Monday, October 03, 2005

Roster Reduced & Weekend Wrap-up

The Vancouver Canucks have reduced their roster down to 24 players.

Heading to Manitoba are Tomas Mojzis and Kevin Bieksa. Soon to join them if they clear waivers are Brent Johnson, Sven Butenschon and Josh Green. Luc Bourdon was assigned to his junior club and Jason Doig was not offered a contract.

Nolan Baumgartner has made the team as the 6th defenseman while Alex Auld earned the backup job. Up front, Lee Goren, Fedor Federov and Tyler Bouck remain on the roster for now.


On the blueline, Nolan Baumgartner was not a surprise choice. Kevin Bieksa has not had a chance to play, Sven Butenschon did not impress and Luc Bourdon is not quite ready yet. Baumgartner's only real competition was Tomas Mojzis. I thought both players played very well on Saturday night, the Canucks likely decided to go with Baumgartner's experience. The ability to easily send Mojzis to Manitoba was likely also a factor.

Up front is where it gets interesting. There are 3 players left on the roster and only 2 spots available. Lee Goren had a strong pre-season, albeit while seeing some premium ice-time. Tyler Bouck did not do a whole lot, but the Canucks like his physical play and versatility. Fedor Fedorov had by far his best game of the pre-season on Saturday, picking up a nice assist and the shootout winner. Jason King is also still on the roster, however with his concussion problem he will likely be placed on injured reserve or assigned to Manitoba. That would leave the roster at 23.

So who makes the cut?

It's unlikely the Canucks will go with 23 players so that means one forward has to go.

Fedor Fedorov is the most interesting player. He is without a contract and says he will return to Russia if he does not stick in the NHL. Will Dave Nonis offer him an NHL contract? It's hard to say. If he goes back to Russia he's unlikely to ever return to Vancouver and the Canucks probably do not wan't to give up on his skill package. However, if they do offer him a contract he would likely split time between the pressbox and a line with Trevor Linden. Signing Fedorov would also raise a few eyebrows, since several players had much better camps and did not make the cut. Alternatively, they could be keeping him around in an attempt to trade him before the season starts.

If Fedorov stays it will likely be at Lee Goren's expense. Goren had a good pre-season, scoring twice and adding three assists. However he did so while getting some power play time and time with Morrison and Naslund. Goren has demonstrated that he can score, but what the Canucks need to know is how he will play on the 4th line.

The remaining forward is Tyler Bouck. Bouck did not do anything exceptional in the pre-season but he has stuck around. His one-way contract has probably played a large part in him sticking around. If he was on a two-way, Josh Green would have probably beat him out. That's not to say the Canucks don't like what he brings. Regardless of his contract status, he wouldn't be here if they didn't think he could play. He plays a physical game, can skate and can also help out on the penalty kill.

We should find out soon whether the Canucks offer Fedorov a contract. Depending on the salary cap situation, they may not immediately reduce the roster. There is a decent chance that all 3 forwards receive an opportunity in the regular season. The decision should come before opening night.

Waiver Wire

There is no longer a waiver draft in the NHL, but there are still players who must clear waivers before being assigned to the minors. Dave Nonis is keeping an eye on the waiver wire, likely looking for another defensemen. I'll see if I can find a list of players available.

Two Weekend Victories

The Canucks won both of their games this weekend, they defeated Calgary 4-2 on Friday and Edmonton 6-2 on Saturday.

The Edmonton game was on PPV and it was nice to see the Canucks in action. Here's some thoughts...

I was impressed with the play of Tomas Mojzis. I thought he looked very good with the puck and played a strong defensive game. He really made a strong push for the last job on defence, and will likely be considered with Bieksa for the first callup on defense. Unfortunately for Mojzis, Nolan Baumgartner had a very strong game, logging 28 minutes. Baumgartner stepped up and won himself a job.

In net, Dan Cloutier had a bit of a shaky first period, often over committing himself, however he was excellent in the final two frames.

Up front the Sedin's and Carter were outstanding. Daniel Sedin looks to have gained a step and it also seems like he has a harder shot. Carter is fitting in extremely well, should he remain healthy I would say that the 20 goal mark is guaranteed.

As for the rest, I thought Josh Green played well, likely earning "first callup" status should the Canucks require someone on the bottom two lines. Most of the remaining regular forwards appeared to be waiting for the regular season to start, can't really blame them. Once the Canucks put the game out of hand it was just a matter of getting through the game without injuries.

As for the game itself... well as expected there we're lot's of penalties. The new rules are obviously having an effect on the play, Fedor Fedorov's assist being a prime example. Coming down the wing with speed their was nothing much the defenseman(Cross?) could do without taking a penalty for using his stick. The most noticeable thing about the "New NHL" is the huge offensive zones. There is now a lot of room at the point and very little in the neutral zone, making the removal of the red-line a necessity. The new "trapezoid" zone seems like a completely pointless rule, which hopefully only lasts this season.

Other notes...

The CBC has finally resolved their labour issues, which means we should be seeing the Canucks on HNIC this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed.

Finally, I'll be updating the team payroll and depth chart sometime this week.

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