Positivity/Schadenfreude: Who Are the Canucks Outscoring This Year?

Since my last positivity post was so well-received, I thought I would sneak one more in before the holidays were over. This one adds a little Schadenfreude to the mix, by looking at which players the current Vancouver Canucks are outscoring around the league. I tried to restrict it to players that A) had played a similar number of games to their comparable and B) was within a few points. There aren’t really meant to be any real conclusions drawn from this, but I thought it was an interesting perspective to take.

 

Bo Horvat

Is Outscoring Tyler Johnson and Sean Monahan 23 to 20/21- Both of these players were considered near certainties to develop into first line centers, whereas Horvat was never given a chance. This season, the tables have turned.

 

Henrik Sedin

Is Tied With Joe Thornton 24 to 24- The Sedins aren’t having their best offensive season, but it’s nice to see that Henrik is at least keeping pace with his strongest contemporary, Jumbo Joe.

 

Daniel Sedin

Is Outscoring Jonathan Toews 22 to 18- Not only is it good to see Daniel outscoring a legitimate superstar, the fact that it’s a Chicago Blackhawk player makes it all the more enjoyable.

 

Loui Eriksson

Is Tied With 18-year old Sam Bennett 18 to 18- Accidentally read Lucic’s PIM column instead of points. Eriksson does not have as many points as him, but is tied with 20-year old 18-year old Sam Bennett, so he’s got that going for him.

 

Sven Baertschi

Is Outscoring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 18 to 16- Baertschi has been hot of late, and is now outscoring recent first overall draft pick “The Nuge.” Can’t complain about that.

 

Brandon Sutter

Is Outscoring Nick Bonino 18 to 17- These two will be forever tied by the fact they were traded for one another, and it looks like Sutter has the edge as far as this season goes.

 

Alex Burrows

Is Outscoring Patrice Bergeron 14 to 8!- What a great year for Burrows, and what an awful year for Bergeron. Will be fun if Burrows receives more Selke votes than Bergeron this year!

 

Markus Granlund

Is Outscoring Boone Jenner 14 to 11- Jenner was considered an elite young talent while Granlund was considered a cast-off, but things look very different this season.

 

Jannik Hansen

Is Outscoring Anthony Duclair 9 to 7- Not only is Hansen outscoring the once-promising Duclair, he’s doing it in far fewer games played.

 

Jack Skille

Is Outscoring Dale Weise 6 to 4- Former Canuck Dale Weise ran his mouth about the franchise after departing it, so it’s nice to see the marquee free agent being outscored by training camp invite Skille.

 

Brendan Gaunce

Is Outscoring Jimmy Hayes 4 to 3- Gaunce hasn’t exactly lit it up, but at least he’s outscoring some Boston “talent.”

 

Derek Dorsett

Is Outscoring Tom Wilson 4 to 3- Tom Wilson was touted as the perfect 4th line player, but Dorsett has played the role with greater effectiveness this season.

 

Michael Chaput

Is Outscoring Nick Bjugstad3 to 2- Bjugstad was injured to start the year, but he’s only put up two points since. Chaput was expected to be an AHLer but is outpacing him.

 

Jayson Megna

Is Outscoring Patrick Sharp 3 to 2- Former Blackhawk Sharp victimized the Canucks regularly, so who could have expected him to be outscored by unlikely top-liner Jayson Megna?

 

Jake Virtanen

Is Outscoring Curtis Lazar 1 to 0- Let’s hear it for little victories!

 

Troy Stecher

Is Outscoring Jarome Iginla 10 to 9- That’s right, former Canuck destroyer Jarome Iginla is getting outscored by a rookie defenseman who hasn’t even played the whole season.

 

Ben Hutton

Is Outscoring Dan Hamhuis 10 to 8- Hamhuis left the Canucks for the Dallas Stars, who have greatly disappointed this season. Hutton, meanwhile, appears to be trending in the other direction.

 

Luca Sbisa

Is Outscoring Zdeno Chara 9 to 8- I think this one speaks for itself.

 

Erik Gudbranson

Is Outscoring Jared McCann 6 to 3- Sure, Gudbranson is injured, but McCann is in the minors, and that’s undoubtedly worse.

 

Alex Edler

Is Outscoring Niklas Kronwall 4 to 3- The battle of the aging, injury-prone Swedish defenders goes to Edler this year, so far.

 

Nikita Tryamkin

Is Outscoring Ryan Murray 4 to 3- Murray is one of the most highly-touted young defensemen in the league, but here’s a mostly-unknown Russian import outscoring him.

 

Philip Larsen

Is Outscoring Cody Ceci 4 to 3- Larsen has missed a lot of time this year, but he’s still outpacing highly-regarded Ottawa rearguard Cody Ceci.

 

Chris Tanev

Is Outscoring Olli Maatta 3 to 2- Maatta is supposed to be an offensive defenseman. Tanev is not.

 

Alex Biega

Is Outscoring Dmitry Kulikov 2 to 1- Kulikov was Buffalo’s big acquisition on defense. I wonder if they knew Biega was available?

