Stick in Link: Jim Benning says some things; features on the new guys

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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Complete statistics from the 2014 Youngstars Tournament

The 2014 Youngstars Tournament did not go particularly well for the Canucks. While their prospects managed to take two of three games to overtime, they still lost both in the end, then got thoroughly tromped by the Flames’ prospects in the tournament closer. While wins and losses aren’t really the point of a prospects tournament, [...]

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Camp Cuts: Miles Liberati returned to Junior, invitees sent home

With the conclusion of the Youngstars Tournament yesterday, it was just a matter of time before players started to get cut. And, by “a matter of time,” I mean “no time at all.” The first cuts were announced shortly after the Canucks’ prospects ugly 6-1 loss to the Flames’ prospects.

Like every year, PITB will be here to explain every cut as they happen or, rather, slightly after they happen. To start off, the cuts will be pretty easy to explain, with just one actual Canucks prospect getting the boot.

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Here’s what happened at the Canucks’ third Youngstars game

The Canucks prospects didn’t look like a team hungry for their first win in their third and final outing at the YoungStars tournament. Instead, they looked like a team that was hungry for real, and they were only too glad to let the Flames hand them their lunch.

After dropping two close ones to open the tournament — falling in overtime to Edmonton’s kids, then doing the same versus Winnipeg’s, these Canucks were never really in game three, closing the training camp tune-up (for some) with an ugly 6-1 loss. It was a total blowout. You’d have thought they feared overtime, having been hurt before, and wanted to make sure there was absolutely no risk of it.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 2: Youngstars Tournament and the Meaning of Life

The Canucks prospects are in Penticton, working like mad to impress an all-new management group. Meanwhile, we’re sitting on our behinds judging those prospects, their skill, and their effort. In general, we’re pretty positive about the prospects of these prospects.

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Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat are totally all about playing their game

Among the takeaways from the Canucks’ first two games at the Youngstars tournament: Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk have some chemistry.

It’s really a shame that Horvat and Shinkaruk probably won’t get to play together when September ends, what with Shinkaruk likely headed to the AHL after Canucks training camp, and Horvat looking at an NHL-or-bust scenario, where bust means “back in juniors for another year”, not “failed prospect”. The two look good together. An optimist might even imagine a future where they replace the Sedins as the next prominent duo in Vancouver.

Granted, they didn’t share a womb, which puts them behind the eight ball a little, although, heck, if the Canucks are smart, they’ll convert Mike Gillis’s now-abandoned “mind room” into a “utero room”, then put Horvat and Shinkaruk in there for nine months or so, just to really cultivate this chemistry. First one out succeeds Henrik as captain.

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Here’s what happened at the Canucks’ second Youngstars game

Everything went horribly wrong for the Canucks prospects in the first 40 minutes of this game: they gave up three goals on five shots in the second period, looked horrific defensively, and couldn’t get anything going offensively. To make matters worse, Dane Fox fought before the puck was dropped on a faceoff and was tossed from the game.

They entered the third period down 4-1 to the Jets’ prospects and, while the score doesn’t really matter in a prospects tournament, a close game is far more pleasant to watch.

Cue the third period comeback: the Canucks’ prospects scored three goals in the third period, including two in the final two minutes with their net empty, forcing overtime. It was borderline thrilling.

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Here’s what happened in the Canucks’ first Youngstars game

The Canucks prospects dropped their opening night tilt with the Edmonton Oilers’ prospects 4-3 in overtime on Friday night. That’s the short version. Here’s the long:

Clearly looking to make the transition from the team that closed last year to the team opening this one as seamless as possible, the Canucks opened the 2014 Youngstars tournament playing some ugly and ineffective hockey versus their Alberta rivals. Watching the first period of this thing, you’d have thought they picked up right where they left off: Vancouver couldn’t get the puck out of their zone, they couldn’t get a shot through, and their goalie was being hung out to dry.

Fortunately, the Canucks have a way of ensuring that this team doesn’t look too much like last year’s team: white helmets for some reason! In keeping with Youngstars tradition, all the prospects wear safety hats whiter than wedding dresses, I think to signify their relative hockey chastity or something, I don’t really know.

