,416,667 $2,833,333 $1,416,667
2016-17 $0 $0 $1,416,667 -$1,416,667 $1,416,667
2017-18 $0 $0 $1,416,667 -$1,416,667 $1,416,667
The Lowdown: The Former Ottawa Senator was one of the leagues better shutdown defencemen for a number of years. The big Russian earned a nice contract with New Jersey in 2010, signing a 6 year, $26 million dollar contract. Volchenkov was a healthy scratch down the stretch when the Devils were trying to qualify for the playoffs this year
The Verdict: 50% chance New Jersey buys Volchenkov out. The Devils have always had a strong depth of defensive styled players with Lou Lamoriello running the team. The Devils may try to trade Volchenkov and retain some salary if they dont want to buy him out.
Team: New York Rangers
Player: Brad Richards. Age: 34.
Contract Remaining: 6 years at $6,666,667 per year.
2013-14 Stats: 82GP, 20G, 31A,,-8, 18 PIMS
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $6,500,000 $6,666,667 $1,055,556 $5,444,444 $1,222,222
2015-16 $6,500,000 $6,666,667 $1,055,556 $5,444,444 $1,222,222
2016-17 $3,000,000 $6,666,667 $1,055,556 $1,944,444 $4,722,222
2017-18 $1,000,000 $6,666,667 $1,055,556 -$55,556 $6,722,222
2018-19 $1,000,000 $6,666,667 $1,055,556 -$55,556 $6,722,222
2019-20 $1,000,000 $6,666,667 $1,055,556 -$55,556 $6,722,222
2020-21 $0 $0 $1,055,556 -$1,055,556 $1,055,556
2021-22 $0 $0 $1,055,556 -$1,055,556 $1,055,556
2022-23 $0 $0 $1,055,556 -$1,055,556 $1,055,556
2023-24 $0 $0 $1,055,556 -$1,055,556 $1,055,556
2024-25 $0 $0 $1,055,556 -$1,055,556 $1,055,556
The Lowdown: Out of all potential buyouts, Brad Richards is the one guy you could bet your life on that will get bought out. Glen Sather is notoriously known for handing out large contracts to players who are over the hill. Eric Lindros, Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury all fit the same picture of situation with Brad Richards. Brad won the Stanley Cup with fellow Ranger teammate Martin St. Louis in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and also won the Conn Smythe Award as the leagues best player during the postseason. That playoff run guaranteed Richards he would be commanding a high dollar value for the remainder of his career. After a brief stint in Dallas, he struck his home run contract in the Big Apple, signing a nine year, $60 million dollar contract. The Rangers need to resign key RFAs like Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, and may even try to resign UFAs Dominic Moore, Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle three players that had an excellent playoffs for the roles they played. The Rangers use the money from Richards contract to keep a solid young group of players together.
The Verdict: 99% chance New York buys Richards out. The contract will pay the Prince Edward Island native till 2026 and the Rangers need to take advantage of the compliance buyout while its still in effect. Although he still does see the ice well, Brads foot speed is noticeably slow. He will probably get a similar deal to old teammate Vincent Lecavalier got last year, with maybe a shorter term. Look for Richards to command in the $4.5-5 million dollar range.
Team: San Jose Sharks
Players: Martin Havlat and Adam Burish. Havlat age 33, Burish age 31.
-Havlat: 1 year at $5,000,000
-Burish: 2 years at $1,850,000 per year.
-Havlat: 48GP 12G, 10A, +14, 10 PIMS
-Burish: 15GP, 0G, 0A, -4, 6 PIMS
Havlats buyout penalty:
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $6,000,000 $5,000,000 $2,000,000 $4,000,000 $1,000,000
2015-16 $0 $0 $2,000,000 -$2,000,000 $2,000,000
Burishs buyout penalty:
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $1,850,000 $1,850,000 $616,667 $1,233,333 $616,667
2015-16 $1,850,000 $1,850,000 $616,667 $1,233,333 $616,667
2016-17 $0 $0 $616,667 -$616,667 $616,667
The Lowdown: Martin Havlat was acquired by Sharks GM Doug Wilson in a contract swap with the Minnesota Wild for none other than Dany Heatley. Havlat was finding it hard adjusting to the Minnesota Wilds defensive styled team, so Wilson decided to take a chance on the former Ottawa Senator and Chicago Blackhawk. Havlat is far removed from his days where he would pot in 25-30 goals a season. The Czech Republic native also won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010. The skilled left-winger still managed to score 8 goals in the 40 games last year and tallied 12 in 48 this year which is still decent production. Havlat is no where near the player he once was.
