Canucks Trades

Canucks Might Make Playoffs And That’s Not A Bad Thing

Before you go and bury me for this opinion, think about what a playoff appearance would mean for this year’s Canucks squad. There is a point where the current version of Vancouver’s team needs to test what they have and figure out the next step. We have all seen how this team has changed even in the last 4 months and with the Canucks definitely not sinking to a 1st overall pick, they’ve shown enough that a top 10 pick might not be realistic either.

It has been a topsy-turvy kind of year with a few decent winning streaks and a Debbie-downer 9 game debacle. Injuries have forced the Canucks hand yet again on both defense and up front which allowed us all to see Troy Stecher hit stardom and Philip Larsen fall to obscurity. Add to this Nikita Tryamkin’s progression as an everyday NHL defenseman and Markus Granlund’s seamless fit with Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson.

As of Tuesday morning, the Canucks are in the “in the playoffs/missing the playoffs” talk for the immediate future. A win puts them in and a loss keeps them at bay for another night. The most important game of the season talk begins to heat up and out of nowhere, we stop talking about “team tank” or “fire Willie”.

Making the playoffs is what Canucks fans know, it was all we knew for so long. Mainly, the making the playoffs phrase itself and not going very far reality. The team is getting prepared to be one of the 8 teams that make the postseason but it also has to accept that there needs to be some changes made.

Getting swept by say, the Chicago Blackhawks isn’t fun but reigniting a pretty much dead rivalry is good for business and a great measuring stick for where this team is at. It would be fitting to begin the process again with those guys and get some animosity going. There won’t be any accidental upset type matchup happening for the Canucks so it will be a steep incline to push any series past 5 or 6 games.

Drafting has been stronger in recent years, not keeping the Twitters at bay stronger, but Jim and his entourage have made some decent picks. Because of this, the current team has some expendable pieces and some pieces that are worth sticking it out for. Alex Burrows has found a second life and seeing Burr in the postseason again is worth getting there.

He has the gift of clutch and it’s something you can’t really teach, you have to experience it. Players like Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi could learn a lot by getting to the next stage. The entire defensive corps, save Edler and Tanev, really haven’t been truly battle-tested yet and the run to get to the playoffs and then to stay in them truly develops them into players that allow management to reach out for stars that can put them over the top.

Clearly, Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom aren’t in a position to allow this team to lose without some significant subtractions on the blue line (5 defenseman doesn’t help) and their gameplay this season has actually changed the team’s fortunes slightly. Goaltending wasn’t supposed to be this strong of a point for the Canucks and it has allowed the team to take a few more chances.

That includes Willie D.

The way he operates this team on the ice sure is peculiar and again pointing to the Anton Rodin mess, the Jake Virtanen episode and honestly, why isn’t Loui Eriksson on the top line? It’s not just getting to the playoffs, it’s HOW you get there that determines a lot as well. It will take scoring from everyone, ok maybe a few lines, OK, probably just the Horvat line to get even close to making the playoffs.

Expecting Henrik and Daniel to carry this team anymore is not fair, they need to start relinquishing control and Willie needs to put the statistical performers in a better position to succeed.  This means getting Horvat’s line more ice even though it takes him out of the sweet spot, give Eriksson the proper opportunities to score his 30 goals and trusting that the players afforded to WD are there to stay so he needs to play them in important situations.

True leaders know when to delegate and give up some control and the Sedins aren’t too proud to know their time is expiring as impact players. It’s the circle of life and it’s time to see the next Simba take the throne. I’m not sure if that Lion King reference was warranted but it’s there now so we have to live with it. What also has to happen for this team to have a shot at the playoffs is Willie D understanding the Sedins can’t be the go-to guys anymore.

Their existence as 2 of the top 4 point getters on the team since Dec 1 doesn’t mean they should continue to be given every chance to stay at the top, it’s entirely likely that by slowly drifting to the second line that they stay as effective and actually allow the Erikssons, Horvats, Baertschis to take over this team without the abrupt official transition.

This isn’t the AHL and I get that you don’t just play the young guys to give them experience but the team is moving on it has to embrace that it might be jussst good enough to take a bigger step. Do I think this team has turned a corner and they’re going to be world beaters? Not really. Losing right now will build the team as the years go on but there are picks that magically turn into all-stars that arrive in the rounds where you are basically throwing darts at a board.

Pushing for the playoffs can turn the fan base around as well and with tickets at an all time low, the Canucks might not make it long enough to truly rebuild. How they’ve stuck around this long without just giving up is amazing. Vancouver wants to support a winner and even the fairweather fans want a championship deep down. We all believed once and it’s possible we can believe again.

Maybe the Canucks just need to huddle inside of a dead bear and ride out the storm that is the Pacific division and ultimately the Western Conference until the dust settles and find out what it will take to make it to round one. One thing is for sure and that anything is possible in the new NHL. Columbus anyone?

Take all of the crazy out of it and admit you want the Canucks in the playoffs. If it means Calgary and Edmonton don’t make it, I’m all for it.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

 

Canucks Trying To Get A Better ‘Reid’ On Offense

I slay puns, there’s no argument there. For anyone living under a rock, NO I’m not talking about former Canuck Brandon Reid in relation to the header; Reid Boucher is the newest talk of the town after being claimed off of waivers last week. Boucher pulled the ol Esa Tikkanen last week when he was a member of the New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators and now, the Vancouver Canucks.

Canucks fans have been clamoring for a waiver claim and they finally got one. Boucher will add some defensive depth to the bottom six forwards, a decent shot and he can score when given a chance. Becoming an RFA after this season will give him just enough time to either impress the Canucks into re-signing him or get him a contract elsewhere.

