- Finally the offence really shined. Hank and Danny got on the score sheet again but so did almost everyone else! Bellini looked confident playing with the Sedins and scored a goal. Manny Malhotra scored 2 goals and had an assist (bad ass). Jannik Hansen had 2 assists and was noticeable every time he was on the ice. The 2nd line finally gelled and had a goal and an assist. Even Andrew Alberts and Cory Schneider had a point!
- Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff were very solid. Ehrhoff was a +5! And he didn’t have one point! He’s not called the Hoff for nothing. The Bieksa and Parent pairing only had me wincing a couple of times. Alberts is a completely different defenceman this year. I guess that’s what happens when you get comfortable with a new team and city.
- Raffi Torres scored his 100th point and I got to sing Baby Beluga
- Cory Schneider was very solid again. I really enjoy watching him in net. He’s so damn mellow and I don’t freak out when he goes to play the puck. His stats are quite sparkling. There are going to be whispers of ‘Goalie Controversy’ on the wind which is silly. I’m not totally sold on Luongo but he’s the Canucks stallion for better or worse. TWELVE YEARS is a marriage. Schneider is the scrappy young colt that you trade at auction for several other young colts. Sorry, I got a little too caught up in my horse analogy there.
- The Wild have a player named Stoner. And he was born in BC. Was there ever a more perfect player for Vancouver? Trade ya, Minnesota!
[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]
You won’t receive a lot of argument here if you say that this preseason was relatively boring. With a stacked roster, the Canucks had few openings. And of the players fighting for those jobs, no one stood out more than the others.
Still, some players managed to move themselves up or down the Canucks’ depth chart. Alex Bolduc and Guillaume Desbiens look like they’re going to make the team’s opening night roster, while Shane O’Brien and Darcy Hordichuk played their way down to Manitoba.
In an otherwise uneventful preseason, who did we think made the biggest impression?
J.J.: IMHO, the Sweatt brothers improved their stock considerably this preseason. What Lee lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, smarts and the ability to make the right play and move the puck quickly out of the zone. He’s smaller than the prototypical NHL defenseman, but he showed that he’s not scared to mix it up with the big boys in the corners. Billy obviously has big-league skill and big-league wheels. What he lacks is big-league finish. Much like Mason Raymond did a couple of years ago, hopefully Billy can work on this in Manitoba. I think he’s played himself into consideration to be one of this year’s first call-ups.
Richard: The Canucks have so much depth they don’t need to look at prospects to fill holes this year. That said, Victor Oreskovich’s play in the preseason and the way he’s used his size is something that’s definitely moved him up. The Canucks have lacked bottom-six size for years and Oreskovich, when he eventually makes the team, will be a welcome fit.
Chris: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Andrew Alberts of all people has helped himself find his way into the 6th or 7th defensive spot. He’s shown that if given the appropriate number of minutes (say five or six.. okay.. maybe a few more), he’s a relatively decent addition to the blueline. If he were ever able to figure out what the word discipline means, and maybe understand how to better use his size in a manner that doesn’t draw the attention of the zebras, he’d be a beast of a player to see in front of you.
Sean from Nucks Misconduct: Alexandre Bolduc and Tanner Glass were terrific. They have earned roster spots. I liked Peter Schaefer more and more as preseason went along, but we shall see what Gillis and company have planned for him soon enough. Brendan Morrison played so well and it’s unfortunate he didn’t make the squad. But, management knows best. I still like the team moving forward.
With just one preseason game left tonight against the Anaheim Ducks, the Vancouver Canucks still have several personnel decisions to make about their opening night lineup.
From Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):
The preseason means nothing. But it’s a lot easier to take when it’s about something.
If not winning games, then winning jobs. If not answering questions, then narrowing them. At the least, you hope for unexpected moments or look for unheralded players. You want to see them force difficult decisions. But not because there’s an abundance of safe, mundane, low-rish play. You want gusto and accomplishment. Reach for the brass ring, and who knows, maybe you’ll grab a second-line winger’s spot. Goodness knows, no one else has.
