Spitballin’ on Kevin Connauton, Babcock’s Canuck crush, and Gillis’s trade deadline wishlist

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass ITBulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few topics that deserve mention.

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Get pumped-up on Cody Hodgson

Followers of this blog will know that we are big fans of Bhavin Solanki, the Youtuber behind these fabulous Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo videos. He’s a great editor, he chooses good songs, and his clips are nice and short. A minute with Bhavin is a minute well-spent. Ladies.

His latest is a tribute to Cody Hodgson, who is the man of the hour these days.

Kevin Connauton seems pretty good

While we were distracted with the NHL All-Star Game last weekend, the AHL held their own All-Star Game, with one of the Canucks’ prospects taking centre stage for the West. Kevin Connauton won the hardest shot competition with a blast of 99.4 mph. In the All-Star Game itself, he put his shot to good use, with a game-high 6 shots, scoring the game-tying goal to send the game to overtime and the shootout, where the West won.

If you want to see the goal, you’ll have to suffer through some terrible YouTubing. Don’t blame me.

Connauton is having a solid season for the Wolves, with 22 points in 44 games while playing in all situations. He currently leads the AHL in goalscoring among defencemen, so the offensive side of his game has translated to the professional game from junior. The question is, will the defensive side of his game develop enough that he can make an impact in the NHL?

Mike Babcock is enamoured with the Canucks

There are very few people working in the NHL today that garner as much respect as Mike Babcock. So when he lavishes praise on the Canucks, it’s worth paying attention to. Here are some of the highlights:

I really like their top four D. Most people see Hamhuis and Bieksa as their No. 1 pair, but Edler and Salo, for me, are outstanding players.

I think anyone who’s won an Olympic gold medal, won a world championship … did he win a world junior [Silver in 1999]? Been to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. How old’s Roberto? [32] I’d say he’s doing all right.

The thing I like about ‘em [the Sedins], and I was talking to one of our players about this today, is they have decided to be elite. They’ve gotten better each and every year.

To me, they’re real special players. They don’t have a ‘good-enough’ metre. They haven’t said, ‘OK, we’ve been good enough,’ and reflected on their past.

They want to win. I’m impressed by them. I like their attitude, I like how hard they play.

Aw shucks, Babcock, you’re making the Canucks blush.

Who might the Canucks want in a trade?

The trade deadline is just 25 days away, which means it’s time for juicy trade rumours to come spewing from every metaphorical orifice on the internet. If you need help creating one, we have a handy-dandy how-to guide available.

Even though trade rumours are less edifying than a cardboard box, this time of year is always exciting. Last season, Mike Gillis added Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre at the deadline and both ended up playing key roles in the playoffs for the Canucks. Both of them also re-signed with the team, which is important as Gillis is not a fan of rentals.

For once, it doesn’t seem like the Canucks are necessarily in the market for a top-six forward. The early season trade for David Booth seemed to fill that need. Instead, it seems more likely that Gillis will be looking for a defenceman capable of playing on the right side in the top-four and/or a checking-line forward.

When Sami Salo was injured by Brad Marchand’s cheap hit, the Canucks’ defence ended up more scrambled than the Team 1040 in Chilliwack. A right-side defender who can fill that role when Salo is out of the lineup is likely on Gillis’s shopping list. And while Dale Weise has played well on the fourth line, they may want someone a little more defensively responsible to play alongside Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre.

Travis Moen, who was a member of the Ducks’ stellar checking line when they won the Stanley Cup, is a name that has floated out there and he’s pretty much exactly the type of player that would fill that role. But that’s a trade that’s unlikely to happen: Moen doesn’t play for the Florida Panthers.

With that said, the Canucks seem even more stable this year than they were last year at this time. It’s entirely possible that the Canucks will stand pat at the deadline, while everyone wonders if they’re a boy or a girl.

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36 comments

  1. DanD
    February 2, 2012

    Your trade rumour section kind of reads like you have a guide on how to create a metaphorical orifice on the internet. Teehee!

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  2. John Andress
    February 2, 2012

    I agree…a checking forward (like Moen) and a top four defenseman. Problem is that such a trade would probably put Cory Schneider in play and that is not in the plan, I think. Did you hear Doug MacLean say last week that the Canucks need someone to play with Ryan Kesler? Either he is just making it up as he goes along or he has read and is practicing Harrison’s Guide. I can’t believe the mindless drivel that the talking heads spout sometimes.

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  3. Hips
    February 2, 2012

    COREY PERRY

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  4. Shane
    February 2, 2012

    Team 1040 comes through loud and clear in Chilliwack!

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  5. CanuckFanInSF
    February 2, 2012

    Thank you, Mike Babcock.

