Saturday, July 30, 2005

Canucks Draft Luc Bourdon 10th Overall

The Vancouver Canucks have drafted defenseman Luc Bourdon. Bourdon is 6'2 205lbs, he played for the Val-d'Or Foreurs of the QMJHL.

From TSN:

NOTES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Helped lead Canada to a silver medal at the 2005 World-18 Championship...invited to Development Camp Roster for Canada's entry at the World Junior Hockey Championship...Represented Team QMJHL in the 2004 CHL Canada-Russia Challenge.
BOB MCKENZIE'S TAKE: Played exceptionally well at the Under-18 world championship in the spring and has all the physical tools (size and skating) to be a good one, though some question his decision making. Still, it's difficult to imagine him dropping out of the top 15. He's a candidate to crack the top 10.

A solid choice by the Canucks although I am somewhat dissapointed that they did not select Anze Kopitar after he fell out of the top 6. That said, I'm satisfied with Bourdon. By all acounts he is an excellent skater with a very hard shot(maybe the hardest in the CHL).

Hockey's Future profile

It was also announced, just prior to Vancouver's pick, that Vancouver will host the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Have a good weekend, I'll be back next week with more thoughts on the draft including the rest of Vancouver's picks.

Friday, July 29, 2005

"Jovanovski and Ohlund will be in Vancouver"

Some rambling notes from the Dave Nonis interview on MOJO radio...

"Jovanovski and Ohlund will be in Vancouver" straight from the mouth of Dave Nonis.

So there you have it. Can the rumours end? :)

By the sounds of it, Nonis has inquired about the #2 pick but Burke is asking far too much and a deal is not likely. Nonis is however looking to move up and has made at least one offer to a club.

Also confirmed was that the Canucks have made qualifying offers to all their Group II free agents, which includes Dan Cloutier, Mattias Ohlund, Brendan Morrison and others.

The Canucks will take the best player available, not the hometown boy... so if they move up their is no guarantee that they are looking for Brule.

"Being able to draft and develop players will be more important than ever."

One rule change confirmation from Dave, players who miss 10 games or 24 days, can be replaced without additional money counting against the cap.

In other news, the New York Rangers have bought out one of the worst contracts in NHL history.

Ducks re-sign Ozolinsh as Jovo Rumours Swirl

Brian Burke has re-signed defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh to a 2 year deal. This comes as rumours of Ed Jovanovski to Anaheim have circulated. With Burke shopping his 2nd overall, the Canucks interested in moving up in the draft and the desire of Scott Niedermayer to play in Vancouver, it's not hard to put two and two together.

If the Canucks want to sign Niedermayer they would have a difficult time doing so without first moving Jovo's contract. Dealing Jovo for the 2nd overall pick is not very far fetched.

However there are a couple problems with this scenario. First, the Canucks can't speak to Niedermayer until August 1st, which is of course after the draft. Trading Jovo and not getting Niedermayer would be a disaster for Vancouver. The second problem is that Burke has just signed an offensive defenseman and may no longer need an Ed Jovanovski.

So is this deal going to happen? I wouldn't count on it, however don't be too surprised if Vancouver looks to move him in another deal. Jovo has one year remaining on his contract and will be a free agent next year. With Niedermayer out there it would make sense for them to move Jovo for another asset, say a winger for the Sedin's, a goaltender etc. Not saying it's going to happen, but the Canucks would be foolish not to consider the possibility.

In other news...

Today is the final day for buyouts so expect a few bits of news this afternoon... the Owen Nolan situation is getting very messy... Mike Keenan may have "faxed up" and lost Crosby's linemate Dany Roussin, who will re-enter the draft... The Flames have traded Mike Commodore to the Hurricanes for a third round pick, nice job of selling high ... and finally, tommorow is draft day! It should be a very interesting one.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Canucks Pick up Options on Trio

The Canucks have exercised their club options on Wade Brookbank, Lee Goren, & Wade Flaherty.

Wade Brookbank will likely be a candidate for the enforcer job on the Canucks. He will probably split time between Manitoba and Vancouver.

Lee Goren put up 62 points in Manitoba last season along with 13 more in the playoffs. Goren is a long shot to see time in Vancouver, but he will likely be invited to training camp and he could move himself up on the depth chart with a good start in Manitoba.

Wade Flaherty had an excellent season for the Moose, stealing playoff time away from prospect Alex Auld. Flaherty will likely be the number 3 man on the goaltending depth chart, behind Dan Cloutier and Alex Auld. He should be the starter in Manitoba barring other moves on the goaltending front.

Other (Red Wing) news...

You won't be seeing Brendan Shannahan in a Canucks uniform, Shannahan has excercised his option to remain with Detroit.

The Red Wings are still waiting on an answer to their contract offer to Steve Yzerman.

Canucks Sign 2003 Draft Picks

According to, the Vancouver Canucks have inked three of their 2003 draft picks.