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Canucks prospects to watch at the 2014 Young Stars Tournament

I love this time of year. The lead-up to training camp and the start of the NHL regular season is a time of positivity and optimism. After a long off-season with no Canuck hockey, the wait is finally over. Sort of.

Tonight is the start of the annual Young Stars prospect tournament, as the Canucks prospects take on the Oilers prospects at 7:30 pm. The game will be streamed live on and the Canucks’ YouTube channel, which means that even if you can’t make it out to Penticton, you can still watch the game.

Normally, this is when we’d get our first look at the Canucks’ recent draft picks, but, for a variety of reasons, that won’t really be happening this year. Just two of the Canucks’ seven 2014 draft picks will be at the tournament and they were the Canucks’ last two picks of the draft. Neither of the Canucks’ first round picks will be playing: Jake Virtanen isn’t cleared for contact yet after his shoulder surgery and Jared McCann has mononucleosis.

The Canucks’ second round pick, goaltender Thatcher Demko, is already back at Boston College, while their third and fifth round picks, Nikita Tryamkin and Gustav Forsling, are back in Russia and Sweden. That leaves just sixth round pick Kyle Pettit and seventh round pick Mackenze Stewart from the Canucks’ most recent draft.

Fortunately, there are many other Canucks prospects to get excited about, from the obvious to the more unheralded.

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Spitballin’ on betting odds, bad systems, and Bo Horvat

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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Meet the Canucks’ 2014 Young Stars Tournament invitees (Part 2)

We are this close to hockey being back. If you can’t tell, because it’s the internet and you can’t see me, I’m holding my thumb and forefinger about a centimetre apart.

It’s Thursday, September 11th, which means that the Canucks or, at least, a team wearing Canucks jerseys and white helmets, will be playing a game tomorrow. Or, if you’re reading this Friday, today. Or, if you’re reading this sometime after Friday, in the past. That’s how close hockey is to returning.

The Canucks prospects will be playing the Oilers prospects on Friday, starting at 7:30 pm. According to their website, the Canucks will be broadcasting the games live on, so you can watch something approximating Canucks hockey tomorrow, today, or in the past. This is crazy.

Along with the drafted and signed Canucks prospects will be ten unsigned and undrafted invitees. I profiled five of them on Wednesday and it’s time to look at the last five. Are any of them potential Canucks prospects? We’ll find out starting on Friday: if any of them impress, they could earn a contract or, at the very least, an invite to Canucks camp.

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Stick in Link: It’s going to be the best season ever, says everybody

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, tweet us @passittobulis, or just come over and write your link on a pad of paper, I guess.)

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Meet the Canucks’ 2014 Young Stars Tournament invitees (Part 1)

The annual Young Stars Tournament starts on Friday in Penticton and, as per usual, the Canucks have invited a number of undrafted and unsigned players to don a Canucks jersey. These invitees always intrigue me, as finding a diamond in the rough can easily and cheaply bolster the team’s prospect pool.

This year, the Canucks mostly looked to the WHL for their invitees. Eight of the Canucks’ ten invitees played last season in the WHL and a ninth is just a year removed from the Dub. That means the Canucks invited just one non-WHL player, Cordell James out of the OHL.

The thing with these invitees is that we generally know very little about them. Unlike the team’s drafted prospects, the invitees aren’t subject to profiles on the team’s website or breathless breakdowns of their potential from Pierre McGuire. So, every year, I take it upon myself to track down as much information on the Canucks’ invitees as possible. Here are all ten that will be in Penticton with the Canucks this year.

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The PITB Podcast, Episode 1: Off-season recap and Angels in the Outfield

We here at Pass it to Bulis have long thought that we need to engage more of your senses. We’ve tried a number of methods for doing so: textured blog posts, scratch-and-sniff header images, and mind-reading competitions (don’t forget that all-important sixth sense), but none of them really worked. Finally, it clicked: sound.

To that end, we’re starting something entirely new for the 2014-15 Canucks season: a weekly podcast. This is unfamiliar territory for us, but we want to give you yet another way to enjoy PITB. You can listen to the podcast on your way to or from work, in bed as you go to sleep, or at weekly listening parties with all of your friends. I recognize that last one probably won’t happen, but I can dream.

