Watch every goal Chris Higgins scored last season (1-8)

The general opinion of Canucks fans is that pretty much no one had a good season under John Tortorella apart from, perhaps, Chris Tanev and Chris Higgins. In Higgins’ case, it’s simply that he performed about as well last season as he did in the previous two seasons, if not slightly worse. The reason we [...]

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Stick in Link: Deal or no deal in Bertuzzi/Moore case?

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Canucks Ice Bucket Challenge boils over into ‘Two and A Half Men’ blood feud

By now, it’s incredibly likely that, not only have you heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (in which people dump a bucket of ice on their heads and challenge friends, colleagues, or even enemies to do the same in an ongoing effort to raise money and awareness to fight ALS), but you’ve done it, too.

Like every hockey team, the Ice Bucket Challenge has swept through the Canucks organization, and thank goodness. It’s been a long time since we last saw these guys hit the ice, and while there’s still a ways to go before the break is over, at least we can avail ourselves by watching the ice hit the players.

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Watch every goal Daniel Sedin scored last season (Part 2)

It’s time for part two of every goal that Daniel Sedin scored last season, which highlights one positive: Daniel scored enough goals that we had to split them into two posts. It’s not as good as the 2010-11 season, when we spent an entire week recapping Daniel Sedin’s goals, of course, but it could have been worse.

It’s also a bit depressing that he’s one of just three players who need their goals split over more than one post.

The biggest reason for Daniel’s paltry goal totals was his 23-game goalless drought through January, February, and most of March. To put that into perspective, his longest stretch without a goal in the previous season was 8 games and that wasn’t a great season for Daniel either.

Incredibly, you have to go all the way back to Daniel’s sophomore season, to when he was just 21-years-old, to find a longer goalless drought. He went 25 games without a goal in the 2001-02 season, finishing with just 9 goals. Good news! 33-year-old Daniel is better at hockey than 21-year-old Daniel, nearly doubling his goal total from his sophomore season. See, there’s always a silver lining.

Here are the final 8 goals Daniel scored last season.

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Watch every goal Daniel Sedin scored last season (Part 1)

The 2013-14 season started off reasonably well for Daniel Sedin. He scored 6 goals in October, putting him on pace for another 30+ goal season.

Things got steadily worse through the rest of 2013, scoring just 4 goals in November and 3 goals in December, but it was 2014 that brought the real misery. Incredibly, Daniel went goalless through January and February, apart from one measly goal during the Olympics. Then, after the Olympics were over, Daniel suffered a leg injury in the debacle of an outdoor game, keeping him out of the lineup for most of March.

It took until March 26th for Daniel Sedin to score his first goal as a Canuck in 2014. Between him and Alex Burrows, the Canucks had two of the most bizarre goal droughts in the entire NHL last season.

How in the world does that happen? He finished the season with just 16 goals, his lowest total since 2003, aside from the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Not coincidentally, he also posted the lowest shooting percentage of his career, which may give some hope that he can turn things around next season. Alternately, if you’re feeling pessimistic, you could argue that he just hasn’t been the same since Duncan Keith gutlessly concussed him back in 2012.

I’m a little more optimistic: with either Radim Vrbata or a non-cursed Alex Burrows on his opposite wing and a powerplay that isn’t a garbage fire, Daniel should be able to get back to at least 25 goals next season. Part of the reason for my optimism came from watching his goals from last season, some of which are fantastic. Here are the first 8.

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Watch every goal Brad Richardson scored last season

Last July, when the Canucks signed Brad Richardson to a two-year deal, I rated the signing as “Pretty Okay.” That’s exactly how I feel about Richardson’s season. Since the rest of the team was mostly abysmal, “pretty okay” looked a lot better than normal.

Richardson was absolutely buried in the defensive zone all season, starting the vast majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. Most of the time when we talk about a player starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone, we’re talking in relation to his offensive zone starts, ignoring the neutral zone. This isn’t the case for Richardson. He was on the ice for 444 defensive zone faceoffs at 5-on-5, far more than in the defensive zone (217) or neutral zone (267). No one else on the Canucks came even close to that.

With that kind of deployment, it’s not surprising that his Corsi% was below 50%. Starting that often in the defensive zone all but guarantees that your team will be out-shot while you’re on the ice. Honestly, it’s impressive that his possession statistics weren’t worse and it’s definitely impressive that he managed to score 11 goals, though it comes as no surprise that he had the highest shooting percentage of his career while doing so.