Adam Burish also won a Stanley Cup and was one of many Blackhawk payers that had to leave town thanks to Chicagos salary cap troubles and an abundance of younger players that deserved raises because of winning Lord Stanley. The Wisconsin-born Burish played two seasons in Dallas, compiling 33 points in 128 games with the Stars, not bad for a an effective bottom-six forward who was one of the games top agitators a couple years ago. In 61 games with the Sharks, Burish has only tallied an abysmal 1G, 2A, -11, and 31 PIMS. This is not what Doug Wilson envisioned for the scrappy Burish who signed a four year deal worth $7,400,000 total back in the summer of 2012.
The Verdict: -50% chance San Jose buys out Havlat.
-50% chance San Jose buys out Burish. Doug Wilson has already stated Havlat wont be back with the Sharks next year. Now does that mean Wilson will use a compliance buyout on Marty Havlat or will Wilson hope a team claims him off waivers? Wilson could try to trade Havlat as well if he decides he wants to retain some of his $5,000,000 dollar contract, although he may have to retain at least $2,000,000 if he actually wants to get a return on Havlat.
Burish on the other hand may also be shopped first. A change of scenary could benefit Burish, who fell to the bottom of the depth chart in SJ thanks to youngsters like Tommy Wingels and journeyman Mike Brown.
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning.
Player: Ryan Malone. Age 34
Contract Remaining: 1 year at $ 4.5 million.
2013-14 points: 5G, 10A, -7, 67 PIMS.
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $2,500,000 $4,500,000 $833,333 $1,666,667 $2,833,333
2015-16 $0 $0 $833,333 -$833,333 $833,333
The lowdown: Unfortunately for Malone, he may have already played his final game as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Malone has enjoyed his time in Florida maybe a little too much since he was caught with cocaine and an impaired driving charge a few months ago. When Malone struggled mightily this year even playing on Tampas top line of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, it was evident that his best days are well behind him. The 5-time 20-goal scorer hasn't scored 20 goals in a season 2011-12, when he was good for 48 points in 82 games. The often-injured Malone played the majority of the season on the Lightnings fourth line and he was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions.
The Verdict: 99% chance Tampa Bay buys out Malone. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman told a Tampa Bay sports reporter about the possibility of buying out the Pittsburgh native and former Penguin:
Obviously, injuries hes had some serious injuries over the past three, four years since Ive been with the organization have limited the number of games that he could play, Yzerman said. It does take its toll on a player. Were taking everything into consideration for the offseason in improving our team, and were looking at all different (options), whether it be the draft, free agency, trades, buyouts. Well take it all into consideration.
The only chance Malone remains in Tampa is if the NHL rules that Malone cant be bought out because of his current enrollment in the NHLPA and NHLs Substance Abuse and Behavioral Program. It is believed that NHL teams cant still buy players out if its not hockey related.
Team: Vancouver Canucks.
-David Booth, age 29.
- Alex Burrows, age 32.
Booth: 1 year at $4,250,000.
Burrows: 3 years at $ 4,500,000 per year.
-Booth: 66GP, 9G, 10A, +1, 18 PIMS
-Burrows : 49GP, 5G,10A, -9, 71 PIMS
Booths buyout penalty:
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $4,750,000 $4,250,000 $1,583,333 $3,166,667 $1,083,333
2015-16 $0 $0 $1,583,333 -$1,583,333 $1,583,333
Burrows buyout penalty:
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $3,500,000 $4,500,000 $1,111,111 $2,388,889 $2,111,111
2015-16 $3,500,000 $4,500,000 $1,111,111 $2,388,889 $2,111,111
2016-17 $3,000,000 $4,500,000 $1,111,111 $1,888,889 $2,611,111
2017-18 $0 $0 $1,111,111 -$1,111,111 $1,111,111
2018-19 $0 $0 $1,111,111 -$1,111,111 $1,111,111
2019-20 $0 $0 $1,111,111 -$1,111,111 $1,111,111
The Lowdown: David Booth has been speculated to be a buyout candidate for over a year now. The Canucks bought out Keith Ballard last year weren't able to buy Booth out because the Michigan native was injured and injured players cant be bought out. Booth had a tough year playing under John Tortorella and once again was plagued by injuries. Towards the end of the season, Booth started to show chemistry with Canucks 23 year old Zack Kassian and newly acquired centre Shawn Matthias a Red Wings draft pick who was sent to Florida for Todd Bertuzzi, then sent to Vancouver for Roberto Luongo. Luongo was traded to Vancouver for Bertuzzi back in 2006. Trevor Linden and Jim Benning must decide if Booth showed enough at the end of the year when David declared he was finally back in game shape after battling injuries for the better part of two years. Booth takes the puck hard to the net and is known as a north/south power forward who works extremely hard on the ice.He's struggled with finishing his chances but generates good scoring chances. If healthy under a new coach, Booth could potentially be a force, scoring 20 goals by not being afraid of crashing the net. Booth did score 16 goals in 56 games back in 2011-12 with Vancouver the production level that was satisfactory to his contract value.
