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.
Canucks re-sign RFAs Joe Cannata, Peter Andersson, Yannick Weber
In focussing on the two biggest RFAs on the Canucks — Chris Tanev and Zack Kassian — we let a number of the smaller deals slip by. This shouldn’t be surprising: there’s only so much digital ink you can spill when it comes to depth players.
The biggest name among the three is Yannick Weber, who will likely once again be the Canucks’ seventh defenceman this season. Weber was capable, if unspectacular, in that role last season. He held his own in puck possession despite starting more shifts in the defensive zone than offensive zone, and managed 6 goals and 10 points in 49 games. He wasn’t quite as effective on the man advantage as I had hoped, but no one really was last season.
Weber got a slight raise from his $650,000 salary last season, getting a one-year, one-way deal worth $850,000, which is perfectly reasonable.
Joe Cannata and Peter Andersson will spend the entire season in Utica unless things go wrong on the injury front. Cannata is in an interesting position, as the Canucks now have an abundance of goaltenders with the addition of Ryan Miller. Assuming Jacob Markstrom is sent down to Utica, there will be three goaltenders vying for starts. Considering how well Joacim Eriksson played last season and that Markstrom is proven at the AHL level, Cannata is the odd man out and will likely spend some time with the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL.
As for Andersson, he still has potential, but at 23, the defenceman is running out of time to fulfill it. He received a two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level. He’ll likely be battling with Henrik Tommernes, Frank Corrado, and Bobby Sanguinetti to be the first call-up to the Canucks in case of injuries, but is realistically fourth among those players.
That leaves just Linden Vey, Darren Archibald, and Brandon De Fazio to re-sign, since the Canucks didn’t qualify Jordan Schroeder, Zac Dalpe, or Yann Sauve.
Canucks add depth to help Utica
The Utica Comets got off to a very rough start last season, losing 10-straight before righting the ship. While they improved significantly over time, it was still not an ideal experience for the Canucks’ young prospects. As much as the Canucks want their prospects to get a lot of ice time, they’d likely prefer it was in a winning environment.
To that end, the Canucks signed a couple strong AHL stars — Dustin Jeffrey and Bobby Sanguinetti — and re-signed one of their top defencemen from last season: Alex Biega.
All three are signed to two-way deals worth $600,000 at the NHL level, with all three getting significant paydays on the AHL side of their contracts as well. Jeffrey will net $225,000 in the AHL, Sanguinetti $250,000, and Biega $150,000.
Jeffrey and Sanguinetti are particularly interesting because they also provide NHL depth. Jeffrey has played 124 NHL games, scoring 31 points, and plays both centre and left wing. Sanguinetti has 45 NHL games under his belt, but put together some impressive possession statistics in his time with the Carolina Hurricanes.
They’ll be especially helpful at the AHL level, however, as Jeffrey has two seasons at or near a point-per-game, while Sanguinetti has 170 points in 277 AHL games as a defenceman. As for Biega, he led all Comets’ defencemen last season with 22 points.
Markstrom may or may not want a trade
A couple conflicting reports came out over the past week regarding Jacob Markstrom. The weird part is that the conflicting reports seem to have come directly from Jim Benning.
With the signing of Ryan Miller, Markstrom’s future with the Canucks is in doubt. While he built up a reputation as one of the best goaltenders not in the NHL a while back with strong AHL numbers, he has looked terrible in NHL action ever since. It has to be assumed that Markstrom won’t outplay Eddie Lack in training camp and will be sent down to Utica before he has to clear waivers.
It’s understandable, then, that Markstrom wouldn’t be happy with the situation and, according to an article by Jason Botchford, Markstrom requested a trade.
It’s believed Markstrom, who wants to play in the NHL with his $1.2 million cap hit, asked for the Canucks to trade him if they can after the Ryan Miller signing.
The Canucks have explored trades and there is interest from at least three teams.
“That situation could work itself out over the summer,” Benning said. “The teams that are interested may have to move out another guy.
“We’re exploring that for Jacob. But if that doesn’t happen, Jacob comes to camp. He has a good attitude. He understands the situation.
“Look at Minnesota last year. They went through about five goalies.”
To be fair, Botchford hedged his bets, saying “It’s believed” rather than anything concrete, but Benning’s quotes seem to imply that they’re looking at trade options because Markstrom wants a real opportunity to play in the NHL. Then, the next day, Benning denied it entirely.
Benning on G JacobMarkstrom: “He hasn’t requested a trade. We talked to him the other day. He’s going to come to camp with a good attitude.”
— Elliott Pap (@ElliottPap) July 7, 2014
Okay, so Markstrom hasn’t requested a trade, but the Canucks are still looking at trading him. I’m guessing they’re just picking up some “Trade me” vibes. Perhaps Markstrom has been emailing Benning pictures of Ryan Kesler or sending him links to his CapGeek page with the comment, “Weird, it looks like I don’t have a No Trade Clause.”
Either that or Botchford took an educated guess and missed the mark. Understandable.
Nikita Tryamkin is a surprisingly agile skater
Canucks Army’s resident prospect-hater, Rhys J, has been posting some great video from Canucks development camp at UBC that’s well worth watching. They’re just short clips, but it’s interesting to see the paces the coaches put the prospects through and how well each prospect handles the drills. The quick takeaways I’ve gotten from them is that Hunter Shinkaruk is a wizard when it comes to puckhandling, Jared McCann is an explosive and quick skater, and Nikita Tryamkin is a surprisingly agile skater.
That last one caught me a little off-guard. I have no idea what to expect from the 6’7″ Russian, but smooth skating isn’t at the top of the list. But you can see from this highlight video from the 2014 World Junior Championships that Tryamkin, though gangly at times, can generate both speed and agility with his skating.
The highlight of this video for me comes near the end, around the 5:25 mark, and it’s just a little thing. Tryamkin skates into his own zone to retrieve a dump-in with Scott Laughton in on the forecheck. Though Laughton is a little off-balance, Tryamkin still pivots away from him and begins skating the puck out of the defensive zone with incredible ease. At that moment, he doesn’t look like an awkward, 6’7″ teenager.
I have no idea if Tryamkin will become an NHLer someday, but my hopes are a lot higher than they were on draft day.
Canucks hire Doug Lidster as assistant coach
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Canucks are once again dipping into their past to staff their present. This time, they brought back Doug Lidster as an assistant coach alongside Willie Desjardins, the same role he filled with Desjardins with the Texas Stars for the past two seasons and with the Medicine Hat Tigers for one season back in 2002-03.
Lidster was drafted by the Canucks back in 1980 and played nine full seasons in Vancouver. His 63 points in 1986-87 are a franchise record for a defenceman.
He was also part of the team that made the historic run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994. Unfortunately, that team was the Rangers, having been traded to New York in the previous off-season. Making matters worse, Lidster scored two goals against the Canucks in the seven-game series.
It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Lidster will have on the Canucks defence corps, who struggled last season under John Tortorella and Mike Sullivan. Lidster himself was a puck-moving defenceman who relied more on sound positioning than physicality. That seems to fit the modus operandi of defencemen like Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis. What the Canucks really need is a bounceback season from Alex Edler, who Tortorella openly admitted to being unable to connect with.
The one issue may be Lidster’s lack of coaching experience, with just one season as a head coach, with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, where he was replaced partway through the season, and three seasons as an assistant, all with Desjardins. He has never worked behind an NHL bench, though he played 15 seasons in the NHL.Tags: Doug Lidster, Jacob Markstrom, Nikita Tryamkin, spitballin, Yannick Weber