It’s also worth noting that once Richardson was off the fourth line and skated on the third line with Zack Kassian and David Booth, his Corsi% popped above 50%. That third line was legitimately effective and it will be interesting to see if Richardson can out-battle Shawn Matthias, Bo Horvat, and Linden Vey for the third-line centre role in training camp. If not, he’ll have a better linemate on the fourth line in Derek Dorsett, who performed even better with similar usage as Richardson.

But enough about that: let’s look at Richardson’s 11 goals and see what can be gleaned from them.

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Watch every goal Jannik Hansen scored last season

Like it was for most of the Canucks, last season was a disappointment for Jannik Hansen. After scoring 10 goals in 47 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, he scored just one more in 71 games last season. He was third in points behind only the Sedins in 2013. Last season, he was 12th.

Hansen has long been in a sort of limbo, seemingly always poised on the brink of becoming a legitimate top-six forward, yet faltering every time he’s put in that position. Last season, Hansen appeared to completely change his game depending on what line he was put with, trying to be Alex Burrows for the Sedins, a playmaking winger for Kesler, and a one-dimensional checker for the the third line.

Hansen spent so much time trying to be someone else that he seemed to forget what made him successful in the first place. He’s not primarily someone who can be a pestering, forechecking net-front presence like Burrows, or a playmaker, or a defensive forward. He’s all three of those things in equal measure. He seemed to limit himself to just one aspect of his game depending on his line and it led to the worst offensive season of his career.

It’s not all bad news, however. Just like a lot of his success in the 2013 season was driven by the percentages, so was a lot of his failure in the 2013-14 season. He also managed to score 11 goals, his third straight season with a double-digit goal total.

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Stick in Link: Virtanen ahead of schedule; Demko struggles at US world junior camp

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Tuesday and Thursday. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Watch every goal Alex Edler scored last season

Alex Edler had a bizarre season. Despite posting positive underlying numbers that saw the Canucks outshoot their opposition whenever Edler was on the ice at even-strength, Edler had a league-worst minus-39 plus/minus rating. Everything went wrong for Edler at even-strength and things didn’t get any better for him on special teams, since the Canucks’ powerplay was entirely composed of cold, wet garbage last season.

Oilers blogger Tyler Dellow wrote an article a few months ago called “The Big Mistake,” which, at the time I’m writing this, wasn’t available on his site because his server is also composed of cold, wet garbage. But the gist of the article was that one of the main ways our eyes deceive us when we watch and analyze hockey games is that the big mistakes stand out to us more than anything else — the giveaway in the defensive zone, the errant drop-pass in the neutral zone, or the mis-timed pinch in the offensive zone that leads to a breakaway. Those big mistakes are like a paint roller covering up the tiny brushstrokes that form the big picture.

This connects to Edler pretty clearly. One could argue — and more than one Canucks fan has — that Edler is more prone to making big, costly mistakes than any other Canucks defenceman. It’s these mistakes, the argument goes, that led to the league-worst plus/minus rating.

I would argue, and the underlying statistics seem to bear this out, that Edler was not significantly worse last season than in previous years. I would argue that he’s always made those “big mistakes,” generally because he’s on the ice and handles the puck a lot, but this past season they were more noticeable as they more often led to goals against. Meanwhile, due to an obscenely low team shooting percentage when Edler was on the ice, his offensive contributions couldn’t outweigh the results of those mistakes.

That’s why Edler is going to be fascinating next season. If he plays at the same level but his percentages regress to the mean, he’ll have a pretty good season and fans and media alike will crow about his bounceback year, despite nothing really changing.

In any case, in the midst of the absurdity, Edler still managed to tie Jason Garrison for the team-lead in goals from a defenceman despite playing 18 fewer games. Here they are.

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Watch every goal Kevin Bieksa scored last season

In his first full season with the Canucks, 2006-07, Kevin Bieksa scored 12 goals, good for second among Canucks defencemen behind Sami Salo. It’s still his career high. He came close two years later, scoring 11 goals, but he hasn’t scored in double digits since 2009. Perhaps he should get more powerplay time: in both those seasons, he led Canucks defencemen in powerplay goals.

That may seem odd to say as Bieksa doesn’t really fit the profile as an ideal pointman on the powerplay. He doesn’t have a heavy slap shot, relying more on his wrist shot to shoot through traffic, and he isn’t known for being a playmaking quarterback, but when he entered the NHL he excelled with the man advantage.

In 2006-07, Bieksa was second among Canucks defencemen in powerplay ice time, and he led all Canucks defencemen in powerplay ice time the next two seasons. But then the Canucks traded for Christian Ehrhoff and Bieksa found himself relegated to the second powerplay unit. Even after Ehrhoff left, Bieksa was fourth among Canucks defencemen in powerplay time behind Alex Edler, Sami Salo, and Dan Hamhuis. Sami Salo left in free agency, but he was replaced by Jason Garrison.

