Quick Hits: The Draft, The Wolves and Free Agency
Some quick thoughts now that the draft is done, the Moose have moved and free agency being just a few days away.
- I tried to do a write-up on each of the Canucks draft picks this weekend, but had to abandon for daddy duties. The rest of the Canucks selections were: LW Ludwig Blomstrand (4th round, 120th overall), D Frankie Corrado, (5th round, 150th overall), C Pathrik Westerholm (6th round, 180th overall) and D Henrik Tommernes (7th round, 210th overall). If Mike Gillis had one theme for the weekend, it was to add some size to the organization. All of the draft picks are over 6′ tall.
- The Canucks made it official today: their new AHL affiliate is the Chicago Wolves.
- Contrary to reports over the weekend, Kirk Muller will not coach the Wolves. He has been hired as the assistant coach for the Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate.
- Don’t be quick to predict a hostile reception for the Canucks prospects in the Windy City. For years, the Wolves have marketed themselves as an alternative to the Blackhawks. In the words of one Chicago website, the Wolves are “a family-friendly franchise that wins consistently and televises all its games.” Of course, this was before the Blackhawks won the Cup and during the time Bill Wirtz refused to show games on local TV. If anything, this exhibits the Wolves and Blackhawks are in reality more in competition against each other.
- I’ll leave the last word on this subject to Ted Gruber, a blogger for The Instigator, a Chicago Wolves blog: “If the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Wolves team up, it would be a great opportunity for all parties involved, and that includes another Calder Cup Championship run. Over the past few years the Canucks have done an incredible job of drafting and picking up prospects. I’m sure the hate for the Canucks franchise would diminish when the Wolves go for another Calder Cup and capture their 3rd Championship. With Don Levin still in charge of the team, he does what’s best for his business, and what the fans want to see and that is winning. Many have doubted the moves of upper management in the past and those moves were positives and helped the franchise grow.”
- Via Jim Jamieson, Asst. GM Lorne Henning confirmed that Jannik Hansen, Maxim Lapierre and Victor Oreskovich were all given their qualifying offers. No word on whether or not Lee Sweatt and Sergei Shirokov were qualified as well.
- For what it’s worth, I would have loved to see the Canucks land Troy Brouwer. Delta kid, tough as nails and versatile. The Capitals paid a steep price to get him; to be honest, I’m not sure the Canucks would have been willing to give up more than a second round pick to get him.
- There are a lot of rumors flying around about the status of UFAs-to-be, Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff. Unless something catastrophic happens during the negotiation process, there’s little doubt that Bieksa will get re-signed (at close to Hamhuis’ cap hit). On the other hand, Ehrhoff’s status is fuzzier; a proven offensive defenseman, he will arguably be the top defenseman in a weak free agent market and there will be teams ready to offer double the value of his expiring contract. It used to be a question of whether Ehrhoff would be willing to take a hometown discount for a chance to win with the Canucks. But with the cap being increased by an additional $3.9 million to $63.3 million, some contending teams will have cap space to offer him a contract closer to his market value than the Canucks can.
(Update: TSN’s Bob McKenzie just tweeted that Kevin Bieksa has agreed to terms on a new contract. More to come later.)