kevin bieksa

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

Canucks All Smiles After Trading Kesler and Bieksa…Mostly

Watching the Canucks wait for the opening puck to drop after 60 minutes against the Ducks was tough to watch. Plenty of story line to go on and if Vancouver even puts in 40 minutes, they probably could have beaten the Ducks. That didn’t happen, they didn’t put in 5. Aside from that game though, things are noticeably better in Vancouver after jettisoning Kesler and Bieksa to Anaheim. They didn’t really have a choice but Vancouver’s loss is actually their own gain. Who would have thought no Kes or Juice would be a good thing? 

You can’t replace experience but the Canucks should be all smiley face emojis now that they don’t have a selfish centre and an aging, stale defensemen bogging them down. 

Only recently has Ryan Kesler started to show his worth after inking a 6 year deal worth $41M. His 3 goals are alarming but his body has been beaten to nothing over his career. Thankfully the Canucks brass saw that they had an unhappy, selfish player and granted his exit to the Ducks, apparently Chicago wasn’t lucky enough! Now, the Ducks are on the hook for a whole lot of wasted space and it only gets worse for them.

The Canucks took on up and coming defenseman Luca Sbisa and Nick Bonino as well as Anaheim’s 2014 1st round pick who now is the Canucks 2nd line/3rd line pivot Jared McCann. We all know Nick Bonino aka  too many men on the ice was moved to the Pens for Brandon Sutter and his injury is being felt up and down the middle of the lineup.

On the surface it would seem the Canucks are very happy with their return on Kes and on a scale of 1-10 smiley faces, they have to be an 8. McCann is quickly turning into a reliable two way centre and is leaned heavily upon only 26 games into his career. When Sutter returns, McCann will be able to see a bit more space and further his game even  more.

Luca Sbisa has gone from new guy to token hated new guy to apparent 2016 Cyclone Taylor Winner. Figure that out. The return for Kesler a year later is easily in favour of the Canucks and for Anaheim, they  have to start breaking down how much Kesler is going to cost them:

So far, Ryan Kesler’s “Between Two Zambonis” skits are costing the Ducks $1.25M/ per episode – might want to get syndicated Kes. Imagine if they continue to film these things? Their budget will be through the roof and for a guy that isn’t exactly friendly, they’ll be off the air in no time; but they’ll still be paying him until Ryker, his son, gets drafted.

Feeling better yet Canucks fans? We don’t have to pay for this guy anymore and look how much happier the team is. Ben Hutton can’t wipe the smile off his face but I’m beginning to think he has a medical condition because no one should smile that much. Just kidding Ben, nothing but love.

HUTTON MANIA!!!!

But who really cares about Kesler anymore? Let’s go over how disappointed the Ducks must be that they have a extremely underperforming defender in Kevin Bieksa.

I love Bieksa, I really do. His interviews are the stuff of legends and he doesn’t hold a grudge against Vancouver. You can tell when he converses with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. They’ll always be bros…fo sho.

Bieksa just signed a 2 year deal that will net him $4M per. We thought Luca Sbisa was overpaid? I’m so happy we’ve come around to seeing Sbizza has more to offer. Can you imagine paying Bieksa that kind of coin for 2 seasons? Oh man, that’s not even healthy. At some point Dave Nonis will be let go for suggesting the awfulness that is the old Canuck guard.

Jim Benning has quickly become a genius and even though many of us are ready to have his head on a platter, he quietly has turned the Canucks around and if we’re all patient enough we might just buy him a Christmas card next year. Not this year though, they’re awful.

It is yet to be seen what the pick for Bieksa will turn into but having moved him has given Vancouver the ability to give Frankie Corrado Ben Hutton a roster spot and if you watched the two of them on split screen in the same game, its not close. Ben Hutton can become a hybrid of Edler and Tanev and imagine if he does; ok don’t, I hate seeing those pictures all mashed together like they do on the Internet, its creepy.

