The start of the NHL playoffs is an odd time for a hockey team’s fanbase. Co-workers and relatives that have never paid attention to sports will suddenly start conversations with “Big game tonight, eh?” Fans of teams who finished outside the playoff picture begin a slow and painful migration to half-heartedly cheering for another team. Even the casual fan will start following the team with a passion usually reserved for their significant others; meanwhile, those significant others resign themselves to suddenly having their schedules revolve around game time.
Yes, playoff time is the time of the bandwagon fan, and here at Pass it to Bulis, we are firmly pro-bandwagon-fan. We understand that not everyone is able or willing to follow every wrinkle of the 82-game regular season. While we appreciate those dedicated fans who watched every game with us this season, we also appreciate those who jump on board at the last minute. We get it: playoff hockey is incredible, while regular season hockey has the potential to be unbearable.
This is why we created the Canucks Bandwagon Fan Cheat Sheet a couple years ago, to inform such fair-weather fans of what they have missed. The Cheat Sheet tells you everything you need to know about each player on the Canucks so that you can easily fit in with the rest of the fanbase. It includes nicknames, what to expect, and things you should and shouldn’t say.
We published part one and two of the Cheat Sheet back in February as people first began hopping on the bandwagon, but there have been some changes to the team since then. Thus, it is now time for the Appendix, covering the new and potential additions to the Canucks so you can be just as well-informed about them as you are about the rest of the team.
About: Like Christian Ehrhoff before him, Gragnani wears no. 5 and plays defence. Also like Ehrhoff, he really only sort of plays defence. Gragnani is more adept with the puck than he is without it, leading to occasional adventures in his own end of the ice, and not the fun kind with the Dread Pirate Roberts and Rodents Of Unusual Size. In the offensive zone, however, Gragnani is creative and an excellent passer. In the AHL, he scored at a near point-per-game pace last season and scored 7 points in 7 games in the NHL playoffs last year with the Buffalo Sabres. Along with Zack Kassian, he was acquired in a trade for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.
Nickname(s): Grags, MAG, Magazine, Granny, Nani
My wife thinks he looks like: Thomas Dekker
If he touches the puck, hope that it’s along the boards in the offensive zone, because that’s when he’s at his best.
Expect to hear: “Whose check was that wide open in front of the net? I’m betting it was Gragnani’s.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”Gragnani is the next Aaron Rome.”
About: Kassian is a power forward who wears no. 9. He was the key piece in the Cody Hodgson trade and was named the 13th best prospect in the NHL by The Hockey News. While still developing as a player, Kassian can contribute physically and has shown a lot of scoring potential. Because of how highly valued Hodgson was by the Canucks fanbase, there is a certain stigma attached to Kassian that he likely won’t shake until he starts putting up points; the playoffs would be a great time to start. Also, and most importantly, he’s missing one of his front teeth, which makes him look kinda goofy.
Nickname(s): Far too many to mention all of them: Kass, Mama Kass, Flak Jacket, Mac Daddy, Daddy Mac, Crackalackin’ Kassian
My wife thinks he looks like: a curly-haired and bearded Lloyd Christmas.
If he touches the puck, he’s going to stick his body between it and his defender and that guy ain’t getting the puck.
Expect to hear: “I like that the Canucks got tougher in the Hodgson trade.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”I like that the Canucks didn’t lose anything of value in the Kassian trade.”
About: Pahlsson is a checking-line centre and wears no. 26. He hails from Sweden and was one of the key members of the Anaheim Ducks’ famed checking line that helped lead them to the 2007 Stanley Cup. The Canucks acquired him for prospect Taylor Ellington and two 4th round picks, but he replaced Cody Hodgson as the team’s third-line centre. That line, with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, ended up being a key contributor offensively at the end of the regular season, belying his reputation as only being effective in the defensive zone.
Nickname(s): Paul Samuelsson, Robert, Samme, Sami, Sammy, Samy, Sammi, Sammeiye
My wife thinks he looks like: Viggo Morgenson in A History of Violence.
If he touches the puck, he just poked it away from the opposition. That’s called a pokecheck.
Expect to hear: “I swear, Pahlsson never stops moving in the defensive zone: he’s tireless.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”I swear, Pahlsson is all axles and rims: he’s tireless.”
The Canucks’ AHL farm team, the Chicago Wolves, are also in the playoffs, so we won’t see any of these players until they are eliminated, unless the Canucks experience some serious injury problems.
About: Baumgartner plays defence and wears no. 44. He is the captain of the Wolves and is essentially a career AHL player, with one good NHL season to his name back in 2005-06 with the Canucks. During last season’s Stanley Cup Final, Baumgartner was called up to the Canucks thanks to a spate of injuries amongst the Canucks defence. Though he didn’t end up playing, it’s not out of the question that he’ll get called up.
Nickname(s): Bomber, “Crash” Davis
My wife thinks he looks like: James Van Der Beek
If he touches the puck, the Canucks have run out of defencemen.
Expect to hear: “Baumgartner is a great mentor for our prospects.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”Baumgartner is a great prospect.”
About: Connauton is a offensive defenceman and wears no. 61. He is in his sophomore season in the AHL and has been the Wolves’ top defenceman. He was named to the AHL All-Star Game and won the Hardest Shot Competition, but the defensive side of his game still has some holes in it. If the Canucks experience a few key injuries and need a powerplay specialist…well, they’ll use Gragnani. But if they’re really desperate Connauton might get the call.