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  6. Niloc009
    February 2, 2012

    Speaking of Connauton, here’s an awesome highlight package of Kevin

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    • Nick
      February 2, 2012

      Faster than I thought, and he also drops the gloves a few times!

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    • Nick
      February 2, 2012

      The greatest strength of AV and his staff is player development. On the back end, Bieksa, Alberts, and Rome have really improved under Vigneault. And I expect that Connauton’s defensive game will improve significantly when Bowness and AV start working with him.

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  7. Brendan
    February 2, 2012

    Boston Bruins

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    • J21
      February 2, 2012

      …or, “How to get thumbs-downs on a Canuck blog”.

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      • Brendan
        February 2, 2012

        My mom gave it a thumbs up

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        • J21
          February 2, 2012

          Where’d the original post go?

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          • holidayblues
            February 2, 2012

            Is that Tintin with a hockey stick?

            Life. Made.

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  8. Don_Rocko
    February 2, 2012

    Excuse me while I go off on a quick tangent here. Further to the Mike Babcock thing, I think Ian Macintyre posed a great question to him yesterday. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially it went – “When he was here, Ken Hitchcock commented on how the Canucks were hated by saying ‘lose some games – everyone will love you’ – however, (the Red Wings) have been doing nothing but win for 20 years, yet are not hated. Where do you think this hatred comes from?”

    It’s true, if you think about it – the Canucks purposefully model themselves after the Wings (puck-possession skill game, playing ‘between the whistles’, no ‘enforcer’, etc. Heck, even the fact that both teams employ an inordinate number of members of the Swedish national team.) yet they have managed to accrue almost no league-wide respect while the Red Wings are held high as the gold standard by which all franchises should be judged.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean this as a slight in any way – the Wings are a great team, they’re well-coached and the games against them are appointment-viewing – but it’s just interesting to note the disparate reaction.

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    • obituary mambo
      February 2, 2012

      I voted this up because I think it’s a fantastic question/point. Sadly, I don’t have an answer. I’m so used to the league-wide hatred at this point that I was genuinely surprised to see that there ate lots of NHLers who actually seem to appreciate what the twins bring to the game and relish the idea of playing with them (as witnessed at the All-Star game). Do you think it could be as simple as the fact that the Wings are an original six team? A lot of fans seem to give that much more merit than it deserves in my ever so humble opinion.

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      • SteveB
        February 2, 2012

        The Red Wings have one a few Cups in recent memory, I think that helps with their image.
        Until the Canucks can win that last game of the Playoffs, I’m afraid they won’t get no respect. :-(

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        • Kirk
          February 2, 2012

          “I’m afraid they won’t get no respect”

          I’m pretty sure that is not what you meant to say.

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          • obituary mambo
            February 2, 2012

            I could be wrong, but I read that as a purposeful mistake. It has a Dangerfield-esque ring to it.

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          • SteveB
            February 2, 2012

            ^ It was meant as a nod to Rodney Dangerfield, but using “one” instead of “won” caused my palm
            to be directly applied to the forehead.

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      • superreggie
        February 2, 2012

        When your team sucks, it’s hard to see another team that sucks, become a great team, especially when your team is still suckin’. That’s my explanation. Most of the haters seem to have a “who do they think they are!” mentality…

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    • Manservant Hecubis
      February 2, 2012

      The answer may simply be that the Wings have won the big prize several times with Hall of Fame players and are revered for this. Maybe it will take us winning a cup ( or several) to earn the respect the wings command.

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      • obituary mambo
        February 2, 2012

        I’m sure those who have mentioned that whole dynasty thing are right. I’m not sure why that didn’t occur to me. Too much time on the NHL.com boards where it’s all “O6 this, O6 that, blah, blam, bling!” Had I a shred of sanity, I’d stop putting myself through that.

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        • stathead
          February 2, 2012

          True! But when you’re in hockey withdrawal and just need a little exposure, it’s hard to stay away… But I think it’s definitely more than anything the “Original Six” mystique.

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      • Don_Rocko
        February 2, 2012

        Good points here, all, but I’d have to learn towards ‘several’ Cups because something tells me that on Earth-2 where the Canucks *won* game 7 last June, they’ve still got more than their fair share of people accusing them of everything short of murdering puppies.

        Truthfully, I think it might be a combination of it all – the Wings *are* a storied franchise that’s been around forever, they do nothing but win (except for the pre-Yzerman, Dead Things era) and they have had all-world, Hall of Fame calibre players suit up for them. Now I love Trevor Linden. Great player, great leader, great human being – but in the pantheon of hockey, he’s no Mr. Hockey. I may be wrong here, but I believe the Canucks might be the oldest team from the expansion era to not have a player in the Hall of Fame (No, Messier most certainly does *not* count).

