Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canucks' Free Agent Wishlist

In Part 1 of our series, we looked at the Canucks' Offseason Gameplan - Forwards, analyzing their current talent and depth chart.  In Part Two of our series, we reviewed the Canucks' Offseason Gameplan - Defence and reviewed their depth on the back end, and what the future holds for both the team and the individuals that comprise their blueline.

In the third installment of the series, we synthesize the Canucks needs, and provide them with some options that are presently available via free agency.

As Part One demonstrated, the Canucks have scoring depth, but lack size and depth in their bottom six.  GM Mike Gillis has come out and said that their third line needs to get bigger, so let's look at some options out there.

Canucks' Offseason Gameplan - Defence

We continue our look at the Vancouver Canucks as they look to fill out their roster prior to training camp.  In the first section, we looked at the Vancouver Canucks' Offseason Gameplan at Forward.  Now before we look at who is available via free agency, let's look at their defence.  With the recent addition of Keith Ballard, the Canucks certainly have some options on the back end, but are they done adding to their line up?  Perhaps more importantly, are they deep and talented enough to compete with the Chicago Blackhawks in the ultra-tough Western Conference?

Let's take a look at who is under contract for next season, and their depth chart.

Canucks' Offseason Gameplan - Forwards

Before the July 1st Free Agency period begins for the NHL, let's take a look at the Vancouver Canucks roster, and where areas they are likely to address, as well as some favourable options available to them.

Line #1 - D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
The Canucks top line will likely remain intact, with reigning Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin centering Daniel Sedin and spark plug Alexandre Burrows.  While Burrows may miss some time early with off-season surgery, this line should be together for the season, with occasional tinkering a la Mikael Samuelsson.

Breaking down the Ballard deal

At the NHL Entry Draft this past weekend, the Vancouver Canucks pulled off the largest deal of the day with the Florida Panthers.

The Canucks sent forwards Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner, and their 1st Round pick (25th overall) to the Panthers in exchange for Defenceman Keith Ballard, and forward Viktor Oreskovich.

Many Vancouver fans and members of the media feel that the Canucks overpaid, and that is probably true - but let's analyze the deal a bit more.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Henrik Sedin wins Hart Trophy

Vancouver Canucks' forward and Art Ross Trophy winner Henrik Sedin has added to his trophy case tonight.  The man who led the Canucks to a Division title and led the NHL in points this year was awarded the NHL's Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

Edging out Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby surprised some and certainly comes as an extreme honour to Henrik Sedin.  In typical Sedin twin fashion however, he deflected the praise worthy of a Hart winner, stating that Ovechkin and Crosby were the two best players in the league, and how excited he is to be mentioned in the same breath as them and the previous greats who won the trophy.

Will Blackhawks miss Byfuglien?

Chicago Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien has been traded to the Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night.

As part of an 8 player deal, Byfuglien heads to Atlanta along with Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and prospect Akim Aliu (you can read up on him here).  Aliu is touted by some as a very underrated prospect, while Eager and Sopel are obviously useful journeymen at this stage.  Heading back to Chicago are the Thrashers 1st round pick, (24th overall), a 2nd round pick, prospect Jeremy Morin , and journeyman forward Marty Reasoner.

As TSN.ca reports, Byfuglien, 25, had 17 goals and 17 assists in 82 games with Chicago last season. He became a hero to Chicago fans in the playoffs with clutch performances and five game-winning goals during the Blackhawks' post-season run.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blackhawks angry over Pronger's antics

No sympathy for the Devil.  While Canucks fans are all too familiar with Chris Pronger's antics, the Chicago Blackhawks are now experiencing them first hand.  Philadelphia Flyer Chris Pronger has been at his best - or worst - depending on how you look at it.  Pronger has been cross checking, slashing, interfering, you name it - all in an effort to get the Chicago Blackhawks off their game and turn the tide of the Stanley Cup Final series.

Mission accomplished.  The Blackhawks are as pre-occupied with Chris Pronger as the Vancouver Canucks were with Dustin Byfuglien.  CBC reported before Game Five that the Blackhawks have been complaining to the league about Pronger's style of play going undisciplined, and apparently after Game 4 especially.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is There a Purpose to Pronger Stealing the Pucks

Chris Pronger is once again at the centre of media attention. This time it is for his interesting antics at the end of games one and two. After games one and two, both Flyers losses to the Blackhawks, Pronger felt the need to steal the game pucks.

This led to an incident after game two when the Blackhawks Ben Eager confronted Pronger.

"He's been picking up pucks after the game, and I just told him he can keep it," Eager explained. Eager went on to say that it is no big deal and that the Blackhawks could care less if Pronger takes the pucks after the Flyers lose.

Call it gamesmanship, or deflecting media attention away from his team, but the fact is Chris Pronger is being Chris Pronger. His actions did not resemble those of a playoff warrior, or even a grown man, they resembled behavior one would expect to find on an elementary school playground. It was nothing more than Pronger being a sore loser. The fact that this is even news is baffling in itself.

Here is an excerpt from Pronger's interview:

What happened?

"I couldn't hear him, I don't speak gibberish," said Pronger, who picked up a misconduct penalty at the very end and got into it with Eager.

Where's the puck, Pronger was asked.

"It's in the garbage," Pronger replied. "Where it belongs."

You shot a towel at Eager when he complained?

"So what," Pronger replied.

You're collecting pucks now?

"Why not? What's wrong? It's sitting there. What else is gonna happen to it? It's sitting there. Sure, why not. You got a problem with that?"

Are you gonna sell it on eBay?

"I don't know. Apparently, it got him upset. So I guess it worked, didn't it? It's too bad. I guess little things amuse little minds."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Canucks ink Cory Schneider & Anton Rodin

TSN is reporting that the Vancouver Canucks have inked G Cory Schneider to a 2-year deal worth $900,000 per year.  It is a one-way contract and likely spells the end of Andrew Raycroft's time in Vancouver.

Schneider, 24, played 60 games for the AHL's Manitoba Moose last season, collecting a career-high 35 wins, along with a .919 save percentage and four shutouts.

Canucks' fans may remember Schneider played two NHL games for the Canucks, including a marvelous performance against the Dallas Stars.  He was credited with a loss, but stood on his head in making 45 saves in a 2-1 loss.  At one point in that game that Canucks were outshot 40-16, while only trailing 1-0.