Recapping the Canucks’ 2013 entry draft

It’s Draft Day, that marvellous time of the year when cynicism and pessimism are replaced by boundless hope and optimism. At the draft, each prospect is fêted as the next NHL star, with normally sober-minded analysts comparing a raw 18-year-old to Claude Giroux, Shea Weber, or Joe Thornton, when they’re equally likely to be the next Steve Bernier, Boris Valabik, or Lars Jonsson.

This was a busy draft for the Canucks, making the biggest trade of the day, sending Cory Schneider to the Devils for their first round pick at ninth overall. That added to the six picks they already had under their belt.

Pass it to Bulis was there through the entire draft, with Harrison in New Jersey to cover the draft in person and Daniel “in studio.” We ran a comprehensive liveblog, which now serves as a comprehensive recap. To get the full effect, you’ll want to read from the bottom up, unless you want to travel backwards in time and see the Canucks acquire young goaltender Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick.

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Canucks select Hunter Shinkaruk at 24th overall

For the first time in Mike Gillis’s tenure as the Canucks general manager, he had two first round selections at the draft. With his first, he picked two-way forward Bo Horvat at 9th overall. With his second, he went with a pure offensive talent in Hunter Shinkaruk at 24th.

Shinkaruk has been an elite scorer in the WHL over the past two seasons, tallying 177 points in 130 games in that time, including 86 goals. In general, he was ranked much higher than 24th in various draft rankings, with Bob McKenzie having him at 14th and Corey Pronman at 10th. Only one ranking that I saw had him below 24th overall.

My favourite part about the pick? Shinkaruk is from Calgary and grew up as a Flames fan. The Flames passed on him with the 22nd overall pick to go completely off the board with Emile Poirier, allowing the Canucks to swoop in and pick him up. Flames fans were not happy, which makes me feel just fine.

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Canucks shock the league, trade Cory Schneider to the Devils for the 9th overall pick, select Bo Horvat

The Roberto Luongo era isn’t over yet in Vancouver, as Mike Gillis made a major move at the NHL entry draft, trading goaltender Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth overall pick in the draft. With that pick, they selected Bo Horvat of the London Knights.

It’s a shocking move that will be argued endlessly in the weeks, months, and years to come. With apparently no other pieces in the deal, it is a straight-up Cory Schneider for Bo Horvat trade.

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Could the Canucks trade Cory Schneider during NHL Draft weekend instead?

By now, you’re probably aware that Mike Gillis’s quest to trade Roberto Luongo has proven somewhat difficult. Heck, it’s almost descended into a farce on par with another classic quest. It just needs more coconuts.

The issue: Luongo’s contract will outlast the Age of Aquarius. It’s burdensome and, as the man said himself, sucky. As a result, Gillis is struggling to find a taker for it.

Well, actually that’s not true. There are takers out there. But they only want to take. They have no interest in sending anything of value the other way. For Gillis, completing a decent Luongo trade under current circumstances is the hardest thing he’ll ever have to do, to borrow a term from the great Nick Lachey.

It’s rough. If only there was a way to hit the easy button on the Canucks’ crowded crease conundrum.

But forsooth, there is! Trade the other guy. And according to Darren Dreger, that’s what the Canucks are looking into now.

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Learning from recent history: what should we expect from the Canucks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft?

With all that nonsense about the Stanley Cup done and over with, hockey fans can turn their focus entirely to the entry draft, which will be happening in its entirety on Sunday, June 30th. Pass it to Bulis will be all over the draft from a Canucks perspective, from both myself “in studio” and Harrison, who will actually be in New Jersey providing on the ground coverage.

I’m assuming that means he’ll be spending most of his time actually lying on the ground, listening for Luongo trade rumours being broadcast by the reptilian Mahars that dwell within the hollow earth.

The draft is usually more exciting for those teams picking near the top, particularly this year, where potential franchise players like Seth Jones, Nathan McKinnon, and Jonathan Drouin are expected to be the top-three picks. The Canucks, both fortunately and unfortunately, have picked late in the first round for quite some time due to their regular season success.

So what can we expect from the the Canucks this year? To find out, I took a look at the common factors in every draft since Mike Gillis was hired. While Gillis has adjusted his drafting strategy over time, there are definitely certain patterns and tendencies that give us a pretty good idea of what to expect come Sunday.

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‘Under John Tortorella’ is the Rihanna parody we’ve all been waiting for [VIDEO]

John Tortorella’s arrival in Vancouver has been covered pretty much every way imaginable. With open arms. With crossed arms. With general glibness. By nerds. But until now, nobody had covered it musically, by way of a musical cover.

