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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Watch every goal Shawn Matthias scored last season

This isn’t actually every goal Shawn Matthias scored last season. The title is a lie, as Matthias arrived in Vancouver a few days before the trade deadline having already scored nine goals.

But we don’t concern ourselves with the goals he scored elsewhere — just the ones he scored in Vancouver, and Matthias had three of those, bouncing around the bottom three lines as the Canucks played out the string on a season that was already pretty well gone by the time he arrived.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of his first full year in Vancouver. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got some skill — but where he slots in, and whether or not he even plays at centre — remains to be seen. What doesn’t remain to be seen, however, are the goals he scored last season. Well. At least I’ve seen them. You haven’t yet. Get on that, you.

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Watch every goal Nicklas Jensen scored last season

Nicklas Jensen had one really good week in Vancouver. After finally earning his call-up, he made his presence felt, scoring three lovely goals in four games and leading fans to wonder if perhaps he was the real deal. Sadly, after that, he fell off, although it wasn’t entirely his fault. He was beginning to look good with Alex Burrows and Henrik Sedin, but then both of them got hurt. Heck, Burrows breaks his thumb on Jensen’s third goal.

But even now, knowing that he only scores three before the well dries up, it’s tough to look at these three goals and not get a little excited about the Danish winger’s goal-scoring ability. He’s got a great shot. Here are the first three goals of Nicklas Jensen’s career.

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Watch every goal Jordan Schroeder scored last season

One of Jim Benning’s first moves as General Manager wasn’t a move at all, but rather his decision not to move on Jordan Schroeder’s qualifying option. With a shrug, he sent the centre to unrestricted free agency instead, thus ending Schroeder’s relationship with the Canucks. Like Keith Ballard, he seized the opportunity to go home to Minnesota.

Cutting Schroeder loose is a defensible choice. While Benning said goodbye to an asset, and the practical cats over at Canucks Army would argue that this is foolish, the Canucks aren’t hoarders — they’re a hockey team, and one that determined the former first round pick had no value to them. For a small guy, he didn’t appear to have the speed or sizzle necessary to play on the top two lines, and his checking wasn’t particularly conducive to, y’know, a checking role. Worse, he’d probably built up some negative P.R. value as a Gillis draft pick, and the Canucks have spent much of the summer trying to get that “Gillis era” smell out of the franchise, for better or for worse. So they said goodbye to Jordan Schroeder.

And now, so do we. But before we do, we look back on his last three goals as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

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Watch every goal Dale Weise scored last season

Dale Weise never really fit with the Canucks. As we’ve discussed previously, he arrived about a season too late for his vision of himself to line up with what the Canucks wanted from him.

Weise fancied himself a goal-scoring grinder; the Canucks wanted him to be a facepuncher who could play. That disconnect was never really resolved, and when John Tortorella arrived and discovered that Weise was unwilling to punch dudes with the frequency of Tom Sestito, he no longer had any use for him. Mike Gillis shopped him unabashedly, sending out a mass e-mail, and soon, Weise was in Montreal, where he’d eventually make quite the mark in the postseason and earn a contract extension.

But before he left, he did manage to pot three goals for the Canucks, which means he gets a post in our annual every goal series, where we look at the Canucks’ goal output, player by player, and observe their tendencies. In Weise’s case, his tendency is simple: he goes to the net, hopes the puck will follow, and then whacks at it until it goes where he wants it to. Simple and effective.

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Stick in Link: Canucks fan optimism; Alex Edler on trade rumours

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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Watch every goal Jason Garrison scored last season

Jason Garrison is gone now, moved to the Tampa Bay Lightning not long after Jim Benning arrived, look at the number of no-trade clauses he had to deal with and said, “Ugh.” Garrison was reportedly disappointed to have to go — he didn’t want to — but then he got the call from Stevie Yzerman, and everything changed.

There’s nothing quite like that call. When you answer the phone and Stephen Gregory Yzerman says, “I want you”, it’s life-changing. And when you’re expecting the call and you don’t get it, well, Marty St. Louis showed us how people react to that. It’s a very special call.

Anyway. Garrison’s gone. But not forgotten, and since he scored seven goals for the Canucks last year, that means he has to be accounted for in the annual every goal series. I hope you like one-timers!

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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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Watch every goal Alex Burrows scored last season

As scandalous as it was for John Tortorella to suggest the Canucks buy out Alex Burrows, it’s easy to understand why he might think that way. If this was the first year you’d ever really watched Alex Burrows play, I’m sure you’d be at a loss for why he was a fan favourite, let alone how he could possibly have cracked 25 goals in each of his last 4 full seasons in the NHL.

