The Vancouver Canucks Fan Twitter Guide

I’ve been getting more and more active with my Twitter monitoring lately, and it really is one of the best ways for anyone to get information on the things that they’re interested in. I looked around and didn’t see any recent Twitter guides for Canuck fans, so I thought it might be helpful to write one up.

 

Follow These Ten:

Rick Dhaliwal, @DhaliwalSports- Not only is Dhaliwal reliable for any and all roster movement news about the organization, he’s also broken a number of stories in recent years. Dhaliwal is one of the few credible sources for Canucks-related speculation on the internet. He’s also great at posting relevant quotes from interviews.

 

Ryan Biech, @RyanBiech- Biech is employed by a number of organizations, including CanucksArmy and The Athletic, but beyond that he’s by far the best source of information related to Vancouver Canucks prospects on all of social media. Following his feed means getting daily updates on prospects all over the world, usually with accompanying highlights.

 

Canucks Army, @CanucksArmy– Canucks Army are one of the most prolific publishers of Canucks content on the web, and they’re particular adept at providing “fancy stats” and putting them into context for ordinary fans.

 

Utica Comets, @UticaComets- Those who want to follow the Comets closely, but don’t have time to actually watch the games, would be fine just following the Comets on Twitter. They post a ton of content each day, and engage in plenty of fun banter with other AHL franchises. Best of all, during games, the account posts nearly instant highlight GIFs of anything significant that happens.

 

Jeff Paterson, @patersonjeff- Paterson is one of the quickest sources of information related to the Canucks, in addition to being a strong writer and reasonable pundit. You can always count on Paterson for info direct from practice and game day skates.

 

Dan Murphy, @sportsnetmurph- Murph travels with the team, so he provides a level of access that others simply aren’t able to. Murph tweets about pretty much everything, but his snapshots of John Garrett eating is his feed’s best feature by far.

 

Ihaveyuidonttouchme, @ihaveyuidonttou- One of the weirdest handles on Twitter actually belongs to popular Canucks social media presence Kid Roll, and his feed is almost entirely content-driven. If you want highlights of Vancouver Canucks prospects and little else, this is the feed for you.

 

Elliotte Friedman, @FriedgeHNIC- If you’re going to follow one “league-wide” source on Twitter, make it Friedman. This is a man with his finger on the pulse of the league, and although his speculation isn’t always sound, he makes clear when he’s speaking factually, in which case he is always credible.

 

Wyatt Arndt, @TheStanchion- Thought of by some as Botchford’s backup, Wyatt is actually the superior source of Canuck-related hot takes and humour on Twitter. Always good for a laugh.

 

Strombone, @strombone1- The mystery of Strombone’s identity has long since been solved, but Roberto Luongo remains a funnier and more rewarding follow on Twitter than any of the current Vancouver Canucks.

 

 

Don’t Follow These Five:

Vancouver Canucks, @Canucks- That’s right, I’m advising against following the Canucks’ official account on Twitter. This only really applies for those who PVR their games, like I do. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally spoiled the score for myself whilst trying to check Twitter and see if the world is currently ending. Better to just avoid this one altogether.

 

By Extension, Almost Anyone Seen Replying To @Canucks- Those who insist on replying to the official Canucks account should also generally be avoided, but for a very different reason. Twitter and Facebook comments tend to be the most toxic places among any fanbase, and the Canucks are no different. Get ready to be incredibly frustrated if you dare dip into these threads of conversation.

 

Hockey Buzz Eklund, @Eklund- In general, all alleged hockey “rumour” accounts should be avoided. They rarely traffic in legitimate information, and they specifically target Canadian markets with their most salacious rumours. Eklund is the granddaddy of these rumour-mongers, and he continues to be a daily source of absolute bologna.

 

Tanbir, @TRana87- An old frequenter of Canuck radio call-in shows, Tanbir From Surrey is playing the shtick of stupid Canuck fan that stopped being funny a long while ago. Tanbir’s habit of claiming insider information is also an annoying trait.

 

Jason Botchford, @botchford- This is my hottest take on the list, for sure, but that’s appropriate for the master of taking hot himself. Botchford has close connections with the team and remains popular among the fanbase, but he often seems like a TMZ-style journalist masquerading as a sportswriter. Botchford has falsely reported things before, like the Bo Horvat bridge deal, and he’s made questionable ethical decisions, such as when he made a big deal out of Joe Thornton using the word “cock” off the record. Botchford’s desire to find the next big story or controversy makes his coverage more toxic and negative than most, and it can really take away from the fun of following a team.

Advertisements

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of October 23-29

Who Had a Good Week:

Brock Boeser- The argument that Boeser’s NHL production is a small sample size is getting harder and harder to make. With nine points, Boeser is inching closer to the rookie scoring lead, and his career PPG puts him behind only Connor McDavid from the 2015 draft class. Not bad for the 23rd overall pick.

