Author: always90four

Jarkko Polo – The Boes-t A Fan Can Get

Going into this week things looked pretty rosy: Connor McDavid was held without a point and the Canucks, on the surface, looked like they could be a fun team to watch. Fast forward a week later and the injury-laden club will be lucky to relevant by Christmas. OK, that might be a tad harsh but it took three games to see rookie phenom Brock Boeser in the lineup. This is a team that everyone knew would struggle to get points and the young talent has been held in the barn.

Regardless, they still played the games and we know a lot more about new coach Travis Green, his thought process, and injuries.

Let’s recap the week that was:

 

The Good

Brock Boeser debuted and notched a goal and an assist in two games played. Chris Tanev is the unlikely co-leader in the clubhouse with two goals (Bo Horvat also has the same total). The Canucks will rely heavily upon Tanev now that Alex Edler is out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain. Going back to Boeser, he just fits and if Green chooses to keep him out of the lineup on any given night in the near future he’ll have some explaining to do.

Boeser couldn’t quite deliver on the power play after getting multiple opportunities to trigger a shot but it’s clear he has a gift and eventually that gift will reap many, many benefits for the Canucks.

Other than that, it wasn’t a very good week in Vancouver.

 

The Bad

Jacob Markstrom started this season on a high note and looked to be one of the few reliable pieces on the Canucks roster. Things have changed slightly since that first night. There have been some goals he probably wants back, some decisions he could have done without and probably a defensive unit that can keep the puck away from him. Anders Nilsson better be getting a start soon while they’re on the road because this could be a long season of shaking our collective heads.

The Sedins ice time has dwindled down to their early years in the league and it probably won’t get any better. It looked like they were going to be asked to be role players but even then it would be assumed they’d be getting third line minutes at the bare minimum. Nope, not happening this year. If this team is to survive and the Sedins are going to be getting zero ice time, put ALL the kids in, even Nikolay Goldobin.

 

The Ugly

The powerplay is a good place to start. At 8.7% the Canucks are already 25th in the league with the man advantage. The stat that hurts, even more, is that they’ve had the MOST power play opportunities at home. Zone entries have been alright but even with the new setup, Sam Gagner seems to be getting all the looks like the new kid in high school that transferred from across town, ugh man did I hate Kevin. Gagner isn’t exactly the best choice for “power play goals and such”.

Although, it doesn’t really matter who is on the PP as no one is even getting shots. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Oh, right; Alex Edler is out so the defense is basically doomed and Loui Eriksson will probably be out indefinitely after mangling his ankle crashing into the net against Calgary. That part isn’t as ugly for the team, more for Loui, himself.

 

With all the injuries Travis Green will be forced to play some of the younger guys and it might just attract a few more people to the games because, well, attendance is kinda low.

 

Maybe this road trip will give us some hope.

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A94 Brings Back Jarkko Polo

Probably one of my favourite ideas was creating a post on the week that was for the Canucks. You can get a recap anywhere but I’ll try and keep it fun, somewhat short and memorable. If you remember Jarkko Polo it was a short review of each game played that week; the thing is I hate going into crazy detail so the new look should hopefully just cover what matters. Feedback is welcome and so are donations.

Like any kind: iTunes, Subway, Home Depot… literally anything.

OK, let’s rock and roll

 

There wasn’t much to talk about this week because the Canucks only played one game. But what a game it was! Leading up to the season opener none of us had any clue as to what the first lineup would look like but we were all 100% sure it included rookie Brock Boeser. If you saw the game last night, you’ll know that it didn’t.

It did include a renewed Jake Virtanen and a healthy Derek Dorsett. Dorsett wasn’t exactly a sexy pick to be in the lineup but many of us judged him on what he displayed on the ice while playing with a slew of injuries. He’s healthy now and after a stellar performance against the Oilers and completely shutting down Connor McDavid, he’ll be a fixture on the team in 2017/18.

The outrage on the Twitter about Boeser not playing was the equivalent of Ari Gold not being allowed to take a call during marriage counseling.

