Feb 212010
 

At first I was worried that the 7 Canucks participating in the 2010 Olympics were going to come back to the regular season fatigued and unrested, but now that you look at the games and the roles each player representing their country has, it looks like the Olympics are catering to their individual needs in a funny kind of way.

Luongo

The one thing Luongo needed was rest. It’s clear at this point that Brodeur is going to take the games the rest of the way and after Luongo got his chance in front of the home town crowd and put up a shutout, riding the pine is perfect. He’s going to get the two weeks rest he needs while still getting in practices and staying game ready. That’s exactly what we need if we want him to be ready for when the break’s over. If Luongo’s ready to go it saves us having to struggle through the first few games as “he finds his game”

Henrik and Daniel

Henrik and Daniel after being hotter than hot lost their groove and fell into a rut. Now back in Vancouver representing Sweden they seem to have found their cycle game again. If they can work out their kinks in this two weeks they’re going to be in the right place game-wise when the Canucks road trip resumes.

Demitra

Demitra is getting better with each game. After slowly finding his game just before the Olympic break that unfortunate situation with his mother in law proved to be an obstacle in his return. However he’s proving now that his goal and shootout winner before the Olympics are just the start of Pavol returning healthy. He’s continued his game with an assist and a massive shootout winner to help his under dog Slovaks beat a Russian team touted to be unstoppable. This games is only helping Demitra become better for his return to the Canucks lineup post Olympics.

Ehrhoff, Salo, Kesler

Ehrhoff, Salo and Kesler have been a few of the things on the Canucks that have actually been working despite an interesting start to the NHL’s longest road trip ever. The Olympics doesnt help them get their game back, but keeps them in game shape for when they return and need to try and finish this road trip above .500 in a fight for the Northwest. Kesler’s playing for the US the same way he does for the Canucks, like a man possessed. It’s a true testament to his character and game. Ehrhoff and Salo staying in game shape is the best thing we can ask for as they’re two intricate parts of a powerplay we desperately need to kickstart on the second half of this road trip.

All in all the Olympics are turning out to be just-what-the-doctor-ordered for the Canucks versus this draining tournament that was going to affect the Canucks in the long term and result in a bunch of superstars fatiguing down the stretch when it mattered most. Funny how things work out.

Feb 082010
 

Don’t all our Olympians look ADORABLE? They have a slightly nerdy vibe going on like they have apples behind their backs for Steve Yzerman and promises to clean Brian Burke’s chalkboard after practice. They even split up the twins *Gasp*

Jan 192010
 

With Demitra factoring back into the equation it looks like as far as forwards go we’re back at square one. The same problem we were going to have to deal with in game one of the season had we not been hit with that ridiculous number of simultaneous injuries. The interesting thing is now that we’re half way through the season the players have formed this chemistry that I for one wouldn’t want to tinker with. I know Vigneault’s a smart man and I have a feeling he isn’t going to tinker with things too much either.

That means the Canucks have a 4 million dollar man and they have to find something to do with him. The only immediate thing to do is throw him on the 3rd line, like the Canucks have and when you think about this it should have some positive effects on the team as a whole. Demitra knows his place on the team. He’s a Mike Gillis player and I have no reason to believe that there’s bad blood between the two, or between Demitra and the team as there was a la Mathieu Schneider. With that said, Demitra’s going to need a few games to get his stuff together and even once he returns to game shape he doesn’t have a spot on the top line for obvious reasons, but his spot on the second line is gone at the moment just because there’s no point in tinkering with a hot and cold Samuelsson who at the moment is pretty hot.

So, you put Demitra on the third line. Let that sink in for a moment and then ponder this. You have a slumping Wellwood and a snake bitten Hansen (last game notwithstanding) and you want them both to find their scoring touch. What do you do? With Demitra skating along side Wellwood and Hansen you can’t help but think this team now has 3 lines that are dangerous. We go from being a 2 line team to a 3 line team, and the depth just keeps going. We still have Grabner and Bernier to return at some point. But back to the point at hand. Demitra, a former 60 point guy, playing alongside Wellwood could really help him re-spark his game. He’s been under the gun for his lack of production and while that third line isn’t going to get a lot of minutes, they provide another scoring threat when they’re on the ice.

