dan hamhuis

Canucks Lack “THAT” Playoff Guy

Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins force a Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I couldn’t help but notice yet another player that seems to always hang around the late stages of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Brian Boyle. Now he hasn’t been to a ton of Final appearances but he’s a guy you want when things go the distance. The LA Kings know exactly what they had with Justin Williams which is why when he was free, the Capitals were more than happy to add that Game 7 magic.

The Canucks aren’t in a position to be going the distance anytime soon, as far as we can tell, but they do lack the can’t miss talent that knows what it takes to make it through a long season and a long playoff push. If they actually let Dan Hamhuis walk this offseason, you really wonder what exactly it is that they are trying to accomplish.

In 2011, yes I’m going there again, they had built up a team that was battle tested, knew what REAL losing felt like and when it came time to adding a few extra playoff performers, they knew recent warriors Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre would be key pieces to their accession up the mountain. Raffi Torres ended up being one of those guys as well and every Canucks fan could feel that they were about to watch it all finally happen.

Well obviously it didn’t, big spoiler I know, and they have struggled to put together the right mix until recently and now that things are coming together, again, quite slowly, they need to add the pieces that will once again make them a chore to beat.

I look at Joel Ward and it drives me crazy that the Canucks never signed him after 2011. He’s gritty, he has a certain Ryan Kesler to him (which let’s not kid ourselves, we need), and he’s proven that he’s a playoff warrior. If the Sharks end up going to the Final, or even further, winning; he is a big reason why.

He’s not Joe Thornton or little Joe Pavelski but he’ll be a guy that will score a big goal in a game when they aren’t shining. Joel Ward is still valuable at 35 and is worth a look if a trade every came up. The Canucks aren’t in a position to go after the Cup right now so unfortunately for them, he won’t be in their plans.

Milan Lucic isn’t THAT guy but he might be able to mold into that guy. Sometimes its the guy you expect and at the same time, least expect to shine that actually does. He’ll come with a big price tag most likely but you can sell him at least as ONE of the answers.

There’s no doubt Steven Stamkos would be THE #1 guy to be THAT guy but I doubt the Canucks are close to landing him. We can dream and I mean, hey we got Luongo, but let’s all be real – that isn’t where this team is headed. Now David Perron, is still out there and ripe for the picking. Vancouver can right their wrong by getting him for dollars instead of trying to trade for his services. I think he’s a THAT guy, but I’m wrong a lot.

Kris Russell is rounding the rumour wheel and I believe many think HE is a THAT guy…he’s not. Let’s not Kris Russell ok?

Going full Chicago Blackhawks may be the answer, it’s kinda like the Marian Hossa model but as a team; Troy Brouwer and Andrew Ladd will both be UFAs and by the time this team is ready to pounce again they might get a small run to the second round and with Cup winners littered on the team, the impressionable guys will take notice.

Every team has a THAT guy when they win the Cup and the Canucks will need to start digging to find theirs. There is a potential Cup run inside this team but a few pieces need to surface for that to become a possibility. The recent success of Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton winning the World Championships with Canada give the Canucks more ammo that even missing the playoffs can produce winners.

Tanev is a THAT guy, Hutton is a THAT guy and so is Bo Horvat. But they are also more than that, they’re stars. Who is the guy Vancouver needs? July 1 will give us a glimpse into the answer.

Again, I’m wrong a lot.

 

photo – canucks.com

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Fallout 3: The Dan Hamhuis Trade Saga

I’ve never played Fallout 3 but at the very least I got a handful of gamers to read this. The NHL tradeline is inching closer and Dan Hamhuis is still a Vancouver Canuck; but not for lack of trying to move him. Jim Benning has tried relentless (we’re led to believe) to trade Hammer to a team that could utilize his skills for what everyone hopes is a long playoff run. He’s 0-2 so far. Is the third time a charm when the Capitals pick up the phone?

Jimbo hasn’t been able to move DanHam yet and maybe it’s because he hasn’t proposed enough trades on NHL 16 that would net the best results, its possible. Whenever I propose a trade in fantasy football I’m all about the conditional picks. I love the possibility of something from nothing or the opposite.

If the player helps his new team get to the Final or even win it, the pick turns into a 2nd let’s say; if they’re knocked out in round 1, it’s a 3rd. Simple stuff like that makes the world go round. Its the unknown that drives us.

So you’ve all heard me trying to flog the Hamhuis for a pick and Madison Bowey of the Washington Capitals. This trade would work for both teams for a number of reasons and I might only name one but here goes:

Hamhuis is a reliable top 4 defender on any NHL team, let alone the Caps. Washington is poised to make a run at Lord Stanley this season and they have a very real chance of winning it all for the first time since their last real chance when Crosby and the Pens foiled their chances in 7 games. Hamhuis gives them stability on the back end with Carlson hitting the sidelines for 3-4 weeks leading right into the playoffs.

