Tanev, Kesler, Gilman — who is this year’s big trade deadline winner?

Last year, as the dust from the trade deadline settled, we noted that, the big winner for the Canucks had to be Tanner Glass, who had spent most of the 2010-11 season playing with a revolving cast of linemates. Before injuries necessitated some line juggling, the acquisitions of Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre were supposed to round out the lineup, complement Glass, and give the Canucks a fourth line that could play. It would have been nice.

So who is this year’s Tanner Glass? We submit to you the following three candidates: Chris Tanev, Laurence Gilman, and Ryan Kesler.

1) CHRIS TANEV

Lost within the trauma, outcry, and accusations that we were puppets of the Gillis regime that followed the Cody Hodgson trade was discussion over what the Canucks didn’t do on trade deadline day, most notably getting a right-handed defenceman for Alex Edler. Among the many, many things of which we were so, so sure was that the Canucks were one rightie rearguard short. We assumed Mike Gillis would make remedying this deficiency a top priority on Monday.

However (in what turned out to be a recurring theme), he surprised us. Sure, the Canucks acquired Marc-Andre Gragnani, but while Gragnani may develop into a piece the team can use on a regular basis later, he looks to be little more than a depth defenceman at this right now. Plus he’s a left-sider. What gives?

Chris Tanev gives. The young blueliner has impressed, and clearly, he’s impressed enough to convince the Canucks’ coaching staff and management that he can play with Alex Edler if the team so needs. From Tom Benjamin:

This is a very clear vote of confidence in Chris Tanev. If one of the top four go down, it is Tanev who will have to step up. Is that an unsettling thought, asking a rookie to take on that responsibility into the playoffs? It should be, but it is not.

Tanev produces almost no offense and he hardly ever hits anyone. (He took his first penalty in his 41st game. For tripping.) But he is mobile, he has an excellent stick and he is an excellent passer. He stays in position and pokes the puck away from attackers. Under pressure he will slip a ten foot pass through the crease to an open Aaron Rome. Or he will snap a 60 footer to a streaking Mason Raymond. Or he will take the hit to knock it off the glass.

Sami Salo will be Edler’s partner going into the playoffs, but when the Fragile Fin’s inevitable injury comes, we now know that the team trusts Tanev to replace him. Tanev hasn’t been with the team much this season, but clearly, he’s grown as a defender. He saw some penalty-kill time Tuesday in Phoenix, he’s seen some time with the Sedins, and Mike Gillis’s non-move guarantees that he will continue to see more deployment in important situations in the spring. Monday was big for him.

2) LAURENCE GILMAN

Benjamin also touched on another overlooked element of Monday’s movement: the cap implications. I keep hearing about how Gillis might have been able to reap a bigger return for Hodgson (and he might have, although this notion that Hodgson could have netted Gillis basically anyone he wanted is laughable), but one aspect people are overlooking is that a bigger-name player comes with a bigger ticket. Kassian is on an entry-level deal for two more years after this one. Benjamin again:

Kassian is on the first year of his ELC at $870,000. Gragnani makes the minimum wage this year, and will be an RFA without a case for a big raise next year. Hodgson makes $1.7 MM. If things unfold the way Hodgson fans expect, he’ll be cheap and productive next year – a top six forward at $1.7 MM. (And note, I don’t think Hodgson has been a particular bargain over his first two years.) Anyway, after that Hodgson will be looking for a big raise. The better he is next year, the more he will cost the year after.

Kassian will still be making $870,000. Hodgson is going to cost at least three times as much as Kassian over the next two years assuming he plays well.

That last line is what sells it for me. At least three times as much. Considering the Canucks have been flush to the cap since the Mike Gillis era started, Laurence Gilman, the team’s wizard capologist, has had to be one step ahead at all times. The Kassian deal is an excellent example of why he usually is: the team now has a developing top-six power winger (and two if you count Nicklas Jensen) in the fold for next to nothing through 2014, the same year the Sedins’ contracts end. Furthermore, David Booth will only have one year remaining on his deal when it comes time to re-up Kassian, making him very moveable if the team needs to make room for the raise.

Talk about a cap windfall. Gilman must be doing cartwheels (or at least spelling “boobs” on his calculator).

3) RYAN KESLER

In Zack Kassian and Sammy Pahlsson, Mike Gillis went out and acquired two pieces that complement Ryan Kesler, which is fairly reasonable considering the Selke winner is one of the pieces the team is built around.

