PITB bids farewell to the Vancouver Sun

A little over four years ago, Harrison and I brought Pass it to Bulis to the Vancouver Sun. As of today, our partnership with the Sun has come to an end. The newspaper industry is going through a great deal of change. Until now, that’s been a good thing for us. This time it wasn’t. [...]

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Canucks trade Eddie Lack, use 3rd round pick on Guillaume Brisebois

Jim Benning wasn’t able to get a second round pick out of trading Eddie Lack and had to settle for a third round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes and a seventh round pick next year. It’s an underwhelming return for a fan favourite, but what’s done is done. Lack is gone, off to the Eastern Conference to backstop a team that desperately needed an upgrade in goal.

With that third round pick, the Canucks selected Guillaume Brisebois at 66th overall. It won’t be a popular pick in many circles, as Brisebois is a defensive defenceman who didn’t put up points in his draft year, but it’s an intriguing pick for a number of reasons.

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The PITB 2015 NHL Entry Draft Live Blog Extravaganza: Day 2

We expected a lot more action out of Trader Jim and the Canucks on Friday during the first round of the draft. Kevin Bieksa apparently came inches away from being traded to the San Jose Sharks. Either Eddie Lack or Jacob Markstrom was going to be traded for a first round pick, a third round pick, and a 2-for-1 Subway coupon. The Canucks were going to package the 23rd overall pick with a nice gift basket full of decorative soaps and novelty bottles of maple syrup to move up in the draft.

None of that happened.

This means that the Canucks enter the second day of the entry draft with no selections in the second and third round. Don’t expect that to last, however. All the action that was denied us on Friday should unfurl today. It means no first round picks in exchange for any of the players Benning ships out, but that doesn’t mean the Canucks won’t get a good return in whatever trades occur. It just probably means they won’t get a good return.

As per usual, PITB is here to live blog the whole thing. Unlike yesterday, we won’t be keeping track of every pick from every team: day two of the draft always moves too fast for that. Instead, we’ll stick to covering the Canucks’ moves and only comment on other happenings if they’re too outrageous to avoid.

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Canucks select winger Brock Boeser with 23rd pick

Several teams reached with their first round picks, allowing some talented kids to slide down the draft board to where the Canucks were picking. The Canucks could have had undersized forwards Nick Merkley or Travis Konecny. They could have gone with a top scorer in the WHL like Paul Bittner or Jansen Harkins. They also had the option of selecting a high-end defenceman in Oliver Kylington or Jeremy Roy.

Instead, the Canucks chose a goalscoring winger out of the USHL: Brock Boeser. You’re going to hear a lot, I’m guessing, about some of the tough things Boeser has gone through off the ice, but who is Brock Boeser when he’s on the ice?

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The PITB 2015 NHL Entry Draft Live Blog Extravaganza!

This could be a crazy day for Canucks fans. Jim Benning has just one pick in the first three rounds of the draft, holding only the 23rd overall pick. He also has assets to move, like one of his three goaltenders or, more realistically, one of his two young, Swedish goaltenders. We could also see the exit of longtime PITB favourite, Kevin Bieksa. After that, who knows? Will Chris Higgins be traded? Jannik Hansen? Dan Hamhuis? Frank Corrado?

PITB will be on hand for the whole thing. The live blog will kick off in earnest closer to the start of the draft, around 4 pm Pacific, but there’s already things happening in the hockey world, so we’ll get things started a little early.

Follow along and refresh often.

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The case for Ryan Miller

Jim Benning has made it very clear over the past week that he has no intention of trading Ryan Miller, believing that he can still perform as a number one goaltender and be a mentor to younger goaltenders in the Canucks’ system.

That unfortunately means that either Jacob Markstrom or Eddie Lack will be traded, with Lack the most likely candidate. All reports, rumours, and common sense suggest that Lack will be traded at the draft on Friday or Saturday, with Benning hoping to recoup some of the draft picks lost in trades. With reports suggesting that the New York Rangers rejected an offer of two 2nd round picks for Cam Talbot, the market is right for Benning to get a good deal for Lack.

