Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 20-26

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 20-26

Who Had a Good Week:

Brock Boeser- A storybook beginning to what the Canucks hope will be a legendary career. Boeser came exactly as advertised, with a hard and heavy shot and the hockey sense to know how to use it. The criticisms of Boeser’s skating seem a bit overblown, as Boeser doesn’t seem to have much trouble keeping up with Horvat and Baertschi. The instant chemistry with those two is just bonus.

Reid Boucher- Boucher continues to deliver no matter what sort of opportunity he is given. Willie Desjardins doesn’t seem to be his biggest fan, but there’s a lot to like about his lethal shot and his ability to fire it from tight quarters. Scoring two goals from the fourth line against Minnesota was extremely impressive. A must re-sign now.

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi has finally become comfortable in a top-6 position, and his creativity is starting to show on a regular basis. His amazing soccer play on Boeser’s first career goal is good evidence of this. It seems that Horvat and Baertschi take turns driving the play, and that makes them a tough line to play against.

Bo Horvat- Horvat had a bit of a slow start to the week, but he really came alive once Boeser was added to his line. Horvat cracked 50 points this week, and by no means does it look like he’s topped out quite yet.

Chris Tanev- After looking pretty shaky the week before, with rumours swirling about his health, Tanev turned around and delivered one of his best weeks of the season. He was his usual slow and steady self, but also made some noticeable defensive plays by winning some tough battles. He managed to chip in a couple of assists, and even stuck up for Jack Skille when he was hit by Charlie Coyle, chasing the much larger forward all the way down the ice.

Richard Bachman- Bachman is starting to gain a reputation for shutting down high octane offense. Bachman was great against the Wild, and what more could you want from a third-string goaltender?

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Jack Sille- Poor Jack Skille. He finally returned to the lineup after nearly having his role usurped, actually looked pretty good, and was then promptly injured again. This likely hurts Skille’s chances of being re-signed, unfortunately.

Nikolay Goldobin- Goldobin was fairly invisible this week. That’s probably a combination of his recovery from illness and a severe lack of ice time, but it would be great if he could string together some production during the last couple weeks of the season.

 

Roster Talk:

The line of Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat, and Brock Boeser sure looks like a future first line. The aptly-nicknamed BoBoBae line is sure to keep things interesting in Vancouver for the foreseeable future.

Reid Boucher now has to be a priority to re-sign. His hot play late in the season might remind some of Emerson Etem, who played his way into a contract last year and then played himself right out of the NHL in October, but that’s still a risk you have to take every time. Few would claim that re-signing Etem hurt the team, or that they shouldn’t have taken the chance.

Keeping Boucher around will create a bit of a winger glut going into next season. The Canucks have already signed Baertschi, Boeser, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, and Nikolay Goldobin for next year, each of whom will be looking for a top-6 spot. That’s not even considering Anton Rodin, who is still ghosting around, and whoever the Canucks draft in the 2017 first round. It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem. Even the ranks below the top-9 are stocked up, with Derek Dorsett, Joe LaBate, and Joseph Cramarossa all likely to return, and the re-signing of either Michael Chaput or Jayson Megna for expansion purposes a near-certainty.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

It might be time to retire this section for the season, as the Canucks don’t really have much to lord over the other teams than a draft position. They did top the 65 point barrier, but that doesn’t make too much of a difference in the end. At the very least, the antics of Eugene Melnyk in Ottawa ensures that the Canucks will never hold the title of worst ownership in Canada.

Canuck fans can prepare themselves for some vicarious schadenfreude via the NHL playoffs. Imagine the satisfaction of watching Alex Burrows and the Ottawa Senators knock off the Maple Leafs, or of seeing Jannik Hansen and the San Jose Sharks taking out the cocky Oilers en route to a Stanley Cup (and a free draft pick for the Canucks).

 

Comets Report:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Utica Comets played three games in three days this weekend. That’s right, lately the Comets are essentially working the same hours as a high-school student with a part-time job.

Utica began on Friday with a visit to Albany, which is still shockingly the capital of New York state. The game was a dull affair, with Carter Bancks scoring the only Comet goal in regulation, unassisted. Thatcher Demko led the team through overtime with 33 saves, before shutting out all opponents in the shootout. Chad Billins and Darren Archibald scored in the shootout to give Utica a 2-1 win.