So Boeser didn’t play but you know who did, you know who absolutely did: Bo FREAKIN Horvat!

Bo finished last season with a handful of assists but one goal in his last 18. On Saturday night he potted two markers and he looked phenomenal.

One game does not a season make but a handful of those types of games from Bo is more than welcome. With one player stepping up it was two players that were kept sitting a bit longer than they were used to.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin were essentially 4th liners in the opener and even though it’s one game, new head coach Travis Green might just want this team to step into the future and slowly fade out the past.

The Sedins have delivered year in and year out and even last night for the time they were on the ice they looked pretty good. A reduced role means the younger players get to step up and in maybe the most sneaky way, we all will see the transition of the Sedins to a secondary or even tertiary role.

Troy Stecher had a big game and was so feisty he picked a fight that raised an eyebrow or two in the arena and at home. He held his own and took another step to solidifying himself as one of the Canucks top defenders.

To top everything off, Jacob Markstrom had a great night as well. Keeping Connor McDavid off the board and making some crucial stops on the PK and late in the game, Marky was dialed in for almost the entire night.

All in all, a great first week (game) but it doesn’t feel like the Canucks WANT to lose. We all begged for proper line deployment and so far we got it. We asked for younger players and so far, aside from BB, we got it. We asked for meat draw… OK, no one asked for that but the fans got one.

The feeling is good right now and had the Canucks even lost that one in OT, the feeling probably would have felt the same. This Canucks team is fun.

 

So far.

The Case For Jordan Subban As A Loss Leader

Everyone is a salesperson. From the guy on late night TV telling you why need a weight that you can shake vigorously to help you drop the pounds to the nice woman at the jewelry store that can smell your vulnerability as soon you ask why the 4-C’s are important. Agents try to sell the GM’s why their player is worth more money and ownership tries to sell the fans why rebuilding with a lowercase r is OK.

When it comes to Canucks defensive prospect Jordan Subban, selling a reason why he should be on the big club has proved to be quite difficult. It’s not that he can’t score goals or that he isn’t fast enough; he’s a star in those categories. In fact, last season in the AHL, Subban was 3rd amongst all defensemen with 16 goals. He was tied for 7th in primary points (goals and first assists) by defenders with 30 and 17th in overall points by a defenseman with 36.

No one will argue that Subban can’t produce. However, the knock on PK’s younger brother is that defensively, he stinks. The 2017 preseason has been fairly evident of this as he’s been the visible one getting burned for a handful of goals. The blame isn’t always pegged on the last guy but his defensive efforts aren’t exactly NHL caliber.

You know who else was atrociously awful as a defenseman? If you guessed Luca Sbisa then you would win a prize. There are no prizes to give out but if there were, you’d have one today. Somehow, Sbisa was trotted out on a nightly basis when there were plenty of other players clearly more deserving than him to be in the lineup.

As the saying goes, let’s look at the stats:

Luca Sbisa (VAN) 2016/17 – Goals: 2 Assists: 11 GF: 46, GA: 72   TOI/60: 18:58 (7th on team)

Jordan Subban (UTI) 2016/17 – Goals: 16 Assists: 20 GFoI: 42 GAoI:  45  (AHL doesn’t track TOI, but looking at the stats, he would have been playing big minutes).

OK, so based on some similar metrics, Subban was on the ice for a lot more action on either side of the ice than Sbisa. Knowing that, would it not be more beneficial to go with the loss leader in this case? A loss leader in sales is something sold at a loss to attract customers. It has been done in the housing market to get the ball rolling on a development and for the Canucks, having an exciting player on the ice, regardless of the final score, gets people back in the rink.

Even though Sbisa is gone, players like Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek are still on the team. At some point, an injury will rear its head and someone will need to be called up. If having Jordan Subban on the ice means goals are going both ways, the surrounding players and goalie should be able to weather the storm. How bad could Subban really be?

For what it’s worth, Gudbranson had a GF 16 and GA of 38. Subban doesn’t look so bad now, does he?

