Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 27-April 2

Weekly Canucks Report: Week of March 27-April 2

 

Who Had a Good Week:

Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Brock Boeser- The Next Coast Express keeps on rolling, and are the only thing keeping Canuck games watchable right now. The line contributed all of the Canucks’ offense this week, even if that only amounted to two goals and one point each for the line. Still, Boeser has adapted to the NHL quicker than anyone anticipated, and he’s helping make sure that Baertschi and Horvat end the season on a high note.

Nikita Tryamkin- This week, Nikita Tryamkin played more than Chris Tanev. Now, Tanev is battling injuries, but that’s still a huge indicator of the amount of trust that Tryamkin has earned throughout the year. His massive hit on Dustin Brown made Canucks fans love him even more, just when they thought they couldn’t possibly.

Drew Shore- Shore will probably not be re-signed, but he’s putting in a pretty solid audition as a fourth line center right now. Shore isn’t fancy at all, although he has generated a few offensive chances and is decent on the forecheck. He was above 50% in faceoffs this week, and contributed heavily to a Canuck penalty kill that only got beat once against three strong offenses.

 

Who Had a Rough Week:

Nikolay Goldobin- There’s something about Goldy, at least according to Willie Desjardins. In the second game of the week, Goldobin received less ice time than Griffen Molino, in his first NHL game, and in the first game Goldobin only outplayed Joe LaBate. Finally, Goldy closed out the week by being scratched against his former team, the Sharks. It’s not looking like he’ll end the season on a scoring streak, unless he does it in Utica for the playoffs.

Philip Larsen- Larsen has been out of the picture for awhile, but he has popped back up to remind everyone how bad he is at defense. In his one game of the week, Larsen looked horrendous against Anaheim, and played so bad that he was replaced by Alex Biega, who had been dressed as a forward, part way through the game.

Sedins and Chaput- The allegedly young and talented Chaput just isn’t getting it done with the Sedins. Rather than adding to their line, Chaput accentuates the twins’ weakest points, like their lack of speed, and has helped turned the line into a bit of a defensive liability. That’s not good news, since they’re already an offensive black hole right now.

Jacob Markstrom- After recovering from food poisoning, it was confirmed that Markstrom would need season-ending surgery, a result of his injury suffered during the Super Skills competition. What a rotten end to an unpleasant season for Markstrom.

 

Roster Talk:

Jayson Megna receives a contract extension, and everyone loses their mind! However, Canuck fans may have overreacted on this one. Megna does appear to receive special treatment from coach Desjardins, but aside from that he’s been a pretty solid depth player. In reality, Megna would be an AHL asset with a different coach, and his near-minimum salary ensures he can play that role next year. Most importantly, Megna fulfills one of the Canucks’ two required exposure slots for forwards. Derek Dorsett no longer counts due to his injury, so expect at least one of Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput, or Jack Skille re-signed soon to fulfill the other obligation.

Griffen Molino chose the Canucks over at least a dozen other teams when he chose to sign as a UFA out of Western Michigan. Molino, 23, doesn’t have standout stats at any level, but he put up 33 points in 40 games this year and is reportedly a strong skater with a great work ethic. Molino looks to top out as a future bottom six guy, and he’s receiving an NHL audition right now.

The NHL revealed this week that it will publish protected and exposed lists for the upcoming Expansion Draft. This means that the public will know exactly who their team wanted to keep and who they felt comfortable losing, and will give fans in Vancouver and elsewhere yet another set of roster decisions to criticize over the summer.

 

Schadenfreude Section:

RETIRED UNTIL NEXT SEASON!

 

Comets Report:

At the very least, the Comets have had a consistent schedule lately, even if it’s consistently brutal. Once again, Utica played three games in three nights this weekend, and looked to solidify their playoff chances.

Things didn’t get off to a great start on Friday as the Comets visited Rochester for a 5-2 loss to the Americans, who are probably questioning their team name right about now. Thatcher Demko was actually pulled after he allowed four goals on 20 shots. Michael Garteig went in, but despite playing over half a period, he only faced one shot, which he saved. Pascal Pelletier scored, assisted my Michael Carcone and Alex Grenier. Jordan Subban scored an unassisted goal with 15 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.