Perhaps tired from the night before, the Comets dropped an embarrassing 5-1 defeat to the Syracuse Crunch, their most frequent opponent. Demko was in net again, and still made 28 saves, but it was not enough. Former Comet Cory Conacher sniped two of his own, and added an assist. Mike Zalewski had the lone Utica goal, assisted by Billins and Pascal Pelletier. The Comets only put up 21 shots, three of which came from Jake Virtanen.

The Comets made it three arenas in three nights with a visit to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday. Michael Garteig finally got into the net to give Demko a much-needed rest. Archibald opened up the scoring, assisted by Evan McEneny and Cody Kunyk, but this would just Utica’s third goal in the last nine periods of hockey. Garteig made 31 saves, but it was not enough, as the Penguins prevailed 2-1 on a third period goal. Potential signee Zach Aston-Reese got an assist for the Pens.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-What a start for Brock Boeser. If you’re like me and appreciate the fantastic storylines that can come out of hockey, you couldn’t ask for a better debut. Less than 24 hours after an intense double-overtime elimination game, in his home state, with his parents announcing the lineup, and then he scores a goal. After all Boeser has had to deal with in his short life, it’s great to see that the Legend of Brock is already off to a great start.

-I didn’t come up with this stat myself, GoldenHawk07 did, but Boeser played 11 periods in 48 hours in three cities for two teams this weekend. That is just insane.

-Sticking with the Minnesota game, I mentioned Brad Marchand last week as an all time Canuck killer. An elbow to the face of Troy Stecher reminded me that Martin Hanzal is also a good candidate for the list, albeit for different reasons. Who could forget the time he injured three Canucks in one game? The man’s a menace, but you rarely hear his name discussed as a league-wide dirty player, which makes me wonder if he saves all his malice for the Canucks.

-The Utica Comets are on quite a run, and have turned a miserable season around into a hunt for the playoffs. This is despite the team being ransacked by injuries and disease outbreaks at the NHL level, and spending the majority of their season without designated vets like Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput. Some folks had soured on the possibility of replacing Willie Desjardins with Travis Green, but I have to wonder whether Utica’s resurgence has more people hopping back on the Travis-Train. I, for one, would love to see him given a shot.

-Speaking of next year, the NHL announced that the Canucks and Kings will be playing two preseason games in China this coming September. This harkens back to the Canucks facing off against the Ducks in Japan back in the 90s, and is sure to be a memorable experience. I’m personally looking forward to staying up late to watch. Middle-of-the-night hockey rules!

-Before anyone says it, Troy Stecher’s injury will likely not mean an audition for Jordan Subban. Philip Larsen is still kicking around, and Utica are in the middle of a tight playoff race. Better to leave Subban down on the farm to play meaningful games.

-With seven games remaining, the Canucks are in a dogfight with New Jersey for the third-last spot in the standings, and thus the third-best chances in the draft lottery. Colorado has long since sewed up last place, and the Coyotes seem unlikely to make up the six point difference between them and the Canucks.

-The third position in the lottery draft would be equivalent to what the Canucks had last year, but they would have to share that slot with Las Vegas, lessening their chances. Still, this gives the Canucks a 10% shot at first overall, and that’s something.

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 13-19

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 13-19

Who Had a Good Week:

Markus Granlund- Naysayers have been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Markus Granlund’s production, but it’s just not happening. Granlund has established himself as a legitimate top-9 NHLer, and he took charge of the Canucks’ offense this week. The Sedins have looked at their best with Granlund on their wing, as his two-goal game against the Bruins showed. Granlund was then swapped to Horvat and Baertschi’s wing, which has to be considered a promotion at this point. Who would have ever guessed Granlund would be on the cusp of 20 goals at this point?

Nikita Tryamkin- This week was hopefully a taste of what’s to come from Tryamkin’s career. His fight with Jamie Benn may have featured less “killer instinct” than some would have preferred, but the fact he’s tossed around the league’s premier power forward on multiple occasions this season is highly impressive. Tryamkin’s game is becoming more and more solid, and he even added a rare point this week.

Reid Boucher- Call me crazy, but I liked what Boucher brought to the Horvat-Baertschi line. Obviously, the coaching staff disagrees, but I think his ability to always get a good shot off makes him a valuable addition to two players that consistently generate chances.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Ryan Miller- I think Miller is starting to get worn down. He faced 78 shots in two games this week, so he’s not getting a ton of support, and his play has suffered a bit as a result. Miller is still giving the team more of a chance than it deserves, but he’s not quite at the standard of play he was earlier in the year.