Sven Baertschi- The game against the Capitals was Baertschi’s best in a while, and his chemistry with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser appears to be back on track. Many have expressed doubt over Baertschi’s ability to be a first line player, but plays like the through-the-legs pass to Horvat on Thursday continue to tease his continued potential.

Bo Horvat- Horvat looks like he’s back after a slow start, and that’s a good thing for the Canucks. Baertschi and Boeser are obviously skilled wingers, but Horvat brings out the best in them and his driving play opens up frequent opportunities for them.

Derek Dorsett- What more can be said about Derek Dorsett. This blazing start is (probably?!) not sustainable, but Dorsett’s season numbers are almost already guaranteed to be career highs. When a player puts in this much effort, succeeds, and is rewarded for it with more ice time, it sends a great message to the team’s young players.

spongebob

A controversial notion under Willie Desjardins, a genius coaching move under Travis Green.

 

Anders Nilsson- Although Nilsson didn’t have his absolute best game against the Capitals, he still made some impressive saves to cap off a week that began with a 29 save shutout against the Wild. Some predicted that Nilsson would steal the starting job from Jacob Markstrom, and he’s making a solid case for it early on.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Alex Biega- Somebody had to be picked for this category, and Biega did manage to pick up two penalties in limited ice time. Biega is making an obvious effort to play as physically as possible, but he can’t afford to cost the team shorthanded opportunities.

Brandon Sutter- Sutter’s play hasn’t been awful, but he’s certainly not pulling his weight relative to his salary. Sutter looks like the worst player by far on his line with Dorsett and Markus Granlund, even though he makes more than both combined. Expect Sutter’s play to become the source of more and more talk as the season wears on.

 

Roster Talk:

There’s already been plenty of talk about the Canucks trading a defenseman this season, and it may be possible that the team ends up dealing more than one. Eric Gudbranson remains the most likely candidate, but with only a year left on his contract after this one, Alex Edler may be more amenable to waiving his no-trade clause. Chris Tanev is still a sought-after commodity, of course.

Although the Canucks have the cap space to acquire Vadim Shipachyov from Vegas, especially with Loui Eriksson and Alex Edler on LTIR, there’s no real reason for them to take a look. Shipachyov is already 30, and would just further crowd the forward corps. That is, unless the Golden Knights are interested in Brandon Sutter.

Nobody should be too worried about the reappearance of Jayson Megna. He’s only up to serve as the 13th forward, and to be ready to play if Boeser’s minor injury keeps him out of a game or two. It wouldn’t make much sense to call up Nikolay Goldobin or Anton Rodin to sit in the pressbox.

 

Comets Report:

The Comets only had two games this week, back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, with both games being against the Charlotte Checkers at, no kidding, Bonjangles’ Coliseum. Minor league hockey at its best!

The first half of the doubleheader did not go according to plan, as the Comets were stomped 5-1 and Richard Bachman made only 14 saves in the losing effort. Brendan Gaunce, down in Utica on a conditioning stint, scored a goal in the third period, which was assisted by Joe LaBate. Jordan Subban was a -3 on the night, which likely led to his healthy scratching the next night.

On Sunday, the Comets returned the favour by beating the Checkers 6-3, although two late Charlotte goals prevented a more dominant 6-1 score. Thatcher Demko was back in net, making 31 saves for the win. Nikolay Goldobin led the offensive charge with two goals and an assist, while Evan McEneny had a goal and two assist, but they weren’t the only multi-point Comets on the scoresheet. Gaunce had a goal and an assist, and Anton Rodin and Wacey Hamilton each had two assists. Zack MacEwen and Brendan Woods scored their first goals of the year, Reid Boucher also notched a single, and Michael Chaput rounded things off with a  solitary assist.

On a side note, a new rule in the AHL allows for refs to throw players out of the game for “fighting at the puck drop.” This led to Carter Bancks receiving five for fighting and a game misconduct three seconds into the game, and Joe LaBate being ejected near the end of the first for a fight with Zack Stortini.

 

The Week Ahead:

After a weekend off, the Canucks get back to work against the new-look Dallas Stars on Monday, October 30, at 7:00PST.

The homestand continues on Wednesday, November 1, again at 7:00PST against Cory Schneider the surging New Jersey Devils.

The week rounds off with a Saturday game on November 4 on Hockey Night in Canada at 7:00PST versus Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Canuck fans can only hope it goes as well as the showdown with Alex Ovechkin.

 

2018 Draft Eligible Prospect of the Week:

Andrei Svechnikov- The Russian born, 17 year old right winger has been consistently ranked as the second-best prospect in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, after Rasmus Dahlin.

Svechnikov, whose older brother players in the Detroit system, is a scoring machine wherever he goes. He put up huge numbers in Russian youth leagues, and then dominated the USHL, the under-17s, and the under-18s last year. This season, Svechnikov showed up in the OHL with the Barrie Colts, where he rattled off 14 points in ten games before sustaining a broken hand, which will keep him out until sometime in December.