Signing their first pro contracts are:

All three would have re-entered the draft had they not signed by today's deadline.

Goodenow Gone Now

Bob Goodenow is stepping down from his position as Executive Director and General Counsel.

"With the conclusion of the negotiations and the ratification of the new agreement, the parties concur that this is an appropriate action for the future," said Goodenow. "I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve the Players over the past 15 years and to have had the support of a tremendous staff at the NHLPA. I wish the Players every success under the new CBA."

No details yet on exactly what went down, but it's no surprise that Goodenow is on his way out. Bob gambled and lost, big time. Good riddance I say. Ted Saskin will take over Goodenow's job, hopefully he will be better for the game as the NHL and NHLPA enter the new "partnership" era.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Jim Hughson to Join HNIC

According to MOJO radio, Jim Hughson has been hired by the CBC to join Hockey Night in Canada as the play-by-play man for the western broadcasts.

This is great news as Hughson is one of the best in the biz. Now if the CBC would drop Greg Millen... reuniting Hughson with Craig Simpson would be a great idea.


CBC has officially confirmed that Jim Hughson has joined Hockey Night in Canada.

Moose to Lose Carlyle to Ducks?

The Winnipeg Sun is reporting that the Vancouver Canucks have given the Anaheim Mighty Ducks permission to speak with Manitoba Moose head coach Randy Carlyle. If my memory is correct Carlyle still has two years remaining on his contract with the Canucks organization, so it is likely that some form of compensation will be coming Vancouver's way. Perhaps a draft pick or maybe as part of a deal to swap first round picks? More likely the former but Burke is shopping his second rounder so maybe something could be worked out.

While it's not the same situation, recall that it cost Vancouver $200,000 and a 2nd round pick to sign Marc Crawford, who still had one year remaining on his contract with the Colorado Avalanche. Obviously Carlyle does not have the resume that Crawford had, so don't expect a 2nd round pick but there should be something heading to Vancouver.

Canucks to host Phoenix in Opener

The 2005 season gets underway on October 5th and the Canucks will be at home facing the Phoenix Coyotes.

The complete Canucks schedule is available at

Some highlights and notes:

  • Oddly Vancouver plays 2 straight away games in Colorado on Oct 27 & 29th. They do the same in Calgary on Nov 5 & 7th.
  • The Canucks will get the Leafs, Senators, Bruins, Sabres, and the Canadiens at home... no Crosby this year.
  • The Canucks will be out East to face the Rangers, Flyers, Devils, Islanders and Penguins. For some reason that's two road trips instead of one.
  • Longest road trip: 7 games, Jan 23 to Feb 4th. Nice trip travel wise compared to the old trips out East.
  • Longest homestand: 6 games during the holiday season, Dec 17 to 28th.
  • The Canucks finish the season on April 15, 2006 at home against the Avalanche.

No TV schedule as of yet but there will be a "Hockey Day In Canada". The triple-header is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 7. Ottawa visits Montreal, Toronto is at Edmonton and Calgary is at Vancouver.

More on the Naslund - Forsberg Story

The Vancouver Sun has a story on the Naslund/Forsberg duo. Naslund is quoted as saying "We'll see if that could work out or not. I mean, I think you can ask pretty much any winger in the league and they wouldn't mind playing with him."

The possibility is out there, however both would have take less than market value to play together on a contender.

As for Naslund returning to Vancouver... he didn't exactly express any desire to return to Vancouver but he did not rule it out either. We shall see.

Back in a bit with the NHL schedule details.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Forsberg and Naslund to Sign Together?

On Mojo radio today, John Shorthouse offered an intereresting tidbit from a Swedish newspaper... in a direct quote from the paper Peter Forsberg said that they(him and Naslund) have instructed their agent(s) to explore the possibility of them signing with the same team.

Take that for what it's worth.

If this story is true the Vancouver Canucks would be on the short list of teams that would be of interest to Naslund and Forsberg. Obviously they would be pulling a Kariya/Sellanne type deal as no one could afford both players at market value.

Anyway this story is intriguing in an "EA Sports" type of way. How's this for a forward group...

  • Naslund - Morrison - Bertuzzi
  • Sedin - Sedin - Forsberg
  • Cooke - Kesler/Chubarov - Linden
  • Bouck/May? - Chubarov/Kesler - King/???

And while I'm at it...

  • Niedermayer - Salo
  • Ohlund - Sopel
  • Jovanovski - ???

Dare to dream?

Niedermayer Still a Possibility for Canucks?

Scott Niedermayer has said he intends to test the free agent market and he has dropped more than a few hints about his potential desire to play in Vancouver.

Is this a legitimate possibility for Vancouver?