Alex Edler- Speaking of worn-out, Edler has been eating up a ridiculous amount of ice time for the Canucks since his return from injury earlier in the year, and it’s beginning to show. Chris Tanev’s obvious injury puts even more of a load on Edler’s shoulders. He’s being asked to play the role of a number one defenseman, and he’s not always capable of that.

Chris Tanev and Brandon Sutter- It’s time to shut Chris Tanev and Brandon Sutter down. They are both clearly playing through injuries. Tanev is still able to play effective minutes, because he’s Chris Tanev, but he’s a step behind where he normally is, and there’s no real point in playing him now. Sutter is clearly less effective than he was at other points in the season. Let them get healthy and come back strong next season, please.

Michael Chaput- Chaput is simply not scoring line material. He’s being asked to do more by the coaching staff, for some reason, and he doesn’t have that “next level.” A depth player who should remain a depth player.

Willie Desjardins- The sometimes bizarre ice-time decisions of Coach Willie have been publically called out by Jim Benning, and Desjardins’ response was to put Michael Chaput on the top line again and increase Jayson Megna’s icetime. It’s hard to imagine Desjardins not being fired at the end of the season. He’s an easy scapegoat, and doesn’t appear to be fully aligned with management.

Jayson Megna- Why pile on at this point? Megna’s excessive icetime is not his own fault, but it does put his actual faults on display for all to see.

 

Roster Talk:

It sounds as though Brock Boeser is going to join the Vancouver Canucks as soon as North Dakota’s season is over, which may be very soon. Boeser will be able to audition for a permanent NHL spot with relatively low pressure, and he might be able to pull off the feat of never having to spend time in the AHL.

Adam Gaudette, on the other hand, won’t be signing a contract this year, and will be returning to Northeastern for his junior season. This is a bit disappointing to fans who wanted to see him join the Comets for a playoff push immediately and continue his professional development next season, but going back to college isn’t the worst decision. Gaudette will really get to be the go-to guy at Northeastern next year, and will almost certainly sign when their season is done.

The “mystery defenseman” turned out to be Jalen Chatfield, an undrafted defenseman playing for the Windsor Spitfires. Chatfield looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill prospect, but he only costs a contract slot and the Canucks will have plenty of those after this season is complete. Some Spitfire fans have given Chatfield rave reviews and claim his game is a bit understated and thus unheralded. Windsor hosts the Memorial Cup this year, so he’ll get some great experience there before joining the pros next season.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

Last week, I talked about how nice it was to see the East finally forced to appreciate Alex Burrows. This week, it’s Jannik Hansen proving the opinions of Canuck fans correct, as he’s been placed on the San Jose top line alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Another supposed beneficiary of the Sedins who has never received the league-wide respect he deserves. Perhaps that will change with a Stanley Cup run! Hansen was hurt on the weekend, but here’s hoping it is a minor setback.

 

Comets Report:

Another week, another three-games-in-three-nights weekend for the Utica Comets. Thatcher Demko was back in the net on Friday to take on the Syracuse Crunch, who are part of a balanced breakfast. Demko racked up his eighth straight win, as the Comets won 4-3 thanks to a mid-third period goal from Mike Zalewski. Borna Rendulic and Pascal Pelletier each scored a goal and an assist, and Darren Archibald got a goal of his own, making this a fine night for the Utica veterans. Jordan Subban got back on the board with an assist. At this point, fans had to wonder, would Demko’s winning streak last forever?

No, it would not. The streak ended at eight as the Comets fell 4-1 against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Evan McEneny scored the lone Utica goal, but he was assisted by Subban and Jake Virtanen, which has to make Canuck fans happy. Andrey Pedan was penalized with a five minute boarding major for a questionable hit, and had to fight Ben Holmstrom after exiting the penalty box, which was Pedan’s first fight in awhile.

The Thatcher Demko win streak may have ended on Saturday, but it picked right back up on Sunday, and he began a potential point streak as well with an assist on an Alex Grenier goal during a 5-2 drubbing of the Providence Bruins. Virtanen also scored, just his seventh of the year, along with Michael Carcone, Curtis Valk, and Cody Kunyk. Chad Billins and Mike Zalewski each notched two assists, and Carcone and Grenier also joined the two-point club by adding assists of their own. Pedan got in another fight, this time with Anton Blidh (not a typo!).