The dominant offensive talent has an attractive array of abilities that he uses to pile up the points. Svechnikov employs power and finesse almost equally, and that combined with supreme skating and stickhandling skills makes for a puck-controlling monster. When he’s not slicing through opposing defenses, Svechnikov is known to slip into scoring areas so he can unleash his quick release.

Svechnikov looks like a guaranteed top line talent, and he’s been compared by some to Evgeni Malkin, which is certainly enticing.

Here’s Svechnikov’s highlights from the USHL last year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDk5gw5q9Vo

 

And here’s a hat trick from the OHL this season:

 

Bits and Bobs:

-Alex Burmistrov had a strange week in the faceoff circle. He won only 20% of his draws against Minnesota on Tuesday, and then went 88% on Thursday against Washington.

-Vancouver fans got a nice look at exactly why Tom Wilson is one of the least popular players in the Eastern Conference.

-The Canucks are currently in a playoff spot, but Canuck fans shouldn’t start planning the tailgate party yet. This is a roster that is definitely capable of going on a lengthy losing streak or two, and that’s to say nothing of the potential for key injuries to key players. The safest bet is still the Canucks outside of the playoff picture once again.

-It’s hard not to get excited about what Elias Pettersson is doing right now. With 15 points in 13 games, Pettersson is on pace for one of the best seasons by a teenager in the SHL, and he’s reportedly even getting a look for the Swedish Olympic Team.

-Speaking of the Olympics, the preliminary roster for the Karjala Cup is a preview of a potential Team Canada, and it features some familiar faces for Canuck fans. Vancouverites will recognize Mason Raymond, Derek Roy, and Andrew Ebbett.

-There also appears to be no brakes on the Kole Lind train, as he’s continued his torrid pace to 23 points in 14 games as of Sunday. He’s forcing his way onto the World Junior team.

-In Finland, Olli Juolevi has goals in three straight games, and Adam Gaudette picked up an NCAA hat trick on Friday.

-ICYMI, here’s Kevin Bieksa making short work of Radko Gudas in classic fashion:

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of October 16-22

Who Had a Good Week:

Derek Dorsett- Whether it was the much-needed surgery or the subsequent time off, something seems to have rejuvenated Derek Dorsett, and he’s playing like a premier fourth liner once again. His goal-per-game pace obviously won’t last, but hopefully his infectious energy and tenacious forechecking will.

Thomas Vanek- Vanek’s 700th NHL point was a breakaway clapbomb, and one of the most memorable goals in recent Canuck history. Vanek isn’t getting a ton of ice time, and he still looks painfully slow, but he’s got a surprising amount of battle and is making the most of the opportunities he’s receiving.

Brock Boeser- Boeser continues to be the offensive leader on the team, and continues his charge up the rookie scoring ranks, but that’s not the only impressive thing about the right winger. It’s also increasingly apparent that Boeser has the full trust of Travis Green, which is more than can be said about a lot of the team’s forwards.

Michael Del Zotto- Although he had some moments of questionable defense throughout the week, Del Zotto also went point-per-game, and continues to be a major minute-muncher. Like Vanek, Del Zotto’s compete level has been a pleasant surprise, and he’s proven incredibly versatile.

Markus Granlund- Granlund was scoreless on the season until the game against the Sabres, but that doesn’t mean he’s been playing poorly. This has probably been Granlund’s best stretch of defensive hockey as a Canuck, and he’s the main reason that his line with Dorsett and Brandon Sutter is working so well.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Erik Gudbranson- Not a good week for Gudbranson at all. Not only did he receive a suspension and a costly five-minute major against the Boston Bruins, his absence was barely noticeable in the Canuck’s win over the Sabres. Gudbranson needs to start doing more.

Ben Hutton- Hutton is receiving plenty of playing time, but he continues to be a non-factor on offense. The smooth play of his rookie season is gone, and although he ends up with plenty of offensive opportunities, the play continues to die on his stick. Hutton may be in need of a “wake-up call” healthy scratch.

Sam Gagner- Gagner hasn’t done much as a Canuck, and appears to be a bit miscast at the moment. He has been less-than-impressive manning the point on the powerplay, and he hasn’t really clicked with any linemates at even strength.

Bo Horvat- Horvat looked to be off to a hot start with two goals in the season opener, but he has been slumping since, and he and Sven Baertschi are still not filling their pencilled-in roles as first liners. The game against the Red Wings was their best of the season, although more so for Baertschi than Horvat, so that may be the beginning of an upward trend.

 

Roster Talk:

The hot-stove talk of Olli Juolevi for Matt Duchene was obviously the main topic of discussion among Canuck fans this week, but it’s just a rehash of a rumour that was kicking around early in the summer. At this point, one has to imagine that the Canucks would have to add a significant amount to Juolevi in order to land Duchene, and it doesn’t make much sense to sell low on a prospect that still has a lot of upside.

The Canucks are saved from a tough decision when Brendan Gaunce returns thanks to the injury to Loui Eriksson. Michael Chaput will be sent down and Gaunce will slide in as the 13th forward. Without a forward injury, the Canucks would have had to choose between waiving Gaunce or Alex Burmistrov, or perhaps sending down Jake Virtanen.

