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  1. Reblogged from: https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com Narwhal Hockey is back by unpopular demand! (1 person (me)) lets get through the dreaded off season together and have a laugh. This week we have a double shot that features a couple of Nathan Gerbe size mini blogs. Blog 1 Zach Senyshyn - The NHLs Youngest Assistant GM Suck it, Dubas. I didnt know much about Zach Senyshyn or Boston GM Don Sweeney up until the draft, and even thought his (Dons) last name was McSweeney. It wasnt until after the first round where he used 3 picks simultaneously that it clicked that there was no Mc before the Sweeney. However, what really clicked in my mind was that I found it odd he took Zach Senyshyn with one of those 3 picks. That would be like if you took Emile Poirier in the first round, who would do such a thing? Jay Feaster Don Sweeney would, but why? I've racked my brain regarding possible theories and reasons why he would use a first rounder on this guy when he had picks in the second that he could have used that would have been more appropriate. Only one theory remains. This Senyshyn kid is now secretly calling the shots in Boston. In his pre draft Boston interview he must have bullied rookie GM Sweeney to the point of giving in to his demands of blowing up the team for youth, and drafting him in the first round. He's secretly an evil genius, who put up a reasonable 45 points in 66 games in the OHL. So what should we expect next from this guy? and why have I used so many question marks so far? we don't know what to expect, or the answer to the other question. Time will tell what players he wants traded. All we know is Zach Senyshyn likes young players like himself on his team, and isn't afraid to boot grizzled vets to acquire these young guns who are only 18 or 19 years old. Don't be surprised if they make a move for Sam Bennett in the near future. He looks secretly evil if you ask me. Blog 2 Revenge of the Backup Goalies It seems now more than ever there are a lot of quality goalies in the NHL. Guys playing backup are putting up impressive numbers and showing they can take on a starter role. Guys are tired of not getting enough chances, among other things, and are making every opportunity count. Lets take a look at the perspective from some goalies around the league and see why this could be frustrating not getting your big chance. Anders Lindback - Tired of backing up goalies who are the same height as him. Carter Hutton - Save of the year in 2013-14. Tired of backing up goalies with no save of the year on their resumes. Martin Jones - Tired of backing up goalies who are Quicker than he is. Michal Neuvirth - Tired of backing up goalies wherever he gets traded to. Karri Ramo - Tired of backing up goalies who play just enough games to be considered a starting goalie. Cam Talbot - Tired of backing up Henrik Lundqvist. It's nice to see some of these guys are finally getting their chances to shine in the league. Guys who were backups previously like Dubnyk, Talbot, and Jones will all be starting goaltenders next season. Dubnyk even earned a trophy for persevering through teams that suck, and finally landing on a team that had decent defence. Congrats, Dub. We'll be back with another full sized blog by the end of the month. Be sure to follow @NarwhalHockey on Twitter where you can see Eric Nystrom tweeting us about butter. It's well worth it, and the more followers we get, the more butter it gets.
    8 points
  2. The Watch List The Canucks are a much stronger team when Ryan Kesler is healthy. Has he finally shaken the injury bug? Last week we had a look at the Eastern Conference's watch list, and now it's the West's turn. Which players have the potential to really turn heads this year? Keep your eyes on these 14 players. Anaheim - Jakob Silfverberg - The 22 year old was one of the pieces the Ducks picked up in return for Bobby Ryan, so it's safe to say there's going to be some extra eyes watching him this season. Silfverberg picked up 10 goals in 48 games last year for the Sens, and looks to compete in a top 6 role for the Ducks this coming season. Anaheim will be counting on him to bring some offense to the table, and could double his numbers, especially if he lands on a line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Calgary - Sean Monahan - Finally accepting that they needed to strip things down to the foundation and rebuild, the Flames made a big step in the right direction when they drafted Sean Monahan 6th overall at the NHL entry draft in June. A big, strong young center with top line potential to build around for the future, Monahan is everything Calgary has needed for a long time. The key now is to develop him properly. The Flames say Monahan will have every chance to make this team, and will likely get the 9 game NHL trial at the very least. But would he benefit more from dominating in junior rather than toiling with a very weak Calgary team? Chicago - Brandon Saad - The rookie was very impressive last season, playing often on a line with Jonathan Toews and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season. This season Brandon will look to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump and it seems the cards may be stacked against him. With Bickell's new contract and playoff performance, it looks like that plum assignment next to Captain Serious might already be taken. Can Saad put up those kind of numbers without Toews? Colorado - Gabriel Landeskog - Speaking of the sophomore slump, it hit Gabriel Landeskog hard last season. After a fantastic rookie year stepping straight into the NHL at 18, Landeskog hit a wall in 2013. Given the teams captaincy last summer, Landeskog suffered a concussion early in the year and never really found his game upon returning. He must bounce back if the Avalanche have any illusions (or delusions?) of competing for a playoff spot. The good news is that Landeskog's shooting percentage was actually higher than it was during his impressive rookie campaign, so as long as he can stay healthy it's likely he can return to form. Dallas - Tyler Seguin - The good: At 21 years old, Tyler Seguin has been to the Stanley Cup finals twice, winning once. He's also shifting back to his natural position at center and now has the long awaited opportunity to be 'the guy' on his team. He's also looking to take on a leadership role, which bodes well for the Stars, provided of course that he's up for it. The bad: He was moved off of a Cup contending team for his off-ice issues involving partying too hard and not working hard enough. Oh, and the first news headline he made after the trade to Big 'D' was for a homophobic tweet that appeared on his Twitter account shortly after the trade, which Seguin says was the work of hackers. So which Seguin are the Dallas Stars getting? The good, or the bad? Edmonton - Taylor Hall - Like John Tavares, he was drafted 1st overall. Like John Tavares, he stepped into the league at 18 years old and impressed. Like John Tavares, he has evolved into a top end scorer in the league. And now, like John Tavares did for the Islanders last year, it's time for Taylor Hall to take that next step into the upper echelon of the NHL's elite. The Oilers are loaded with elite level talent up front but they need Taylor Hall to emerge and lead the way if the Oilers are to take the next step. Los Angeles - Jake Muzzin - Take a guess who led the Kings defenders in goals scored last season. Drew Doughty? Nope. Slava Voynov? Guess again. It was Jake Muzzin, who came from out of nowhere to put up 7 goals for the Kings in his rookie year. He also led the club in the plus/minus department and gave the Kings another weapon to use on the power play. Was he playing over his head, or do the Kings have yet another fantastic young player on the blue line in the lineup? His star may be rising in a hurry. Minnesota - Nino Niederreiter - The Islanders tried to rush him to the NHL before he was ready and it was an unmitigated disaster. He and the Isles never seemed to see eye to eye and the Isles finally dealt him to the Wild this summer. The good news is that Niederreiter finally got a full year in the AHL and played very well, scoring 28 goals and 50 points for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The former World Junior sensation has a lot of untapped potential and it seems as though he will finally get the chance to deliver on some of it with the Wild. Lord knows the Wild could use more offense, will 'El Nino' heat things up in Minnesota, or has the damage already been done? Nashville - Viktor Stalberg - It's the same old story in Nashville, they need more goals. And with Martin Erat gone, there are even more questions about who among the forwards can step up and provide the kind of offense the Preds have always seemed to lack. It might be a tall order to expect Viktor Stalberg to be that guy, but every little bit helps. He picked up 20 goals in his last full season and the Predators will give him every chance to match or exceed those numbers. He'll be relied upon in a top 6 role and will likely see some power play time as well. He could be on the verge of a big season. Phoenix - Mike Ribiero - After the ownership situation got a 5 year reprieve (I don't think it's over yet), the Coyotes went out and celebrated by signing Mike Ribeiro to a 4 year deal. Ribeiro had a strong year last season with 49 points, but only 22 of those were at even strength, and he was playing on the power play with Alex Ovechkin. The Coyotes don't have anyone even close to that caliber, so Ribeiro will have to improve on his even strength game to have success. He's a world class playmaker, but will need someone to finish. San Jose - Brent Burns - He'll still be battling players in front of the crease, but this time he'll do it as the forward fighting for position. Shifting to full time forward on a team that could use more even strength goals (the Sharks were 28th in the league in the category last year), Brent Burns has the capacity to be absolutely dominant for the Sharks. A 6'5 monster crashing and banging in front of the net is a nightmare for opposing goaltenders. St. Louis - Chris Stewart - Chris Stewart had a resurgent season last year, leading the team in scoring with 18 goals and 36 points. He resembled much more closely the dominant power forward type he was expected to become when he broke into the league with the Avs. The Blues sure would love if he could continue to make strides in his game. Elite level power forwards are highly coveted in the NHL and Stewart has all the tools to become one on a consistent basis. He just needs to keep putting it together. Vancouver - Ryan Kesler - Again, skipping the obvious selection here (let's give Roberto a pass this time). Injuries have been a factor for Kesler the last few years. Since getting injured late in Game 5 against the Sharks in 2011, Kesler has been a shell of the player fans know he can be. His work ethic has definitely not been the problem. His style often leads to those injuries that have hindered them, but Kesler is most effective when he's playing on that edge. Can he stay healthy this year while still playing that style? With new bench boss John Tortorella in town, Kesler is sure to be leaned on even more, as he seems like the perfect fit for a coach like Torts. Kesler's combination of skill, grit and determination make him the kind of player who can really thrive under Tortorella. Now if he could just stay healthy... Winnipeg - Devin Setoguchi - A fresh start for the beleaguered sniper might be exactly what he needs. He may not hit 30 goals again but the Jets will give him every opportunity. He'll get top 6 minutes and likely some power play time on a club that needs more offense. He will have every chance to put up numbers with the Jets. Can he find some chemistry with Little, Jokinen or perhaps Mark Scheifele? If Setoguchi can rediscover his scoring touch it would be a big help for the Jets as they move into a much tougher division. Who's on your watch list out west?
    8 points
  3. Just What the Doctor Ordered? - Canucks coach John Tortorella meets the media and he's been all smiles so far. But can he get them to the next level? It was pretty much inevitable that change was coming, that a new voice was needed. Two straight first round exits in fairly unceremonious fashion will do that to a club who's expectation each year is to contend for the Stanley Cup. And so on May 22nd, the Canucks dismissed Alain Vigneault as head coach, along with much of his coaching staff. It was widely accepted that as good a coach as AV is, after 7+ years in Vancouver, a new voice was needed. Under Alain Vigneault, the Vancouver Canucks did some spectacular things. Back to back Presidents Trophies, 6 Division Titles in 7 years, a run to the Stanley Cup Final, and led the league in almost every statistical category you can think of. Make no mistake, Alain Vigneault is a fantastic coach. But for all the good the Canucks did, there were definitely areas that left fans, and indeed ownership, wanting. The Canucks seemed to be notoriously slow starters at the beginning of the year. Struggling out of the gate every year, the team seemed to lack energy and drive, until they inevitably turned the corner in November and righted the ship. It was like clockwork every year. It was also incredibly frustrating to watch. It happened all throughout Alain Vigneault's tenure as Canucks head coach, even while they reeled off consecutive President's Trophy caliber seasons. Enter John Tortorella. The Canucks new coach brings a much needed new perspective to the room. This is most definitely a re-set, as Mike Gillis indicated at the Canucks Summit in July. Perhaps not so much on the roster as many fans wanted to see, but most definitely in philosophy. Not only a new voice but a different approach to many things, from training camp to line combinations and the utilization of players in each situation, a lot of things are about to change for the Canucks. After being let go by the Rangers after over 4 seasons in the Big Apple, Torts took it upon himself to do a bit of self reflection. "When you lose your job, you crawl into a hole a little bit, you reassess yourself, you try to learn, and I have certainly gone through that process. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. I make my own bed in this type of situation with the perception of myself in the media. But I know how important it is with this job here, especially in this city and this province." Such was the process John Tortorella undertook after his dismissal as the Rangers bench boss in spring, 4 days after his club was eliminated by the Bruins in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Through some self assessment and analysis, Torts subscribes to the mindset that you can grow and learn from your experiences, your successes and failures and come out stronger because of them, provided you are personally committed to doing so. He made the comment when he was asked about his past relationship with members of the media, which to put lightly has been... let's say, colorful... in the past. It's almost eerie how applicable his statement is in regards to the team he inherits. The Canucks, individually and as a collective group, would be well served to follow the lead of their new head coach. Consistency, or lack thereof, has been an issue. So too has the competitiveness on some nights. The level of push-back when they got down a goal or two has been questionable at the best of times. These issues were compounded after the loss in the Cup Finals in 2011. The team seemed to lose their mojo, that swagger they had carried with them throughout that amazing 2010-11 campaign and their playoff run, and they've yet to get it back. Since Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the team seemed to play with almost zero passion, zero energy, zero urgency. Almost every game they looked like they were just going through the motions. They played down to teams well below their skill level. That the Canucks team of the last few years made the Calgary Flames look like a formidable opponent some nights reaches a whole new level of ridiculous. Their focus was lacking, their level of push back was almost non-existent and to watch the Canucks in a shootout felt like a Keystone Cops routine that wouldn't end until a Canuck goaltender was making snow angels on the ice with the goal light on behind him. Yes, each and every Canuck would be well served to crawl into a metaphorical hole of their own and do a little bit of self-reflection. This team has the capacity to be a top end contender, but they need to show up on a nightly basis and put in the work. Do they have it in them to commit to playing along the boards harder? To outwork the other team night after night? Do they want that next level bad enough to do what it takes to get there, playing on both sides of the puck? With Torts here, we will soon find out who does, and who doesn't. "He's an intense guy and very detailed and wants his players to play hard," said Kesler, who was at the press conference when John Tortorella was introduced as the new head coach. "That's what I like about him. He's going to hold us accountable. And if we're not, we're not going to play." Tort's impact will be immediate, as training camp could provide a bit of culture shock to the players. Known to his former players as "Camp Tortur-ella", conditioning is the main focus. As a coach that demands a lot from his players, he expects players to be in top physical condition in order to perform at a high level consistently throughout the season. Former Canuck Brad Lukowich experienced it first hand when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning under Tortorella, and warns the Canucks to be ready for what's coming in September. "If you think you're in shape now, start working out even harder," said Lukowich. "It's like the Navy Seals of the NHL. It's something else, I'll tell you. I'm sure glad I don't have to do that again." Better conditioning is just the start. But it could definitely help those slow starts the Canucks fans have become accustomed to throughout the last few years. And perhaps that will be the first litmus test from a fans perspective, to see if this guy really can be what this team needs to get that swagger back. The past 2 seasons, the Canucks seemed constantly under-prepared, unmotivated and uninspired. Their sheer talent level got them through for the most part. You have to be good to be lucky? To a point, but luck favours the prepared. Far too often, the Canucks were not. This should be unacceptable for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. It is most definitely unacceptable for a John Tortorella team. 'Good enough' simply should not be good enough for this team. By hiring Tortorella, the Canucks management is sending exactly that message. And that's music to this fans ears.
    8 points
  4. Note: This isn't my work but felt like re-posting it here: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers... A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.' The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.. 'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else---the small stuff. 'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.' The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.
    8 points
  5. Goaltending, defense, and the number of appearances Mike Richards and Jeff Carter make at the Roxy could have a big impact on this series. However, there is one major underlying trend that could make all the difference for these two clubs. - Who takes what faceoffs where. Seems like a redundant concept, but I am going to break it down with a bunch of lame, boring numbers. The Canucks 4th line ( Malhotra, Lapierre, Weise) are #1-3 in the league for lowest offenseive zone start % (With Pahlson finishing with the 6th lowest in the league). What makes this impressive is Manny Malhotra drives puck possession north, by starting only 13.2% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone (playing almost exclusively in the defensive zone) and finishing 40.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Combine this with the fact that his shifts are the shortest in the NHL and its safe to summarize his role on the team as - Match up against other teams top lines in the defensive end, win the draw, move the puck forward and change to allow more offensively inclined players to take over. Now on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Sedins and Burrows rank #1-3 in the league for highestoffensive zone start % with Henrik starting 78.6 % of his shifts in the offensive zone. - This essentially eliminates any form of defensive responsibility from the top line, and allows them to generate offense efficiently. Also with the addition of Samuel Pahlsson, the Canucks no longer have to shelter Cody Hodgsons minutes, and this allows AV to break Ryan Kesler away defensive matchups against other teams top lines. This has allowed Ryan Keslers CORSI (on ice shot attempt differential adjusted over 60 minutes) to jump from 8.5 to 13.24 which is a significant increase for the center. Think of it like a fancy +/- system. - Don't expect Ryan Kesler to hard match against teams top lines, but have shutdown responsibilities supplemented by the bottom 2 lines. Compared to last years playoffs: Last years playoffs saw Henrik start 65% of his faceoffs in the offensive zone (13% fewer), and a lot of this had to do with Alain Vigneault having to shelter the minutes of bottom 6'ers such as Raffi Torres, Tanner Glass, Victor Oreskovich and Cody Hodgson. Players like this were not able to be utilized in a defensive role, and therefore could be exploited. Glass and Oreskovich both posted a Corsi of -20, and -27 (really bad), Torres a -6, and Cody just kept his head above water with a +2 (again, on ice shot attempt differential adjusted over 60 minutes) This years playoffs: With this unique deployement strategy, Alain Vigneault is able to play his 3rd and 4th line in difficult minutes without concern. If teams hope to shut down the Sedin line, they will have to do so exclusively from their own defensive end. If teams want to send their top line out against Vancouvers 4th line, AV will get a bit of a chubby. No line is a desirable matchup for opposing teams. Why this is bad news for LA As we know, LA has struggled offensively this year. Daryl Sutter doesn't have a favorable matchup for his top line of Brown, Kopitar, Williams. He can try to match up against the Sedin line, but will likely end up hemmed in their offensive zone. The 2nd line is centered by last years Selke winner. The third line is centered by Pahlsson who many believed deserved the Conn Smythe in 2007. And a 4th line centered by one of the best pure defensive centers in the game in Malhotra. So with offense being questionable for LA, Vancouver doesn't make for a good opening round matchup for the Kings. Vancouver and LA are both in the top 5 for fewest goals against per game. The difference is, Vancouver is top 5 in goals for, and LA is 29th in goals for. With no favorable line matching available for Daryl Sutter, the Kings are going to be hard pressed to generate offense. Expect a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games, but don't expect LA to come out on top.
    8 points
  6. Reblogged from: https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com Hint: There’s no puzzle, that was just to lure you in, and it rhymed. Anyways… Look out Anaheim, California! Or shall we say, look out National Hockey League. GOOD friends Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa have been reunited in Anaheim and are poised to have a strong season. Adding these two players to the team gives The Ducks two more players. In doing so, The Ducks have also made themselves immune to things such as smaller/inferior NHLers, Michael Ferkland, playoff losses to Nashville/San Jose, and guys who don’t play like bastards. The main thing these guys bring to the Ducks team is personality. If these two improve anything on the team it will be interviews, because guys like Getzlaf and Perry just don’t compare off the ice. Like, they just don’t have a chance, they suck in comparison, Kesler and Bieksa have so much personality that they could even have their own show. I’ve said enough, and Kesler actually already has his own show so I’m totally right on this. Although they make the Ducks better on and off the ice by bringing their hard working spirit and personalities to the team, they also bring other things like Kesler bombs and milk hotdogs which can make any team THAT much better. I really feel like if there is anything that’s gonna take that team to the next level, It’s gonna be the Kesler bombs. Every player that get’s Kesler bombed becomes a better player/person afterwards. It worked with Raffi Torres, after being Kesler bombed he put up more points and never dressed up like Jay Z again. Torres was actually in Arizona when he did that, but still, it probably would have been something even worse had he not been Kesler bombed the year before. Kes is a hero, really. So if Perry or Getzlaf get Kesler bombed who knows what can happen? the thought of them getting better via Kesler Bomb is a scary one. They have the potential to be a very dangerous pairing next year if this happens, more dangerous than putting Luca Sbisa in for a 5 on 3 Penalty kill. But enough about those guys. The big thing here is, on one hand you have #17 Kesler, and then when you add #3 Bieksa into the equation, you get 20. I don’t know where I was going with that, but I’m gonna keep it in because it completes this paragraph. (Just imagine they’re both in Ducks uniforms, I don’t have photoshop) It’s a Vancouver reunion of sorts, okay it’s a total Vancouver reunion, as Kesler and Bieksa form the Mighty Nucks of Vanaheim (Has that been used before? probably, that also should of been the title) So good luck to the Mighty Nucks, if you guys get a cup we can win and celebrate vicariously through you, if you make the finals and lose in game 7 we riot, vicariously, via GTA. Unless by lose in game 7 finals we mean conference finals and it’s vs the Canucks, in which case we celebrate our victory for real, and trip on confetti. Shane O’Brien is also joining them. But he’s clearly not as entertaining, and only get’s this one sentence. I like Kesler.