 

Bits and Bobs:

-Jonathan Dahlen is on fire in his league playoffs right now. His four goal game caught a lot of attention, and according to Jim Benning he’s also attracted the attention of the Swedish World Championship team. That would be quite an honour for Dahlen, and a nice summer treat for Canuck fans.

-Speaking of prospects, Bob McKenzie had some great things to say about Jake Virtanen on his Bobcast. McKenzie’s opinion is as solid as any in hockey, and he believes that Virtanen still has a future as an NHL player and that his struggles are overblown. It’s hard to argue with the numbers on this, but it is nice to hear that Virtanen still has some high-profile believers out there.

-Nikolay Goldobin may be rethinking his excitement to be a Vancouver Canuck after his ridiculous illness. Goldobin reportedly lost 15 pounds in the ordeal. Sorry, Nikolay, this franchise was forever cursed when they let Mark Messier wear Wayne Maki’s #11 jersey, and now you’re one of us! Like joining the X-Men, we hope you survive the experience!

-After that third period hattrick, which boosted him into the league goal-scoring lead, is Brad Marchand now considered the ultimate Canuck killer? He’s definitely climbing the ranks of all-time Vancouver enemies.

-The Canuck fanbase seems to have finally united in embracing the tank. The loss against Dallas was huge for the Canucks’ potential descent down the standings, and after this week there is a very realistic chance they finish the season with the second highest draft lottery standings. The difference between second-last and third-last is especially important this year, since the third-last team will have equal odds in the lottery to Las Vegas, lessening their chances. Go Coyotes/Stars/Wings/Devils!

-I thought this comment on Reddit by funnyredditname deserved more attention. I mostly agree with the poster, and think they make an argument that helps make sense of Willie’s seemingly nonsensical choices:

 

 

-Sorry if it seems a little light this week, gang. I’m actually on the road all weekend. My trip included a drive through Vancouver, and seeing Alex Burrows’ banner still hanging outside Rogers Arena definitely choked me up a little. Here’s hoping they keep it up until next season.

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 6-12

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 6-12

Who Had a Good Week:

Sven Baertschi- Baertschi only had a single goal this week, but still managed to look impressive every time he hit the ice. Baertschi appears to be making up for the time he lost to injury, and is driving the play like never before. With both him and Horvat operating at full speed, their line becomes almost impossible to handle, no matter who their right winger is.

Troy Stecher- After a shaky last week, Stecher rebounded perfectly, putting up three points in three games and playing a much more tenacious style of defense. This is a player who isn’t going to accept losing just because the fanbase is fine with it, and his energy is infectious. Stecher went right back to jumping into the play this week, proving his confidence is as strong as ever.

Ryan Miller- Miller had two strong games this week and a less-than-stellar effort against the Islanders. Still, versus two contenders in the Canadiens and the Penguins, Miller put up 36 and 45 save efforts, keeping his team in two games that they really had no business being in.

Alex Biega- Biega made a surprisingly strong impact as an energy-line forward. His physical play was noticeable in each game he played, and he definitely got under the skin of some opponents. Biega really earned his “Bulldog” nickname this week.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Ben Hutton- Plus/minus is a horribly flawed stat, but there’s something to be said about going minus 2 in each of the three games this week. After a string of strong games, Hutton was asked to take on more ice time than usual this week, and looked a bit overwhelmed. His defensive shortcomings were definitely exposed by the high-powered offenses of the Eastern Conference.

Jayson Megna- With so many other intriguing talents entering the lineup, it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the utter uselessness of Jayson Megna. His recent penchant for major giveaways certainly isn’t helping matters.

Brandon Sutter- It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Sutter is one of the Canucks who is rumoured to be playing through a serious injury. He just doesn’t look as engaged in the play as he did earlier in the year. His ever rotating cast of questionable wingers isn’t doing him any favours, but it might be time to shut Sutter down for the season if he truly is injured.

 

Roster Talk:

The Canucks signed an overager from the Gatineau Olympiques, Zack MacEwen, to an entry-level deal. MacEwen, 20, has an impressive frame at 6’4” and 212 pounds. He racked up 68 points in 63 games in his second QMJHL season, and has shown an aptitude for physical play. His contract will slide for this year and he is likely AHL-bound next season.