If Troy Stecher is out for any length of time, don’t look for anything other than Patrick Wiercioch being recalled again. Stecher was playing limited enough minutes lately that his role can be replaced by Alex Biega for the time being.

 

Comets Report:

The Comets only had one game this week, as a weird quirk in their schedule has them playing on three consecutive Saturdays, with no games in between. The lone game saw Utica visiting the Rochester Americans and walking away with a 5-1 win. Thatcher Demko had to face 41 shots and turned away 40 of them, continuing his dominant play.

The bulk of the scoring came from a small core of players, with Reid Boucher notching two goals, Darren Archibald picking up a goal and an assist, and Nikolay Goldobin and Philip Holm getting two assists each. Joe LaBate and Guillaume Brisebois had the other goals, and Carter Bancks, Alexis D’Aoust, Jayson Megna, and Yan-Pavel Laplante had single helpers.

Canuck fans will be interested to note that Anton Rodin did not play for the Comets, and has only played one game. The exact reason for this is unclear, but it may have something to do with the AHL veteran limit.

 

The Week Ahead:

The breakneck pace of the Canuck schedule continues this week, before the team gets a weekend off. On Tuesday, October 24, the Canucks will play their fifth game in eight nights when they take on the Wild in Minnesota, at 5:00PST.

After that, the Canucks will play their sixth game in ten nights back at home against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, at the usual time of 7:00PST. Then the team will get a much-needed three day break.

 

2018 Draft Eligible Prospect of the Week:

Rasmus Dahlin- Why not start with the best? Dahlin might just be the most hyped defensive prospect since Denis Potvin, and he’s excelling in the top Swedish league as a teenager. Dahlin had been battling Andrei Svechnikov for the top ranking for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but an injury to the Russian forward likely gives Dahlin the edge.

At 17 years old, Dahlin has six points in 11 games playing for Frolunda. This ties him for seventh in league scoring among defensemen, and second on his own team overall. In comparison, New York Rangers prospect Lias Andersson only has two points in seven games. Canuck fans may be interested to learn that Dahlin plays with the Westerholm twins, Pathrik and Ponthus.

The most frequent NHL comparison used for Dahlin is Erik Karlsson, and it’s hard not to get excited about that. It should be noted that Dahlin would be entering the league with far more hype than Karlsson, who was deemed a reach in the mid-first round.

Canuck fans, and the entire hockey world, will get a preview of what Rasmus Dahlin can do at the World Juniors this year, where he will almost certainly be a key member of Team Sweden. Here’s a recent highlight package demonstrating his prodigious abilities:

https://streamable.com/akl1q

Bonus: Dahlin may have been destined to be an internet darling, as he hails from the gloriously-named Trollhattan, Sweden.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-The Canucks are used to having a tough schedule, but four games in six nights, soon to be five in eight, is a little ridiculous. Surely, there’s a better way to balance things.

-Jake Virtanen seemed to elevate the play of the Sedins, rather than the other way around, which is a true testament to how far he’s come. His tip pass at the blueline on the Daniel Sedin goal against Buffalo was probably the most skilled play that Canuck fans have seen from Virtanen thus far.

-I don’t know if there’s ever been less fan outrage about a Canucks suspension than there was about Gudbranson’s one-game ban.

-Some fans were openly wondering about Derek Dorsett’s ability to fight after the cervical fusion surgery he underwent, but he appears to be just fine. That’s fortunate, as Dorsett’s role definitely requires him to drops the mitts on occasion.

-Why aren’t more people talking about Newell Brown? The powerplay has been atrocious, and is ranked fifth-worst in the league. There have been some questionable choices, like Gagner on the point and Boeser in the middle of the ice. Brown was specifically hired to rejuvenate the powerplay, and the early returns are not positive.

-Am I the only one who is okay with the Sedins in their current role? Green is limiting their minutes to the point where they can still be effective, and although they’re currently overpaid, that could be taken care of in the offseason. One or two more years of the Sedins playing limited minutes and being powerplay specialists wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

– Prospects Jonah Gadjovich and Michael DiPietro were selected for Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Super Series, and the dominant Kole Lind made Team WHL. These games will be a great opportunity for Canuck fans to see the potential of the 2017 draft class in action.

-After a very hot start, Adam Gaudette has cooled down to just nine points in five games. He’s an early contender for the Hobey Baker, and is pretty much guaranteed to turn pro after his season is over.

-The Canucks are currently tenth in the NHL in faceoff percentage, but finished last year ninth overall. The Manny Malhotra Effect remains inconclusive at this point.

-The Canucks are fifth in the league in penalties, but that’s a bit misleading as a large chunk of those come from Dorsett’s instigator penalty against Ottawa and Gudbranson’s 20-minute special against Boston. Without those two incidents, the Canucks would be in the bottom ten.

 

-Rest In Peace, Gord Downie.