There isn’t necessarily a spot for Jordan right now but looking back at last season, the Canucks would have most likely benefited more from having Subban on the team. If there is going to be red lights lit at both ends of the ice, why not put in a guy that can actually contribute to them instead of being both an offensive AND defensive hinderance? What about another route, though?

It has been suggested by various people that he switch positions to accommodate to his talents, to say, the wing. It’s unlikely he cracks the Canucks lineup anytime soon due to a logjam of “talent” ahead of him. Smaller forwards have risen to the spotlight in the NHL in the last few seasons so it would be a great time to experiment with Subban up front.

Of course, with two preseason games left to play, it’s a little late for that.

When the time does come to call a forward up, Subban would be an interesting choice. Heck, Andrey Pedan played up front! Goals may come at a premium this season and Jordan has a decent release. Worth a try. It’s worth a try for many of the young stars trying to make the Canucks. If the goals are coming, the losing doesn’t hurt as much.

Comparing Sbisa to Subban is kind of a moot point as Sbisa has moved on to play for Vegas and any stats above were from last year. However, there are still a handful of players that need to be kept honest because there are guys that can rock the boat and get the fire into the lineup. Taking a hit by allowing more opportunities to score goals is well worth the chance to score more.

Limit his ice time as a bottom pairing defenceman and anchor him with a responsible partner OR put him on the wing. Jordan Subban deserves his shot.

The Canucks won’t challenge for a playoff spot this season but having increased goal production combined with excitement (hey, what’s that?) will get the needle moving in the right direction.

photo – Today’s Slapshot

Taste Of NHL Pays Dividends For Canucks Pick Kole Lind

As bad as the preseason has been for the Canucks, it seems to have paid off in spades for multiple prospects still on the roster and players that have been sent back to junior/AHL. Case in point Kole Lind, 2017 2nd round Canucks pick (like you didn’t know).  Lind was sent back just in time to join his Kelowna Rockets teammates before the first game of the WHL season.

He didn’t need much time to adjust. Whatever the Canucks coaches taught him, he put into use right away.

In the Rockets’ home opener on Friday, Lind made quick work of the Kamloops Blazers defense and eventually their goaltender, fellow 2017 draftee Dylan Ferguson.

Here’s an assist a bit later in the game; the patience he shows is scary impressive:

Torching the Kamloops Blazers doesn’t put Lind in MVP consideration quite yet but he was far and away the Rockets best player and after collecting 8 points through 2 games this weekend, he’ll be hungry each and every night.

What Lind will eventually bring to the Canucks is the ability to score goals with a release similar to current Canuck hopeful Brock Boeser and retired great Markus Naslund. He is well used on the penalty kill and has gone end to end untouched while his team is down a man. That won’t be a regular occurrence in the NHL

The Rockets are a very different looking team this season with Nick Merkley,  Lucas Johansen and Calvin Thurkauf moving on, as well as the unknown fate of Dillon Dube at Flames camp. Kole Lind will be targeted as one of the top producers on his team this year but much like last season when he led the Rockets with 87 points, he’ll challenge for top spot again.

Vancouver will be keeping a close eye on Lind this year with the current youth movement afoot, a monster season in Kelowna could push his stock way up to a potential roster spot next year on the Canucks. It will be interesting to compare gameplay with Boeser and Lind this year to see how they matchup in relation to their competition.

Coach Jason Smith of the Rockets has Lind available in almost every game situation and that speaks well of his talents. When he does eventually turn pro, Kole will have a solid arsenal of weapons every time he steps on the ice and Travis Green will trust him with more than just 5v5 ice time.

Jim Benning hit a home run with the 2017 2nd rounder and if Lind can hold up his end of the bargain there may be more future picks out of the Okanagan. We all know it’s been invisible until this past year.

Follow me on Twitter @always90four

 

photo – The Hockey News

Why I’m Joining The Atheltic Kelowna

I kept reading all of the announcements wondering when I’d receive an invite to the prestigious Athletic and then it happened: I stopped waiting. With zero journalism degrees to my name, no official representation in the real world and being turned down a number of times for a local WHL franchise media pass, I took matters into my own hands and did what many could only dream of…

I created the Athletic Kelowna (which is in no way shape or form related to The Athletic).