After the Anton Rodin debacle on Saturday night, a defensive forward could have fit the role as a sixth defenseman instead of the five they employed. The Rodin situation is a whole other debate and you really have to wonder what the heck the Canucks are doing with him. This isn’t the time, though. Reid will definitely be given a shot on the Skille line and just maybe a shot with either Bo Horvat or Brandon Sutter.

Admitting Jim Benning does smart things is tough sometimes (@ me all you want) but I think this may fall under that category. Trading for Markus Granlund when we all thought Hunter Shinkaruk was going to work here seemed idiotic and just plain wrong, look where they are now. Former first round pick, Jack Skille, was signed to a PTO and then a 1-year deal after impressing in the pre-season.

The handling of Frank Corrado, Anton Rodin, and a few others is confusing and conspiracy theory worthy but with the current players kind of set, it isn’t too distracting. Boucher will hopefully help the Canucks in the short term as it’s looking more and more like bodies will be needed.

On defense, there’s a good chance Jordan Subban may just get his first NHL game but some really bad things would have to happen and I don’t wish for that at all. Up front, though; the book on Boucher is his shot and contribution on the PP while being an average skater. Needing speed on this team doesn’t exactly scream REID BOUCHER but they obviously see something in him.

Dominating the OHL last season with Sarnia by scoring 62 goals does say he can find the net which could translate on the right team. Sometimes, the waiver process allows a player a chance to get where he should be instead of wasting away on a team that can’t utilize his strengths. The Canucks for the most part, seem to be out for lunch every time someone good comes up but again, that’s a whole other story.

I still think they should have claimed Ty Rattie from the Blues as I think he could have helped the Canucks more immediately but I’m not the GM as I’ve been told so I’ll have to wait to see how this pans out.

There IS one thing that makes me an instant Reid fan, however, his birthday. September 8th.

Lifelong Canuck as far as I’m concerned.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

 

photo – thehockeywriters.com

Matt Duchene Is True Foundational Player Canucks Need in Rebuild

It’s hard to believe the Colorado Avalanche would actually trade Matt Duchene but rumour on the street is that it’s in the cards. Duchene along with Gabriel Landeskog are apparently being shopped or will soon be shopped. The Canucks seriously need to kick tires on a potential deal with the Avs.

Not only would Duchene solved a serious void up the middle but it would force the Canucks to buy in to the future earlier and put the rebuild on the fast track. Safe to say, it won’t come cheap but competing for a Stanley Cup comes at a cost.

In the recent Monday morning musings with Ed Willes, the hint bomb was dropped that Joe Sakic wants to build the Avalanched around star Tim Hortons actor, Nathan Mackinnon. It’s a great idea and there must be some reason he’s willing to part with stars Landeskog and Duchene but who really cares.

The word in hockey circles is that Joe Sakic, the head of the Avs hockey department, will look to move Duchene and Landeskog and build the team around MacKinnon.

No one asks why the expensive Air Jordans are selling for $60 at your local Marshalls, you just buy them because you’re not an idiot.

Jim Benning has stated that he isn’t parting with anyone really but you have to believe that’s on a day by day basis. I say to myself every day that I’m going to work out but things change and also beer. I stick to the plan overall but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to have a little fun too!

We are now in the Christmas roster freeze which means no coaches, players or even Jimbo himself can be moved but there has to be talks going on. Both of these teams have needs and can accomodate each other.

Scoring Duchene probably won’t happen for Jake Virtanen, Luca Sbisa and a 3rd, so Jim will have to get creative. Going forward, who are the locks for foundational pieces?

– Bo Horvat, Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev and maybe Sven Baertschi? These are the current roster players that Colorado would be interested in most likely as well as a prospect and a pick. You never want to give up your best when someone isn’t giving back their best.

I could see Chris Tanev being involved but if I’m still planning on being the GM of the Canucks, the defense I’ve mentioned is a non-starter. Alex Edler would be available, Luca Sbisa and Erik Gudbranson even. On forward, Jake Virtanen, Jannik Hansen, Brandon Sutter and Markus Granlund could be involved.

The Canucks always seem to be the ones giving up the house and it would be really nice if they actually saw the stronger side of a deal for once. There was the Christian Ehrhoff deal, so I guess that’s one for us.

With all the hiccups in Jake Virtanen’s immediate development, I just don’t get the vibe he’s giving. It feels like Cody Hodgson 2.0 without the shotty injury notes. Jake looks like he “could” develop into a top 9 forward, maybe a ceiling of 2nd line winger but even from the get-go, Canucks brass knew he was a work in progress.

Matt Duchene, however, is a star in motion. He’s Canadian, for one, a decorated Olympian, a goal scorer and a playmaker. The Canucks barely have half of that combination with any player, not named Sedin. Duchene is 25 years old and teetering on 400 career points. His power play stats are everything the Canucks would dream of and he’s right at the beginning of his prime. The day is coming soon when the Sedins hit line 2 or 3 and there has to be a plan.

We hear again and again, there’s no plan. Jake Virtanen has no clue what HIS plan is, who knows what the plan is in net. Brandon Sutter was put with the Twins and the $6 million man, Loui Eriksson, gets less time on the first line after every game.

As far as coaching goes, it’s up in the air too! Pretty easy to see that when the management group can’t even put together a roster to compete. Bringing in Matt Duchene makes way too much sense and it’s early enough in his career that he can be defined as a lifer in Vancouver.

Normally, these types of players only come through the draft but the Avalanche are also at a crossroads and this deal could help both teams move forward(s) pun intended.