Three Easy Steps To Loving Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman is easily one of the most reviled figures in the sport of hockey. Don’t take it from me, take it from the thousands of fans who boo his every public appearance. Compared to Bettman, Sean Avery is a cherished fan favourite. However, it is my contention that most of the hatred aimed at Commissioner Bettman is the result of an inherent misunderstanding about the man’s role within the league, and that once said misunderstanding is cleared up, there’s a chance that one might actually find themselves a fan of the man they call Buttman. That leads us to Three Easy Steps To Loving Gary Bettman.

 

Step One: Realize What His Actual Role Is

As an NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman is truly unique—he’s the only person to hold that title in league history. Before him, the league was normally run by a President. The NHL’s constitution describes the role of the commissioner as, “6.1 Office of Commissioner, Election and Term of Office: The League shall employ a Commissioner selected by the Board of Governors. The Commissioner shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the League and is charged with protecting the integrity of the game of professional hockey and preserving public confidence in the League. The Board of Governors shall determine the term of office and compensation of the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall be elected a majority of the Governors present and voting at a League meeting at which a quorum was present when it was convened.”

In other words, Gary Bettman is the employee of the NHL’s Board of Governors, which is made up of the league’s ownership. Bettman does not do anything without the approval of the Board, and he’s specifically charged with “preserving public confidences in the League.” At no point would it be fair to suggest that Bettman is “running the league,” but that’s how he is consistently portrayed in the media. A different interpretation of Bettman’s job leads to a more favourable reading of the man himself.

Gary Bettman is the public face of the NHL’s Board of Governors, itself dominated by large personalities like Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who are the real powers behind the league. Or, perhaps more accurately, Bettman could be described as the ownership’s lightning rod, meant to draw negative attention away from the individuals who control—and financially benefit from—the league’s operations. It’s a job he does very well.

Whenever the Board of Governors makes a decision that would likely be unpopular with the fans, you can be sure that Gary Bettman will be present to announce “his” decision to the public with an irritating smile on his face. All the while NHL fans are booing the earnest commissioner, they’re ignoring that his actions require the approval of the same ownership group who sells them tickets, jerseys, and inflatable noise sticks. That allows fans to live within the cognitive dissonance of “hating the league” while still regularly lining the pockets of their local owner.

 

Step Two: See How Well He Plays the Villain

Gary Bettman has put himself front and centre for every unpopular move the NHL has made. The best example of this might have been the various lockouts, each of which was portrayed in the media as a battle between Gary Bettman and the NHLPA. Heck, Bettman was so hated for his role in the league’s first lockout that Chris Chelios threatened his family! However, those more in the know lay the responsibility for the lockouts squarely on a cabal of old school owners like Jacobs, who simply give Bettman his marching orders.

The issue of the NHL’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics has been similarly portrayed, with headlines constantly decrying “Bettman’s opposition” to NHLers in Pyeongchang. It’s as if the fact that Bettman is only publicly representing the stance of the owners who actually own the rights of the players in question is being wilfully ignored. When would-be owner Jim Balsillie tried and failed to purchase an NHL team, it was depicted as a conflict between Balsillie and Bettman, instead of Balsillie’s inability to ingrain himself in the “old boy’s club” of the Board of Governors.

The ongoing Calgary arena debate, which is actually less of a debate and more of a blatant display of corporate greed, is a perfect example of the “Bettman factor.” In a conflict that was clearly between Flames ownership and Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Bettman appeared to thrust his Oswald Cobblepot-like visage into the mix, threatening Nenshi’s chances at re-election. It’s not Bettman who doesn’t want to pay for a new arena, it’s N. Murray Edwards and his partners, but that’s not what it looks like when the National Post publishes headlines like “This Nenshi Guy Sure Knows How to Get Under Bettman’s Skin.”

bettmanjpg

 

The Islanders, a team also suffering ongoing arena-related difficulties, provided another recent showcase of Gary Bettman: Human Lightning Rod. When addressing the possibility of the team returning to the once-beloved Nassau Coliseum, owner Jon Ledecky said, “The commissioner said it’s not viable, and absolutely I agree with the commissioner.” Apparently, Bettman moonlights as a building inspector when he’s not busy commissioning sports leagues.

 

Step Three: Look How Much Fun He Has With It

Once one has accepted that Gary Bettman’s job is to absorb all of the public hatred that should rightfully be directed at league ownership, it’s hard not to notice how much fun he has with the role. This is where mere tolerance of Bettman gives way to actually being a fan of the guy. Observe the sheer glee on his face as he saunters up to the podium to say, “We have a trade to announce!” knowing that the legion of fans booing him are about to hang on his every word. This is a man who doesn’t mind being the villain.

Lesser commissioners might wilt under the thunderous boos hurled in his direction, but Bettman almost seems to enjoy them, smiling throughout the onslaught and frequently commenting on the “warm welcome.” You can see it on his face—Bettman is fully aware that every boo directed at him ensures the fan hurling it will continue to be a paying customer of Bettman’s bosses. The constant derision, along with the financial health it represents, ensures that Bettman will be employed as commissioner as long as he wants to be. When he retires, the NHL is going to have a tough time finding another individual as good at attracting and absorbing hatred as Gary Bettman.

