draft picks

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

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Canucks Civil War – Advanced Stats Vs. Everyone?

If it’s one thing all Canucks fans unite together for, its uniting to analyze every move the team makes. Whether you’re an advanced stats guy, a regular stats guy or just the eye test “great move/terrible move” guy; you all have an opinion. The thing is, we beat this to death before these guys even play a single shift. I’m just as bad as the next and potentially under-educated on some of the 2nd and 3rd tier guys but I too will throw my hat in the ring.

Lately, it seems like the advanced stats crew is taking a lot of heat, more than normal somehow, for putting the available data out there to evaluate the newest and potential newest members of the Vancouver Canucks. Do the stats tell the WHOLE story, do we still need the eye test or are both still needed together?

 

Erik Gudbranson is now a Canuck and it took all of about 10 seconds to form a final decision on the Canucks twitters.

So, is Gudbranson actually that bad? The Hockey Writers had a nice little article about how Luca Sbisa and Guuby are very much the same player….that’s not good. Luca Sbisa isn’t a terrible hockey player but he is not a very good hockey player. Gudbranson is known for his defensiveness and not so much for his scoring touch.

He hits guys with a Virtanen-like aggression and forces players to maybe choose a different side to streak down. Those are both great things for this Canucks team that totally lacks that tough mentality. But, at the end of the day, is the trade worth it?

Straight up, Jared McCann for Gudbranson is an alright trade and both teams seem to benefit. We’ll never know if McCann was on his way out anyways or what the potential market could have been, you know, if any other team knew he was available?

But lets get back to the statistics, in this Canucks Army article by J.D. Burke, he points out that when Guuby is on the ice, there’s a sick ton of shots coming the Canucks way. Will this change? Unlikely, and Willie Mitchell isn’t here to bail him out. However, younger stud d-man Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton are. Heck, Nikita Tryamkin is too!

Maybe we’re all just mad because after we’ve digested the players in the move, the draft picks are the commodities that disappear. Thankfully we can only take so much data from an unused draft pick but at what point will we argue this part to death? Is anything after a 1st round pick truly valuable? (obviously yes)

The hockey media seem to take the “ive seen this guy play” approach a lot and will spout out the stats as needed. Where the advanced stats come in and what seems to piss off the regular stat people is when there is REAL evidence that the player in question is just not very good. Is it that people don’t like too much information?

Its a bit like bullying where the bully just says stuff because they don’t understand the situation and just use hurting words to cover up for their own insecurities. OK Dr. Phil! 

I’m still building my foundation with advanced stats so I’ll keep quiet and my opinion on who’s good and who isn’t is quite often ripped apart; I’m the middle guy.

I understand that playing the games and taking the “in the know” hockey media members advice that a player is good or bad will hold a lot of weight but at the same time, if the advanced stats say this guy is going to probably suck here too…it’s tough to argue that.

There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong camp when it comes to players because they prove us right and wrong all the time; case in point, Nick Bonino. He never panned out in Vancouver and it was quite visible he wouldn’t be a Canuck very long. We hated him because we felt we were burned on the Kesler deal…twice. Kes wanted out and we basically were throttled on the return.

Bonino is now excelling in his role on the Penguins and may very well win a Stanley Cup. The thing is, he has a few players the Canucks most definitely do not: Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin among others. Whenever someone gets moved or signs somewhere else and succeeds we always look and feel like that would have happened in Vancouver.

It doesn’t.

The same is said for players on other teams that come here. I don’t think there are CF% and PDO numbers to look at in the early 90’s but I’m guessing Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi didn’t thrive in those respective areas. Stats are stats until they aren’t.

The Gudbranson trade may anger Canucks nation but now that there is so much information available to us, why not consider it?

Here’s the thing everyone: WHO HONESTLY CARES WHO’S RIGHT??? You can agree or disagree, accept stats or not; you are entitled to that. What Benning has done in his short time here is divide the fans and has them pitted against each other.  Sadly, this isn’t a movie so the happy ending might not be coming any time soon.

Its frustrating to watch JB assemble and dismantle the team all at the same time and how he keeps everyone guessing is a thing to behold.

Stop bitching and complaining about how stats guys are clogging the arteries of your media feeds; if you don’t like it, don’t read it.

I used to think the advanced stats were irrelevant until I realized they play a valuable part in understanding the true workings of the game. Captain America and The Avengers made up after their “civil war” so why can’t Canucks nation?

Let’s all agree this team is screwed and go from there.

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.

 

Bowness Coverage – Post Draft, Pre Frenzy, Present Disappointment

This past week has really been a circus of emotions but that hasn’t stopped Canucks twitter and pretty much anything with a pulse from having a say. The NHL draft came and went with many storylines dictating the start to the summer, free agency begins July 1st and hopefully there is a shred of happiness that comes with that. Above all else, it seems Jim Benning may have some critics.

Early Saturday morning Eddie Lack was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3rd round pick and a 7th next year. On Tuesday afternoon the move we all thought was coming before the draft finally happened, but to a team we never expected; Kevin Bieksa is a Mighty Duck in exchange for the Ducks 2nd round pick next year. 

That alone is a big pause for the cause. 

1) The outrage in Canucksland was heard when Lack was moved for a 3rd round pick, many believing he was worth more. Benning was approached with eight offers and Carolina had the best one. What makes me wonder is if that was the best he could do, why trade him at all? 

Going forward why not keep the combo of Lack and Miller? Big deal if Markstrom walks, at the very least they could have moved HIM for a pick. It hasn’t seemed to matter who is in charge of the Canucks when it comes to goaltending, no one has a clue how to approach it. 