Well that depends on a few factors, number one being how much Niedermayer wants. If Niedermayer is looking for top dollar he won't get it in Vancouver. If however he is willing to take a contract that tops out at $5 million, it's something the Canucks can seriously consider. Also factoring into Dave Nonis' decision making is the Naslund situation. Naslund, if re-signed, will likely take up 5 to 6 million, leaving Nonis with about 4 million to play with. Nonis can come up with more cap room by moving Malik and his 1.25, or there is the possibility of trading Ed Jovonovski.

So don't rule out Niedermayer yet, he has expressed a desire to play in Vancouver and the Canucks could find a way to make it work if Niedermayer's demands are reasonable. Will it happen? I don't think it will, but I would be pretty excited if it did happen.

There isn't too much more Canuck news to report on today, unless you missed the press conference about nothing. Other than that there are the usual internet rumours floating around... Blue Jackets interested in swapping their pick, Forsberg potentially interested in Vancouver, and of course the Paul Kariya thing.

Other NHL notes...

  • Stevie Y should be ending his career as a Red Wing
  • Luc Robitaille should do the same as a King
  • Surprisingly, St Louis is not going to buy out Tkachuk($7.8m!) or Weight($5.7m)
  • The Wings cut Hatcher, McCarty, and Whitney loose. McCarty would look good in a Canuck jersey.
  • Sakic and Blake will be back in Colorado... Foote and Forsberg may not... add two more to the list of players who would look good in a Canuck jersey.
  • The Senators will not be buying anyone out.
  • The Habs declined their option on Patrice Brisbois.
  • Everyone is rumoured to be signing in Toronto
  • ... and finally the Sabres are possibly looking to move or non-tender Satan. I say the Devils are the perfect fit, I mean Satan playing for the Devils, what could be better?

Back later with more, should something interesting come up...

Monday, July 25, 2005

Canucks Draft Speculation

Friday was a great day for the Vancouver Canucks as they were one of the big winners in the Draft Lottery. Instead of picking in the bottom five of the first round, the Canucks have jumped up to the number 10 slot and could be in a position to move up further via trade.

The top end draft pool basically contains three levels. The first is obviously Sydney Crosby. The second consists of Benoit Pouliot(LW), Jack Johnson(D), Bobby Ryan(RW), Gilbert Brule(C) and Anze Kopitar(C). In the next level you have guys like Mark Stall(D), Carey Price(G), Ryan O'Marra(C) Marek Zagrapan (C), Jack Skille(RW) amoung others. For more on info check out TSN's Top 30

While the Canucks pick 10th, their is a significant difference between the top 6 and the rest of the 1st round. Dave Nonis has said that they are within striking distance of moving up in the draft...

However it may be difficult to do so with such a good crop of players available in the top 6. It's highly unlikely that the Ducks or Hurricanes would move their picks. Minnesota does not have much of a reason to move the 4th pick, especially to their rival. Montreal needs some players with size and Ryan or Kopitar fit that description should they be available; they would also snap up Pouliot in the unlikely event he slips down to #5. Columbus may be looking for a defenseman(Marc Stall perhaps?) or a future #1 center(Kopitar) so it's unlikely they would trade down, but you never know. With the top 6 out of the way the Canucks may find a potential trading partner in the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks may be looking for a big forward, of which there are plenty available at the #10 slot. It has been rumoured that the Hawks have been interested in uniting the Ruutu brothers. Could Jarkko Ruutu entice them into moving down 3 slots? Would the Canucks "guy" be available at #7?

It's fun to speculate, but it's impossible to predict what the Canucks will do. They probably have 2 or 3 guys that they hope will fall down a few spots. Head scout Ron Delorme is said to be high on Kopitar, and of course there is hometown boy Gilber Brule. Personally I'd love to see them get Pouliot, but that's highly unlikely. I'll make a prediction and say that Vancouver will draft Jack Skille at the number 10 slot.

For more info on the draft check out Hockey's Future's preview of the Canucks situation and Ellito Pap's article on the Canucks reaction to the lottery.

Friday, July 22, 2005

NHL Draft Lotttery Results

Well for a while it was looking good for Canuck fans... but hey we did pretty good moving up to the 10th slot.

Here are the results of the Draft Lottery...

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. Anaheim Mighty Ducks
  3. Carolina Hurricanes
  4. Minnesota Wild
  5. Montreal Canadiens
  6. Chicago Blackhawks
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Atlanta Thrashers
  9. Ottawa Senators
  10. Vancouver Canucks
  11. Los Angelos Kings
  12. San Jose Sharks
  13. Buffalo Sabres
  14. Washington Capitals
  15. New York Islanders
  16. New York Rangers
  17. Phoenix Coyotes
  18. Nashville Predators
  19. Detroit Red Wings
  20. Philadelphia Flyers
  21. Toronto Maple Leafs
  22. Boston Bruins
  23. New Jersey Devils
  24. St Louis Blues
  25. Edmonton Oilers
  26. Calgary Flames
  27. Colorado Avalanche
  28. Dallas Stars
  29. Florida Panthers
  30. Tampa Bay Lightning

No Surprises in NHL Rule Changes

NHL commisioner Gary Bettman has announced the new rules changes for the 2005/2006 season. There are no surprises from the previously reported rule changes.