    7 points
  7. With only a few months to go before the 2014 Winter Olympics, I'd like to share some of my thoughts about everyone's favourite event...hockey! (Note, Olympic rosters consist of 25 men, however I only included this number for Canada, as the rest are pretty obsolete). THE ELITE: These teams have the best chance at medaling, any one of them could win gold. TEAM CANADA SOCHI 2014 (Projected) Stamkos-Crosby-St. Louis Duchene-Tavares-Nash Perry-Getzlaf-E. Staal Bergeron-Toews-Couture (M. Richards, Benn) Weber-Doughty Keith-Seabrook Pietrangelo-Subban (Hamhuis, Letang) Luongo Price Crawford To start off with, let's take a look at Canada's potential roster. There are a few notable additions to this team compared to 2010 (Stamkos being the big one), as well as a few big name players that I felt will not be there this time around (Thornton, etc.) The biggest additions to this new Canadian squad will be adding top sniper Stamkos and the crafty St. Louis to the team. Stamkos, who has developed into one of the deadliest pure scorers in the NHL, is a lock to make this team. So why not play him with the best player in the world? Through in Marty St. Louis, who has continued to prove doubters wrong throughout his career, even at his age, and you have a speedy first line with a lot of fire power. Rick Nash, if healthy, will also be a lock to make the team. I have him flanking Tavares and Duchene on the 2nd line. Tavares has more than earned his spot, and while his skating isn't the greatest, he is simply too good to leave off this team. Duchene has also earned himself a spot on this team with his great play so far this season, taking what I had early pegged as Claude Giroux's spot. The 3rd line should look pretty familiar, with a good mix of big, two-way players that should add some bite. These 3 are all returnees. The 4th line should be the shutdown line for the Canadians. Toews may very well move up the center depth chart, but right now I have him centring Bergeron and Couture. Couture could switch with Mike Richards, as both are very defensively sound, but I started Couture due to him being slightly more mobile. On defence, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, and Duncan Keith are your 4 locks. I believe the remaining spots are still very much up for grabs. It would not surprise me at all if players were picked based on chemistry from the NHL, such as Bouwmeester(Pietrangelo), Hamhuis(Weber), and Seabrook(Keith). I also believe that only one of Subban and Letang will start in the top-6, however we may both. In net, reigning gold medal winner Roberto Luongo will start. Carey Price will back him up after starting the season well, and cup winner Corey Crawford narrowly edges out Mike Smith to grab the 3rd and final spot. Players to watch: Jamie Benn could very well play himself onto the team with a good start this season with Dallas. He's as motivated as anyone after getting the snub for the summer camp. Taylor Hall is another player who could crack the team if he plays at a high level after returning from injury. His speed is a huge asset. You can also never rule out Giroux, although he has started extremely poorly this season. Vlasic has also had a very good start on defence, but I see him as a long shot still. Hamhuis, after starting poorly, is back to his usual self, and depending on how they see him fitting with Weber, still has a decent shot of cracking the top-8. Mike Smith and Jonathan Bernier could also play themselves into contention. TEAM USA SOCHI 2014 (Projected) Kane-Kesler-Parise Ryan-Pavelski-Kessel VanRiemsdyk-Stepan-Pacioretty Brown-Backes-Callahan McDonough-Suter Shattenkirk-J.Johnson Yandle-Martin Quick Howard Schneider The strong first line from 2010 returns in 2014, hungrier than ever to win gold. With Kesler back to playing at a high level, this line looks as solid as ever. The second line for the States features two goal scoring wingers in Kessel and Ryan, who should be complimented nicely by the playmaking/two-way abilities of Pavelski. JVR starts on this line, however you may see him with Kessel at times. This line features an underrated playmaker in Stepan playing between two hulking beasts. This line should be money near the net. The final line for the USA is a killer for any team they have to play. Featuring 3 captains, and 3 of the grittiest players in the NHL, this line will wear teams down and will be down right hard to play against. Their effectiveness may be slightly less on Olympic sized ice than it would be at home, but they still will provide to be a pain in the butt for other teams. On d, we have McDonough and Suter forming the top pairing. These two are by far their two most complete d men, and should be one of the top shutdown pairs in the tourney. The second pairing features two more offensive minded players, however they both are pretty decent in their own end, and their mobility should help them on the big ice. The final pairing is a classic pairing of an offensive d man with a defensive d man. Mobility seems to be a trend on the US blue line, and again, both guys are talented skaters. In net, the big story is that Ryan Miller will not return after an MVP performance in 2010. Jonathan Quick is the obvious choice for #1, while Howard has played well the last few years and has earned the job as back up. Schneider will start as 3rd string in order to build his experience for 2018, when he should have a bigger role at the age of 31. Players to watch: Paul Statsny could play himself onto the team. He was good in 2010, and has started this season very well. On defence, a player like Byfuglien could have a shot, despite his mobility issues on big ice. Seth Jones might also get a look as a depth guy for experience. In net, Ryan Miller and Craig Anderson could easily battle their way into the top-3. TEAM SWEDEN SOCHI 2014 (Projected) D.Sedin-H.Sedin-Erikkson Zetterberg-Backstrom-Landeskog Hornqvist-Berglund-Steen Alfredsson(not invited)-Johansson-Franzen Karlsson-Kronwall Ekman-Larsson-Hedman Edler-Hjalmarsson Lunqvist Fasth Gustavsson The Swedes boast an elite top line with some of the best puck possession players on the planet. Their second line is a good mix of scoring, playmaking, and two-way play. The third line is a very good two-way line, a mix of under the radar players. This line could be deadly , and it wouldn't surprise me if it became one of the top lines in the tourney. With is play early this season, I can't see the Swedes leaving Alfie off of their roster. (Although since they left him off the summer roster, they may want to pass the torch), he's just been too good to leave off. Throw in a good young center and the Mule, and you got a pretty good line. The Swedish defence is an incredibly skilled, young, and mobile group. Karlsson and Kronwall should form a great top pairing, as their styles seem to be perfect complements. OEL and Hedman are very similar to the top pairing, however slightly less skilled in their respective attributes. The third pairing, like all of Sweden's pairings, also features one mainly offensive guy paired with a shutdown d man. In net, they don't have much depth behind Lunqvist, but when you're as good as the King, they shouldn't need it. Although Lunqvist started the year slow, he has been improving with every game and is still very much an elite goaltender. Players to watch: Up front, look for Hagelin to make a push. On D, they Swedes have a multitude of options, including players such an Enstrom and Brodin. In net, Enroth may push for the press box job. TEAM RUSSIA SOCHI 2014 (Projected) Kovalchuk-Datsyuk-Ovechkin Semin-Malkin-Radulov Tarasenko-Anisimov-Yakupov Kulemin-Kokrev-Kuznetzov Markov-Emelin Voynov-Tyutin Gonchar-Volchekov Bobrovsky Nabokov Varlamov What can you say about the Russians? On paper, their elite level skill is rivalled only by the Canadians. Their top line is absolutely dynamite, and should get them a lot of goals, assuming Kovalchuk has stayed in shape! Their second line is nothing to scoff at either. Semin has improved his defensive game, and he is no longer completely useless in that regard. He is also still amazing offensively. Malkin is a world class player, and add Radulov in the mix, and this line has a lot of firepower as well. Their third line is a trio of young players. These guys could be the future of Russian hockey, and all have great speed and strength. The fourth line is an interesting mix of guys, but there is no doubt that, like all of the Russian lines, their is goal scoring potential here as well. On defence, while there are no elite names, there are some solid options. Markov we be the leader back there, and Emelin should provide some much needed defensive stability. Voynov has really taken some big strides the past few years as well, and playing him with a solid guy in Tyutin should help him. The final pairing may be old, but their is still some gas left in the tank for these veterans. They seem to have complementary playing styles. In net, they've got two young guys and a vet in Nabakov. Although Bobrovsky played very well last year, there goaltending is still a question mark. Players to watch: Up front, we could see a few players from the KHL fill some spots. Same goes for the defence. In net, it would not surprise me to see Bryzgalov suit up, depending on how soon he gets into competitive play and what goes on with Varlamov. THE REST OF THE BEST: I won't say too much on these next few teams, I believe that they do have a chance at medaling, however I would say they are more unlikely than the elite teams. TEAM FINLAND SOCHI 2014 (Projected) Selanne-M. Koivu-O. Jokinen Grandlund-S. Koivu-Filpula J. Jokinen-Rutuu-Korpikovski Bergenheim-Barkov-Leino Salo-Timonen Pitkenen-Lydman Lepitso-Vaananen Rinne Rask Niemi Finland has a good group of forwards, with no real elite players but tons of depth. You could see some younger players fill some of the veterans shoes. They are a bit shaky on defence, but appear to have a decent (if not ancient) top-4. In net, they are probably the best team in the world. TEAM SLOVAKIA SOCHI 2014 (Projected) Gaborik-Kopecky-Marian Hossa Satan-Handzus-Tatar Palffy-Stumpel-Panik Marcel Hossa-Danao-Radivojevic Chara-Visnovsky Meszaros-Sekera Jurcina-Baranka Halak Budaj Janus The Slovaks are an interesting team. They have some very high end forwards, but virtually no skilled depth that they can rely on. On defence, they actually have a solid top-4 although the skill level really drops off on the bottom pairing. Any d with Chara will be pretty decent. In net, Halak can be inconsistent at times, but overall he is a good goaltender. TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC SOCHI 2014 (Projected) Jagr-Krejci-Elias Vrbrata-Plekanec-Voracek Fleischmann-Hudler-M.Michalek Erat-Hanzal-Hertl Z.Michalek-Zidlicky Hedja-Klesla Polak-Kindl Vokoun Pavelec Neuvirth The Czechs are another very good team that could fly under the radar in these Olympics. Although I put them in the 2nd tier, I would say that they could find themselves into the Elite group before long. They have a very deep group of skilled forwards, a good mix of younger players and vets. On defence, all of their guys are NHL caliber d men, which is more than can be said for a number of teams. In net, they have three guys who all can be very good, but all suffer from inconstant play. NOTE: SWITZERLAND should be included in the 2nd tier teams, although I omitted them as a feel I don't have enough knowledge on their players to write a proper article judging them. Final thoughts: Their are a lot of skilled teams competing in these Olympics, and no doubt the style of play will be different due to the larger ice surface. While Canada has the best overall team, I feel that the Russians have the best pure skill, while the United States will have the hardest working team/grittiest team. Sweden should also boast the most mobile, and most offensive blue line in the tournament. My picks for the medals are: Gold-Canada, Silver-Sweden Bronze-Russia I feel that although Canada has not had much success on large ice in the past, they have a good mix of players who can out skill you, out score you, and shut you down. They're just too good overall. Sweden also has a good "overall" team. While they might not be the "best" at any one thing, they are elite in all aspects. Their skating, particularly at the backend, as well as their goaltending, should help them make the finals this time around. Finally, I have the Russians beating out the United States for the Bronze. At home, the Russians should be motivated, and although I feel that their backend and goaltending are not strong enough to make the finals, their offensive fire power will carry them to a medal. Teams such as Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Switzerland are also very strong teams, and could end up challenging for medals as well. I hope you guys enjoyed the read, even though it was pretty lengthy. This is my first blog entry, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated! I hope to add some more entries closer to the Olympics, when the final rosters are released, so stay tuned for those. Thanks, -H2
    7 points
  8. Reblogged from: https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com For as long as they have been in the league, the Coyotes have been an underdog team. Year in and year out nobody expects anything from them, and year in and year out they deliver nothing as expected. It's safe to say at this point the fans know what they aren’t getting. The only great season they have really had thus far was in the 2012-13 season where they somehow made the playoffs and shocked the Chicago Blackhawks (If this was Tampa I could of used a crappy pun) by defeating them in the first round and then going on to the conference finals where they were steamrolled by the LA steamrollers, or Kings. One guy who was with the team that year was veteran forward and Ashton Kutcher/Frolik look alike, Antoine Vermette. Vermette took being eliminated to heart and felt like the team wasn’t efficient enough in setting up plays and could not score on Jonathan Quick as a direct result of that. Vermette is a guy who loves the Coyotes, and loves playing for them, he eats, breathes, and sleeps with Coyotes. Or however that saying goes. Ultimately, his love for this team is evident in the fact that he has played with them for more than one season. It’s been a few years now and the team is still missing the precision passing playmaker (PPP, I’m sure it’s a thing) that they did not have in the finals against LA. Vermette took note of this and had a chat with Coyotes GM Don Baloney before the most recent trade deadline. The mission was simple, get traded to the Blackhawks for a 1st round pick they could use on one of the best playmakers in the draft, and return after the season. They knew the Hawks are likely to go far and have a late pick. Nick Merkley fit the bill perfectly as far as playing style and projected draft ranking went. However, that was only half of it, the other half was actually winning a cup. Something Vermette wanted very much and knows his Coyotes cannot do until they stop sucking, and Martin Hanzal stops hacking everyones wrists. Months after being traded, The Blackhawks were deep in the playoffs. Vermette had a strong playoffs scoring 4 goals with 3 being game winners. Vermette eventually ended up winning his first cup with the team, as Chicago won yet another Stanley Cup. That was 3 cups in 6 years for Chicago. On July 1st it was 2 Vermettes in 3 years for Arizona. Same guy though. Just days before at the draft, The Coyotes drafted two phenomenal playmakers taking a big playmaker in Dylan Strome, with the 3rd overall pick, and a smaller playmaker super Amadeus in Nick Merkley with the infiltrated Chicago draft pick. When asked about this top secret mission in a video interview, Antoine said he had no comment on it, and that he wanted us to call him Vermette, Antoine Vermette. He then pulled out a PP7 and shot out the camera lens. Mission accomplished, Vermette, Antoine Vermette.
    6 points
  9. Fight or Farce? Ray Emery continues his attack on a defenseless Braden Holtby. It should come as no surprise that Brian Burke would come to the defense of fighting in hockey, as he did in a column for USA Today last week. After all, this is a man who kept his rosters well stocked with 'truculence, pugnacity and belligerence' during his tenure as a GM in various cities. This is a man who called a press conference to lament having to send enforcer Colton Orr to the minors in January 2012. He's clearly a fan of the rough stuff. Burke's article lauded the good that fighting brings to the game, and he makes a pretty good case. It's an excellent article and you can read it in it's entirety here. However, any positive progress the pro-fighting camp in this debate may have hoped to gain from Burke's commentary was lost just over 5 minutes into the 3rd period of last night's Capitals-Flyers game. The Flyers antics during the 7-0 drubbing they received at the hands of the Ovechkin-less Caps were not only disgraceful, but flew in the face of Burke's commentary. With the score out of hand and a fight between Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds and Washington's Tom Wilson breaking out, Flyers goaltender Ray Emery left his crease and raced down the ice with one goal in mind: to fight Capitals netminder Braden Holtby. This is a staged fight in that it was premeditated. There was no other reason for Emery to head to the Washington zone at that point. Emery knew what he was doing, of that there is no debate. What's worse though, is that this was the worst kind of staged fight: one which one of the combatants wanted no part of. When Emery reaches Holtby, it's clear that Holtby has no interest in engaging with Emery. Emery admitted as much is his post game comments. "He didn't want to fight. I said basically 'Protect yourself' or whatever you know? He didn't really have much of a choice." How noble of you, Mr. Emery. Emery, a noted boxing enthusiast, rained blows down on a clearly over-matched Holtby, even as Holtby lost his footing and fell to the ice. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said after the game that he didn't have a problem with it, and Ray Emery was even named the games third star. His stat line for the night? 11 saves on 15 shots, a .733 save percentage in 22:47 of ice time. If it wasn't obvious from the 7-0 score that the Flyers were being outclassed last night, they went out of their way to prove it. The Flyers, and Ray Emery in particular, should be embarrassed by their actions. There was no code of honor here. No players 'policing' players. No provocation. No upholding of tradition, no retaliation for a dirty hit, no coming to the defense of a teammate. There was no excuse. So when the subject of fighting in the NHL comes under fire again (and it will); when NHL players around the league come to it's defense and speak of the purpose fighting serves in our game, remember that night in Philadelphia. Remember that the players brought this debate upon themselves with ridiculous displays like the one the Flyers put on last night. Just as a respected hockey man like Brian Burke comes to the defense of fighting in our game with concise thought and reason, the 'Broadstreet Bullies' took it upon themselves to serve up an emphatic counter-argument. Turns out the biggest blow Emery and the Flyers landed last night may have been to the subject of fighting itself.
    6 points
  10. The Watch List Sergei Bobrovsky was sensational for the Jackets last year and nearly led them to the playoffs. Can he do it again? School kids may disagree with me but this summer feels like it's way too long. Mercifully, NHL training camps will open soon and we can finally get back to some hockey. The prospect of a new NHL season, one that will start on time no less, is always exciting. With re-alignment shuffling some teams around, new divisions and the Red Wings and Blue Jackets moving East, there's sure to be some twists and turns this season. The Watch List takes a look at 16 players to keep an eye on in the Eastern Conference. Today we'll have a look at the Eastern Conference. Boston - Torey Krug - The cagey veteran of exactly 3 NHL regular season games, the 22 year old came out of nowhere to be a force during the playoffs and became a folk hero in Boston for his strong play. Krug is a bit undersized for an NHL defenceman, especially for the Bruins, but was very effective and played steady minutes for the B's throughout the post season. With Andrew Ference gone to Edmonton, there's a regular spot on the roster there to be had. Can Krug re-create his playoff magic? Buffalo - Tyler Myers - To say that Myers' career trajectory has taken a bit of a detour would be putting it lightly. He has struggled mightily the last few seasons with inconsistency and injury. Entering year two of his lengthy (and lucrative) contract, the Sabres desperately need him to re-discover the play that earned him the Calder Trophy in his rookie year and had pundits penciling him in as a Norris candidate for years to come. The Sabres brought back his old defensive partner Henrik Tallinder, will it be enough to resurrect the giant? Carolina - Jiri Tlusty - I'm skipping the obvious Cam Ward can-he-stay-healthy-this-year pick and going with Jiri Tlusty, who surprised everyone when he scored 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games last season. Tlusty was a perfect fit with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin, but repeating that pace will not be easy. Last season Tlusty scored on 19.66% of his shots, highest in the league among players with 100 shots or more and well over his career average of 13.77%. That number will likely come down to Earth a bit this season. The Canes are hoping it doesn't drop down too much, because they could definitely use the extra offense, especially if the aforementioned Cam Ward can't stay healthy. Columbus - Sergei Bobrovsky - The enigmatic Russian took over the net in Columbus and was absolutely spectacular, posting a 21-11-6 record with 4 shutouts and a .932 save percentage for the Jackets, taking home the Vezina trophy as the league's top goaltender for his trouble. The Blue Jackets came within a tiebreaker of making the playoffs last season but as improved as they are throughout the lineup, that just doesn't happen without Bobrovsky's heroics. The Jackets need to help him out by giving him more goal support, but for Columbus to continue their upward trajectory, they need a repeat performance from 'Bob'. Detroit - Daniel Alfredsson - Alfredsson says he likes the way Detroit plays, a puck possession game that he believes will fit his style and he enjoys playing. Will he be able to adjust to their systems seamlessly, and if so, how much does the seasoned veteran have left in the tank? Luckily with the Wings, he will be able to take on more of a support role, and looks as though he will get some ice time with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. After leaving Ottawa over a contract dispute with Sens management which seems to have left both sides sour, Alfy looks to chase the Cup with the Red Wings. Conveniently enough for all of us, Detroit and Ottawa just happen to be in the same division next season. This should be good... Florida - Jacob Markstrom - Last year when Theodore was injured, Jacob got a taste of the starters job with mixed reviews, and Theodore wasn't brought back, nor was another credible starter brought in. Markstrom has been the goaltender of the future for the Panthers for a while now, and it appears the future is now, for better or worse. The Panthers are unlikely to be much improved on last year, and Markstrom's numbers were less than spectacular, with a 3.22 GAA and a save percentage of .901. He had flashes of brilliance but could not sustain it. It's definitely not all him though. Sure, more consistency would help the Panthers drastically but don't expect his numbers to improve much until Florida's blue line does. Montreal - PK Subban - Held out at the start of the shortened season in a contract dispute with Habs management that resulted in Subban signing a 2 year bridge deal that some deemed a little low for an impact player like him. A phenomenal season and a Norris Trophy later, that bridge deal looks absurd now. When he got back into the lineup, he was nearly a point per game and absolutely dominated for the Habs. Montreal management better be glad the cap is projected to go up for 2014-15, because now it's a contract year for the underpaid Norris winner. New Jersey - Travis Zajac - With the careers of Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias winding down and Ilya Kovalchuk enjoying his "retirement" playing pro hockey in Russia, Travis Zajac is now in the spotlight. When he's been in the lineup he's been solid, but injuries limited his effectiveness in the last full season. He needs to emerge as this teams leader and raise his game back to the level it was at when he was 25 goal, 67 point player. This will be Zajac's team, if not now, then very soon. Time to find out if that's a good thing. NY Islanders - Evgeni Nabokov - Imagine the shock waves the Isles would have made last season if they ousted the Penguins in the first round? They very well could have. The Islanders gave the powerhouse Penguins all they could handle in their playoff match-up and served notice to the rest of the league that the Isles weren't to be taken lightly anymore. If only Nabokov could've brought his regular season game into the playoffs. Nabokov posted steady numbers for the Isles during the regular season but fell apart against the Penguins, finishing the series with an ugly 4.44 GAA and a .842 save percentage. He could have been the difference last year. Can he be the difference this time around? NY Rangers - Brad Richards - If a player was ever in need of a bounce back year, it's Brad Richards. From prized free agent signing to healthy scratch in the playoffs, not much has gone right for Richards in the Big Apple. He was supposed to be the difference maker in New York, but in 10 playoff games he picked up only a single goal and a -3 rating. It rarely ends well when your impact players are a non-factor over 10 playoff games. Spared a compliance buyout, Richards was given a chance to turn things around this season. Playing under new coach Alain Vigneault, can Richards get back to his Conn Smythe form and put last years dismal playoffs behind him? Ottawa - Bobby Ryan - Often the subject of trade rumors around Anaheim, Bobby Ryan was finally dealt to the Sens to fill the void on the wing left by Daniel Alfredsson. Somehow Bobby Ryan has largely flown under the radar, remarkable for a player who has 4 30 goal seasons under his belt in a 6 season career (his 23 game rookie campaign and last years shortened season the only 2 where he didn't hit the 30 mark). Paired with an elite play-maker like Jason Spezza, Ryan could be absolutely lethal. He might just be the star to put the Sens over the top. Philadelphia - Steve Mason - And so the revolving door that is the Flyers crease continues to spin. This time it's Steve Mason's turn, and he looks to resurrect a career that has stalled since his sensational rookie of the year performance. Playing on poor Columbus teams will do that to a young goalie and Mason craved a fresh start. After being acquired at the deadline, Mason showed signs that he was rejuvenated already, posting a 1.90 GAA and .944 save percentage with the Flyers in 7 games. If he can build on that and get his career back on track, the Flyers might be able to finally get a bit of stability in goal. Pittsburgh - Marc-Andre Fleury - Like Luongo, it's definitely unfair to lay the blame for the Penguins recent playoff exits entirely at Fleury's feet. But Fleury sure hasn't done himself any favors in that regard either. An absolute playoff nightmare since the Penguins Cup win, Fleury has had monumental lapses in play and hasn't posted a playoff save percentage over .900 since the Pens Cup victory in 2009. To say Fleury needs to find his game fast is an understatement. He is becoming known as the Achilles heel on what should be a perennial Cup favorite. Tampa Bay - Martin St. Louis - Okay Marty, enough is enough. Now you're just showing off. Winning a scoring title at 37 years old?? You're making the rest of us look bad. Will age ever catch up to Martin St. Louis? He's found great chemistry with Stamkos and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. One of the hardest working and respected players in the game, he does all the little things right and is a great role model for Tampa's younger players like Stamkos and Drouin. Toronto - Jonathan Bernier/James Reimer - Finally freed from Jonathan Quick's shadow, Bernier will now battle James Reimer for the crease. Reimer was part of that brutal Leafs meltdown in Game 7 against Boston, but all in all played very well for the Leafs last year. His .924 save percentage was the highest in Maple Leafs history, so it would stand to reason that the goaltending was solid with Reimer in goal. Bernier's new contract suggests the Leafs believe he's the odds on starter, but he'll have to win the net from Reimer first. Is another goaltending controversy brewing? Washington - Alexander Ovechkin - Sorry Ovechkin fans, but I don't buy it. Yeah, he had a fantastic finish to the year and the Caps really turned it around once they adjusted to Adam Oates' systems. But he spent the year feasting on the Southeast divisions weaker teams, half of his goals (and nearly half his total points) came on the power play and he had a horrendous start to the season. A player as skilled as Ovechkin playing with guys like Backstrom and Ribeiro better score on the power play. Is he really back? Now that he's in a tougher division, it's time to find out. Who's on your watch list??
    6 points
  11. As most Canucks fans know by now, Jim Benning has shipped Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening, and a 2nd round pick to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter and a conditional 3rd round pick. To say this was an unexpected move would be an understatement. Some might look at the preliminary facts and grumble, saying “Oh, Benning doesn’t know what he’s doing”. And yes, Nick Bonino provided more offense than Brandon Sutter did last season. But what Benning is doing here is restructuring his lineup. Bo Horvat had all but won the No. 2 Center job for this season by April, as many note that Bonino was becoming slow and a bit of a non-factor for the Canucks. And with Matthias and Richardson gone, it’s now his to lose. Sutter will likely take the 3C duties as he is bigger and more defensively sound than both Bonino and Horvat and will provide a more physical presence to the game. Sutter was 51% on draws (as opposed to Bonino’s 47%) and overall is a better 2-way player. Another viewpoint of this trade is that Sutter, being a UFA at the end of the season, will have a value to playoff teams, if the Canucks are not one themselves. 6-foot-3 and a faceoff winner is definitely something teams look for in the spring. Where the trade gets a bit shaky is at Adam Clendening. Someone that looked really good in both the NHL and the AHL and who Benning praised as a Top-4 defenseman is suddenly a throw-in in a deal for size. But no worries. Not only is the roster continuing to be shaped here (Corrado no longer has to fight for a spot with Clendening), but we got him for a 5th round pick in the first place – and if Chicago is giving him up for a 5th, then something’s up – meaning that there’s not much value lost. For Vancouver, this deal ends up being Nick Bonino, a late 2nd, and a 5th for Sutter and a 3rd… not a terrible deal – on paper, at least. As always, we can only watch and see how this one plays out. I wish the best of luck to Nick and Adam in Pittsburgh, and hope that Brandon Sutter can be the player we need him to be. And you never know, that pick might turn into something special, too. Article originally posted here.