A return home Saturday led to better results for the Comets, who turned the tables on Rochester by winning 5-3. Demko was back in net, making 20 saves en route to victory. Demko also picked up an assist on one of Jake Virtanen’s two goals, both of which were nice. Joe LaBate got a goal and an assist, and Carter Bancks and Darren Archibald scored the other goals. LaBate and Archibald both scored unassisted. Curtis Valk, Evan McEneny, and Wacey Hamilton each picked up a single helper.

It took a shootout, but the Comets managed to close out the week with a 3-2 defeat of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who hoard three city names to themselves. Subban had a goal and an assist, and Cody Kunyk scored the other goal. Frankie Corrado should actually get credit for the Comets’ second goal, however, as he shot it into his own net to help his former team. Valk picked up another helper on the week, adding to his impressive totals as an AHL rookie, and also notched the shootout winner. Demko made an impressive 43 saves total, and added three straight in the shootout.

The Comets are now tied with the slumping Albany Devils for the final playoff position in the North division. They’re also one point behind the St. John’s IceCaps. With only a couple of weeks remaining, every game counts from here on out.

 

Bits and Bobs:

-Is it time to get excited for a Utica playoff run? Not quite yet. The Comets are still in a battle to even make the playoffs, so Canuck fans should jump on the bandwagon right now to cheer them on for the stretch run. Players like Goldobin and Gaunce are eligible to go down for the playoffs, and others like Demko, Subban, and Virtanen are already there, so this could be quite an entertaining playoff run for Canucks fans if it happens.

-Speaking of the AHL playoffs, don’t expect to see Olli Juolevi there. Although Juolevi’s season could end this week, if he and the Knights are eliminated by new Canucks Jalen Chatfield and the Spitfires, he will not be starting his pro career right away. Jim Benning confirmed that the team has decided that Juolevi will begin his offseason training immediately, since he really needs to bulk up.

-Utica’s late season push has put Travis Green back into the conversation as a potential replacement for Willie Desjardins. ICYMI, I did a writeup on Green and seven other coaching candidates, and you can check it out here:

https://hockeytalkie.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/eight-potential-new-coaches-for-the-vancouver-canucks/

-Markstrom’s injury is one more cherry on top of a hard knock season for the Canucks, but the season-ending injury of John Tavares in New York gives a bit of perspective. The Canucks were, at the very least, lucky to avoid any injury to their very best player, Bo Horvat, or their two de facto leaders in the Sedins. Key defenders Stecher and Tryamkin also stayed healthy, and saw their careers blossom. Not every team had such luck. Some will speculate as to what the Canucks’ season could have been with better injury luck, but it always could have been worse.

-In the middle of the season, when the Canucks were on a hot streak, I proposed a very dark possibility: that the Canucks would flirt with playoff contention only to be eliminated by the Oilers in the two final games. Instead, now there’s a possibility that the Canucks could boot the Oilers out of the Pacific lead in those final two games. Most Canucks fans would prefer losses if it affects the lottery standings, but moral victories are always nice.

-Tune in next week for the final Canuck Report of the season. I’ll keep on doing the occasional article in the summer, and will almost certainly do write-ups for the both the Expansion and the Entry Draft, along with Free Agent Frenzy. As always, read it first at:

 

 

https://hockeytalkie.wordpress.com

Eight Potential New Coaches For The Vancouver Canucks

The writing appears to finally be on the wall for Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. The Canucks were likely destined for a poor finish in 2016-17 no matter who was behind the bench, but the final month of the season has given the organization plenty of reason to move on. Desjardins appears to have a different philosophy than GM Jim Benning when it comes to the ice time of younger players, and Benning felt the need to assert himself on this front via the media. Perhaps more troubling, especially for some fans, is the apparent disconnect between Desjardins and some of his players, like Nikita Tryamkin, when it comes to physical play. Let’s not even mention Jayson Megna, but we all know you were thinking it.

That being said, despite Desjardins’ many flaws as a coach, he has done a lot of good for the Vancouver Canucks organization. Players like Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Troy Stecher have blossomed under his tutelage, and his reported knack for developing youth seems to have been accurate. The Canucks will want to carefully select his replacement so that the accomplishments Desjardins has made with certain players isn’t interrupted. With that in mind, here are eight candidates to take his job.

