Stuff’s supposed to happen today. It’s draft day. All the teams’ general managers in the same building for hours on end, something’s bound to happen. Something crazy might even go down, like a Stanley Cup contender that came close recently could trade away its two best centers.
It’s unlikely that Sedin and Kesler will be going anywhere, though. Mike Gillis said at the NHL Awards show: “We’re very happy with the group we have, we’re gonna try and keep as many of them as we possibly can.”
That makes sense. The Canucks won 15 playoff games last season. When your team comes that close to winning the Cup, you try to keep as many things the same as possible. Maybe they’ll get one or two more bounces next time around, and that’ll put them over the edge. Who knows?
The off-season plan seems pretty clear-cut this time around, anyway. The pieces that are likely to stay are the top six, the goaltending tandem, and the top four defensemen. Potentially replaceable are the bottom six forwards (excluding Malhotra) and the bottom defensive pairing. Gillis specifically said he was going after good character guys who want to play in Vancouver.
Of the Canucks’ RFAs, Jannik Hansen is most likely to stick around. Lapierre has probably earned his stay as well, leaving three bottom-six roles to be filled. Chris Higgins, Raffi Torres and Tanner Glass could all return, but none of them are guarantees, or are necessary. If Gillis looks to fill the roles elsewhere, don’t expect him to make a trade. He said he was looking for players who wanted to play for Vancouver, which likely means the free agent market.
While there’s not a lot wrong with the Canucks, one of the postseason’s themes seemed to be the Canucks’ penchant for running into crazy-good goaltending. Corey Crawford, Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas all shut down the Canucks’ offense for large portions of their respective series. When a team runs into a wall in net in three series out of four, it might be nice to look at getting more in the way of net presence — big, tough guys who can play a checking game but can slot into the top six or the power play if the offense isn’t clicking. Zdeno Chara didn’t have any trouble moving Burrows or Kesler.
Gillis got a bargain with Raffi Torres and his contract, and the crop of bottom-six guys on the market this off-season looks intriguing to say the least. If the Canucks are looking for a big net presence option, they’ve already seen what Joel Ward can do. It seems unlikely that Sean Bergenheim will be a free agent come July 1st, but if he is, it’d be nice to add a player who’s been proven to score in the playoffs from a depth role. Ville Leino isn’t exactly a tough guy, but he’s another great playoff scorer who’s less than a week away from being on the free market.
If Gillis is looking for more dedicated checkers, both Rob Niedermayer and John Madden have Cup rings and are due to become free agents on July 1st. Both made less than 1.2 million last season. Niedermayer is particularly interesting, given his history of scoring in the playoffs, and declining PIM totals throughout his career since the lockout.
Still, one of the most interesting names out there is Brendan Morrison, who showed last season that he can still play and be an effective asset. He’s a great character guy, and someone who wants to play in Vancouver. Last season he was cut from camp in favor of the now-retired Peter Shaefer. Two seasons ago, Manny Malhotra practiced with the Canucks before signing with the Sharks. Gillis had no problem going out and nabbing Malhotra the next season. Would he be willing to grab Morrison as well?
Either way, the Canucks have the ability to keep their core together and make another deep run. One of the upsides to such a deep run in the playoffs is there’s very little sitting around waiting for July 1st to come along. It’s a week from today. Nothing stops you from moping about last season like seeing fresh new faces signing contracts with your team.
Lindsay versus Hart
I hear lots of Canucks fans talking on twitter and the forums about how the Ted Lindsay is the real award, because it’s voted on by the players, not the media. I’ve got news for those fans:
They’re both real awards.
I have to wonder, though, how many of these voices were trash-talking Alexander Ovechkin when he implied that he cared more about the Lindsay than the Hart after winning the former while Henrik Sedin won the latter. It seems that Canuck nation has a very short memory.
Really, neither award is definitively better. Yeah, the players vote for the Lindsay, but how often do Eastern Conference players play against the Sedins? Exactly as often as the Western Conference players play against Stamkos. The players aren’t watching every game or commenting on everyone’s season throughout the year the way the media are. That said, several members of the media seem to have no idea what they’re talking about. Some hardly watch the games on which they report (not mentioning any names).
Want to know what the best awards are in the NHL? The ones that no one votes on, that are decided purely by performance on the ice. The Art Ross goes to whoever scored the most, the Jennings goes to whoever allowed the fewest goals, and the President’s Trophy goes to whoever has the best record. When we ignore all the talking points and foolishness, the Canucks took home the awards that can be won by performance, rather than election.
I know everyone does it. I know that it occasionally draws penalties. I know that the Canucks’ diving was blown out of proportion.
Still, it’s embarrassing. The Canucks might not do it more than other teams, but it’s still cheating and it doesn’t make them friends. The Canucks couldn’t seem to get the calls to go their way during the Final, and perhaps their reputation as a team of divers fed into that. It was great to see the Canucks play whistle to whistle all season. That happened because Mike Gillis made it clear — you participate in shenanigans, you sit a game. It’d be nice for him to do the same thing with regards to diving.
I can already hear people complaining that diving isn’t even a big thing with the Canucks. That’s great, and I agree. I’d prefer if it weren’t a thing at all, though. It doesn’t draw many penalties, and for every penalty it does, it makes an enemy in a referee. The Canucks don’t dive nearly as much as they’ve been accused, but they do dive, and it’d be nice if they stopped.
After hearing a week of suggestions from Canucks fans on forums, I’ve concluded that everyone is correct: Alain Vigneault is clearly responsible for the loss in the Finals and should be fired. Also, Luongo clearly doesn’t have the heart to win the Cup. He’s just not emotionally stable enough to deal with the rigors. He should be traded. The Sedins are clearly fair-weather players who can’t score when the opposition decides to make things tough for them. We should get something for them while they still command a price. Burrows’s antics cost us the respect of the referees, and the Canucks probably can’t win with him still on the team. Aaron Rome changed the momentum of the whole series with his hit on Horton, and he should be removed from the team by trade or waivers or being burned at the stake. He’s not worse than Keith Ballard, though, who was completely invisible through most of the playoffs. In Game 7, I didn’t even notice him on the ice. He has to go. And if Ryan Kesler is going to insist on taking up a roster spot while he’s too injured to skate, he’ll have to do it on another team.
This is known as the “Paul Holmgren” approach.
For the record, with all this blaming going on, I’m surprised no one pointed out what an awful Game 7 Christian Ehrhoff had. He just couldn’t receive a pass at the blueline, and single-handedly killed the Canucks’ momentum several times while the game was still well-within reach. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be re-signed, though.
When your team makes it to Game 7 of the Cup Finals, you don’t look for people to fire. You start handing out contract extensions.
Tags: featured, Free Agents, Gillis, Off-Season Blues, Round 5's Opponent is Crippling Depression, Third Man In