2013-14 was a horrible year for the Canuck winger. At some point, he was less a top-line winger than simply a metaphor for the entire team’s awful season: snake-bitten, beset by injuries, lacking confidence, bewildered as to what the heck was going on, excruciating to watch.

For much of the year, Burrows looked destined to be the best player to ever have a goalless season in the NHL. But eventually he managed to find his way, and with it, the back of the net. For about a week he knew how again, pouring in five in six days before returning to his carousel of injuries and bad bounces. So let’s take a moment to watch the five goals he did score, as we begin our annual, player-by-player look at every goal the Canucks scored last season with the man that closed last year’s series: Alex Burrows.

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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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Stick in Link: Survival tips for Miller; Ryan Kesler tribute

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 add Ryan Miller, who sort of looks like Roberto Luongo, so there’s that

Shortly after arriving in Vancouver, Jim Benning and Trevor Linden took stock, and decided they had 99 problems, but a trustworthy starting goaltender wasn’t one. It’s a defensible conclusion: Eddie Lack probably has what it takes, but as the wheels fell off the Canucks’ bus last season and he was dropped into a situation where there was no one behind him and, really, no one in front of him either, he didn’t look good. Hence, Benning and Linden decided to target a goaltender at the draft, and again in free agency.

In both instances, they got the biggest name available. At the draft, it was Boston College alumnus Thatcher Demko. In free agency, it was former St. Louis Blue nee Buffalo Sabre Ryan Miller.

The Canucks have signed the netminder for 3 years at $18 million dollars. It’s important to note that he vaguely resembles Roberto Luongo, so this should be an easy transition.

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PITB’s 2014 free agency day meta-liveblog spectacular!

The first day of free agency is frequently an underwhelming proposition for the Canucks. They generally haven’t had much cap space and Mike Gillis, apart from his notorious $10-million offer to Mats Sundin, avoided targeting big names.

But now the situation is very different. Not only do the Canucks have a new GM, they have massive amounts of money available to spend after buying out David Booth and trading Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison.

Who will they target? Paul Stastny to be the new second-line centre? Christian Ehrhoff to fix the power play? Ryan Miller to be the number one goaltender? Jarome Iginla to play with the Sedins? Who knows? But PITB will be here all day, not just blogging about free agency, but also blogging about TSN’s coverage of free agency. This is a meta-liveblog, see?

Keep refreshing throughout the day and comment as well, as your comments may make it into the liveblog itself.

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Tools, results, and why Jake Virtanen isn’t the next Cam Neely

When the Canucks selected Jake Virtanen 6th overall, there was a certain segment of Canucks fans that was disappointed and upset. To a certain extent, I was among them, as I was personally hoping to see William Nylander, but I certainly saw the upside and potential in Virtanen.

What Virtanen represents, in many ways, is a difference of opinion on drafting strategy, one that I liken to similar differences of opinion seen in baseball in the book “Moneyball.” It’s an issue of tools vs results.

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Kesler trade shows Benning isn’t afraid to win a deal by losing it

Shortly after the Canucks announced the Ryan Kesler trade, I received a text from an NHL employee.

“Three quarters for a dollar,” it said.

That’s a fair assessment of a trade that saw the Canucks receive Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and the Anaheim Ducks’ other first-round pick for former Selke winner Ryan Kesler. Even admitting that Kesler’s not the guy who destroyed everyone and everything in the 2011 playoffs — first the Nashville Predators, then the San Jose Sharks, then, finally, himself — he’s still worth more than the sum of those spare parts. No offence to Nick Bonino, who is likely to replace Kesler as the Canucks’ second line pivot, but he’s no Ryan Kesler replacement. (Say what you will about Bonino’s points, but he was playing for a team committed to scoring goals, not a team allergic to it. And he’s not the same shutdown corner.)

But the Canucks don’t care. This wasn’t about who they got. It was about who they got rid of. This wasn’t a hockey trade. It was a Tylenol trade.

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Guest Post: In Praise of Gino Odjick

As you may already know, Gino Odjick is in a fight for his life right now, battling a terminal illness. As he told fans in a letter posted on the Canucks website, he may only have weeks to live. Suffice it to say, this touched a lot of people, because Gino touched a lot of people — something that was abundantly clear as fans rallied outside Vancouver General Hospital this weekend, chanting “Gino! Gino!”

One fan who wanted to say a few words about Odjick on the blog. Gerald Morton is a part-time Zamboni operator, PhD Candidate, occasional lecturer at Vancouver Island University, former hockey target and sporadic blogger at buddydudeguy.blogspot.ca.

If you want to write a guest post for PITB, by all means, reach out to us at passittobulis@gmail.com. We’re always happy to showcase other writers.

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