If WAS can put him on LTIR which they most likely will, that frees up enough room for the Canucks fan favourite to move out to D.C. for the spring and if everyone gets what they want, he signs back in Vancouver July 1.

Madison Bowey and a 2nd maybe? would be a great return coming back as Bowser can fit right into the lineup, albeit a RH shot which muddys their setup a bit. Seeing Bowey play in Kelowna for a number of years, he brings maturity, someone who holds the line quite well, a booming heavy shot and a bit of raw intensity which seems to be coming from a few of the Canucks latest young stars.

All things you already know, but why not make this move. Hamhuis deserves a shot at a Cup and we get someone that they don’t need to drop off their roster and a pick which will be late anyways.

Bowey averages 15 min/game so he won’t eat up minutes of the Ben Hutton, Luca Sbisa, eventually Alex Edler and Matt Bartkowski (if he’s still here) and he sees valuable time in all situations.

Benning won’t neccessarily do a lot this year as I expect and if he can make one move that betters this team, why wouldn’t he do it. I really have no clue how high Washington is on MB but I know Ted Leonsis wants a Cup a whole lot more, its on his bucket list.

If they need Radim Vrbata, I’m sure Benning could land another pick.

Most of us would know how.

 

Canucks Next Step Is So Important

Optimism only can last so long once reality rears its ugly face. The Vancouver Canucks were eliminated by the atrocious Calgary Flames on Saturday night. It hurt even for the ones that didn’t think they’d get THIS far. Now we are all left licking our wounds and wondering what the next step will be. I would hope at the very least its finding a way to trade Luca Sbisa and/or Kevin Bieska (yes I spelt it wrong).

I don’t hate Bieksa, he is actually one of the best characters on the Canucks. His play over the last year, really two, has raised many questions as to what he still brings to this team. When he was with Hamhuis, Juice could afford to pinch a bit more while Deputy Dan held the fort in case it went awry. Luca Sbisa isn’t any of that and I think we all still wonder why he was re-signed let alone for that much.

All in all for Kevin, he has a year left on his deal and if there is a trade to be made then it wouldn’t be the worst decision to get younger there. The worse decision already happened and he wears #5.

Speaking of defensemen that need a contract, Yannick Weber is due. His use on the powerplay was actually an improvement to the tire fire they had. And then he wasn’t used there for awhile. I think Willie D is still figuring out how NHL players fit into his brain thoughts. We like Weber and he shoots hard and stuff, please bring him back.

Goaltending ended up being more of a discussion topic than I anticipated this season; Ryan Miller was pretty good, but Eddie Lack stepped his taco game up and gave Jim Benning some serious options. WIth Jacob Markstrom at a point he needs to be a NHL backup and Thatcher Demko being groomed, Ryan Miller after one season may be gone.

That’s a pretty big price tag to put out there and there might only be a few teams even remotely interested in that guy. If Lack is the guy, that cap number drops considerably. If Ryan Miller stays, he needs to work on basically everything to make it work here. Both options are fine as goaltending didn’t lose us that series, but it was close.

UFAs Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias may be put to pasture and that sucks. Linden Vey could have potential but if the Canucks are supposed to make a run in the immediate future, Vey is a boring, inconsistant opton. All that hush money that went Derek Dorsett and Luca Sbisa’s way has strapped Benning a bit and even though the cap rises to $71.5M, spending money because you have it isn’t a smart idea.

2015/16 will be the year of the young gun in Vancouver. A full offseason and maybe Calder Cup playoffs with Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk could do wonders for the Canucks. Giving Jake Virtanen a chance early next year like they did Bo could also translate to some early returns. Right now, those are small pipe dreams but at some point all those guys will play together. Ronalds Kenins was the big surprise this year and he has earned himself a spot for next season. His murders, along with Virtanens will be a welcome addition.

At som point we will find out about Zack Kassian and Alex Burrows and pray nothing major is going on. Kassian missed a solid amount of time after really finding his stride on the top line. Burrows freak accident (whatever that actually was) might be something he has to rehab into the season. Again, speculating but in this new NHL, we have no clue. If Kassian needs back surgery, I sure hope its minor; bodies like his eventually break down heavily and he isn’t very old at all. 

 And finally to the big guns! Radim Vrbata seemed like a consolation prize last July and he ended up being a solid addtion to both the Sedin line and the second line. His lack of grit was noticed in the playoffs and really, thats where it all counts. The Canucks lack of grit everywhere was noticed by all and adding a power forward would get things going. Henrik and Daniel looked like maybe they were starting to hit the back nine of their amazing careers but then they went and finished in the top 10 in scoring. 

The Sedins are always welcome on this Canucks club and their leadership will help take this next Canucks team to the top once again.

For now, we sulk for 5 months and figure out what went wrong. We curse the wretched Flames and hope Benning and Linden make some savvy moves. 

As for me? The Kelowna Rockets are making a ru nto the Memorial Cup this year and they get my full support now. And Jim, if you’re reading…please draft Nick Merkley.

Goodbye 2015 season, it was real.

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