Mar 032010

The Canucks went out looking for another defenceman, especially with the uncertainty that looms around Mitchell’s return, and came back from the deadline party with Andrew Alberts now formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Take a look at the video’s below. He’ll be the first real threat of size the Canucks have had this season, and come the playoffs that’ll help when other teams try running Luongo to throw him off his game.

Albert is a big boy. He’s 6 foot 5 and around 230 lbs. He’s 4th in the league in hits, leads a horrible team in plus/minus and is one of the league’s top shot blockers. The Canucks need size, something that will really help come playoff time. The fact that he’s one of the top shot blockers also is an positive considering Ryan Johnson the Canucks shot blocking machine from last season, has looked out of sync at best this year.

The Canucks will be Albert’s 4th team after he’s spent time in Boston, Carolina and Philadelphia. This’ll be his first West Coast team and I think he’ll really get to use his size as the Western Conference is a whole other beast. When you’re playing teams like San Jose, Calgary or even Chicago you need that aspect of size and it’s clear players like Hordichuk aren’t working out. While Rypien is the best hitter and fighter pound for pound, the Canucks needed size and I think this is the first big player the Canucks have really had since Gillis came in. Alberts should fit in right at home and is a great replacement for Mitchell who’s as good as gone for the rest of the season at this point.

Mar 032010

Welcome to Canucks Hockey Blog’s chat/live blog of the 2010 NHL Trade Deadline. Today, we’re linking with Jonathan Willis from Hockey or Die. We’re also expecting some of your favorite Canucks bloggers and Twitterers to come by and share their thoughts on today’s rumors and trades. Feel free to share us yours as well.

Mar 022010

It’s not a secret that the Canucks need to make a trade or two to keep up with the joneses. With Kevin Bieksa skating but not quite ready for game action and Willie Mitchell still suffering from post-concussion symptoms, the Canucks need some defensive depth. With Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier having inconsistent seasons, they need an upgrade in their bottom-six.

Can the Canucks afford to make these moves?

There’s been a few trades already since the trade freeze was lifted on Sunday night, and so far, it seems the price to upgrade is a high draft pick and/or a decent prospect. The Nashville Predators traded a 2nd round draft pick to acquire Denis Grebeshkov. Ditto the Ottawa Senators when they traded for Andy Sutton, and the Pittsburgh Penguins when they acquired Jordan Leopold. The Penguins also sent a very good prospect in Luca Caputi to acquire top-six forward Alexei Ponikarovsky. Of course, other players can be had for less (like the Nick Boynton for futures and Brett Westgarth for futures) but I’m not sure these guys are upgrades over who the Canucks currently have on their roster.

Already, the Canucks don’t have their 2nd round draft pick in this year’s draft; Mike Gillis traded that (and last year’s 3rd round draft pick) to Buffalo for Steve Bernier. Cody Hodgson and Cory Schneider are top prospects that can potentially get good returns. To a lesser extent, perhaps so can guys like Michael Grabner and Jordan Schroeder. The issue is, as good as these guys are, I’m not sure the Canucks have enough of them in the system to be able to afford and give them up in trade.

Let me put this another way: If the Canucks trade a Cody Hodgson, a Michael Grabner or a Cory Schneider, do they have others in the system that can take their place? Do the Canucks have enough depth in their system that trading a Hodgson, a Grabner or a Schneider doesn’t hurt the team next season and past that? When Wellwood and Pavol Demitra don’t get re-signed, who then replaces them in the lineup? If either Roberto Luongo or Andrew Raycroft get hurt, who then gets called up? Certainly, the Canucks’ prospect pool is better than it’s been in years, but I’m not sure it’s deep enough that they could give up prime long-term assets for short-term upgrades.

There’s no denying that the Canucks need to upgrade in a couple of areas. The question is, how much of the future are they willing to sacrifice to do so?

Feb 192010

Sean and Clayton both mused about Ken Campbell’s piece on The Hockey News about a potential Cody Hodgson-for-Tomas Kaberle swap.