At some point, everyone will stop grading this trade like so many others that have gone down and we can all focus on one of two things:

  1. How bad the Canucks are currently doing and….
  2. Is Willie Desjardins still the coach?

I feel like this is the direction we are headed and to put a final stamp on things, YES, the Canucks won those trades and they purchased the uber smiley emoji because they are set up the middle for years to come; or until they waive one of them for nothing and Toronto picks them up.

Follow me on twitter for mega hot taeks and the occasional factual tidbit: @always90four

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!

Kevin Bieksa Might Hang Around Another Year

The deal was as good as done: Jim Benning and Ron Wilson had the pieces in place to send Kevin Bieksa to the San Jose Sharks. Apparently, as crazy as Wilson is to send players like Ehrhoff for a cap dump and parts, he’s equally mad when it comes to basic verbiage in trade talks. Bieksa was a Shark and Wilson had to have back tracked on what he said he’d deliver to Vancouver. A 2015 2nd round pick was supposed to go the other way but it seems he balked on the year. So is Kevin Bieksa hanging around?

It happens all the time in fantasy sports; two guys are ready to make a deal and someone gets cold feet. It usually pisses off the other guy and the damage has already been done regardless of if the trade eventually gets made. We have all been pretty harsh on Jim Benning, including myself, but the man was trying to get a deal done that made everyone happy.

According to Elliotte Friedman’s weekly article “30 thoughts“, Bieksa had made a trip to San Jose to look for houses already. He had prepared himself for his new reality. Taken from said article:

According to a couple of different sources, three entities — Bieksa/Overhardt, the Canucks and the Sharks — were working on this for at least a week and probably longer. In fact, the player recently visited the San Jose area with his family to look at houses. Knowing that, it’s incredible this didn’t work out. Everyone involved had plenty of time to understand the parameters. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of private disgust.

Now, Bieksa hasn’t exactly been amazing the last few years but injuries and the eventual partnership with Luca Sbisa haven’t given him much to hang to. Lost in all this are his leadership qualities. We see grumpy Kevin in the media a lot but this guy was thought so highly of that Team Canada gave him the “A” last year at the World Championships.

He can be frustrating to watch at times with giveaways and some less than stellar decision making but with the injuries he has sustained in his career, one could wonder if maybe he’s trying to keep his body from falling apart. A healthy Bieksa is an affective one. That and being given the reigns again to make the offensive push that turned him into the player he is.

Juice had some of his best years with Dan Hamhuis when Hammer could hang back and play it safe while he pinched and made the risky play. Kevin Bieksa has a good amount to offer still and hopefully wherever he is, he’s given that chance.

With the whole Luongo fiasco that took place the last few years, it looks like Kevin is the next guy to get the shaft. With one year left on his deal, a failed attempt to move him somewhere new and quite frankly a lot of questions coming: why doesn’t Vancouver just keep him?

Players goto free agency all the time and for whatever reason GM’s feel that its always neccesary to get a full return on every player. Sometimes, that just doesn’t happen no matter how bad they want it. It isn’t easy to let a player walk at the end of the day but after what’s just gone down, they probably owe him that at the very least.

Like many players the last few seasons, Bieksa hasn’t looked the same and an aging core is quite evidently showing its face. If Benning doesn’t have something concrete before the season starts, let it ride until trade deadline. If it gets worse before then, revisit what the market is asking and go from there.

But for now, let the man enjoy his summer.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four


Photo credit – canucks.com

Canucks Draft Weekend Resembles Dumb and Dumber To

As many of you know, I was quite excited for this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The Canucks had a chance to draft WHL superstar Nick Merkley from the Kelowna Rockets and all would be right…in my eyes anyways. That didn’t happen. Everyone had somewhat high hopes as well that GM Jim Benning could potentially right the ship with trades involving Bieksa and Lack and a solid first round choice. What we all expected was what we hoped Dumb and Dumber To to be; we all forgot that sequels rarely deliver and in true Canucks fashion, Vancouver followed suit with that theory; It might be a long summer.