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 19-25

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 19-25

Who Had a Good Week:

Jannik Hansen- Hansen took awhile to get going after his bout with broken ribs, but this week he reminded everyone of why he continues to be a fan favourite. Hansen was right back to driving the play on the Sedin line, and continued to improve their play. His injury is unfortunate for multiple reasons.

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi has been playing like a man possessed of late. He has some defensive wrinkles to work out in his game, but his chemistry with Horvat makes that less of a priority for him. He’s been operating at a point-per-game for awhile now, and it remains to be seen just what heights this duo can reach.

 Bo Horvat- The team struggled to find offense this week, but Horvat wasn’t to blame for it. Horvat had two strong games against the gigantic Winnipeg Jets, which are particularly large at center. He is exactly the kind of center the team needs to succeed in the West.

 Luca Sbisa- Sbisa kept the good times rolling with another strong week. His ice-time was through the roof this week, including playing over 25 minutes Tuesday against the Jets. Sbisa’s chemistry with Stecher is going to keep him in the lineup longer than expected.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

 Jannik Hansen- Yes, Hansen makes both lists this week. This is only because of how depressing it is to lose the Great Dane to yet another injury. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

 Nobody Else- It’s the holidays after all. Injuries are negative enough, so no need to inject any more negativity into the narrative. Everyone gets a rest, so that’s a good week for all.

 

Roster Talk:

 Just a reminder, the NHL holiday roster freeze is now in effect. No more trades or waivers until December 28th!

 Hansen’s injury meant another chance for Loui Eriksson with the Sedins. Fans had been clamouring for this, and although it’s really unfortunate Hansen had to go down for it to happen, it will be interesting to see how it pans out. Eriksson has to look at this as a mid-season audition.

 Alex Biega is racking up some games played, which might soon make him eligible to fill the team’s defensive exposure requirements for the upcoming expansion draft. This might not mean anything, but it does give the team some flexibility, including the possibility of trading Sbisa.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

 Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,888th point to pass Mark Messier for 2nd all time in NHL scoring. Canuck fans are no doubt ecstatic to see Public Enemy One bumped down the list, and the thought that this event may have brought him any sadness at all is a true holiday miracle.

 The Canucks damaged a Saddledome camera during the pre-game warmup on Friday. Seeing as how the Canucks have had some really bad times in the Saddledome in years past, perhaps we can consider this a measure of revenge. I know that’s a stretch for Schadenfreude, but that’s all you’re getting this week.

 

Comets Report:

 The Utica Comets had just one game this week, heading into their holiday break, and it wasn’t a great one. The Comets dropped a Wednesday contest against the Providence Bruins to the tune of 3-1. Darren Archibald kept up his great play with a goal, assisted by Cody Kunyk and David Shields. Jake Virtanen and Anton Rodin both went scoreless, and Thatcher Demko had his worst game of the season, letting in three goals on eight shots and being pulled.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-Both of Nikita Tryamkin’s goals have come against Calgary, and both have deflected in off a winger unpopular in Vancouver (Hunter Shinkaruk last time, Kris Versteeg this time).

-The home-and-home series against the Jets was a great way to ring in the holiday season, and both games had a real bite to them. Here’s hoping for more home-and-homes against rival teams in coming seasons.

-Olli Juolevi was unsurprisingly named the captain of Team Finland for the World Junior Championships. His team has medal aspirations, and should be almost as interesting as Team Canada for Canuck fans.

-Juolevi and Lukas Jasek were both named the Player of the Game in their exhibition matches against Canada. Ultimately, pretty meaningless, but still nice to see, especially from Jasek.

-The return of Anton Rodin was also a nice present for the Canucks. After he put up a point-per-game in the preseason, fans were understandably hyped, but that cooled a bit after Rodin went out of sight for a few months. Here’s hoping he can quickly reignite things.

-Mathieu Perrault’s knee on Jannik Hansen was yet another controversial hit against a Canuck that went unpunished by the Department of Player Safety. Apparently, their primary goal is to provide a safe environment in which to injure Vancouver Canucks.

-1200 games for Henrik Sedin is a big milestone. No one has ever hit that mark in Canucks history, and only 17 other players have done so while playing for one NHL team.

-Speaking of milestones, ICYMI, John Tortorella did not actually achieve his 500th win against the Canucks. It seems that the media, in an effort to create a storyline, forgot that Tortorella missed out on some wins while a Canuck due to his lengthy suspension for trespassing.

 -Happy Holidays, everyone! Thanks for making my first year of sportswriting a fun one. See you all in the New Year!

The Positivity Report: One Nice Thing About Every Canuck

It’s the holidays, and most people are looking for any good cheer they can get, so let’s take some time to celebrate all the good that has come from this Canuck season. There have been some lows, sure, but forget about that for now. Like an elementary school civics lesson, we’re going to try to say something nice about every single Canuck!

Henrik Sedin- With just eight more points, Henrik Sedin will become the first player to ever hit 1000 points while wearing a Canuck jersey, further solidifying himself as the great Canuck of all time.

