Mar 112010
 

Edler’s had an off year. There’s no hiding it, in the words of one Todd Bertuzzi – “It is what it is”. For the number of people that have thrown him under the bus, I don’t think a lot of people realize just why he’s having the slump this year. Edler can thank all that he was last year, and all that he’s going to be in the future to one player, Mattias Ohlund.

Ohlund’s departure from the team left a huge hole on the blue line that was bigger than just one player as his influence on Edler is clear this season. Edler’s had to make his way through this season on his own. It’s been an adventure for him, and as a fan you can see him go through the ups and downs as he’s developing as a blue liner. Edler went from having someone to look up to, to being thrust into number three defenseman spot where all of a sudden he’s been expected to use what he learned last year and become the Mattias Ohlund to another “Edler” on the team. You still with me?

Edler’s growing pains won’t be here next season. Once he makes it through this year he’s going to be much better off for it, and one thing that’s certainly helped is the injury situation on the blue line (see there is a silver lining to everything!). The fact that Edler hasn’t been benched (a la Bieksa, after poor play) but in fact seen increased minutes (because of the injuries to Bieksa and Mitchell) has forced him to work through the current situation.

Edler misses Ohlund. It’s plain and simple. What Ohlund did for him is what Tampa Bay hopes Ohlund will do for Victor Hedman. There’s a reason we locked up Edler long term. He’s having a down year, but when Bieksa returns the reduction in playing time and return of a top four blue liner is going to take the pressure of him. That extra insurance of defensive experience on the blue line (did I really just refer to Bieksa as having defensive experience?!) should allow him to settle in and play his game. The stretch drive is his tune up, the playoffs his stomping ground.

Jun 302009
 

The Canucks’ Blue Line has in recent years been patrolled by one of the leagues’ best defenses which boasted grit, size, hard hitting, solid two way defensive play, offense, and which for 10 seasons was the stomping ground for Pitea native Mattias Ohlund.

As July 1st approaches, Ohlund finds himself in a position he hasn’t faced since becoming a Canuck and his future as a Canuck looks grim. Mike Gillis’ tactics are past the game of hardball and since mid season when there was rumour of contract negotiation talks took place it’s been blatantly obvious Mattias Ohlund isn’t a part of the future Mike Gillis sees for this club. In all likelihood there’s a good chance that Ohlund will be reunited with Burke in Toronto and don the white and blue of a different Canadian team.

So this begs the question who should replace him? The loss of Bourdon hurts even more at this stage because as Edler moves up to lead the top four defenseman with his nice shiny new contract, Bourdon could have filled the void that Ohlund is now going to leave. The top four has three solid corner stones that provide the perfect balance in Bieksa who provides an offensive spark, Edler who is the puck-mover, and Salo who’s calm stay at home mentality breaks out of it’s shell from time to time just long enough to blast a shot from the point.

When you look at the free agent market the Canucks have been in the hunt for Jay Bouwmeester for months however at the moment he’s property of the Flames and if they ink a deal tonight it’ll stay that way through tomorrow for at least the next season. If Gillis doesn’t land J-Bo as planned, there’s a handful of players out there that could satisfy as Ohlund’s replacement: Francois Beauchemin, Michael Komisarek, Christian Backman, Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Bergeron, Beauchemin and Komisarek all come with a bit more offense and the Canucks could use Beauchemin’s shot from the point to complement Salo. Bergeron and Komisarek can skate well which would help towards Gillis’ goal for a faster, more offensive team.

The aforementioned come with a price tag that’s reasonable and also come with a little more offensive attitude than Ohlund which is something the Canucks can always use more of. If the Canucks want a familiar face they could always sign Marek Malik who’s hitting the free agent market this year at a cool 34 years of age and if they’re looking to pinch pennies I hear Chris Chelios will play for free, or near free so long as he doesn’t get shafted to 7th D man they way he did this year in Detroit. Oh yeah, and he’s 47.

Ohlund who’s been a Canuck from the day he was drafted for 770 games in a Canucks uniform, faces a tough task of uprooting his family and two kids because he doesn’t fit into the game plan of Gillis. It was clear that the issue was on his mind all season as his numbers were par at best, and for the 4th year in a row his scoring production went down. There’s no doubt Ohlund will play in the NHL next year, it’s a matter of where – and Gillis has made it clear so far that it’s not in Vancouver.

May 152009
 

- Cody Hodgson made his Moose debut tonight and scored his first pro point as the Moose took game one against the Aeros 2-1. That’s so exciting! If Canucks fans get what they’re hoping for, Cody won’t spend much time at all with the Moose, but it’s nice to see he’s fitting in so well. It sounds like Cory Scheider was great as well because the baby Canucks were outshot 32-18. It’s going to be good news for Gillis if guys like Cody, Cory, and Michael Grabner can step in for the big team next season. Game summary here

- The Canucks website is putting out specials about the mum’s trip and the players that brought their mummies and they are absolutely charming. So far we’ve learned that Willie Mitchell was in the shower when the Devils drafted him and asked his Grandma to take a message, Ryan Kesler was the only 8 year old that knew what backchecking was, Alex Burrows’ mummy asked him to speak to her class of students, and Mason Raymond knows how ride a horse and played hockey with his dog.

- Darcy Hordichuk wrote his last blog of the season and it is pretty delightful. It’s been fun learning a bit more about him behind the scenes and he really seemed to love playing in Vancouver this past year.

- Richard and J.J are doing a great job of covering the Canucks UFAs and the whole discussion over keeping Lui or not, so I figured I would do a little research about some of the baby draft picks the Canucks could possibly pick in June. I went to the draft last year and it was a total blast. These little babies in suits make me cooo. You just want them to do well. We’ve got to pass this off season somehow, so look for that in the next few days.