 

Jimbo didn’t have many picks to work with this year after trading away rounds 2 and 3 for Sven Baertschi and the pick that went with Ryan Kesler. One could assume a decent trade would be made for goalie Eddie Lack and a 2nd seemed feasible. Early Saturday morning the hammer dropped and Lack was sent to Carolina for their 3rd and 7th round picks.

The Bieksa trade hit a snag with San Jose over what is to be believed an extension after the move would occur as well as what year the 2nd rounder coming back would be (2016 apparently, not this year’s). A pick that may have done some damage, who knows.

Benning had 8 teams that were putting in offers for Lack but Carolina had the firmest. Harry and Lloyd are even losing interest here.

So why move him at all? I understand the market dictated the price and that is fine, maybe not fair but fine. If the buying price is too low, walk away. Every deal that you get low balled you should walk away. Pretty sure Lack’s value only increases here on out and quite frankly what if Markstrom is a bust?
We all know Lack basically had the most value but once again they make the move for the guy they probably should have kept. If Ryan Miller somehow is traded, unlikely, this fan base will implode. As far as the 2nd we moved to get Baertschi, that can still end up being a good play and I don’t mind waiting there.

Again, why make this move. If he could have been signed long term to a team friendly deal, it just doesn’t make sense.

Even with new blood at the top, it seems the same decisions continue to be made; you all know the ones. What irks me is that they fail to value the WHL which is right in their backyard. In a loaded first round, a guy like Nick Merkley seemed like an easy choice for a team many of us see boat loads of highlights from and know his immediate value.
Benning picked Brock Boesner as our latest star  and although I do not know a ton on him, it sounds like he could be OK. Personal feeling: disappointed, People that know’s feeling: we’ll be alright.

Still not excited yet and after last season’s tortoise like climb I don’t think I will be for awhile.

The Oilers and Flames have clearly gotten better over the last year with the draft culminating what Edmonton and Connor McDavid are about to do and what once was a prime destination for players to come to is now only prime if the money is right. How Vancouver has changed. 

The Canucks can’t rest on their laurels of yesteryear and assume the best is yet to come. They have zero Cups to show for their efforts and at some point this rabid fan base will want to see the return.

Everyone wants the new out of the box thinking GM that has analytics and fancy words, sleep doctors and the like; to me out of the box means refurbished. I don’t want a refurbished GM. I want an ACTUAL GM. We are starting to see Benning was left out of the big boy meetings when it came to final say on players in Boston.

Alright, alright. That’s a bit harsh. His scouting is great and I love that he cares so passionately about seeing guys first hand, but he’s missing out on the important stuff like I dunno locking up the RIGHT guys and not fringe contributors. Looking back, we really like our gently used, not actually GM’s yet…GMs.

Dave Nonis was the first, Gillis was the second and now Benning is number three. The slippery slope may very well continue and its only a matter of time before we are calling for his head. And at that time, it better be for a current or former GM, no more nonsense.

The Canucks are basically treading water and even though 2011 is a far distant memory….i’ll wait, the current situation is nowhere near the team they used to be. Not sure how this is OK with the Aquillinis as an investment. How long is acceptable to wait for the REAL Vancouver Canucks (whatever that is) to be assembled?

I get the feeling that the Canucks are headed towards the excitement of the NEXT generational player like McDavid when they will have a pick inside the top 3 overall Hate to say it, but prove me wrong.

Sorry for the redundant comments but just read what’s there: the Canucks are in serious trouble! My boy Thomas Drance says it best here.

Free agency is next week, so unless Jimbo can get that briefcase to Aspen (aka deliver the goods), it’s Mary Sw, Swammy, Swan, SAMSONITE all over again. The Canucks have really been Dumb and Dumber lately and after seeing the sequel, I really hope they don’t plan on following that path as well.

