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.
Kesler out “at least a couple of weeks” with knee sprain
One of the concerns with not trading Ryan Kesler at the trade deadline was that he might suffer a serious injury in the Canucks remaining, relatively meaningless games, hurting his potential trade value in the off-season. When he got nailed knee-on-knee by Jim Slater in the Canucks game against the Jets, it looked like those fears were realized, as Kesler immediately left the game (to a chorus of inconsiderate boos from the MTS Centre) and was sent back to Vancouver for an MRI.
Fortunately, it looks like the injury isn’t as bad as it could have been, a simple knee sprain rather than an ACL tear or similar. Kesler will miss a couple weeks or so, rather than months.
Anyone who takes this as evidence that Mike Gillis should have made the trade at the deadline is ignoring that the best offer they received from the Pittsburgh Penguins was apparently Brandon Sutter and two draft picks. The same folks shredding him for not making the trade would be shredding him for the paltry return if he had made the trade. He’s damned either way.
It also makes little to no difference to the Canucks chances of making the playoffs. They were next to nil before Kesler got injured and just got a little closer to nil when he did get injured. They were next door neighbours to nil and now they’re living in nil’s basement suite.
Henrik “Company Man” Sedin “love[s] playing for these coaches”
With all the talk of the Canucks giving up on their coaches and playing to get them fired, has anyone thought of asking the players if this is the case? Well, yes. Unsurprisingly, the captain of the Canucks did not throw John Tortorella and the coaching staff under the bus.
“We love playing for these coaches, that’s the bottom line,” said Henrik. “I mean, they put in a system where we know we can win each and every game. What’s been missing this year, so far, has been us making mistakes and it’s cost us. I think that has been our biggest problem. We have a lot of guys in here who care extremely much about this team.”
The problem is that this is what Henrik has to say. Any player, much less a captain, who said anything less would be excoriated in the media and would instantly become a pariah among NHL management and coaches.
It could also be true, of course. Perhaps the team does love playing for Tortorella and the rest of the staff. Maybe they truly do believe that the systems that are in place, including the woeful power play, are the right systems and that the team can win with those systems. But I don’t believe it, and the same is true of a large number of Canucks fans.
The coaches put in a system that has rendered highly skilled players completely ineffective, made a formerly solid defence corps give up chance after chance, and ripped the teeth out of a once-dangerous power play. Weirdly, the Canucks were a better team at the beginning of the year when they were still learning the new coaches’ systems. Once they did learn them, they got worse.
Canucks sign Mike Zalewski out of the NCAA
While Mike Gillis’s drafting record hasn’t been stellar, he’s done well to augment his drafting by signing undrafted free agents out of major junior and the NCAA. He signed Dane Fox earlier this season, taking a chance on the OHL’s leading goalscorer, but his most recent signing is a little more low profile, signing 21-year-old left winger Mike Zalewski out of the Renssaeler Polytechnic Institute.
Zalewski has connections to both BC and Utica, the home of Vancouver’s AHL affiliate. He’s from New Hartford, NY, which is right next to Utica — their town centres are 9 minutes apart — and played his junior hockey with the Vernon Vipers. The RPI Engineers have some pretty famous alumni, including Adam Oates and Daren Puppa, but Zalewski is more likely to make his mark as a bottom-six forward if he makes it to the NHL.
With 21 goals and 47 points in 71 games with the Engineers, Zalewski can contribute a little bit of offence to go with his size and physicality and was one of just three undrafted free agents in the top 50 of SB Nation’s countdown of the best college prospects. Canucks prospect Ben Hutton, incidentally, was listed at 21.
Zalewski clearly has good breakaway speed and some nice hands, which is always nice to see from someone who’s most likely to become a bottom-six forward.
Booth isn’t just dreamy; he’s a dreamer
I’m not sure what denomination the outspokenly Christian David Booth belongs to, but it’s apparently one that encourages prophetic dreams. Right after Alex Burrows busted out of his goalscoring slump to tally two against the Winnipeg Jets, Booth revealed that he saw it coming all along: he had dreamt that Burrows scored two goals the night before.
Derek Jory has the details:
Post-game Wednesday following the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets, I was standing in the Canucks hallway when Booth walked up and stopped in front of me, laughing.
“I had a dream last night Burr was going to score two goals in this game,” Booth chuckled.
“No, seriously. It was freaky. I didn’t want to tell Burr and possibly jinx it, but I told him pre-game and look how that turned out.”
“I thought Boother was crazy when he told me that,” Burrows joked before Air Canucks took off for Washington Thursday morning.
“A lot of guys had been telling me stuff like that for the last 20 games or whatever. Weird that he said two goals and then it was two, man it could have been four the way I was feeling last night, but I’m not putting too much into it. Booth’s a funny guy.”
Funny guy or prophet? The Old Testament prophets did some pretty goofy things in their day. I’m pretty sure that if they had the word “dude” back in that time, Elijah would have been called a weird dude too…