Thankfully, Clay Imoo of Canucks Hockey Blog is a giver. And when he saw that there was a glaring gap in the media coverage, gosh darn it, he did something about it. The result is “Under John Tortorella”, an anthem for our times. Set to the tune of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, which added a fourth syllable to a three-syllable word for literally no reason, and sung by the incredibly talented Marie Hui (the Mary J. Blige of the Smylosphere) it’s almost perfect.

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John Tortorella has a nice start in Vancouver, but will he stay nice?

More than a week before the Canucks announced the hiring of John Tortorella to be Alain Vigneault’s replacement behind the bench, word began to leak out that he was the leading candidate. While I highly doubt that that’s what the club wanted, this is one coaching leak they were probably okay with — unlike the one that had us breaking Alain Vigneault’s firing to the world before the Canucks could formally break it to him.

It worked out pretty well for the Canucks. Tortorella exited the Rangers with a reputation, and it was one that left everyone in Vancouver, from the fans to the media, skeptical that he was the right choice. This market requires patience — simply put, we’re the worst — and Tortorella’s not a patient man.

Fortunately, we wound up having several days to process the move. The result: by the time Tortorella was officially introduced via the Canucks’ press machine, nearly everyone had completed Kübler-Ross’s five stages.

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Spitballin’ on Torts reformed, Gallagher’s flip-flop, and more animal nicknames

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: 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 quick topics.

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John Tortorella officially announced as the new head coach of the Vancouver Canucks

It’s official. The Canucks will be holding a Q&A with fans via YouTube at 11 am before his official press conference at 1 pm. We expect all of you to submit a question from the list we posted this morning.

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25 questions we want to hear at John Tortorella’s first press conference with the Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have scheduled a press conference for 1 pm this afternoon, where it is expected that they will name John Tortorella the new head coach, unless the organization is running a masterful bluff and actually announces a hike in ticket prices, which the media will report in glowing terms since, hey, at least they didn’t hire Tortorella.

Tortorella’s testy relationship with reporters has been the focus over the last several days since rumours began circulating that he was headed to Vancouver, leading to plenty of anticipation for his first press conference with his new team. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a fairly staid affair, as Tortorella will look to make a good first impression.

That is, unless the reporters on hand ask the right — or, more appropriately, wrong — questions. While the press conference is likely to be full of questions about his tenure with the New York Rangers, what he hopes to accomplish with the Canucks, and why he accepted a job in a fish bowl like Vancouver, reporters are unlikely to ask the kinds of questions that really matter (or completely don’t matter).

With that in mind, here are 25 questions we want to hear at the Tortorella press conference. Elliott, Iain, Brad, Cam, et al., feel free to print these out and bring them with you.

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Seven players who the Canucks may select with the 24th pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft

The Stanley Cup Final isn’t even over yet and we’re already just one week away from the 2013 NHL entry draft. Thanks to the lockout, the NHL’s off-season schedule has been pushed back and condensed just like the season itself. If the Final goes to seven games, the General Managers of the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will have just three days in-between the end of the playoffs and the start of the draft.

Mike Gillis, on the other hand, has had a lot more time to consider the draft, even while interviewing head coaching candidates and shopping around Roberto Luongo. Unfortunately, the Canucks’ ouster in round one combined with winning the Northwest Division left the team with the 24th overall pick in the first round.

Thankfully, the 2013 draft is expected to be a very good one, with many suggesting that it will compare favourably to the 2003 draft, which is considered to be one of the best of all time. The Canucks nabbed Ryan Kesler with the 23rd pick in the first round in 2003; will the 24th pick in 2013 give them a player of the same calibre as Kesler?

I dug into the draft rankings from several respected sources to see who might be available to the Canucks at and around the 24th pick this year.

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Expected new Canucks head coach, John Tortorella, is on Twitter, loves dogs

We here at Pass it to Bulis let it be known early on that we were fully in favour of John Tortorella coaching the Canucks, not because we necessarily thought he was the best candidate, but because we like to balance our hockey analysis with humour and entertainment. Tortorella’s fiery run-ins with the media are blogger gold as he is as quick with a quip as he is with a cuss.

What we didn’t realize is that Tortorella would not only provide us with hilarious content, but also heartwarming content. Turns out, Tortorella is on Twitter and, while he’s known for lighting a fire under his player’s asses, his tweets will light a fire under your heart.

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Vancouver Canucks expected to hire John Tortorella, completing head coach trade with New York Rangers

In New York City, Alain Vigneault is being touted as an upgrade over John Tortorella. This, in itself, isn’t a surprise. After all, Tortorella’s abrasive style had worn out its welcome in the Big Apple, particularly with the media, and Vigneault comes with some impressive credentials to his name.