The ratings are in at the box office and they don’t look good.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Law And Order CVU: Canucks Victims Unit

This series has gone from bad to worse. We all wanted the Canucks to matchup against the Flames figuring THAT was their best way to advance, we were so wrong! What we failed to realize or maybe some of you didn’t was that even though the Canucks stellar record got them in the playoffs, they are far from contenders. OK thanks Capt. Obvious, we knew that. But seriously, how many opportunities did they have this year to right the ship or even put away awful teams or even worse: the Sabres?

Too many.

Willie rolled four lines and it proved to be a winning formula, enough to make the post season; adding unforseen depth in Bo Horvat and Ronalds Kenins has filled some gaps a lot quicker than first thought; heck even Yannick Weber has found a spot of meaning here. These additions are great and all but compare them to the teams they are trying to equal and they still aren’t close. A mediocre Flames squad is proving this quite easily.

So the referees haven’t exactly helped either. They have let Michael Ferland charge his way time after time to hit Kevin Bieksa, Kevin Bieksa, Kevin Bieksa, Luca Sbisa and Kevin Bieksa. No one debates a good hit but when the hit is preceeded by oh I dunno 5-6 strides, that’s a problem. The Canucks aren’t doing themselves any favours but the stripes aren’t making it any easier.

Vancouver has been left beaten, bloodied and left for dead. Short of a chalk line, the Canucks are basically D.O.A. No special victims unit can help this crew right now, they need a CVU: Canucks Victims Unit; I take that back, WE need a CVU.  

Do you know what it’s like to be bombarded by Flames fans arrogantly flaunting their new found wealth? It’s horriawful (horrible and awful mixed in a smoothie). They think this is just the top of the pops! Well i’ll let you down lightly Flames faithful, yo may beat the Canucks but there are a lot better teams than this. Four extra games isn’t as fun as you’d think.———–>Living proof<————-

Maybe the fix is on from the inside? Just kidding, we’ve all had it up to here with the conspiracies. But Brandon McMillan and Linden Vey? Bro.

It’s befuddling how Sven Baertschi gets called up and they throw in these guys? The lack of use of Henrik and Daniel over the first four games is enraging and to add to the fire Linden Vey, Derek Dorsett and Nick Bonino are the first choice? Wow! It might be time to promote Bo Horvat and get Radim Vrbata with the Sedins. Its not like that’s what you signed him for.

To see everything unravel regardless of the end result, hurts. Most of us had the mindset that if the Canucks made the playoffs this year, they were cool with losing if they went down fighting. This isn’t close to that scenario. Sure, Burrows getting the Sami Salo disease doesn’t help anything and Zack Kassian being sidelined by a mysterious injury never gave him the opportunity to set the bar. This team just hit their funk at the worst time possible.

Slightly better than the Jets though, not by much.

A higher draft pick would have been great but as one of the teams on the brink of elimination, they are one of the highest seeds to potentially fall. Was the late stretch really worth it? You have to believe it was and with some serious additions from the young guys next year (Shinkaruk, Virtanen, McCann?), the current new crop of players can build off of what essentially was a pretty good, nay, “real good” year.

There are still games to be played, at least one more tonight in Vancouver so all the worries could be meaningless if they flip the switch and make a series of it. The Canucks aren’t the best team in the post seasaon but if they figure it out, they aren’t the worst either.

Ryan Miller is supposed to start and Baertschi is making his debut. Baby steps. Score the first goal and go from there. NO, not YOU Calgary! I still believe in these guys even though I haven’t stopped crying since the end of Game 3. Just win Canucks, help get us to Saturday soberly.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Canucks Are Past The Future, It’s Here

Going into the trade deadline as well as the final push to finish the season in the top 16 is an exciting time. Is making a trade going to help the Canucks go deep into the playoffs or is it false hope and a meaningless dump of talent yet again? Jim Benning has played his cards pretty cool this year and even though Ryan Miller hasn’t been entirely as advertised, or really as we fantasized; its been a very productive year.