I am on board the Matt Duchene train (hey, that rhymes!) and the Canucks should be too.

Bowness Coverage – The Canucks Hereafter

The Canucks/Lightning game surprisingly had a lot of interesting questions that needed to be asked after a randomly impressive victory. This team has some talent that is slowly being revealed to us as the opportunities come. One of which, is Jayson Megna.

Megna reminds me a bit of a young, raw Alex Burrows. His speed holds up and he has started to find his niche on the bottom six. After this season, Jack Skille will go and a spot will open. The expansion draft for the incoming Vegas (insert confirmed trademark team name here) will also take another player.

Who that is, has yet to be seen.

Jayson Megna is one of those guys that sneaks into your lineup and for whatever reason, he is impossible to take out. When Jannik Hansen comes back that may change things but maybe not. Jack Skille sits and Megna probably stays.

I like that Jim Benning has given some of these young guys opportunities and when we have thought otherwise, he has brought in valuable talent.

Markus Granlund wasn’t exactly a sexy addition after shipping out Hunter Shinkaruk, but he’s worked out and added depth where there isn’t much. Loui Eriksson is benefiting and who would have thought he could still put up points without the Sedins?

But what about the elephant in the room right now?

There is a certain awkwardness to the Canucks future that has us all pondering why they went from looking for a 20 goal scorer to not moving anyone. Telling us NTC would stay intact when former Canucks were spoken to to waive theirs.

It sure feels like there is more to this equation than Linden and Benning are letting on. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Canucks are looking to buy the NHL’s basement suite outright. Are the Aquilini’s involved more than we once thought?

Where does Trevor fit into all of this? When he arrived it was more of a ticket ploy, a marketing shtick at best. He doesn’t really want to be in charge, no way. When Linden retired, hockey was the furthest thing from his mind so it felt odd he would take such a prominent role at the top.

As we get deeper into the season, we’ll see one of the dominoes, if not all 3 fall; that being Benning, Linden and Desjardins.

Linden would make sense to step down whereas the other two will be a shift in direction. If this team is to make a change, someone needs to be at the helm that can do that without any bias or loyalty. Mike Gillis was that guy.

Getting back to the actual team in question, the injury bug is starting to fade subtly like bombs on your screen from the arcade game Lucky and Wilde. Albeit, Ryan Miller seems to have tweeked something again.

Jannik Hansen is set to come back as soon as Saturday against the Panthers, Chris Tanev might be next week. Alex Edler will be a 2017 returnee and unfortunately, Philip Larsen may not even get back in a Canucks jersey once he has his sorts again. We all know the Dorsett situation so his season is probably a write off.

Speaking of Dorsett, what does he bring to the Canucks as a fully healthy contributor? Imagine he HAD been healthy, how does he factor in to this team? The fourth line might actually have a banger look to it. Brendan Gaunce, Derek Dorsett and heck Megna, what’s not to like?

I’m serious. If Derek Dorsett is truly healthy, he might warrant sticking around. Willie might have known more than we gave him credit for. I’m fine with that fourth line for the next year. 

There’s much to think about with this group and as close as they are to a playoff spot, it’s December and adding more picks in the first few rounds makes more sense.

Plus, Benning will need more 2nds if he’s going to open up for business.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Jim Benning Wants To Watch Vancouver Burn

The Canucks aren’t going to change much from now until the end of the season. The roster you see is pretty much what you get. Aside from some callups and maybe a random waiver pickup, the Canucks that are on the ice today are the Canucks that will finish out the season. Jim Benning isn’t sending anyone away without that player coming to him first.

There were some spicy, hot tidbits of information dropped in The Provies after the loss to the Devils and it’s a shame to think there is no plan to get better aside from the draft, which they have minimal picks and their anemic stable of prospects. Here’s the link from Tuesday.

Quick note: The Canucks are not connected to the waiver wire, their Internet connection should be fixed by March.

It befuddles me as to how JB thinks this team can contend anytime in the near future. The Sedins are 36 and even though they have the talent to make a go as a 2nd line pair in the very near future, there is a time they will not be here. Bo Horvat is the only succession plan up the middle and it’s a pretty good one but what does line two look like? Line three?

I suppose if Benning isn’t shipping out Sutter then there is a 2nd line pivot still but for that kind of money he has to come to his senses eventually and trade him, right? Alex Burrows is coming around and might even be able to salvage another 4 years of meaningful hockey, top line hockey, probably not; but he doesn’t need to go.

I’ve brought up Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi and Thatcher Demko many times and they’ll be great additions to the team but unless they all produce at an all-star level in their rookie campaigns, the Canucks will sink further next year than they will this season.

Jim has discarded draft picks that had value in the last few seasons, I’ve blogged about a few key players they COULD have had, and hindsight is 20/20 but the players he picked up, shipped out and basically left for dead have really hampered this current team.

The latest trade to acquire Erik Gudbranson had the Canucks sending away a 2nd rounder which was basically a throw in. Not sure how you throw in a 2nd but Benning did and it wasn’t the first time.

Getting Markus Granlund may end up being a pretty savvy move but the shock value was there right from the get go. I like Granlund and he has been a nice addition to the Canucks, Hunter Shinkaruk on the other hand, is barely an NHLer. When Benning traded Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening, he threw in yet another 2nd rounder.

Before THAT, we didn’t even have Adam Clendening, the Canucks had star Swedish defender Gustav Forsling who was coming off a monster World Junior tournament performance. They talk about building from within but there’s no within if you send it packing… twice! There isn’t a clear direction that we can see anyways and standing pat won’t make this team any better in the near future.