As you probably can tell, I spelled the headline wrong and because I am a parent of two young children I don’t have any time for your criticism on a simple spelling error. Maybe that’s why the REAL Athletic wasn’t looking for local representation outside of credentialled writers. It makes sense.

Growing up in the Okanagan, I used to read the Daily Courier (local paper), The Province and even the Vancouver Sun on the weekend. I tracked box scores, signed up for hockey pools and clipped out the Family Circus in the funnies (Love that Jeffy and Billy). Those were simpler times. When the Internet was introduced those papers were still around but the years went on and the online offering for news grew more and more.

The introduction of Facebook and eventually Twitter gave so many ACTUAL writers a wider reach to readers like myself and instant access to archives that only the public library would have. I don’t even have a library card. Come to think of it, I’ve only really ever parked there. I have some soul searching to do apparently.

OK, back to my decision. Lebron got one and I hold myself to at least 1/100th of his talent but as a blogger. No one is broadcasting this, it’s on me. Starting on my own and being invited to write for the prestigious Canucks Army has been a wild ride and what better way to step it up a notch than to join a fictional, parody pay to read subscription based website?

Coming up with a platform was tough. What would The Athletic Kelowna be about? Well, the real one is about real sports, real sports stories and the athletes they cover. This was going to be about how I hate bike lanes, how people don’t respect Nickelback and how blogging has evolved to the living room that only gets used for special occasions now that most moms rent out their basements now or even AirBnB. What a concept THAT is!

There was also a few other names I spitballed: The Dad Bod Kelowna (somewhat similar to athletic), The AK (too gun-like), The White Sunglasses Roidrage Review, and The Ogopolo. The last one confused me too much and I’m not much for croquet on a horse or horses for that matter in general.

Sports are my life and unfortunately, I couldn’t make this all work while I lived in the Lower Mainland as I’m sure things potentially could have gone differently. This new venture will elevate local blogger(s) to the secondary news level which is just below real news but not quite unpaid guest work for sites you can create on your lunch break.

But I’m in Kelowna again, putting my spin on the Kelowna Rockets, writing about the Canucks from just up the Coquihalla and enjoying raising my girls in Canada’s best playground: the Okanagan.

The Athletic Kelowna never really was created; I barely get 100 views per article when I DO write, the site would shut down in a week.

I will say that I am disappointed The Athletic doesn’t see me as the future of sports media but my demands are pretty high and I doubt they have a budget for Frappuccinos and Baconators.

For now, just read Always90four and Canucks Army.

The Day Journalism Wasn’t Dead aka The New Landscape

This quote was taken from a snippet on TSN 1040’s afternoon show on Tuesday. There was a separate poll question that sort of accompanied that on Twitter which also was pretty interesting at first sight:

It doesn’t exactly scream “Video Killed the Radio Star” but in the wake of a changing landscape in the media realm, this question was raised and it definitely irked a few people. First of all, conventional journalism isn’t dead, is it dying, possibly. A big problem many perceive to be happening is that people aren’t picking up a hard copy of a newspaper which means businesses are pulling ad revenue away from a once dedicated medium.

As social media has become the new way readers digest information, many journalists, writers, and content providers have adapted to this change and are changing themselves to stay relevant. It’s not exactly a new idea. Having a new voice that happens to be a “blogger” isn’t a terrible thing either. It’s challenging some of the media members to stay honest.

I wasn’t around when radio came out but I can only imagine newspaper companies were worried because the news that was read the next morning would be available as soon as someone could get it on the air. Same can be said for television, the Internet and so on. It’s a true shame that newspapers have lost their luster and many of the writers that gave us great takes, articles, thought pieces have been phased out because the paper buys just aren’t there.

Reading the local writers, national scribes and even the likes of Ken Rosenthal of MLB fame in the United States in a paper or even on a website has started to dissolve to video clips that just don’t intrigue the way the written word captures the imagination. Someone like Jason Botchford of The Province and the connecting online media channels has found a way to stay more than relevant with a feature like The Provies after Canucks games.