Bieksa doesn’t have a reputation for being good on the powerplay, but he produced goals when he was on the first unit in his first few seasons. With Garrison gone, there’s an opportunity for Bieksa to join Edler on the blue line with the first unit, with Yannick Weber arguably his only competition. While that pairing can be a tire fire at even strength, the powerplay should minimize their weaknesses.

With more time on the powerplay, could Bieksa once again score 10+ goals next season? Maybe. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the four goals he scored last season, just one of which came on the powerplay.

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Canucks hire gold medal-winning video coach, Ben Cooper [Report]

It appeared that the Canucks were done making moves this off-season and that does seem to be the case in terms of what we’ll see on the ice, with Trevor Linden confirming that the current roster is what we’ll see when training camp rolls around. But the team has reportedly made one more change behind the scenes.

According to a report from Gregg Drinnan, the Canucks have hired Ben Cooper as their new video coach, a rather thankless job that involves endlessly watching and breaking down video from Canucks games and those of their opponents.

It’s not a position that fans tend to think about too much, as the video coach doesn’t appear on the bench or get interviewed by the media, but it’s a vital role for analyzing a team’s trends, pinpointing areas where a player needs to improve, and scouting tactics of upcoming opponents. Video coaches will also often watch live from the press box and do analysis in real time, communicating with the coaches on the bench.

If Drinnan’s source is accurate, Cooper will be the youngest coach on the Canucks staff at 36, but he does come with at least one impressive line on his resume: he was the video coach for the gold-medal winning 2010 Canadian Olympic team.

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Watch every goal Zac Dalpe scored last season

The Canucks acquired Zac Dalpe last September, along with Jeremy Welsh, sending ECHL forward Kellan Tochkin and a fourth round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in return. At the time, it looked like a brilliant trade for Mike Gillis, as Tochkin has no NHL future and a fourth round pick has little chance of making the NHL, while Dalpe was still touted by some as a potential top-six forward and Welsh looked capable of filling a role on the third or fourth lines.

Nine months later, neither Dalpe nor Welsh are with the Canucks. Dalpe was not extended a qualifying offer by the new Canucks regime, sending him to free agency, where he was picked up by the Buffalo Sabres.

While Dalpe wasn’t particularly good with the Canucks, he also didn’t get much of an opportunity. He spent the bulk of his 55 games on the fourth line, both at centre and on the wing, and was generally buried in the defensive zone when he was on the ice. He was also saddled with Tom Sestito all season.

When Sestito and Dalpe were together, the Canucks took a mere 40.7% of the shot attempts, which is atrocious. When Dalpe was able to get away from Sestito, that number jumps up to 48.5%. That’s still not great, mind you, but it’s at least approaching respectable. What’s more, when he was on the ice with better players like Zack Kassian, David Booth, Jannik Hansen, and Chris Higgins, Dalpe didn’t drag them down, posting a positive shot attempt differential with each of them.

Even when Dalpe was with fourth line call-ups like Darren Archibald and Jeremy Welsh, he was able to post a positive shot attempt differential. The Canucks could have had a fourth line last season that didn’t constantly get trapped in the defensive zone.

Basically, without Sestito and with good or even half-decent players, Dalpe was a positive puck possession player. If Dalpe hadn’t played with Sestito last season, he might have gotten another shot with the Canucks.

Alas, it was not to be, and Dalpe’s only shots with the Canucks were the 52 he took last season, 4 of which went into the opponent’s net.

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Will Nick Bonino score 20 goals next season?

After a nearly-historic level of offensive ineptness last season, one of the biggest questions Canucks fans had for the new management regime was where the goals were going to come from next season. That became even more of a concern when the Canucks traded their leading goalscorer, Ryan Kesler.

The Canucks certainly had little choice in the matter and Kesler will likely never again reach the 40+ goal heights of 2010-11, but he’s consistently scored more than 20 goals since 2007, apart from the lockout and injury-shortened 2012-13 season. As much as the Canucks appear to be glad to see him on his way out, they’ll still miss the 20-25 goals he’d have likely contributed next season.

Jim Benning took some steps toward adding scoring, signing Radim Vrbata, who has 140 goals since 2007, 24 fewer than Kesler in that time. There’s hope that with Vrbata joining the top line, he could revitalize the Sedins and help them to a bounce back season. In addition, Alex Burrows can’t possibly have a worse season than last year, Zack Kassian looks poised to breakout, and Nicklas Jensen has shown signs of being ready to put the puck past NHL goaltenders.