This is episode 1, where we’re covering a wide swathe of topics, mainly centred around recapping the Canucks’ very busy off-season. We also touch on the Young Stars Tournament and which prospects are most likely to make an impact this season. And, of course, we talk extensively about Angels in the Outfield.

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Eddie Lack provides hope for controversy-free season on TSN 1040

Eddie Lack is everywhere these days. EA Sports events. Tim Hortons for some reason. And on Tuesday morning, the Canucks’ backup was on TSN 1040 to talk about the upcoming season.

Needless to say, after a season in which Lack won the starter’s role (if you can even call that death march a victory), there’s some concern that he might be a little annoyed to be back in the backup role. Lack will be watched closely all season, then, for any hint of frustration, any opening to start talking about the Canucks’ crease.

Fortunately, he knows it, and to that end, we have to give the guy credit for deftly sidestepping the question that would have otherwise fuelled this year’s goalie crisis.

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Who will the Canucks be in 2014-15? (Spoiler: we have no idea)

It’s difficult to know quite what to make of the upcoming Canucks season. There are causes for optimism: new management, and with it, a new way of doing business; a fresh-faced (sort of — he has an old man moustache) and slightly calmer coach that won’t try to Double Dragon his way into the visiting locker room or scream at David Booth for no reason; no David Booth, which likely means a higher team shooting percentage; actual prospects who just might make the team out of training camp; and, of course, those billboards promising “change is coming”, as though the Canucks are a vending machine from which you just bought a Caramilk.

But there is also fuel for the cynic. Last year’s leading goal-scorer plays for another team in the division now. Many of the returning players are hockey old. Willie Desjardins, Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have never done this before.

In other words, it’s a crapshoot. Frankly, I’d say the most accurate Canucks season preview comes to us from Doris Day, who said “que sera, sera”. That about sums it up. Will we have rainbows, day after day? No clue, as the future’s not ours to see. But we do know the past. And I can think of four recent teams that next year’s club could be.

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What happens if Eddie Lack outperforms Ryan Miller?

Older, established goaltender. Young, talented backup. Vancouver. What’s the worst that could happen?

They should put a sign up outside Rogers Arena: “It has been X days since our last goalie controversy.” Not that I’m saying a goalie controversy is guaranteed this upcoming season. 2010′s silver medallist has come in to replace 2010′s gold medallist and it’s perfectly clear who has the number one spot going into training camp.

But what if…

What if Miller falters like did in St. Louis after getting traded to the Blues at the deadline? Miller went from a sparkling .923 save percentage with the Sabres to an ugly .903 save percentage with the Blues in the regular season. He then got worse in the playoffs, stumbling down to an .897 save percentage in 6 games.

I swear, I’m not trying to stir up anything, but it’s my natural state as a Canucks fan to worry and anticipate the worst-case scenario. it seemed like the Canucks had finally dismissed even the chance of a goaltending controversy last season with the trade of Roberto Luongo, but the possibility still remains.

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Watch every goal Ryan Kesler scored last season (Part 3)

And finally, we come to the last run of Ryan Kesler goals for which Vancouver fans are ever going to cheer. It’s been amusing watching the backlash to these posts. People: we do this every year. Plus it’s not like Kesler’s the only guy in the videos. More often than not, it’s about seeing what the other guys do to contribute.

Still, I understand that Kesler has become public enemy no. 1 around these parts, and fans don’t want to see him smiling or celebrating ever again. People: your nightmare ends here.

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Watch every goal Ryan Kesler scored last season (Part 2)

Ryan Kesler may be gone, but we can’t forget him just yet. The outbound jerk scored 25 goals for the Canucks last season, which means we have to account for them in our annual series, in a three-part series. The humanity!

We know, you aren’t so fond of him anymore. But before you write him off completely, remember some of the good times. Here are eight more of said good times.

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Canucks release 2014 Young Stars Tournament roster, including Frank Corrado and Nicklas Jensen

The annual Young Stars tournament in Penticton is a lot of fun, giving fans a chance to see their team’s top prospects in an NHL jersey long before they actually make the NHL. I had the chance to go last year with my family and had a great time. I was easy to pick out: I was the only guy with a press pass and a baby carrier.