        Maybe fifteen years down the line, if the Sedins are fortunate enough to get their plaques engraved, they might finally get some respect. … Or Hawks fans will teach their children that their real names are ‘Henrietta’ and ‘Daniella’ – it could go either way, I suppose.

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    • tom selleck's moustache
      February 2, 2012

      I was listening to the team1040 the other day and the commentators were discussing the phenomena of this general dislike towards the Canucks and how this occurred even in the time of the West Coast Express and before. So it can just be this particular rendition of the Canucks, it goes well beyond that.

      It made me wonder if it’s more a reflection of a general Vancouver/BC dislike/resentment as this also occurs in my industry where BC is kind of the black sheep of the provincial associations, even though we are generally doing better than the rest of Canada, generally leading the way in terms of initiatives, yet still freely share our experiences and resources with everyone else.

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      • tom selleck's moustache
        February 2, 2012

        Or it could be nothing.

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      • stathead
        February 2, 2012

        I think the “Vancouver hate effect” exists alongside Canuck hate, but I would say it’s largely amplified into and beyond reality by the media. They need stories to sell; they need honest blue-collar guys and slick, cunning villains; I think these things tend to balloon almost by themselves.

        Also, we’re awesome, and haters gotta hate.

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  9. SteveB
    February 2, 2012

    Mike Babcock said: ” I really like their top four D. Most people see Hamhuis and Bieksa as their No. 1 pair, but Edler and Salo, for me, are outstanding players.

    I think anyone who’s won an Olympic gold medal, won a world championship … did he win a world junior [Silver in 1999]? Been to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. How old’s Roberto? [32] I’d say he’s doing all right.

    The thing I like about ‘em [the Sedins], and I was talking to one of our players about this today, is they have decided to be elite. They’ve gotten better each and every year.

    To me, they’re real special players. They don’t have a ‘good-enough’ metre. They haven’t said, ‘OK, we’ve been good enough,’ and reflected on their past.

    They want to win. I’m impressed by them. I like their attitude, I like how hard they play.”

    Gosh, he pumped the Canucks’ tires harder than Kiss Huggins’ abs!

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  10. Brosef Stalin
    February 2, 2012

    That video of Connauton at the all star game sounded like it had the double rainbow guy commenting on it.

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  11. sgolesor
    February 2, 2012

    “A minute with Bhavin is a minute well-spent. Ladies.”

    PLEASE tell me that’s a reference to Demetri Martin’s standup.

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  12. sarah
    February 2, 2012

    “The thing I like about ‘em [the Sedins], and I was talking to one of our players about this today, is they have decided to be elite. They’ve gotten better each and every year.”

    I LOVE that comment. It really does seem that everything you hear about the Sedins is how they’re working to better their play or up their game or amp up their fitness regiments. That, or hearing about them donating their time/money to charity and other good causes. I really think we’re spoiled to have the Sedins on the Canucks. In my opinion, they’re such exemplary professionals/superstars.

    I have a theory that the Sedins are so awesome because they’re very humble and that they’re humble because growing up neither was ever the best at anything because the other one was always just as good.

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    • Blair
      February 2, 2012

      I’m pretty sure it’s mostly the rollerblading.

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  13. tj
    February 2, 2012

    Something I noticed during the All-Stars was that the crowd showed genuine respect for the Sedins, whether or not that was because of their huge crush on Alfie, I don’t know. But the thing the commentators noted on numerous occasions, and these weren’t Canucks homers, was the respect the other players have for the Sedins and what they can do. It really does seem that there are alternate perspectives here: the MSM/anti-Canucks viewpoint, and the players’ viewpoint. In the end, I will take the players’ viewpoint over any others. And I’m quite certain, after the pretty goals the Sedins had at the ASG, a few more hockey fans learned to respect what the twins can do. Forgive me, but I’m like a momma defending her wee cubs when it comes to the Sedins.

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    • Mo
      February 2, 2012

      Well, Daniel DID win the Ted Lindsay in 2011 (the most outstanding player, voted by the players themselves)…

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  14. Shand
    February 2, 2012

    I think the player Gillis will target won’t be one of the big names you hear floating around. I think it’s more likely to be someone a lot of people haven’t heard of who maybe plays tough minutes on a small market team who is undervalued and therefore cheap enough for the Canucks to get without sacrificing roster players. I think Gillis is an incredibly smart guy with a great team of people around him in the head office who will be very reluctant to overpay at this point in the current rosters playoff window.

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  15. Kevin
    February 2, 2012

    Bhavin Solanki really needs to get his stuff up on the screen at Rogers Arena during the TV timeouts.

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