There is so much that we don’t see that goes on behind the scenes, and probably for good reason, it just doesn’t make any logical sense as to why there is no proper measuring stick for how this team is to be judged. Are they building, are they staying put, are the playoffs a realistic goal?

Many Canucks fans out there have seen this all play out and they aren’t stupid to realize this plan isn’t working out very well. Being falsely sold something is a tough pill to swallow and the Canucks continue to ram it down our throats. We give Jim Benning a rough ride but its Management as a whole that has steered this ship into stormy seas.

Being told the Canucks are capable of rebuilding on the fly, contending for a playoff spot or feel they need to be loyal to certain players is laughable; it’s a business after all and like fantasy sports, there is a time where you have to separate your heart and your wallet. Winning pays dividends, losing can bury you.

Season tickets and single game passes are at an all time low and with no solution in sight, the Canucks will start to see their greed hit them in the face. This used to be a hotbed for printing money and now I’ve heard plenty of stories online where they can’t even give away their seats.

The same Vancouver Canucks.

Going back to articles I have written in the past, Benning is a phenomenal scout but riding shotgun to the actual GM is one thing, calling the shots that matter is something entirely different. There really isn’t much any of us can do so if you enjoyed the riots, grab a seat.

Benning is going to watch the Canucks burn with you.

 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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Bo Horvat: The Anti-Cody Hodgson

2013 was a pretty rough ride for Canucks fans: Roberto Luongo had a sucky contract, former head coach Alain Vigneault was fired, Derek Roy became a Canuck for a bit and Cory Schneider became the Canucks undisputed #1 goalie. But then he was traded at the Draft and Bo Horvat became a Vancouver Canuck.

It was a lot to take in in a short amount of time, with the lockout and all, and it was tough to tell if trading one of the top goalies in the league for a power forward who would still be in Major Junior when the season started was a good idea. How the heck do you part ways with the younger, cheaper option in net when a less than glamorous trade for Roberto Luongo would have made so much more sense?

Drafting Horvat was a great choice but the Canucks had gone down this road before and not too far back either. Cody Hodgson looked like he was going to be Vancouver’s future captain and had dominated the OHL prior to making the pros. A handful of injuries with questionable diagnoses, explanations and of course, Hodgson’s dad and agent, created distrust on both sides which no doubt affected Cody’s play.

Hodgson would eventually be traded for another work in progress, Zack Kassian and now, he is basically retired. A weird ride indeed.

Enter Bo Horvat – a beast for the London Knights and when it was time, a no brainer to make the Canucks after his 9 game stint in 2014. Bo wasn’t exactly used in the best situations aside from faceoff duty but you can blame a good chunk of that on new head coach Willie Desjardins. He wasn’t exactly keen on letting a rookie be a difference maker, even though he was making a difference.

Mr. Horvat finished his first year, sorry, BO (Mr. Horvat is his dad) with 13 goals and 12 assists, good for 10th on the team in scoring. Even though the Canucks were dominated by the Sharks that year in the first round, Bo had a goal and 3 assists in 6 games, not bad for a tucked away rookie! Willie Desjardins knew he had more than just a young kid who worked hard, he had a future star.

SPOILER: Willie does use Horvat more the following season.

I’m not going to include his fancy stats, his amazing faceoff % or what his secret goal song is but just know Bo Horvat is a gift from the future and we should cherish him.

His game escalated last year after he was taken away from the defensive center role with Derek Dorsett on his line and rewarded with Sven Baertschi. It took a bit but when the spark ignited, the Canucks changed. It looked like the two synced immediately after that first goal together and the good times kept on rolling.

This season, Alex Burrows has filled out wing with Baertschi and it’s a line that has impressed night after night. There’s speed, there’s scoring and there’s 3 B’s.

Trading away Cory Schneider seemed like a bogus move and that it was the first piece of many to put the Canucks in what we all thought at the time was a rebuild. They were simpler times back then. We also thought Roberto Luongo was hanging around but former head coach John Tortorella clearly botched even the simplest decision when he started twitter savvy Eddie Lack in the Heritage Classic indoor/outdoor game.

Luongo was traded shortly after.

The big question is always “Who won the trade?” Well, it’s still quite early to decide that but if you’re the Canucks, you have to think you have won. The Canucks have never sat on #1 goalie for too long and even though Luongo was here for 8 years, it felt like he could have been here for so much longer… maybe even his whole sucky contract?

It’s anyone’s guess about how the Canucks have seemed to transition rather smoothly from goalie to goalie in the last 12 years but there has always been an answer. There were some iffy choices in that time but looking back, Roberto Luongo carried things for so long and when it all came to a head, Cory Schneider was more than ready to be a #1, which followed with Eddie Lack becoming a #1, Jacob Markstrom holding the mantle potentially and Ryan Miller filling a gap until super goalie Thatcher Demko was ready.

As crazy as well all though the Canucks were, that position was never truly in jeopardy and trading up to get Bo Horvat was kinda genius. When Bo becomes Captain in the next few years it won’t be a surprise to anyone; his natural progression will have earned the right. Henrik Sedin will eventually become the #2 center and then probably retire and Bo will hopefully have Sven Baertschi by his side when that happens.

There hasn’t been any kind of drama from the Horvat camp aside from the fans and media alike proclaiming him the 2C/3C all of last season, OK and his rookie season too! When Cody Hodgson was here, it wasn’t just about his play but how his whole camp (dad/agent, etc.) questioning the Canucks’ handling of him.

The trade was a bit out of left field when we all thought trade deadline day was over, but to be honest, I never was really a fan of Cody… as a Canuck anyway. The “feeling” was never there. I feel the same way about Jake Virtanen to a lesser degree as I think his drama will play himself out of town and quite frankly sometimes the GM is just wrong on a guy.