The Return of the Weekly Canucks Report: Week of October 9-15

Who Had a Good Week:

Derek Dorsett- Dorsett wasn’t just a Willie Desjardins favourite. Dorsett has always been a coach’s favourite throughout his career, and his deployment under Travis Green has shown why that is. Dorsett will do whatever is asked of him, and Green has him using his energy, drive, and limited skill to maximum effect. Dorsett led the team in shorthanded time on ice during the penalty-filled game against Calgary.

Brock Boeser- After his much-discussed scratching for the season’s first two games, Boeser picked up where he left off by notching two points in two games, including a trademark highlight-reel goal. Boeser is the real deal, and was easily the best player on his line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi.

anditsgoone

Michael Del Zotto- Who could have predicted that Michael Del Zotto would be leading the team in ice time? Del Zotto obviously has Green’s trust, and he’s been deployed in all situations and against the top lines of opponents. That resulted in Del Zotto being a minus five on the week, but that’s to be expected.

Chris Tanev- Is this the long-awaited offensive awakening of Chris Tanev? Tanev had two goals in three games, and looked much more active on offense in general. Tanev’s ice time was surprisingly low, but he led the defense in shorthanded time in a week that was heavy with penalties, and he managed to be only minus one in a week that contained three losses.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi- Horvat and Baertschi have been pencilled in as first line forwards for this season, but they haven’t looked like it so far. After a stellar first game, Horvat was largely invisible this week, and Baertschi has looked out of sync since the season began. Here’s hoping the presence of Brock Boeser can ignite their offensive game.

Loui Eriksson- Eriksson was pointless in his first game of the week, despite receiving ample ice time, was benched in his second, and then got injured 32 seconds into his third. That’s the definition of a rough week.

It makes one wonder how long it will be until we see something like this:

skincond

 

Thomas Vanek- Vanek had two points in three games this week, which is realistically about the best production Canuck fans can expect from him this season. However, he also looked almost comically slow on the ice, a fact that was exacerbated by playing with the similarly lead-footed Sedins. It’s hard to imagine a playoff contender not wanting a speedier option when they go looking for a rental at the deadline.

Ben Hutton- This week, in three losses, Hutton was only a minus one, and he received the second-most ice time on the team in the latter two games. However, for all that opportunity, Hutton looked particularly inept on the ice. The play seemed to die whenever it reached Hutton’s stick, and he flubbed several golden opportunities in the offensive end. This is a player who needs a rebound season badly.

 

Roster Talk:

With the injury to Loui Eriksson, Jake Virtanen likely re-enters the lineup, and for once the Canucks have a bevy of options in Utica to callup as the 13th forward. Many fans want the forward callup to be Nikolay Goldobin, who is lighting it up in Utica, but Reid Boucher and Anton Rodin are also options. Boucher might be the best fit, as whoever is called up could find themselves in the pressbox.

The team also has a number of candidates for a defensive callup to replace Alex Edler during his absence. Patrick Wiercioch, the veteran left-side D, seems the most likely, but Philip Holm or even Evan McEneny could come up instead.

When will Anders Nilsson make his season debut? Jacob Markstrom wasn’t exactly stellar this week, and next week features a heavy schedule, so it shouldn’t be long before Nilsson enters the Canuck crease.

 

Comets Report:

For once, the Comets got a Sunday off, and only played two games this week, Friday and Saturday. First, Utica visited the Rochester Americans, and walked away with a 2-0 victory and a Thatcher Demko shutout. Nikolay Goldobin scored, his second goal of the season, and Reid Boucher picked up two assists. Patrick Wiercioch had the other goal, and Carter Bancks notched the other assist.

On Saturday, the Comets bussed over to the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena to take on their rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. Once again, Thatcher Demko was in the crease, and once again he won the game, this time by a score of 3-2. Goldobin opened the scoring again, and his marker was followed by single tallies from Philip Holm and Michael Chaput. Holm also notched two assists, while Goldobin had one, while Boucher, Bancks, and Evan McEneny added single helpers. At one point, Demko came flying out of crease to get involved in a scrum started by former Comet Cory Conacher.

 

The Week Ahead:

The Canucks are in for a busy week. After two days off on Sunday and Monday, the Canucks leave on an Eastern roadtrip with four games in six nights. On Tuesday, October 17, the team will visit Alex Burrows and the Senators in Ottawa, with a 4:30PST start.

Following that, the Canucks have their first back-to-back of the year, taking on the dreaded Boston Bruins on Thursday, October 19, and the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, October 20. Both games have a 4:00PST start.