The Canucks also signed Drew Shore for the remainder of the season. The former Calgary Flame and Florida Panther had been playing for Kloten in the Swiss-A League this season, and was among the league’s leading scorers. Shore has never put up much production at the NHL level, but was a reliable AHL scorer and is part of a large hockey family. Brother Nick is an LA King, while brother Quentin toils in the LA minor system.

Not satisfied with two signings in a week, the Canucks will apparently announce the signing of a mystery defenseman sometime tomorrow. This d-man will likely be an NCAA player whose season is now over, or another overager from the CHL. This will leave the Canucks with precious few contract slots with which to sign Brock Boeser and any other NCAA free agents they desire.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

Canuck fans had to put up with a brand new round of Alex Burrows-related trash talk after the fan favourite was dealt to Ottawa. Now, the entire Eastern Conference is getting a taste of what Burrows can really do. He has six points in six games for the Senators, and his team is 6-0 since the trade. So much for riding on the Sedins’ coattails!

It seems that the LA Kings chose Ben Bishop over Ryan Miller, and the early returns are not fantastic. In two starts for the Kings, Bishop has two losses and a sub-.900 save percentage. Sure seems like Miller would have been the better choice.

 

Comets Report:

This week featured another full weekend slate, with Utica playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. To make matters worse, the Saturday game was on the road, while the other two were at home. Friday featured a visit from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, which resulted in a 2-1 victory for the Comets. Thatcher Demko was in net once again, making 23 saves. Curtis Valk and Michael Carcone scored the Utica goals, with Jake Virtanen, Cody Kunyk, Pascal Pelletier, and Ashton Sautner each nabbing an assist. Cole Cassels got himself into a scrap with Kyle Burroughs.

The Comets had to travel to Lehigh Valley the following day, but at least Demko received a rest as Michael Garteig got the start in net. It wouldn’t turn out to be a stellar night for him, though, as the Phantoms notched a 4-1 win. Kunyk had the only Utica goal, with Virtanen and Valk assisting. A small point streak for Virtanen at this point in the season is a definite positive.

Demko was back in net on Sunday for his second shutout of the year, blanking the Binghamton Senators 5-0. The Comets really spread out the scoring, with Darren Archibald, Borna Rendulic, Mike Zalewski, Evan McEneny, and Pelletier all getting one goal each. Archibald and Rendulic each added two assists, and Valk had two helpers of his own. Jordan Subban was held off the scoresheet, but did get tossed from the game towards the end for an altercation with the much larger Patrick Sieloff.

After slipping down the standings earlier in the season, the Comets’ recent winning ways, spurred by the near-perfect goaltending of Thatcher Demko, have put them back in the playoff hunt. With less than a quarter of the season remaining, the Comets are neck-and-neck with the Toronto Marlies and the St. John’s IceCaps for a spot.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-It’s believed that Brock Boeser wants to play in the NHL one his NCAA season is complete, and there’s no real reason for the Canucks to say no. If North Dakota is eliminated any time soon, look for Boeser to sign a contract and start suiting up for Vancouver immediately.

-Adam Gaudette, on the other hand, appears more likely to stay an additional season in college. The Canucks will still try to lure him with the promise of some NHL playing time this season and a potential Utica playoff run, but he’s probably not turning pro until 2018.

-Zachary Aston-Reese, Gaudette’s teammate at Northeastern, is the top NCAA free agent available. Having Gaudette in the fold may give the Canucks an advantage, but the two normally only played together on the powerplay. Aston-Reese scored a ridiculous 63 points in 38 games, and is said to be a major net-front presence. The Canucks could easily offer him NHL time right away.

-The mumps were ridiculous enough, but now there’s food poisoning, too? Not to mention whatever horribly infectious disease is causing Nikolay Goldobin to run around in a surgical mask. At this point, would hiring an exorcist as a precautionary measure be a bad idea?

-As the season winds down, Canuck fans can get excited for the World Hockey Championships. A number of Canucks are likely to get invites this year, especially with players like the Sedins, Edler, and Tanev all almost certain to sit out. One has to think Bo Horvat will be high on Team Canada’s list, and they may take a look at Troy Stecher, too. Markus Granlund for Finland, Nikita Tryamkin for Russia, and Sven Baertschi and Luca Sbisa for Switzerland are all good bets.

-With rumoured injuries plaguing even the Canucks that are currently playing, it will be interesting to see if and when certain players are shut down. Chris Tanev appears to be the most affected, along with Brandon Sutter.