Alex Burrows for the first time in his career missed significant time due to multiple injuries that forced him to score only nine goals in 49 games. Burrows is now 33 and seems to be loosing a step while trying to stay healthy. Some would argue that Burrows only scored his four 20+ seasons (including 35 goals in 2009-10) because of the Sedin twins. The Canucks may try to convert younger forwards such as Zack Kassian or Nik Jensen to play right wing with the Sedins. The Canucks may not want to pay Burrows $13.5 million over the next three years in a third line checking role where Burrows will most likely struggle to score 20 goals without playing with Daniel and Henrik.
-75% chance Vancouver buys Booth out.
-25% chance Vancouver buys Burrows out. Booths only has one year left on his contract and that makes it ideal for Canucks management to buy him out because they will only have to pay him till the end of 2015-16. On the contrast, why not let Booth play the final year out and see if he can finally contribute and bring the secondary scoring like the Canucks hoped he could when they sent Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson to Florida for the hunter.
Burrows may very well have a bounce back season and get back to his 20 goals over a full season without any injuries and regain his form with the Sedins. The Sedins best days seem to behind them, although many would argue that now fired coach John Tortorella misused the Dank and Hank last year resulting in them having too much ice time and severe lack of production due to fatigue. Tortorella even suggested that Burrows should be bought out after Burrows didn't score a goal until his 36th game of the season. The Canucks need to rebuild and buying out Burrows would be a certain indication that Jim Benning and Trevor Linden are serious when they say this team needs change. Burrows is a fan favourite in Vancouver and a Burrows buyout would send shock waves through the Vancity. But ultimately its a business decision that would make sense from a financial standpoint if the Canucks buy Burrows out.
Team: Winnipeg Jets.
Player: Ondrej Pavelec, Age: 26.
Contract remaining: 3 years at $3.9 million per year.
2013-14 Stats: 22W, 26L, 7OTL, 3.01GAA, .901Sv%.
SEASON SALARY CAP HIT BUYOUT SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15 $3,750,000 $3,900,000 $1,416,667 $2,333,333 $1,566,667
2015-16 $4,250,000 $3,900,000 $1,416,667 $2,833,333 $1,066,667
2016-17 $4,750,000 $3,900,000 $1,416,667 $3,333,333 $566,667
2017-18 $0 $0 $1,416,667 -$1,416,667 $1,416,667
2018-19 $0 $0 $1,416,667 -$1,416,667 $1,416,667
2019-20 $0 $0 $1,416,667 -$1,416,667 $1,416,667
The Lowdown: The Winnipeg Jets have had inconsistent goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec ever since the Atlanta Thrashers headed north of the 49th parallel. The Jets are ready to take the next step in qualifying for the playoffs, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff already has one difficult decision this off-season figuring out what to do with Evander Kane. Winnipeg may also come to the conclusion that they need to make get a new goalie. The Jets may find it difficult to find a taker for Pavelec, his 3.9 million dollar contract is a bit too pricey for his current value. Buying him out may be the only option and many Jets fans have expressed extreme desire for Pavelec to be gone.
The Verdict: 50% chance Winnpeg buys Pavelec out. Pavelec is only 26 and could have a bounce back season if the Jets can upgrade their team defense and continue to build around youngsters Evander Kane, Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele.
The following teams have used one compliance buyout and have 1 left:
-Buffalo, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Montreal, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, and Washington.
The following teams have already used both compliance buyouts and have 0 left:
-Chicago, Philadelphia, and Toronto
The following teams havent used any compliance buyouts and have 2 left:
-Anaheim, Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose. St. Louis, and Winnipeg.
Buyout charts from CapGeek.com.
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