Everyone loves that bonus content and the feature inserts in the newspaper used to provide that but the Internet can do it so much better so why not embrace it? Maybe that’s easier said than done. Growing up as the Internet and the technology that delivers it has evolved has made it easier for the wait for it… MILLENNIALS to adapt but the ones providing the content aren’t necessarily the ones that know how to reach that same audience online.

Hopefully, the demand for more online written content grows and brings some of the writers back that had to forfeit their jobs because video took over. Botch is one of my relevant reads and I know there are plenty of other respected writers that I would read in passing in the paper back in the day when the almighty newspaper gave me as much of the information as was available until the online world opened up.

Unfortunately, we all want information as quickly as it’s available and somehow we’ve been gifted 90% of it for free. We used to pay for music and movies and then Napster, Limewire and torrent sites came out and for the longest time, no one had to pay for them. Itunes and a variety of other outlets took the power back and dare I say, made it cool, to pay for music again. Digital downloads were included with new DVD/Blu-ray purchases so everyone could have their content wherever they want.

Maybe that’s a conversation for another day but if we all want great content, these guys and girls do this for a living and need to be paid; if it’s all free eventually they’re out of jobs. That’s when journalism dies. There are sites that operate by paid subscriptions and if the big papers did what sites like The Athletic and many fantasy sports sites have done, the content we all crave would continue to flow from more voices that created the landscape we enjoy today.

Now the blogger argument is sort of old because many feel the stories and content on a lot of the sites are click bait or just help get retweets for that guy in his parent’s basement. It’s beyond that and it needs to stop.

Growing up, if I would have been told that this thing called the Internet would allow me to have a voice that even one person I didn’t know was interested in, I would have been thrilled. The beautiful thing about having an online presence is that if it’s a bad article/take/comment, you’ll hear about it. I imagine this post may fall on deaf ears but the fact I get to have an opinion on this is worth it to me.

Conventional journalism has taken a turn but it’s not the blogger’s fault or some random local website. Information is available instantly and as long as the powers that be continue to deliver that information at a moments notice, including sports radio, podcasts, and social media, the landscape will continue to change.

 

photo – youthtimes.com

Canucks Dealing With Bo Money, Bo Bridges

The summer is in full swing and there is still no Bo Horvat deal. Everything that has been said so far is that a deal will get done, we should be patient and to just let it be. Jim Benning has already locked up Erik Gudbranson and Anton Rodin to deals, spent some cash on July 1 to acquire Michael Del Zotto, Anders Nilsson, and Sam Gagner West. There is just under $9 million left for the Canucks to spend this year and one would think Horvat would have been the first deal made.

Seems logical, no?

He was arguably the team’s best player last season and with the new additions to the club as well as a new coaching staff, Horvat should see yet another improved season. The talk has also been out there that he would become the heir apparent to the Captaincy after Henrik Sedin retires. Does it not seem a bit ridiculous then that he hasn’t been signed yet?

A deal will get done sooner than later and this will all be put to rest. With that Bo money will most likely be a Bo bridge. No, not the famous actor Beau Bridges best known for his supporting role in the 1989 blockbuster “The Wizard” also starring Fred Savage. Bo’s bridge could be a simple 2-4 year deal with a take home salary of approximately $4 million. Knowing the Canucks, however, they’ll follow suit with the rest of the NHL and offer a ridiculous contract in the six-year range at around $5-6 million per.

