Oct 042010

[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.]

Bill Sweatt, Vancouver Canucks

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.

Sep 202010

In this week’s edition of “Ask Katie About The Canucks”, Katie tackles questions on ex-Canucks, ex-NHL teams, boy bands, Bieksa and the “C”.

Stephanie (@axeguitar) asks: Who do you think the other three Ring of Honour nights will feature?

Katie: I would like to say Todd Bertuzzi, Mark Donnelly and the Green Men but I’m probably going to be wrong… Maybe Pavel Bure since they’re not retiring his jersey (what a lot of controversy THAT caused). I would also assume Kirk McLean will be honoured by the Canucks at some point.

Fiann asks: How will Morrison and Schaefer fit into the Canucks?

Katie: This is a conversation most Canucks fans and the media are having right now. Personally I think Schaefer is too small (he’s 5’11” 190lbs) and hasn’t played in the NHL for a couple of seasons so his career seems to be over, whereas BMo is fit, had 42 pts last season for the Capitals and will be much needed on the ice in terms of his discipline and leadership skills. I don’t really think Schaefer has a shot, but it was nice of Gillis to invite him to training camp. Brendan is another story: from how things are looking, the entire team and management seem to be excited about putting Morrison back in his old Canucks jersey. Mind you, Morrison would have to take a significant decrease in pay and ice time, but at 35, it seems he doesn’t mind, so long as he gets to play for his hometown team again at the end of his career. Brendan would mostly likely start on the fourth line as a centreman, and possibly move up to the third if he earns a spot. The fourth line can really use his level-headed decisions and leadership since that line was a complete undisciplined disaster last season. If there was a bad line change and the fourth was up against, say, the first line on the Penguins, we wouldn’t all have to scream at the TV and think “it’s all over” because BMo will be out there, ensuring rational decisions were made by his linemates. That’s where he’s valuable.


Josh asks: Will the band Hanson sing the national anthem on opening night?

Katie: That would pretty much make my life, but since they’re American, I don’t think so.

John asks:  Were Winnipeg to achieve their dream and find themselves back in the NHL, what chance do you see for the Victoria Salmon Kings to move up to be the AHL affiliate of the Canucks?

Katie:  Understanding the relationships between the ECHL, AHL and NHL isn’t my strong point. From what I do know, successful players on the Salmon Kings have the possibility to move up to the Manitoba Moose and then onto the Canucks.  If the Jets return to Winnipeg, that doesn’t mean their NHL team will automatically take over the Moose, and I don’t think the ECHL can easily move to the ranks of an AHL team. They’re different leagues all together. I think it’s more complicated than that. I don’t know. I think I’ve gone cross eyed.

(Editor’s note: Players can be called up to the Canucks as long as they are signed to an NHL contract. – J.J.)

Jay asks: Why do they call Bieksa “Juice”? And will the captaincy removal and the new goalie coach make a big difference in Lui’s performance?

Katie: I like to think Bieksa is called Juice because he slams four litres of Hawaiian Punch before a game, but apparently it’s because his body is ridiculously ripped (not that I’d know). 

I do hope that relinquishing the C will give Luongo the peace of mind and concentration he needs to mentally prepare for games, and that this will improve his performance this year, but it’s hard to say. This is why he is going to be under even more scrutiny this year by fans, circling like vultures to see if the C situation last season was the cause of his average performance or if it was an excuse.

I don’t know much about the new goalie coach aside from the fact that Luongo’s opinion wasn’t even sought about the decision. Either way, I think all of us will be hoping that last season was just a stroke of bad luck for Luongo, and can be left behind us.

Sep 182010

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.
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