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of February 27-March 5

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of February 27-March 5

 

Who Had a Good Week:

Jim Benning- What a week of sweet vindication for those on “Team Benning.” The oft-maligned GM pulled off an amazing performance at the deadline, returning premium assets for his expendable players while his colleagues struggled to obtain low draft picks. Benning and Linden’s claims that they’ve had a plan all along suddenly look more believable.

Bo Horvat- The Legend of Bo continues to grow. After being given a rotating “A” in the wake of the Burrows trade, Horvat responded with a three point effort. This was in the midst of a five point week that included Horvat’s 20th goal. 50 points once looked like a lofty goal for Horvat, but he’ll likely easily eclipse that within a couple of weeks.

Ryan Miller- Miller got to stay in Vancouver after the deadline, which one has to think is his preference. With Markstrom injured, Miller played three straight games, and seemed to get stronger as the week went on. This culminated in a  41 save performance against LA before finally conceding the net to Richard Bachman.

Sven Baertschi- Back after missing time due to a Cody McLeod cheapshot, it didn’t take Baertschi long to get back into his groove.

Nikolay Goldobin- Goldobin was already popular in Vancouver after being part of a high-value trade for Jannik Hansen. His apparent social media skills endeared him even further to fans. Scoring on a breakaway in his debut sealed the deal. Even better, Goldobin got bumped up to Horvat’s line after Eriksson’s injury. Everything’s coming up Goldy!

Richard Bachman- 43 saves in his debut and a stint watching NHL hockey from the best seat in the house! More on Bachman below.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Loui Eriksson- Eriksson didn’t have a strong week, although he did have his first multi-point effort in awhile against the Sharks. Of course, given Eriksson’s luck this season, he then immediately suffered an injury in the next game. This guy just can’t catch a break.

Alex Biega- Desjardins continues to play Biega as little as humanly possible. Even Philip Larsen, when in the lineup, is playing more than Biega. Unlike some of Willie’s icetime choices, this one makes sense. Biega looks overwhelmed at times, especially against the large Californian teams.

Troy Stecher- Stecher isn’t playing horrible, but his game is beginning to show a bit of wear and tear as the season drags on. That should come as no surprise, as Stecher is coming directly from the NCAA, which plays far fewer games than the NHL. The gulf in icetime between Stecher and partner Alex Edler continues to grow, sometimes nearly reaching a difference of ten minutes!

Brandon Sutter- Sutter has quietly slipped into a bit of a cold streak. Given his ever-rotating cast of wingers, that should probably be no surprise, but he isn’t driving play the same way he was at the beginning of the season. He did pick up a cheap assist on Goldobin’s first goal, and looked better when reunited with Granlund against Anaheim, but he still isn’t playing as well as he was earlier.

 

Roster Talk:

The Alex Burrows trade was almost unbelievably good. Canuck fans were called foolish for wanting a third round pick in return for the versatile veteran. Instead, Benning picked up Jonathan Dahlen, who had been picked in the second round last year and had seen his stock rise since after an excellent performance in the WJC and back in Sweden. The sting of losing one of the franchise’s most popular player was definitely lessened by the amazing return he brought to the team.

The Jannik Hansen trade wasn’t quite as impressive as the Burrows deal, but only because Hansen was perceived to have more value from the get-go. Nikolay Goldobin is a young former first rounder, and has already stolen the hearts of Canuck fans. The conditions on the fourth round pick attached to Goldobin are some of the most interesting conditions in Canuck trading history, with a guaranteed upgrade to a first round pick if the Sharks win the Stanley Cup. Go Sharks!

Joseph Cramarossa isn’t quite as exciting as Dahlen and Goldobin, but he’s a great pickup as far as waiver acquisitions go. Cramarossa is still quite young, and Anaheim fans were upset to lose him, especially for free. Cramarossa brings a lot of energy to the lineup and will stick up for his teammates, which will become increasingly important as the Canucks play out the season without any hope of making the playoffs.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

Looking around the league at other deadline returns was an incredibly satisfying experience for Canuck fans. Whilst Vancouver was adding premium prospects and a potentially high pick, other franchises were struggling to return fifth and sixth round picks for valuable rentals.