(This is another element of the Cody Hodgson trade that’s been overlooked: Hodgson didn’t really complement Kesler. He didn’t look good on Kesler’s wing, and his defensive deficiencies forced Kesler to take a step back offensively to eat up more defensive minutes.)

The acquisition of Sammy Pahlsson doesn’t just turn the third line into a checking line for [excrement and laughter] — it does so to free up Ryan Kesler as a scorer, even moreso than he was last season. The Canucks now have two lines that can be thrown at other team’s top scorers, meaning Kesler won’t have to spend entire playoff series battling opposition stars to a stalemate.

And if Zack Kassian can continue to develop into the top-six forward he’s projected to be, he’s that big right winger the team has been craving for years. He’ll play either with Kesler, which could be a bona fide force, or he’ll play with the Sedins, reuniting Kesler with bestie Alex Burrows.

It’s tough to argue that Ryan Kesler didn’t come out of the deadline looking like a peach. Is he the big winner?

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53 comments

  1. Brent
    March 1, 2012

    I agree that Tanev is ready to play more minutes and on the top 4, but who fits in below him when he moves up?

    It would be great if this allows Kesler to become more dominant. Although he has had moments of brilliance, he really hasn’t been the same since hip surgery. We need Kesler to come back into form in these last few games before playoffs.

    So are we sure that Pahlsson will be the same shutdown wizard he was in 2007? That was 5 years ago. We have a month to find out. Also a month for Kassian to show he can fit in now.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 1, 2012

      Who fits in below him? Rome. Rome is capable of playing the right side in bottom-pairing minutes, as he’ll do tonight versus the Blues.

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  2. Frank Nelissen
    March 1, 2012

    Plus they sorted out the Cap so that Tanev can stay with the team for the rest of the season (so that he will gain more experience and can be put in different situations, like the penalty kill).

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    • Brent
      March 1, 2012

      Was it the cap or the fact they couldn’t send other people down because they would loose them on waivers when they came back up?

      Weird, doesn’t look like Tanev is playing tonight.

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  3. DanD
    March 1, 2012

    Definitely agree with all three here. Lots of talk on the radio about how Raymond benefits too, supposedly because he’s more at peace with himself or something because he didn’t get traded.

    Can we slide Raymond in as a winner, or is it pretty much neutral for him?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 1, 2012

      I’d say Raymond wins, but he also loses in that he becomes the ultra-whipping boy as a result of surviving everyone’s attempts to trade him. So he definitely doesn’t crack the top three.

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      • Phileo99
        March 1, 2012

        how does Mason Raymond win from this trade?

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        • John in Marpole
          March 1, 2012

          By getting to stay on a team with a shot at the Stanley Cup?

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    • sarah
      March 1, 2012

      I think it’s tough to say that Raymond is a winner. He’s going to be playing in a fishbowl the rest of the season. Considering how quickly “Raymond falling down” spread over Twitter, he’s going to have to be pretty outstanding from here on out to avoid negative scrutiny.

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  4. Nee
    March 1, 2012

    I dunno, getting to type BOOBS on a calculator is a pretty big win…

    ; )

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  5. Flatus
    March 1, 2012

    There is something else about Tanev’s deployment that has been, I think, largely overlooked. In a number of games so far he has been playing with Edler. Samo has moved to the third pairing, generally with Rome.

    This does a few things:

    it gets Edler and Tanev comfy with each other;

    it gets Tanev exposure to the oppositions’ first or second lines, giving him more experience against top ranked players;

    it frees Salo from playing as many minutes – if you agree that a third defensive pair plays less;

    it arguably gives Salo easier minutes, against lower ranked opponents; and

    there is less of a drop-off in the defensive pairings from one to three.

    I think that in the long term you may see a ‘steady’ Salo playing with a ‘less steady’ Ballard on the third pairing, if Ballard recovers in time for the end of the season or the play offs.

    As an aside, I wonder if we will see Booth – Kesler-Kassian as a line. Or do Booth and Kassian play to much of the same game?

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  6. SteveB
    March 1, 2012

    I demand a Scrabble Championship between Tanev, Gilman, Kesler and PITB to determine the one worthy successor to Tanner Glass!

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  7. Warpstone
    March 1, 2012

    Great points.

    One more big winner: Alain Vigneault

    Who knows why Hodgson really got traded, but you know what’s nice for a coach of a top team to have? That’s right, it’s the ability to kick players at risk of slipping into complacency in the pants.