So like little Jimmy Woods from The Wizard lets go on a quest and look at 5 memorable bridge deals the Canucks ponied up for:

  1. Pavel Bure – this guy did OK in the money category. After a decent start to his NHL career, Bure’s rookie contract expired and he got his first taste of NHL money. Signing a 5 year/$24.5 million deal with the Canucks in the off season after losing in the Stanley Cup Final would be Pavel’s big break into superstardom. After getting traded to the Panthers in 1999, Bure would eventually sign another monster contract for 5 years/$47.5 million. He clearly is the exception to the rule in Vancouver because most Canucks don’t make it past a bridge deal for one reason or another. Maybe there’s something to that?
  2. Henrik and Daniel Sedin – hard to believe these two guys played for next to nothing for so long. It’s also hard to believe they signed TWO one-year deals prior to their true bridge contract. Could Horvat sign a one-year deal like the Sedins and blow it all up? Henrik and Daniel cashed in after their three years and inked identical (obviously) 5 year/$30.5 million deals. Currently going into the last year of their current four-year contract the sun will soon set on the Sedins but they will have proven to everyone that every single penny was earned.
  3. Cory Schneider – how they ever let this guy go is still confusing. Schneider owned the NCAA before coming to Manitoba and eventually the Canucks to show his worth. As the backup to Roberto Luongo, he still earned quality starts and for a season or two was part of the best goalie tandem in the game. Of course, that all went to crap and here we are. After his entry deal, Schneider signed a two-year contract before the 2010-11 season and he became a household name outside of British Columbia. That earned him a 3 year/$12 million deal and from there he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils and is now banking a combined $42 million for seven years which started in 2015. That one worked out well.
  4. Kevin Bieksa – a relative unknown, Bieksa created a name for himself as a gritty defenseman who could make a pretty play or two. From “Bieksa-face” to the infamous “stanchion goal” that took the Canucks to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994, Bieksa was a fan and media favourite and after his first two-year contract with the Canucks for a measly $1.05 million combined, he stepped up and earned a 3 year/$11.25 million deal. Not bad for a guy drafted in the 5th round! He upped that deal in 2011 signing a 5 year/$23 million contract. Bieksa has always played for true value IMO and has never been over/under paid. He’s a guy the NHL should take note of and maybe settle down with the ridiculous contracts.
  5. Ryan Kesler – hard work pays off and Kesler is a great example. To the people who knew him the closest, he was willing to give a literal finger to keep playing. After Kesler’s entry deal, he was offer-sheeted to a 1 year/$1.9 million deal by the Philadelphia Flyers which the Canucks matched. He earned it before getting injured around playoff time. His bridge contract took him to the next level before inking a 6 year/$30 million which turned him into a star during, go figure, the 2011 Cup run. “Beast mode” was born and the expectations grew. It seemed both the Canucks and Kesler were souring on each other and he was eventually traded to “Californiaaaaa” and is now in the second year of a 6 year/$41.25 million contract with the Ducks.

These are all great examples of what Bo Horvat could fetch before ultimately inking his career-defining deal. What will the Canucks offer Bo, what will Horvat request? Like Kesler and a few others, Bo’ money may lead to Bo’ problems. Time will tell but for now, Jim, please pay the man.

photo – bcmag.ca

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Leon Draisaitl Speeds Up Canucks Rebuild aka The Offer Sheet

This could probably be summed up in about five tweets or so but it’s Friday and boredom has set in.

On July 1st the NHL Free Agency window opens for the year and a certain RFA, Leon Draisaitl, will be available. There have been plenty of arguments for and against signing him to an offer sheet and this would be the former. The old Oilers’ regime foolishly burnt a year of Draisaitl’s entry level deal after playing him 37 games in 2014/15 and then sending him back to junior where he came within a goal of winning the Memorial Cup (sigh).

Had they held him back this process would have been delayed by one year and most certainly the Oilers would have set themselves up by the 2018 trade deadline to clear enough space for him to fit comfortably. As it sits, this is not the case.

The reason tendering an offer sheet to Draisaitl is somewhat clever for so many teams including the Canucks, is that if a team WERE to sign him they automatically have a proven top pivot that doesn’t need to develop in the system or raise any concerns about character and the like.

Draisaitl is a horse and as we all saw in the playoffs this past spring, he’s a proven performer at the most important time of the year. Realistically, issuing an offer sheet to the LD camp most likely means max cash and four first round picks. A steep price for any team but in the case of the Canucks, there is no waiting around for him to be ready.