So get ready for no red line, shootouts and smaller goalie equipment.

Time will tell if these changes are for the good of the game. Although I don't like the removal of the red line or shootouts, I'm willing to give them a chance.

I'll have more thoughts on the new rules at a later date.


The NHL has released more details about the new rules on their website, including diagrams of the new rink dimensions and the goaltender "trap zone"(a stupid idea by the way).

Who Gets The Next One?

Today is the day that will determine the fate of phenom Sydney Crosby. The NHL Draft Lottery results will be announced today at a 1pm(pst) press conference. The Vancouver Canucks have one ball and about a 2% chance of winning the first overall pick. We can dream can't we?

The Draft Lottery announcement will follow the press coneference announcing the results of the NHL Board of Governors ratification vote. The vote should be a formality at this point.

On the Bertuzzi front, Ben Kuzma is reporting in the Province that Bertuzzi will face an additional 10-20 games at the beginning of the season. Of course this is from the infamous "annonymous source" so take it for what it's worth.

Today should be a very exciting day... more to come later.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

NHLPA Ratifies CBA

According to the Canadian Press and TSN the NHLPA have ratified the new CBA. More details will be forthcoming at the news conference this afternoon.

It also appears that Bob Goodenow has not been involved in the process for quite some time. We may have Trevor Linden and Ted Saskin to thank for finally making progress on this deal.

Good riddance Goodenow, you have plagued this sport for more than a decade.

It's Official

The NHLPA has officially ratified the new CBA with an estimated 87% of the players voting in favour of ratification.

Play or Nay?

The NHLPA is currently in the process of voting on the proposed CBA.

A press conference is scheduled for 2pm PST today.

While it's expected that the ratification process will pass, it should be very interesting to see what the actual vote is... that is of course if the NHLPA releases the numbers. Another interesting aspect of the vote is whether NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow will sign off on the deal.

We shall find out in a few hours.


It appears that voting is moving along quickly and the press conference has been moved up 1 hour, so that will be 1pm PST.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Morrison Seeking 3 Year Deal

The agent of Brendan Morrison, Kurt Overhardt, was quoted in the Vancouver Province saying "Our agreement was when there's a new system we'd work in good faith to get a multi-year deal done. The goal is a three-year deal."

So how much money will Morrison be looking for? Morrison was schedule to make $3.55 million last season, which translates to $2.69 million under a 24% rollback. At this point it is difficult to determine what the market will be under the new CBA. If I was Morrison I would probably be seeking something in the range of a 3 year $10 million dollar deal.

Is that too much for the Canucks? I don't think so. You would be hard pressed to find a replacement for any less. Morrison has been the number one center on one of the top lines in hockey and on one of the top teams in the NHL. He played very well down the stretch after the Bertuzzi suspension and he was one of best North American players to play in Europe during the lockout. It's difficult to say that Morrison is not a number one NHL center. As a number one center $3 million is certainly fair, especially for a hometown boy who could potentially be your next captain.

With the possibility of Morrison becoming an unrestricted free agent next season, Dave Nonis would be wise to lock him up now.

The NHL Draft Lottery

There seems to be a lot of confusion over what is going to occur on Friday afternoon.

Here is what we know for sure:

  • The draft lottery will be televised at 1pm PST
  • The event will be streamed live on
  • The event will be televised live on TSN(and probably the other networks as well, although TSN is claiming 'exclusive rights')

What exactly is going to happen isn't really clear at this point. Most reports seem to indicate that the lottery will be held behind closed doors and the announcement will be broadcast live.

This makes sense since, for dramtic effect, the draft order will be announced from 30th to 1st. If they were drawing the lottery live teams with 3 balls would have higher odds at getting the 30th pick, rather than the 1st pick.

So if your interested in the lottery tune in on Friday, it should be very interesting.

Will Karma repay the Canucks for the 1970 "Wheel of Fortune" where they lost to their expansion cousins, the Buffalo Sabres, who drafted hall of famer Gilbert Perreault?

Maybe if hell freezes over, pigs fly yada yada yada...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Change of Heart ???

Well it appears that the NHL may be re-considering their stance on broadcasting the draft lottery.

TSN is reporting that "The results of the 2005 NHL Draft Lottery will be shown live on TSN Friday, July 22 at 4:00pm et on TSN."

So what exactly does this mean? I really don't know. It seems obvious that the "results" would be broadcast at some point so is this really news?

More to follow... maybe


It's now confirmed that the lottery will be announced live following the board of governors meeting. The lottery will still be held behind closed doors with a newsconference announcing the draft order (30th through to 1st) NBA style.

I still think they should draw the balls live, but this is better than nothing.