Daniel Sedin- Daniel is a little further off than brother Henrik from 1000 points, due to injuries, and he might not make it there this season. Even if he doesn’t, he and his brother are very likely to pass Henri and Maurice Richard as the second highest scoring pair of siblings in NHL history.

Jannik Hansen- Hansen’s injuries have been a bummer, but when he’s been in the lineup his production has maintained a steady clip, which wasn’t exactly expected. Hansen is also a hero for fighting Nazem Kadri with broken ribs. 

Loui Eriksson- Eriksson’s improved production of late is reason enough for positivity, but I’d like to highlight his own goal on opening night. What better way to establish that he truly belongs on the hard-luck Canucks?

 Bo Horvat- Horvat was once described as a “safe” draft pick. This season, he established himself as the best player on the team and raised serious questions about his potential as a first line center. He’s come quite a long way.

 Sven Baertschi- After an extremely cold start, Baertschi has basically been a point-per-game player since. If he can maintain the pace, Horvat won’t be the only one whose top line potential is being discussed.

 Alex Burrows- Burrows was nearly bought out this summer, but this season he’s re-established himself as a valuable NHL player. Burrows might even be looking at an extension in the summer if he’s not dealt at the deadline.

 Brandon Sutter- Sutter is on pace to have the best production of his career, and may hit 50 points, which makes for a nice bounceback from last year’s injury-plagued season. Has improved in the faceoff circle.

Markus Granlund- After his trade to the Canucks was widely lambasted, Granlund has established himself as a solid NHL player, unlike the player he was dealt for. Granlund is set to surpass all of his career highs, and was even outscoring his more-famous brother for awhile.

Brendan Gaunce- Gaunce has quietly stepped into the NHL lineup without looking too out of place. Plays an efficient game that doesn’t get a lot of notice, but also doesn’t cause any problems for his team.

 Derek Dorsett- Dorsett was playing perhaps his best hockey as a Canuck before being injured. It sounds as though he’s getting relief for a chronic injury right now, so that’s a major positive for him.

 Jack Skille- Skille might have thought he was out of chances at the NHL level, but injuries have allowed him to have a nearly constant presence in the lineup. Occasionally shows off the skills that made him such a high draft pick.

 Michael Chaput- Chaput was expected to spend most of the season in the AHL, but he’s only ten games away from hitting his career best in NHL games played for a season. Only needs two more points to hit another personal best.

 Jayson Megna- Megna played his way into being the Canucks’ top winger call-up, and injuries have since given him a solid shot at NHL time. His two goal performance was an obvious highlight.

 Jake Virtanen- Fans wanted Virtanen to go down to Utica and dominate, and he eventually went on quite a goal-scoring tear. While he has since cooled off a bit, Virtanen has maintained a good attitude and is gaining confidence at that level.

 Joe LaBate- Big Joe LaBate was once thought an NHL long-shot, but he has already played his first NHL game in only his third pro season. Continues to physically dominate on the farm.

Anton Rodin- Rodin tore it up in the preseason, and managed to rehab himself back into the lineup after yet another injury setback. Should be fresh for the post-holiday portion of the season.

 Mike Zalewski- Zalewski was a long-shot to even get an NHL contract, so being an occasional call-up is a great achievement for him. Chaput’s time in the NHL has meant more time for Zalewski.

 

Chris Tanev- Tanev is a steadying presence on the blueline, and the constant trade rumours from other markets shows how valued he is around the league. His injuries have also allowed for greater opportunity for younger players.

 Alex Edler- Edler, before his injury, was showing a willingness to hit and to shoot that had been missing in his game during recent seasons. His back issues appear to be behind him (no pun intended).

 Troy Stecher- Do I really need to say anything positive about Stecher? Is there anything negative about him? NCAA free agents are hit or miss, but to have one step directly into the lineup and contribute like Stecher has is nearly unprecedented.

 Ben Hutton- Hutton experienced a bit of a sophomore slump to start the season, but he never let it get him down. Easily the cheeriest player on the Canucks, and fans appreciate it.

 Erik Gudbranson- Gudbranson proved his importance to the team during the Toronto debacle, protecting his team’s honour against the very intimidating Matt Martin. Seems like a Grade-A teammate.

 Luca Sbisa- Sbisa got the fans and advanced stats fanatics off his back this season with a bit of a bounceback performance and solid underlying stats. He’s clicked with Troy Stecher of late.

 Nikita Tryamkin- Tryamkin was criticized for showing up at camp out of shape, but he practiced his way back into shape and thus impressed his coaches. Once he entered the lineup, he never left.

 Alex Biega- Biega was a depressing sight in the pressbox every night, but one has to remember he’s making an NHL paycheque to do so. Still, it has been nice to see Biega finally get some action and put his bulldog-like nature on display once again.

 Philip Larsen- Larsen did show a solid ability to get shots on the net during the powerplay, which had been a problem for the Canucks. Is recovering well from a brutal concussion.

 

 Ryan Miller- Miller has played well enough behind a less-than-experienced defense to maintain his role as the de facto starter. Miller has also put in a good enough performance to draw interest from other teams for a deadline deal. Proved himself a hero by defending Stecher against Matt Martin.

