If an expansion draft happened now, which Canucks would you protect?

According to reports, which the NHL unsurprisingly denied, the league is planning expansion by four teams in 2017. The reports aren’t really anything new — expansion into Las Vegas, Seattle, Toronto, and Quebec City has been rumoured for years — but the certainty with which Howard Bloom, who is usually reliable for sports business news, has reported the news has made this a hot topic this week.

If and when expansion does occur, the team will need to hold an expansion draft to fill out of the rosters of the new teams. Just for fun, let’s imagine the league chose to expand right now, requiring an immediate expansion draft.

The new teams won’t be able to pick just anyone from the existing teams’ rosters, of course. In an expansion draft, each team protects certain players, ensuring that they can’t be selected. There are limits to the number of players that can be protected, however, ensuring that a few decent players are available to the new teams.

So, which players would you protect on the Canucks?

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Stick in Link: Trevor Linden’s other uphill climb; August mercifully almost over

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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In an ironic turn, Canucks now lack depth on left side of defence

For several years, the Canucks have had an issue with their defence: not enough right-side defencemen. It goes back to losing Christian Ehrhoff to free agency in 2011. Though he shoots left-handed, Ehrhoff is one of the few NHL defencemen who seems to prefer playing on his off-side and he excelled on the right side of Alex Edler with the Canucks.

During the 2010-11 season, the Canucks had three excellent right-side defencemen: Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, and Sami Salo. When Salo went down with one of his all-too-frequent injuries, it exposed the Canucks’ lack of depth on the right side, leading to Chris Tanev playing 29 games as a rookie and getting into the lineup in the Stanley Cup final ahead of Keith Ballard, who struggled whenever he was on the right side.

After Ehrhoff left, the Canucks were left with Bieksa and an injury-prone Salo on the right side for one season, then just Bieksa after Salo left for Tampa Bay. They replaced Salo with Jason Garrison, who shoots left, and were forced to play him on his off-side in order to get him into the top-four.

Then a funny thing happened: Tanev emerged last season as a legitimate top-four defenceman. Ryan Stanton was claimed off waivers and became a steady presence on the bottom pairing. The Canucks signed Yannick Weber as a depth defenceman capable of playing on the powerplay. After a year in Utica, Frank Corrado is knocking on the door. Bobby Sanguinetti, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes, was lured out of the KHL.

All right-hand shots.

Meanwhile, Jason Garrison got traded to Tampa Bay, replaced by Luca Sbisa, who has struggled with the Anaheim Ducks. And suddenly, the Canucks could have the opposite problem: not enough depth on the left side.

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Watch every goal Chris Higgins scored last season (9-17)

Is Chris Higgins a top-six forward? It’s a question I hear asked frequently by Canucks fans and it comes with an implicit assumption: no, he’s not. From what I’ve seen from Canucks fans, they seem to be agreed that the Canucks have a glut of third-line wingers and players like Higgins and Jannik Hansen end up on the second line simply because the team has no one else to put there.

I think this comes from an unrealistic view of the second line. Last year, while looking at David Booth, I estimated that a second-line player should produce between 31-to-51 points in an 82-game season and/or 15-to-25 goals. That was based on points and goals produced by second line forwards in the 2011-12 season and it’s still a pretty good guideline for what we should expect from the second line.

Higgins scored 17 goals and 39 points. While in the lower half of second line players, he still fits in that bracket and it’s important to note that he still produced like a second-line forward when most of the team fell well below expectations and while facing some of the toughest competition of his career. The Sedins both performed like second-line forwards last season, albeit top-tier second line forwards. Complaints about Higgins not belonging on the second line just don’t make any sense.

With that out of the way, let’s look at his last nine goals from last season.

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Watch every goal Chris Higgins scored last season (1-8)

The general opinion of Canucks fans is that pretty much no one had a good season under John Tortorella apart from, perhaps, Chris Tanev and Chris Higgins. In Higgins’ case, it’s simply that he performed about as well last season as he did in the previous two seasons, if not slightly worse. The reason we [...]