This year’s tournament is just one week away, with the first games taking place next Friday, September 12th. That’s right, hockey is almost back, everyone. Our long, national nightmare is nearly over.

The Canucks just released their roster for the tournament, featuring two players who have already played for the Canucks: Frank Corrado and Nicklas Jensen. The roster also includes 6 first round picks: Jensen, Brendan Gaunce, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Jared McCann, and Jake Virtanen.

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Eight guys that could centre the Canucks’ second line

The departure of Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks has left a Ryan Kesler-sized hole in the roster, like when a cartoon character exits a room through the wall.

It’s a concern, no doubt. Nobody in the Canucks’ room has the tools or the skillset to contribute what Ryan Kesler did at his best (although if it’s any consolation, neither does Ryan Kesler anymore). Still, someone is going to fill that role this season, and it’s not like the Canucks don’t have options. Let’s take a look at the most likely guys to win that job this season.

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Stick in Link: Kevin Bieksa and Eddie Lack ride a rollercoaster

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, 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 Ryan Kesler scored last season (Part 1)

I have to admit, I’ve been putting off this edition of our annual “Every Goal” series. It’s partly because we’ve been doing the series in more-or-less ascending order, starting out with the players who scored a couple or a few goals and working our way up the lineup, but it’s also because the scorer of these particular goals has a certain amount of baggage attached to him these days.

But we’ve already chronicled every other goal scored last season, so it’s time for the 25 scored by Ryan Kesler.

It didn’t take long for Kesler to go from fan favourite to persona non grata in Vancouver. It wasn’t just that he asked for a trade, but that he also limited the potential trade destinations with his No Trade Clause. He was well within his legal rights to do so, but it turned what could have been a frantic bidding war into a far more meagre return and left a sour taste in the mouths of Canucks fans.

The backlash seemed particularly strong because of his particular brand of jerk puck. As we here at PITB were fond of saying when he was still a Canuck, “Sure, he’s a jerk, but he’s our jerk.” Canucks fans had spent years defending his jerkish tendencies, so when he was no longer “our jerk” he became just a jerk.

But that jerk did lead the Canucks in scoring last season and, though he may be easy to replace in the hearts of Canucks fans, he will be much more difficult to replace on the ice. Let’s go over every goal he scored last season to see why, starting with his first eight goals.

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B.C. teachers’ strike is the NHL lockout all over again

It was probably too much to ask for the provincial government and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation to get a deal worked out in advance of Labour Day. After all, both sides have claimed all along to have their students in mind, and clearly, somewhere along the way, thinking of the students turned into thinking like the students. No doubt they looked at this major project, noted they had two months to complete it, and spent the entire summer futzing around before panicking as the deadline approached and making a doomed, last-ditch effort to get everything done in the final weekend.

Good luck chastising the students for procrastinating when you finally do get the chance to bring them back, adults.

Granted, I may not be in a position to moralize about this, since I’m not an educator, nor am I a student or a parent. Plus I haven’t really paid much attention to this dispute, outside of the myriad articles with which my teacher friends have been spamming my Facebook wall for weeks. (Facebookers: the real victims in this dispute.)

But I am a hockey blogger, and as such, I have some experience throwing my hands up at a labour stoppage that needed to be resolved by autumn, wasn’t and now runs the risk of wiping out everything that leads up to the highly-anticipated June finals. This looks familiar to me, and it goes beyond the fact that schools and hockey get going right around September.

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If an expansion draft happened now, which Canucks would you protect?

According to reports, which the NHL unsurprisingly denied, the league is planning expansion by four teams in 2017. The reports aren’t really anything new — expansion into Las Vegas, Seattle, Toronto, and Quebec City has been rumoured for years — but the certainty with which Howard Bloom, who is usually reliable for sports business news, has reported the news has made this a hot topic this week.

If and when expansion does occur, the team will need to hold an expansion draft to fill out of the rosters of the new teams. Just for fun, let’s imagine the league chose to expand right now, requiring an immediate expansion draft.

The new teams won’t be able to pick just anyone from the existing teams’ rosters, of course. In an expansion draft, each team protects certain players, ensuring that they can’t be selected. There are limits to the number of players that can be protected, however, ensuring that a few decent players are available to the new teams.

So, which players would you protect on the Canucks?

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