Benning, however, is also expecting goalscoring from another source: Nick Bonino, the centrepiece of the package the Canucks received from the Anaheim Ducks in return for Kesler.

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Watch every goal Tom Sestito scored last season

When Mike Gillis re-signed Tom Sestito on a one-way contract for two years last summer, it was met with a collective, “Really?” from the Canucks fanbase. Even the most ardent fan of enforcers could tell you that those numbers should have been reversed: a two-way contract for one year.

The previous season, Sestito barely saw the ice after getting claimed off waivers and was in and out of the press box. It wasn’t an expensive contract at $750,000 per season, but it was a baffling one. Enforcers like Sestito are easy to find in free agency or on the waiver wire, so committing to two years to a 25-year-old enforcer that had yet to even play a full season in the NHL made zero sense. It seemed like a continuation of the Bruins-obsession that marred Gillis’s work post-2011, focussing on finding a Shawn Thornton rather than a David Krejci.

Of course, no one expected Sestito to score as many goals as Alex Burrows during the 2013-14 season, even spending some time in the Canucks’ top six and on the first-unit powerplay. He even matched the goal total of last summer’s biggest name in free agency, David Clarkson, who got a 7-year deal worth $5.25 million per year. That’s an incredible value for $750,000! Good thing they locked him down for two years!

Except that it was a near-historically unlucky season for Burrows, while Sestito had the highest shooting percentage on the Canucks, to the point that he was actually incredibly fortunate to even score 5 goals. Sestito had a grand total of 31 shots on goal in the 77 games he played. Shawn Matthias played just 18 games for the Canucks and had more shots — 39 — than Sestito.

Now, with Jim Benning acquiring the far more useful fourth-liner Derek Dorsett via trade and younger players pushing their way up the depth chart, it’s unclear if Sestito will even have a spot on the roster for the second year of his contract. That may be for the best, as every single player on the Canucks has better possession statistics without Sestito than they do with him.

I have no explanation for why Sestito played in all but 5 games last season, aside from just shrugging my shoulders and saying “Tortorella,” but he did score five goals, which is five more than I’ll ever score in the NHL.

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Stick in Link: No mind room for Trevor Linden, Gino Odjick makes appearance at arena-naming ceremony

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Wednesday during the summer. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Replacing Ryan Kesler with quantity, not quality

After a couple incredibly busy weeks, the Canucks appear to have finished making moves for now. While it’s certainly possible that we’ll see another trade during the summer and an unsigned free agent or two might merit an invite to training camp, it’s reasonable to think that the current Canucks roster is the same as the one we will see in September when camp starts.

If so, the Canucks are left with a significant hole on the second line, approximately the same size and shape as Ryan Kesler. For years, the Canucks have relied on Kesler to shutdown the opposition’s best forwards, while contributing secondary scoring and playing a key role on both the penalty kill and power play. Although he has slowed down of late and will likely never again be the 70+ point player he was in 2009-10 and 2010-11, he’ll still be difficult to replace.

It looks like Jim Benning didn’t even try to replace Kesler. Instead, he placed a premium on having a proven goaltender, devoting significant capspace to signing Ryan Miller rather than going after one of the top centres available in free agency. By doing so, Benning left the second-line centre role up for grabs, banking on quantity over quality.

While the Canucks don’t have any surefire bets to replace Kesler, they do have several potential second line centres who are as yet unproven. The Canucks’ best bet at this point is to rotate players in and out of the position throughout the season until one of them secures it with his play.

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2014 Canucks Development Camp Invitees: Forwards

It’s Friday, which means that the Canucks development camp is coming to a close with a 4-on-4 tournament. The prospects have run through drills with Canucks coaches, done yoga, hiked the Grouse Grind, taken cooking lessons, and visited BC Children’s Hospital. Not everyone at camp took part in that last one: the kids at the hospital might not have been as keen to meet the invitees who haven’t been signed or drafted by the Canucks.

Still, they’ve had a busy week getting to know what it will take for them to make the jump to the NHL. For the NCAA prospects, this will be their last taste of the NHL this year, as they’ll be back at school by the time training camp starts, but for several others, they’ll be hoping to earn a second invite to a Canucks camp in the Fall.

These invitee profiles were all intended to go up prior to the start of development camp, but the team ended up a little busier than I anticipated, re-signing several restricted free agents, adding to their coaching staff, and dealing with trade rumours. As a result, the invitee posts ended up spread out throughout the week. Let’s take a look at the last group, the seven invitee forwards.