 

Travis Green- The conventional choice. Green has been helming the Utica Comets for four seasons after a brief apprenticeship with the Portland Winterhawks. Green has made the playoffs in three of four seasons with the Comets, despite the Canucks not providing him with a ton of talent. His tenure includes a run to the Calder Cup Finals in 2015. At one point, he seemed like the de facto replacement for Desjardins, but a slow start this season changed that for some. Now, with a late season rebound for the Comets, he’s back on the radar. Green has a knack for bringing a team together, as evidenced by the performance of the Comets this season despite a roster that was constantly in flux. A player’s coach, Green allows players to play their games rather than trying to fit everyone into the same system, which is a sharp contrast from Desjardins. Expect a more physical team with Green at the helm, too. That being said, Green’s style of play isn’t entirely dissimilar to Desjardins’, and the Comets have never been an offensive powerhouse under him.

 

Marc Crawford- Crawford brings with him a lot of nostalgia, but there’s more to him than that. Crawford has greatly matured as a coach, and he spent four years in Switzerland refining his technique. He’s a lot calmer now than Canucks fans will remember. A few NHL teams pursued Crawford this past summer, but he elected to join Guy Boucher in Ottawa, where the two have the Senators playing far above expectations. It’s unknown how much impact Crawford’s coaching had on the development of Auston Matthews, but Matthews’ performance in the NHL this season certainly doesn’t speak ill of Crawford’s ability to develop young players. Crawford has always been an offensive coach, which could be exactly what the stagnant Canuck offense needs.

 

John Stevens- Stevens was a highly-sought after coach the last time the Canucks were looking, and he remains a top coaching prospect. He has head coaching experience, but lately has gained a reputation as an excellent assistant. He’s currently helping out in Los Angeles, which may actually make hiring him impossible. Darryl Sutter is nearing retirement, and the Kings have already announced Stevens as his heir apparent. There’s little reason for Stevens to leave an organization that is sure to give him a shot in a year or two. Stevens is big on professionalism, and has a great track record developing young players in Philadelphia and LA, so it’s too bad he’s likely not available.

 

Gerard Gallant- Gallant was the sacrificial lamb when the Florida Panthers struggled early this season, but it sure looks like he wasn’t the problem. The Panthers has since completely tanked right out of playoff contention, and their mishandling of Gallant’s firing was just one of many PR blunders they pulled this year. For his part, it seems like Gallant did an excellent job developing the many young and talented forwards in the Panthers stable, while still managing some major veteran egos like Jaromir Jagr’s. That might make him a perfect fit for a team still carrying the Sedin twins, but trying to integrate more and more youth. Perhaps Gallant could help make Olli Juolevi’s entry into the league as successful as Aaron Ekblad’s, who hasn’t looked the same without Gallant behind the bench.

 

Paul MacLean- MacLean was once described as a “bug-eyed walrus” by former Canuck Brandon Prust. His mustache alone is a good reason to hire him, but he brings an impressive resume, too. MacLean is an offensive coach, although his teams sometimes have defensive struggles. Several young players blossomed under his tutelage in Ottawa, including Kyle Turris, Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad. MacLean has been criticized for a lack of communication with his team, which is definitely a strike against him. He’s currently an assistant in Anaheim, a team that is finding success yet again this season.

 

Kevin Dineen- Dineen probably has the most colourful resume of any coach on this list.  The longtime NHL veteran has been a head coach in Florida, as well as the head coach for the Canadian National Women’s Team. He’s currently an assistant in Chicago, where they just clinched yet another division title. Dineen has been praised for his intelligent decision making, and his experience as a player has made him an excellent motivator. Dineen was tough as nails when he played, so expect his teams to play that way, too, if he ever gets another head coaching shot.

 

Ken Hitchcock- Hitchcock likely wants nothing to do with the Canucks, and truthfully, the reverse should be true, as well. Hitchcock planned to retire after one more season with the St. Louis Blues, but they couldn’t wait and fired him mid-season. The legendary coach has always been big on stingy defense, and the Canucks don’t need someone who will come in and stifle the offense of young talents like Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Brock Boeser. If Hitchcock signs anywhere else, he’ll be looking for a Cup, and the Canucks aren’t anywhere close to that yet.

