Spitballin’ on aging in reverse, moving Miller, and a Comets-themed wedding

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass ITBulis: 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 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.

‘Tender Love

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:

WHAT.

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.

 

20 comments

  1. Bboone
    February 2, 2015

    Why is “loving “a minor league team nuttier that “loving” a major league team ? That’s like saying ” I enjoy talking to horses but not goats “.

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    • Markmark
      February 2, 2015

      That’s because goats are back-stabbers.

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      Rating: +24 (from 24 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      February 2, 2015

      Nah, it’s like saying I enjoy talking to horses, but not, like, way lamer horses that aren’t as good.

      Plus goats go to Hell.

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      • llaplander
        February 2, 2015

        Got to disagree – Sure those are Kentucky Derby winning horses 1/2 a continent away, and these are only young riding horses here; but maybe they will become Derby winners. And heck, these are OUR horses…
        “Love your horses! Go Comets!”

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      • Neil B
        February 4, 2015

        Yeah, the goats had it coming, hogging all the food & drink & stuff.

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    • Char Richo
      February 3, 2015

      Well just off the top of my head, it’s instantly more insane to me because, barring an earthquake that literally chops Vancouver off and into the ocean, the Canucks are definitely going to be in Vancouver 5 years from now.

      The Comets in Utica? Maybe not. If the AHL western movement takes off, then probably not.

      So at least if you did this in Canucks jerseys, there is a good chance by the time your kids look at the photo down the road, they know what the point was. These people are probably going to have this in their wedding album and in 10 years people will look at it and go “who are the Comets??!!”

      But don’t get me wrong. It would also be crazy to do this in a Canucks jersey. No question.

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    • Vanoxy
      February 3, 2015

      Luckily they took the goats and horses out of the barn before the wedding.

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  2. Thomas Shipley
    February 2, 2015

    In regards to Horvat, I have been interested in comparing him to similar players throughout their deveilopment.

    For example, Ryan O’Reilly, (also a center, also plays a two-way game, also managed a point-per-game out of junior) had 26 points in 81 games in his rookie year (.32 ppg) whereas Horvat has managed 10 points in 34 games (.29 ppg). But taking into account their rookie year ATOI (O’Reilly: 16:46, Horvat: 10:26), if Horvat was given the same ice-time as O’Reilly, he theoretically could be at a .46 ppg pace.

    Now I don’t personally believe that Horvat would be able to surpass O’Reilly’s rookie ppg by 14%, but I was wondering, how plausible is it to believe that Horvat, if given more ice-time, could produce at that level?

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  3. Markus Meyer
    February 2, 2015

    Thing is, the Ryan Miller signing wasn’t a mistake, at least in my mind. I’d be interested in hearing your side of the debate though.

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    • Dave in PoMo
      February 2, 2015

      Other than too much money and too many years, signing Miller was not a bad deal.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      February 2, 2015

      I think, based on the information and personnel the Canucks had at that time, it was a fine signing. But it seems like Markstrom’s development has surprised them, and I’d suggest they now regret signing up for three years for Miller.

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      • Rory
        February 2, 2015

        I think he’s worth more with a few years left on his contract. At the deadline he brings back more if he’s under contract past the end of the season. Benning hedged his bets either way. If he had only signed Miller to a one year deal, you can bet he would have needed a raise for next year if we keep him. If he gets traded, the Canucks are going to get back more for a proven starter with good numbers and two years left on a fair deal.

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      • Char Richo
        February 3, 2015

        I think the Miller signing also looked a lot better in the summer before the Cnd $ started plummeting and people thought the cap would go up next year.

        That being said, given what other goalies got over the summer, I just don’t see any way that there were other teams lining up to pay anywhere near $6 mil per year for three years for Miller. Getting Miller was probably the right move at the time, I just find it hard to believe it would actually have cost that much to get him.

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        • Neil B
          February 4, 2015

          Yes, but…

          If the Canucks were to retain as much as $3 mill of Miller’s salary (way too much, btw) and give Markstrom & Lack 50% wage increases (also too much), we’d still be paying less for goalies next year than we are this year.

          There may not be a market for Miller as a $6 mill cap hit goalie, but I’m sure there’s a market out there for Miller as a $4.5 cap hit goalie.

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          • J21
            February 6, 2015

            I’m not sure there is. There is an overabundance of competent goaltenders on the planet, and only 30 starting NHL positions. Of those, almost all are set with someone they would keep before Ryan Miller (if only because of the transaction costs involved in making a lateral move), even before you get into the cost and term.

            Now add in the extra issue of Miller’s limited NTC and (in essence) being able to avoid Edmonton and Winnipeg, and where is he going to go?

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    • akidd
      February 2, 2015

      i get the impression that benning plays the long game, thank goodness. he understands the ups and downs of goaliedom and i doubt that he’s going to move miller this year. a few months does not a goalie make. lack’s stock has slipped and markstrom’s has risen. that could be completely reversed next year, or in a few weeks for that matter. unproven guys are much bigger gambles. all you’re betting on with miller is that he’s gonna chug along at more or less his career average. he could bottom out too but the chances are that if you give him his games he’ll get you average goaltending.

      the canucks are too fragile to risk a goaltending collapse. why take a chance? 6 mil per is the price of a few less moving parts. not a bad deal.

      that being said, i’ve become doubtful that the canucks will make the playoffs this year. so why not give the lack/markstrom tandem a go. but that’s coming from a fan who just wants some entertainment. benning otoh should probably be a bit more careful. if there’s a great deal for miller, then perhaps, but something negligible isn’t worth the risk of traumatizing fans, and team alike, with the deadly combo of stale toast skating and swiss cheese in net. once was enough. not a good sandwich.

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  4. PakG1
    February 2, 2015

    I think that’s poor fashion, dude. Let the Comets get love. If the farm team has no fans, what effect would that have on the players down there developing? Players love playing in front of a supportive crowd. We should encourage some fandom!

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  5. J21
    February 6, 2015

    Jake Virtanen is a safe bet to be with the team next year, and Nicklas Jensen and Hunter Shinkaruk are knocking on the door as well.

    Shinkaruk isn’t knocking on the door. He’s not even in the same room as the door at this point. Whether it’s his injury recovery, or size, or adjusting to the pro game, his first AHL season has been underwhelming and he’s not one of the Comets’ key contributors. We won’t be seeing him for a while yet.

    Virtanen is on a hot streak right now, but we know that Desjardins isn’t a huge fan of too many kids on the team, so we’ll see. I’m not convinced he’s getting more than 9 games next year.

    Re: Kassian-Hodgson. This trade is going to end up being so unfortunate, because I’m not sure either player finds himself in his current predicament if it’s never made. The Caucks showed Hodgson had a lot of promise when used in the right way, while Kassian was coming off a productive AHL stint and would probably be featured much more in the Sabres’ attack. It’s just a shame — value-destroying, which isn’t good for the NHL.

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  6. Fut 14 Coins
    February 15, 2015

    hello cheap Fifa coins for you! Please look at my username! :P

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  7. Llaplander
    February 2, 2015

    Do you follow this Blog? Or know how a link works? Or was that sarcasm, in which case I do apologize for the downvote… :(

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