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Stick in Link: Deal or no deal in Bertuzzi/Moore case?

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Canucks Ice Bucket Challenge boils over into ‘Two and A Half Men’ blood feud

By now, it’s incredibly likely that, not only have you heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (in which people dump a bucket of ice on their heads and challenge friends, colleagues, or even enemies to do the same in an ongoing effort to raise money and awareness to fight ALS), but you’ve done it, too.

Like every hockey team, the Ice Bucket Challenge has swept through the Canucks organization, and thank goodness. It’s been a long time since we last saw these guys hit the ice, and while there’s still a ways to go before the break is over, at least we can avail ourselves by watching the ice hit the players.

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Watch every goal Daniel Sedin scored last season (Part 2)

It’s time for part two of every goal that Daniel Sedin scored last season, which highlights one positive: Daniel scored enough goals that we had to split them into two posts. It’s not as good as the 2010-11 season, when we spent an entire week recapping Daniel Sedin’s goals, of course, but it could have been worse.

It’s also a bit depressing that he’s one of just three players who need their goals split over more than one post.

The biggest reason for Daniel’s paltry goal totals was his 23-game goalless drought through January, February, and most of March. To put that into perspective, his longest stretch without a goal in the previous season was 8 games and that wasn’t a great season for Daniel either.

Incredibly, you have to go all the way back to Daniel’s sophomore season, to when he was just 21-years-old, to find a longer goalless drought. He went 25 games without a goal in the 2001-02 season, finishing with just 9 goals. Good news! 33-year-old Daniel is better at hockey than 21-year-old Daniel, nearly doubling his goal total from his sophomore season. See, there’s always a silver lining.

Here are the final 8 goals Daniel scored last season.

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What will the fifth Sedin vs. Sedin challenge be?

Ever since Henrik grabbed his brother by the ankle in utero and then climbed over him to be first out of the womb, the Sedin twins have been extraordinarily competitive with one another. Heck, Daniel only got into hockey so he could be better than his brother at it. He hates hockey. He just hates his brother more.

We’ve seen their competition play out over the last several years here in Vancouver, as Henrik won the Art Ross and a league MVP, so Daniel turned around and won the Art Ross and the other league MVP. Then, this season, when Henrik realized that his Iron Man streak put him way, way behind Daniel in man games lost due to injury, he broke the streak and got injured twice, just so he could make up the ground.

These two don’t quit, and the Canucks just realized that their blood feud can make for some excellent summer content. All week long, they’ve been running a series titled Sedin vs. Sedin, which puts the two brothers against one another in a five-challenge series that will settle the superiority questions once and for all.

Also the loser has to eat a live scorpion, I think.

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Watch every goal Daniel Sedin scored last season (Part 1)

The 2013-14 season started off reasonably well for Daniel Sedin. He scored 6 goals in October, putting him on pace for another 30+ goal season.

Things got steadily worse through the rest of 2013, scoring just 4 goals in November and 3 goals in December, but it was 2014 that brought the real misery. Incredibly, Daniel went goalless through January and February, apart from one measly goal during the Olympics. Then, after the Olympics were over, Daniel suffered a leg injury in the debacle of an outdoor game, keeping him out of the lineup for most of March.

It took until March 26th for Daniel Sedin to score his first goal as a Canuck in 2014. Between him and Alex Burrows, the Canucks had two of the most bizarre goal droughts in the entire NHL last season.

How in the world does that happen? He finished the season with just 16 goals, his lowest total since 2003, aside from the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Not coincidentally, he also posted the lowest shooting percentage of his career, which may give some hope that he can turn things around next season. Alternately, if you’re feeling pessimistic, you could argue that he just hasn’t been the same since Duncan Keith gutlessly concussed him back in 2012.

I’m a little more optimistic: with either Radim Vrbata or a non-cursed Alex Burrows on his opposite wing and a powerplay that isn’t a garbage fire, Daniel should be able to get back to at least 25 goals next season. Part of the reason for my optimism came from watching his goals from last season, some of which are fantastic. Here are the first 8.

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