Ilya Mikheyev Posted November 25, 2015 Share Posted November 25, 2015 With pending FAs Bartkowski, Weber and Hamhuis struggling to deserve their contracts this year, and the Canucks lack of AHL depth on defense, the Canucks are probably going to need to acquire some defense going into next season. Of course, lots could change between now and then, maybe the Canucks will even be able to sign one of the better FAs out there—or maybe the Canucks will move one D for another. There's lots of variables, but one idea for depth is to pull an already established pairing from the KHL. Likely, Hamhuis will turn it around, as history says he's a solid defenseman. Former Nashville 1st rounder Johnathan Blum, former USA WJC Captain and Vancouver Giants Captain who put up 18 points in 17 WHL playoff games one year, is playing with former Flyer 3rd rounder and NHL depth defenseman Oskar Bartulis on the Admiral. Bartulis is currently the team's captain. Both players' contracts end after this year. Blum was a RFA, but will lose that status after this year. Bartulis is 28 and no NHL team owns his rights anymore. The pairing are a kind of "typical" successful pairing: Blum is a right-handed defenseman with PP QB abilities and a good transition game. Bartulis is a left-handed defenseman with a nice slapshot, but a better defensive game. Blum could very well become Vancouver's Ryan Ellis/Kris Russell type player and give the Canucks a potential RH on the PP. And Bartulis has already put up his best professional numbers since a rookie AHL year in 2008, and will likely break that too, playing next to Blum. Blum is leading the Admiral's defense in points and is 2nd on the team in that category. Blum is 6'0, 190 pounds with a smooth, quick skating ability and Bartulis is 6'2, 202 pounds and while not "overly" aggressive, is solid on the puck and along the boards (at least from watching him in his pre-KHL days). Blum is from California and Bartulis is from Riga, both of whom played in the CHL before being drafted which makes you believe they want to be NHLers. Blum has consistently put up .5+ PPG at every level so far, except the NHL, where he has 24 points in 110 games...but 22 points in 90 games came in Nashville, his later call-ups with Minnesota were less successful, but his role was more diminished. The Admiral are looking like a playoff lock this year. The other plus side to bringing them over together is that they have already developed chemistry, rather than trying to put two random depth FAs together and hoping for some magic to happen. Familiarity can also be valueable and enticing for some players. Bartulis was also the defensive partner for Keith Yandle for a year in Moncton, Yandle being one of the prized FAs of next off-season. So they could start off as defenseman 7-8 and earn their way back into the NHL or play bottom pairing minutes, depending on the Canucks situation. Vague proposal: Sign Johnathan Blum & Oskar Bartulis on identical 1-way, 1-year contracts at 950,000 (the amount you can bury in the AHL). Let Weber and Bartkowski walk. Plan to play with 8 D on the roster next year, unless training camp shows someone else deserves it. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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