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Nov 142008

I guess it was only a matter of time until the good health of the Vancouver Canucks’ defense ended. After being hit by a shot from teammate Michel Ouellet four games ago, Kevin Bieksa is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks with a fractured left foot. Sami Salo is also day-to-day with a bruised shoulder.

After missing all but 34 games last season with a lacerated calf muscle, Bieksa initially struggled to find the form from his 2006/2007 breakout season. Through 13 games this season, he has looked good. His 11 points (3G-8A) ties him for 3rd in team scoring (just behind the Sedins) and 16th among all NHL defensemen, and his 24:38 minutes of ice-time per game is 23rd in the league.

Rob Davison, who has only appeared in 2 games this season, will likely get in the lineup. And if Salo misses any games, Lawrence Nycholat and Nolan Baumgartner are probably the next two guys on the depth chart. Nycholat is still on his conditioning stint with the Moose and has 3 assists in 3 games and a minus-2 rating. Baumgartner’s stats are better – 5 points (1G-4A) and a plus-7 rating in 10 games – but he has missed the last 3 games after being checked from behind and his return to the Moose lineup this weekend is still doubtful.

If you remember last season, the Canucks lost Bieksa and Salo in the same Nashville game in November and it started the avalanche of injuries on the back end. Let’s just hope this isn’t history repeating itself.

Oct 242008

Because I’m on the road, I missed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. I’m not complaining (it was probably a good thing). Still, here are some random thoughts on what has transpired so far this week.

On the injuries:

It took all of two weeks before Sami Salo and Pavol Demitra suffered their first injuries of the season. Like Alanah said, only Kyle Wellwood benefits from those injuries. And maybe Jason Krog (Gordon McIntyre, Vancouver Province). The scary thing is, the top part of the Canucks lineup is already becoming reminiscent of last year’s.

Darcy Hordichuk was at practice yesterday and should be ready to go tomorrow which means Mike Brown will probably return to the press box.

And speaking of Mike Brown…

Part of the reason Matt Pettinger was sent to the Manitoba Moose was because there were rumblings that a few teams were interested in Mike Brown and that Brown would be claimed if he was sent down. Brown stayed, of course, but has only appeared in 2 games with ice-times of 3:16 and 3:37 minutes. Because Tampa Bay claimed Pettinger off re-entry waivers, the Canucks are on the hook for half of Pettinger’s salary and cap hit.

There are a couple of ways to look at this.

If Pettinger had stayed, his cap hit would have been $1 million. Brown’s cap hit is $522,250, but add $500,000 the Canucks are on the hook for (half of Pettinger’s $1 million cap hit) and that 13th forward roster spot now comes at a cap cost of $1,022,250 plus losing Pettinger as an asset.

The other way to look at this is that the team actually saves money from this transaction. Combined, the team was paying $1,622,250 for one player on the Canucks roster and one player on the Moose roster. Now, they only need to pay out $1,072,250 (Brown’s $522,250 and Pettinger’s $550,000), a savings of $550,000.

However, I think the bigger issue is the asset management issue. Is Brown that much more valuable than Pettinger?

Brown’s value to the team is his energy and toughness, and besides getting into a couple of fights in the two games he’s played so far, he hasn’t provided much else. Plus, with Hordichuk and Rypien already on the team, did the Canucks need a third “enforcer” on the roster? In an ideal scenario, we should never see all three in the lineup at the same time.

At least Pettinger is capable of playing a regular shift. He’s not flashy by any means, but he can adequately play on the third or fourth line and the penalty-kill. He might not score 20 goals again, but I would dare say that he has better hands than Mike Brown.

After the Canucks lost Nathan Maciver to waivers, Mike Gillis said he didn’t want to lose another player to nothing. Well, oops. I suppose either Brown or Pettinger would have been claimed. The question is, did the Canucks try to keep the right one?

Oct 202008
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