    The Canucks are number 1 in the league and while I don’t doubt they’re a determined group of guys, it always helps to have a little sense of coaching and GM ruthlessness there to motivate anyone who wants to stick around or negotiate a new contract.

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    • stathead
      March 1, 2012

      I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to work out what “complacency in the pants” is. Some expression I’ve never heard? A cheeky new turn of phrase? Very cheeky…

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 1, 2012

        There is medical help for those that suffer from complacency in the pants.

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      • Brent
        March 2, 2012

        Actually it is just a poor turn of phrase. It is called a dangling participle. It would be clearer if written:

        it’s the ability to kick players in the pants who are at risk of slipping into complacency.

        OK it actually isn’t a dangling participle, but I wanted to get “dangling” in there to accentuate the cheekiness of it…

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      • Warpstone
        March 2, 2012

        LOL, sorry, I could have worded that better. :D

        I do sometimes thinks AV resorts to this though. Why else did Cody always look so depressed?

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  8. Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
    March 1, 2012

    I like this.

    It’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t as much Gilman’s team as anyone else’s. He may not pick the pieces, but he’s the one who makes them fit.

    As the shock wears off, it becomes more and more clear that this was a decent trade. We still have to see how Kassian and co. work out, but it’s looking good.

    Also, as you said, it’s a big vote of confidence for Tanev. One big advantage he has over other rookies is that they already know how he’ll hold up under playoff pressure. He’s played in the finals, and the pressure doesn’t get any higher than that.

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  9. Anonymous
    March 1, 2012

    Interesting then that Tanev’s scratched for the Blues game so that they can play Rome-MAG
    Apparently the coaches didn’t like his game against phoenix

    https://twitter.com/#!/FarhanLaljiTSN/status/175301438409420801

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  10. JDM
    March 1, 2012

    How about Zack Kassian as the big winner – if last game persists and your predictions pan out, he will go from in-and-out of the Sabres lineup to a 2nd line wing spot beside a recent 40 goal scorer.

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    • bergberg
      March 1, 2012

      Actually, I’d say both Kassian and Hodgson won in this trade. They are now both playing for teams that actually need people with their respective skill-sets and are going to get opportunities in ice-time, development, and additional responsibilities that they wouldn’t have received pre-trade.

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      • Lenny
        March 1, 2012

        Also, Pahlsson deserves an honourable mention. Just the fact that he got his ass out of the cellar back to a contender going into the playoffs where he plays his best hockey.

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      • J21
        March 2, 2012

        Buffalo could use a hulking power forward as much as the Canucks could, though. They are one of the league’s smallest teams. Which is why I worry that they were willing to part with him.

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  11. Hips
    March 1, 2012

    Journalists win this trade because they’ll have something to criticize for the next few months.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 1, 2012

      Aw heck. I was gonna make that joke and forgot.

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  12. Dazza23
    March 1, 2012

    To the comment that you are puppets of the Gillis regime. Don’t let the masses get to you. I, and many others, prefer your reasoned thought process to their crying from the roof top that the Coho has been pan fried.

    Just because people have a computer and can almost type does not mean their opinion has merit. There is so little logic to the keep Coho argument, mostly emotion and not enough substance. It defies belief such a big deal is being made of a rookie.

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  13. VanFan85
    March 1, 2012

    The people who are having a hard time with this trade are the ones who felt an emotional connection to Hodgosn for all he had been through with this team. They do not have the ability to leave emotion at the door and look at this from a business perspective. The Canucks traded a redundent asset for a needed commodity, turning the one of the teams few weaknesses into a strength while saving money.

    As the old saying goes – Defense wins Championships. I’d take Pahlssons’ Defense over Hodgson’s offense any day of the week and twice on June 15th… or sooner.

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    • D
      March 1, 2012

      People who had enough of emotional connection to buy a Hodgson jersey…

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  14. Chris
    March 1, 2012

    “When” it comes time to re-up Kassian is a misnomer. The word you are looking for is “if”, as in “if” Kassian is still in the NHL. That’s such a big if, it should be an IF.

    Hodgson making 3 times as much as Kassian would make no sense, unless of course, Hodgson was 3 times better than Kassian. However, he is and always will be at least that much better, ergo the argument doesn’t hold water.

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    • DanD
      March 1, 2012

      You can’t tell someone their argument doesn’t hold water when your argument is based on a completely subjective comparison of talent.