The End of the World Draws Near...'s the only way to explain the unheard of phenomenon of me agreeing with Al Strachan. Strachan has confirmed that the NHL will not be televising the draft lottery. This despite the fact that the 3 Canadian sports networks would absolutely love to cover this live and that many hockey fans would love to see this historic event.

"...the NHL, already overburdened with far too much publicity and an even greater amount of public goodwill, has imperiously rejected all of those pleas.

And who can blame them? It's far better to have these events conducted in secrecy. After all, a draft lottery which determines the future home of Sidney Crosby is none of the fans' business."

This decision is also adding fuel to the conspiracy theories of a fixed lottery, with the New York Rangers winning the Crosby sweapstakes. It's not a coincidence that the formula for allocating lottery balls resulted in the Rangers receiving the max number of balls. Of course, the idea of fixing the lottery is pretty ridiculous... but they're still setting themselves up for some controversy should the Rangers get Crosby

Anyway, whatever the NHL's reasoning, they are blowing an opportunity for some positive press. Something they desperately need. The NHL needs to send their "marketing team" back to school.

Rules of the Game

Over the past decade the quality of play in the NHL has degraded significantly. The NHL has tried to make changes to "open up the game" but so far they have failed miserably. Will the rules to be announced on Friday bring back the glory days, or will the NHL continue to make the same mistakes...

One thing the NHL has failed to realize is that any rule change can have a significant, and often unexpected, impact on the game. When you change numerous rules at once it becomes extremely difficult to predict their impact. In the 90's the NHL made numerous rule changes all of which failed to various degrees:

  • The league began experimenting with the two-referee system. Whether this has had a positive or negative effect on the game is debatable. I'll give them a pass on this one, there could be some improvements but it hasn't really had a negative effect on the game. Of course it has done little to address the "obstruction" problems plaguing the game.
  • The league decided to change the overtime format and the points system. While the idea of 4 on 4 has been a complete success the change of the point system has not. Why did someone at the NHL not realize that by awarding a point for losing in overtime you are encouraging teams not to try and win in regulation time? If you are a "low talent" team entering the third period of a close game why would you risk losing by taking chances to score, when you could simply try and hang on and get your point for reaching overtime and then take your chances on getting the bonus point in overtime?
  • In an effort to "open up the game" the league also decided to increase the size of the offensive zones by moving the nets out and decreasing the size of the neutral zone from 58 to 54 feet.
  • They also, at the urging of Glen Sather, revoked the "tag-up offsides" rule in order to improve the skill level of defensemen. No longer could defensemen dump the puck in while their was a delayed offside call. They would be forced to handle the puck.

The combination of a smaller neutral zone, no tag-up offsides, and the "OTL" was, for lack of a better term, a terrible idea. If you didn't know better you would think that the NHL was trying to encourage the trap. The elimination of the tag-up rule forced more play into the now smaller neutral zone. The OTL point discouraged teams from taking chances in the third period. The result was the exact opposite of what the NHL was trying to accomplish with their changes.

Has the NHL learned from these mistake? Maybe, maybe not. On one hand they've re-instituted the tag-up rule and they've moved the nets back to where they should be. However, they are also considering a number of rule changes all at once. Every rule change will have an effect on the game, the NHL must be careful not to change too much at once...

For instance, let's take the reduction of goalie equipment. Great idea, more pucks should go into the net. However that might not be the only effect. Remember the days of wingers coming down the wing and unleashing a slap shot ala Geoff Courtnall in the '94 playoffs? When was the last time you saw that in the NHL? Nowadays rather than unleashing that slap shot the winger will instead choose not to shoot(since they can't see any net) and instead will go behind the net or into the corner in order to setup a cycle/forecheck play. A change in goalie equipment could see the return of this classic play. That is an example of what might be an unexpected, albeit positive, effect of a rule change. Removing the red-line on the other hand...

So what am I getting at here? The NHL needs to really consider all the possible effects of rule changes and they should realize from past mistakes that there will be unexpected results. The game of hockey isn't as bad as what some would have you believe. The simple change of re-instating the tag-up offsides, changing the goalie equipment and some improvements on how obstruction is called, will all do wonders for the quality of play. There is no reason to go overboard on the rule changes.

Canuck tidbit of the day...

Stan McCammond was on mojo radio this morning and confirmed what was probably obvious to most Canuck fans: The Canucks will be spending up close to the cap level.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tight Sched Ahead & a few notes

According to ESPN the NHL will have a lot business to take care of in order to get ready for the free agent frenzy...