So, as we see Horvat climb up the scoring charts and most likely become the team’s top scorer by season’s end, think about what the Canucks would look like without him. Secondly, think about Brock Boeser not having a solid center to get him the puck when he wins Rookie of the Year.

Bo Horvat is the anti-Cody Hodgson and we couldn’t be more happy.

OK, having a competitive team would be a good time but I’ll settle for this.

 

photo – thehockeywriters.com

3 Kelowna Rockets That Should Be Vancouver Canucks

You’ve already decided this was worth reading because of two things: A) You’re a Kelowna Rockets fan or B) You hate how the Canucks have passed on great players just down the road and you’re ready to see the REBUILD. There’s a third option which I guess is both.  It’s no surprise that I’m making a case for a few former Kelowna Rockets to become Canucks, being a homer and all, but here we are and if Jim Benning (or whoever is in his chair by the end of the year) decides that it’s time to rebuild, then here are three players the Canucks should look at:

Madison Bowey (Washington Capitals/Hershey Bears), Damon Severson (New Jersey Devils) and Tyrell Goulbourne (Philadelphia Flyers/Phantoms)

The first question would be why are you picking two defensemen when the Canucks are pretty set at that position. No, no they’re not. Luca Sbisa can’t possibly be a long term solution so at some point he’ll be traded or if they happen to see it through, he’ll become a UFA. The Erik Gudbranson experiment feels like it won’t last very long and re-signing him would be a bad move. But then again, we still have Benning.

I guess the other question would be: do you really think the Devils would trade their number one defenceman?

But let’s get back to where the Canucks are sitting.

Philip Larsen probably won’t play another game unless injuries keep taking defenders down. Alex Biega is just kind of sitting there and he’s been given a chance but just isn’t IT. Jordan Subban down in Utica feels permanent with this management group and with the list of guys ahead of him growing by the month, it seems harder and harder for Jordan to be a Canuck.

Then we have the big group: Alex Edler, Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher. This is your core for now. Nikita Tryamkin could be #5 with some time and finesse. He’s actually having a decent year now that he has adjusted a bit more to the North American game. His strength and sheer physical dominance will eventually make him a threat on the back end for the Canucks.

Adding a player like Damon Severson right away gives the Canucks a solid, young top 6. It’s entirely possible Edler or Tanev is moved if enough is going the other way or there is a big enough package that one has to go. If it’s me, I move Alex Edler in this case.

Madison Bowey is intriguing because of the leadership, grit and passion for the game. He’s tied for 9th best in the AHL for defensemen points and is 5th on the Hershey Bears in scoring. He holds the line well, has a booming shot from the blue line and he isn’t afraid to dust it up. Bowey is still raw but putting him on a pair with Hutton or Stecher would be pretty fun to watch.

If you like goals, you’d get that from Bowey. Tough to say what Washington sees in him at this point so he may still be a cheap enough chip to acquire. If the Canucks feel they have botched the Jake Virtanen situation as a whole (which they basically have thus far) and want to move on like they did with Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian, Jake could be a good fit in DC. Obviously, it isn’t a 1:1 deal so Vancouver would be saying goodbye to a higher pick or possibly another top prospect.

Bowey was taken in the 2nd round of the 2013 NHL Draft, the Canucks albeit did not have a pick that round and they would take Cole Cassels in round 3 but for a rock on the blue line which the Canucks are still trying to find, he’s going to be a sure thing. Coming within an OT goal in the 2015 Memorial Cup as Captain of the Rockets, he knows how to win… oh and he was pretty decent at the World Juniors too!

Over to Damon Severson, it’s unlikely the Devils have any plans of getting rid of this guy. At 6’2, 205lbs, Severson is a mobile monster on the blue line. First of all, he plays for the Devils, second, he already has 3G and 9A this year; which I don’t want to remind you but that’s the same point total as Henrik Sedin who happens to be second in Canucks scoring. Taylor Hall is his only equal in points in the swamp.

Adding to those 12 points is the 5 power play assists he has as well. The Canucks took Alexandre Mallet in the 2nd round of the 2012 NHL Draft where Severson went 3 picks later to almost end the round. Yes, there were decidedly better prospects and current NHLers after those guys (Gostisbehere, Vesey) but again, how do you not entertain taking a defenseman out of a program that churns all-star players at that position? Ridiculous.

You know all the big names that have come out of the Kelowna Rockets system and believe you me, Damon Severson is quietly becoming the next big name. He was a steal in the 2nd round as far as I’m concerned and just like Shea Weber fell to the very, very lucky Nashville Predators, the Devils had to be excited they were able to get such a stud.

Severson’s final campaign as a Rocket was a beauty, 15G 46A, 5PPG, 15PPA, 18 points in 14 playoff games, etc. You get the idea, he’s good.

Moving what looks to be your top defenseman after only 3 seasons isn’t exactly smart but they have Cory Schneider and old Lou is long gone. Severson might be a long shot at best but for the sake of your reading pleasure, I put him in here. Is giving up on Jake Virtanen a good idea so early in his career? Is he the next Cam Neely? Who knows. I’m dreaming but Benning is crazy enough to make a trade like this work.

There are a handful of guys that make sense in a meaningful trade from the Canucks and when you take emotion out of it, Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen are decent pieces to move. Diving into the Comets for trade bait isn’t the smartest idea but on the back end, I think they can afford to move a few guys if necessary.

Wait, do we even have anyone good down there?

