Thursday, September 29, 2005

Canucks 3 - Ducks 1

Vancouver picked up their first win of the pre-season last night in Anaheim. They even scored in the shootout.

One interesting note, the Canucks appear to be figuring out the new rules, as for the second consecutive game they took only 6 penalties compared to their opponents hitting double digits. Also, the Canucks PP is now running at 22%.

Battle for Jobs

As the battle for the final roster spots continues, Luc Bourdon is making a lot of noise(more on that below), Brent Johnson stopped 26 shots including Corey Perry on a breakaway. Johnson will likely be heading to Manitoba, but he's certainly getting the attention of the Canucks. The defense hopefulls were once again unremarkable. Up front, Green had an uneventful 15 minutes of ice-time, Tyler Bouck had a scrap, and Fedor Federov was Fedor Federov.

Luc Bourdon

Luc Bourdon had another very good game and has become the big story of the pre-season. Bourdon picked up 2 assists, had some big hits and was solid defensively.

Bourdon is certainly becoming a candidate to stick with the team, but as most of you probably know, there are a few considerations when keeping an 18 year old on your roster.

According to Bob McKenzie here are the considerations:

  • First a player must sign a contract before October 3rd in order to be eligible to play in the season.
  • An entry level player can play up to 9 games without using up a year of his contract. So let's say Bourdon signs a 3 year deal. If he plays 9 games this year and comes back next year he would still be in year 1 of his contract. If he plays 10 games he will be in year 2.
  • And finally, if an entry level player plays in 40 games one of his seven years of pro service is used up.

So will Bourdon stick with the Canucks?

Judging by the state of the defense I would say there is a very good chance that he makes the team. However, I would say it's unlikely that he stays around for more than 9 games. The Canucks will not want to use up a year of his entry level contract. Why use up one of his "cheap years" when he is only going to play 10-12 minutes a game?

In the unlikely event that Bourdon sticks past game 9, it is extremely unlikely that he makes it past game 40. Unless he is having a great season, it would be a mistake to use up one of his 7 years.

Contract issues aside, there are two other things to consider. First, is Bourdon better than the other options on defense? Unfortunatly right now it appears he may be. Second, and more importantly, what's best for Bourdon's development? Is he better off being eased into the NHL, playing 10 minutes a game, or is he better off playing 25+ in the QMJHL? At 18 he is probably best served by playing, and playing a lot. That said, I don't think playing in the NHL will hurt him. He appears to have all the tools to play right now.

All things considered, returning Luc Bourdon to junior is the logical thing to do. In the new salary cap world, management of your young players is critical to long term success. The Canucks are best served by not wasting a "cheap contract year", or more importantly, a year before free agent eligiblity.


In typical CBC fashion, the Canucks - Oilers game will not be broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada(Of course the Toronto game will be broadcast, albeit without broadcasters). Now before you panic, I will guarantee that this game will be on TV somehow. At minimum the Canucks will put this game on PPV, and for those without PPV access, there is a decent chance that the game could be moved to Sportsnet or TSN. I'll keep you posted on this.

As for the rest of the season on HNIC, I would say that if the labour issues are not resolved by next Saturday the dispute will likely go on for quite a while. If the loss of HNIC can't pressure the CBC to make a deal nothing else will.

Unlike the CFL, the NHL will not stand for games being broadcast games without commentators, so we could be watching our Sarturday night hockey on another network.

Also, don't forget Saturday's pre-season game will be available on PPV for the discounted price of $4.95.

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