    5 points
  12. Reblogged from: https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com Pancakes never hurt anyone, except Dustin Penner. It all started three years ago. A delicious stack of pancakes was made by Penners then wife, Jessica. Dustin couldn’t wait to devour them (the pancakes, you knew that). He quickly hunched over to eat them and felt something go in his back, mid chew. He corrected his posture as a cascade of butter and syrup slowly ran down his face, he knew that he was hurt. Dustin went to the LA Kings trainer to see if he could fix what was wrong with his back, the trainer was unable to do anything and sent him home. When asked about it, the trainer said that this was by far the worst pancake related injury he has seen in his professional career, and that he hopes to never see anything like it ever again. When the team found out about his injury, the news spread like Wildfire (Min vs CGY) and Dustin quickly became a laughing stock on social media. Even Phil Kessel had a laugh at his expense. It was at that moment that Dustin knew his career would never be the same again. Fortunately, his back got better after a few days of resting on the couch. He credits video games for the fast healing. Games such as Wayne Gretzkys 3D Hockey, and NHL99 helped him stay in shape during this tough time. He also claims that he smashed his records in Ms. Pacman Maze Madness, Elmo’s Number Journey, and Hey You, Pikachu! He finished the season with the Kings and went on to sign with the Anaheim Ducks, the pancake jokes in the Ducks locker room got so bad that they started putting pancakes in catering. He requested a trade shortly thereafter, and was dealt to Washington, where the pancake jokes continued, and escalated into full on pancake standup comedy routines. Within 5 minutes of being in the Caps locker room, Penner was made fun of by the Russian players. According to Penner, he walked into the room and all he heard was Ovechkin, Orlov, and Kuznetsov having a chat in Russian, then all of a sudden Ovechkin says pancakes and they started laughing.. in Russian. If that’s possible.. if not, I apologize.. in Canadian. It was about this time Penner said to himself that he was just going to finish the season and leave. He has been a free agent ever since and attributes the pancake incident as a career ruining moment. It even got to the point where he received a few joke calls from GMs hoping to obtain his services, they always started innocent enough, but ended with the GM asking if they can do a pancake performance bonus for his contract, at that point the GM usually laughs and hangs up. He has tried to rectify (heh) this situation by switching to gluten free buckwheat pancakes, sugar free syrups, and even the unthinkable act of using foreign maple syrups on his pancakes. Nothing is working, says Penner. How can something so good go so wrong? It doesn’t have to be this way, he says. After years of suffering, and a lot of thought (about pancakes), Dustin is actually at peace with it and is ready to embrace the whole thing. He is in talks to be the new spokesperson for Aunt Jemima. We’re not sure how that’s going to play out, but maybe they can work him in as her half cousin or something, because not even that is as strange as a grown man injuring his back while eating pancakes. Lastly, but certainly not leastly, he is currently in the process of creating Penners Pancakes, a charity that provides pancakes to underprivileged bearded men who have thrown out their back. If that doesn’t deserve an NHL Foundation award, I don’t know what does.
    5 points
  13. Reblogged from - https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com Every once in a while a players falls in the draft and becomes a steal. This year the Florida Panthers pulled off the heist of the century when they drafted a 6’4 215 lb Canadian man beast with the 11th overall pick. The other teams were afraid they could not tame such raw power, but the Panthers took a courageous chance and The Crouse is now theirs to unleash on a frightened National Hockey league. The Panthers probably thought they were just getting a mean power forward who could someday fill a top 6 role and occasionally wallop guys the size of Johnny Gaudreau. Little did they know they drafted the greatest goal scorer of our time. The second coming of Gretzky, but with the size of Lemieux. How could someone possibly know this? NHL 15. Just look at the goal and point totals for this guy. It’s clearly evident that by the 2026/27 season, the Panthers will have the NHLs first 100 goal scorer. Not only that, but judging by his Playoff numbers, the Florida Panthers will have a dynasty that will save the franchise from relocating, just barely, then maybe later on they move somewhere cool, like Canada. Seriously though. Don’t be surprised surprised if Crouse scores a hat trick in his first game, on his first shift, on his first shot. The league just got a whole lot Scorier.
    5 points
  14. Since the Canucks are very likely looking at drafting a defenseman in the 1st round of 2015 NHL entry draft, I figured it was appropiate to look at some past trends of drafts so we can learn which types of prospects succeed and which fail. Here's a look at trends from some past 1st round defense draft choices. I chose years 2007-2009 as a sample size because by now their career paths are established. (Sorry, no pretty charts) (year, junior league, drafted at, size, draft year production, projection, current status): 2007 Thomas Hickey WHL: 4th overall (LA went well off board), 5'-11" 180lbs, 68gp 9g 41a 50pts. - Production good, speed good, size and shot not good. Projected as a power play quarterback. Busted. Karl Alzner WHL: 5th overall, 6'-2" 210lbs, 63gp 8g 39a 47pts. - Production good, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as a shutdown defenseman. Success. Keaton Ellerby WHL: 10th overall, 6'-4" 190lbs, 69gp 2g 23a 25pts 120pim. - Production poor, speed okay, size okay (lanky), shot poor. Projected as tough top-4 defenseman. Busted. Ryan McDonagh USHS: 12th overall, 6-1" 200lbs, 23gp 10g 23a 33pts. - Production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as two-way defenseman. Success. Kevin Shattenkirk USDP: 14th overall, 5'-11" 195lbs, 57gp 13g 27a 40pts. - Production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as offensive defenseman. Success. Alex Plante WHL: 15th overall, 6'-3" 210lbs, 58gp 8g 30a 38pts 81pims. - Production okay, speed poor, size good, shot okay. Projected as tough top-4 defenseman. Busted. Ian Cole USDP: 18th overall, 6'-1" 200lbs, 58gp 8g 18a 26pts - Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as two-way defenseman. Is now 3rd pairing defenseman on a deep team. Jonathon Blum WHL: 23rd overall, 6'-1" 180lbs, 72gp 8g 43pts 51pts - Production good, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projected as power play quarterback. Busted. Brendan Smith OPJHL: 27th overall, 6'-2" 190lbs, 39gp 12g 24a 36pts - Production good, size good, shot good. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Offense not realized, but NHL career is there. Nick Petrecki USHL: 28th overall, 6'-3" 220lbs, 54gp 11g 14a 25pts 177pims. - Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as tough defenseman. Busted. Nick Ross WHL: 30th overall, 6'-1" 190lbs, 70gp 7g 24a 31pts 87pims. - Production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot poor. Projected as long-term tough defenseman. Busted. 2008 Drew Doughty OHL: 2nd overall, 6'-1" 200lbs, 58gp 13g 37a 50pts. - Production excellent, playoff production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as top-pairing 2-way defenseman. Success. Zach Bogosian OHL: 3rd overall, 6'-3" 190lbs, 61gp 11g 60a 61pts. - Production excellent, playoff production poor, speed okay, size okay (lanky), shot okay. Projected as top-pairing defenseman. Success. Alex Pietrangelo OHL: 4th overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 60gp 13g 40a 53pts. -Production excellent, playoff production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as top-pairing defenseman. Success. Luke Schenn WHL: 5th overall, 6'-2" 210lbs, 57gp 7g 21a 28pts 100pims. - Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as tough top-4 defenseman. NHL career disappointing. Tyler Myers WHL: 12th overall, 6'-8" 200lbs, 65gp 6g 13a 19pts 97pims. - Production poor, speed okay, size okay (really lanky), shot okay. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing. Colten Teubert WHL: 13th overall, 6'-4" 190lbs, 66gp 7g 16a 23pts 135pims. - Production poor, speed poor, size okay (lanky), shot okay. Projected as tough defenseman. Bust. Erik Karlsson SEL: 15th overall, 6'-0" 175lbs, 38gp 13g 24a 37pts - Production excellent, playoff production poor, tournament production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot excellent. Projected as offensive defenseman. Success. Jake Gardiner USHS: 17th overall, 6'-2" 180lbs, 36gp 24g 34a 58pts - Production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projected as offensive defenseman. Success. Luca Sbisa WHL: 19th overall, 6'-2" 185lbs, 62gp 6g 27a 33pts 63pims. -Production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing. Michael Del Zotto OHL: 24th overall, 6'-0" 180lbs, 64gp 16g 47a 63pts - Production excellent, playoff production poor, speed okay, size poor, shot good. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing. Tyler Cuma OHL: 23rd overall, 6'-2" 180lbs, 59gp 4g 28a 32pts 69pims. - Production okay, speed okay, size poor, shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Bust. John Carlson USHS: 27th overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 59gp 12g 31a 43pts. - Production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projected as two-way defenseman. Success. 2009 Victor Hedman SEL: 2nd overall, 6'-6" 220lbs, 43gp 7g 14a 21pts. - Production good, speed good, size excellent, shot good. Projected as #1 defenseman. Success. Oliver Ekman-Larsson SEL: 6th overall, 6'-2" 190lbs, 39gp 3g 14a 17pts. - Production good, speed good, size okay, shot good. Projected as #1 defenseman. Success. Jared Cowen WHL: 9th overall, 6'-5" 220lbs, 48gp 7g 14a 21pts - Production okay, speed okay, size excellent, shot okay. Projected as a defensive defenseman. Success. Ryan Ellis OHL: 11th overall, 5'-10" 170lbs, 57gp 22g 67a 89pts. - Production excellent, speed okay, size poor, shot okay. Projected as long-term power play quarterback. NHL career disappointing. Calvin De Haan OHL: 12th overall, 6'-1" 180lbs, 68gp 8g 55a 63pts. - Production excellent, speed okay, size poor, shot okay. Projected as long-term power play quarterback. NHL career disappointing. Dmitri Kulikov QMJHL: 14th overall, 6'-1" 190lbs, 57gp 12g 50a 62pts - Production good, speed good, size okay, shot okay. Projected as offensive defenseman. NHL career okay. Nick Leddy USHS: 16th overall, 5'-11" 180lbs, 55gp 21g 44a 65pts - Production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. NHL career okay. David Rundblad SEL: 17th overall, 6'-1" 180lbs, 45gp 0g 10a 10pts - Production okay, speed okay, size poor, shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Bust. John Moore USHL: 21st overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 57gp 14g 25a 39pts - Production okay, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as long-term 2-way defenseman. NHL career okay as defensive defenseman. Tim Erixon SEL: 23rd overall, 6'-3" 190lbs, 45gp 2g 5a 7pts - Production poor, speed okay, size okay (lanky), shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. Bust. Dylan Olsen AJHL: 28th overall, 6'-2" 210lbs, 53gp 10g 19a 29pts 123pims - Production okay, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projected as long-term tough defenseman. NHL career okay as 3rd pair type. Simon Despres QMJHL: 30th overall, 6'-3" 200lbs, 66gp 2g 30a 32pts 74pims - Production poor, speed okay, size good, shot poor. Projected as long-term offensive defenseman. NHL career disappointing. Okay now as reinvented tough defenseman. So what can we learn here? First off, PRODUCTION is the name of the game. If a defenseman cannot produce significant numbers as a drafted prospect, then his NHL upside is limited. You can see time and time again above that the poor production players go onto disappointing NHL careers. They were drafted for their size likely, but if that size doesn't come with offensive skill, then the bust potential is high. Not to discredit the classic defensive defensemen, but ones of equal overall ability are often found in later rounds. So it makes little sense to burn a good 1st round draftpick on one. Especially if he has a high amount of pims. He may turn out to be a goon, not a top-4 type. Secondly, after production, SIZE is of vital importance for defensemen. You want at least 190lbs at 17rs old, preferably 200lbs. If you're not getting that, then you're taking a risk. The smaller the defenseman, the bigger the risk. Without size, they run the chance of being destroyed by opposing forwards night after night. If they are undersized, such as Karlsson was, then you had better make sure their offensive production is elite and their defensive ability is above 'liability' level. Karlsson isn't a defensive defenseman by any stretch, but his offensive output more than makes up for it. That's why he was a better choice than bigger guys Colten Teubert or Luke Schenn, who could only dream of Karlsson's offensive ability. If an undersized prospect has only an average-to-good offensive ability, then be prepared for a high chance of busting. Enter Thomas Hickey. I'm not sure what LA saw in that prospect, but he was clearly undersized and not good enough with the puck to justify an off-the-board 4th overall pick. However, 2007 wasn't anywhere close to 2008 in defensive depth. They made up for the Hickey pick by selecting Drew Doughty the year after. Note about expected prospect growth: Considering defensemen being drafted in the 1st round are pretty much physically developed already, and are capable of growing 10lbs on average without losing significant skating ability, please lose the notion that plainly undersized defenseman can somehow grow into fully developed NHL players. Jordan Subban for example, is 5'-9" 185lbs. This will be his max height and weight, and that is clearly undersized. While his draft-year production was good, shot was good, speed okay, this ability doesn't overcome his lack of ability without the puck. He projects to be a long-term offensive defenseman or power play quarterback, but will very likely bust, as we've seen various slightly larger 1st rounders noted above go through the same career path. As a 4th rounder like Subban though, who cares. But I think it needs to be understood that getting excited about this prospect as anything but a project is a misplacement of excitement. Thank you. Third, when looking at offensive output, consider the junior league they're doing it in. The OHL is considered the 'can't miss' league when it comes to offensive transferability. When a solidly-built defenseman does very well offensively there, chances are he will go on to a decent NHL career. (Hamilton, Fowler) The WHL is more known for the tough shutdown-type overall, but can turn out HOFers like Scott Niedermayer as well. The USDP will turn up some gems, as seen here: http://forum.canucks.com/topic/366175-proposal-start-taking-a-look-at-the-us-national-development-team-at-the-draft-more/ And they're getting better by the year. The SEL will have it's good and not-so-good years, but there have been some obvious greats to be had. The question is largely about transferability. Most solid-built defensemen can do it easily. Undersized ones have a tougher go, as expected. The QMJHL has been a fairly disappointing junior league when it comes to developing defensemen, and hasn't turned out many top-notch 1st rounders in recent years. It's improving by the year though, but still there is this factor that the style of play in the Q basically breeds bad defensive habits and promotes wide-open offense that doesn't transfer well to the NHL. You shouldn't ignore the league entirely, of course, but just perhaps select them in later rounds. Such as the Penguins did with 3rd rounder Kris Letang, who to this day is still a defensive wildcard, but has a great offensive ability. The KHL likes to keep their own prospects around as much as possible. This will add significant risk to any draft pick selected from that league. If you're going there, you better make sure he's an absolute NHLer. For example, our own Kirill Koltzov was an undersized offensive defenseman who had a cannon of shot, but not much else in terms of NHL-level skill. There was a low probability that he'd make it in the NHL and probably was not worth a 2nd round selection. At least not compared to... Duncan Keith!!! For the defensemen below, I'm ignoring the KHL risk and assuming some guys will come over. This is hardly a guarantee. Slovak, Czech, Finn leagues present a few sturdy prospects that are hard to miss as long as you're looking. A lot make the jump to better SHL or NA leagues, making it easier for modern scouts to keep track of them. So without further ado, I present to you the top 2015 draft prospects for consideration, using the trends, information and notes from above. Keep in mind that this is the mid-term. Rankings can change down the stretch and especially after the playoffs. 2015 Defenseman Draft Prosects Noah Hanifin Boston College: 6'-2" 205lbs, 23gp 3g 11a 14pts - production excellent (being at college level already is almost unheard of), speed excellent, size good, shot good. Projects as #1 defenseman. Zach Werenski Univ. of Michigan: 6'-2" 214lbs, 18gp 3g 12a 15pts - production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as two-way defenseman. Rasmus Andersson OHL: 6'-0" 209lbs, 42gp 8g 32a 40pts - production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as two-way defenseman. Ivan Provorov WHL: 6'-0" 201lbs, 40gp 11g 30a 41pts - production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as offensive defenseman. Ryan Pilon WHL: 6'-2" 212lbs, 42gp 7g 29a 36pts - production excellent, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as two-way defenseman. Oliver Kylington: 6'-0" 174lbs, 17gp 2g 3a 5pts - production okay, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Jeremy Roy QMJHL: 6'-0" 183lbs, 40gp 5g 34a 39pts - production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as offensive defenseman. Yegor Rykov MHL: 6'-2" 192lbs, 26gp, 5g 7a 12pts - production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Noah Juulsen WHL: 6'-1" 181lbs 44gp 5g 27a 32pts - production good, speed good, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Matt Spencer OHL: 6'-2" 194lbs, 41gp 5g 18a 23pts - production okay, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Nicolas Meloche QMJHL: 6'-2" 198lbs, 44gp 10g 24a 34pts 99pims - production good, speed okay, size good, shot good. Projects to be long-term two-way defenseman, or tough defenseman. Vladislav Gavrikov KHL: 6'-2" 205lbs, 7gp 0g 1a 1pt - production poor, speed good, size good, shot okay. Projects to be long-term defensive defenseman. Mitchell Vande Sompel OHL: 5'-10" 181lbs, 36gp 6g 34a 40pts - production excellent, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Jakub Zboril QMJHL: 6'-2" 185lbs, 33gp 8g 14a 22pts - production good, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Thomas Chabot QMJHL: 6'-2" 179lbs, 44gp 8g 19a 27pts - production okay, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Brandon Carlo WHL: 6'-5" 185lbs, 41gp 3g 17a 20pts - production poor, speed good, size okay (really lanky), shot poor. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman. Erik Cernak Slovakia: 6'-3" 203lbs, 29gp 4g 2a 6pts -production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman. Gabriel Carlsson SuperElit: 6'-4" 183lbs 27gp 0g 4a 4pts - production poor, speed okay, size okay (really lanky), shot poor. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman. Jacob Larsson SHL: 6'-2" 181lbs, 8gp 0g 1a 1pt - production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot poor, Projects as long-term defensive defenseman. Sebastian Aho SHL: 5'-10" 174lbs, 29gp 0g 4a 4pts - production poor, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Stephen Desrocher OHL: 6'-3" 187lbs, 43gp 8g 12a 20pts - production okay, speed okay, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Caleb Jones USDP: 6'-0" 194lbs, 34gp 2g 9a 11pts - production okay, speed okay, size good, shot poor. Projects as defensive defenseman. Jacob Olson USHS: 6'-3" 209lbs, 12gp 6g 10a 16pts 20pims - production good, speed good, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Ethan Bear WHL: 6'-0" 203lbs, 41gp 9g 18a 27pts - production good, speed okay, size good, shot good. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Dennis Gilbert USHL: 6'-2" 194lbs, 33gp 3g 14a 17pts 52pims - production good, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way or defensive defenseman. Keoni Texeira WHL: 6'-0" 194lbs, 46gp 4g 14a 18pts - production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Jack Sadek USHS: 6'-3" 185lbs, 25gp 4g 9a 13pts (last season stats, this season na) - production okay, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Travis Dermott OHL: 5'-11" 181lbs, 37gp 5g 24a 29pts - production good, speed good, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. John Marino USPHL: 6'-2" 181lbs, 34gp 4g 18a 22pts - production good, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Lucas Carlsson SEL: 6'-0" 183lbs, 15gp 0g 1a - production poor, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term two-way defenseman. Gustav Bouramman OHL: 6'-0" 176lbs, 45gp 5g 25a 30pts - production good, speed good, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Vince Dunn OHL: 6'-0" 185lbs: 44gp 7g 18a 25pts - production okay, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Casey Fitzgerald USDP: 5'-11" 185lbs, 27gp 4g 9a 13pts 45pims - production poor, speed okay, size poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Alexandre Carrier QMJHL: 5'-11" 181lbs, 47gp 6g 32a 38pts - production good, speed okay, size okay, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Jesper Lindgren SHL: 6'-0" 161lbs, 4gp 0g 1a 1pt - production okay, speed good, size very poor, shot okay. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Joseph Cecconi USHL: 6'-2" 205lbs, 35gp 2g 8a 10pts. - production poor, speed okay, size good, shot poor. Projects as long-term defensive defenseman. Guillame Brisebois QMJHL: 6'-2" 172lbs, 45gp 3g 18a 21pts - production poor, speed good, size poor, shot poor. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Parker Wotherspoon WHL: 6'-0" 170lbs, 46gp 8g 17a 25pts - production poor, speed good, size poor, shot good. Projects as long-term offensive defenseman. Andrew Nielsen WHL: 6'-3" 209lbs, 34gp 4g 12a 16pts 76pims - production poor, speed okay, size good, shot okay. Projects as tough defenseman. *by long-term defenseman, I mean it's going to take years for his upside to come to fruition, if it happens.