Up front, the spark plug that is Tyrell Goulbourne is worth kicking tires on. In his rookie season last year with Lehigh Valley, Goulbourne notched 7 goals and 10 assists, he combined that with a healthy 75 PIM. Not bad for a guy who had come off a lacerated calf in the spring during the WHL playoffs which ended his junior career.

Tyrell won’t be a top 6 winger but like Jannik Hansen he can move around throughout the bottom 6. He has the softest hands, surprising speed and when he adds a bit of intensity to his game, those fists have helped out a few teammates:

That fight is the one that stands out the most for me as I was at that game. The Rockets were getting beat early in that one and Goulbourne went for the biggest guy on the team, who also liked the rough stuff and absolutely dummied him. He was a fan favourite and always gave his team the edge when the game was close.

The skill guys do their stuff but it’s the energy guys that fill the hard minutes to give the stars their space. Goulbourne is a blast to watch and having him as a Derek Dorsett replacement a few years from now or a more talented Aaron Volpatti in the day just works. There are guys like Raffi Torres and Maxim Lapierre that you need in a long run (whenever that happens again) and Goulbourne can be that guy. Right now, super cheap.

I’m thinking Goulbourne could go for a Mike Zalewski, Jayson Megna or HEY! Joseph Labate.

My good buddy over at Canucks Army, Jeremy Davis, gave me some great data for you to ponder on these 3 guys, well 2 mostly. His pGPS system is pretty cool and I asked him to get data on all 3 guys but Severson is already a full-time NHLer so he kind of drops out of this. Madison Bowey had a pGPS of 47.5%, matching 28 of 59 players that became NHLers playing over 200 games.

Here’s the kicker: the matches averaging 32 points/82 games were Mike Green, Keith Yandle, Dennis Wideman and Christian Ehrhoff. Pretty decent company. If you can add a player like that for a low cost before they become that player, you should definitely be doing it.

Tyrell Goulbourne had a 9.4% rating matching only 24 of 256 players. The players that did make it averaged 21 points/82 games. Curtis Glencross, Antoine Roussel, Chris Kelly, Vern Fiddler were the most successful matches. Mostly 3/4th liners and replacement level NHLers. I’m holding out for a guy like Goulbourne because even Vern Fiddler didn’t have what Tyrell did in his fists.

Guys like these move around all the time before some GM finds his diamond. Jim Benning can actually do some good here by kicking tires on these players instead of the mess that is Evander Kane. I don’t expect the pinnacle of these 3, Damon Severson, to come cheap because you would basically be asking to have their top guy.

See what would happen if Benning traded Tanev or Hutton (I’M NOT SAYING HE SHOULD, I’M JUST PROVING A POINT!) Regardless, they are all interesting options for a Canucks team that needs to get serious.

Don’t forget, Brock Boeser will be a Canuck soon enough and that guy seems like the real deal.Plenty of goals will come off his stick. There are players that will instantly make the Canucks better that just need time. Thatcher Demko on the back end is earning his stripes and a few years from now he’ll be talked about all around the league. As Cole Cassels develops further, his opportunity will increase to make the team as well.

Looking at the former Kelowna Rocket players, it’s evident they can be valuable editions to Vancouver and I believe the Canucks have moveable pieces and with the rebuild in progress, they’re young enough to be around for awhile.

Remember when Edler was a rookie? Bieksa? HECK, Tanev? Time goes by pretty quickly so jumping on a hot prospect is a timely deal.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

 

Willie Watch On High Alert!

The Canucks lost again.

If you didn’t see the date on this post you could read it once a week, heck you could read it in the past and it could even be relevant. Now, I don’t know how you could actually do that because we haven’t figured out reverse time travel, or forward time travel of more than 8 hours at a time (I’m assuming we fall asleep and instantly wake up 8 hours later.) Willie Desjardins is now on Willie Watch 2016 and because I don’t get paid again until mid-month, I can’t trademark it. He’s on the hot seat.

Simply, he may be fired.

How does one process this information? Is this really Willie’s fault? Yes, it is… if the immediate results on the ice are what you’re judging. It’s impossible to believe that Jim Benning calls the roster shots on a game by game basis. Benching Jake Virtanen and Troy Stecher, AT THE SAME TIME? ARE YOU KIDDING?

Those are the kinds of decisions that get you fired. OK, maybe I’m being a little extreme and there have been some significant injuries and maybe a break for the younger guys in the back to backs isn’t a terrible idea. Willie’s deployment of the power play has also been a topic of debate. Putting Philip Larsen on the top unit is kind of a head scratcher when there are a few other guys, namely Bo Horvat, that should be in that spot.

As the losses mount, both last season and this season, the “vote of confidence” is only good for so long. If you keep losing, something has to give and axing the coach is usually the easiest.

Is he a bad coach though? I don’t think so. He has a different way of doing things but he’s not terrible. The guy giving him the players is the one causing all the REAL problems.

It won’t be long before the pitchforks have been put away after Willie’s time is done, but brought RIGHT BACK when Benning Brexit 2017 get’s going. There are so many bad decisions that have been made up until now and the clock is ticking for Willie D.

From the goaltending dilemma of not starting the hot hand last year to limiting the Sedin’s ice time when it was clear, they were the only ones doing anything last season, there have been a number of things that have started the debate. Even if Willie is let go, who takes over? You can’t bring up Travis Green to inherit this mess.

I suppose Doug Lidster and Doug Jarvis (there’s a sitcom there I think) could run the course until April or maybe Marc Crawford is given another chance here. This isn’t exactly a favorable situation to walk into so whoever does eventually get this job will have to have an ironclad plan and follow it through.