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Stick in Link: Development camp updates, Ryan Miller analysis, and Dane Fox with an owl

It’s time for “Stick in Link”, the feature where we just plug in a bunch of stuff written by others! Featuring a smattering of links from around the Smylosphere and beyond every Wednesday during the summer. Warning: our links are so hyper, they change colour when exposed to heat. (Have something for us to share in the next edition? E-mail us at passittobulis@gmail.com, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Spitballin’ on RFA re-signings, Jacob Markstrom trade talk, and Doug Lidster’s return to Vancouver

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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2014 Canucks Development Camp invitees: Defence

The Canucks 2014 prospect development camp kicked off today and we’re looking at the 16 undrafted and unsigned invitees on the camp roster. On Friday, we looked at the four invitee goaltenders and today we’ll be profiling the defencemen. The Forwards will come later this week.

There are five invitee defencemen coming to camp: three from the NCAA, one from the WHL, and one formerly of the WHL who just spent a season in the KHL.

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Canucks sign up for one more year of cheap Chris Tanev

Two days after the Canucks management team showed that they don’t ascribe to a traditional 9-to-5 workday by re-signing Zack Kassian in the evening, they proved they don’t take weekends off either, re-signing Chris Tanev to a one-year deal on Saturday. According to Elliotte Friedman, the contract is for a mere $2 million, well below what I was anticipating.

It’s a superb deal for the Canucks for this coming season, as Tanev will likely skate with one of Alex Edler or Dan Hamhuis on the first or second pairing. That also explains why Tanev and his agent were willing to take a cheaper contract on a one-year deal, as Tanev will endeavour to prove that he’s worth far more to the Canucks long-term and make more money in the end.

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2014 Canucks Development Camp Invitees: Goaltenders

The Vancouver Canucks open their summer prospect development camp on Monday at UBC, with 35 players on the camp roster. The majority of those players are in the Canucks’ system already, either draft picks or undrafted free agent signings, but 16 of them are undrafted and unsigned invitees.

These invitees always intrigue me, as they represent a low-cost way to supplement a prospect pool. The Canucks, under Mike Gillis, have done well in acquiring undrafted free agents, with Eddie Lack and Chris Tanev being the biggest successes. While neither of them were invitees to one of the Canucks’ camps, other players in the system, like Evan McEneny and Ronalds Kenins, were.

So, every year I research the invitees on the roster and write a brief profile on each. For this year’s development camp, let’s start with the goaltenders, as just one of the five attending is a Canucks prospect, this year’s 2nd round draft pick, Thatcher Demko. Of the other four, two come from the NCAA and two come from the WHL.

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Benning and Linden re-sign Zack Kassian, have no respect for regular work hours

Rumours had been cropping up since Wednesday that the Canucks and Zack Kassian were close to agreeing on a deal, but when Thursday afternoon passed without a contract signed, it looked like the deal wouldn’t get done until Friday.

Instead, as the regular 9-to-5 stiffs headed home from work, Benning and Linden powered through, blowing through naptime, and getting a deal done by the early evening. If it wasn’t for the always alert Elliott Pap, who scoffs at the idea of going home at 5 PM, we wouldn’t have had to wait upwards of 12 hours to find out about Kassian’s new contract.

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35 players to attend Canucks prospect development camp, starting Monday at UBC

The Canucks’ annual summer prospect development camp opens Monday at UBC, with a total of 35 players scheduled to attend. Of those 35 on the camp roster, 19 are Canucks prospects, including all 7 draft picks from this year, though they spelt poor Mackenze Stewart’s name wrong.

That means that 16 players on the camp roster are unsigned and undrafted invitees, hoping to catch the eye of the Canucks’ management team to earn a contract or, at the very least, earn another look in the future, either at training camp in the fall or further down the line.

PITB will have full profiles of each invitee over the next couple days and will do some more in-depth posts on the new Canucks prospects during the summer, but for now, here’s the camp roster with a couple notes.

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Canucks get their goal-scorer, sign Radim Vrbata

On July 1st, Jim Benning was quick to say that he wasn’t done in free agency with the addition of Ryan Miller. He said they would continue to look at the secondary free agent market — the lesser lights, as it were — for scoring help. Considering the Canucks were third last in goalscoring last season, it was a necessary move to ensure that the Canucks top offensive prospects weren’t going to be asked to do too much, too soon.

Vrbata was obviously not the biggest name in free agency and is an obvious step down from the likes of Mike Cammalleri, Thomas Vanek, and Paul Stastny. He also doesn’t fill the vacant second-line centre role, meaning Nick Bonino will likely start the season there. He is, however, a legitimate top-six forward on a short-term deal, so there’s a lot to like.

The only issue is that he isn’t a second-line centre, but he does replace Ryan Kesler in one way: he wore 17 with the Coyotes.

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