And when the Canucks finally do make their decisions after tonight, expect the salary cap to have played a major role.
And where do the Canucks stack against the salary cap?
First, a primer:
- The salary cap for the 2010/2011 season is $59.4 million.
- A team’s salary cap hit is calculated on a daily basis. This season, there are 186 days in the regular season.
- That means that each team has a daily cap allowance of $319,354.84 (or $59.4 million divided by 186).
- Placing a player on LTIR does not give teams more cap space. The LTIR player’s cap hit still counts against the team’s cap; however, teams are given some relief (i.e. exemption) and are allowed to go over the cap by a similar amount when replacing him on the roster.
- The LTIR exemption cannot be banked – the amount not used on any given day doesn’t carry over for use the next day.
Here are the Canucks’ current cap numbers, including the players who I think, for all intents and purposes, are guaranteed to make the team.
|Player||Annual Average Salary||Daily Cap Hit|
As you can see, the Canucks already have $61,148,333.00 ($328,754.48 per day) committed to 10 forwards (including Burrows), 9 defensemen (including Salo) and the goaltenders. Assuming that they want to start the season carrying 13 forwards, 8 defensemen, and Alex Burrows and Sami Salo on LTIR, that means they still have to add 4 forwards.
Here are the players fighting for those 4 forward spots.
|Player||Annual Average Salary||Daily Cap Hit|
The Canucks will get some (temporary) cap relief by placing Burrows and Salo on LTIR. By doing so, they can exceed their daily cap amount by $29,569.89 (Burrows’ $10,752.69 + Salo’s $18,817.20) each day both are on LTIR. This means that, at least to start the season, the Canucks can spend $348,924.73 per day in player salaries.
The good news is, any combination of 4 bubble players won’t push the Canucks past their daily cap allowance. Even assuming Brendan Morrison and/or Peter Schaeffer are willing to sign for close to what Eric Belanger signed for in Phoenix ($750,000) – if either or both make the team – the Canucks can keep everyone on the roster and won’t spend more than $348,924.73 in daily salaries.
What does complicate things, however, is that, unless there are further changes to the roster (i.e. trades), the Canucks will most certainly exceed the daily cap allowance of $319,354.84 before the LTIR exemptions. This is important because if the Canucks want flexibility during the season – whether it’s to replace injured players or adding players at the trade deadline – they need to be under this amount and “save” cap space. The cumulative amount they save every day – i.e. the total amounts under $319,354.84 that they don’t use on any given day – is the amount in cap savings they can spend later in the season.
As an example, if the Canucks want to acquire a $2 million player at the trade deadline, they need to either get rid of a player making a similar amount from their roster, or have accumulated roughly $500,000 in cap savings. The latter requires them to have saved approximately $3,700 per day – i.e. they need to have only spent an average of $315,600 of their daily cap allowance – from the start of the regular season to the trade deadline. If you do the math, the Canucks need to shave about $28,000 in daily salaries from their current roster to get there. And if you look at the numbers, Kevin Bieksa’s and Shane O’Brien’s salaries add up pretty darn close to this amount.
Two points on this:
1) This is exactly why Salo’s injury sucks. While his LTIR status helps the Canucks get temporary cap relief, his salary still counts against the cap. If Salo was healthy, the Canucks could’ve iced a bottom-pairing with one of Salo or Keith Ballard on one side and one of Andrew Alberts or Aaron Rome on the other. What is more likely now – or certainly what may make more sense given their cap situation – is that the bottom pair will have one of O’Brien or Alberts on one side and Rome on the other.
2) Given point no. 1, the bigger decision for the Canucks will be on defense. There may be more roster spots up for grabs up front, but regardless of which forwards end up filling those spots, their cumulative impact on the salary cap is minimal. (In fact, I don’t see any salary cap impediment to signing Morrison to a contract.) If the Canucks want some cap flexibility during the season, the bigger moves to be made are on the back end where the big salaries are.