 Jacob Markstrom- Markstrom also proved himself a hero by shielding the unconscious Philip Larsen’s body from stampeding players, and also by blocking the douchebag trying to take a picture of the scene.

 

 BONUS: Willie Desjardins- Desjardins is an embattled coach on the hotseat, but he deserves credit for a number of things. First and foremost is the fact that under his coaching, Horvat, Baertschi, Hutton, Granlund, and Stecher have all entered the NHL lineup and thrived with little to no previous NHL experience. Something about Willie’s coaching style makes for a smoother transition into the NHL for young players, and the organization is reaping the rewards of that already.

The Iron-Clad Case for the Sedins in the HHOF

The Sedin twins have been taking a lot of criticism this season, and some of it is definitely fair. The two franchise icons are showing their age and noticeably slowing down, an issue that is compounded by the fact that they were never all that fast to begin with. Still, the Sedins continue to work hard every night and maintain a point-per-game average that is more than respectable, and it’s important for fans to not lose focus on what we’re really witnessing: the tail end of the careers of the two greatest players in Vancouver Canucks history.

The Sedins are quickly approaching some serious milestones. Henrik Sedin will become the first Canuck to cross the 1000 point mark sometime in January, as he only needs 10 more points. Daniel is 37 points from 1000, which sadly means he isn’t guaranteed to hit it this season, but will for sure by 2017/18. Perhaps more impressively, the Sedins will likely pass Henri and Maurice Richard for second all time in NHL points between brothers. Right now, they trail the legendary Richards by 58 points, which they should easily pick up this season barring any unfortunate injuries. This would leave the Sedins trailing only the inhuman Wayne Gretzky and the four points of his brother Brent.

With all that being said, now seems like as good a time as any to talk about the Hockey Hall of Fame status of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Many used to scoff at the notion, but the hockey world in general has warmed up to the idea since. When one looks at all the variables, it’s hard not to think that the twins are a virtual slam dunk for HHOF inclusion.

 

The Raw Stats

Both Sedins will finish their careers with over 1000 points, which is usually the standard, generic benchmark for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Their goal totals are arguably low for HHOF standards, but that’s due to their style of play. Daniel’s stat-line looks more like a stereotypical Hall of Famer with his nearly 400 goals, but that only highlights Henrik’s status as an all-time great playmaker. The fact that these totals were accumulated with one single franchise definitely helps make them look more impressive.

Very few players from the same era as the Sedins will have topped their point totals when all is said and done. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are firmly in another generation of players, so Joe Thornton and Martin St. Louis are left as the only two contemporary players with stats anywhere near the Sedins’ ballpark. Thornton’s totals are nearly impossible for the twins to catch, but each should surpass St. Louis sometime next season.

While the Sedins may not have the mind-blowing statistical accomplishments of some other HHOF members, one has to remember that they did all this while playing in one of the lowest scoring eras in NHL history. While the Sedins did enjoy an uptick in offense in the wake of the 2005 lockout and its tightened rulebook, they played most of their careers in the “dead puck” eras that bookended that brief offensive flourish.

This list of all-time NHL leaders in adjusted points, maintained by hockey-reference.com, is not a perfect science, but it does rank Henrik and Daniel at 61st and 67th respectively, as opposed to their real-life ranks of 84 and 91:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/leaders/points_adjusted_career.html

By this method of counting points, the Sedins are sure to finish inside the top 50 of all-time. No matter how inexact you believe the science of adjusting points to be, that’s an incredibly impressive accomplishment. Tweaked stats aside, the twins will likely finish their careers inside the top 75 raw point scorers in NHL history, another great accomplishment.

 

The Accomplishments

Speaking of accomplishments, the Sedins have some of the individual variety that strongly suggest they are HHOF material. Both Sedins have an Art Ross Trophy, but Henrik has the ultimate trump card with his 2010 Hart Trophy. Only two Hart Trophy winners, Tommy Anderson and Al Rollins, have not been subsequently elected to the Hall of Fame, and it’s been more than half a century since. However, the Art Rosses might be more important, overall, as no player has ever won the Art Ross and then missed out on Hall inclusion.

As team members, the Sedins are still missing that ever elusive Stanley Cup, although they do have a finals appearance. On the international stage, their Olympic Gold Medals in 2006 and World Championship Gold in 2013 are obvious standouts that only help their HHOF case.

 

The Comparables

The Sedins are easily the very best of their own draft class, with fellow Swede Henrik Zetterberg the only other draftee anywhere near HHOF status. Looking at the two adjacent draft years, 1998 and 2000, there are also no other sure-fire Hall of Famers, although Pavel Datsyuk and his shortened career will probably make the cut.

One has to go back two full drafts to find anyone who could be considered more Hall-worthy than the Sedins, and that’s Joe Thornton in 1997 and his nearly 1,400 points, along with their former teammate Roberto Luongo. All of this goes to show that whenever the Sedins retire, there won’t be many, if any, better candidates for HHOF entry. It seems likely that the twins won’t just enter the Hall, but do so as first balloters.

 

The Uniqueness

The Sedins should each get into the Hockey Hall of Fame based on their individual accomplishments, but the fact remains that they didn’t really achieve those results as individuals. The Sedins have been inextricably linked throughout their careers, and have played approximately 99% of the time on each other’s line. They’ve each indisputably boosted and defined the other’s hockey legacy. However, that shouldn’t be held against them, and especially not when it comes to Hockey Hall of Fame inclusion. The word “fame” is right in there, after all, and the notion of having two twin brothers playing a team sport together at an elite level isn’t just unique to hockey, but to all of sports. There have been other twins that played professional sports together, but none have dominated their games quite like the Sedins.

All in all, the question of whether or not the Sedins will one day be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame shouldn’t even be a question anymore. No matter what happens throughout the rest of their careers, one can probably bank on them entering the Hall exactly three years after their retirements. And one can also bet good money that they’ll do so together.

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 12-18

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 12-18

Who Had a Good Week:

Luca Sbisa- Alright, credit where credit is due. Sbisa had a good week, with his nice goal, solid fight against Carolina, and continued meshing with Stecher. Sbisa is currently a stable presence on the blueline, which is a nice surprise.

Bo Horvat- After a bit of an offensive dry spell, Horvat bounced back with four points in three games this week. Horvat was an underappreciated part of Jannik Hansen’s dramatic goal against Columbus, digging the puck out for Hansen and then using his speed to befuddle the defense and open space for Hansen.

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi responded as well as could be hoped after a healthy scratch, immediately putting up three points in his return and looking dangerous on most shifts. Baertschi got a point in each of the next games, too, and continues to show chemistry with Horvat.

Alex Burrows- It wouldn’t be fair to mention Horvat and Baertschi without mentioning Burrows, who also put up four points this week. The expected drop-off in Burrows’ production hasn’t happened yet, and maybe it won’t.

 Ben Hutton- Hutton only got one goal (that counted) on the week, but he looked like a dangerous offensive threat throughout. More importantly, Hutton ate up some important minutes, leading all Canuck defenders in ice time against Columbus, despite the presence of Chris Tanev.

 Brandon Sutter- While the debate over Sutter’s effectiveness with the Sedins is still up for debate, none can deny that, individually, he is having a great season. Sutter also managed to put up four points this week, including three goals, and looked strong at center between Markus Granlund and Loui Eriksson.

 Markus Granlund- Granlund put up three points in three games, but more importantly he continued to look like an NHL with actual offensive potential. His chemistry with Sutter was on full display once again.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

 Nikita Tryamkin- The defense is going to have to take some of the heat for the Canucks’ losses this week, and Tryamkin may have been the worst of the bunch. Tryamkin’s play has slowly worn down in the previous weeks, and his lack of a solid partner appears to be hurting his performance. Tryamkin has been caught looking foolish on a number of plays lately.

 Alex Biega- Biega has finally got a bit of time in the lineup, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he looks like an NHL defenseman. Biega is noticeably outmatched several times per game, and he leaves his D partner with a lot to compensate for.

 Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom- Miller can’t be blamed for the defensive collapse against Carolina, but he didn’t do much to stop the bleeding. He and Jacob Markstrom each had a dismal .800 save percentage in that stinker. Miller played much better against Tampa Bay, but followed that up with a lackluster performance in the loss to Columbus.

 Willie Desjardins- The loss to Carolina was among the most embarrassing single games in Canuck history, and the full-team nature of the collapse meant that much of the blame was (fairly) placed at Desjardins’ feet. He was already on the hot seat coming into the season, and it’s hard to imagine his seat getting much hotter than it is right now without something happening.

 

Roster Talk:

 When will Alex Grenier get a chance with the Canucks? He continues to light it up in the AHL for Utica, and provides much more of a well-rounded game than current call-up Jayson Megna does.

 The week marked the return of Jonathan Drouin rumours, but I don’t think they’re very realistic. Tampa Bay still views Drouin as a franchise talent, meaning the cost to acquire him would start with Chris Tanev and escalate from there. The Lightning would be interested in the types of assets the Canucks want to hang on to.

 The Trade Deadline is still a few months away, but the chances of the Canucks playing themselves into playoff contention between now and then are slim. If another losing skid hits, look for the Canucks to start preparing to enter seller-mode.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

As John Tortorella returns to Vancouver at the helm of a red-hot Columbus team, it’s important to remember that the Canucks will be receiving a compensatory 2nd round draft pick from the Blue Jackets in exchange for Torts’ rights. Tortorella is finding success now, but he has a reputation of only working out in the short-term, and either way, the Canucks are receiving fantastic value for a coach they didn’t want anymore.

The Frank Corrado saga is an interesting one for Canuck fans. On the one hand, it’s nice schadenfreude for fans who were told by their Torontonian counterparts that waiving Corrado was a huge mistake. On the other hand, it’s hard not to feel bad for Frankie, who was a fan favourite while in Vancouver and is now having his development seemingly purposefully stalled by Mike Babcock.

One more Schadenfreude than usual this week. Gregory Campbell, and his father Colin, are not very popular amongst Vancouverites. (Hmm, both Vancouverite and Torontonian are real words according to Microsoft). Gregory had his NHL contract with Columbus terminated on Sunday, and although it’s never nice to cheer for what is likely the end of someone’s career, there are probably some Canuck fans, still smarting from the advantages Gregory and the Bruins gained from his father’s position of power, that are smiling at this news.

 

Comets Report:

Things got a little more interesting for the Utica Comets this week, as the oft-injured Anton Rodin joined the club for a conditioning stint. Unfortunately, by the week’s end, he had likely re-injured himself and sat out the team’s final game. Not the kind of conditioning the team was hoping for, to say the least.

The Comets, with Rodin dressing, kicked things off with a 3-2 loss to Albany on Wednesday. As always, I would like to remind readers that Albany is the capital of New York State, which is just bizarre. Thatcher Demko made it back in time to lose the game, in OT, while Rodin himself picked up a nice assist on Alex Grenier’s goal. Pascal Pelletier got the other assist on the goal, and potted a goal of his own, assisted by Jordan Subban and Grenier. The veteran Pelletier has been hot since joining the Comets.

Two nights later, Utica was held scoreless in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the corporate-sponsored St. John’s Ice Caps. Demko only made 17 saves in the loss, but Jake Virtanen was one of the few Comets to retain an even plus/minus rating on the night. Grenier beat up Ulf Samuelsson’s son, so that’s something positive to take away from this:

http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/135418

Things looked better on Saturday, when the Comets jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Binghamton. Unfortunately, they then surrendered four straight goals in Canuck-like fashion, falling 4-3 in overtime. Michael Garteig was in net for the loss, but put up 28 saves. Curtis Valk, Subban, and Cole Cassels scored for Utica, while Grenier, Pelletier and Darren Archibald maintained their strong play with an assist each. Anton Rodin did not dress, although the exact reasons for this are still unclear. Virtanen accomplished little, but did mix it up a bit with Michael Blunden.

Joe LaBate chucked a huge hit at a Senator, and then whooped Patrick Sieloff in the subsequent fight. I’ll link it here both to show off LaBate’s physicality and to showcase the awful ugly sweater variants the Sens were wearing:

http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/135455

 

 

Bits and Bobs:

-I missed talking about the Jamie Oleksiak suspension last week, so I will now. Canuck fans were a bit perturbed at the suspension, not because Oleksiak shouldn’t have been suspended, but because his transgression was remarkably similar to Nazem Kadri’s hit on Daniel Sedin. There’s an obvious size difference at play, but that appears to be the only separation between the two incidents.

-ICYMI, John Tortorella had a little tiff with Jason Botchford, refusing to answer his questions because he “didn’t like” him.  Another reminder that Tortorella was another in a long line of entertaining Canuck coaches, despite his overall lack of success in Vancouver.

-Was the Carolina rout the most embarrassing ever? The strongest argument against it is the March 10, 2014 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders, which saw the Canucks give up seven third period goals to lose 7-4.

-The Canucks lack of depth is being exposed a bit now that injuries are becoming a concern. This had to be expected given the team’s history, and is part of what will keep the team in the basement this season.

-Mattias Ohlund entering the Ring of Honour is definitely a wise choice. My personal favourite memory of Ohlund will always be his rivalry with Jarome Iginla, which got downright vicious at times.

-Brock Boeser’s injury might just be the most depressing news of the holiday season for Canuck fans, who were all excited to see him perform at the World Junior Championships. Here’s hoping he can recover quickly and go on a tear to close out his NCAA career.

-Guillaume Brisebois’s cut from Team Canada was another World Junior disappointment, although no an entirely unexpected one. Olli Juolevi, on Finland, and Lukas Jasek, on the Czech Republic, are the only remaining Canuck prospects at the WJC.

-Despite the scorn heaped on Willie Desjardins for the Baertschi scratch, it sure is hard to say it didn’t work. A reminder that NHL coaches know a lot more than fans when it comes to motivating their players.

-With Erik Gudbranson being injured long-term, maybe it’s time to re-visit the Hutton-Tryamkin pairing. It looked good last year, and there’s really no reason not to.

-Many fans are wondering when Jordan Subban will get a call-up. Hard to believe it won’t happen soon, with Edler and Gudbranson still out for the foreseeable future.

-A final note on Willie Desjardins. He seems to have an interesting philosophy when it comes to physical play. Players like Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Tryamkin, Luca Sbisa, and Jake Virtanen have all seen a gradual decline in their physicality while under Desjardins’ coaching system. Each of them seems to have suffered for it. The unleashing of these beasts might be the single most exciting prospect of the immediate post-Desjardins era.

My Vision for the Next Five Canuck Seasons

With all the pessimism permeating the fanbase lately, there’s been an enormous amount of discussion about the team’s future. I thought this would be a great time to put into words my own vision of the team’s future, and more specifically, how I see the team performing and developing over the next five seasons. At the end, I’ll take a look at what the ages of some key players will be once the process is complete.

My reasons for believing in this overall “plan” have already been detailed, in some previous posts of mine, so I won’t go into detail on those again. Anyone interested can read more on my blog, and I specifically recommend these two links:

https://hockeytalkie.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/an-investigation-into-the-efficacy-of-full-rebuilds-using-the-blackhawks-kings-penguins-and-lightning-as-case-studies/

https://hockeytalkie.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/jim-benning-and-the-plan-a-full-assessment-of-his-performance-thus-far/

 

Something not mentioned in the above, that I want to mention now, is that a true rebuilding process demands not just one or two years of good drafting, but many. This is because a rebuilding team needs to acquire talent in later rounds, which always takes awhile to develop, and needs young talent to still be entering the lineup as the team becomes competitive to help with cap flexibility.

 

First and foremost, I’ve said before that I consider the Canucks to be a likely lottery team for 2016/17, and that looks to be true, so far. Overall, I predicted three lottery seasons throughout the youth movement/retool/rebuild/insert trendy label here, and that should include last season, this season, and one more.

 

2013/14 and 2014/15 Seasons: Last ditch attempts to compete with a Sedin-led core, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

2015/16 Season: Lottery finish, but an unfortunate bump-back in draft order due to Canuck luck.

2016/17 Season: Shaping up to be another lottery finish, though hopefully with better fortune with the actual lottery. The team should gain multiple promising prospects from the 2017 draft, including one high pick.

2017/18 Season: Another lottery finish, but probably not bottom three. Brock Boeser should join the team, and Olli Juolevi might, too. There is also a chance the team’s 2017 top draft pick makes the immediate leap to the NHL.

2018/19 Season: The first signs of competitiveness. The team should flirt with the playoffs at this point. They will have added and hopefully integrated draft picks from at least two lottery seasons. The Sedins’ contracts will also end before this season, allowing for a huge amount of roster flexibility. Sbisa’s contract ends, too. Again, the team should be continuing to inject youth into the lineup as players like Thatcher Demko, Adam Gaudette, and later 2016 and 2017 draft picks start making more frequent appearances. Several key players will be entering or in the midst of their primes.

Player Ages at This Point:

The Sedins: 38

Bo Horvat: 23

Loui Eriksson: 33

Brandon Sutter: 29

Sven Baertschi: 26

Markus Granlund: 25

Jake Virtanen: 22

Brendan Gaunce: 24

Brock Boeser: 21

Adam Gaudette: 22

 

Chris Tanev: 29

Troy Stecher: 24

Ben Hutton: 25

Alex Edler: 32

Erik Gudbranson: 26

Nikita Tryamkin: 24

Jordan Subban: 23

Olli Juolevi: 20

Guillaume Brisebois: 21

 

Jacob Markstrom: 28

Thatcher Demko: 23

 

2017 Draftees: 19/20

2018 Draftees: 18/19

 

2019/20 Season: Perhaps a setback year of sorts, which are common among developing teams. If the team made the playoffs in the previous year, perhaps they’ll narrowly miss. Derek Dorsett and Alex Edler’s contracts will be up, allowing for plenty of room to re-sign Ben Hutton after his bridge deal expires. If the team continues to draft well, there will be ample replacements for whoever the team lets go.

2020/21 Season: If the youth movement was successful, the team should be competitive for quite a few seasons from this point forward. From here on out, Stanley Cup contention should not be a pipedream, but a legitimate discussion each year. The talent acquired in the lottery seasons should be entering their primes right around here, and current youth like Horvat and Stecher will still be in the midst of theirs. If top flight talent was picked up in each year, and a few gems were found in later rounds, the team should be in very good shape, and still have cap comfort.

Player Ages at This Point:

Bo Horvat: 25

Loui Eriksson: 35

Brandon Sutter: 31

Sven Baertschi: 28

Markus Granlund: 27

Jake Virtanen: 24

Brendan Gaunce: 26

Brock Boeser: 23

Adam Gaudette: 24

 

Chris Tanev: 31

Troy Stecher: 26

Ben Hutton: 27

Erik Gudbranson: 28

Nikita Tryamkin: 26

Jordan Subban: 25

Olli Juolevi: 22

Guillaume Brisebois: 23

 

Jacob Markstrom: 30

Thatcher Demko: 25

 

2017 Draftees: 21/22

2018 Draftees: 20/21

2019 Draftees: 19/20

2020 Draftees: 18/19

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 5-11

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of December 5-11

Who Had a Good Week:

Jack Skille- This was the week of Jack Skille’s career. Skille scored three absolutely gorgeous goals, and found himself skating alongside Bo Horvat. Skille showed some of the talent that lead to his high draft selection.

 Troy Stecher- With Edler and Tanev on the sidelines, Stecher has somehow stepped right in as a competent number one defenseman. Stecher’s presence has proven a stabilizing force for even Luca Sbisa, who is putting up big minutes next to the rookie.

 Erik Gudbranson- Gudbranson got his first of the year, but that’s not the only reason he’s on this list. He also put up some quality defensive play throughout the week, and had a good performance against his former team, giving some of his former friends a rough ride.