    5 points
  15. The NHL 2014 Entry draft is finished, and much to the disappointment of some fans, the Canucks did not trade up for the 1st overall pick. That being said, having dealt Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks ended up holding the #6 and #24 overall picks. With these picks, the Canucks drafted speedy powerforward Jake Virtanen and solid two-way center Jared Mccann. This blog entry will focus on ranking the Canucks current prospects, including the ones just drafted, as well as providing a brief insight on how and when these prospects will make an impact in the NHL. I will finish off the post by providing my projected Canucks lineup for the upcoming years. REMEMBER, THIS IS JUST MY OPINION BASED ON RESEARCH THAT I HAVE CONDUCTED. To start things off, let's rank the Canucks top 10 prospects #1: Bo Horvat Despite having the #6 pick in 2014, Bo Horvat is still considered as the Canucks top prospect. While other prospects may have a higher ceiling than Horvat, Bo is as much as a sure thing as you can get. He is already a great defensive center, and his offensive abilities seem to be developing nicely. Career Projection (in his prime): 55 points (70 point career high) Potential Captain High end PKer Horvat projects to be a #2 center in the NHL. His high end potential is a Patrice Bergeon comparable, while his low end is a Jared Stoll comparable. He will most likely end up being close to a player such as Ryan O'Reilly. ETA: 2014/2015 (9 games), 2015/2016 full time. #2: Jake Virtanen The new kid, Jake Virtanen, comes in at #2 on this list. Jake is exactly what the Canucks need, a fast sniper with a physical edge. Jake has higher end potential than Horvat, how ever, there are some concerns over his playmaking ability. People are concerned about his 26 assists, let me remind you that Jeff Carter only had 4 more in his draft year, while posting less goals.While he is almost guaranteed to be an NHLer due to his incredible athletic ability, we will need to wait to see if it will be on the 1st line, or the 3rd. Career Projection (in his prime): 65 points (75 points career high) Potential Captain Top-20 goal scorer Virtanen projects to be a #1/2 goal scoring power winger in the NHL. While some people think that his hockey IQ (or lack of) will limit him to be a 3rd line winger, others believe that his offensive abilities, combined with a playmaking line mate, will allow him to flourish as a top line player. Virtanen's high end upside is a Jeff Carter comparable, while his low end is a Jason Chimera. He will most likely end up being a Blake Wheeler calibre player (smaller, but faster). ETA: 2016/2017 season. #3 Hunter Shinkaruk Hunter Shinkaruk may be the prospect that excites me the most. In my opinion, he has the highest offensive upside of any of our prospects. His game is dynamic, from skating to shooting, he is a very gifted offensive player. What impresses me the most about him however is his compete level. He isn't tiny, but he's not big either. For a guy of his size, he is quite aggressive on the ice. He has heart and passion, which will do him well in his goal to make the NHL. Career Projection (in his prime): 65 points (80 points career high) Top-20 goal scorer Shinkaruk projects to be a #1/2 speedy winger with great hands and sniping ability. While he has elite offensive skills, his size and injury concerns could hinder his ability to make it to the NHL. It's either top-6 forward or bust for him. The good thing is, so far, it looks like he is set to make the NHL in the near future. His high end potential is a Zach Parise type player. His low end is a bust. Most likely, he will end up to be a Jeff Skinner type player. ETA: 2015/2016 season. #4 Jared Mccann Mccann is another exciting prospect. Mccann already possesses solid defensive abilities, and has on just started to touch on his offensive abilities. Mccann is the type of player who is good now, and has the potential to be great. Career Projection (in his prime): 50 points (60 points career high) Top PKer Mccann projects to be a #2 center in the NHL. He has the potential to be creative, two-way player, he just needs to put it all together. His high end potential is a Logan Couture type player, while is low end is a Brandon Sutter type player. Most likely, he will end up to be a Valteri Filppula type player. ETA: 2016/2017. #5: Nicklas Jensen Jensen has all the tools to be a good NHLer. He's already shown flashes of brilliance at both the AHL and NHL level. He has nice hands, good speed and size, and a knack for the net, he just needs to work on his consistency. Career Projections (in his prime): 50 points (60 points career high) Top-40 goals Jensen projects to be a #2 winger in the NHL. His blend of speed, size, and sniping ability make him a rare player, however he will need to work on using his size better in order to reach his max potential. His high end potential is a James Neal (not playing with Malkin). His low end potential is Michael Ryder. Most likely, he will turn out to be a Jussi Jokinen type player. ETA 2014/2015. #6 Frank Corrado Corrado is our best defensive prospect...for now (you will see with #7). Corrado is very mobile and sound defensively. He still has untapped offensive potential, and could work on his physical game. Overall, he is a very good two-way defender. Career Projection (in his prime): 30 points (40 points career high) Top PKer 2nd Unit PP Frankie projects to be a #3/4 d man in the NHL. He is a very safe player, and can provide a steadying presence for his partner. At his best, Corrado could be a Paul Martin type player. At his worst, Corrado could be a Ben Lovejoy type defender. Overall, Corrado will probably end up being a Kevin Bieksa type player, assuming his physicality picks up a bit. ETA 2014/2015. #7 Ben Hutton Big Ben comes in at #7, but could climb up much higher in the near future. I believe he has the most potential of any of our D prospects, but is harder to compare to other prospects (such as Corrado) who have CHL, AHL, and NHL experience. Hutton is a nice 6'3 200lbs, and is a good skater. With the right development, he could be a very good NHL defender. Career projection (in his prime): 40 points (45 career high) Top PP 2nd Unit PK Top-10 goals by defencemen Hutton projects to be a #3/4 defender at the NHL level for now. However, if he builds on his great season from 2013/2014, he could project to be a #2/#3 guy. He is a very dynamic player, who is good at just about everything. He has the potential to be a PP quarterback in the NHL, while still being solid defensively. His high end potential is a Jack Johnson type player, while his low end is a Jakub Kindl type player. He will likely become a John Carlson type player. ETA 2016/2017. #8 Brendan Guance Gaunce is a big, rugged player. He plays a very heavy game, and excels in a shutdown role. Although he doesn't possess high end speed, his first few steps are explosive, and very underrated. Career projection (in his prime): 40 points (50 career high) Top PK 2nd Unit PP Gaunce is a solid all around player who will be a solid NHLer. While he could be a 2nd line center, I think he projects more to be a high end #3 center in the NHL. His size and strength will help him match up well against more offensive forwards, while his offensive instincts and heavy shot will allow him to put up good point totals. His high end potential is a Patrik Berglund type player, and his low end potential is a Kyle Chipchura type player. Most likely, he will end up as a Kyle Brodziak type player. ETA 2015/2016. #9 Thatcher Demko Demko is another player that I believe will shortly shoot up this list. He possesses everything to be a very good NHL player in the future; size, drive, and a good development program. Demko has all the tools, and if he keeps improving a bit every year, the kid could be a star. Career projection (in his prime): 0.920 SV % (Vezina nomination career high) 2.20 GAA 35 wins I believe in Thatcher Demko because I believe in the Boston College Development program. I've be lucky to watch a number of this games over this past year (unfortunately none live), and Thatch has impressed me. He is already a big guy, and seems to be always in good position. He just brings that calming presence to a team that is vitally important in a good goalie. Overall, Demko projects to be a very good NHL #1 goalie one day, with borderline elite potential. At his highest ceiling, Demko could become a Cory Schneider type goalie. At his worst, Demko could be a Anders Lindback type player. Realistically, I can see Demko becoming a Ben Bishop type goalie. ETA 2018/2019. #10 Cole Cassels Cole is a very interesting player. He seems to have a high compete level, and sees the ice very well. He is also incredibly versatile. With the great season he had in 2013/2014, he has made it up to the #10 spot on my list. Career projection (in his prime) 40 points (50 career high) 2nd Unit PK 2nd Unit PP Cassels reminds me a lot of Chris Higgins, if Higgy played center. He is good in all things, and works hard every night. I like that he plays with a bit of an edge as well, as it makes him very versatile in either a top-6 or a top-9 role. He could be a perfect #7 forward. At his high end, he could be a Frans Nielsen type player, and at his low end, he could be a Dominic Moore type player. Most likely, he ends up as a Derrick Brassard type player. ETA 2016/2017. That concludes my top-10 prospect rankings, feel free to offer your own suggestions in the comments section below. Now, I will give my projected Canucks lineup for the next few years. 2014/2015: Sedins-Vbrata Burrows-Bonino-Kassian Higgins-Horvat/Mattias-Vey Mattias/Sesito-Richardson-Hansen/Dorsett Hamhuis-Bieksa Edler-Tanev Sbisa-Stanton Corrado Miller Lack
    5 points
  16. Question 1: What's the only way to avoid a pothole when riding a motorcycle following behind a car? Answer: Look where you want to go. If you look at the pothole, you will hit it 100% of the time. Question 2: What's the only way to avoid hitting the ditch when losing control in a skid around a slippery curve? Answer: Look where you want to go. If you look at the ditch, you will hit it 100% of the time. Question 3: As a skydiver, what's the only way to close on an 8-way? Answer: Look where you want to go. If you look elsewhere, you will go there 100% of the time. Questions 4: What's the best chance of hitting the back of the net? Answer: Look at the net. Chances are you will hit it. If you look at the goalie, you will hit him 100% of the time. If you're mesmerized by mass confusion in front of the net, you will miss the net by a mile. Suggestion: Look at what you want to hit. In basketball they call it, "Nothing but net".
    5 points
  17. Ask most Canuck fans and they'll probably tell you they remember the night of November 5, 1991 vividly. The night a small kid from Russia would make his much anticipated NHL debut. Unfortunately, I am not among those who recall the night Pavel first took to the ice in Canucks colors. While I don't ever remember a time in my life where I didn't love hockey, I was 8 at the time and for me, it was more about the players I liked rather than allegiance to a favorite team. Pavel Bure changed that. He quickly became my favorite player as I followed him more closely, and of course being from BC and that my favorite player was a Canuck, the Canucks became my favorite team. My story is not a unique one. Canucks fans clamored to be among the first to see Bure live on the ice at Pacific Coliseum to see if he could live up to the hype. After all the controversy in selecting him 113th overall in the 1989 NHL entry draft while many believed he wasn't eligible, to the court case with the Russian league to complete his transfer, fans wanted to see if this youngster was worth all the trouble. Those fans would not go home disappointed. While Bure didn't hit the scoreboard that night, he made the hockey world stand up and take notice. Early on, Pavel took control of the puck in the Vancouver end and rushed up the ice, blowing through the Jets defence and driving to the net for a scoring chance, his first of many that night. He dazzled those in attendance with his blazing speed, soft hands and his tendency to make opposing defenders more closely resemble pylons than NHL caliber hockey players. He energized the crowd, creating chance after chance and generating several odd man rushes. He dominated the game in a way few others have before or since. It was only one game, an early November contest against the Winnipeg Jets, but Canucks fans were sold. Among the rave reviews, it was said that Bure was "the fastest Soviet creation since Sputnik." The Russian Rocket had arrived. Bure never looked back after that first game. His electrifying style and skill breathed new life into the fan base. Never before had fans seen a player with such game breaking talent, not only on a game by game basis, but shift by shift. The Canucks finally had one of the games truly elite players. Every time he touched the puck, there was potential for something magical to happen. There were highlight reel plays on a nightly basis. He brought fans back into the building, and drew even more fans to the game of hockey and to the Canucks as well. The Canucks have Bure and his amazing skill set to thank for a large portion of the current fan base. Bure scored at a torrid pace, seemingly at will sometimes, spawning an entire generation of Canucks fans. Pavel Bure brought something for everyone. If speed and skill was your thing, Bure brought that in spades. Looking for heart and determination? Bure was never afraid to go into the corner and win battles down low for the puck, never quit on a play and would drive straight through a wall if it meant getting the puck to the net. If grit and tenacity was more up your alley, well, let's just say Bure wasn't afraid to fight his own battles, even if it meant crossing the line a little bit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZCuZ5UWEV0. Awards and honors. Controversy. Drama. Potential mob ties. Pavel Bure brought it all. Injuries would take their toll on the superstar winger, but he continued to impress throughout his career until he retired as a member of the New York Rangers in 2005. It would seem he joined the Rangers a few years too late. After Wayne Gretzky's retirement in 1999, he was asked if he'd considered playing one more season and if there was anything that might have driven him to play one more year. Gretzky quickly answered that if the Rangers had completed a trade for Pavel Bure, whom the Rangers had been pursuing via trade but reportedly balked at the asking price before Bure was subsequently dealt to the Panthers that Gretzky would have played one more year. "I'll tell you this, this is the best way I can say it: If they would have traded for Pavel Bure last year, I probably still would be playing right now," Gretzky told the interviewer. Coming from the Great One himself, that's pretty high praise. We'll be left to wonder what could have been, to see the greatest player and playmaker in history playing with one of the purest goal scorers the game has ever seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOKukTxVfzE, having his #10 retired by the Canucks is a deserving honor and long overdue. Some may question the decision given the length of his tenure in Vancouver, as he only appeared in 428 regular season games with the Canucks. However, when you look at what Bure did with those 428 games with Vancouver, retiring his jersey is a no brainer. NHL - Calder Memorial Trophy Winner (Rookie of the Year) 1992 (1st Canuck to win a major NHL award) NHL - All Star Game - (5 times) 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 NHL - First Team All Star 1994 NHL - Goal Scoring Leader - 1994 Canucks - All time points - 478 (7th) Canucks - All time goals - 254 (5th) Canucks - Hat Tricks - 9 (2nd) Canucks - Game Winning goals - 32 (5th) Canucks - Power Play goals - 69 (7th) Canucks - Most points by a rookie in a season - 60 in 1991-92 (tied with Ivan Hlinka, 1981-82) Canucks - Most goals in a season - 60 in 1992-93 and 1993-94 Canucks - All time playoff goals - 34 (tied with Trevor Linden) Canucks - All time shorthanded goals - 24 Canucks - Most goals in one game - 4, vs Winnipeg Oct. 12, 1992 (tied with 9 others) Canucks - Most Exciting Player Award - 5 times (1992-1995, 1998) Canucks - Molson Cup (most 3 star selections) 4 times (1992-1994, 1998) Canucks - Cyclone Taylor Trophy (MVP) - 3 times (1993, 1994, 1998) Canucks - Cyrus H. McLean Trophy (leading scorer) 4 times (1993-95, 1998) Throw in the fact that Bure has played less than half the games in a Canucks jersey as other players among Canucks all time leaders, and the list of accolades is even more impressive. Be it with his prowess on the ice with Vancouver or his impact on the fan base, Bure is without a doubt one of the greatest players to ever play in Vancouver. Countless times he brought us out of our seats over the years. Next season on the night that #10 is raised to the rafters beside Smyl, Linden and Naslund, he'll do it one more time. Congratulations on an honor well deserved Pavel, and on behalf of Canuck Nation, thank you.
    5 points
  18. There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around about the CBA negotiation and related terms. I'm not an expert by any stretch nor do I intend to represent myself as such. However, I do absolutely believe that it is in our best interest as fans to be properly informed if we have even the slimmest of chance of someone listening to our opinion. So below you will hopefully find some useful information to help inform your opinion. To the best of my knowledge, all of this information is correct. But please feel free to not take my word for anything and do some research yourself. Only by educating ourselves can we possibly hope to have an intelligent voice! FACT: The NHL does NOT own the Stanley Cup. It was given to Canada as a gift from Lord Stanley, a former Governor General of Canada. It remains the property of Canada but under the control of a pair of appointed Trustees. They signed an agreement to make it exclusively available to the NHL (despite the fact that doing so actually contradicted the reason for the Cup to begin with, which was to be awarded to the best amateur hockey team) in 1947. However, a lawsuit during the 2005 lockout resulted in a settlement that said the Trustees overstepped their bounds making such an arrangement and that if the NHL does not operate for a year the Cup may be awarded to another league. While they have said that the 2006 settlement does not obligate them to offer it to another league and they are unlikely to do so even during a lockout, any extended NHL lockout could result in another lawsuit that could easily result in the Cup being offered to another league. Resources: http://en.wikipedia....iki/Stanley_Cup http://fullcomment.n...ong-to-the-nhl/ FACT: HRR is NOT "all hockey related revenue." HRR is a legal term, not a common sense one. "Hockey related revenue" sounds like it means any revenue relating to hockey but in reality it was limited to certain types of revenue (such as game tickets, TV deals, rink advertising, merchandising, etc.) minus certain types of deductions (such as concessions, parking, advertising, arena upkeep, etc.) The exact types of revenue to be included and the exact types of deductions (as well as limits on those deductions) were defined in the last CBA and agreed to by both sides. It is fair to note that the allowed deductions did not cover all of the costs, particularly as costs continued to grow, although what percentage of actual costs they represented we don't know. FACT: Teams self reported HRR and were NOT audited. At the end of a season each team was required to fill out a HRR Reporting Package. It was not anything like an audit but rather more like filling out simple tax forms. It included boxes for HRR-included revenue and allowed deductions. These forms were given to an independent accountant (paid for equally by the NHL and NHLPA) by a set date. (Teams that were late turning in these forms could be fined.) The accountant added them together, took off a few more agreed upon deductions at the league level (but did not add any additional revenue, as NHL revenue, such as from franchise expansion or relocation fees, was not included in HRR) and from that came up with what is known as "final HRR." That is the final amount of league wide included revenue minus the allowed deductions. The players' share percentage was determined from the final HRR number. FACT: Players did NOT get 57% of all revenue. As agreed to by both sides in the last CBA, the players' share increased as revenue increased. In the first year (2005) of the last CBA, players' share was 54% of HRR and escalated to 57% in the final year. As stated above, not all revenue is included in HRR and then some deductions are taken off before the players' share was determined from the final HRR number. So, in reality players got a percentage of a portion of revenue. Additionally, it is fair to note that teams were only required to spend to the salary cap floor. The cap floor was intended to ensure a certain amount of revenue was spent on players' salaries in accordance with their HRR share percentage. The cap ceiling was intended to limit how much the players could get. It was entirely up to the individual teams to decide how much they spent within the cap limit. FACT: Escrow payments are delayed salary, NOT additional payments. As agreed in the last CBA, the cap for a season was determined based on a projection based on the revenue from the previous season. However, sometimes the reality was different from what was projected. In recognition of that fact, a portion of every player's salary was held back in an escrow account. (The actual percentage held back was the result of a complicated equation I do not even hope to understand.) At the end of each season an independent account determined the final HRR number and from that number determined what the players' actual share for that season should have been. It was then determined, given what was actually paid when compared to what the players' actual share was that year, who was owed money from the escrow accounts and in what amount. In the event that owners had paid under the players' share of final HRR, all money in the escrow accounts was released to the players. In the event that the owners had paid over the players' share of final HRR, a portion (up to all) of the money in the escrow accounts was refunded to the owners in the amount that they overpaid league wide and the rest (if any) was released to the players. So, for example, if the owners collectively spent 58% of final HRR on salaries in the final year of the last CBA, 1% of all the escrow accounts was returned to the owners and the rest of the money was released to the players. FACT: Players are NOT simply employees. Players are employees of their individual team, but they are also the team's product. If hockey were the product, minor league games would cost as much as NHL games. The reality is players generate revenue not just through playing hockey but also by their names and faces being used in merchandising. A significant portion of every team's revenue comes from merchandise. Yes, teams make big bucks by overcharging for jerseys, but they make even more by charging huge markups for $2 worth of lettering to get a player's name and number on the back. FACT: Players can NOT be easily replaced. Five years from now, iPods may be considered as outdated as the Walk Man. (If you don't know what that is, ask your mom or dad. Or grandma.) Today however, iPods create a significant amount of revenue for Apple. NHL players are similar. Over time, players will be replaced as age or injury ends their career, but the big name players of today are what is generating the most revenue for their teams today. New players are peppered into the league a few at a time to allow them to develop into big name stars, replacing the former big name players as they retire, while the current big name stars are still generating big revenues for their teams. This provides a relatively constant (or even improving) level of talent in the league and ensures a relatively constant (or increasing) amount of revenue generation. FACT: Owners can NOT be easily replaced. Owning a NHL franchise is hardly a quick path to riches and owners certainly know that going in. Many would argue it's a terrible investment outside of a couple of teams that regularly make big profits despite dismal performance. Obviously, owners must buy into franchises for other reasons (i.e. love of the sport, being able to say they own the local sports team, etc.) We have no way of knowing how many people have the ability and desire to buy a NHL franchise. We do know no one seems to want Phoenix, so there can't be that many billionaires beating down the NHL's door. (Although to be fair, what smart business owner does want an ice hockey team in the desert?) FACT: The NHL is NOT losing money on the whole. Prior to the 2004-05 lockout, the average NHL franchise was worth $163.3 million. According to Forbes, the average NHL franchise is valued at $239.83 million, based on the numbers generated from the 2010-2011 season. This means that the average NHL franchise has increased nearly 47% in seven years. This appreciation has easily outpaced the rate of inflation ($1 of 2003 dollars is worth about $1.20 now). Prior to the 2004-05 lockout taking place, the average NHL team was bringing in $74.6 million/year in revenues, for a total of $2.24 billion. In the 2010-11 season, the average NHL team took in $103.5 million in revenues, for a total of $3.1 billion. According to Forbes, the average NHL team posted a net operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of -$3.2 million during the 2003-04 season. According to Forbes, NHL teams lost a total of $96 million during the 2003-04 season. According to Forbes, the average NHL team made $4.29 million last year, for a total of $128.8 million in total net operating income. Source: http://www.davemanue...05-lockout-135/ FACT: Increased team revenue sharing will make most franchises profitable. Team revenue sharing is standard in professional sports. It is used successfully in every other major sports league in North America in recognition of the fact that franchises need other franchises for their team to play against in order to generate revenue. Team revenue sharing was introduced in the NHL during the last CBA. Under the last CBA, "Revenue sharing will see the top ten money-making teams contribute to a pool to be distributed among the bottom 15 teams. Teams in markets with more than 2.5 million television households cannot qualify for revenue sharing. That excludes the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Flyers, Blackhawks, Mighty Ducks and Kings." (Source: http://proicehockey...._cap_expl_2.htm) Under the NHL's proposed expansion (assuming it doesn't change from their last proposal), as before 6% of actual HRR revenue (for a projected 200 M in the first year) would be shared among the lower teams, with 50% of that revenue coming from the top 10 revenue generating teams. However, limitations relating to market size and percentage of tickets sold would be removed. (It is important to note that after taking over the Phoenix franchise, the NHL allowed that franchise alone to get the "full share" revenue share check despite not meeting the eligibility requirements other teams were forced to meet. That was not popular among some owners and may be the main reason for the change in the NHL's stance this time.) Lowered restrictions mean teams that reported a 2011 loss but weren't eligible for the revenue sharing, like Anaheim (-8.4 M), Dallas (-1.1 M), Los Angeles (-2 M), New Jersey (-6.1 M), NY Islanders (-8.1 M), and San Jose (-7.8 M) to name a few, will be eligible and likely get more than enough to make them profitable. In previous years, a "full share" was $10 M. According to Forbes, 17 teams reported a loss last year. Of those, only 2 reported a loss of more than $10 M. If the projected 200 M (at 6% actual HRR) was shared equally among all 17 teams that reported losing money in 2011, each team would receive $11.76 M. That should make all but 2 teams profitable. In fairness, I don't know if the Forbes numbers include any offset of loss for teams that were eligible and received the team revenue sharing subsidy because the NHL is not very forthright in sharing their financial information. Even if that is the case, however, the fact that so many teams were ineligible before but would be under the proposed agreement still indicates that most franchises would be made profitable by the expanded team revenue sharing even without any additional cost cutting measures. FACT: The NHL and NHLPA are fighting over money we have not yet given them. This may be the most important fact of all for fans. The money we've already given them, their actual earned revenue, is already spent and gone. It's already been split according to the last CBA. What they are fighting about now is how to divide up the money we have yet to give them based on what they project and expect to get. The reality of what they will actually get remains up to us. Only by using our collective power as their source of revenue can we hope to remind both the NHL and players that without us there would be no money to fight over, so they should keep fans in mind the next time they are contemplating a work stoppage of any kind.
    5 points
  19. Reblogged from: https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com I hate puns but couldn’t think of anything better. This week I got followed by former NHL enforcer and current vegan Georges Laraque on Twitter. The Green Men, and Carolina Hurricanes player Zach Boychuk also followed me recently (they follow everyone, I’m not special) and I thought I should finally plug my twitter on my next blog, which is now. It’s just @NarwhalHockey I should also finally start this blog off, which is now. What a time to be a Caps fan. They made some solid moves at the draft and free agent frenzy, and are looking like serious contenders. If there’s one team that can win the cup next year that previously hasn’t, I think that team is the Washington Capitals. They already went half way last year, but I think they can do better this coming season (Full way!) There are 4 players in particular who I feel will lead the Caps deep into the playoffs next year, and if you keep reading (totally worth it) you’ll find out who. Player 1: Post Beard Braden Holtby – Ever since growing a beard, this guys numbers have been off the charts. He keeps getting better in the playoffs every year, and I don’t see his numbers dropping unless he shaves (his face). The amount of pre game work this guy puts in is admirable and I want to see him and his beard be a success in this league. I also want full credit on the Pre/Post Beard advanced stats when someone finally uses them. Player 2: Grey Beard Ovechkin – I’m going all in with the beard fancy stats. They say with grey hair comes wisdom, Ovechkin say with grey hair comes goals and plus/minus. “The Caveman” (Sorry if that’s not your real nickname) Ovechkin put up better goals and plus/minus than last year and I could see that paying off with him doing it again then tearing it up in the playoffs, like he tears up the english language. He was also funny at the All Star Game Draft. Player 3: T.J. Oshie – Oshie doesn’t have a cool beard like Ovechkin or Holtby, but I feel like he will help, possibly, if he grows a cool beard, like Ovechkin, or Holtby. Player 4: Tom Hanks – Actor Tom Hanks looks just like Justin Williams (I think so) who is the actual 4th player on my list. Justin Williams is gonna bring playoff experience and clutch game 7 performances that will help counter game 7 losses to teams like the New York Rangers. Who as of late end up losing in the finals or conference finals anyways. Maybe if Kreider spent LESS time running into goalies, they (NYR) would spend MORE time in the playoffs. Take that, Kreider! So watch out for the Capitals next year. They could easily become a powerhouse with these new additions and solid defence/goaltending. Let’s hope they don’t Cast Away (Sorry) all the competition. Note - I tried to work in a joke about Head Coach Barry Trotz seemingly having no neck (head coach because he can’t be the neck coach) but it didn’t go with anything. I apologize for not getting that in, and to Barry Trotz’ neck, I know you’re there, lurking, helping Barry swallow food. Also Note – If Tom Hanks had a twin brother and they played on the same team like the Sedins, the back of his sweater would just say Thanks. Tom Hanks for reading.