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    • Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
      March 1, 2012

      CoHo is a better center than Kassian, and he will always be a better center than Kassian – however he’s not better and may never be better than Henrik and Kesler which would have put a glass ceiling above him for at least the next few years.

      On the flip side, Kassian is a better winger than CoHo, and the Nucks have more need of big wingers over the next few years than centers.

      What isn’t possible to tell is whether CoHo is going to be a better center than Kassian will be a winger. We can make educated guesses, but there’s no way to be sure.

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  15. dan
    March 1, 2012

    how many games have tanev and edler had together?

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  16. Chris
    March 1, 2012

    Oh and to answer your question: Darcy Regier, the GM of the Buffalo Sabres, is the big winner of this trade deadline.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 1, 2012

      What confuses me here is how absolutely convinced you are that Hodgson is amazing and Kassian is crap. Are you from the future?

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      • Nick
        March 1, 2012

        Absolutely correct Harrison.

        No one can project with certainty how either one of these players will develop. No one knows what their ceilings are. All we know is that, physically, Hodgson will always be smaller and slower than average.

        And no one can project with certainty how long a career either one of these players will have, or how susceptible they will be to career-shortening injury. But the tinier one has already had a serious back injury and missed time when border-line concussed by Nick Foligno in the Ottawa game.

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      • Chris
        March 1, 2012

        I know that the Cubs are going to win the World Series against Miami in 2015…does that count?

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    • RG
      March 1, 2012

      Aww. Somebody must’ve bought a Hodgson jersey last week!

      Kassian wears the same number – maybe you can do a nice masking tape job. After all, their names are both 7-letters long and end in “n”.

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  17. D
    March 1, 2012

    I disagree. I think that Rich Winter was the biggest winner of the trade. Reason being, if Hodgson (and the risk of “if” is diminishing substantially as Hodgson continues to progress at the current rate) barring any serious injury will command a pretty hefty increase in salary when re-signing with the Sabres. Whether his salary is determined through negotiation, arbitration, or matching an offer from another team (which may inflate his value substantially due to his RFA status), Rich Winter is going to get a very attractive cut from the deal.

    Although, Winter has publicly stated that Hodgson did not ask for a trade (evidenced through various emotional interviews of Hodgson with sports networks post-trade), he knows that economically he had a client in a favorable position. Gillis and Gilman probably figured that trading Hodgson at this point in his career was advantageous. They preemptively avoided either resigning a 3rd line center at the salary level of a 2nd line center, losing out on arbitration, OR either matching an inflated RFA offer by another team or losing him to another team for lower draft picks by not matching an offer by another team.

    In my opinion, the Canucks basically traded for a truculent first round draft pick with upside and a defenseman with potential offensive capability in exchange for a first round draft pick who may or may not be a blue chipper and a journeyman defenseman.

    The Canucks managed risk at this point. Rich Winter wanted this in the end as the more Hodgson plays, bargaining power during RFA contract negotiations will substantially.

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    • peanutflower
      March 1, 2012

      I think Winters may be the big winner because he comes out looking like he’s still sane, when clearly he is borderline. Winters may have publicly said he did not ask for a trade, but he also publicly said that he did, and that he asked for more ice time. And then he denied it. He also said he was pissed that the media (i.e. PITB) didn’t ask for his opinion, and then said he wouldn’t talk to any media because they all speculate. So, yeah, Winters is just lucky he’s still working and that no one has discovered his little insanity secret.

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  18. Lortimer
    March 1, 2012

    This article is another example of taking ones own opinions and trying to justify them on subjective claims.

    1. The conclusion that Hodgson somehow held back Kesler is ridiculous.

    Kesler is not a playmaking center

    2. There is no evidence that Hodgson is ‘bad’ defensively

    3. The idea that somehow Kelse will be freed up ofensively is also silly

    Good teams have two scoring lines – the Sedins aren’t playing against the top players so
    who goes against Toews? Paulson? or the Selke winner?

    The move to make is to take Kesler off the PK (not needed)

    3. Great theories and again wrong conclusions – * Tanev is already out tonight -
    AV is in love with Rome (mistake) so Tanev wont be in playoffs (only depth) if Graz can hold a stick…

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    • bergberg
      March 2, 2012

      Lortimer, I feel like we’re losing you here, man.

      First of all, your point 1 and point 3 are the same point. And there is indeed proof that Hodgson has not fully developed the defensive side to his game. This is not a slam against Hodgson in any way, many players take time to develop their two way game.