By the time Thatcher Demko is ready, Eddie Lack would be finishing off his 3 or 4 year deal and no doubtedly we would have found someone to partner up with Eddie, quite possibly Joe Cannata or someone else in the system. Everyone knew Lack would be able to sign a very cap friendly, team friendly deal and give the Canucks quality goaltending. Miller is our stop gap and with that tandem they could have actually made it work.

The goalie problems will never end in Vancouver, but thats ok, we’re used to it.

2) Just when the summer was about to get real snarly for Kevin Bieksa, Jimbo made the move I guarantee he did not want to do. Canucks South gained another member on Tuesday when Bieksa was sent to Anaheim to join buddy Ryan Kesler.

Benning did secure the 2nd round pick he was asking for, sadly it was the same one San Jose was offering and you wait, it would have been A LOT better. Bieksa is now on one of the most dangerous teams in the league, one that will most likely destroy the Canucks 5+ times next year.

Jimbo did well to get value out of Bieksa before he entered free agency and with all Juice’s injuries its actually a pretty saavy move. Its a shame he didn’t get what he was offered last week, we could be talking about a good player instead of guy that was just there in round 2. But the draft isn’t a sure thing so I give you kudos Mr Benning.

3) Yannick Weber was not qualified by the Canucks this week which begs the question: WHY!!!!? He was one of the few bright spots the Canucks had last year, he actually made a few powerplays worth watching and we actually didn’t care his name wasn’t Shea. How Benning let this guy slip to not even have leverage to oh I dunno keep his rights at least is nuts. 

Am I wavering here? I can’t tell. Maybe Benning has bi polar disorder or schizophrenia? Make one bad move, then one good move then another bad one. By October, there might be nothing left to criticize: we’ll all be dead from sarcasm.

4) On the plus side, Alex Biega and Linden Vey signed, oh and so did Jacob Markstrom. All very cap friendly numbers and maybe all this hair pulling will end up being a good thing? We wanted a rebuild, we wanted the problems gone and in a roundabout way I think Benning might be doing it.

Im not having fun typing those words and by the time free agency is in full swing I could take back everything and call for his head. Being a Canucks fan isn’t easy, being a Canucks armchair GM is even harder.

5) Side bar – Mike Richards may have a very rough ride back to the NHL; and that’s if they even let him back. He was stopped at the border with oxycodone, a very strong pain killer, and with that, the Kings released him. Richards was given a second chance in LA and it looks like thats all he’s getting. How serious is this? We will probably find out in the coming weeks.

6) Kind of got away from the draft so lets get back into it. At pick 23 Nick Merkley, Kelowna Rockets star forward, was NOT picked by the Canucks. I cried for a short time and my wife pretty much wanted me to shut up but as life happens we ended up getting the better version of Mike Fisher aka Mr. Carrie Underwood. 

Brock Boeser is the newest Canucks forward and although I know jack squat about him, it sounds like he is all business, and his business is doing the hockeys. Getting through the hyped up first round was tough and from the looks of things we did better than Boston.

Mr. Minnesota is a 6 foot hulking winger who is a self professed “power forward” that goes to the net and gets dirty in the corners. Maybe we’ll be so busy hoping Zack Kassian turns into Milan Lucic that Boeser will be our diamond driller.

The past few years have been good to the Canucks in the draft and hopefully ol’ Eggs Benny gets lucky from this one. Years from now we may look back and see all of our fortunes started here; I’m wrong a lot so lets not dwell on this. 

7) Going into July 1 there are a few guys the Canucks could take a swing at and even though they aren’t winning a cup soon, they can take a chance on these fellas and maybe parlay them down the road:

Cody Franson – Vancouver is in the mix to bring the BC boy home but he may not come cheap. With Bieksa gone and not having to sign Lack, there may be a few bucks in the kitty to sign this dman. We don’t have what you would call a good defensive core so Franson would definitely help. WANT LEVEL – HIGH

Joel Ward – I’ve wanted this guy for probably 4 years now and even though he’s getting older he still has some skill a few of our boys could learn from. He’s beat us around the net when he played for Nashville so we know he gets dirty. Won’t cost tons so he’s potentially affordable. WANT LEVEL – MEDIUM

Mike Green – I guess Washington isn’t home for Mike Green anymore. He’s still a valuable defenseman in many peoples eyes and if he somehow came to Vancouver I’m pretty sure he bounces back. Losing Kevin Bieksa and gaining Mike Green? I like that trade off. WANT LEVEL – HIGH

Johnny Oduya – Something something Stanley Cups. He’s 33 but he’s been to the top of the mountain twice and that might be worth talking about in the dressing room. Is this the direction Benning wants to go though? Maybe a bit more than we need. WANT LEVEL – SEMI MEDIUM

Antoine Vermette/Justin Williams – Doubt either of these guys gets a contract but they are worth talking to. 

8) Is Jim Benning done surprising us? Are there any other guys tha have played their last game in a Canucks jersey? Burrows? Edler? Higgins? Sbisa? Don’t hold your breath, I don’t think we’re done.

9) Pass it to Bulis is done with the Vancouver Sun. Daniel Wagner and Harrison Mooney put me on the Stick in Link feature one Tuesday and the next thing I know I’m the GDT guy for Canucks Army. I owe tons to these two and I can only hope their podcast keeps going and they keep pumping out quality shenanigans. 

SALUTE!

10) I ended on a music feature last time and becaause its summer, this one is no different. Here’s one of my new favorites from an amazing band. I hope Canada Day puts a smile on my face for the hockey fan in me but honestly, spending the day drinking beer, swimming in the sun and painting an apple box with my two little girls is all I need.

Enjoy!