To put these points into context, it’s worth noting that the Canucks entered the last postseason with O’Brien, Alberts and Rome as their no. 5 to 7 defensemen; with Salo injured to start the season and Bieksa and O’Brien possibly on the trading block, the Canucks could enter this season with Alberts, Rome and Lee Sweatt in those depth positions. (Which then begs the question as to whether or not the Canucks actually have a deeper defense this year.)
Now, it’s possible that Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman feel comfortable operating over the salary cap and the Canucks don’t end up making any moves before the start of the season other than to send the bubble players to Winnipeg. Certainly, they can keep the depth they have now, though in the process they’ll have to sacrifice some flexibility during the season.
In this week’s edition of “Ask Katie About the Canucks”, Katie talks about expectations, Lou’s hair, Kes for Captain, Burrows’ replacement, Todd Bertuzzi and puck bunnies.
Trent (an Oilers fan) asks: With all this talk about the Canucks being the team to beat in the west this year, do you think this will hamper or help them in the season and playoffs? Also, what if anything is missing from their line-up to put them over the top?
Katie: Last year a lot of people predicted the Canucks to win the Cup early on, and I don’t think they (the team) ever really paid attention to it, so no, I don’t think the pressure will affect them this year either. I think their worst enemy is themselves. They have to get past the second round this season. Personally I think what we’re missing is a big power forward who stands in front of the other team’s goalie, like Holmstrom, although Malhotra might fill that a bit. It’s a gap we’ve had since Bertuzzi left that’s never really been filled. Also, Luongo’s going to have to be back in top form this season now that we have a stacked blue line. We need him to shut the door and play like his old self.
JC (@hirearc) asks: What do you think Roberto Luongo uses in his hair to keep it all shiny and Sicilian looking? And can you confirm you’re dating Andrew Alberts?
Katie: I think Dippity-Do or possibly Crisco. And no, I can’t confirm that – LOL. I haven’t even met the dude. Can we cyber date?
Katie: I think what these (delusional) fans are trying to get at is what Kesler said during the Olympics to rile people up, which was along the lines of “I hate Canada” when he actually meant TEAM Canada, not the country. He cleared that up right away, and Burrows backed him. I was mad as hell at Kesler during the Olympics for his mouth, but am clearly over it now that I want him for captain. Kes was just out to stir the pot and distract Team Canada, and it worked. We love it when he does this for the Canucks; fans should realize that it’s just a tactic of his, and it’s a useful tactic (see Burrows, Avery, Ruutu, etc.). Fans saying that Kesler hates Canada need to do some research about exactly what went down and get over what happened at the Olympics. Canada won the gold and Kesler is back in a Canucks jersey. Isn’t that good enough?
@Canucks_BlueJay asks: Who do you think will start the season with the Sedins? I’d like to see Schroeder.
Katie: I like Samuelsson or Burrows with the Sedins, personally. I’m not sure if Schroeder will jump to the first line if he makes the team– I highly doubt it. More like third line. I think that while Burrows is recovering, Samuelsson will be on the top line.
Steph asks: What would you do if you met a Bertuzzi puck bunny and she tried to get all up in your grill?
Katie: I would ask WWBD (What Would Bertuzzi Do?) and go from there. She’d have to step off before I jersey her and show her how real Bertuzzi fans throw ‘em down!
Photo credit: canucks.com
Not much was expected from Andrew Alberts when the Canucks gave up a 2010 3rd round pick to acquire him from the Carolina Hurricanes at last season’s trade deadline. With Willie Mitchell still suffering from post-concussion symptoms at the time, Alberts’ mandate was simple: provide a physical presence by using his 6’5″ frame, and as a bottom-pairing defenseman, play his limited minutes solidly – uneventfully – and not become a defensive liability. As we all know, he failed to meet even these low expectations and performed miserably enough that Canucks fans started dubbing him “AHL-berts”.
But if he missed the memo last spring, it sure as hell looks like he’s got it now.