      Yes, this move will free up Kesler. With Hodgson not able to take the tough minutes (example, against Toews), that once again became Kesler’s responsibility. Now that Pahlsson (not Paulson) is centring the 3rd line it is much stronger defensively and able to take those tough minutes. This free’s up Kesler to play against weaker competition and spend more time in the offensive zone. Resulting in, hopefully, more production from Kesler. Does this mean we’ll never see Kesler deployed against the tough assignments? Of course not, this is why he is the Selke winner, we know he is capable of handling them if needed. But now the Canucks have a choice in the deployment of their lines depending on the game, rather than having their hand forced by sheltering a rookie on the 3rd line.

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  19. Nick
    March 1, 2012

    There’s a rumour going around that the Kassian family is already pressing the team to get Zack for more ice time.

    He fired his agent this morning and hired Ritch Winter to either make sure it happens, or to force a trade.

    Tony Gallagher is already starting to bang the drum about how Kassian is being blocked from playing on the top line with the twins.

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    • peanutflower
      March 1, 2012

      clearly your sarcasm is not being appreciated here. I voted thumbs up twice so far.

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  20. Lortimer
    March 1, 2012

    Note: Great players make other players better…

    The accurate question is why could a great? player like Kesler help make Hodgson (and others) better – because he is not a great offensive center (passing, offense generating) remember he is a natural winger..and was born with blinkers on!

    Also the Sedins were and ARE as sheltered and weak denfensively as Hodgson is supported to be and they have become hart/art Ross winners.

    Hodgson has the same potential anyone who can’t acknolwege this is ‘drinking kool -aid’

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    • Steven Ray Orr
      March 1, 2012

      You point to one of the core problems with keeping Coho: the Canucks already have a line composed of sheltered players that spend most of their time in the offensive zone. They didn’t really have room for Hodgson to create another one and see if he could develop himself into a Hart/Art Ross winner.

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  21. akidd
    March 1, 2012

    the winner is hodgson because he’s out from under AV’s ‘sheltering’ yoke. ruff even played him on the pk. the myth of him being a defensive liability is about to be busted. there were even comments about ‘bursts of speed’(while he’s not fast for the nhl, he’s not that slow either.)

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 1, 2012

      Should be fun to watch him develop over there.

      Fwiw, being played on the pk =/= being good at the PK. Don’t read too much into Hodgson’s deployment the rest of the way. Buffalo’s in a position to try whatever, because they’re terrible.

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    • Steven Ray Orr
      March 1, 2012

      To be fair, most NHL teams shelter at least some of their players. They just happen to call it something less demeaning.

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  22. foobarbear
    March 1, 2012

    Kassian–well he’s up for renewal when the sedins’ contracts expire.

    yeah i’m sure lawerence gilman is ecstatic and MG did the trade having that in mind.

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  23. sarah
    March 1, 2012

    MAG is the happiest person in the world right now. How is he not a winner?

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  24. BBoone
    March 2, 2012

    This must be the best blog/ discussion forum in all of sports. Keep up the good work. I missed game last night, How did Pahlsson and the third line play last night?

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  25. J21
    March 2, 2012

    Ooh, Tom Benjamin and Pass it to Bulis criss-crossing with each other! This is as personally exciting to me as if Joe Heath (of The Rebel Sell fame) were doing guest pieces on economics in Cracked!

    At what point do we have to start worrying about Laurence Gilman getting a full GM post somewhere else? I feel this is becoming a realistic concern. (Granted, I know a few members of his family, perhaps the question would be better put to them).

    And playing Rome over Tanev to get Gragnani into the lineup. Predictable, but… sigh. No, Alain. Bad, bad Alain. No! Go sit in the corner.

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  26. WorldTravels
    March 4, 2012

    Wow, I can’t believe I missed this article – just saw it today. Great stuff!

    Another note is I think Grags was brought in to replace Ballard. I think Ballard is a goner this summer to free up cap space for the person brought in through the Schneider trade (either top 6 winger or top 4 d-man). Grags is a RFA this summer, but can’t command more than $1.4M which is slightly below the average cap hit for a bottom 6 d-pairing. As we know, Ballard is the most expensive bottom d-man in the league….. Uhhhh.

    Anyway, I’m really interested to see what the d-pairings look like once Ballard comes back?? (assuming there are no more injuries).

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