The schedule that teams will follow after the expected ratification:

Saturday, July 23

  • Period for initiating compliance buyouts begins
  • Period to negotiate and sign 2003 draft picks begins
  • Period to extend qualifying offers begins
  • Period to negotiate with own club's restricted and unrestricted free agents begins

Thursday, July 28

  • Deadline to exercise club and player options for the 2005-06 season
  • Deadline to sign 2003 draft picks (if not signed, 2003 draftees will re-enter the 2005 draft)
  • Deadline to make required bona fide offers to 2004 draft picks

Friday, July 29

  • Deadline for initiating compliance buyouts

Saturday, July 30

  • Entry draft

Sunday, July 31

  • Deadline to extend qualifying offers

Monday, Aug. 1

  • Free-agent signing period begins

Surprisingly, no details of the new CBA have been leaked despite the GM orientation session that took place over the weekend. You would think that some details will begin to emerge this week...

Other notes...

Don Cherry will be back on Hockey Night in Canada. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Chris Cuthbert, once thought of as the heir to Bob Cole. If the CBC was smart(oxymoron?) they would hire Jim Hughson to take over for Cuthbert.

As it stands now the NHL will not be televising the draft lottery and they will have a "scaled back" draft. Talk about a squandered opportunity. You have the best prospect to come along in a generation and a draft lottery where every NHL team has a shot at him... this just screams GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY. If the NHL was smart they would hold the lottery the same day as the draft, preferably minutes before the draft, live on TV. Of course the NHL won't do that. They'll hold the lottery behind closed doors and send out a press release saying the NY Rangers have won the 1st overall pick...

Canuck notes...

Brian Burke has poached former director of player personnel Bob Murray away from the Canucks. Murray will be Anaheim's senior vice-president of hockey operations.

Murray was not the only Canuck staffer on Burke's shopping list. According to the Vancouver Sun the Canucks have denied permission for Anaheim to speak with Manitoba Moose coach Randy Carlyle. Unlike Canucks assistant coach Mike Johnston, Carlyle does not have a window of opportunity to persue a head coaching job with another NHL franchise.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Top 5 Issues Facing Dave Nonis

The Vancouver Canucks have a rookie GM who will be eager to finally get his feet wet. A new collective bargaining agreement and the surrounding issues will make his first few months on the job very interesting...