Stemming from the last point, it was also quite cathartic to see other teams’ fanbases praising the Canucks for once. The team and their supposedly bumbling GM, Dim Jim, had been the subject of derision for several seasons now, but it’s hard to argue with results. Now, any discussion of “who won the Trade Deadline” or “who has the strongest prospect pool” is bound to include the Vancouver Canucks, and that’s got to feel good for Canuck fans who believed in Benning and Linden’s process.

 

Comets Report:

The Comets got a long break to start the week before having to play three games in three nights on the weekend. With Richard Bachman recalled to the Canucks, it fell to Thatcher Demko to start all three. He responded with some excellent play and three consecutive wins.

The first came on Friday at home against Binghamton, a 5-2 victory. The Comets spread the scoring around, with Darren Archibald, Joe LaBate, Jordan Subban, Pascal Pelletier, and Alex Grenier each scoring a goal. Grenier, Archibald, and LaBate added assists, too, with Curtis Valk putting up two of his own.

Saturday saw Demko pick up his first career shutout in a 3-0 shutdown of Albany. Jake Virtanen scored the opening goal, which happened to be the winner, ending a long drought. Wacey Hamilton and Borna Rendulic also scored, with Evan McEneny, Cody Kunyk, Colby Robak, Ashton Sautner, Pelletier, and Mike Zalewski getting their name on the scoresheet with single assists. Demko had to make an impressive 38 saves to get the shutout, including a number of powerplay attempts.

Not done yet, Demko and the Comets returned on Sunday afternoon to take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, which is an excellent name for a band. Utica won 2-1 on the strength of a one goal and one assist performance by LaBate. Captain Carter Bancks had the other goal, with Hamilton, Robak, and Cole Cassels nabbing assists.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-I’ll briefly pat myself on the back, because I totally called it! I said before the deadline that Jim Benning standing his ground and refusing to deal Dan Hamhuis for bargain prices at last year’s deadline may give him a stronger negotiating position this time around. Given what he got back for Burrows and Hansen, one has to think it played a role.

-I’m seeing a lot of people saying that the Canucks are finally “deciding” to rebuild or retool the team. I’d argue that this is all part of the ongoing process that Linden and Benning began when they took over the team. We’ve constantly seen youth inserted into the lineup and being given a chance to succeed in a semi-competitive environment from the beginning. The players entering the lineup have thrived, in part due to support from veterans, and now they’re being supplemented by even more incoming talent. Bright days lie ahead for the Vancouver faithful.

-A brief shoutout to Richard Bachman, an excellent third-string goalie. Bachman once had aspirations as an NHL prospect, but saw his chances pass him by. Now, he’s accepted his role as an AHL starter, giving the Canucks some stability in their system. He’s mentored Thatcher Demko, fills a required expansion slot for the Canucks, and has now proven that he’s capable when called upon to fill-in at the NHL level. What more could a franchise ask for?

-Willie Desjardins’ decision-making from here on out will probably determine how many fans feel about the beleaguered coach in the long term. Desjardins’ habit of sheltering the minutes of young players will be far less acceptable in the eyes of fans now that the team has given up on the playoffs. Fans groaned when Goldobin found himself stapled to the bench despite scoring in his debut, but Willie seemed to correct that mistake against Anaheim. Time will tell.

-Speaking of Goldobin, one of the unheralded aspects of acquiring him is finally bringing in a fellow Russian to keep Nikita Tryamkin company. Tryamkin has adapted well to North American life, but this still has to make him pretty happy.

-Seeing Jarome Iginla getting all ornery with Luca Sbisa and Alex Edler certainly brought back some old memories. I don’t know if it’s nice to have Iginla back in the division, but it’s certainly nostalgic.

-ICYMI, Mr. Clutch himself, Alex Burrows, delivered with two goals on two shots in his debut for the Ottawa Senators. Has there ever been an important moment that Burrows didn’t step up for? What a legend. Vancouver should start prepping a spot in the Ring of Honor now.

-Jannik Hansen has still yet to play for the Sharks due to immigration issues. Restricting the immigration of Danish citizens just makes sense, after all, have you read Hamlet? Those Danes are a murderous bunch.

-Best moment of the entire Trade Deadline Day? James Duthie correcting Jay and Dan on their joke about the Sedins being soft. Atta boy, Duthers!

-It’s a good bet that few Canuck fans thought the team would be taking two of three wins from this post-deadline Californian roadtrip. The rest of the season may be painful, so it’s a good idea to enjoy this brief bright spot while it lasts.