Lack is a rare commodity in Vancouver: a well-liked goaltender. Even those who don’t think much of his ability have to admit that he’s an incredibly likeable guy. On top of that, he’s in his prime and could be a solid number one goaltender for many years to come. Trading him won’t be a popular move in Vancouver: just look at the petition making the rounds to keep him.

Meanwhile, Miller is on the downside of his career, with declining numbers. After all, Lack outperformed Miller this past season, putting up a save percentage 10 points higher than Miller’s and posting a lower goals against average. While this is true, however, those numbers don’t seem to tell the whole story.

There are legitimate reasons to believe that Miller will be better than Lack next season and could be in for an elite year in 2015-16.

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Canucks get gritty, re-sign Ronalds Kenins and Alex Friesen

With the NHL Entry Draft just a few days away and free agency opening up a few days after that, Jim Benning has a lot on his plate. He made some room on that plate over the weekend for a couple of contract negotiations, however, re-signing two restricted free agents on Monday: Ronalds Kenins and Alex Friesen.

One of those RFAs is well-known to Canucks fans after he came out of nowhere last season to play a key third-line role. The other has largely been forgotten, but has slowly grown into an essential player for the Utica Comets. The two 24-year-olds are just a month apart in age, but have taken very different paths in their hockey careers.

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Who do the experts have ranked 23rd overall in the 2015 NHL draft?

We are less than a week away from the NHL Entry Draft, with Round 1 taking place on June 26th in Sunrise, Florida. Jim Benning is expected to be busy, since the Canucks don’t have a second or third round pick in what is expected to be a deep draft and also lack a seventh round pick. The Canucks are likely to trade either Jacob Markstrom or Eddie Lack at the draft and have several veterans who could also be on the trade block.

It’s also entirely possible that the Canucks won’t be content to stay where they are in the first round and could put together a package to move up in the draft. As it is, however, they have the 23rd pick. The last time the Canucks picked 23rd overall, they got Ryan Kesler. Will they be able to find that kind of impact player again or will they end up with someone like Nathan Smith, picked at 23rd overall in 2000?

Let’s take a look at some of their options by seeing who various draft experts have ranked at 23rd overall, which should give us a fairly good idea of who will be available at that time in the draft.

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PITB chats with Kyle Wellwood about connecting with Vancouver and ‘being different’

On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in Aldergrove, Kyle Wellwood suited up with fellow Canucks alumni Cliff Ronning and Garth Butcher and some other local celebrities to play a game for charity. Only, the game wasn’t hockey. It was slo-pitch softball.

The team was put together by Andy Bhatti, the president and founder of Survivors Helping Survivors, a non-profit dedicated to helping survivors of childhood victimization. Bhatti entered the team in Aldergrove’s annual co-ed slo-pitch tournament last weekend to help raise awareness of sexual abuse and to raise money for Sophie’s Place, the child advocacy centre in Surrey that specializes in helping abused children. The team took donations, ran a silent auction, and signed autographs, while also finding time to play.

PITB caught up with Wellwood at the tournament and saw his team’s first game, where Wellwood was the clear MVP, out-classing the other Canucks alumni at the plate with a couple big hits (the less said about Butcher’s at-bats, the better) and making multiple catches out in left field.

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Racing the goats: Jim Benning’s expensive mentors

Racehorses tend to be a little high-strung and skittish. It’s part of their breeding and training: they have to be quick out of the gate, respond swiftly to commands, and are bred to be fast and powerful, rather than friendly and docile.

In order to keep the horses relaxed between races and training, owners will keep goats in the stables to act as companions. For whatever reason, goats have a calming influence in racehorses, with some developing a life long bond.

A couple months ago, it was pointed out on Twitter that NHL general managers seem to do the same thing as horse owners, stabling their star players with goats. The difference, however, is that the goats don’t race alongside the horses: many NHL general managers race the goats.

This metaphor came to mind as I was reading quotes from the Canucks season ticket holder town hall meeting, where it became clear that Jim Benning is one such GM.

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