Thankfully, there will probably be a new GM to work with too!

When Alain Vigneault was canned, these talks started to heat up right before and then there was John Tortorella. Until this team figures out exactly what it wants to do, firing the coach, firing the GM or even selling the team will just be steps towards an answer.

Willie Watch has started but will it even last? Is he even going anywhere?

These questions will be answered soon. Possibly by the end of the week. Well, unless they start winning. Then it’s just delaying the inevitable, kind of like missing out on Auston Matthews last year. Losing might lead to that first pick but is Nolan Patrick really worth the hardships they’ve endured? I doubt it but it wouldn’t hurt.

I suppose it could be worse, we could be stuck with Hillary or Donald.

Hey follow me on twitter: @always90four

Willie Desjardins Is The Hottest Taek Right Now

Oh great, another FIRE WILLIE post, how original. No, you’re wrong, there’s no mention of firing Willie Desjardins so far. Everyone WANTS him to be fired but is this disaster really all his fault? The on-ice product currently has his stamp when it comes to line combinations, sit/start decisions and anything Medicine Hat Tigers related. What everyone is getting at right now is “What do we do with Willie?” And THAT my friends is the hottest taek in Canucks land right now.

The easy thing would be to fire him. The Canucks are 4-6-1 and somehow that’s a bad thing through 11 games, which is a bit messed up. The alarming stats are the reasons not only Willie might be worried for his job safety but ultimately Jim Benning for giving him the pieces he currently has. I know, I know, he inherited a good portion of this team but what Jimbo did with the new additions, draft picks, draft choices, and trades has set Willie up for failure to a certain degree.

If the Internet and Twitter wanted Willie fired you could make a case for the starting lineups. His hands I’m sure were tied for a time with regards to keeping Loui Eriksson with the Sedins as the top line. Eriksson hasn’t scored a goal FOR the Canucks yet and you can’t just keep doing the same thing there. The fancy stats prove that Jannik Hansen is without a doubt, the best choice on that line.

I can post articles if you don’t believe me. I even wrote a few of them. Look at me, the big writer guy. It’s been a tough go to start this season, I needed a pick me up. I’ll move on.

Starting a game with a line that employs Alex Burrows, Derek Dorsett and Brendan Gaunce might be a reason to point fingers but seriously guys (and gals) there’s no way you can define a game by one 0:30-second shift, give me a break. This team has way bigger issues than who takes the opening faceoff.

How about defense? Putting Philip Larsen on the top PP unit is a pretty big sell if you ask me. This guy has zero track record that suggests he should be given such a valuable position, let alone a roster spot when college free agent Troy Stecher signed and pulled the ol’ Ben Hutton and should have taken someone’s job (I could name a few guys if you like).

No point in putting Nikita Tryamkin in this mess, he came to camp out of shape and finally earned his first game against the Senators. As far as Benning goes, this is a tough situation because of the stipulations of bringing Tryamkin over and keeping him on the big club. It’s a shame that a player can bully his way into terms that favour only the player really.

Benning has harboured Alex Biega for some reason thinking he is such an amazing asset and he then factors into the sit/start equation. Willie has only so many guys that can play and keeping guys like Biega, Tryamkin, Stecher and at some point Larsen in a holding pattern hurts their development. Clearly, Jim Benning hasn’t figured out the GM role quite yet and the organisation is starting to suffer because of it.

But back to WD; his deployment of players like Luca Sbisa, Jack Skille and the lack of ice for Henrik and Daniel or even Bo raises flags. In crunch time situations, you would want your best players out on the ice, or at the very least the ones that can set you up to bring the best players on the ice; its so confusing.

Thankfully, Willie has adjusted his goalie starts to better reflect a fresh starter every night. The wins don’t reflect these starts but the losses shouldn’t be blamed on the masked men. This team doesn’t score goals and if the goalies are letting in 1-2 goals a night, that would WIN you games on almost any other team.

And there it is, the goal scoring. Eriksson hasn’t scored, Baertschi hasn’t scored, Virtanen hasn… you get the point. Here are all the goal scorers thus far for the Canucks this year:

Horvat – 4 goals, Henrik – 3, Hansen/Daniel/Granlund – 2, Sutter/Hutton/Edler -1

That’s it.

That is every goal scored through 11 games, realistically it’s 7 games with a goal. This isn’t over yet but over is on the next line. Somehow, Willie has to get a better game plan that puts goals in a realistic frame of mind. Funneling the puck to Larsen isn’t a recipe for success. Hansen on the top unit is. Horvat on the top unit is. If Troy Stecher was in a Canuck uniform, HE is.

The last two games have been dominated by Vancouver in the shot department, the CF% department and yes again, the goaltending department too! Against Montreal, Vancouver outshot 42-22 and somehow lost 3-0. In Ottawa, the Canucks won 61% of all faceoffs and had a 5v5 CF% of 57.14. They’re getting the in-game victories but the elusive “goal” seems to be the one thing they don’t have.

Firing Willie Desjardins isn’t going to solve the team’s problems. It might get the ball rolling but it’s not the answer. Jim Benning taking the fall is closer to the truth on this one. Moving away valuable pieces to a changing puzzle isn’t smart management. There’s no point in going over the ways Jim has failed us because we know the list.

As Petbugs of Canucks Army ranted on Twitter the other night, Benning and the Canucks are without a plan, a direction and are basically just “doing”.

The problems with the future of this team aren’t their goalless streak, the mounting losses or even losing out on Auston Matthews and maybe even Nolan Patrick (let’s just say it so it’s out in the open), the problem is that management, whoever that truly represents, has very little idea of what can turn the team into a competitive product.