Here’s Sean’s take:

My answer is no. Kaberle is up for a hefty raise this summer and we need those dollars for Kesler and Raymond. Plus I want to see Hodgson get his chance here.

And Clayton’s:

As for the Canucks, they have pieces in their franchise that they can move in order to win now. The Canucks are arguably a top-two defenseman away from being a real contender down the stretch and if it costs them a big piece to do it, it has to be tempting for them.

I agree with Clayton that Kaberle is a tempting piece to acquire, though I wonder about the added value in actually acquiring him. While Kaberle is a legitimate top-pairing defenseman and a player who could play point on the powerplay, remember that the Canucks currently have the 8th best goals against per game and the 5th best powerplay in the league. (They’re also 2nd in number of powerplay goals scored.)

The Canucks would also probably have to part with one of Kevin Bieksa or Alex Edler to acquire Kaberle. Because the Canucks will lose their LTIR cap exception when Bieksa comes back, they’ll have to move some salary to accommodate Kaberle’s. (Incidentally, Dan Murphy tweeted yesterday that Bieksa has started skating.)

It’s true that Kaberle can make an already good Canucks defensive corps even better, but is the upgrade from Bieksa or Edler to Kaberle worth it at the cost of Cody Hodgson?

Feb 052010

With the Olympic trade freeze only a week away and the NHL trade deadline less than a month away, we’re sure to hear all sorts of trade rumors and speculation involving the Vancouver Canucks. Only a couple of days ago, we heard that the Canucks were in the running – and then not in the running – for Ilya Kovalchuk. (Of course, Kovy was traded to the New Jersey Devils yesterday.) Previous to that, there was the rumored Cory Schneider for David Backes swap.

But while discussing these trade rumors, there are a couple of things we need to keep in mind:

1) The Canucks are already up against the salary cap. In fact, because of all the injuries they’ve sustained this season – and of course having to replace them – their projected salary number is over the $56.8 million upper limit this season. This means that, if the Canucks were to pull a trade, incoming and outgoing salaries would have to match dollar-for-dollar.

2) If Kevin Bieksa is activated from long-term injury reserve (LTIR) before the playoffs, the Canucks would have to move out salaries in order to accommodate Bieksa’s salary and get back in compliance with the cap.

Let’s use Ilya Kovalchuk as an example. His cap hit this season is $6,389,300. If the Canucks were to have acquired him, they would have had to shed $6,389,300 in salary from the active roster. To put this into perspective, the Canucks’ package would have had to include, say, Pavol Demitra ($4,000,000) plus Steve Bernier ($2,000,000) and they’d still need to get rid of another $639,300 in salaries. Because I honestly doubt the Thrashers would have had any interest in Demitra, maybe the package is Alex Edler ($3,250,000), Bernier, plus prospect and/or pick, plus the Canucks would have to waive Kyle Wellwood ($1,200,000). Kevin Bieksa ($3,750,000) isn’t even an option here because the Canucks would lose his LTIR exemption. And when Bieksa comes back (assuming he comes back during the regular season), the Canucks would have to move another $3,750,000 in salary.

Clear as mud?

The cap issue is one reason the Cory Schneider for David Backes trade couldn’t have happened even if there was any truth to it. Because Backes’ cap hit is $2,500,000 this season and Schneider’s is $0, the Canucks would have first needed to get rid of $2,500,000 in salary from the active roster. Waiving Wellwood and Brad Lukowich ($1,566,666) would have done the trick, but then Willie Mitchell and Sami Salo got injured and needed Lukowich and Baumgartner in the lineup. Not only that, but they would still need to find room for Bieksa’s salary when Bieksa came back.

Giving up the right assets in a deal is one thing. Finding the cap space to make one is another. In the next month or so, we need to take both into account.

(Postscript: All numbers from CapGeek. As an aside, I know cap space is calculated daily, but because the Canucks are at the cap anyway, I used each player’s total cap number for the season for simplicity.)

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