June has already been a pretty jam packed month and its only half way over. The Stanley Cup went to the Blackhawks (surprise, surprise), the Warriors won the NBA FInals, Jim Benning isn’t trading Ryan Miller and next week the NHL Entry Draft will commence with the next wave of stars finding homes. With all this, I am trying a new feature here at Always90four called Bowness Coverage that is Canucks first, NHL second and then a whole lot of everything else.
Its kind of like Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts over on Sportsnet, but I’ll keep it to about 10. Hopefully it’s worth doing every 2 weeks or so that it becomes a staple. Let me know what you think!
1) So, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup YET AGAIN for the 3rd time in 6 years. Its not a dynasty but its darn close. The group that has managed to stay together is pretty special. Led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa; the Hawks have found a way to keep a very expensive core together and continue to win with new parts each time.
Duncan Keith is a big reason this is even possible. He logs more minutes of play than an 18 year old when the new Call of Duty comes out. He’s gritty, offensively clutch, a pain in the butt to play against and brutally decorated with achievements: 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, a Conn Smythe, 2 Norris Trophies, etc, etc. He is everything you want in a defenseman and above all else, he wins.
But what if the Canucks were smart enough to have drafted him in 2002 in what largely was a dart board of picks every round? Would Keith have developed into the premier player he has become? The way the Canucks drafted that year and beyond, he would have been frustrated. What really stings is that Vancouver picked well before Chicago in Round 2 and would not have needed to stretch to get him.
Kiril Koltsov was the Canucks first choice at pick 49, with Keith going at 54. Koltsov played all of ZERO games in the NHL so it was a really great pick. Having seen Keith play in Kelowna on a nightly basis, he did all the right things and if the Canucks even bothered to acknowledge the WHL existed, maybe Duncan Keith would have lifted a Conn Smythe for Vancouver, who knows? You want to talk about misses, sometimes its the guy you could have taken that’s the miss instead of who you chose.
2) Speaking of the NHL Draft, there’s another player that I have been bragging about for about 2 seasons now: Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets. This guy is basically the full package of talent. He is only 18 so he can hone is craft and really strengthen his game more than he has already. The Canucks really should be jumping up to get this guy. He is a phenomonal playmaker, a slick goal scorer and his puck possesion reminds me of that guy that played in Edmonton in the 80’s.
I am not saying Merkley is like Wayne Gretzky but he has similar traits that you just don’t see in every player. Merkley is a hybrid forward that can play both centre and wing and his forecheck is a thing of beauty. Anyone that watched the WHL Playoffs or the Memorial Cup this year knows exactly what he can bring to the table.
Canucks GM Jim Benning went on TSN 1040 on Wednesday and here is a piece that was taken from it:
I really don’t know who else they want in the first round. They’ll have to make a move to get him but man oh man is he worth the risk. His rookie year he played centre and won Rookie of the Year honours, this past season he was moved to the wing and led the Kelowna Rockets in assists and points (20G, 70A, 90PTS). Nick Merkley will only get better and with the right development he can really boom.
Benning has had an iffy start so far but this is one player he can win with.
3) Sticking with Kelowna Rockets related players in the draft, a defenseman that will be a steal and can be had in the 4th or 5th round, is defensive defenseman Joe Gatenby. Gatenby’s ability to seperate his man from the puck is scary. The way he just becomes a wedge is something not every blue liner can just do. His speed to chase down forwards when his team has maybe pinched too hard is something to watch.
The Canucks have been anything but successful in drafting defensive prospects. I mean, they aren’t the worst, but I can name a ton of teams that have done better. Joe Gatenby is a safe pick that will turn into an Alex Edler type player, he’s been ok. OH, and he was a Kelowna Rocket too! See a pattern here? Ranked at 174 by ISS, he’s a smart play.
4) Apparently, Ryan Miller isn’t going anywhere. *Insert frowny shrug* Jim Benning feels when Miller is playing well he gives the team confidence. I am not by any means an NHL GM but is that not what every goalie does for their team? $6M per could be used in more constructive ways than aging Ryan Miller’s equipment.
There has to be a team for him to go to. We are already overpaying for Sbisa, to a degree Dorsett and we need some Canadian Tire money for Brad Richardson among others. Admitting to mistakes makes you a better person, I do it all the time. Admit that Miller was a safe move and you no longer see the need to keep him.
Canucks fans want a Stanley Cup and with Ryan Miller, thats one burnt year without a real shot. Trade Miller and move on Jimbo. I give you permission.
5) The Arizona Coyotes sure know how to stay relevant. How is this farce not over yet? Figure it out and get back to us. The news of Glendale cancelling the lease on the arena agreement for the Yotes was just a greedy, selfish mess. Grow up desert! You are an absolute joke, so much so you let your local residents tase you for charity.
This makes me sick.
6) The Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions. No exclamation point needed. If you have stayed loyal to me and kept reading this was actually a good series. You know, until the Cavs lost everyone but Lebron James. Cleveland just lost pace at a certain point and it was over. I was bored and I happened to have switched to TSN and the game was on, thats how I know.
7) CBC Hockey Night in Canada’s PlayOn! 4 on 4 street hockey tournament is in my hometown of Kelowna this weekend and I’ll be there. Word is there are a few NHL teams in the elite division so I can totally understand if my games don’t get the crowds I’d expect. Riiiiiiiight. Its going to be a blast and getting to play hockey with two ringers makes my dismal skills look ok. You can check it out here.
8) Its still a few weeks away but NHL Free Agency opens July 1 and the Canucks would be smart to look at the defensive market this time around. The forwards are starting to show up on the farm so balancing the defense would seem to be a smart move.
There isn’t a lot to choose from but making a splash and landing at least 2 of these guys would fill a void that is um, very voiding. Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Franson, Mike Green and Johnny Oduya are all guys Vancouver should target while sending aging players Kevin Bieksa, Chris Higgins and ugh, Luca Sbisa is newly signed; packing.
Might Jim Benning do something that BENEFITS the Canucks? Time will tell. Its just…Groundhog Day is getting old.
9) You may have quite a different taste in music than I do but Muse has a new album out and its great. Check this song out, I bet we both like it a lot.
10) Finally, as good as the Toronto Blue Jays are playing right now, and I haven’t seen a lot; if they don’t make a serious push for talented, reliable closing pitching they will just be a team that has fun in the summer. Put up your hand if you’re bored of this repeat issue.
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