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.
The Canucks are Benjamin Buttoning
At the beginning of the NHL season, some pundits noted that the Canucks were old. That’s less than ideal. The NHL is a game for the youngs, and one look at the Canucks’ roster revealed that they had a preponderance of olds.
But Jim Benning is slowly turning back the clock. Vancouver opened the season behind only the New Jersey Devils in average age, at 28.8, and now, after working youngsters like Bo Horvat, Frankie Corrado and Adam Clendening into the lineup, they’ve managed to roll things back by a whole year. The Canucks’ average age now is 27.8.
As Trevor Beggs of The Hockey Writers notes, the defence is actually in pretty great shape. Only Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa are on the wrong side of 30. And whatever about the goaltending. But up front it’s another story. From The Hockey Writers:
The biggest issue with the age of the Canucks forwards, is that almost of the top guys are above the age of 30. Nick Bonino, 26 is the only Canucks forward in the top six who hasn’t surpassed 30 years of age.
The offensive force behind the Canucks is the top line of the Sedin twins along with Radim Vrbata. While their offensive production this year has led the team, the Canucks are going to want to inject some youth into their top forward group if they want to have any sustained success.
Fortunately, it’s coming. Jake Virtanen is a safe bet to be with the team next year, and Nicklas Jensen and Hinter Shinkaruk are knocking on the door as well. Plus Linden Vey might be able to crack the top-six if he continues to develop.
The Cody Hodgson trade is dead
Who won the Cody Hodgson trade?
Remember that question? We used to ask it, back when both players seemed to have relevance in their future. But now? It seems clear that nobody won. Cody Hodgson missed the game in Vancouver as a healthy scratch. Kassian played on the fourth line, and was scratched for the next one.
As it stands, this was a trade for in-betweeners — guys that haven’t been able to translate their skill to the big leagues. Why spend any time thinking about a trade like that? It’s Guillaume Desbiens for Jason Krog.
But that was always a concern. Both Hodgson and Kassian were highly-touted, sure, but for a number of reasons, their organizations were sick of them. A few years on, it seems that the change of scenery was unable to fix their problems, and once again, both organizations are really to move on.
Did the Canucks get screwed on Alex Edler’s disallowed goal?
Oh most definitely. 100%. There’s no question it was a terrible call.
But I never played the game. If you want to hear it from a former NHL goaltender, Jamie McLennan says the same thing in this TSN video.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that Jacob Markstrom’s name has come up a lot lately. That’s because the Canucks are in love with him. In love. After sneaking Markstrom down to Utica to see if they couldn’t turn his game around and turn him into the trade piece he wasn’t at the beginning of the year, something special has happened instead: Markstrom has played so well that the franchise now suspects he might be the future.
The Canucks were open to trading Markstrom earlier this season,” wrote ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, “but word is now they’ve decided to keep him given how impressive his development has been this season.”
This raises an interesting question, though: what do they do with the goalies they have? The easy choice would be to trade Eddie Lack, of course, to make room for Markstrom. But that’s a stopgap fix, and a waste of an asset, both in terms of Lack’s talent and his drama-free disposition.
They’re not going to get much for Lack, who’s had a rough season statistically. Plus that leaves them with Miller and Markstrom, what, sharing the crease? Miller doesn’t share. And Markstrom’s in a groove. And he’s happy, which he sure wasn’t at the beginning of the season, and he sure won’t be if he’s on the bench every night like Lack’s been.
Seems to me, with the Canucks trying to shave off the years, not to mention in love with Markstrom, the sensible thing to do, if possible, is to move Miller. One wonders how deep the Canucks’ love is. Deep enough to divorce Miller? I think it might be. It would mean admitting the Ryan Miller signing was a mistake, and probably eating some salary… but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if the Canucks are paying for both of the 2010 gold medal game goalies to not play for them by the end of the year.
Some people love the Comets
Speaking of the goings-on in Utica, consider this photo, via Reddit:
I think it’s weird to love the Canucks this much. I mean, it’s a sports team. But a minor-league sports team? That’s nutty.