    4 points
  20. As of April 4. 1. New York Rangers PR Pts: 61.8 | Avg Rank: 6th At this time, a comparable would likely be the 2011-12 Canucks. 2. Chicago Blackhawks PR Pts: 60.2 | Avg Rank: 3rd Hossa seems to be getting along fine without his Kane. 3. Washington Capitals PR Pts: 56.0 | Avg Rank: 12th 50! 50! 50! 4. Minnesota Wild PR Pts: 51.8 | Avg Rank: 11th The Wild have certainly lived up to their name these past few weeks. Dubnyk has been a pleasant surprise. 5. Tampa Bay Lightning PR Pts: 47.5 | Avg Rank: 1st They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Unfortunately, that hasn't been true for over half the teams they've played against. 6. St. Louis Blues PR Pts: 43.5 | Avg Rank: 4th While the Blues' fans have been yelling "TARASENKO!!!" this season, the teams the Blues have played against have been yelling "TARASENK-NO!!!" 7. Anaheim Ducks PR Pts: 42.0 | Avg Rank: 7th The only California team to have actually clinched a spot in the playoffs with a week left in the season. 8. Ottawa Senators PR Pts: 39.2 | Avg Rank: 18th The Hamburglar might have been stealing games for them the past few weeks, but it seems like now that it could have just been a flash in the pan. 9. Nashville Predators PR Pts: 39.0 | Avg Rank: 2nd Music City wasn't doing too well for the first few weeks after the trade deadline, but they've been able to change their tune since. 10. Vancouver Canucks PR Pts: 33.6 | Avg Rank: 14th The Canucks have been doing real good. 11. Winnipeg Jets PR Pts: 30.0 | Avg Rank: 19th These Jets better have some gas left in the tank, or else they'll crash and burn in the race for a playoff spot with the Kings and Flames. 12. Montreal Canadiens PR Pts: 29.2 | Avg: 10th Doing better in the standings than in my power rankings, Quebec's only team is looking to separate from the competition. 13. Los Angeles Kings PR Pts: 29.0 | Avg: 15th Once thought to be out of the playoffs just last week, the Kings have surged back and are looking to be crowned with a spot in the 1st round. 14. Calgary Flames PR Pts: 25.2 | Avg: 13th With captain and team MVP Mark Giordano gone for the season, Calgary is doing all they can to ensure they don't flame out. 15. San Jose Sharks PR Pts: 22.0 | Avg: 16th Too little, too late? While the Sharks are smelling blood against other teams right now, locker room issues seem to have taken a bite out of their season. 16. Boston Bruins PR Pts: 21.2 | Avg: 17th No one in Boston can bear the thought of their team missing the playoffs. 17. Pittsbugh Penguins PR Pts: 18.3 | Avg: 5th The race to the playoffs continues in March of the Penguins: The NHL Sequel. 18. Detroit Red Wings PR Pts: 17.7 | Avg: 8th The Wings sure wish they could fly their way out of losing 7 of their last 10. 19. Dallas Stars PR Pts: 15.0 | Avg: 21st They might not make the playoffs, but that doesn't mean opposing teams aren't getting Star-struck. 20. Florida Panthers PR Pts: 12.5 | Avg: 23rd The Panthers would have loved to finally pounce on a playoff spot again, but it slipped out of their grasp like a baby... whatever Panthers eat. 21. New York Islanders PR Pts: 12.4 | Avg: 9th These Islanders seem to be stranded with a bad record as of late. 22. Colorado Avalanche PR Pts: 11.0 | Avg: 26th Stuck between a rock and a hard place. 23. Columbus Blue Jackets PR Pts: 8.1 | Avg: 25th What about Bob? If he hadn't been injured, this season might have been a different story. Now that he's back, they've won 9 of their last 10. 24. Philadelphia Flyers PR Pts: 6.0 | Avg: 22nd Next year might be a better year to take a flyer on Philadelphia as a playoff team. 25. New Jersey Devils PR Pts: 3.2 | Avg: 24th For the most part, this has been a season from hell for the Devils. 26. Edmonton Oilers PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 29th They've won five out of their last 10, but that won't stop this season from being another costly Oil spill. 27. Carolina Hurricanes PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 28th The Hurricanes got rained out from playing in a tough division. 28. Toronto Maple Leafs PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 20th They took hometown boy Drake's song and remixed it. It's now "Started from the Top and Now We're Here". 29. Arizona Coyotes PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 27th They're howling out for a hero. McDavid? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 30. Buffalo Sabres PR Pts: N/A | Avg: 30th
    4 points
  21. 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.
    4 points
  22. Are the Vancouver Canucks better without Alex Edler in the lineup this year? The Canucks don't appear to be struggling in his absence. Think about this. There are 767 players that have played in the NHL this year according to NHL.com. Out of those 767, Alex Edler ranks 753 in plus/minus at -12. Mike Stanton is a +4 and Kevin Bieksa is a team high +10, so you can't blame it on the lack of goals. Now granted, many don't believe in the plus/minus statistic. There is more to the story however. Alex Edler is an offensive defensemen. The Canucks have him pegged to help create offence, which is why he was on the first unit power play. It's also why he has the highest salary cap hit out of all the Canucks defensemen at 5 million per season. Out of the top 6 D-men on the Canucks, Edler ranks 6th in scoring with 6 points. Even Stanton has 8 points. Unfortunately Edler has not helped generate the offence with his untimely pinches that create odd man rushes the other way. That's not to say Edler doesn't have the potential to be a star in the league. He has shown brilliance at times, just not consistently. Edler's best season came in 2011-12 when he had 49 points and was in the discussion for the Norris trophy. He finished 15th in league voting. The problem with Edler is that he doesn't show up with his top game every night. We see spurts of him being the Canucks leader on the back end, but there appears to be a lack of motivation. Edler just signed his new contract and has a no trade clause, which doesn't mean he cannot be traded, it just means he has the upper hand if he were asked by GM Mike Gillis to be traded. It will be an interesting month without Edler in the lineup. Only time will tell if the Canucks need Edler more than Edler needs the Canucks money. I will leave you with a quote from Torts that sum's up the season before the injury. John Tortorella on Alex Edler, "That’s when I get angrier with players, it’s how much I know it’s there. “To make that play (in New York), it was hard for me. We had three scoring chances. We had been fighting uphill all year long. Then we give one away. “It’s something I don’t want to do. I really don’t. It’s not something I’m preparing to do. But five feet outside the blueline, not getting it out, it needs to get done by a guy of that calibre." The soft-spoken Edler said he took the benching, and the raging coach, in stride. “It’s not personal,” Edler said. “We need everyone to play (well) to get the win. “That’s Torts style. He’s very emotional on the bench. It’s to get you going to help the team.”
    4 points
  23. CNC PLEASE! AND IS IT MY BEST?
    4 points
  24. Ok so now that we have the largest membership for any club on CDC and I have the largest member period, I thought it would be a good time to Lay out some ground rules of the club. 1. First rule of Mafia club: Don't talk about mafia club. Tell no one you belong to this club who's opinion you respect. It's lame. You can tell your mom, not because you don't respect her but because she will think you finally have friends. You don't. 2. If at all possible you should only post while you are nude. I am. 3. You should always refer to me as Supreme Leader Aladeen from here on out or you may refer directly to my Aladeenis. 4. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how to improve this club or something we could be doing that you think would be in the best interest of all members of the club, keep it to yourself cause we don't care. 5. a.Post Erection gifs/pics often while making sure to always tag @JohnLocke 5. b. Narccing on Erections gifs/pics will get you a lifetime ban. I'm talking directly to you @HashtagNucks 6. All the guys of the club should at some point ask @Blue Jay 22 for a "bro job". Let's find his breaking point people. 7. Finally, do not make fun of @Beluga Whale for being morbidly obese any more, it's mean and can no longer be tolerated in this age of social media liberalism. Instead always include a reference to his disproportionately tiny penis compared to his morbidly obese body. Example: "Hahaha BW is so fat he sweats like a stuck pig while he plays mafia." is not allowed. "Hahaha BW's penis is so tiny that it gets lost in his rolls of fat that jiggle from typing, while he plays mafia." is allowed. That is all
    3 points
  25. Reblogged from: [url="https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com"]https://narwhalhockey.wordpress.com[/url]   [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]  [color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5] 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]  [/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]  [/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]  [/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]  [/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5] [img]http://thehockeywriters.com/overtime/files/2013/07/jagr-UD-9293.jpg[/img][/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]  [/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]  [/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]  [/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5] [img]http://i.imgur.com/EXHo2Ag.gif[/img][/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5]  [/size][/font][/color][color=rgb(102,102,102)][font='Roboto Slab'][size=5] We need more people like him.[/size][/font][/color]
    3 points
  26. 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
    3 points
  27. It’s been a pretty interesting pre-season so far for the Vancouver Canucks. So who’s done what? Well, the Canucks have scored one goal in two games against the San Jose Sharks. Goaltenders Jacob Markstrom and Richard Bachman have looked stellar in their game in Colwood, BC, while verteran Ryan Miller and prospect (is he still a prospect?) Joe Cannata were decent but let in a pair each in Game #2 at Rogers. It’s expected that Bachman and Cannata will be sent down to the Utica Comets. As for the rookies, almost all of them surprised. Jake Virtanen, the Canucks’ 1st pick (6th overall) in 2014, has had a couple good shifts thus far, but has been almost invisible for the rest of his play. Hunter Shinkaruk and Jared McCann are pushing hard for spots on the team, and with the way McCann is playing, he may even get nine games. From what I’ve seen of Cole Cassels – he’s really unnoticeable – he has shown flashes of being a great top 9 one day, but needs a season or two in Utica to get, er, seasoned. Nicklas Jensen is showing flashes of his potential, as always. Meanwhile, Brendan Gaunce and Ben Hutton have just continued to improve people’s perceptions since the YoungStars tournament. Gaunce has gotten quicker and is getting to the puck more – complimenting his cerebral game nicely – and with Chris Higgins out for at least three weeks with a fractured ankle, there’s a good chance Gaunce will be tapped to fill his spot to start the season. Meanwhile, Hutton is edging himself up the depth chart with crafty and creative play. So much so that he got fellow YoungStar standout Jordan Subban sent off to Europe to participate in training camp with the rest of the Comets without Subban playing a game! Speaking of Subban and getting sent down, a total of 15 players have been sent down since training camp in Prince George: Anton Cederholm, Travis Ehrhardt, Dane Fox, John Kurtz, Evan McEneny, Ashton Sautner, Mackenze Stewart, Subban, Clay Witt, and Mike Zalewski were all sent to play for Utica, while Guillame Brisebois, Carl Neill, Tate Olson, Kyle Pettit, and Dmitry Zhukenov were all sent to their respective CHL teams. As for roster players, none of them have looked bad, per se, but certainly no one has stood out to me. Linden Vey is showing he could be someone, but he’s not there yet. Chris Higgins looked great until he took a shot to the leg. The Sedins are playing with Ronalds Kenins, which seems to be working – if by working, you mean looking good but scoring no goals. Jannik Hansen is still speedy as ever. Bo Horvat has had a couple good chances to score, but has looked both good and not-so-good off the puck as well, although that will improve as the season goes on. Brandon Prust and Derek Dorsett have been okay. Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber, and Dan Hamhuis are back at it and looking better than ever they have in the past. Meanwhile Luca Sbisa is forever trying to find himself a new partner in either Matt Bartkowski, Andrey Pedan, Alex Biega, Frank Corrado, or Ben Hutton. It will likely be Bartkowski and Corrado taking up the 6/7 D spot on the depth chart, but Hutton is there and could move past a few defenders if management likes what they see. Players like Adam Cracknell (the lone goal-scorer against the Sharks) and Blair Jones have also exceeded my expectations. Jones has a great shot and Cracknell seems to be the replacement for Cal O’Reilly that Utica needs. Again, it’s only pre-season, so the sky isn’t falling and the Stanley Cup doesn’t hinge on the next two games. But anything could happen in these next couple weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see who plays with who and what moves take place. Original article can be found here.
    3 points
  28. Original article can be found here. Let me forewarn, er, myself – this is kind of a taboo topic to be on. However, it’s one we’ll need to end up coming to eventually. I choose to let go of what Mark Messier did. Granted, 99.99% of my memories happen during or after the West Coast Express era. And granted, most if not all Canucks fans would like to see him in a position constantly in the position he’s in here. And granted, again, his signing resulted in the trading of fan-favourites Trevor Linden and Gino Odjick, among many others. But it’s been 15 years since the so-called “bad” man left, and I, for one, choose to give up the animosity towards him that automatically comes with being a Canucks fan. So where do we start? The truth in this whole matter is that he just wasn’t fit for the contract he was given. Mark Messier was a great leader at times during his career (Six Stanley Cups, Two as team captain), but he had also completed 19 seasons of gritty NHL play – not to mention one year in the WHA – before he came to Vancouver’s team. Was that worth $6,000,000? Not in hindsight, but to Canucks’ management at the time, it was brilliant. Here was a multi-time Cup champ who had been a Point-Per-Game all but three seasons in a long and storied career signing with a team that, while stacked, was underachieving and needed a jumpstart. Unfortunately for the Canucks and their fans, Messier was not the same player he was before, nor did he seem to put in enough effort. Player after player was traded as the Canucks dug their way to the bottom of the league in the three seasons Messier existed on the team. What people need to know is that his first season on the Left Coast was the beginning of the end. Messier never again reached PPG levels, and in his first season back with the New York Rangers, he took more PIMs than he did in any season with the Canucks and had the worst +/- rating (-25) of his career. Messier was obviously declining. And thank God for that. If Messier had never been signed, Linden, Odjick, Bure, Mogilny, and others wouldn’t have been traded at the times they were. The Canucks wouldn’t have sunk so far so fast, and they never would have gotten in a position to draft the Sedin twins. As far as the West Coast Express era, the Luongo era, the 2011 Cup run, and currently the Jim Benning era goes, you can imagine what they’d be like without the Sedins – if they’d even have existed at all. The Canucks might not even be in Vancouver today if it wasn’t for the signing of Messier. Even Markus Naslund claimed to have benefitted from playing with him. Don’t get me wrong – it was a tough era for Canucks fans everywhere, and still is painful to look back on for a lot of us. But when you see all the great things that came out of it, à la the domino effect, it really makes me want to appreciate all that Mark Messier did (or didn’t do) for this franchise. If people choose to hold a grudge against Mark Messier, that’s perfectly understandable. Hey, maybe I’ll even join in on the jokes sometime. That bubble helmet deserves some humorous recognition. But Messier was, and still is, a legend. He’s helped out every team he played for – it just so happens that his involvement with the Canucks didn’t end in them winning a Cup. While his stat lines with Vancouver may have been some of the worst of his career, the benefits of his being on the Canucks are still felt on the team today. If we can remember him not for how he played, but for what his tenure here brought to the team, we might be able to look back at the late 90s with a sense of gratefulness, rather than a sense of shame.
    3 points
  29. A lot of people seem to be disappointed with this year's draft. Why? We'll start off with the players picked in the draft using picks the Canucks traded: Rasmus Andersson, D (CGY) Deven Sideroff, F (ANA) Jack Sadek, D (MIN) Rasmus Andersson, a Barrie Colts defenseman who performed extremely well and captured the hearts of many a Canucks fan, was the return Calgary got in the Sven Bärtschi trade. Deven Sideroff is a speedy right winger who had a few Canucks fans intrigued, but most wanted another player at his position. The pick used on him was acquired by Anaheim in the Ryan Kesler trade, where the Canucks received Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and two picks: one was used to draft Jared McCann, while the other was traded to New York for Derek Dorsett. Jack Sadek is a defenseman who I myself wanted the Canucks to draft (I have to admit, I'm a bit disappointed that Jim Benning picked Adam Gaudette over Sadek). The pick originated in the Jason Garrison trade (Along with Jeff Costello) and headed to Tampa Bay, where Lightning GM Steve Yzerman moved up to Minnesota's spot to select Moose Jaw Warrior Brayden Point. The 2nd round pick coming back from Tampa was used to acquire Linden Vey from the LA Kings. Our selections from the draft include: Brock Boeser, F Guillame Brisebois, D Dmitry Zhukenov, F Carl Neill, D Adam Gaudette, F Lukas Jasek, F Tate Olson, D Brock Boeser, Dmitry Zhukenov, Carl Neill, and Lukas Jasek were all picked using draft picks that originated with the Canucks. All 4 look like they could make the Canucks one day. Boeser looks like he could be an elite scorer, Neill needs to improve and is a wild card, and Jasek has Top 9 potential. The one that could change the way people look at this draft is Zhukenov, as Benning has said he's seen Datsyuk in the young gun. Everyone hopes he reaches that potential. Guillame Brisebois was acquired along with Carolina's 7th Rd. Pick in 2016 from the Hurricanes in exchange for Eddie Lack. He's a decent defender who needs to work on everything a bit more, but definitely has a shot at making the roster. The pick used to select Adam Gaudette was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers where the Blueshirts acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz (who is now with Calgary). Gaudette is a project, but could have some rewards. Tate Olson was selected with Tampa Bay's 7th rounder, which was acquired by the Canucks in a deal with San Jose for Patrick McNally. McNally, while showing promise, was deemed redundant in the Canucks' system by Benning and others on the management team. In summary, here's a look at all the players involved in this draft both coming to the Canucks and leaving it: Players we gave up that were involved in the 2015 NHL Draft: Rasmus Andersson, F (CGY) Jeff Costello, F (TBL) Raphael Diaz, D (CGY) Jason Garrison, D (TBL) Ryan Kesler, F (ANA) Eddie Lack, G (CAR) Patrick McNally, D (SJS) Jack Sadek, D (MIN) Deven Sideroff, F (ANA) Players we acquired involved in the 2015 NHL Draft: Sven Bärtschi, F Nick Bonino, F Brock Boeser, F Guillame Brisebois, D Derek Dorsett, F Adam Gaudette, F Lukas Jasek, F Jared McCann, F Carl Neill, D Tate Olson, D Luca Sbisa, D Linden Vey, F Dmitri Zhukenov, F 7th Round Pick, 2016 (CAR) Of course, it will be years until a definitive answer can be given regarding this draft. However, looking at what we got compared to what we gave up, I can say, without a doubt, that the future does indeed look bright in Vancouver following the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
    3 points
  30. How to Build a Good Hockey Team This isn't about 'Get Crosby and all the great hockey players here. What's the problem?' This is more about what types of players to have, the minutes they should be able to play, and the roles they should be able to play. Also addresses basic concepts like taking advantage of low qualcomp opportunities, etc. 1. Bigger is Better. No, you don't need a team full of behemoths, but you have to consider that in the playoffs it gets a lot harder to get into the prime scoring areas. Bigger players are more able to do so. For those who want to make a point like Patrick Kane does it, then the response is two-fold: Dustin Byfuglien and Byron Bickell. Those really big players were not used all that much by the Hawks in their recent cup seasons until deeper into the playoffs when Kane and Toews found it harder to get to the net. The big guy simply creates more space. We've seen this during the Bertuzzi/Naslund heydey. Big Bert's presense in front of the net allowed Naslund to snipe from afar relatively uncontested. Zetterberg and Datsyuk in the same scenario played with Holmstrom, and recently Abdelkader. It's a proven way to score. And in a cap world it's important to have these guys, but NOT overpay them. Chicago traded Byfuglien when he was due to be overpaid and now Bickell is overpaid. So a plan to win with smaller top-6 forwards should include a big guy on a entry-level or at least an RFA contract. By small I mean less than 200lbs. Weight, not height, is what's important in the NHL and it should be imperative in this era to have most everyone on the team be at least 200lbs and be able to play decent minutes against all competition levels. If you manage that, then you have a clear advantage over teams who don't. But if you have smaller players, then they should have the skill, speed and gumption to make up for it. Guys who are too slight to go to the hard areas may tend to stay on the perimeter during critical moments. It's these moments that truly expose what type of player the guy is. If he's 50-100ft away from the net at all times, then the odds of him scoring are quite low. If, however, the smaller player has little fear, great strength for his size and tremendous skill to get the puck through heavy traffic, then he'll make up for his lack of size. If he does this in critical moments, then he is a very valuable small player. 2. Quit Thinking Top-6, Bottom-6. There should be no dividing line between the forwards that says half of them should be underskilled, but tight-checking guys with little offensive potential, and at the same time the top-6 should be one-dimensional wizards who need great zonestarts to score often enough to make up for their lack of defensive abilities. That strategy rarely works, if ever. Instead break your most talented players into pairs, and run 4 relatively equal lines. Esp. in the playoffs. That way it's impossible for chessmatch opposing coaches to match lines. How you deploy them is checking-adept guys first, followed by your secondary offense, followed by your primary offense. The primary offense, who can play longer shifts and more minutes per game, then takes advantage of third-pairing opposing defences. This is Sedinery 101. The 4th line, which the Canucks have lacked for quite awhile, should have at least one capable goal-scorer on it. A 100% mucker line is useless and shouldn't have a role in today's NHL. If you have a top center who's also a tremendous checking player, then your team has a clear advantage, as you can deploy him in all situations. This also serves to nullify a chessmatch coaches' line-matching strategy. Anze Kopitar's deployment is a good example. He is facing the best competition, not the weakest, like the prime Sedins. But if LA did not have additional offense to take advantage of third-pairing defences as well, this strategy would not be all that effective. Hence, the need for depth, which is amplified by using pairs. If you have 4 centers who can do it all; score, check, win draws, play defensively, then you're at cup contender status. Every forward pairing should have one of these centers on it. Winger pairings aren't nearly as good because the true strength of a teams' offense is carried up the middle. LA deployed their top checkers, Kopitar and Stoll, more often. Then what followed was their top scoring, Carter and then Richards (on an off year) was their 4th line option. If teams' centers that can do it all, but fall short for whatever reason on their current teams and are put on the market, then management should try very hard to snap them up. 3. One-Dimensional = Useless This should be fairly obvious, but if the guy, no matter how skilled he is, doesn't give any regard to defense or is utterly inneffective at it no matter how hard he tries, then he should be discarded, or at least deployed against low qualcomp pairings and forwards. A coach doesn't really want to have to do this every game for more than a couple players though. Winning involves taking advantage of other teams' weaknesses more often than covering your own teams'. If the players you rely on to score at critical times are not able to cover anyone on defense without taking a penalty, then there is no way you can ultimately win. On the other end, what of the slow-skating, meagrely-skilled forward who's there for just size, perhaps, but not much physicality because he's just too slow to execute any checking. Or perhaps he's there to drop 'em with other middleweights when his team is down by 3? If a team has any of these players in the lineup, then it's just too underskilled to win. It's even better to put in a one-dimensional skilled guy instead. At least he can score. 4. What Makes A Defenseman Truly Elite? A defender who can play 30+ minutes of effective hockey is a rare commodity indeed. But what makes the guy able to do that often is not so much his personal ability, which is still exceptional, but how effective the forwards are at their job. If a team possesses enough strength in the middle, then a 'franchise' defenseman can play a very high amount of minutes fairly easily, as puck control is high, the odds of being stapled on the end boards are low and a lot of time is being spent up ice instead of being hemmed in your own zone. If a team uses a dated top-6, bottom-6 strategy or simply doesn't have the horses, then they run the risk of injury to their defense as they tire often in shifts and get run over by fresher forwards. Teams with mucker-level 4th lines are suspect in this regard as well as those with low-skill or small 3rd lines. When Lidstrom was in his prime, you could barely touch him because Detroit was just too deep up front. (Yzerman, Fedorov, Larionov, Draper... All two-way stars) Same with Niedermayer in New Jersey (Sykora, Arnott, Holik, Madden, Gomez) and Keith in Chicago (Toews, Sharp, Bolland, Madden) The key factor is having 4 centers who are reliable in all zones. (The Canucks' recent drafting strategy as of late seems to revolve around filling the lineup with centers of this desirable ability. So let's hope that pans out.) 5. Penalties Are Stupid 'Moral Victory!' Are you kidding me? Nobody wants to see goon hockey anymore. But beyond that, there seems to be this feeling in Vancouver that the refs are out to get them. False. The reason the team takes more penalties than others and appears to be fouled more often than not is because it is simply built incorrectly. A team that has one relatively one-dimensional scoring line will find that line to be targeted every night. So that's why the point I made in 'Bigger is Better' applies. When push comes to shove, you're going to need that big net presence to take physical pressure off your scorers and to give them some more space. However, that big net presence shouldn't be a goon or a totally undisciplined wackjob or he'll be a total detriment to the teams' scoring efforts. This is exactly what happened in the Canucks' upset loss against Minnesota. Bertuzzi collected mountains of penalties in that series and didn't stop doing the same silly crosschecking play over and over again in front of the net. And because they Canucks were pretty much a one-line team back then, with a weak goalie and a coach who didn't make adjustments well, that was enough to bury them. A guy like Bertuzzi should have been corralled. But what about Burrows' biting/hair-pulling antics? And Kassian's multiple suspensions? Are these types of guys irreparable? Perhaps if the entire team was built better. What takes the pressure off of these guys to take these insane penalties is if the rest of the team is built well enough to start dictating play. The fewer guys that need protecting, the less the need for retaliation penalties. The more puck control you have, the less need there is to take penalties at all. Again, the need for 4 'do-all' centers in the lineup comes into effect. 6. You Shouldn't Rely on The Power Play to Score This relies too much on the refs making calls, and we all know the whistle pretty much vanishes in the playoffs. This is also part of the persecution complex in Vancouver. The Sedins, being powerplay wizards in their prime, absolutely needed the powerplay to be effective. So when the calls stopped coming, the whining started increasing. And so did the diving. A team that is built properly shouldn't need the powerplay at all to score. A coach should be able to focus on a 5-on-5 deployment strategy and treat powerplays as a bonus. If that is the case, then his team is close to being ready to win. 7. Effective Minutes-Played For Cup-Contending Teams Top offensive foward pairing: 16 es mins/g, center 2 sh mins/g, both 3 pp mins/g Top checking pairing: 14 es mins/g, center 3 sh mins/g, both 1 pp mins/g Secondary offense pairing: 13 es mins/g, 2 sh mins/g, 2 pp mins/g Third player on top line: 13 es mins/g, 3 pp mins/g Third player on top checking line: 13 es mins/g, able to fill in for pp and sh when needed Third player on secondary offense line: 11 es mins/g, able to fill in for pp when needed Secondary checking pairing: 10 es mins/g, center 3 sh mins.g, winger albe to fill in pp when needed Third player on secondary checking line: 8 mins/g Notice all centers can pk? That's vital. If your centers can't all pk, then it's going to be hard to win. #1 D: 22 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g, 3 pp mins/g (again, made easier via center depth) #2 D: 19 es mins/g, 2 sh mins/g, 2 pp mins/g (big shutdown-type) #3 D: 17 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g (big shutdown-type) #4 D: 17 es mins/g, 3 pp mins/g (secondary pmd) #5 D: 14 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g #6 D: 12 es mins/g, 3 sh mins/g You can get away with one non-pk defenseman, but any more than that and you're putting too much pressure on too few defensemen to play these tougher minutes. The need for a true #1 was perhaps not stated well in the defense section above, but there's a reason why the winning teams all have them. The guy should be able to physically handle enough reliable skating minutes. If he has elite speed, that's a bonus, but the two factors typically go hand-in-hand. For Weber/Chara types, you can see where elite size and shot is the bonus instead. If the guy has speed, but no shot or offense, then he's not #1 capable. If the guy has size, but again no shot or much speed or offense, then he's not #1 capable. The physical attributes and skillset simplt needs to be there first, or it's not happening. You'll find many a team rolling the dice in the draft looking for these type of defensemen. 8. Goaltending is Overrated If Crawford in Chicago can win, then any average goalie able to physically play enough games can win. One thing the great goaltenders of the current era have in common is the great 'do-all' center depth i've been bringing up over and over again, and the appropriately-built and deployed team otherwise. If a team has the forwards and defensemen i've indicated, able to play the effective minutes i've indicated, then a goaltender's job is made a lot easier. All he has to do most of the time is go into his butterfly and wait with his giant pads. He'll be well rested, allowing him to make 'spectacular' saves now and then look easy. Any team relying on their goaltender to win will not win. 9. Injury Replacements If a team is built appropiately, then puck-control will be high and injuries low. However, injuries still happen. A team needs 1-2 spare forwards capable of playing 12 es mins per game in short stretches, and 2 defensemen also capable of playing 12 es mins per game, with 2 pk mins/g on top of that in short stretches. In the playoffs these players should all be used, and more appropriately, all be useful, preferably in early rounds, to make the regulars' lives easier going forward. 10. Cap World In the current era, you need to base a winning plan on your entry-level players. All winning teams in the cap era have had these types. The higher the cap, the more deep the entry-level types are in the lineup. Appropiately building the team takes this into account. Once a decent group of character prospects is selected in a few years of drafts, the draft should very well be 'capped off' by a superstar selection, preferably a franchise center or perhaps a quick franchise defenseman if that center is already there. Then the clock starts ticking on the winning window. It needs to be understood that the younger the superstar, the wider the window will be. Remember the Sedin window? Because it took them so long to hit their prime, that window was made fairly brief. And now the Canucks are heading into rebuild mode. That rebuild should be capped-off by a superstar draft selection. But the question is when? Now? Or years from now? Well, that's going to have to be decided by Linden and Benning, as they look over what prospects they have and plan for the future. I hope this has been a decent read for you all. Go Canucks Go! Thanks.