Demitra can’t expect to get his second line spot back. It’s not his fault he lost it, but it’s just unrealistic at this point to place him there and deliberately tweak already excellent chemistry. If Demitra can play effectively with whoever his 3rd line line-mates are he’s going to be doing exactly what he needs to. His role is going to be the same offensive oriented one he’s always had, he’s just going to have to be more efficient at it in the fewer minutes he’ll be getting. He’ll also take the point over from Mason Raymond (bless his little heart but that point shot is just… *sigh*) and with some power play time once Pavol finds his game this Canucks offensive juggernaut is just going to keep on rolling.

I don’t think any other team can say they have a 4 million dollar top 6 forward on their 3rd line, but with the insertion of Demitra into that 3rd line winger position the Canucks now go from have a 2nd and 3rd line, to a 2a and 2b line which I don’t think anyone can complain about.

Jan 162010
 

Welcome back Demo! I was starting to think he had run off and joined the circus. He seems like he would be a fetching lion tamer. Who knew Slovakian medical specialists could be such miracle workers? Maybe Sami Salo should see this dude as well. I believe Demo will play on the third line tonight with Hansen and Welly. Hansen will have to do all the dirty work but that gives them a little extra scoring punch. Hooray!

Dec 072009
 

There are a couple of Canucks trade rumors making the rounds today. Now, before you get giddy on the possibility of these trades actually happening, please do consider the source.

The first rumor involves Pavol Demitra to the New York Rangers:

Desperate to make the playoffs, the Rangers are beating the bushes for a top-six forward.

While they’d prefer a centre, league sources told Sun Media yesterday that GM Glen Sather is so anxious for help up front, he’s looking at acquiring injured Canucks winger Pavol Demitra once he gets healthy.

Demitra has scored 301 goals over a 15-year career, but hasn’t played this season after complications from off-season shoulder surgery forced a second operation. He hopes to return after Christmas.

After an 8-3-1 start in which they scored 46 goals (3.83 goals per game), the Rangers have lost 11 of their last 17 games and have scored only 35 goals (2.06 goals per game). I don’t know if they miss Scott Gomez that much, but certainly, they lack a top-six forward and that’s perhaps where the interest in Pavol Demitra comes in.

I do doubt though that Mike Gillis has a similar interest in trading Demitra. An injured Demitra – i.e. on LTIR – helps the team with respect to managing the salary cap; a healthy Demitra pushes Jannik Hansen off the top-six (and with all due respect to the Great Dane, a healthy Michael Grabner will too). At worst, he pushes Kyle Wellwood or Steve Bernier to the 4th line.

Of course, the flip side of this is that the Canucks’ depth does give Gillis some options. Even with Demitra out, the Canucks offense is currently ranked 5th in the NHL with an average of 3.07 goals per game. So perhaps the option is to trade Demitra to upgrade the defense. That said, unless Glen Sather gets a brain cramp and includes a Michael del Zotto or Marc Staal, then the Rangers, who are currently ranked 24th in the league in goals against (3.03 goals against per game), may not be the Canucks’ best trading partner.

The second rumor involves Shane O’Brien:

The Canucks are expected to move D Shane O’Brien, whom GM Mike Gillis has been offering around the league. Nobody is sure exactly what Gillis wants in return, but knowing him, it’s probably too much. O’Brien might be able to help a team like the Sharks.

Since returning to the lineup 3 games ago, SOB has played a somewhat regular shift, was a plus-1 and didn’t take a penalty. However, his place on this team is as a no. 6 or no. 7 defenseman – a role that I’m sure O’Brien is not happy with, and also, doesn’t justify his $1.6 million salary. At one point, there was genuine hope that he would develop into tough and steady stay-at-home defenseman, kinda like Bryan Allen but more mobile and a better first pass. At 26 years old, it’s not too late for him to develop into that guy, but it’s looking more and more that it’ll have to happen with a different organization.