He makes the team better on day one and probably challenges for the 1C job… ok, he gets the job. That, in turn, pushes Henrik Sedin to the second line, Bo Horvat to line three and Sutter, well, they could probably trade him at that point. Could it work? Sure. Just imagine seeing 30-35 more goals next year, crazy to think right?

Everyone has seen the compensation the Oilers would receive, the cap hit that is attached to LD and the potential to take him straight to free agency as a UFA once this deal concludes but it can be argued that for a team somewhat as desperate as the Canucks, he’s a player worth the risk.

Bringing in a player that hasn’t come through the system and is making that kind of money could be looked at as a slight to the current team but if a player that good comes into the fold, they get it’s for the betterment of the team’s future.

There isn’t any further compensation required by the Canucks once the offer sheet is signed so the recent draft success by Jim Benning (yep, I said it) can calm Canucks fans as they know the future gets that much brighter as Draisaitl nears his next deal. It would definitely be one of the boldest moves by a Canucks GM since Brian Burke’s deal at the Draft in 1999 or even more recently when Cory Schneider was traded for New Jersey’s first round pick which turned into Bo Horvat.

The only other reason to offer sheet LD would be to flip a big middle finger to Peter Chiarelli after he crushed the Canucks in 2011 with the Bruins. Jim Benning was there too but it would solidify Benning as “one of us” and a statue would eventually be erected or maybe like a full page ad from a fan in The Province if this all panned out.

Adding LD helps the Canucks focus on other needs, most likely defense and maybe another winger in the next year. It keeps the rabid fanbase at bay and players like Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin get a chance to eventually shine with him.

Leon Draisaitl will always be in Connor McDavid’s shadow and this is his chance to become the star himself. Plus, who really wants to live in Edmonton longer than they have to?

It’s just money, right?

Follow me on Twitter: @always90four

photo – youtube

Nail Yakupov Could TOTALLY Redeem Brandon Sutter

There is a saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” and going H.A.M. to acquire Nail Yakupov on July 1 might not be a great way to follow the previous few opening days of free agency for the Vancouver Canucks. Last year Loui Eriksson was the new face that joined the Canucks for a lot longer than anyone probably expected for a rebuilding squad.

The St. Louis Blues failed to qualify Yakupov on Monday and of course, anything remotely resembling possibility was dug up from the depths of Twitter. This one was just above the surface:

Not to say this isn’t something to look into but Yakupov hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since he entered the NHL. It could be argued that there were too many cooks in the kitchen in Edmonton and St. Louis just didn’t fit. The Canucks have been known to give Russians a chance and one that potentially can score goals on the cheap is intriguing.

What isn’t intriguing is the reality of Brandon Sutter still wearing a Canucks jersey going into the 17/18 season.  The predictions haven’t come out yet but I doubt Jeff Paterson is predicting an Art Ross trophy for Sutter let alone a goal total equalling his jersey number. Sutter has been arguably THE most underwhelming player on the Canucks in the last few seasons… and that’s saying something.

Recently moved Luca Sbisa even had a run as an effective player for the Canucks last season and lottery winner Jayson Megna surpassed most of the Canucks roster based on some kind of algorithm only Willie Desjardins seemed to understand. It was revealed Sutter was playing through a nagging wrist injury all season which is somewhat impressive as he still managed to get 17 goals.

Can Nail Yakupov actually redeem Sutter? It’s possible. They put a man on the moon at least once or so I’m told. Yakupov reminds me of what Phil Kessel went through prior to joining the Penguins. A star player from the get-go but was never a player that could handle being the “it” guy. Kessel went to Pittsburgh as a depth scorer and he flourished.

Yakupov isn’t going to help anyone win a Cup next season but the transition to a new team in a role he can handle is sometimes the start those types of players need. Pittsburgh will end up adding him at the deadline anyway.

He may or may not be available on the cheap after his stock took a nose dive. A first overall pick that doesn’t get qualified is a tough pill to swallow, especially for a young Russian player that is known for being flashy. A slice of humble pie might be the reset he needs to bounce back and for the Canucks, why wouldn’t they take a chance on him?