    3 points
  31. 2013-14 Season Preview - Metropolitan Division Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. I'm not exactly going out on a limb with this prediction, am I? I don't know about you, but I still can't believe how ridiculous this division name is... seriously NHL... really? Anyways... last week we previewed the Atlantic Division, where I picked the Detroit Red Wings to continue their dominance over the Eastern Conference and win the division. This week we will take a look at how I see the Metro division stacking up this season. Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby is finally healthy, and they have Evgeni Malkin on their 2nd line. Nobody ever said life was fair. The wingers in the top 6 may be unheralded for the most part but are perfect fits with their star centers. However, this season their depth may be a bit of a grey area. How much will they miss Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy? Both were valuable energy players who played a two way game and were excellent penalty killers. The Penguins are hoping youngsters like Beau Bennett can step in and fill the void in the lineup. On the blue line, Kris Letang is one of the best offensive defencemen in the league. Pittsburgh also brought back Rob Scuderi, who will bring a shutdown element as well as add a welcome physical presence. The last time Rob Scuderi was a Penguin, Pittsburgh won a Cup and he played a big role in making that happen. As far as goaltending, Marc-Andre Fleury is a solid option in goal for the regular season, but all bets are off when it comes to naming a playoff starter. Just how much longer will the Penguins put up with Fleury's playoff meltdowns? Tomas Vokoun was set to back up Fleury, but blood clot issues have popped up during training camp, so the backup role is up in the air at the moment. Verdict: As always, it's Stanley Cup or bust in Pittsburgh. As long as the playoff goaltending holds up, they're among the favorites. Prediction: 1st New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist is probably one of the top 3 goaltenders on the planet, their blue line is one of the deepest in the NHL and they have some very strong two way forwards. Their weakness has been their ability to generate offense. New head coach Alain Vigneault will look to loosen the reins a bit and get more production from a forward group that includes skilled forwards like Brad Richards and Rick Nash. Brad Richards was a healthy scratch twice in the playoffs last season and the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner will be looking for a bounce back season. There is no reason why the Rangers shouldn't be able to score more, and perhaps Vigneaults style will help. It is worth noting that AV was coined as a defensive coach in Vancouver, so it's probably too much to expect a drastic change right away. But the defence will likely be encouraged to jump into the play more, so there will be adjustments to be made there. It's tough to say if AVs style will lead to more offensive production or more odd man rushes against. With the Rangers two way forwards and Henrik Lundqvist in goal, the Rangers can seemingly afford to make that gamble. Verdict: The Rangers have the talent, and it's tough to bet against a team with Henrik Lundqvist in goal. If the Rangers adjust quickly to Vigneault, they can be contenders come spring. Prediction: 2nd Philadelphia Flyers Ah summer! So many dazzling spectacles on display. The beautiful weather, the breathtaking scenery, the smorgasboard of eye candy at the beach. Barbecues and family vacations. And of course, another Philadelphia Flyers re-tool. Let's go through the checklist. New top 6 forward? Check. New high priced defenceman? Check. New starting goaltender? Check. Yup, all done! Now it's time to see if they finally got it right this time. Surely the additions of Lecavelier up front and Mark Streit will bolster the offense as well as the power play, but what about in goal? Steve Mason fared well in a 7 game debut after being acquired at the deadline, but in order for the Flyers to truly contend, he will have to re-discover the form that won him the Calder Trophy with Columbus in 2009. Ray Emery returns in a support role and could push for the starters job if Mason isn't up to form. A rebound season from Claude Giroux would also go a long way towards the Flyers post season chances. Verdict: On paper, there's absolutely no reason this shouldn't be a playoff club. If the goaltending holds up, the Flyers have a shot at a deep playoff run. Prediction: 3rd Columbus Blue Jackets They may have missed the playoffs, but don't let that fool you. The Jackets were one of the NHL's best teams down the stretch, posting a 19-6-5 record from February 24th until the end of the season. With the new season comes a new division and a move to the Eastern Conference which should bode well for Columbus moving forward. Like the Red Wings, Columbus has fared quite well against the Eastern Conference over the past 5 years, going 44-26-12 over that span. The roster is solid in all areas, and they've even added Nathan Horton to the mix. Horton is expected to be out until January after offseason shoulder surgery, but the Jackets haven't lost anyone of significance up front, so they should be fine waiting for Horton to return. 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky signed a two year deal in the summer to remain in Columbus. Believe it or not, he's the wild card on this team. The enigmatic goaltender was sensational, but can he sustain that level of play? Verdict: Bobrovsky needs to prove last year wasn't a fluke. If he can duplicate last years stellar performance, the Blue Jackets are in the playoffs. Prediction: 4th New York Islanders Alright I admit it, I'm a believer. Sure they were ousted in 6 games by the Penguins, but they plucky Isles gave Crosby and co. all they could handle in their first round playoff series. They chased Marc-Andre Fleury from the playoffs and may well have completed the series upset if Evgeni Nabokov hadn't struggled in the post season as well, posting a .842 save percentage and a 4.44 goals against average. John Tavares emerged as one of the games top stars and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy for league MVP. Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner had strong years providing secondary scoring and Kyle Okposo was a big factor in the playoffs after a sub-par regular season. On defence, the Isles did lose former captain Mark Streit to the Flyers with no immediate replacement, but the group that remains can do the job. Travis Hamonic could be one of the NHLs best kept secrets. There seems to be a spot up for grabs in camp on the blue line, so look for Aaron Ness or Matt Donovan to get long looks in that role. 2012 1st round pick Griffin Reinhart is a possibility as well if he has a strong camp. In goal, Nabokov returns on a one year deal. If he can shake off his poor playoff showing and provide solid goaltending, the Isles could surprise some people this season. Verdict: The Isles are trending in the right direction. The new divisional format for playoff seeding may work against them making the playoffs, but they'll be right there in the mix. Prediction: 5th Carolina Hurricanes They looked very strong early last season, but yet another injury to Cam Ward proved to be their undoing. Ward will look to shake the injury bug and get back to being one of the games elite goaltenders this year, and as Ward goes, so go the Hurricanes. Anton Khudobin has been brought in as insurance and that should be a huge help as Khudobin has posted good numbers in the NHL. That may also help boost the special teams, which were abysmal last season. The penalty kill was 28th in the league but the power play didn't fare much better, coming in at 27th overall. More scoring depth would help in that area as well, as consistent production beyond the Tlusty - Staal - Semin line has been hard to come by. Jeff Skinner has battled concussion issues but a return to his Calder trophy form would be huge for the Canes. Verdict: The Canes were solid until Ward went down, but given his injury history, it's hard to give them the benefit of the doubt here. Prediction: 6th Washington Capitals The Caps struggled out fo the gate last year while they adjusted to Adam Oates and his changes to the Caps systems. Once they turned things around, they tore it up down the stretch and won the Southeast division title. That sort of feat will be a tall task now that the Caps have been moved to a much stronger division. Alexander Ovechkin got the Hart trophy, but scored half of his goals and 27 of his 56 points on the man advantage, feasting on Southeast division teams like Florida (30th overall PK), Carolina (28th overall PK) and Winnipeg (24th overall PK). Not only will he not have that luxury this season, but his setup man on the power play, Mike Ribeiro, is gone. Grabovski may be able to fill the void, but he is a downgrade. The Caps margin for error has shrunk big time and they may get passed by teams with more well rounded games. Verdict: The Caps have a roster that should be ranked way higher than this, but until they prove they can do the job at even strength, I wouldn't take them ahead of any of the teams above them. Prediction: 7th New Jersey Devils Sorry Schneids, I really didn't want to have to do this. But since making the Stanley Cup finals in 2012, the Devils have lost Zach Parise, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk. Their net return? Zero. Every single Devil needs to step their game up in a big way, and even then it may not be enough. Travis Zajac needs to deliver on the promise he's shown and become the big game center he's capable of being, and young players like Jacob Josefson, Andrei Loktionov and Adam Larsson need to grow up fast and become key contributors. The Devils did sign Ryane Clowe, but hoping he can come in and replace David Clarkson may be wishful thinking, as it's an obvious downgrade. Jaromir Jagr comes in and should help the offense a bit, but how much does he really have left. On defence, some youngsters like Eric Gelinas or Jonathon Merrill may get a look. The Devils need their blue line to be greater than the sum of it's parts this season to keep things on the rails this season. If any team is capable of that, it's the Devils, but it's a tall task to be sure. The one bright spot is in goal. The Devils have solved their long term goaltending issues in acquiring Cory Schneider to take the reins from Martin Brodeur and the duo is expected to split time this season, likely the last one in Martin Brodeur's legendary career. Verdict: Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider is the best thing the Devils have going for them, but those two can't score the goals. It's likely to be a tough year in New Jersey. Prediction: 8th. Up next, the Central Division.
    3 points
  32. 1. Edmonton Oilers - Connor McDavid, C McDavid is the obvious choice here, as he has absolutely destroyed the OHL and has garnered more hype than any other prospect over the last 10 years. Really not too much to say here. HM: Jack Eichel 2. Buffalo Sabres - Jack Eichel, C Again, Eichel is another obvious choice. Almost the McDavid of the NCAA, the BU centerman has a passionate fanbase and even a college linemate waiting for him in upstate New York. HM: Dylan Strome 3. Arizona Coyotes - Mitch Marner, C While Dylan Strome may have size, Marner has had the fortune to play with two other Coyotes prospects: Max Domi and Christian Dvorak. Marner has had fantastic success with the latter this past season, and if and when Arizona does indeed pick him, that success should continue on to the NHL. HM: Mikko Rantanen 4. Toronto Maple Leafs - Dylan Strome, C Not only is Strome a big centerman (something the leafs seem to be lacking), he's offensively skilled. Not to mention that the Otters center is from Mississauga, just south of the Maple Leafs' home. While Kadri and Bozak may have shown flashes of being a 1C, neither have truly acted the part, and Strome can fill that position in a year or two. HM: Noah Hanifin 5. Carolina Hurricanes - Mikko Rantanen, RW Rantanen is a big, skilled winger who fits nicely into the 'Canes' very weak RW prospect pool. Not only will he provide size, but he's an extremely skilled playmaker who is always a threat on the ice. A very covetable prospect indeed. HM: Noah Hanifin 6. New Jersey Devils - Pavel Zacha, C Zacha is big and skilled and a centerman - the exact type of player that the Devils need. However, he's had some troubles adapting to the North American game, and that could be something to watch out for. HM: Matthew Barzal 7. Philadelphia Flyers - Lawson Crouse, LW Crouse has huge upside and huge size, two things that the Flyers will be salivating over if he drops to their position. He was Kingston's top scorer and has a game that should translate well to the NHL. HM: Timo Meier 8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Noah Hanifin, D With top defensive prospect Mike Reilly leaving the organization, the Jackets will have a pretty gaping whole to fill. Who do they pick? The best defenseman in the draft, BC's Noah Hanifin. Hanifin shapes his game after Drew Doughty. HM: Ivan Provorov 9. San Jose Sharks - Timo Meier, LW Once again, this is a pick filling a positional need. San Jose has good prospect depth in all non-goalie positions, except for the left wing. Meier is a big forward who can score, something that will be relied on heavily in Pacific Division matchups. HM: Ivan Provorov 10. Colorado Avalanche - Zach Werenski, D Werenski is a big, solid defender who is able to play with men, as he's done very well playing in the NCAA with Michigan this year. The d-man will help out on the back end in future seasons. HM: Ivan Provorov 11. Florida Panthers - Ivan Provorov, D The Panthers gain an excellent puck-moving defenseman who can put up lots of points. 12. Dallas Stars - Kyle Connor, LW Dallas needs wingers, and Connor is decently sized and can score. 13. Los Angeles Kings - Jakub Zboril, D After the whole Slava Voynov incident, it might be time to pick a player who can replace him. 14. Boston Bruins - Evgeny Svechnikov, LW Svechnikov is a winger with great size and scoring ability. 15. Calgary Flames - Jake DeBrusk, LW Not physical and needs to bulk up but can definitely pot some goals for the youth movement in Cowtown. 16. Edmonton Oilers - Thomas Chabot, D After getting yet another forward with yet another 1st overall pick, Edmonton would be wise to choose the top defender. 17. Winnipeg Jets - Jansen Harkins, C The kid has heart, a lot in fact. He'll fit in perfectly with the raucous crowds at the MTS Centre. 18. Ottawa Senators - Nick Merkley, RW Merkley fills a lacking Ottawa RW prospect pool. 19. Detroit Red Wings - Denis Guryanov, W Guryanov is fast and big and has a knack for the net. 20. Minnesota Wild - Matthew Barzal, C The Wild snag a major dropper that was a point-per-game in the WHL. 21. Buffalo Sabres - Jeremy Roy, D Roy is a two-way defenseman that will add skill to the Buffalo system. 22. Washington Capitals - Travis Konecny, C Can play anywhere on the ice and can be a game breaker for whoever gets him. 23. Vancouver Canucks - Brock Boeser, RW Shoring up their RW prospect depth, Boeser is a goal-scorer by nature and is a great pick for a team that could use a few more goals. 24. Toronto Maple Leafs - Oliver Kylington, D Taking a chance on a player whose stock has dropped tremendously this season, Kylington could turn out to be the steal of the draft. 25. Winnipeg Jets - Daniel Sprong, RW This forward showed off his offensive skill in the Q, and has some defensive skill, too. 26. Montreal Canadiens - Alexander Dergachev, C Montreal adds another big center to their system. 27. Anaheim Ducks - Filip Chlapik, C Not the flashiest prospect, but should fit in well in Anaheim. 28. Tampa Bay Lightning - Noah Juulsen, D Tampa drafts a player who has quietly worked his way up the list. 29. Arizona Coyotes* - Vince Dunn, D Dunn is an offensive defenseman who works hard along the boards. Should work well with the Coyotes' system. 30. Philadelphia Flyers* - Joel Eriksson Ek, C A bigger player that has a good shot could add a useful tool to the Flyers' belt of centermen.
    2 points
  33. There’s been a lot of questioning of Jim Benning’s decisions lately. First with the Eddie Lack trade, then with the Kevin Bieksa non-trade to San Jose, then the Zack Kassian trade, and then most recently with the Bonino trade (which I addressed in my last post). Benning’s been beginning to clean house, no doubt about it. Here is the Canucks’ lineup, from last year to this year: The first line and the top two defensive pairings would be the exact same, the second line would be faster and youth-infused, the third line’s defensive responsibility with the addition of Brandon Sutter, and the fourth line would just be a smash show. Hits, hits, hits, baby. While the team’s average age has jumped almost a year (which, it makes sense if you think about it), Benning has done his best to replace his older vets with younger players such as Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Linden Vey, Frank Corrado, and Sutter if you count him as younger – he’s 26. This year’s group looks faster, grittier, and definitely scorier than last year’s group. The forwards will consist of much of the same group as last season: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Horvat, and Derek Dorsett are all locks to start the season on the Canucks. Meanwhile, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, and Alex Burrows are pretty much guaranteed to start the season in the NHL – however, if a prospect outdoes them in camp, they could very much find themselves on another team to start October. Finally, a seeming upgrade on Bieksa, Kassian, Brad Richardson, Shawn Matthias, and Nick Bonino is the aforementioned Baertschi, Corrado, and Sutter (who provide depth and scoring), as well as other newcomers Brandon Prust and Ronalds Kenins, who will each look to secure a spot on the fourth line. As a prelude to the defensive analysis, here are the bottom defensive pairings become the ones with the best possession numbers from last year: Via Pass It To Bulis. Interestingly, the defensive pairings this year coordinate with the the top three pairings in Corsi-For %. As giveaways were noticeably a problem last year (I see you, Sbisa), you have to wonder if perhaps Benning let Bieksa, Adam Clendening, and Ryan Stanton go for a reason – however, Matt Bartkowski’s fancy stats numbers aren’t all that impressive either. Alex Edler will look to improve on his last few seasons, and perhaps reclaim the D-man scoring crown from surprising Yannick Weber, who only two years ago was being used as a fourth line forward. On the other end of that pairing, defensive stud Chris Tanev will once again anchor his offensive counterpart. Luca Sbisa showed signs of being a decent defender last year, but will end up on the bottom pairing or even the trade block if he hasn’t improved his game during the offseason. And then there’s Dan Hamhuis. Probably the most mature member of the Canucks’ defense, Hamhuis will likely step into a leadership role now that funnyman Bieksa is gone – if he hasn’t already. He’ll likely be on the second pairing with Weber, as those two worked somewhat well together last year. In the goaltending area, Ryan Miller has a new, young goalie to mentor – Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom absolutely torched the AHL last year with a remarkable 1.88 GAA and saved 93.4% of the shots taken on him, earning him the starter’s spot in the AHL All-Star Game. While Markstrom’s numbers were less than decent in his NHL games last season, Benning believes that he’s ready to at least play backup in the big league. Meanwhile, Miller will try to repeat last season – without getting injured, that is. Barring any more surprises, Richard Bachman and Joe Cannata will tend net in Utica although they have signed Clay Witt to give more competition and perhaps backup if an NHLer is injured and triggers the line of call-up dominoes. Now, which prospects have a chance to upset the balance and earn a roster spot? Hunter Shinkaruk, for starters. He’s almost made the roster two years in a row, and if he can out-muscle Chris Higgins (doubtful with those abs, but nothing’s impossible), Brendan Gaunce is another forward in the same position, having really found himself last season with Utica. The 6’5, 200 lb Alexandre Grenier and the somewhat smaller but more forceful Jake Virtanen will be competing for jobs on the right wing, while Cole Cassels, Alex Friesen, and Jared McCann will all push for a job at center. McCann and Virtanen will be sent back to junior if they don’t make the team. On defense, names like Jordan Subban, Andrey Pedan, and Ben Hutton come to mind as to which prospects have the best chance to make a move to the big leagues – however, while they are all skilled players, it’s highly unlikely any of them will start the year other than in Utica. The extremely-doubtful-but-really-cool-if-they-made-it pack also includes 2015 draftees Guillame Brisebois and Dmitry Zhukenov, who have loads of potential but need time in the minors. While they may end up getting some pre-season games, they both have a 99% chance of getting sent down to the QMJHL. Of course, the YoungStars tournament is still a few days away (September 11), and we could see some surprising prospects there, but there likely won’t be too many if any changes at all to the current roster. Original article published here.