What is surprising, however, is that one of the big reasons he’s being touted as an upgrade is because he’s an offensive coach. In fact, Glen Sather specifically said that Vigneault “loves the offensive game” in the press conference introducing the new head coach. That will come as a shock to Vigneault’s biggest detractors in Vancouver, who bemoaned his tendency to lapse into boring, defensive hockey at the drop of a hat.

Meanwhile, the coach for whom Sather considers Vigneault an offensive upgrade is on his way to Vancouver to coach the Vancouver Canucks.

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Guest Post: A graphic designer breaks down the Utica Comets’ new look

Having debated the Utica Comets’ branding strategy over the past few days, we thought it might be a good idea to conclude the discussion on their design by bringing in a graphic designer to share his thoughts. Who better than John Van Der Woude, the B.C.-based graphic designer that designed this very site?

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Spitballin’ on Kassian’s favourite snack, Ballard’s patience, and Booth’s new Twitter account

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: 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 quick topics.

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The unfortunate results of the Utica Comets mascot design contest

Shortly after the Utica Comets were unveiled last week, we at PITB came to the realization that something was lacking. That something: a mascot. While the Canucks’ affiliate has a name and a crest and jerseys and, most importantly, a city to play in, they’re lacking in the giant, foamy creature that runs around the arena scaring and delighting children in equal measure department.

So we decided to do something about it, inviting our readers to submit designs for the thing, so as to save the Canucks some time. The submissions were all excellent. No doubt they’re all better than what anyone inside the Canucks organization could come up with.

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The Comets’ branding is just Canuck-centric enough

On Tuesday, Harrison asked whether the Utica Comets’ branding was too Canuck-centric. His main issue wasn’t with the logo, but with the colours, considering the new jersey is an exact replica of the Canucks’ with the new Comets’ logo in place of the Canucks’ orca.

Harrison argued that the Canucks’ colour palette reinforces the notion that the Comets are not truly Utica’s team. Instead, he argues, it marks the Comets as belonging to the Canucks first and foremost. He used the example of the Abbotsford Heat, whose jersey is a copy of the parent club Calgary Flames with the yellow piping removed. Since the Heat are, at this point, an example of how not to brand an AHL club, any similarity is a worrying sign.

With that said, I think the Comets’ branding is an example of how to do it right and the use of Canucks’ colours is not as big an issue as Harrison suggests.

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Is the Utica Comets’ branding too Canuck-centric?

Last week, the Canucks unveiled their new AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, as well as the spiffy new duds that the club would be wearing, and I should say right up front that I love the look of it all. I think I prefer the Comets crest to the birthing whale, and I’ve always been a big fan of Vancouver’s blue and green palette. It’s my favourite colour combination in the world outside of green and yellow (which, sadly, died out with the Minnesota North Stars, and likely no NHL team will employ again until John Deere breaks into the hockey sponsorship game).

On one hand, the Canucks should be commended for doing their research and making a nod to Utica’s hockey history through their branding. According to Canucks.com, the crest “honours the Comets heritage by incorporating the classic Comets shield, honours the game of hockey by using the puck as a focal point and draws connection to Canucks master brand through colours, lines and shapes.”

That’s all well and good. But, while they did a good job of connecting to Utica’s past, I think they erred in their connection to Utica’s present. It’s all too Canucky, in my opinion. As much as I love seeing the blue and green, my biggest issue is that palette. Those are Canucks colours, and for a team planted on the other side of the continent, I don’t like the blatant and constant visual reminder that they’re not the city of Utica’s team so much as they’re a Vancouver Canucks affiliate.

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Guest Post: In honour of Father’s Day, reflections from a new, hockey-loving Dad

Gerald Morton is a part-time Zamboni operator, PhD Candidate, occasional lecturer at Vancouver Island University and former hockey target. He’s also a prolific guest-poster, having written two guest posts for Puck Daddy and two guest posts for PITB. Today he has a heart-warming message for Father’s Day about loving hockey more than his children.

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Canucks sign Swedish goalie Joacim Eriksson

Assuming that Roberto Luongo does finally get traded this off-season, the Canucks will need a backup for Cory Schneider. They have a few different options for finding one: they could try to get a goaltender back in the Luongo deal, sign one of the older, veteran goaltenders in free agency, or let their goaltending prospects battle for the job.

The latter option isn’t particularly appealing, since the Canucks’ available goaltending prospects are Eddie Lack, Joe Cannata, and…nope, that’s it.

At least, that was it, as it appears that they have signed another goaltending prospect: Joacim Eriksson.

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Art contest: Design the Canucks’ new AHL mascot!

On Friday, the Canucks have finally announced a home for their wayward AHL franchise in Utica, New York, along with the name of the new club: the Comets.

The unveiling came complete with a logo and a jersey, but something very important was missing: a mascot. Every AHL team needs an excitement-inducing mascot, someone to connect with the kids who come out to watch the games, scare the younger ones who don’t understand to tears, and represent the team in the community.