1. Re-signing Markus Naslund
The future of Markus Naslund is very much up in the air. In recent days his agent has made some statements which aren't exactly encouraging for Vancouver Canuck fans. Now I wouldn't read too much into his comments, but there is certainly some doubt as to whether Naslund will return.
Naslund is an unrestricted free agent and can choose to sign anywhere. Does he want to return and if so, how much does he want to be payed? In the past Naslund has shown that he is not a greedy player by taking less than market value to help the Canucks pay players like Ed Jovonovski. His willingness to do so did not result in playoff success. Will he be willing to take a little less once again, or will he want to get fair market value (likely in the 6 to 7 million dollar range)? Money isn't the only issue. Does he like playing for Marc Crawford? Does he have confidence in a rookie GM? Does he see a better opportunity elsewhere, maybe even with his pal Peter Forsberg? How much will Bertuzzi factor into his decision? Only Markus Naslund can answer these questions and it will be up to Dave Nonis to convince him Vancouver is the place for him to be.
On the other hand, how much does Dave Nonis want Markus Naslund back? Obviously every GM in the league would want Naslund, but at what price? Perhaps Nonis will want to move the team in another direction. The 6+ million that Naslund might command could be very useful in an abundant free agent market (more on that later).
With all that said, it is very probably that Naslund will be a Canuck this fall. He likes the city of Vancouver and it is widely believed that his family likes the city (really who wouldn't especially if you are rich like the Naslunds :) ). He has a lot of friends on this team and has grown with this group of players into a top contender in the NHL. There is unfinished business for him in Vancouver and he does not seem like the type of person who would bail on his teammates. On the Canucks side, they will make a strong effort to re-sign Naslund, just don't expect them to do "everything possible" to get it done.
2. Todd Bertuzzi
Dave Nonis will want an answer on Todd Bertuzzi's re-instatement very soon after the ratification is complete (and quite frankly this should be a top priority for the NHL).
There have been a lot of rumblings about Todd Bertuzzi's desire to move on. The first thing to emphasise is that Todd Bertuzzi is under contract for the 2005 season. Unless he holds out (I wonder if this issue will be addressed in the CBA?) and demands a trade, he will be a Canuck this season (barring a trade of course).
Since Bertuzzi himself has not spoken, debating his future in Vancouver is pure speculation. My personal thoughts are that Bertuzzi owes the city of Vancouver (and the province) for the way they have treated him. Bertuzzi embarrassed the city, the franchise, the country, the game and the NHL. With the way the fans have forgiven and welcomed him back I believe he has an obligation to honour his contract, it's the least he could do.
He may have reasons for wanting to leave Vancouver, such as his reported shaky relationship with Marc Crawford and of course the way he was treated by some members of the media. He could simply wan't a fresh start somewhere else. However, there is the unknown factor of how he would be received in another market. Vancouver fans have been supportive, would he get the same suport somewhere else? Who knows. Again, Bertuzzi's plans are unknown and all this talk is just speculation.
On the management side of things there is the question of whether the Canucks want him back. Would it be best to move on and put this whole issue behind them? Like Naslund, the money owed to Bertuzzi could be very useful and unlike Naslund, Bertuzzi can be traded for another asset. Nonis has a pretty good asset in Bertuzzi and this will be one of his most important decisions.
3. The Restricted Free Agents
Vancouver has large list of players who are restricted free agents:
  • Brendan Morrison
  • Mattias Ohlund
  • Dan Cloutier
  • Daniel and Henrik Sedin
  • Sami Salo
  • Matt Cooke
  • Brent Sopel
  • Marek Malik
  • Bryan Allen
  • Artem Chubarov
  • Jason King
  • Tyler Bouck
  • Jarkko Ruutu
  • Wade Brookbank
Obviously some of these players are more important than others. The two most important will be Brendan Morrison and Mattias Ohlund. Both players will cost some coin, but there should not be any issues with those two. Next on the list is Cloutier (dealt with in #4), the Sedins, Sami Salo and Matt Cooke. With the exception of Cloutier all should be important pieces of this years team. The Canucks have been patient with the Sedins and it would be foolish to squander that patience by letting them go just as they enter their prime years. They should be relatively cheap for second line players so I wouldn't anticipate any changes there. Sami Salo was a rock on defence last season and he would be very difficult to improve upon without spending more money on someone else. Matt Cooke stepped up in a big way late last season and he demonstrated that he could potentially be a second line player, he will be retained.
Here is where the list gets interesting for Dave Nonis. Much maligned defenseman Brent Sopel, while being young with potential, is fairly expensive considering what he brings to the table. Nonis could save a few bucks by letting him go, but I think it's more likely that he will be re-signed and then traded if Nonis feels he can find an improvement. Marek Malik is also expensive and was one of Burke's guys from his days in Hartford. I think it's unlikely that Nonis will keep Malik around. Bryan Allen and Jason King are no-brainers but Artem Chubarov is an interesting case. First I love Chubarov, but the Canucks have this kid named Kesler, maybe you've heard of him ;), who is ready for the NHL and plays the same position. Now there is certainly room for both on the team but Chubarov could be a nice trade chip. Rounding out the restricted list are Tyler Bouck, Jarkko Ruutu and Wade Brookbank. I suspect all will be qualified and given a shot to make the team.
Nonis will have to make some important decisions with this list as it will take up a significant portion of the $39 million dollar cap. If Nonis expects to make a splash in the free agent market, some of these contracts will have to be cut from the budget.
4. Dan Cloutier
Ahh, everyone's favourite goaltender :). You might be wondering why Dan Cloutier is all the way down at number four on this list, afterall the vast majority of Canuck fans would like to jettison Cloutier and his playoff failures.
But before doing so, it's important to consider two things. First, Dan Cloutier has been a very good goaltender, playoff issues aside. Second, there really aren't that many guaranteed improvements on Cloutier. There are a handful of goalies who are significant (Khabibulin) to probable (Curtis Joseph) to possible (Mike Dunham) upgrades on Cloutier. If you look around the league most available goaltenders have question marks, and most do not have the regular season track record of Cloutier.
That's not to say Nonis should stick with Cloutier, far from it. Once the Naslund and Bertuzzi isssues are sorted out, Nonis should do everything in he can to try and ink Khabibulin. He should also consider guys like Joseph (although I'm not quite sold on him). He also has to consider if it's time to change goaltenders just for the sake of change. Obviously Cloutier is liked by his teammates, it's hard not to like the guy, but do they have confidence in him to get the job done when it counts? Would a change be the best thing for the team? It will be a tough decision for Nonis, especially if he cannot land one of the top goaltenders. It could be a case of "better the devil you know." Nonis will look at some way to improve the goaltending but don't be surprised if they go with Cloutier for one more year, it might be the best option available.
5. The Free Agent Market
And finally we come to the free agent market. What a market it is. Check out this short list of available players: Pavol Demitra, Glen Murray, Peter Forsberg, Zigmund Palffy, Scott Niedermayer, Nikolai Khabibulin, Sergei Gonchar, Adam Foote, Paul Kariya, Mike Modano, Curtis Joseph, Brian Rafalski, Adrian Aucoin, Mike Dunham, Eric Lindros, Sean Burke, Joe Nieuwendyk... it goes on.
How much Nonis has available under the cap will depend on how he deals with issues 1-4. There have been many rumours concerning the Canucks. Paul Kariya is a legitamate possibility and to a lesser extent so is Scott Niedermayer. There is even rumblings of Forsberg and Naslund wanting to play together, Vancouver would likely be at the top of their list should they choose to do so. There are also many others on the list that will be of interest to Nonis. Glen Murray would be the winger the Sedin's have desperately needed, Pavol Demitra and Zigmund Palffy would look good anywhere, who wouldn't want Adam Foote, Brian Rafalski or Adrian Aucoin on their blueline? There are options in net such as Khabibulin, Joseph, Dunham and Burke.
Basically there is a lot out there for Nonis to consider and that's before you even look at the 3rd/4th line and 4-6th defenseman types. Nonis has an opportunity to completely re-shape this team if he chooses to.