    2 points
  34. The Dog days are upon us and there is nothing interesting going on in the NHL so here is my breakdown of the 2015-2016 Roster, plus a couple of prospects who have a chance of making the team. Sedins: The now 35 year olds have prove that their 2013-2014 season was not the start of the downward trend that we tend to see from players in their mid thirties. The Sedins finished top 10 in scoring with 73 and 76 points respectively and were in the small group of 5 or so players who showed up for the playoffs. I would expect the Sedins to get around the high sixties or low seventies in points this upcoming season because they have proved that they can still produce at an elite/very high level and they are still not being affected by the age bug. My projections 65+ for each Vrbata: Maybe one of the best UFA signings of the 2014 UFA crop, Vrbata showed that he is well worth the 2 years 10 million dollars that Benning give him last July. At 34 years old and fresh off a 31 goal, 60 point season (quite a few were empty net goals but it is still impressive non the less) I don't see him dropping off at all, infact I think he could improve sightly considering he is going to be playing with either Sutter (who I believe is a much better fit for Vrbata than Bonino was, and Baertschi who is a huge offensive upgrade on Higgins. Projection 25-32 goals 60-65 points Sutter: The newly aquired 26 year old is the talk of the town and my opinion could be the biggest surpise on next years team. Sutter is labelled as a defensive forward who some have said has Elite PK ability, But in my opinion his shot could very well fetch him a 25 goal season (providing he gets PP time). Sutter hasn't been given much to work with in Pittsburgh and Carolina, but as consisently put up 35ish points and 20ish goals. Playing with someone like Baertschi or even learning how to Cycle from some of the games best (Sedins) could help him become a Kesler light. Something tells me we see a 20+ goal season from Sutter and MAYBE even 40+ points (dependant on PP time) Projection 20-25 goals 35-45 points. (2nd PP 2nd line) Projection 18-22 goals 32-38 points (3rd line some PP time) Baertschi: The biggest wild card on next year team, Baertschi is a high end offensive player who proved during Utica's Calder Cup run that he is NHL ready. With the lack of high-end offensive talent on the left side Baertschi is excepted by many to be given a legitment shot at the 2 line/2 PP LW spot. The interesting thing about Baertschi is that he has already gotten 30 points in 69 career game and has proved that when given the chance (15+ minutes) he could score at a .6+ PPG rate. So where does he fit? if he plays with Vrbata and Sutter I would think that Baertschi could easily get 25-30 Assist. The only variable in my opinion is how many goals will he score? Baertschi could very well become another Mark Stone or Mike Hoffman 50-60 points, but that is not realistic based on what we know as of now. Trainning camp will go a long ways to determining what he wil/couldl become Projection (2nd line + 2PP time) 40-45 points Projection (3rd line + 2PP time ) 30-38 points Alex Burrows: Coming off a solid, but not spectular 18 goals 33 point season. I would like to see Burrows hit the 20 goal plateau next year. He has mostly been the RW for the Sedins and seems to thrive when he plays on their wing recording less than 45 points once in his career (when he plays a 75+ game season). Burrows could very well reach the 50 points mark next year, but with reduced PP time (Vrbata, Baertschi, Sutter, Horvat will be the 2nd PP forwards) I think 40 points is a more attainable goal. Projection 20 goals 40 points Bo Horvat: Coming off a season where he blow the door off everyones expections, Horvat is primed too take on more responsibilty this year. I would excepted Horvat and Sutter to be getting a lot of defensive zone face-offs and limited offensive zone starts, but as he showed last year, Horvat just seems to be that type of player who can thrive in any role he has been given. Looking at some of the opportunities Horvat got last year, I would except him to be getting about 14-16 minutes a night with 2nd PK duties and maybe some 2nd PP time as the season progresses. Projection 15-20 goals 30-35 Points (3rd line limited PP time) Projection 15-20 goals 35-45 Point (2nd line 2nd PP time) Chris "The Lumberjack" Higgins: As even Higgins himself has said, he is much more comfortable playing a 3rd line role and chipping in offensively every now and then, than playing a 2nd line and 2nd PP role. Higgins seems to be a solid bet to get between 35-38 points during a full 82 game season and I believe this will be the case next year because he will on a 3rd line that MAY have as much offensive ability as our 2nd line. (Baertschi may be on our 3rd liner, same with Horvat). Projection 12-15 goals 34-38 points (3rd line) Jannik Hansen: Coming off a better than excepted season which saw Hansen score 16 goals and 33 points, I would except to see his goal total drop and maybe even his point total drop. 16 goals ties his career high and he is more likely to score between 10-12 than 12-16. Hansen is still a dependable PKer and will get PK time next season Projection: 10-12 goals 25-28 points (3rd line/4th line) Derek Dorsett: Having the third most penatly minutes in the NHL last year Dorsett still found a way to put up 7 goals and 25 points last year. I would expect to see his offensive number take a bit of a hit next year, 20ish points but am sure he will be just as effective physically as he was last year. Projection: 5-7 goals 20 points (4th line) Brendan Prust: Coming over from the less physically Eastern Conference and into the highly physical Western conference may benefit a player like Prust who is known to stick up for his teammates, play the PK and has the ability to step up his game in the playoffs. I would assume he will thrive physically in the Western Conference and will become a Dorsett 2.0 for this team Projection: 5 goals 15 points (4th line some PK time) Linden Vey: The Canucks whipping boy from last year, Vey is apparently putting in the time this offseason to get stronger and in better physical condition. Being gifted an offensive role last year after a hot start, Vey went into a long drought which saw him become the 13th forward during the Calgary Series. His 26 points as a rookie, which is OK but with the opportunities he was given and his lack of defensive ability his season was overwhelming to say the least. Vey did show marginal improvement in his defensive ability near the end of the season which gives me hope that he could turn into a 2/3 tweener one day. That being said I see his future as a RW NOT a C, In my opinion the only way he becomes a centre is if he is dealt to the Eastern Conference. Projection 12-15 goals 30 Points (4th line center) Projection 15-18 goals 35 points (3rd line winger with some PP time) Ronald Kenins: After a really fast start to his NHL career, we saw the real Kenins in the last 15 or so games. Kenins is a 3rd/4th liner that is in a similar build as a Prust and Dorsett. Although I think he could have a bit more offensive ability than either Prust or Dorsett, but I highly doubt he reaches 35+ points in his Career. 8-12 goals 25-28 Points (4th line winger) Alex Grenier: 6'5 Wingers are always intriguing to teams, combine that with his skating ability and we may have ourselves a solid 3rd line RW in the making with Grenier. Grenier was considered one of the most improved player this year in Utica this season and finally started to show the consistence needed to become an regular NHLer. Jake Virtanen: Everything Benning and Linden has said and done this offseason has pointed to Virtanen getting a long look for this up coming season. Some have stated that he is not ready and needs another year in Utica (people still don't get he can't go to Utica next year), but when you looked at how he played in Utica, it is obvious that he has physically outgrown the Junior game and will need to learn against man in order to show the greatest improvement. When he played in Utica it was obvious that he has the ability to impact a game without getting on the scoresheet and that he was working hard on improving his defensive and cycle game. But the one thing I noticed in both his highlight package and during his time in Utica is that he isn't being used effectively. Coming out of the draft Virtanen was billed as one of the most profilic goal scorers in the draft, but through multiple viewing it seem that he is often used as the high forward and down in the corner, this is not what he was known for. IMO he should have been planted inbetween the face-off dot where he could use his shot more often and the way the Hitmen made him the first guy back really didn't help his offensive game grow at all. He was also used as a defenceman on the PP which again may have helped his defensive game but that is not how you effectively use a Powerforward/Sniper.
    2 points
  35. This is what I would do with our lineup. I actually think it could be a playoff lineup. It's not awful. My Lineup Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata Shawn Matthias - Nick Bonino - Zack Kassian Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Alex Burrows Derek Dorsett - Brad Richardson - Jannik Hansen (Tom Sestito-___________) Dan Hamhuis - Chris Tanev Alex Edler - Frank Corrado Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa (Ryan Stanton) Ryan Miller Eddie Lack Sedin – Sedin – Vrbata: 18 Minutes I love this line. Vrbata seems to be the perfect complement. All of ten play a high IQ game, and Henrik has two snipers as options. Vrbata also takes pressure off Daniel to score goals. I have no doubt this line can put up a solid amount of points, but I guess we will see. If this line can get going, it definitely be one of the better first lines in the NHL. Matthias – Bonino – Kassian: 15 Minutes Matthias and Kassian played well together in the last part of the season. That was with third line minutes and with Brad Richardson as their center. Now they get second line minutes to do the same thing, with a more offensively talented center in Bonino. This is a pacific division type line, one that can play hard and physical, and still have enough skill to score. This line would be real tough to play against. The perfect second line to follow the Sedins. The Sedin's hit them with immense skill, and this line hits them with size and strength. Higgins – Vey – Burrows: 15 Minutes Higgins and Burrows both are solid two way forwards. Both of them would be good 2nd liners, but they would be awesome third liners. They can help ease Vey into the league giving him Veteran support. This line could definitely put up their fair share of points as well as play solid defense. Burrows and Higgins also have some chemistry in the past. Both are workhorses on and off the field, and would be the perfect fit for Vey's playmaking. Burrows shot also get's turned in for one timers, and quick releases. This line is more line a line 2b. Dorsett – Richardson – Hansen: 12 Minutes If you are going to roll 4 lines, you need a line that supplies a solid defensive base. All 3 of these players can play defense well. Richardson showed last year he also has the ability to put up about 20 points a season, and Dorsett was able to do that back in columbus, add that with Jannik Hansen's speed and they can be one of the better fourth lines in the league. Speed, defense, grit, etc. All great qualities for a 4th line, plus a little bit of offensive production from Jannik Hansen and Brad Richardson. (Sestito - ______): 13th/14th forward We know what Sestito brings. He's not a terrible player, but he fits the 13th/14th forward role better, bringing in muscle when we lose a guy from injury. The '______' spot is for whichever big man young guy wants to step up and take it. No point in giving it to a top prospect when they need to get their minutes, but it would be a great spot for a Kellan Lain, Ronalds Kenins, Darren Archibald, Alex Grenier etc Someone ready to play bottom 6 minutes while our top enders get more minutes in Utica to develop their craft. They all add different things so it depends on what you want, but my personal choice would be Archibald, but let them compete for it. If you want, you can even give it to Yannick Weber. Has it's benefits. Interesting option) (Minutes allocated are not exact due to line changes and special teams, but rather a basic template) Hamhuis – Tanev: 1st Defensive, 2nd Offensive, 3rd physical This line will be charged with shutting down opposing teams top lines. They play the most in defensive situations, rather than in offensive situations, in case the 2nd line in tired. We know Hamhuis and Tanev can defend, and we know they can shut down top lines. Why change one of the few things that's already working. Plus, it allows Kevin Bieksa to move elsewhere in the lineup, balancing lines. Edler – Corrado: 3rd Defensive, 1st Offensive, 2nd Physical Plays against weaker lines to maximize Edlers offense. Corrado is the perfect line mate for Edler. He's a steady PMD who is composed and plays reliable defense. He is much like Tanev as he knows defensive positioning, and the couple of times he get's caught, he can recover. He also has a physical edge which could work well alongside Edler's. They can pour on the offense. We have been looking for a suitable line mate for Edler to play with for a while. Corrado is the perfect fit. Seem's like a match made in heaven. Question is, is he NHL ready, and I personally think he is. Sbisa – Bieksa: 2nd Defensive, 3rd Offensive, 1st Physical The second deployed line when needing to shut down top lines. They give a more physical edge than the first line so they can play against bigger opponents. Sbisa brings everything Garrison brought, minus the shot. Sbisa is a strong, defencman who is heavy on the boards. His style really fits well with Kevin Bieksa. This pairing is the stronger, more aggressive line. Plus also, we have seen Bieksa turn on some offense before, but that didn't really work well with Garrison's offensive style. Maybe Sbisa's more defensive style will be a better fit. (Stanton): 7th man Stanton is the ideal 7th man. He brings physical aggressiveness, as well as a decent all around game. He already has chemistry with some of the team, namely, Kevin Bieksa, so he can ease right back into the lineup when needed. Miller: – 50(ish) starts Lack: – 30(ish) starts Power Play Units Sedin-Sedin-Kassian ----Edler----Vrbata---- The format is a little different. You have both Sedins on the sides, Kassian in the center causing havoc in front of the net and screening, with Edler and Vrbata on the points. You can either turn their shots in, or keep them on the outside, either way they can get plenty of sniping opportunities. Burrows-Bonino-Vey -----Hamhuis----Bieksa--- This line is more of an up pace type of PP units. Keep the pace up and tire out their defense. Produces a lot more shots rather than passes. Higgins-Mattias-Hansen -----Corrado---Tanev---- Try and develop Corrado's Quarterbacking skills. I would imagine this line would do more cause havoc in front of the net, and with Corrado on his offside, Tanev can feed him for one timers. Tanev also supplies responsible d, to make sure we don' get caught on an offensive rush. PK Units (Not much reasoning other than I think they can defend) Richardson – Burrows Hamhuis – Tanev Bonino – Dorsett Sbisa – Bieksa Mattias – Hansen Edler – Corrado Let the rest of the prospects go back to juniors or spend a year in the AHL. No need to rush them. The only ones that are for sure ready are Corrado and Vey. Even Jensen and Horvat should go back and get one more year. I know theres no such thing as models, like the Boston model and stuff like that, but what is real is scouting and development models. The teams with the best prospect pools all consistently follow a the same scheme. Let them develop. Even if it takes them 4 years of development and they enter the league at 22, it's best they enter when they are at their best. Overall recap Solid First line. Last year the Sedin's were in a funk, and I think mostly due to Torts. This year will be different. They were at their best when they played 17 minutes a night. Torts had hem playing 21+, and especially at their age? Come on. This year Desjardins will make sure they bounce back, and on top they have a new line mate who has the ability to put up 50-60 points along with them. We don't really have a second line. The second line is definitely our weakspot; however, we still have 2 lines that can roll as 2A, and 2B. They're composed of a series of players that are all third-second line tweeners. At least that's the conservative estimate. Arrange them in this style creates 2 lines with chemistry and the ability to produce. The fourth line is actually one of the better fourth lines in the league. Hansen has third line capability, and Richardson played great when plugged into 3c last year as well. Dorsett is an energy, heart and soul, enforcer. Strength, speed, and a fair amount of offense. What can you ask for. We have one line that can defend and shut-down top lines. One line that can defend and shut down, bigger stronger lines. And one line that can play offense. I like Kevin Bieksa coming off the bench and not starting with Hamhuis as well. It gives much added depth down the right side. All 3 of our defense pairings can roll. Our goaltending is great. Ryan Miller is a great goalie, and Eddie Lack is already showing he may be too good for backup. We can roll either goalie any night and we will be covered in net. Sestito and Stanton being scratches are perfect. They're good enough to be either 4th line or 6th defencman, so having them be depth players is a bonus. Honestly, I think this team can compete in the division. I see one of those wildcard spots calling our name. Jim Benning retooled and gave us a team that can still contend for the playoffs. Vrbata, and Miller were huge, as well as getting Bonino and Sbisa to replace as much of Kesler and Garrison as they can. Don't count the Canucks out yet. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Utica comets Lineup (And potential mid season call ups) Hunter Shinkaruk---Cal O’Reilly---Nicklas Jensen Dane Fox---Brendan Gaunce---Alex Grenier Ronalds Kenins---Dustin Jeffrey---Ludwig Blomstrand Brandon Defazio---Kellan Lain---Darren Archibald (Patrick Kennedy, Mike Zalewski, Alex Freisen, Alex Mallet) Peter Andersson---Bobby Sanguinetti Henrik Tommernes---Alex Biega Evan McEneny---Yannick Weber (Jeremy Blain, Kane Lafranchise) (Jacob Markstrom) if he clears waivers or whatever Joacim Eriksson Joe Cannata (Keep in mind that if this lineup goes through and Bo Horvat does not crack the lineup, most likely, one player from this lineup will get moved up onto the roster) Notes Shinkaruk and Jensen start developing chemistry immediately. Their styles complement each other so might as well get them used to playing together. Speed and playmaking one side, and speed and sniping the other. Put Cal O'Reilly in the middle and it could be a great first line. He will do nothing but further their development. Gaunce and Fox also start building chemistry at the pro level. They already played on steam together, and now they can do it again, accompanied by 6'4 200+ pound Alex Grenier. Looks like a talented top 6, or at least more talented than last year. Great third line. All three of these guys can put up a good amount of third line scoring in the AHL level. They're pretty fast and still have some size too. I am a firm believer in you need a good base before you can build. This 4th line consists of 2 guys who have shown they can be at least decent 4th liners on the NHL level, which means they can surely do it on the AHL level. I would argue Zalewski also showed it, but that was in like 3 game stint. Not enough to prove anything yet. Our Defense actually looks fairly good at the AHL level. Not great, but still good. They're a little small, but still kind of skilled. The core has a solid mix of defensive play as well as offensive play, but it is still the weak point of the team if you ask me. Eriksson is a great AHL starter, and Cannata is a capable backup. Alltogether, not bad in goal. In the System Bo Horvat © Jake Virtanen (RW/LW) Jared McCann © Thatcher Demko (G) Ben Hutton (LD) Cole Cassels © Nikita Tryamkin (LD) Anton Cederholm (LD) Jordan Subban (RD) Gustav Forsling (LD) Joseph Labate © Mackenzie Stewart (LD) Kyle Petit © Great center depth coming in. You build from the center out and we have a number of 2-way Centers. Only 1 Right handed defenseman. As I stated, we may want to address that but it's really not something to be too worried about given that Corrado and Tanev are really young. Lots of Left handed defensemen (5). Lots of variety too. Only 1 winger. He's one of our best prospects but still only one.
    2 points
  36. While I usually get my Canucks related chuckles from CDC posts, today I got my dose of 'nuck humor via TSN's list of free agents when I saw the following: (source) No matter how you feel about him as a forward, the thought of Dale Weise suiting up as a goalie is funny as &*#@!
    2 points
  37. First off, I would like to say that if the Canucks somehow manage to beat Los Angeles, I will eat my words. The end to this season has been a disappointment, and the issues that the Canucks possess have been exposed by the Kings. The little issues that Boston exposed a year ago have turned into big issues that Los Angeles has exposed recently. At the end of last season and into the draft and free agency, it was a "if it aint broke, dont fix it" mentality. We all felt that no matter what, if we kept the same guys, we were destined to be back in the Stanley Cup Finals.I was a little worried when there was too little change in Free Agency however. The additions of Marco Sturm and Andrew Ebbett (and to a lesser extent, Mancari and Pinnizzotto) did not appeal to me, but I accepted them because I felt we did not have any room to bring anyone else in. Early in the season we traded for David Booth, which I felt, like I am sure everyone else did, pushed us over the top. The dreadful Marco Sturm was gone, and a lackluster Mikael Samuelsson was gone along with him. In hindsight, I still like this move, the problem is like most Canucks, Booth has not performed to his full potential in the playoffs. At the trade deadline, I was content with the Pahlsson move, and although the Hodgson move suprised me, I accepted it and understood what Gillis was trying to do. As we know now, Hodgson wanted out, and there was no room for him to move up in the Canucks organization. I agree that Kassian has not come as advertised, and he has barely been noticeable on the ice. I was a firm believer that Ott would be in a Canucks uniform come the 28th of February, but obviously it did not happen. Kassian was the best deal that Mike Gillis felt he could make in the scenario he was in, and I have no problem with that. Anybody who says we should have kept Sulzer is foolish, because we all know that there was 0 chance he would have played down the stretch, and there was no way to know that he would strive in a top pairing role if he was placed in it as he was in Buffalo. Gragnani has not been the player as I had hoped, but that goes with the way that AV coaches. It is not AV's fault that Gragnani has been lackluster, but I feel that AV limited what Gragnani could do, and that took away some of his offensive upside. After the trade deadline I felt that the Canucks chemistry was not right. Everyone was moving up and down lines, combinations were switched daily and it was hard for lines to get their footing. The injury to Daniel Sedin was unfortunate, and it has hurt the Canucks playoff chances, but in no way is that the reason that the Canucks are now down 3-0 to the Kings. Very little change was made between this season and last, and we are looking at the same fate, no Stanley Cup. Is it time for change? Philadelphia pursued change in the offseason and has ultimately strived under it. Like Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren said, "I do not know if we are better, but we are different", and that is the way that I feel that the Canucks should go in this offseason. First off, I think trading Schneider is a mistake. Luongo has not gotten Vancouver a Stanley Cup thus far, and I believe that ship has sailed. The media and the fans have battered Luongo in this city, and I feel that he can not elevate to the level that we expect him to in Vancouver. Although I agree that you cant win games if you cant score, and Luongo was not at fault for losses 1 and 2, his numbers were not good thus far. I know his play can not be based off of two games, but after this many seasons in Vancouver, I think it would be best for the organization to part ways. Luongo's contract is not as movable as Schneider is, but I feel that there are options. Toronto would be an ideal fit for Luongo. I know Burke does not like big-lengthy contracts, but they are in dire need of a goaltender, and Luongo has ties to Nonis. A move like this essentially saves Burke's job for at least another season. Another ideal location for Luongo is Florida. Here he could live with his family in their own home, and settle down for the latter years of his career. Florida suprisingly has a good team under first year GM Dale Tallon, but one of their weaknesses can be said to be in goal. Jose Theodore realistically is not your goalie in Florida, and Jacob Markstrom is not quite NHL ready. Bringing in Luongo solidifies their goaltender position, and he would strive in a lower pressure market like Florida. Ultimately, Luongo holds his own fate with his NTC, but I feel if Schneider is the go-to guy, he would be wanting to move. Although I love Ryan Kesler like the rest of this city, I feel that he is a head case. The diving and whining has not gotten him anywhere, and I personally feel that he does not want to play in Vancouver. Ideally I feel he would prefer to play in a bigger US market, but he is also a potential player that Brian Burke is trying to get. Now I am not trying to turn this into a "trade every player to Toronto" blog, I am just speculating the best fits. Kesler has gotten a bad repuation from the rest of the league, and that could potentially harm his value, but his talent is unquestioned despite a lackluster season. I have never been a Mason Raymond fan, I likely will never be one, but I feel that this one is obvious. Let Mason Raymond walk. There is no need to extend him, his play has been dismal this year, and his speed seems to be his only asset. I feel that his roster spot (and salary) could be used more efficiently. Manny Malhotra has not been the same since his eye injury. It is a shame, but it is a fact. He is not the player that he used to be. Pahlsson has come in and taken the spot that Malhotra used to have, and I feel that 2.5M for a 4th liner is way too expensive in a salary cap world. Manny does have a NTC, and I feel there are very few teams that would have interest in him, but right now he brings little benefit on the ice. As for free agency, the Canucks will have to make some decisions. I can see the Canucks re-signing pending UFA Samuel Pahlsson at a pay cut, for Gillis did the same with his deadline acquisitions last year. Players such as Andrew Ebbett, Aaron Rome, and Byron Bitz I can see walking, as much as I like all three of them, change is needed. Next I look to the defence of the Canucks. I believe that Sami Salo will likely retire at season's end, allowing for Chris Tavev to be given a permanent roster spot. Kevin Bieksa was outstanding down the stretch last year for the Canucks, and he was spectacular in the playoffs. This season, he has not being the same. He comes off a big new contract extension, but he seems that he has regressed to the same mental mistakes that he has made in years prior. I personally think that Kevin's cap hit is too heavy for a player who has only really stepped up for a 6-month period. 2 years ago I sat in my hotel room in Hawaii watching the trade deadline, only to watch the Canucks bring in Andrew Alberts as their only NHL acquisition. I was immediately disappointed. After watching him take a 5 minute major and a game misconduct against the Kings in game 1 of their series that year, I felt that there was no place for him on the Canucks roster. Finally, as much as I hate to see it. I feel that coach Alain Vigneault's time is up. He has played his favourites over the years, and it has hurt the development and gameplay of others. Grabner was hurt by AV, Hodgson was hurt by AV, and current defencemen Gragnani and Ballard are hurt by AV. Shane O'Brien also lacked opportunity due to AV's favourites, but this can easily be me defending my favourite player. It can only be speculated who the next coach would be, but it is in need of a change. As someone brought to my attention recently, what if AV were to be the coach of Erik Karlsson? Would he be the same player he is today? The likely answer is no, because AV likes certain type of players who are more conservative, and not ones who come with risks/rewards. I am sure that many people will completely disagree with everything that I have said, and that is fine. I am not a Canuck hater, I love the Canucks, I have for years and years, and my opinion does not make me any less of a fan than anyone else. Everyone has their opinions, and I chose to express mine. Do I believe everything I discussed will happen? No, but in my eyes, I feel that they would be the best for the organization. I am not trying to convince someone to believe my mindset, nor am I going to believe someone elses, this is just what I feel needs to be done in order to shake up this team. As I said earlier, I feel that the Canucks need change, and that the Philadelphia motto should be followed - that being "I do not know if we are better, but we are different". I thank you for the read, and I hope that my first ever blog was worth it.
    2 points
  38. <img style="float: left; margin-right: 8px;" src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/schneider_blog.jpg" alt="" border="0">It's been month since my last blog (sorry it's been a little crazy!). Now that we have a couple days between games, it gives me a some time to catch up. The last time I wrote, I was anticipating my return so looks like I've got lots to talk about... <Br><br> I didn't know for sure that I was going to be able to play against Edmonton in that first game but I had a feeling and I knew I wanted to. Being back on the ice is great, I feel good, my body feels really good so there are no issues there at all. I'm just trying to get used to the speed and the timing out there and that just takes playing a few games. <br><br> Our schedule hasn't been kind so it would be nice to play a game and have a couple days off, evaluate things, play another game but it's just been coming fast and furious. With the injuries, it's made it even more difficult to recover from games but as a team we're keeping our head above water and for us, when we got above that eighth spot line that's staring at us all the time in our dressing room, it's nice to see. <br><br> When I was rehabbing, it was so hard to watch your teammates and not be able to contribute on the ice but it was so much fun to get into those first few games. I just have to keep the focus and keep playing simple, trying not to do too much out there and getting more involved. I'm slowly trying to get back where I feel comfortable and the game feels easier out there. <br><br> <a class="zoomImage" href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov0909_schneider_b.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov0909_schneider_t.jpg" class="imageFloatRightFramed"border=0 /></a>A brand new experience for me this year was in Anaheim when I played up front because I've never had to play forward in the NHL but even in that game, I pretty much played as a third defenceman so it wasn't that much different. I actually enjoyed it because I got to be a little more aggressive, I think it helped me get some of my timing as far as playing guys one on one and being able to close the gap and stay aggressive when forwards come down the rush. I was able to get a few more hits and be a little more physical, which gave me more confidence on how I feel about my shoulder. <br><br> It was nice to get the first goal, especially in my second game back against Detroit but obviously you want it to be in a winning cause but at the time, it put us in the lead, so at that time, it was something to really celebrate. It's a big part of my job playing here is that when I get my opportunities on the powerplay is to get pucks through like that so I'm not going to waste those chances. It was certainly nice to get it early, sometimes it can get dragged out and go six, seven, eight games without scoring. Now I've got the first one and got the monkey off my back so now I can just relax and just play when I go out there. <br><br> This is the first really long trip that I've been on with the team this year and last year being in the East you don't often have a lot of long road trips - they're always one or two games and then come home. I think a lot of times it's good for a club to go out on the road. I don't want to use a cliché but all the Western teams that I've played on, there always seem to be good bonding. You basically live together for two weeks so it just happens that the group gets really close. <br><br> Abigail's birthday was last week on November 5th, which I missed but I'll definitely make it up to her when I get home. My wife organized a manicure and pedicure birthday party for her and her girlfriends. She's always spoiled rotten on her birthday and I'll have a surprise for her when I get home. <br><br> I think that's all I've got this time. I'll try not to take so long between posts next time!
    2 points
  39. Alex Edler out 4-6 weeks, Derek Pouliot draws in. Did you know that only one Canucks d-man played all 82 games last year?
    1 point
  40. Another matchup thats set in stone, Chicago vs Nashville. Chicago owns the season series with 4 wins, 2 losses. Chicago has all the pieces in play to win another cup, building on their dynasty, however, the Nashville Predators have made alot of changes in the past few seasons from coaching, to adding scoring, drafted and dealt for some young studs and are a completely different team from the Nashville of yesteryear. Lets start by looking at Nashvilles keys points: Goaltending - Pekka Rinne has been one of the top 5 goalies all season and is a huge part of Nashvilles success. Although his play has waned the in the month or so, expect him to be in full dominant form against their divisional rival Blackhawks. Rinne has the ability to steal games outright, although he shouldnt have to with Nashvilles amazing defense. If Rinne is on his A game, Nashville have a good chance at upsetting the Hawks. Yes, I said upsetting, in my opinion the Hawks ought to be the cup favorites this year, so anyone who does beat them will be an upset. However, that being said, I would not bat an eye if Nashville did complete an upset, they have to tools to do it, starting with Rinne. Defense - While both of these teams are at the top of the league in defense, Nashville has a deeper defense then Chicago, when you get beyond the Webers, Keiths and Seabrooks, Nashvilles remaining top six out ranks Chicago's, albeit not by much. Shea Weber will log huge minutes, and being in his prime this should be no problem. Using his size, reach, and amazing puck control he may be able to keep the Hawks snipers at bay and cause some tantrums. When he's not on the ice all of Ellis, Jones and Franson are more then capable of shutting down the Hawks top 6. Nashville has the luxury of being able to be comfortable no matter what D pairing is on the ice. Weber also gives Nashville a huge boost on the PP, although Chicago is a relativly diciplined team and will likely limit Nashvilles PP. Offense: Nashville has never been known as a high scoring team, not in recent years anyways, however the additions of Ribiero, Neal, and the rising of Forsberg have helped the Preds score goals in bunches this season. Neal knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, and I fully expect him to be the lean to guy for the Preds to get those clutch goals. If he can get some space, as hard as it will be against Seabrook/Keith, he should be able to set up a few good chances. Experience: Nashville is yet to go beyond the second round of the playoffs, and its been a little while since they've played in late April, but with a younger squad and a prime #1 Dman and Goalie they should be able to make a series of it. Chicago Keys: Kane- When will he return, will he be playing at his capacity when he comes back? Kane is obviously a critical part of the Hawks 2 previous cups, but, the Blackhawks do have more then eneough re-enforcements to score if he doesnt return, or doesnt return in top form. I don't think his injury will factor much, at least not into this series, maybe down the line. Goaltending - Crawford has won a cup, he is often critisized for riding the coattails of a highly competent defense, and a strong puck possession team that can and will score its way out of trouble. However, a look at Crawfords numbers shows that he is, in fact a good eneough goalie, and thats all a team like Chicago needs, someone who is good eneough, and can make the odd clutch save. I think Crawford has proven he can do this. The rest of the crew - Toews, Keith, Seabrook, Sharp, and Hossa have all been there done that and beaten the best to win 2 cups. Brad Richards on the third line is an excellant depth player, having won a cup himself he too knows what it takes. I certainly don't think Chicago will walk all over Nashville, first rounds can often be the hardest, until the finals that is. Prediction, Hawks take it in 5 or 6, while I say 5 games, I think they will all be very close, 4-3, 3-2, things like that. I just can't see the Hawks bowing out to the Predators. You never know though!!!
    1 point
  41. What do you think? do the Stars owe Vancouver an apology for insinuating that the Sedin's sleep together?
    1 point
  42. 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?
    1 point
  43. Every year there's a lot of hype made by various bloggers and media outlets on various players with a fairly good chance to be a bust in the NHL. Why is this? To give desperate Canadian hockey fans a fantastical pot of gold chance at the end of the undersized rainbow? Or do the players themselves lobby on speed and skill factors to try to climb in the draft? Who knows. All I know is that there should be a no-nonsense, cut the bull edition of draft rankings put out there so we educated fans can make the correct call and then judge their teams' performance accurately when they once again fail to make the correct call. As it pertains to the Canucks, well, this is the start of the Trevor Linden era in Canuck management. With that comes a lot of hype, and a lot of expectation. If Linden's first pick is another dud, then that is certainly not a good start to his tenure here. But no doubt the Canucks will be hyping up whoever they pick, regardless of what his actual, legit NHL upside is. How do we cut the bull when that time comes? Well, let's just do it. Let's make a comprehensive list based on the information readily available out there on all the top prospects today. Let's forget about all the 'well the undersized player can possibly grow' bs and add that factor in. Let's look at players that certain media outlets and bloggers have been underrating or even totally ignoring for some strange reason. Cut the bull. On that note, here's my top-15 rankings, no-nonsense edition: 1. RD Aaron Ekblad b 2. RC Sam Reinhart a 3. LW Sam Bennett a 4. LC Michael Dal Colle bp 5. LC Leon Draisaitl bsn 6. RW Jake Virtanen bep 7. LW Brendan Perlini b 8. RW Alex Tuch bp 9. LW Nick Ritchie odp 10. LD Haydn Fleury b 11. LC Dylan Larkin a 12. RW Kasperi Kapanen u 13. LW Nikolaj Ehlers u-e 14. LW/LC Willie Nylander u- 15. LW Sonny Milano a u Undersized a Average-sized b Big o Overweight s Slow but skilled - One-dimensional d Dumb penalty-taker e Elite speed p Powerful n Not a big gamer 1. Based more on NHL central scouting and ISS, combined with legit upside, not a fantasy/preseason upside. 2. Frankly, i'm astounded as to how the americans are being largely ignored on cdc. They're good. 3. There are a lot of decent players to select from that don't carry an amazing amount of risk with them. The Canucks would be better suited to start picking those prospects up. 4. Nylander, the girlie-looking powerplay specialist wildcard, will drop that far because of his attitude problems.
    1 point
  44. Mr Aquilini, If you have any sense take your losses now. Mr Gillis made a mistake.Fire Gillis and Tortorella before it is too late and everyone asks to be traded.By next week your rink will be empty. Stop the spiral.Players don't lose skills overnight, but they do quit playing for coaches and GMs whom they do not respect. I am 49 years old and have been a Canucks fan for 44 yrs, this is a disgrace. Do you want the few fans who come to the games to wear paper bags, thats where it is going. I am one fan done watching this is a disgrace!
    1 point
  45. The Canucks put on a great show today at BC place, which was full of 50,000 plus fans. A great sunday outing for families, which was marked on everyone's calendar since it was announced, the event featured great music, great festivities, great weather (should have uncovered it perhaps if there was snow), and yes, a reasonably great game of hockey. The Canucks and Senators, who aren't offical 'rivals' by any stretch, put up an extreme physical effort for a classic game and matched each other hit for hit all game long. It had a bit of a playoff feel. It featured goals, which for outdoor games are hard to come by. But more than that, it featured watchable hockey action. Outdoor games are sluggish at best, and once you get over the spectacle of snow falling down or wind blowing around, the game itself is pretty darn awful. Today was an exception and may have opened the NHL's eyes towards how much easier and more enjoyable it is to set up and watch these games in covered arenas. What more could the fans and media have asked for here? Well, apparently fans wanted Roberto Luongo in the game. Or did they? More like they just want a win. Patience is at an end for a lot of fans in Vancouver. Patience with this core group. So when the Canucks came out flying and earned a 2-goal lead, only to blow it soon after when their play flatlined, such as has the story has been for the team all season long, out came the boo-birds/Lu supporters to let the team know their displeasure. This is a normal expectation for a group that has seen their team virtually fall off the map since the start of 2014. Yet, critical fans and media are taking these few seconds of vocal displeasure and hyping it up to mock the team and the event they did such a great job of putting together. I can't help feel but those people have an agenda to knock the Canucks wherever there may be a possible fault. From Elliott Friedman's over-the-top and pointless tirade against Vancouver fans, who will no doubt respond on twitter, etc., building the mystique of Vancouver's fans being 'oh so bad', but all these other fans who boo their team every night don't apply to the critiques. To Glenn Healy's pokes and jabs at the franchise all game long, as nonsensical as they sometimes are. (How much are they paying Jim Hughson to keep his mouth shut and not seriously run out of his booth, across the ice just to sock Glenn a good one anyway?) To the ongoing 'Canucks are classless, their fans are classless, everything about them is classless, blah, blah, blah' mantra that the CBC, TSN, and eastern Sportsnet commentators continuously shovel out this way, night after night after night. To those people and to Vancouver's very own media and fans who are on an obvious agenda of embitterment, I say shame on you. Say what you want about the teams' performance on the ice in 2014 or whatever coaching or managing decisions you don't approve of. But please, don't knock this Heritage Classic game because of a mere starting of a backup goaltender. (Good God, get OVER the whole goaltender thing already! Jesus!) Or whatever the fans may having been chanting for a few seconds. This game was the best 'classic' game or 'stadium series' game or whatever the NHL's going to end up calling them all so far. It had everything but a Canucks win. The event today was kick-ass. Applaud the Canucks, your team, for the show they put on. They did a marvelous job.
    1 point
  46. Who really was (or is) the best Canuck of all time? I started to do some research and thought I would put together a list of information for you. You can decide by posting down at the bottom. Let me start you with this... Did you know that Todd Bertuzzi had a higher points per game average in his Canucks career than his buddy Markus Naslund? Does that make you think differently about how good Burtuzzi was here? In 884 games, Naslund had 756 points. A pace of 0.86 points per game. Burtuzzi finished with 449 points in 518 games. A 0.87 points per game pace. Just how good was Pavel Bure? He finished with 478 points in 428 games, a points per game pace of 1.12! Henrik and Daniel are at a 0.85 and 0.84 points per game pace respectively. The goals per game pace is somewhat surprising. Tony Tanti is second in franchise history with 0.47 goals per game. Pavel Bure sits first with 0.59. And the other sniper Naslund sits 3rd with 0.39. Assists? Henrik currently holds the top spot with a 0.65 per game average. Thomas Gradin sits in second with a 0.58 spot. Gino Odjick holds the top spot with penalty minutes per game at 4.79 but I don't think that qualifies him as being the best Canuck of all time. How about being clutch? For game winning goals Daniel Sedin leads the franchise with 60. Naslund is second with 49. Linden 33. Pavel's 32 out of his 254 total goals means he had a hero rating of 12.5%. Daniel Sedin sits first with a hero rating of 21.5%, well above Bure who scored a lot of goals when they didn't matter. Not to say that he didn't have important goals. The game against Calgary was one of the biggest. Sticking with clutch, Trevor Linden still holds the club record for playoff goals with 34, tied with Pavel Bure. Geoff Courtnall and Cliff Ronning sit third and fourth. 5 on 5 goals, essentially hard working goals, shows some very interesting numbers. Markus Naslund has the highest total with 232. Daniel Sedin sits second with 215. Ryan Kesler has 1 more than Bure with 129. Did you know that Kesler and Bure were that close? And what about Goalie numbers. Can a goalie be the best Canuck of all time? Games played, Kirk McLean leads with 516. Luongo is second with 386. Winning percentage? Roberto Luongo leads with 0.58%. He also has the franchise record in wins with 224. Schnieder's 0.56% pace is second While Dan Cloutier sits 3rd at 0.52%. Luongo also leads in shutouts with 33. Schnieder leads with a franchise high 2.24 career goals against average and a save percentage of .928. Jyrki Lumme had the highest points per game pace than any other defencemen on the team at 0.55. Ohlund and Edler are next in line. Ohlund of course is the team's top defensive point machine with 325 in 770 games. So now that you have all this information… who really was (or is) the best Canuck of all time? Make your call below.
    1 point
  47. For this special edition of Clay's Canucks Commentary, I pull a few friends together for the 3rd annual Canucks Christmas Carol. Once again I am joined by my friends Joe, Oggy, Jason, Pat and the foreign exchange student Kevin. Kevin came all the way from overseas to watch some hockey but he gets something else instead. Last year we put together the Bieber-inspired " and in 2011 we did the "12 Days of Christmas". For this year, we do our version of the classic "This Christmas". Merry Christmas! http://www.canuckclay.com http://www.twitter.com/canuckclay
    1 point
  48. The Vancouver Canucks have passed the 300,000 follower mark on twitter. To celebrate they surprised their 300,000th follower, Kirsty Tsang (@kiss_ty). Check it out here.
    1 point
  49. With the departure of Ryan Suter from the Nashville Predators, the main question in Nashville is, what is going to happen with Shea Weber. As all Hockey fans know, Weber is a norris trophy candidate just about every season, and if not the best defencemen in the league, one of the best without a doubt. With Ryan Suter's departure from Nashville, Shea Weber may not want to re-sign in Nashville and play their for his whole career, which makes the situation in Nashville much more difficult. Ever since the Canucks were an expansion team in the NHL, they have always lacked that true, number one, norris trophy defencemen. Although the defencemen who have played in Vancouver over the years have been solid, the Canucks have never had that all-star, norris trophy defencemen. I personally believe, the chance to get that defencemen is now. I trully believe Shea Weber is the missing piece to this team, and with an already pretty good top 4 blue line in Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler and now Garrison, adding Weber would be a statement for the Vancouver Canucks. The window to win the cup is closing, and even if it takes giving nashville an enormous offer sheet and potentially losing a few draft picks to get Shea Weber, the question is, why not? The saying is "it takes allot, to get allot", and especially when talking about a player like Weber, the Canucks are going to have to give up a ton to land his services. If a trade were to happen, the main centerpiece from the Canucks would have to be Edler. Although he had a dreadfull playoff run in which everyone would like to forget, Edler is still a very good defencemen who has potential to get even better. But besides Edler, who else do the Canucks have to give to Nashville? Possible Yan Sauve, drafted 41st overall in the 2008 NHL draft, was looking to be a solid second pairing shutdown defencemen in the NHL. Yan Sauve since has tailed off and his developement has slowed, but maybe Nashville believes he could potentially be a shutdown force in the NHL some day? Then there's Raymond, in which the Canucks believe can still be a top 6 forward in the NHL, but do the Nashville Predators? Raymond is coming off a major back injury, but even I am starting to believe that he cannot re bound and be that 30 goal second line forward he was just a few years ago. Usually i wouldn't want the Canucks to give up a young prospect in any deal, but if it's for Shea Weber, maybe my thoughts would change. The fact is, besides Edler, the Canucks don't have allot of attractive pieces to put into a deal that would bring Weber to Vancouver. Could the Canucks include a former Selke winner in Ryan Kesler into a deal for Weber? Although Kesler struggled last season, i believe he is still a great player who can score 30 goals while shutting down teams best players. So far, a vancouver deal could be Edler, Sauve, Raymond, Kesler, and a first round pick? From a Nashville predators standpoint, if Weber doesn't except a long-term deal from the Predators, look for them to trade Weber. The Predators cannot afford to lose Weber for nothing, like they just did with Suter. The fact is, the Canucks may not have the assets to trade for Weber, so does that mean the Canucks should go another route and send Nashville a huge offer sheet? If i where Mike Gillis, i would do almost anything in my power to land the defencemen as long as that means we wouldn't have to trade Henrik or Daniel Sedin. It's not often a player like Shea Weber is put on the trade market, but if that were to happen, i wouldn't be surprised if the Canucks were extremely interested in trying to acquire him. With the Minnesota wild signing both parise and Suter to long term contracts, the window for winning a cup is getting smaller, and smaller. The Canucks need to make a big splash, and that probably won't happen with Roberto Luongo. If landing Shea Weber means trading some future assets or some high draft picks and allot of money to win the first ever stanley cup , why not pull the trigger?
    1 point
  50. As John Shorthouse said post game on the team 1040 after the loss of the 2nd game, "You have to change the feel of the game." And I agree. Cory Schneider will start Game 3 guaranteed. The resiliency will pay off for the Vancouver Canucks. Vigneault taught his team to work with each other. Remember the line juggling he did in the dog days of the regular season? Burrows was taken off the first line for much of the final 2 months, the all American line broken apart and brought back together at random times. Vigneault and company were getting every player used to each other and at the same time watching what happens when they put certain lines together. It enables him to motivate multiple times during the game by changing things up dependant upon how the team is playing. Where the first line could be different by the end of the game. He even split the twins up in multiple games*. Allowed them to get used to playing without each other. For instances like this. Vigneault didn't want the team to rely on the twins taking them to the cup. He knows what he is doing with this team. He motivates them. Rick Bowness motivates them. To block out the media and believe in each other. Try being in the media storm right now in Toronto. Hard to block it out. They have played a lot of hockey over the last 2 years, and they know what it's like to be the best. I think you do the following: Schneider Burrows, Kesler, Booth - The superhero line Higgins, Sedin, Hansen - The technical line Lapierre, Malhotra, Kassian - the shutdown line and the pylon Raymond, Pahlsson, Ebbett - the goal every 2-3 games line They also better play a video to the Canucks showing how the Boston Bruins were down 2-0 against Montreal last season and came back to win and go on to win the Stanley Cup. And in Boston vs. Canucks series, they were down 2-0 against us. Inspiration can be taken from that. They have to believe they can come back. We haven't been in this position either as fans for years, where we start to feel like, what a team that sucked in the playoffs feels ilke. Have to go 4-1 from here out. Can it be done by these Vancouver Canucks? post your answer yes or no, and a comment if required. *http://www2.canada.com/story.html?id=6114833
    1 point
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