Finally, the Canucks are in Detroit to take on the lowly Red Wings on Sunday, October 22, at 4:00PST.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-The suddenly sparse attendance at Canucks games is actually a real reason to worry. There was always a question as to how the Vancouver fanbase would handle a rebuild, and there seems to be legitimate concern that the answer is “not well.” Plenty of fans are happy with the stable of young players built by Jim Benning and Trevor Linden, and it would be a real shame to see them relieved of their jobs due to low attendance before their work can pay off.

-At this point, it’s easier to list the Canuck prospects who aren’t doing well in various developmental leagues around the world. In particular, the forwards:

Kole Lind has 17 points in eight games in the WHL.

Elias Pettersson has seven assists in eight games in the top Swedish league.

Adam Gaudette has seven points in his first three NCAA games.

Petrus Palmu is the highest scoring rookie in the Finnish Liiga with ten points.

Jonah Gadjovich has nine points in eight games in the OHL.

In addition to the strong start of Goldobin in the AHL, it’s a great time for Canuck forward prospects.

-With the early indications being that the Canucks will be in the basement again this year, it’s hard not to think about the potential for adding another Benning draft class to this already-stocked prospect cupboard.

-After just one game, both the good and bad of Derrick Pouliot should be apparent to Canuck fans. With the spotty defensive play, it’s easy to see why the Penguins gave up on him, but the potential is there, and former WHL coach Travis Green might be the man to unlock it.

-Shorty without Cheech is like a hot dog without ketchup. Fans demand All John Garrett, All The Time.

-With Jared McCann scoring four points in his first four games, and Erik Gudbranson reduced to a team-low 12:08 of ice time, now Canuck fans can understand how Calgary fans must feel about Baertschi and Granlund. Gudbranson wasn’t just the defenseman with the lowest ice time, he played the least minutes of anyone except Alex Burmistrov and Loui Eriksson, who left with an injury.

The Case For Carrying 14 Forwards

With a maximum of 23 spots on an NHL roster, two of which are occupied by goaltenders, teams are usually forced to choose between a configuration of 14 forwards and seven defensemen or 13 forwards and eight defensemen. That is, unless they’re one of those weirdo teams that carry three goalies!

In recent years, the Vancouver Canucks have often chosen the eight D option, due to the heavy minutes logged by that position in conjunction with the brutal travel schedule the Canucks always endure. However, the particular circumstances of this preseason might make it a better idea to go with 14 forwards this time around.

 

The Battle For Forward Spots 

The competition for forward positions on the Vancouver Canucks has been intense this year, and has already claimed the roster spot of the beloved Reid Boucher. With nine of those positions occupied by sure-thing veterans (Sedin, Sedin, Horvat, Baertschi, Eriksson, Vanek, Gagner, Sutter, Granlund), the Canucks only have four spots left under the 13 forward configuration, but five under the 14 forward model.

The play of Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen in the preseason has most fans clamoring for them to make the team, and its hard to argue with the results. With those two occupying spots, and veterans Derek Dorsett and Alex Burmistrov more than likely to join them, that adds up to 13 forwards. That means no room left for any of Anton Rodin, Scottie Upshall, Nikolay Goldobin, or Brendan Gaunce when he returns.

Injuries can, and will, occur, but a 13 forward model would require Rodin to be put on waivers and Upshall to be cut loose, and both are likely to find homes with other NHL teams. By carrying 14 forwards, however, the Canucks would be able to hang onto whichever of the two they preferred. Rodin likely has the most upside of the two, but Upshall comes with the potential to return draft picks at the deadline, so it’s a tossup.

 

The Relatively Uninspiring Selection of Depth Defensemen

The risk of carrying 14 forwards is losing one or more defensemen on waivers, but the Canucks don’t exactly have an inspiring bunch back there. The top six defense is locked in, but beyond that Vancouver has a choice of Patrick Wiercioch, Alex Biega, Andrey Pedan, and Philip Holm, with Olli Juolevi and Jalen Chatfield almost certain to be sent elsewhere for increased icetime.

None of Wiercioch, Biega, or Pedan are all that likely to be snagged on the waiver wire, and none of them would be a major loss if they were taken. Holm is waiver-exempt, but hasn’t looked like an NHL talent. The Canucks might be better off picking their favourite of the quartet as a spare d-man and then looking to youth to fill in for any injuries.

 

Call-Ups

If both Boeser and Virtanen start the year with the big club, there will be no particular forward prospects in dire need of a call-up, except for perhaps Nikolay Goldobin, who will get a chance when injuries first strike. Jonathan Dahlen should spend most of the year in the AHL.

The Utica defense, on the contrary, will feature two defensemen in particular who most fans would like to see called up at some point this season—Jalen Chatfield and Jordan Subban. Chatfield is this season’s blueline revelation, and has forced himself into consideration for NHL playing time. Subban is reaching a make-or-break point in his development, and a little big league experience could go a long way.

By carrying 14 forwards and seven defensemen, the chances of Chatfield and Subban getting into the lineup sooner rather than later increases.