 Jayson Megna- Megna deserves some mention for his two goal performance. In general, Megna doesn’t look too dangerous out there, but it’s good to know he can capitalize when the chances come.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Brandon Sutter- The advanced stats crowd has come out in full force against Brandon Sutter’s deployment alongside the Sedins, and it appears that the coaching staff has given in. Sutter was demoted to second/third-line center again, with Jannik Hansen taking his place. Sutter hadn’t been having his best week up until that point.

 Jacob Markstrom- Markstrom had a chance to impress with Ryan Miller out, but he failed to do so. Markstrom played solidly, but his goals against average for the week is not pretty, and he simply didn’t look like a number one goalie. Markstrom needs to go on a good run sometime soon.

 Michael Chaput- Chaput was finally demoted back from the top-six, and fans breathed a sigh of relief. Chaput was outshone by other depth players this week, and may soon find himself in Utica. Chaput was at the center of some drama, at least, fighting twice in the infamous New Jersey game.

 

Roster Talk:

 There was a bit of chatter about a potential Sedin trade this week, so it’s a fair subject to address. Realistically, there is just no way the Canucks could trade both Sedins to the same team without salary retention, or taking on some bad contracts, which should be avoided. The Sedins take up $14 million of cap space together, and nobody has that kind of room. If the Canucks were to retain half of their salaries, however, the potential return for them could be absolutely massive. Think multiple firsts and a bluechip prospect or two.

It was also noted that the Canucks had shown interest in Peter Holland, who was eventually dealt from the Maple Leafs to Arizona. Given that the Coyotes only paid a conditional 6th rounder for Holland, it’s doubtful that the Canucks showed much interest at all. The Canucks probably offered a similar return but asked the Leafs to take a contract back in return for Holland, which Toronto wasn’t interested in.

 With the Canucks showing interest in Holland, it might have been nice to see them grab Josh Jooris on waivers. Jooris was a semi-power forward who often played well against the Canucks for the rival Flames, and had spent some time playing in Abbotsford. Alas, the Coyotes got him first, but it would be interesting to hear if the Canucks put in a claim.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

 Remember when the Colorado Avalanche used to be a major rival? Those days are long past, but perhaps there is enough hatred there for Canuck fans to take joy in Colorado’s 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. The Avalanche, in general, are having a pretty terrible season.

It sounds like former GM and assistant GM Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman might be close to being hired by the Islanders. Gillis has been experiencing a little vindication of late, and to see him replace Garth Snow, a man he was unfavourably compared to during his tenure here, would be nice.

 

Comets Report: 

The Comets’ schedule is starting to feel routine, with a game early in each week followed by a Friday-Saturday back-to-back. The Comets got things started on Wednesday with a 3-2 win over Toronto. Jake Virtanen scored and Jordan Subban got the winner, with Marco Roy also scoring his first of the year. Curtis Valk and Alex Grenier each picked up an assist and continued their team-leading scoring. Thatcher Demko was in net for the win and played great.

Friday, Utica visited Binghamton for a 4-3 loss. Virtanen got another goal on a late effort, assisted by Subban and Grenier, but it was too little, too late. Valk and Borna Rendulic got the other goals, with Darren Archibald notching two assists. Demko picked up the loss.

Another 4-3 loss ensued on Saturday, against the breakfast cereal-esque Syracuse Crunch. Michael Garteig took things to the shootout, where he allowed two of three shots. Virtanen scored yet again but failed to strike in the shootout, with Valk being the only successful Comet. Pascal Pelletier got his first of the season, and Cole Cassels scored his third. Subban and Grenier each got an assist, and Cody Kunyk got two.

 

 Bits and Bobs:

 -Most of all, everyone’s thoughts should be with Philip Larsen. Injuries like that have proven time and time again to be very dangerous and to potentially have serious long-term effects, so the primary concern is that Larsen be able to live a full life after this. Hockey is secondary at this point.

-As for the hit itself, Hall was well within his rights and should not have been suspended. However, it would be nice to see players start to let up in situations like this. Hall clearly anticipated Larsen putting himself into a vulnerable position and lined up his hit accordingly.

-Sven Baertschi’s scratch was a curious move, at best. Baertschi wasn’t at his best this week, but it doesn’t seem like effort is a part of the problem for him. There must be something going on his game the club doesn’t like.

-Anton Rodin is headed to Utica on a conditioning stint, which is great news. It shows that Rodin has a good attitude, for one, and also ensures that he’ll be back on the active roster within two weeks. Here’s hoping he and Virtanen can light it up for awhile.

-Jannik Hansen’s return couldn’t have come at a better time. The team could certainly use a boost, and Hansen provides that in multiple ways. If he is traded at the deadline this year, it will be a sad day for Canuck fans.

-PS: Luca Sbisa Watch is over. Sbisa has played enough games to meet requirements for exposure in the Expansion Draft, so there are now some interesting decisions to be made when all defensemen are healthy. Or is that more of an “if?”

-I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is the first week that Bo Horvat hasn’t made the “Good Week” list. He didn’t have a bad week by any stretch, but it’s worth mentioning.