- My most favourite Swede and hockey boyfriend Matty Ohlund is really sounding like he’s leaving Vancouver. It makes me a sad panda but I guess all good things have to come to end eventually. He’s a classy gent and he understands and I’m sure he’ll be fab wherever he goes. But anyways, darlings, this means I’m going to be out a favourite player next season. Any thoughts on what Canuck I should line up for next season? I might do a series of posts on that later in the off season. It’s going to be jumping around here don’t you worry!

May 142009
 

If there’s one thing as uncertain as the future of Mats Sundin, it’s the future of Mattias Ohlund.If we know anything about Mike Gillis and the way he manages his team, his lack of negotiation with is a good sign that Ohlund isn’t coming back.

Gillis has made a case for himself and making it very clear that he is not a wishy washy deal maker. He plays his cards straight. He made it clear from the day he was signed exactly what he wanted on his team. He made it clear in the offseason, and throughout the season until he finally made good, that he wanted Mats Sundin on his team. Gillis knows what he wants, and he gets what he wants.

Ohlund in a contract year was subpar at best, offensively. As a defensive defenseman he did what he’s done best on this team for 11 season. He played defensively solid hockey with few mistakes. Statisticly he had one of his better defensive seasons (he was +14 vs -1,-3,-6 in the last three seasons respectively), but in only his second career complete 82 game season, he managed to score the same number of points that he had last season, which he did in 30 less games.

I think the lack of early on contract talks seemed to have some effect on Ohlund’s play during the regular season. In the post season he had 3 points in 10 games, and in what looked like his last hurrah in a Canucks uniform he to me looked unenthused at best. I know Ohlund’s last option was to test free agency, but Gillis obviously has other cards in play. Edler who has often been referred to as “Ohlund Junior” seems to have proven this season that he’s capable of playing at an NHL calibre, and when Edler is in the ranks, and Ohlund has a subpar contract year, Ohlund’s older, the odds of him returning are on the downside.

Ohlund has indicated that he’s going to test the free agency waters, and no doubt he will be signed by someone, his career isn’t over, it just might be over as a Vancouver Canuck. Gillis made clear at the deadline that he wanted Bouwmeester. My money is that he’s going to make a serious play to bring in a more offensive defenseman and Bouwmeester is his man. The word offense isn’t something to be taken lightly on this team and you can be sure Gillis is going to make the necessary changes to make sure we have a larger arsenal next season.

The Canucks need to go younger. They need to go faster. Bouwmeester could be a good start.

May 142009
 
May 122009
 
Apr 092009
 
Mar 182009
 
Mar 162009
 
Mar 132009
 

My mother-in-law is coming in from Abbotsford and my sister-in-law is coming in from Vernon today to watch the Canucks game with me and Tracy. Both are big Canucks fans, but for whatever reason, Tracy and I have never seen a live Canucks game with either one of them. Needless to say, we’re very much looking forward to tonight.

*****

The Kings are as streaky a team as you’d find these days. They’ve won 3 in a row at home after losing 4 in a row on the road; but just before that, they lost 4 straight home games and won 5 of 6 road games.

Amazingly, the Kings, currently in 13th place in the West, are still in the thick of the playoff race. They’re only 5 points back of 7th place Edmonton and 8th place Dallas, and they have games in hand against every team in 7th to 12th place.

The Canucks are best not to take the Kings lightly. They did on Monday night and it cost them 2 points. I hope they don’t make the same mistake tonight.

*****

Mattias Ohlund’s next point makes him the highest-scoring defenseman in Canucks history. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was kinda hoping he would go point-less in the 2-game CA trip so that he could break the record at home. Tonight’s a good night, don’t you think?

*****

I don’t need to remind anyone that the Canucks’ PK sucks as much as Paris Hilton’s movie career. But after allowing 2 PPGA against the Kings on Monday, they killed all 6 Anaheim powerplay opportunities on Wednesday.

Against the Ducks, Mason Raymond took Taylor Pyatt’s place next to Ryan Johnson on the PK. Was Vigneault trying to send a message after Pretty Eyes was on the ice for both of the Kings’ powerplay goals (because publicly calling him out – and Johnson – wasn’t enough)? I don’t know.

What I do know is that those 2 PPGA were the first 2 that Pyatt was on the ice for since March 31st against the Minnesota Wild. That’s a stretch of 16 games where he logged 24:53 minutes of PK ice-time. Considering the team allowed 14 total PPGA during the same stretch, his numbers are actually quite impressive.

(And no, Tracy did not make me write this.)

*****

Back to the Kings for a second.

Tony Gallagher (Vancouver Province) has a good piece on Kings defenseman Drew Dougthy this morning.

The great players in the NHL are not easily impressed when they see a good young player entering the league, usually preferring to wait and see how they do before getting overly excited.

They say all the right things on the record of course, so you read that crap all the time. But what they really think is always kept quiet. But when Rob Blake saw Drew Doughty skating with Kings players in L.A. before heading up to San Jose late last summer, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He went out of his way to bring him up in a quiet conversation earlier this season, saying “This guy is gonna be really good.”

Now that we see him ourselves, we know what he was talking about. Not scheduled to make the Kings for sure this season after being taken No. 2 overall last summer, he’s averaging close to 24 minutes a game and he’ll likely reach many of the bonuses that could see him make upwards of $3.5 million.

Doughty, Jack Johnson, Kyle Quincey and Matt Greene is a pretty damn good – and young – defensive core. That’s on top of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Oscar Moller and the rest of a pretty damn good – and young – forward group.

This is a going to be a good Kings team in the next year or two.

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