Thankfully the rest of the NHL is making moves right now that don’t really involve the Canucks and some of them are trading for LTIR spots (while still paying said players). That’s just fine by me. In past years, former GM’s have traded for Keith Carney, Eric Weinrich, Sami Pahlsson (post mono), Derek Roy, Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre. Oh I forgot, one of those GM’s dealt Luongo too!

The actual market that exists still isnt exactly enticing this spring and the best thing Vancouver’s Jim Benning can do is take a nap; well unless Ryan Miller can be moved. It’s not that Miller hasn’t been a good goalie, its that its ALL he’s been. It doesn’t really make sense why they went after him in the first place but I can buy the theory that they wanted to groom the kids under his tutelage. 

Did that happen sooner than management thought? It looks that way. It was a pricey teaching assignment but who really cares, its not my money. So now what does Benning do in net? The cheap option and quite frankly the best option IMO is to move Miller as the Leafs did David Clarkson (Ok ok ok, not the same but it sorta is) to a team that can take the hit OR decide who gets you the most between the IKEA boys and milk it for all its worth as the market is paying great this season. Keeping Eddie Lack and/or Jacob Markstrom keeps the seat warm for Thatcher Demko in about 5 years or less.

What does the rest of the team hold though? Up on line numero uno, the Sedins are still proving their worth but the time is coming soon where they start sliding back down the rankings. Everything else has options; Alex Burrows despite his injuries has had a nice bounce back season. Moving him isn’t neccesarily a smart move. A finisher and clutch playoff performer, he may not put up big regular season numbers anymore but I like Burr when it counts.

Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and Chris Higgins all strike me as trade bait this year. Bonino and Sbisa just aren’t Canucks. Sounds stupid to say what a Canuck is but there isn’t a “fit” there. Higgins is halfway through his 4 year deal but his role as the worker bee seems to be done. On the flip sided, Ronny Kenins, Shawn Matthias and upon his safe return, Brad Richardson, have fulfilled that role in spades and they all seem to be producing on top of many other talents.

Move a piece, get a younger piece.

Bo Horvat was the piece we didn’t reallllly know we needed until he got healthy and started being all faceoff winny and goal scorey. I thought Hunter Shinkaruk would have come up at the same time but that hasn’t panned out yet. Horvat took a shortcut and could really make a difference sooner than later; he’s not going anywhere.

This season was billed as a retool and as they played we would see what the team needed to do. Well, if any of us thought they would do this well, Benning and Trevor Linden probably would have made a few moves sooner. We all talk about the future and when prospects turn into valuable roster players and the results were different than we thought and actually better. 

Kenins has been a find and a half, Matthias has basically been the Tiger Woods 2015 putt preview for Zack Kassian this year and the diamonds in the rough keep coming. The answers always seem to come when the right questions are asked. Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and newbie Frankie Corrado all signed up for injury camp and a few new guys stepped up. Enter Adam Clendening and Alex Biega

A Chicago cast off and a timely call up have turned the sting into a boost. This Canucks team should not be doing as well as they have been and they are far from the team that started in October. Clendening and Biega aren’t stealing anyones jobs right now but the ridiculous depth they have given the Canucks is stunning. They are a few key forwards and maybe a dman short of a poor mans 2011.

AGAIN, the cavalry isn’t here but the services of Kevin Bieksa start to become expendable. Just another salary cut the Canucks can afford to move. The injuries don’t help right now but hey Evander Kane got traded and he’s a mess. Every move towards the future seems to have taken a big step forward. Speaking of forwards…

Then there’s the young amazing young winger version of the career killer Bryan Allen: Jake Virtanen. He might get a shot as soon as next season; I bet Horvat is ok with that.