 

Brad Berry- Berry is one of the least-known coaches on the market, but he’s got some intriguing connections to Vancouver and his name has been dropped by a few respected media types. Berry is currently the head coach for North Dakota in the NCAA, meaning he coached Brock Boeser this past season. He was an assistant there for a number of years prior, and thus was around for Boeser and Troy Stecher’s NCAA championship in 2016. Berry also worked as an assistant coach for the Manitoba Moose back when they were the Canucks’ affiliate. He’s a former NHL defenseman and has a rep for developing young d-men, including Alex Edler back in the Moose days. That might be perfect for a team adding Olli Juolevi to an already young defensive core.

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.

Weekly Canucks Report: Trade Deadline Edition

Weekly Canucks Report: Trade Deadline Edition feat. Mumpford and Sons

 

Where to Follow on Deadline Day:

If you want the news as quickly as possible, Reddit is your best bet. r/hockey and r/canucks will no doubt be reporting trades within seconds of them being announced elsewhere. Far easier than setting up a Twitter account.

If you’re more into the spectacle of Deadline Day, watch TSN, then switch to Sportsnet during the commercials. TSN still has the superior broadcasting team, and the reported return of Jay Onrait this year will only make things that much better. Nothing beats the multi-desk set-up that TSN runs, which facilitates the excitement of seeing Bob McKenzie react to a text message or Pierre McGuire creepily dropping in with big news. Sportsnet does have Elliotte Friedman, which is why they’re worth visiting during commercial breaks.

 

Further Reading: 

On Why Selling May Be Particularly Lucrative This Year:

https://hockeytalkie.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/566/

On Why Jim Benning’s Attitude At Last Season’s Deadline May Yet Pay Off:

https://hockeytalkie.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/jim-bennings-trade-deadline-long-game-how-2016s-disappointment-could-payoff-in-2017/

 

Trade Chips:

Jannik Hansen- Hansen has one-year remaining after this on his bargain contract that averages $2.5 million, and includes a limited no-trade clause. Hansen’s likely exposure in the pending Expansion Draft give the Canucks a reason to deal him, and his versatility and affordability make him an appealing target for contending teams. Hansen can play anywhere in the lineup, and has plenty of playoff experience.

Possible Return- Given the high return on players like Martin Hanzal and Patrick Eaves, it is not unreasonable to expect a first round pick, or at least a second and a good prospect, for Hansen. With more buyers than sellers, the Canucks can afford to auction him off a bit.

Probable Destinations- Washington has long been discussed as a possible destination for Hansen. Anaheim and Minnesota were rumoured to be interested, but that may have changed for the Wild with the addition of Hanzal. Calgary and Edmonton are also good fits, but it would be hard to see Hansen playing in Alberta. His cheapness makes him attractive to Chicago. Winnipeg would be a nice return for the former Manitoba Moose.

 

Ryan Miller- Miller is a UFA after this season, and the Canucks can easily afford to retain on his $6 million salary. The only question remaining is how large of a market for goaltenders there is come Deadline Day. With Ben Bishop already moving for an underwhelming return, it doesn’t look great.

Possible Return- Before the Bishop trade, many would have expected a second round pick or more for Miller. Now, it seems like a third would have to do, although perhaps a decent prospect could be thrown in, too.

Probable Destinations- Los Angeles is no longer a possibility for Miller, although the other two Californian teams could still be. San Jose doesn’t have a fantastic backup behind Martin Jones, and Jonathan Bernier has been pretty bad for the Ducks. Calgary may be a decent fit, if Miller were willing to go there. St. Louis has been there and done that.

 

Alex Burrows- It will be hard to see Burrows go, but it is probably time. The mood of his CBC After Hours segment seemed to indicate that he expected to move, but didn’t want to say too much. Burrows is a UFA after this year, and his cap hit is $4.5 million. The Canucks could retain on him, as well.

Possible Return- Vernon Fiddler went for a fourth round pick, so one has to think Burrows is worth more than that. A third seems fair, although I would hope that Benning is also seeking out some “diamond in the rough”-type prospects as deal-sealers for his deadline trades.

Probable Destinations- Montreal is the best possible scenario here, as everyone wants to see Burrows return to his hometown and win a Cup. Anaheim has also been rumoured, which would mean a reunion with Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa, as has a potential reunion with Alain Vigneault in New York. Really, there are very few teams that couldn’t benefit from a player like Alex Burrows.

 

Jayson Megna/Michael Chaput/Jack Skille/Reid Boucher- Teams often look for depth at the Deadline, and one never knows who they will target. Someone looking for an extra center may look at Chaput, and someone seeking an extra powerplay piece may want Boucher. If the Canucks can cash in on any late draft picks for these guys, they should go for it.