In back-to-back preseason games against Calgary and Edmonton – and yes I’m aware it’s only the preseason – Alberts was noticeably better. And by noticeably better, I mean, unlike at the end of last season, it was noticeable that you didn’t notice him on the ice. He played close to 19 minutes of ice-time in each game. He skated well, covered well and led the team in hits in both games. For the most part, he’s been mistake-free, though he does sport a minus-3 rating. At least in these early stages of the preseason, he’s playing like we all hoped he would when the Canucks first traded for him.
Does Alberts look good because it’s only the preseason? Or did it just take a while for him to finally understand the Canucks system? Or is he finally adjusting to playing in front of a pressure-packed, media-crazy environment in Vancouver? Whatever the reason is, he’s doing a good job of erasing (or at least starting to erase) the bad memories from last year. Most fans had him slated to start the season in Winnipeg, an expendable, salary cap casualty, but if he continues to play like he has so far, maybe there’s a spot for him on this Canucks roster after all.
The CHB crew are up here in Penticton for Canucks training camp. The 58-man camp kicked off today and here are some things I noticed from day 1:
- Eddie Lack looked good. The 6’5″ goaltender is the tallest of those checking into camp and covered a lot of space in net. Given Cory Schneider is likely going to be Luongo’s back up, Lack looks poised to take that starter’s position with the Moose.
- Billy Sweatt (Canucks fans’ newest favourite Twitterer – follow him at @billysweatt) looked very good out there. He’s got great speed and seemed to always have the puck stick to his stick. He reminds me a lot of Mason Raymond from a few years ago. He doesn’t have any finish but if he can work on that aspect of his game. The kid could have a big year on the farm.
- The Canucks bottom-six looks like it’s going to get bigger this year. Malhotra, Torres and Oreskovich are all upgrades on some of the players that filled bottom-six roles last year. The Canucks needed to get bigger and Gillis has done a god job of bringing in players that meet that requirement with sacrificing skill and speed. Torres looks mean, Malhotra looked good in some face-off drills, and Oreskovich was skating very well for a guy of his size. He also managed to plaster Billy Sweatt along the boards. The guy is going to bruise and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he made the Canucks fourth line.
- Brendan Morrison was getting feisty when he had to. It was clear he’s here to take his PTO to the next level and the general buzz in the locker room is that he’s going to make this team. He brings a lot of leadership to the table and I’d go as far as say that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given an ‘A’ if he makes the team.
- Peter Schaefer, the other interesting invite to camp, didn’t look out of place. After training with Peter Twist for the last year, he seems as quick as ever.
- On defense, Lee Sweatt and Dan Hamhuis looked particularly good. At one point, Sweatt, who loses four inches to Hamhuis, laid him out, picked up the puck and fired a laser under Louie’s glove. I know it’s just training camp, but it still looked good.
- Hodgson skated with the Canucks C group that took no contact. This group included Alex Burrows Prab Rai, Steven Anthony and Shawn Weller amongst others. Jordan Schroeder, the other prospect everyone has their eyes on was almost invisible. He skated with the Canucks A group in the morning and was barely noticeable.
- Sergei Shirokov continues to fly under the radar. He was out and skating, but without the hype surrounding him last year he just quietly did his thing without standing out.
- After watching Andrew Alberts skate today I’ve come to the following conclusion: For a big guy he can skate really well. He’s a perfect number six or seven defenseman, however the Canucks moved him up to the fourth and fifth spot last year which placed him out of his comfort zone and amplified his flaws. His size would be a huge attribute to the blue line if we weren’t so stacked but he really didn’t look as bad as on the ice as he did last year.
(Editor’s note: Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Ask Katie About The Canucks”. Every week, Katie Maximick – some of you know her as @canucksgirl44 on Twitter or as the Cantankerous Canuck on her personal website – will take questions from you and answer them in this space. We hope you enjoy her sass as much as we do. – J.J.)
First question from @BobSongs: “Who will wear the mantle of goat this season? Sundin, Welly and Alberts… who’s next?”