Clearly, the only reason they didn’t introduce the mascot at the press conference is that they haven’t designed him yet. They must need help.

That’s where you come in. We are holding an entirely unofficial art contest to design the new Utica Comets mascot!

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Welcome the AHL’s Utica Comets, so named because you can only see them for a short time

Considering how many sagas the Vancouver Canucks have been juggling in recent days, it’s entirely possible that you might have lost track of one or two, so let’s get you caught up on the AHL affiliate saga, which came to a merciful end this week with the introduction of the Utica Comets.

Ever since their sweet deal with the Manitoba Moose was killed by the return of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, the Canucks have been working to find an AHL partnership as cushy as that one. The two-year pact with the Chicago Wolves, which expired at the end of this season, wasn’t it. While the Moose were a somewhat accommodating franchise, willing to give big minutes to the Canucks’ developing prospects, the Wolves were as independent as Destiny’s Child.

It created obstacles, and at some point in the relationship, the Canucks began working on a plan to procure their own AHL team, which would be closer to home, both in terms of their interests and their proximity. They set their sights on Abbotsford.

The plan only half-worked. After purchasing the Peoria Rivermen from the St. Louis Blues, the Canucks couldn’t work out a deal with the Flames to move the Abbotsford Heat elsewhere. Thus, for the past month or so, the Canucks has been looking for a city to park their new affiliate.

They landed on Utica, New York, birthplace of Springfield school district Superintendent Gary Chalmers. On Friday, Laurence Gilman, Lorne Henning, and Tom Sestito (for some reason) were in upstate New York to formally announce the advent of their new affiliate, the Comets.

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Spitballin’ on Tortorella in Vancouver, Breaking the Ice, and Cory Schneider’s wedding

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: 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 quick topics.

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Five years later: evaluating the Canucks’ 2008 draft

The 2013 NHL entry draft is less than three weeks away, which means that Mike Gillis and his crew will be doubly busy as they continue their search for a new head coach and prepare for the drafting table — the drafting table being where they will draft their list of potential draft picks prior to the draft. It’s a lot easier on the back than a desk.

Gillis has been criticized — quite fairly — for his struggles at the draft. Not a single Gillis pick played the full season with the Canucks in 2013. While Jordan Schroeder reached 31 games as a rookie, he was back in the AHL by the end of the season and didn’t play for the Canucks in the playoffs.

It’s worth noting, however, that Frank Corrado, drafted in the fifth round in 2011, played all four playoff games for the Canucks and looks set to make the team as a 20-year-old next season. Corrado’s success would seem to indicate that Gillis has improved at drafting in recent years, with prospects like Nicklas Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, and Patrick McNally bolstering that claim.

Meanwhile, he’s been able to add free agent prospects like Chris Tanev, Eddie Lack, and Kellan Lain. With that said, Gillis’s first couple years of drafting look rough in retrospect and the Canucks’ prospect pool is painfully shallow.

It’s been five years since Gillis’s first draft as Canucks’ GM in 2008, which gives us a fair span of time to judge a player’s development. Prospects drafted in 2008 are now 23 or so; at this point, if they haven’t already cracked an NHL lineup, they’re starting to reach their sell-by date. For the ones that have, after five years is when we can start to judge what kind of NHL player they have become.

So, just how bad was the 2008 draft for the Canucks? Was it as lacklustre as people think or has it been exaggerated?

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Coach Hunt 2013: Is Mike Gillis taking too long to find his replacement?

Oilers’ General Manager Craig MacTavish originally went out shopping for an associate coach — a little first anniversary present for his man, Ralph Krueger. But, like a husband walking the mall in search of a gift for the wife, only to find himself drawn less to the jewelry stores and more to the family law offices on the second floor, MacTavish soon realized that what he really wanted was a divorce.

And so he fired up his Skype account and he fired Krueger in a flash. (It was a more fitting gift anyway. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary, so walking papers are more in line with the hierarchy than a shiny new associate.)

Now coachless, MacTavish did what any newly single man would do: he hit the market hard. Having keyed Dallas Eakins as his next target, and not long after hearing that Eakins had gone in for a second interview with the Vancouver Canucks and they might soon be getting serious, MacTavish sprung into action, got Eakins in the room, and made his best pitch.

When he left the room, Eakins was his. The next time Mike Gillis logged into Facebook, he saw that Eakins had changed his status to “in a relationship”, and then Eakins wouldn’t return any of his text messages, it was horrible.

Or something like that. In any case, if the Canucks were interested in Dallas Eakins to replace the recently-dismissed Alain Vigneault, he’s off the market. And now they have to look elsewhere.

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