If the Sharks are interested, then maybe we can get Patrick White back.

Sep 092009
 

As Hosea Cheung (Sun Media) pointed out this morning, Pavol Demitra will miss the start of the regular season while he continues to rehab his injured shoulder:

Pavol Demitra will miss at least six more weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of last season.

“The shoulder is not quite strong enough yet,” Demitra said yesterday at UBC, where he skated by himself in the morning.

“I started skating the last two weeks back home in Slovakia and day by day it’s getting better.”

The 34-year-old forward, who will make $4 million this season, had to get his left shoulder fixed after tearing both his front and back rotator cuff. He added the doctors found some chips in the bone.

With the Canucks currently sitting over the salary cap, some believe the team will place him on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) and solve their salary cap problems.

Here’s Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):

Instead of sweating the loss of his point production, people started counting up the cap room the Canucks can theoretically save if Demitra is placed on the long-term injured reserve list. And it’s true, the Canucks should get some cap relief out of this and it’s something they desperately need right now.

However, the fact is that Demitra’s injury won’t give the Canucks cap relief – it’s actually the opposite. Section 50.10(d) of the CBA states that:

“In the event that a Player on a Club becomes unfit to play (i.e. is injured, ill or disabled, and unable to perform his duties as a hockey Player) such that the Club’s physician believes, in his or her opinion, that the Player, owing to an injury or an illness, will be unfit to play for at least (i) twenty-four (24) calendar days and (ii) ten (10) NHL Regular Season games, and such Club desires to replace such Player, the Club may add an additional Player or Players to its Active Roster, and the replacement Player Salary and Bonuses of such additional Player(s) may increase the Club’s Averaged Club Salary to an amount up to and exceeding the Upper Limit, solely as, and to the extent and for the duration, set forth below.”

What this means is that, not only will Demitra’s salary continue to count towards the Canucks’ salary cap, but his replacement’s salary will as well.

*****

The more I look at the current Canucks roster, the more I think it’s likely that Mike Gillis will trade one of his $3 million defensemen. As it stands, the team is about $3 million over the cap and none of the forwards other than the Sedins and Demitra will free up enough cap space in trade. On the other hand, their no. 5, 6, 7 and 8 defensemen combine to take up almost $7.9 million in cap space. It may be a nice luxury to have guys like Mathieu Schneider and Brad Lukowich as nos. 7 and 8 on the defensive depth chart, but I’m sure even Mike Gillis will agree that spending this much money on this part of the roster isn’t effective.

May 112009
 
May 052009
 
Apr 062009
 
Feb 262009
 

If the injury to Pavol Demitra’s finger is more serious, then it could force the Canucks’ hand before Wednesday’s trade deadline. Or it could create an opportunity for Michael Grabner, the team’s 1st rounder .

Is Grabner ready for prime-time?

Now in his second year with the Manitoba Moose, Grabner still suffers from bouts of inconsistency. He showed some promise while appearing in the Canucks’ preseason, but was sent to the Moose. He started their season with 10 points (7G-3A) in 19 games in October and November, then put up 18 points (12G-6A) in 20 games in December and January. The Canucks allowed him to join Team Austria for the Winter Olympics qualifier earlier this month, but since coming back, only has 5 points (2G-3A) in 8 games.

These numbers don’t exactly scream opportunity, but the Canucks don’t have a lot of options to replace offensive-minded players. Sure they could bump up a Taylor Pyatt or a Steve Bernier to the second line, but neither does it hurt to give Grabner a shot. I just hope they get the aggressive, productive Grabner, not the one that has a penchant for disappearing for stretches.

[update: 02/26/09, 6:57 AM]

Grabner has, in fact, been called up now. Good luck kid.

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