Katie: Honestly, Bob, this year’s scapegoat may be Andrew Alberts again. Last season he was everyone’s favourite person to yell at near the end of the year, replacing Shane O’Brien who, surprisingly, ended his season with a +15 and 8 points. If Bieksa plays similarly to his 2009/2010 season, he may also become the new person to hate or blame for horrendous giveaways that lead to goals. Bieksa not surprisingly ended his season with a -5 rating. I can also see Raffi Torres becoming targeted. The announcement of Torres as an addition wasn’t received very well, and he’s known to be quite injury prone, so if he doesn’t contribute and gets hurt soon after, he’ll probably become the Goat pretty quick. Torres will have to work extra hard extra early to avoid this.
Photo credit: Vancouver Sun
@NatashaCarpio asks: “What would you say to Darcy Hordichuk before training camp?”
Katie: I’d probably tell him not to HulkSmash any of the rookies at training camp. I would also thank him for routinely fighting Flames players last season, which made me happy, even if he got owned by McGrattan (who’s like a foot taller than Hordi). He also took on George “the Stache” Parros a few times and really held his own against the Anaheim Titan, who I’ve met and is also four inches taller than Hordichuk. I’d like to see Darcy keep this up this season. To me fighting is a strategic part of the game that Darcy and Rypien have mastered. They stir it up, entertain the fans and hold their own, despite their lack of size. Sure, they don’t score a million goals (Hordi only had 2 points last season) but they contribute in other ways that, to me, are pretty important to the game. I would also ask him if he did any more MMA training in the off season, a question not many other Canucks would be asked before training camp.
Jandee asks: “Do you think the Canucks like the Sedins and Raymond, etc., will have career years again? Out of the new Canucks, who do you expect the most from and why?”
Katie: I would like to hope that the majority of the Canucks’ roster would continue to improve year-by-year, but it’s never really that easy nor is it predictable. Raymond, for example, just signed that 2 year $5.1 million deal, much higher than the Canucks wanted to pay for him, and so as Canucks fans, we would hope that Raymond would play up to his pay, right? But it’s not that simple (look at Luongo’s last season). Burrows and Kesler both had an amazing record season as well, Burr with 67 points and Kesler with 75, and for those two, I can only see room for improvement out there on the ice. They get better every year. The Sedins, on the other hand, are eventually going to plateau, so it’s hard to say if Henrik will have another award-winning season as amazing as 2009/2010, considering a lot of his success in the points race was caused by his brother’s injury. If they happen to surpass last year’s success, consider my mind blown.
For the second part of your question, a lot of people are expecting the most from either Hodgson (if he even plays) or our new blueline additions, like Hamhuis and Ballard. Personally I would like to see Manny Malhotra strengthen Vancouver’s offense, seeing as he’s a good-sized centreman with an average of 34 pts in the last two seasons. I’m also excited to see what youngster Jordan Schroeder can do. We have a stacked blueline, even with the loss of Mitchell and Salo (the former to LA and the latter to off-season injury), so it’s important to keep our offensive punch in tact and have more than two scoring lines. If we’re looking for depth, I think our blueline is covered, whereas we can never have enough scoring.
Alain (no, not Vigneault) asks: “Who’s the better video gamer between cover athletes Hank and Dank (EAS Swedish Covers) and Kesler (2KSports)?”
Katie: Well I’m not exactly a gamer myself, so I have no idea who would outplay the other in front of a TV with game controllers in their hands. From what I’ve seen in the media, Ryan Kesler is a lot more involved with the promotion of NHL2K11 than the Sedins were with the EA Sports Swedish edition, which means Kesler is getting in a lot more practice. It also seems like he loves playing video games at home, whereas the Sedins probably spend their time in saunas eating knäckebröd. Personally I’d say Linden would whoop them all, since I saw his multi-tasking abilities shine in an interview with Global BC’s Squire Barnes. Trevor not only answered Squire’s questions, but did this while playing NHL10 at FutureShop. Then again, it’s Trevor Freaking Linden. He’s the best at everything. So my answer is Trevor Linden.
- Looking for a place to party pregame? [Canucks Party on the Plaza; CBC Hockey Night on Hamilton Street]
- Canucks, Kings fight for edge. [TSN; Jeff Patterson, Georgia Straight; J.P. Hoornstra, San Gabriel Valley Tribune]
- Another defenseman bites the dust. Rome, Baumgarter out; Alberts or Nycholat in. [Jim Jamieson, Vancouver Province; Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun; Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press; Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province]
- Samuelsson and Sedins step it up big time. [Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province; Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun; Matthew Sekeres, Globe and Mail; Helene Elliott, LA Times]
- Meanwhile, Burrows is still stuck in neutral. [Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province; Monte Stewart, NHL Fanhouse]
- Forget exciting hockey; just win. [Ed Willes, Vancouver Province]
- At least Luongo didn’t give this guy a snow shower. [Jim Jamieson, Vancouver Province]
- SOB, Bones, and cooler heads prevailing. [Cam Cole, Vancouver Sun]
- The power of positive thinking. [Peter Osmesher, Vancouver Province; Peter Osmesher, Inspire Canucks]
- Vancouver mayor looking for help to cover Canucks policiing costs. [Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail]
- I’m surprised the Dan Cloutier McFarlane figure still goes for $15. [Erin Loxam, News 1130]
With Alberts throwing the Canucks under the bus multiple times Saturday night at GM Place in the Kings and Canucks second game of the series it’s no surprise that he’s getting benched tonight in favour of either Rome or Baumgartner (Baumer if Rome isn’t ready to play). Now there’s no excuse for his penalties, they’ve been stupid, undisciplined, and untimely. They’ve been a result of laziness and hopefully the benching gives him the reality check that he needs to fix things should he see ice time again in this series, let alone the playoff run. Alberts is a big guy and he can be a monster physically, unfortunately his lack of discipline hurts the team much more than anything else.
Now I’m not condoning Alberts’ play, but one thing concerned me just as much as his penalty taking on Saturday. While the Canucks have dominated the play through games one and two, they’ve run into Jonathan Quick who’s surprising everyone. The Canucks quality of chances has been high, but Quick has stood on his head to keep the Kings in this series when they should have been blown out in game one and heading back to LA down 2-0 in the series. What’s worrying is that in game two the Canucks had four shots in the first period and five shots in the third period of the Western Conference Quarterfinal game. The Canucks were lucky to come out of the first with a two goal lead on only four shots, but in a first period where you need to set the tone, and in a third period where you’re gunning to break a tie game, you’re not doing yourself any favours by missing shots and coming away with shot totals you can count on the fingers of one hand.
Quick’s proven that he’s brought his A-game to the series and it’s in cases like this that you’re going to have to go with quantity over quality. Cliche’s are around for a reason and when they say “throw things on net, good things happen” it’s because it’s worked. Now the Canucks have had some outstanding chances, they should have walked away with a game one victory, but instead they won a close affair in OT. They key to tonight’s game is going to be more than Alberts being benched and staying out of the penalty box. The Canucks need to get more pucks on net. They have an explosive offense that seems to be in the right place at the right time most of the night, it’s just a matter of tiring Quick out and trying to force a large rebound to capitalize upon.
The Canucks and Kings meet for Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal Series tonight at 7:00 PM. Does Drew Doughty dare go in Alex Edler’s space again? Will Pavol Demitra show up? Can Andrew Alberts cut back on the dumb penalties?
All this and more in today’s game day links:
- I hope Alex Edler eats his Wheaties for breakfast again. [Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun]
- Paging Pavol. [Cam Cole, Vancouver Sun, Allan Muir, Sports Illustrated]
- Rome still out. That means more of Alberts. [Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun]
- AV has Alberts’ back. [Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun]
- LA wants more scoring chances. [Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun]
- Pettinger plays in his first playoff game. [Cleve Dheensaw, Victoria Times Colony]
- Wood is good for Wellwood. [Windsor Star]
- Henrik and Daniel get glowing reviews in LA. [Helene Elliott, LA Times, Arash Markazi, ESPN]
- Dissecting Luongo, Quick. [Gary Mason, Globe and Mail]