The future of the Canucks is basically here. So Jimbo, sell the old parts for picks or heck troll the Kelowna Rockets and make a move for Flyers prospect Tyrell Goulbourne, Caps future star blueliner Madison Bowey or somehow parlay the first pick you make this year into a better one for stud forward Nick Merkley. Now about those NTCs.

You are shooting out the lights Benning and the cresendo is about to be occur.

Playoffs or not this year, the Canucks are on the verge and you should be happy.

PS: This is not a public service announcement for the Rockets, but it isn’t hard to do.

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Canucks Trying To ‘Shake It Off’ Before Christmas

It’s a real shame Taylor Swift doesn’t roll through Vancouver with her 1989 World Tour until August because the Canucks could sure use some tips on how to shake off their current funk. The problems are obvious and the solutions are somewhere in limbo. If T-Swift can’t help them out maybe they should be asking Ol’ Saint Nick for help this Christmas.

I doubt the Canucks will be asking for the latest Frozen dolls, Star Wars Lego, Minecraft stuff or even tickets to see Jay Z; the current wish list in the Canucks locker room was recently found and here are a few snippets of what they asked for:

Willie Desjardins asked for mustache wax, Season 3 of Sons of Anarchy, a personalized coffee mug and a revival of the Bonino, Burrows and Higgins line….but that actually produces. Alex Burrows and Nick Bonino combined for a goal against the Rangers but no one can honestly tell you the last time that happened.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin asked for matching blue bikes, 2 rolex watches (yellow and blue in color), a sleigh for their race horses and a return to their scoring ways with Radim Vrbata in tow. Vrbata has 103 shots on the year, team leading, so feeding him the puck is the best method of action.

Ryan Miller asked for the unreleased Yeezi 3’s by Adidas x Kanye West, a personal tennis match with Milos Raonic and any and I MEAN ANY skills Roberto Luongo may have left in his Vancouver net to help beat this brutal stretch of play he seems to be going through. 18 goals against in his last 5 games along with a save percentage that rivals that of a rookie minor leaguer, it’s time to see something change.

– All Alex Edler asked for this year was the ability to hit someone again, ok, and that silver Starbucks card they’re selling. He is thankful though that not many sticks have broken on him this season.

– When asked what Bo Horvat wanted this year from Santa, he was pretty clear: a PS4 and ALL THE GAMES, a dirtbike with a wheelie bar, the entire Family Guy DVD collection, itunes gift cards and a sweet stereo for his new car he just bought with his first rookie pay cheque.

Kevin Bieksa wants “Bieksaface” back; he just isn’t the same without it. His mean streak isn’t the meanest right now and it’s about time he manned up and helped lead this team back to where it should be.

– Did Trevor Linden ask for anything? Let’s see: he runs the Canucks, he bikes to and from Whistler every morning before coming in to work, his team despite its current slump is still very much challenging for a top playoff spot and every GM in the league is answering his phone calls. Trevor just wants that puck to not have hit the post in 1994.

The Canucks have their own personal wish lists but their real need is for things to get back to the new normal. The wins were rolling in before things fell apart on the East Coast. The second line hasn’t recorded a point since before the mumps hit the NHL and Ryan Miller looks like the Ryan Miller that Buffalo didn’t even need. I’m not throwing Miller under the bus, but he hasn’t exactly shown much brilliance lately.

Christmas is a time for sharing, spending time with loved ones and the start of the World Junior Championship. The Canucks think that’s all fine and dandy but getting some points before the break would really help things get back on track. First up is the Dallas Stars and shutting down Jamie Benn, Jason “Giggles” Spezza and Tyler Seguin would be a great statement to make. The red hot Calgary Flames….wait did I say that right? are after that and there will be no excuses to lose to these chumps. Toronto was a shock and losing to the Flames is not an option.

So expect Santa to get a few final letters from the Vancouver Canucks and hopefully the nice list has some room and a few extra points in the standings will be under the tree this year.

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