 

Philip Larsen/Alex Biega- The same goes for Larsen and Biega, as teams always look for defensive depth heading into the playoffs. Biega’s situation is slightly more complicated, as he cannot be traded if Luca Sbisa is also traded. One of the two will need to fulfill the Canucks defenseman requirement in the Expansion Draft, so both can’t be dealt.

 

Other Potential Pieces:

Luca Sbisa- With the emergence of Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton, and Nikita Tryamkin, and the incoming presence of Olli Juolevi, Sbisa will lose his spot in the lineup sooner or later, despite a recent uptick in play. If a team asks for Sbisa at the Deadline, the Canucks should probably say yes, even if the return is limited. However, his $3.6 million salary, which lasts for another year after this one, makes it unlikely anyone wants him.

Erik Gudbranson- The Canucks have played their best with Gudbranson out of the lineup, and the emergence of the above-mentioned defensemen does make him seem a bit redundant. However, it seems unlikely that the Canucks could make a deal for Gudbranson right now that would return anything close to what they dealt to get him. This makes it more likely that Benning hangs on to Gudbranson and re-signs him, hopefully to a reasonable rate.

Alex Edler- Edler is the oldest Canucks’ defenseman, and his age puts him slightly too far ahead of the emerging core. While Edler has been the Canucks’ best D-man this year, it may be time to sell high on him and clear a path for younger defensemen to step up. Chris Tanev would still be around to lynchpin the D, and Juolevi would come in next year to start the process of replacing Edler. I personally think Edler could bring back a surprisingly high return from a team looking for long-term help on defense.

Ben Hutton- Hutton’s name has popped up in recent rumours, but it’s really not a great idea to trade a player in the midst of a sophomore slump. It seems far more prudent to wait and see if Hutton bounces back next year before entertaining any thoughts of trading him. The smartest move is probably just keeping him as a future top-4 defenseman.

Chris Tanev- Tanev is probably the second-most valuable Canuck on the trade market, after Bo Horvat. However, he’s a few years younger than Edler, and is a better fit to stabilize the Canucks’ D-core while the youth takes over. Tanev is also one of the most underrated players in the NHL, which makes it hard to believe the Canucks would get fair value for him.

Markus Granlund- Conceivably, the Canucks could decide they prefer Jannik Hansen to Markus Granlund and decide to trade the mumps-stricken winger instead. Granlund probably has less value than Hansen, however, and this isn’t a very likely scenario given the age discrepancy between the two.

 

Team Wants and Needs:

Draft Picks- Jim Benning is strongest when it comes to drafting, but the Canucks have yet to have a true surplus of picks during his tenure as GM. Now is the time to load up on picks in the top three rounds for the next 2-3 drafts.

Expansion Draft-Exempt Forwards- If the Canucks pick up any non-cap dump players, they will almost certainly need to be Expansion Draft-exempt. That means players that have two or fewer pro seasons by the end of this year. With the sudden surplus of talented young defensemen, the Canucks would definitely prefer Expansion-exempt forwards more than anything.

Physical, Utility Cap Dumps- If the Canucks do trade Burrows and Hansen, they might want some warm bodies to fill out the lineup for the remainder of the year. They may also be asked to take on cap dumps by teams that they trade with. In either case, the Canucks should seek out physical, utility-type forwards. The team has been pushed around a lot since Derek Dorsett left the lineup, and if they’re going to give up hope on the playoffs, it would be nice to see them defend themselves a bit better.

 

Remaining Schedule/Projected Finish:

The Canucks will play exactly 20 games after Wednesday’s Trade Deadline. During the course of that 20, they will play playoff-bound or playoff-hopeful teams a whopping 18 times. The only down-and-out opponents will be the Dallas Stars and the Arizona Coyotes. This stretch will feature two three-game sets against the California teams and three games against the surging Edmonton Oilers, including the last two of the season.

That being said, the Canucks could end up sinking pretty far in the standings. There is zero chance of catching the dreadful Colorado Avalanche, and even catching the Coyotes will be a major challenge. Expect the Canucks to end up ranked anywhere from third to sixth when the Draft Lottery comes around.