 

The Potential Opening Roster

Sedin-Sedin-Gagner

Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser

Eriksson-Sutter-Vanek

Granlund-Burmistrov-Virtanen

Dorsett-Rodin/Upshall

 

Edler-Tanev

Hutton-Stecher

Del Zotto-Gudbranson

Biega/Wiercioch

 

Markstrom
Nilsson

2017-18 Vancouver Canuck Training Camp Battle Preview

The beginning of the 2017-18 NHL season is already shaping up to be a competitive one for the Vancouver Canucks. While the team itself may not be competing for the Stanley Cup, there will be plenty of internal competition in training camp, preseason, and throughout the regular season as players young and old jockey for position on a roster that is loaded with depth.

 

Forward Locks

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Bo Horvat

Sven Baertschi

Brandon Sutter 

Sam Gagner

Markus Granlund

Thomas Vanek

Loui Eriksson

Each of these players will be on the roster, barring trade or injury. That means that it is possible that all top-9 forward positions are already filled.

 

Approximate Lines:

Sedin-Sedin-Granlund

Baertschi-Horvat-Vanek

Eriksson-Sutter-Gagner/BLANK

BLANK-Gagner/BLANK-BLANK

 

If both Sutter and Gagner play at center, there will be a single top-9 wing position left open for one of the following candidates, most likely at right wing:

Top-9 Wing Candidates (Pick a maximum of one)

Brock Boeser, RW

Nikolay Goldobin, LW/RW

Anton Rodin, RW

Reid Boucher, LW/RW

Jake Virtanen, RW

Boeser, Goldobin, and Virtanen are all waiver-exempt, meaning they do not need to clear waivers to be sent down. This probably gives Rodin and Boucher the edge if this job does end up being available.

 

If one of Sutter or Gagner plays on the wing, it will mean the team is in need of someone at the 4th line center position.

4th Line Center Candidates (Pick a maximum of one)

Alexander Burmistrov

Michael Chaput

Jayson Megna

Ryan White

Griffen Molino

Burmistrov is the leading candidate here, but don’t count out a veteran presence like White, who could add some needed grit to the lineup. Chaput and Megna are always in the mix due to their versatility, and Molino is listed as a center despite probably having a future on the wing as a pro.

 

The above centers are all also candidates to fill one of the two vacant 4th line wing positions, as well as to fill in as the team’s extra forward(s), along with the following players:

4th Line Wing/Extra Forward Candidates (Pick a maximum of four, minimum of three, including above list)

Derek Dorsett, RW

Scottie Upshall, LW

Anton Rodin, RW

Reid Boucher, LW/RW

Jake Virtanen, RW

Joe LaBate, LW

Derek Dorsett is almost guaranteed to take one of these spots if he has fully recovered from his neck surgery. Scottie Upshall looks like a strong candidate on a PTO, as does Ryan White. Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin are not listed as the team would likely prefer them in Utica rather than on the 4th line or in the press box. Brendan Gaunce is not listed as he will be injured until November and then will likely complete a conditioning stint for the Comets. Jonathan Dahlen is not listed as he will almost certainly start in Utica after contracting mono.

 

Defense Locks 

Chris Tanev

Alex Edler

Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton

Erik Gudbranson

Michael Del Zotto

 The top-six defense is completely filled out for the Canucks, barring any trades or injuries. The pairings will be shuffled around, but it is these six players that will be making up those pairings.

 

That leaves between one and two spots left for extra defensemen, depending on whether the team wants to carry seven or eight defenders

Extra Defenseman Candidates (pick maximum of two, minimum of one)

Patrick Wiercioch, LD

Alex Biega, RD

Philip Holm, LD

Olli Juolevi, LD

Jordan Subban, RD

Andrey Pedan, LD

Evan McEneny, LD

The Canucks have a variety of middling defensemen to choose their extras from. Fans will want to see Jordan Subban and Olli Juolevi given opportunities, but it is likely that both will be sent elsewhere to start the year. All of Wiercioch, Biega, Pedan, and McEneny will need to clear waivers to be sent down. Philip Holm, a signing out of Sweden, is an intriguing option and a bit of a wildcard.

 

Goaltending Locks 

Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson

The goaltending is all locked up. As long as no injuries occur, Markstrom and Nilsson will be sharing the Vancouver net while Richard Bachman and Thatcher Demko compete for starts down in Utica.

 

Powerplay Considerations 

Of the ten spots available on the two powerplay units, at least five are clearly spoken for:

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Troy Stecher

That leaves five remaining spots, which will be competed for between:

Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, Anton Rodin, Reid Boucher, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Ben Hutton, Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Subban, Olli Juolevi 

In other words, there will be quite the battle to get a powerplay spot this time around.

 

Bonus- My Predicted Opening Night Roster: 

Sedin-Sedin-Granlund

Baertschi-Horvat-Vanek

Eriksson-Sutter-Gagner

White-Burmistrov-Dorsett

Boucher/Rodin (inj.)

 

Del Zotto-Tanev

Edler-Stecher

Hutton-Gudbranson

Holm-Subban

 

Markstrom

Nilsson