This team as they said is lower-case R rebuilding so a season to rack up some stats could put him back on the radar and it gives Sutter a winger he can set loose. It’s almost as if they can redeem each other. It would be welcome to not only the Canucks and their fans but both players that clearly need to get back to being players they believe they can be.

A healthy Sutter with a guy he can build a rapport with might even work out and then what happens?

Anything in the $3 to 3.5 million range would be acceptable and it adds some depth to the wings to gradually bring in Nikolay Goldobin or Jake Virtanen when the time is right. Yakupov isn’t a bad hockey player, players that go first overall aren’t bad hockey players (obviously not including Patrik Stefan). He’ll probably never be a superstar but if anyone can mine out 20-25 goals a season for a few years, that’s a deal.

Jim Benning picked up Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi through the trade market but Yakupov could be a quiet deal that doesn’t need to steal the headlines. Everyone will wonder if it’s throwing money away but seriously, the Canucks can’t get any worse. Benning held onto Sbisa until Vegas was awarded a team so this wouldn’t be the worst thing he did.

The off chance Yakupov DOES succeed is worth the risk at the very least for one year. He also wore #10 because he wanted to be Pavel Bure. Float him $3.5 for that alone.

photo – edmontonjournal.com

House Always Wins For Vegas Golden Knights

Does anyone else think the Vegas Golden Knights #Expansiondraft process is overly shady?

Over the last few days, teams have been contacting VGK (or so we’re led to believe) to leave some of their unprotected players alone by offering draft picks for said protection. Vegas is in a position right now to bully a handful of teams into lucrative draft picks so the guys they were forced to expose stay protected without actually being protected.

Follow me so far?

With the Golden Knights drafting 30 players from the revealed NHL team lists on June 21, they have a chance to build a decent roster to start their first season. As the lists show, there are some players on there that teams probably aren’t thrilled to have exposed and that’s where the Vegas magic comes in.

Take Calgary’s Hunter Shinkaruk or Montreal’s Steve Ott, OK bad example; seriously though, Nashville’s playoff stud Colton Sissons or James Neal would be great pickups to start a franchise as would aging but still capable goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh.

So what happens? These teams (not necessarily THESE TWO) offer up first, second or third round picks to “leave them alone.” Doesn’t sound mafia-like at all, no way. This is how it all starts: first it’s a pick, then it’s a ridiculous offer sheet to an RFA (watch out Canucks/Bo Horvat) and then it’s Wikileaks or some crazy thing like that.

Vegas MUST be stopped!

Shady stuff, Vegas

This is already too much. Eventually, Gary Bettman will have to admit that the NEXT expansion draft will have to be amended so that the new team can’t strong arm current teams for their draft picks, all they can do is pick from what’s there or make ACTUAL player-to-player trades.

It’s playing out how the beginning of the salary cap front-loading contract scheme worked. Teams figured out the loophole as well as another one and allowed players like Ryan Suter,  Zach Parise, Roberto Luongo and Alex Ovechkin to bank top dollars in the first few years of their contract and when they are old and irrelevant their cap it is essentially zilch.

Apparently, if the price isn’t right Vegas just DGAF. The NHL has officially gone to a dark place.

The sad thing is that even though the Canucks exposed Luca Sbisa and Brendan Gaunce, Vegas may not even take either of them and it was Brandon Sutter who should have been exposed in the first place. Jim Benning could call George McPhee and ask to have say, Gaunce, protected and McPhee would probably just laugh and say “don’t worry Jimmy, we wanna win sooner than later so you’re fine.”

In Vegas, the saying goes “the house always wins,” and now that the NHL is coming to town it seems that rings true once again. The last few weeks have played out somewhat bizarrely for this whole scenario but the Golden Knights looked poised to strike early and make a name for themselves.

You shady, Sopranos-loving (that’s New Jersey?) young NHL team, you sicken me.

Just promise us this: you’ll let the Canucks win a Cup before you.

I beg you.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – reviewjournal.com