 

Legacies to Discuss:

Alex Burrows- Trevor Linden will always be my favourite Canuck, because he’s a childhood hero, and those can’t really be replaced. However, since I’ve been old enough to really watch and understand hockey, my favourite Canuck has been Alex Burrows. I first saw him play during the full-season lockout, when I followed the Manitoba Moose very closely, and it has been an amazing experience to watch Burrows’ unprecedented rise to NHL success. People will debate endlessly about whether or not “clutch play” is a real thing, but if it is, then Burrows undoubtedly had it in spades. He’ll finish in the top 15 for all-time Canucks scoring, and that’s just crazy for a guy who got his start in the ECHL. Burrows will absolutely get a spot in the Ring of Honour one day.

 

Jannik Hansen- Hansen was once a gangly young prospect who debuted in the playoffs, and became central to the series against the Ducks. Since then, he’s played a thousand different roles on the team, including a memorable stint with the Sedins. Hansen is one point away from entering the top 30 for all-time Canuck scoring.

 

Ryan Miller- Miller’s signing was panned by many fans when it happened, but his play in Vancouver has converted many of his former critics. Miller has been a solid starter for each of his three seasons with the Canucks, and he sits a surprising sixth on the list of most wins by a Canuck goaltender. It is hard to argue that Miller didn’t live up to his contract, in the end.

 

Comets Report:

While the Canucks were idle, the Comets played four games in seven nights this week, with three of them on the road. First up was a trip to Albany, which is actually the capital of New York, look it up! Utica won 3-2, coming from behind in the third. Borna Rendulic, who has been heating up lately, opened the scoring, while Darren Archibald and Jordan Subban got the job done in the third. Archibald also got an assist, as did the streaking Evan McEneny and the not-so-streaking Cole Cassels. Richard Bachman was in net for the victory.

Two nights later, the Comets were in Rochester, which is known as the Flour City apparently. Utica fell 3-2 in overtime with former Comet Cal O’Reilly picking up the winner. On the Utica side, Cody Kunyk, a recent scoring star, and Mike Zalewski got the goals. For Zalewski, it was his second of the year. It was a night for defensive assists, as Subban, Andrey Pedan, Colby Robak, and the on-fire McEneny each notching one. Bachman was also in net for this one.

The team made a brief pit-stop back home for a game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, also known as the most annoying AHL team to type. The Comets won 2-1, and Thatcher Demko was back in net to pick up the W, making 27 saves. Subban and Archibald scored the goals, while Zalewski, Pascal Pelletier, and Michael Carcone each assisted once. The only goal scored against Demko was a powerplay marker by Tom Kostopoulos, an NHL veteran who once knocked out Kevin Bieksa.

Kunyk continued his roll on Saturday with a two goal performance against Binghamton, boosting the Comets to a 3-2 victory. (Three of the four games this week ended 3-2, which is meaningless trivia, but kind of neat.) Rendulic scored the other goal, a game-tying effort in the third, and Chad Billins chipped in with two assists. Zalewski kept his miniature scoring streak alive with an assist, while Curtis Valk broke out of a mini-slump with an assist of his own. Archibald and Robak also notched one each. Demko picked up his second win in a row, making 30 saves.

 

Thoughts on Saturday’s Game vs. Sharks:

-Jayson Megna had his most noticeable game as a Canuck against the Sharks. He was skating hard, chasing the puck, and playing physical, which he never seems to do. Either he felt the need to step up in the absence of so many players, or he felt Grenier and LaBate breathing down his neck and realized he has a job to fight for.

-Evan McEneny was, predictably, overwhelmed in his first NHL game. He didn’t look outright horrible, but got walked multiple times and was at least partially responsible for two goals against. Seems like there is little reason not to give Jordan Subban a shot now, especially with Luca Sbisa falling ill.

-Alex Grenier was a bit disappointing. I had hyped him all season, and he looked good when the puck was around him, but he also looked a bit lead-footed. Grenier is the kind of player that needs to initiate more to succeed, and he was playing way too passive against the Sharks.

-Joe LaBate continues to impress. After a good training camp and preseason, LaBate was once again very noticeable. For a big guy, he skates well, and his hit against Melker Karlsson was huge and legal. He also answered the bell twice for himself, which was nice to see. If the Canucks shed wingers at the Deadline, I wouldn’t mind seeing LaBate get an extended audition.

-Three more games against the Sharks to round out the year will not be fun, especially when they’re fighting to maintain their division lead.