I believe Mike Gillis was let go too soon and we’ll never really know how he would have handled the rest of his time as GM. The reactive nature afterwards or constructive guessing, if you will, is the day to day task of shuffling the deck chairs. They get beat by a bigger team so they go bigger. They get beat by a faster team so they go faster. It keeps going on and on and on.

Utilizing the waiver wire properly, signing the “big name” when he’s still available and maybe even giving up and moving on from a player that is past his expiration date on the team… or worse, the league; these are all things the Canucks at some point could have done to keep this team as a potential contender.

Now, starting from the bottom is the team’s new reality. Player only meetings and healthy scratches will become a thing at some point this year and it has nothing to do with who’s on the team. This is such a bigger issue and firing Willie Desjardins as the “hot taek” or as I said, Jim Benning, is only the beginning.

The Vancouver Canucks are in disarray and they need to commit to the change they say they’re making and making the playoffs should not be part of their process.

Wow, that felt good.

Go Canucks Go… back to the drawing board.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Winning Isn’t Everything; Canucks Sorta Concur

They started 4-0 but it didn’t take long to bring it all back to reality. Your Vancouver Canucks are 4-4-1 now and the dreamers and unicorn chasers have all gone into hiding. It’s not pretty anymore, no one is scoring goals and even Luca Sbisa is back to guaranteeing your pie in 30 minutes or it’s free. 2017 is going to finish very similarly to 2016 and at the very least, there’s a chance the Canucks get a star this time.

It took almost a week to score their next goal after the Canucks lost to the Ducks last Sunday. Part of that was too much passing, part of it was opponents having good goaltending and part of it, well most it was the fact the Canucks just plain ol’ stunk. You’ve heard me say there are bright spots on this team and I’m not lying, there are.

Bo Horvat is doing his best to shake the funk that seems to surround him and at some point, he will and normalcy will reside on his stick. For now, it really doesn’t matter what he does because the guys around him aren’t following suit. Sven Baertschi looks snake bitten, so does Jannik Hansen (big surprise); goals have dried right up for this team.

Ben Hutton is stringing along but even he looks a bit worn already. Let’s not even get into the Erik Gudbranson stuff, he’s not even defensive-defensiving.

Not helping anything either are the injuries. They have already claimed uber defenseman Chris Tanev and Alex Burrows, not to mention Derek Dorsett and call-up Jayson Megna. How this has been addressed is it’s own story in itself. Watching Troy Stecher in the preseason was all any of us needed to see for him to be a lock on this Canucks team and to be honest a lot of other teams too!

Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins had Philip Larsen as their back end guy to QB the powerplay and… honestly, I don’t know what else. Stecher proved he could do it all and was still sent down. It was easy to do because he could gain some experience in the AHL and get ready for his first promotion.

Well, that happened pretty darn quick.

Alarm bells should already have been going off when Nikita Tryamkin wasn’t even a choice to go in or even Alex Biega. It took ONE game for Stecher to show he shouldn’t be anywhere else but in a jersey that says ‘VANCOUVER’. They put him with Alex Edler to start his career, that’s the top pairing! There’s no way you can send this guy down now.

Philip Larsen has existed and the brutally obvious funneling of the puck to his stick on the powerplay is nauseating. Not that he’s a bad player, he just isn’t the be all end all answer to their scoring problems. And that’s before they were problems. 3 assists to start the year aren’t enough to keep that mantle of top PP guy, even on this team.

Saturday night against the Capitals proved Stecher not only needs to be plunked into Larsen’s role but he needs to be plunked in the lineup every night. Whatever kind of rebuild/rebrand/teardown this is, somebody has to be extracted out of this lineup. Looking at the options, only a few names should even be considered: Edler-safe, Tanev-safe, Hutton-safe, Stecher-safe, Gudbranson-safe. Luca Sbisa, Nikita Tryamkin and Alex Biega are your choices… THAT’S IT!!!

The big Russian can’t be moved to the farm, Biega is waiver bait and then there’s Sbisa. He’s not the world’s worst defenseman but he’s not in the same hemisphere as the best. Philip Larsen does have a pretty good shot but that’s about it. Something has to give here.

Read these tweets and tell me Stecher isn’t the answer, you can’t:

This isn’t a love-in with Troy Stecher, it’s the point that needs to sink into the Canucks decision making. They have a guy that does things better than 3 other guys, so change the guy who’s there. I mean jeez, they put Frank Corrado on waivers, traded Gustav Forsling and Adam Clendening; where does the bleeding stop?

Willie finally put together a lineup against the Caps that resembled normalcy. Hansen with the Sedins and Horvat with Baertschi and Virtanen. Run with this for a bit, see what happens. His job has to be looked at if he keeps toying with the idea Jannik Hansen isn’t the best option for Henrik and Daniel.

Screw the 6-year contract of Loui Eriksson (seriously, that long?) and do what’s right. The Canucks rarely do what’s right and THAT’S why they’re in this mess, to begin with. Eriksson will be just fine with Brandon Sutter and I guess Jack Skille or Alex Burrows upon his return. Losing is going to become, yet again, a regular occurrence so it might as well be done building chemistry.

Nobody is content with circling back the wagon to “moral victories” or “Edler broke his stick again”; we need change. The Edmonton Oilers are freakishly close to righting their wrongs and that took, what, almost two decades!

If Canucks management is willing to wait that long, the city will most definitely turn on them.

We can only imagine Doug Jarvis will only stand for so much before he speaks out. That earpiece must have a lot of information that he doesn’t want coming out.

But hey, tomorrow’s a new day.

 

photo – theprovince.com