Nickname(s): Con Air, The Neck
My wife thinks he looks like: Josh Hutcherson
If he touches the puck, he’ll unleash a blistering slap shot directly into someone’s leg.
Expect to hear: “With a little more polish, he could be with the team next season.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”With a little more polish, he could really buff his forehead to a shine.”
About: Mancari plays forward and wears no. 24. He has size, strength, and hands, but lacks skating speed and overall meanness. He played 6 games with the Canucks this season, but spent most of his time with the Wolves, where he led the team in scoring with 56 points in 67 games. In a pinch, he can be an effective option on the 3rd or 4th line in the NHL
Nickname(s): Mark-Man, Calamari
My wife thinks he looks like: if John Mayer was actually a badass.
If he touches the puck, he’ll look up to see what his options are, expecting to have the kind of time and space he gets in the AHL.
Expect to hear: “I really wish Mancari would use his size a bit more.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”I’m telling you, Mancari and Schroeder are the next Bertuzzi and Naslund.”
About: Oreskovich plays forward and wears no. 38. He played 16 games for the Canucks last season, as well as 19 more in the playoffs. It was hoped that he would impress at training camp and earn a spot on the team, but was replaced when Dale Weise was claimed off waivers from the New York Rangers. He earned enough trust last season to dress in the playoffs and may be a depth option for the 4th line if injury problems strike, but the general consensus is that he’s done in Vancouver.
Nickname(s): Oreo, Goes-the-Spoils
My wife thinks he looks like: a cross between Sean Astin and Pauly Shore.
If he touches the puck, he’ll give it to an opponent so he has an excuse to hit him, because coach told him to be more physical.
Expect to hear: “If only he hadn’t quit the game for two years…”
Don’t expect to hear: ”Hmm…big body, right-handed shot, redhead: Vigneault should try him with the Sedins!”
About: Reinprecht plays forward and wears no. 29 for the Wolves. He was acquired from the Florida Panthers in the David Booth trade, but it’s suspected that he wasn’t just a throw-in. Reinprecht has over 600 games of NHL experience, including a Stanley Cup ring, and has put together a quietly effective season with the Chicago Wolves. It’s expected that he will be one of the first call-ups from the Wolves once their season is done. The suspicion is that the only reason he hasn’t been called up already this season is because he would have to go through re-entry waivers and would most likely be claimed by another team.
Nickname(s): The Rhino
My wife thinks he looks like: Ralph Fiennes
If he touches the puck, he’s probably right in front of the net, banging in a rebound.
Expect to hear: “I can’t believe Florida keeps trading us all these good players.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”I legitimately can’t believe it’s not butter.”
About: Sauve is a stay-at-home defenceman who wears no. 47. He played 5 games in a Canucks uniform last season and did not look out of place, but his development still isn’t where the Canucks would like it, partly due to getting struck by a car two seasons ago in training camp. Sauve was a steady presence on the Wolves’ blueline this season and could get a call up if there are significant injuries to players like Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts.
Nickname(s): Off-Brand Pokemon, Yanni
My wife thinks he looks like: Ianto Jones.
If he touches the puck, he’ll bank it off the glass and out of the defensive zone.
Expect to hear: “Wait, Sauvé’s playing? I didn’t even notice him out there.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”Did you see that end-to-end rush by Sauvé?”
About: Schroeder is an undersized forward who wears no. 40. He was the Canucks’ first round draft pick in 2009, but has faced a steep learning curve in his transition to professional hockey. He had 43 points in 73 games for the Wolves, but improved as the season progressed, including his commitment to the defensive end of the ice. If the Canucks are in desperate need of some top-six help due to injuries, Schroeder could get called up to play on the second line.
My wife thinks he looks like: a young Lance Armstrong.
If he touches the puck, he’s going to skate with it. A lot.
Expect to hear: “Schroeder has some crazy wheels. He can really fly out there.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”Schroeder has some crazy wheels. They’re all tricked out with spinners.”
About: Sweatt is a forward and wears no. 42. He played 2 games for the Canucks this season, recording no points. To be fair, he barely saw the ice, playing fewer than 11 minutes total in the two games. Sweatt has great speed, great hands, and a great shot, but hasn’t quite seen that translate at the NHL level yet. With his speed and defensive acumen, he could find a way onto a 3rd or 4th line, which is where he could slot in if enough injuries occur in the playoffs.
Nickname(s): Perspiring Cash, Sweaty, Bill the Cat, The Flash
My wife thinks he looks like: if Luke and Owen Wilson had a younger brother.
If he touches the puck, his older brother will remind him that he can always become a financial advisor.
Expect to hear: “That guy’s faster than Mason Raymond!”
Don’t expect to hear: ”That guy’s cuter than Mason Raymond!”
About: Volpatti is a fourth-line forward and wears no. 54. The Canucks were looking for toughness in training camp and Volpatti impressed, showing an ability to hold his own against some tough fighters while still being able to hold his own with his puckhandling and skating. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder at the beginning of December and had surgery to repair a torn labrum. He was expected to miss the rest of the season, but he began skating again at the end of March and there’s an outside shot he’ll be ready to play at some point during the postseason.
Nickname(s): Rat Burger, Peppermint Patti
My wife thinks he looks like: Josh Groban
If he touches the puck, the linesman forgot to pick it up when Volpatti dropped the gloves to fight someone and he accidentally skated into it.
Expect to hear: “I can’t believe how quickly he recovered from his shoulder injury.”
Don’t expect to hear: ”I could totally take Volpatti in a street fight.”