So there you have it, my ramblings are over. It's time to sit back and watch what the Canuck's newest GM does in the most interesting off-season in NHL history.

Niedermayer Brothers Coming to Vancouver?

Scott Niedermayer was on Mojo radio this morning and confirmed that he and his brother Rob have talked about the possibility of signing in Vancouver.

This is of course pending their contract status in the new CBA. However Vancouver fans should be very excited about the possiblity of having the reigning Norris Trophy winner patrolling the blue line... and hey, Rob is no slouch either.

These rumours have been floating around for awhile now, it's nice to have confirmation from the players themselves that this is a legitimate possibility.

He also had an interesting comment on the pending CBA deal and ratification...

Paraphrasing: "If players weren't prepared to go beyond where they are now they could have had a deal a long time ago."

So in other words, there are players who knew this could go 2 years and are prepared to go further. How many is the question.

Niedermayer didn't say how he would vote but I got the impression that he will vote in favour of the deal.

Tentative Deal Reached

After numerous false alarms and a marathon negotiating session, the NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative deal according to both TSN and Sportsnet.

Woot! About fricken time.

The most significant aspect of the deal is the payroll range of $21 million to $39 million, with the range adjusting as league revenues change. I'll have more details as they emerge, but for the most part this deal looks to be similar to what we have been hearing for several weeks. It should be interesting to see more details, particularly salary arbitration and the entry level system.

So how does this affect the Canucks? Well, like every team there will be a lot of decisions to be made and it will be one crazy summer. There are numerous rumours floating around the net but at this point it's difficult to draw any conclusions until more details of the CBA are known.

Of course there is an important word in the title of this post. The deal must be approved by both sides. It appears highly unlikely that the owners would reject such a deal but the NHLPA may be a different story. There will be a lot of unhappy players, especially those currently under contract who will see the contracts they signed reduced by 24%. I don't care how much you make, losing a quarter of your salary would really piss you off. That said, if the NHLPA's executive committee endorses the deal(and they will), it would be highly unlikely that a majority of the players would vote against the deal. They know they are beat and the game needs to get back on the ice if they ever hope to regain the money they have lost through these concessions.

The NHL is likely to announce numerous rule changes and the format of this years draft, as soon as both sides ratify the deal.

Next week will be very interesting...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Game On...

Well it looks like things are finally going to be settled and we will be seeing hockey again this fall. So that means this blog can actually get off the ground. We started out with some coverage of the World Cup, then with some lockout coverage and a little bit of Moose news. Frankly, I quickly tired of lockout talk and I also realized that any Moose coverage would be inadequate considering the lack of televised games. So I decided to put this blog on hiatus until the lockout was settled. There was some Canuck news to report during the lockout, most noticeably the partial sale of the club. However, I made the decision that I was going to go see what life would be like without hockey...

To my surprise it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The CFL took some sting out of the fall months and the NFL started up shortly after the Grey Cup was awarded to the dirty Argos. I'm not a big NFL fan but I found my interest increased dramatically. For awhile I was getting by without really thinking about the lack of hockey... that was until winter set in. Now for the most part I didn't miss hockey during the week, there was plenty of good television and dvd's to catch up on. There was even the odd Moose game on the tube and some interesting "Classic" matchups. But the real downer was those hockeyless saturday nights.

What a drag. I missed the typical routine of waking up on a saturday morning(or in some cases afternoon), with a hangover from the night before, laying around on the couch waiting for 4 o'clock to roll around and the HNIC music to kick in. Then half watching the stupid Leaf game, and figuring out what the plan for dinner is(delivered Chinese is always a good bet) and then settling in for the 7 o'clock Canuck game. Oh how I missed that. Good times.

But alas, it was not meant to be.

It really wasn't all that bad. Winter went by rather fast and soon enough pitchers and catchers were reporting to spring training and a new baseball season was upon us. Every now and then some lockout news would pop up, but I didn't really care all that much. I had survived the first winter of the "Cold War".

To my surprise it looks like that will be the only winter of the "Cold War". The players have come to realize that there was no way they could win this war and pressure from the non-hardline NHL owners has forced the owners to get a deal done even if it wasn't exactly what they wanted. Both sides realized that the NHL must startup on time this year or everyone will lose a lot more money than they've already lost. It's just too bad they didn't all realize this 12 months ago.

Oh well nothing can be done about it now.

But enough of that talk, on to this year...

There will be a lot to sort out once the CBA is finalized. New on-ice rules, a huge number of free agents and an entry draft. Basically, there will be a lot to blog about in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned...