Comings and goings

Like a good old maid, Nonis keeps dusting and tidying up the manor as the free agency hysteria is about to kick off in a few days.

First it would appear that the Canucks have qualified both Lukas Krajicek and Cup darling Ryan Shannon. Now they are free to phone Bobby Clarke for Kesler money if they want, but I doubt they’ll go that far. Both will have spots that are theirs to lose come preseason. And, hey, keeping Krajicek is great for the one year anniversary of “the trade” as the Canucks love Luongo and will likely be keeping Krajicek while the Panthers have Allen for five years, but no Bertuzzi and now no Auld. OK OK…one last time to gloat on that trade and we’ll move on…to watching Iron Mike run his magic in cowtown.

In addition, it would all but appear super Moose Jason Jaffray is close to inking a two year, two way deal with the big club that will give him a shot to show his stuff in September. Jaffray led the Moose in points last year and was sixth in the AHL overall; Jaff also has some decent size and takes a fair number of penalties so it’ll be interesting to see what he can bring to camp.

It would also appear blue chipper goalie Cory Schneider is closer to signing with Vancouver as well. We’ve all heard the rumors about Nonis trading his rights away, but it sounds like they want to keep him in house for the foreseeable future. Schneider helped BC in their NCAA champsionship runs the past two years although lost both times (thereby ensuring he’s future Canuck material because he’s experienced repeated failure in the post-season). Schneider’s numbers are solid as a rock though: in three seasons, he’s gone 66-26-7 with a GAA of 2.053, 15 shutouts, and a save percentage of 0.923.

Speaking of the Moose, there is the issue of the much-maligned Nonis dust bunny that is Marc Chouinard. The Canucks have until the end of this week to buy him out and eat $732,600 against the cap next season (or spread it over two seasons at $366,300 of what is dubbed “dead money” which is a fantastic nickname). Or they can keep him in Manitoba and pay him the full $1.1 million but not have it count against the cap as long as he stays there.

Also, the jury is still out on Jeff Cowan. It’s rumored he’s seeking a two year deal and a bump up from the $532,000 he made last year, but so far assistant GM Steve Tambellini hasn’t found the right financial fit. It would be a shame if, starting this weekend, the brabarian relocates elsewhere but here’s hoping they can find something and bring him back since, if nothing else, he’s the closest thing to a goon this team has. And did I mention the bras? Yes yes…wink wink nudge nudge say no more.


So bad it's good. But still bad. But still good. I'm lost really.

Well, if you can ignore the player himself, this is a piece of sheer brilliance.


Laughing at the misfortune of others

I may as well leave this up through the weekend (newest on top) since I have a feeling there will be several items that should provide a sound foundation for hardcore laughter and overall schadenfreude.

>> Vancouver finally grows weary of Schultz (6/23)
I thought management was pretty high on the guy; they sure were last year with Carter leaving the Sedins. But oh well, meet Jimmy Sharrow who hasn't played an NHL game yet but tore up the QMJHL a few years ago.

>> Vancouver finally grows weary of King (6/23)
And the good news about getting Ryan Shannon in return? We now have a picture of a current Canuck holding up the Cup. God bless small miracles.

>> Nucks grab a guy with a splendid-sized skull (6/23)
What, am I wrong? Patrick White, welcome aboard. As for the rest of the kids?

  • 2nd Round- 33rd Pick - Taylor Ellington D (Everett, WHL)
  • 56th Pick (Optional to CHI)
  • 61st Pick (Optional to LA)
  • 5th Round - 145th Pick - Charles-Antoine Messier C (Baie Comeau, QMJHL)
  • 5th Round - 146th Pick - Ilja Kablukov LW (CSKA 2, Russia 3)
  • 6th Round - 176th Pick - Taylor Matson C (Des Moines, USHL)
  • 7th Round - 206th Pick - Dan Gendur RW (Everett, WHL)
>> Vokoun laments even playing hockey for a living (6/22)
So pretend you're poor Tomas who has been stuck in Nashvillle since 1998 and never got out of the first round in three playoff attempts. Finally you got over a battle of blood clots and the team turns a big corner in 2006-07 and, wouldn't ya know it, they decide to scuttle themselves in anticipation of a move north so after a decade of yeoman's work you find yourself right back in the confines of another expansion home. Although it could be always be worse (see below). How's Alex Auld taking this?

>> Toskala joins the Toronto asylum (6/22)
Actually, I post this more for Vesa himself: "Hey Vesa, you are familiar with the city and their, ahem, hockey issues right? I won't burden you with repeating them then. Here's a tip: there's this kickass mutual fund called the Vice Fund; they basically invest in vice-related industries like booze, tobacco, gambling, porn, what have you. Now, seeing how your personal investment in such areas may skyrocket during your time as a Leaf, I would suggest you pay yourself in the end with some sort of long term financial strategy investment along their lines. However, do not loop in Bell as he doesn't really need anymore of this type of help."

>> Aucoin waiving the no-trade to move to Calgary (6/22)
Keenan, you dog you. Nothing says "we're going for it all bitches!" like getting a defensemen who's played an entire season three times in his eleven year history (and over 60 games a season only six times). $4 million against the cap for a guy who could theoretically miss half the season due to a wonky groin? I salute you Michael. Please keep Stuart while you're at it too.

>> Nonis wanting to move up in the draft (6/22)
No sweat, let's mock us first. I pray this is a rumor because this team has far more pressing needs then drafting a hometown kid for the shits and giggles of it. Also, need I even bring up that our draft history is deplorable? And losing Kesler makes no sense in this equation. None. Don't make me start drinking like it's the Vancouver/Anaheim series again...


Draftday ponderings

I'm still reeling a bit from the craziness of the Philly/Nashville trades earlier this week. At first I thought it was great deal for Philly to get the negotiating rights for the two. Then I flipped when I saw the bloated salaries they gave to each guy. I appreciate that Holmgren basically got three established players and a prospect for a soft transfer of both Forsberg and a first rounder. Then it dawned on me why Timonen and Hartnell - both of whom would have been easily two of the biggest free agents out there - wouldn't have tested the market at all knowing that, if this is simply a money thing, they could have likely gotten other deals in the works and pushed Philly even higher. The BoA folks who are by far smarter then I seem to be asking the same thing. It's about at this time that the room starts spinning and I fall over so I am left to just be happy that Nashville is crumbling to pieces, and with Keenan at the helm in Calgary, the Western conference is suddenly not a bad place to be.

As for this weekend, I would hope that Nonis is able to do more then bring some new kids into the Vancouver Canuck system. Surely nothing of the magnitude of Bertuzzi/Luongo is going to happen, but as the handy clock up in the top left of this page will keep telling you, time is slowly ticking off for him to find the right offensive weapons for this team’s system. On that note, not that he's an offensive weapon but one of my hopes to return to B.C. was Scott Walker who is now off the table. Damn it all.

Ideally either this weekend or in the coming weeks, we’ll get a glimpse of whatever the hell Nonis’ plans are to improve on the Pyatt/Bulis/Chouinard acquisitions of last year up front with some more proven commodities. Sit back, crack a cold one (or ten) and let's see how the Nonisian era in its third yearly installment is going to get started. (Here’s a friendly tip: it should not include any reference to a “Yashin” or “Nagy”. Not at all. Never.)



History is funny like that

13 years ago today, I had my first painful and blunt lesson as a Vancouver Canuck fan when the NY Rangers managed to get one more goal in regulation and down them in seven games to get their first Stanley Cup since man learned to walk upright. At the time I didn't realize, sadly, that it was the closest I would see the Canucks get to the Cup. Like any sound and rational fan, I then planted the seeds of hatred for the Rangers and it felt genuinely great watching them morph into one of the worst teams in hockey in the latter half of the 90's and earlier this decade.

The hatred for Mark Messier in particular grew the second he became a Canuck and I had to stomach watching him wear that uniform and make his silly "guarantees" again. Then Keenan showed up. I could stomach Keenan as a coach since you know what you get with him. His time in Vancouver was interesting to say the least, but getting Bertuzzi and McCabe had a huge payoff since they eventually became Luongo and Henrik Sedin respectively (and Linden was brought back in afterwards thanks to Brian Burke). Nevertheless, watching Keenan dismantle the team and Messier captain it at the same time was about as dark a days as they come.

Fast forward to now: personally, it’s tough to hate the Rangers in the salary cap era since they can’t go on extended shopping sprees anymore (plus having the same guy as coach who was run out during the Messier/Keenan era has a cosmically pleasing element to it all). So this fan has turned his hatred on divisional opponents and, in specific, the Flames.

Messier is gone after a 15 day ceremony at MSG last year and now gives, easily, the biggest BS award short of the MTV movie awards. Last year he all but asked Sather to move his ass out of the GM chair of the Rangers so he could do something between fishing trips. He occasionally still shows up on TV to scare small children.

And Keenan? After being run out of Florida (and trading their franchise goalie to quench his blood lust of having bruising forwards), it would all but appear that Mike is about to take the reigns in Calgary. Kipper getting screamed at? Iginla sulking after one of many tirades? Keenan trading Tanguay away to make room for Brian Noonan?

Who says history is boring?


Gambling With Humans, Part V

Let's take a crack at the D-men who are about to fall in love with the free market economy when they hit it big in two weeks (take THAT all you socialist/marxist pig dogs with your poor blueliners).

Ahem...in any event, as the Ducks just showed the league, it really doesn't hurt to have a huge mobile defensive core that can shut down top lines and seemingly score at will if need be. The Canucks defense last year was, arguably, its best in recent memory as Mitchell's defensive responsibility coupled with the emergence of Bieska's game made losing Jovo-cop far easier to swallow. Salo picked up his offensive game a bit more (despite another season of random injuries) and Ohlund is still the blueline rock that forced Quinn to block the Leafs from plucking him away back in 1997 (ugh, can you imagine?). However, the jury is still out on Krajicek’s development, Fitzpatrick may or may not return while it seems doubtful that Sopel will return (thank you Dave!) so some upgrades/warm bodies will need to be made.

Let's take a gander at the crème de la crème of the UFA defensemen this year...again, using likely salary demands as the gauge. In a glove tap to my own heritage and fictional neighbors The Sopranos leaving TVland this week, I will litter my analysis with mob slang (and for those of you who did see the finale, it was damned good, don't give me any crap). Let's go:

Kimmo Timonen - He would look molto bello lined up next to Ohlund
Brad Stuart - Strunzo, I'm not sold on him at all and certainly not at $5 million a season.
Sheldon Souray - Montreal will/should hang on to him; if not, he'll get bank in another city
Brian Rafalski - Here I go dreaming again; besides, who better to defend in front of Lui then a guy who's been doing it in front of Marty?
Roman Hamrlik - Pretend he's on a line with Salo; great on the PP, potentially combustible at all other times.
Scott Hannan - Pretend he's on a line with Mitchell; great on the PK/even strength, miserable on the PP. Oy, the agita.
Andrei Markov - Madonn, a PP quarterback? I forget, do we need one of them?
Danny Markov
Tom Preissing
Craig Rivet
Mathieu Schneider - A fun thought that'll never actual occur in this shared plain of reality we call Earth
Darryl Sydor - Stewie, what's that you smell?
Aaron Miller
Andy Sutton - Biblical size jamook right here
Cory Sarich

This next group should be the more affordable of the bunch, between the $1,000,000 - $2,000,000 range per year:

Greg De Vries
Brent Sopel
Sean O'Donnell
Jaroslav Modry
Bryan Berard
Teppo Numminen - If you ignore his age, could be a great fit and vital for a PP that doesn't exist
Brad Lukowich - Not a bad choice if Sopes/Fitzy leave
Tom Poti - More of an offensive upside then Lukowich, but shutting guys down could be a problem
Patrice Brisebois
Ossi Vaananen
Daniel Tjarnqvist
Martin Skoula - Could be a Bieska in hiding, could be a Chouinard in hiding too
Vitaly Vishnevski
- F'ing mortadella
Glen Wesley
Nolan Pratt
Bryan Muir

And as for the KIA-brand defensemen of the group this year there’s:

Alain Nasreddine, Alex Brooks, Anders Eriksson, Bobby Allen, Brad Ference, Brad Norton, Chris Chelios (che bruta although I know a certain someone who secretly loves him down deep inside), Dan McGillis, David Koci, David Printz, David Tanabe, Derrick Walser, Eric Cairns, Greg Zanon, Ian Moran, Jamie Heward, Jamie Rivers, Jan Hejda, Janne Niinimaa (facia bruta), Jason Strudwick, Jason York, Jim Fahey, Jiri Fischer (sia bene), Joe DiPenta, Joel Bouchard, Joel Kwiatkowski, Jon Klemm, Josef Melichar, Ken Klee, Kent Huskins, Luke Richardson, Lwarence Nycholat, Martin Grenier, Micki Dupont, Mike Weaver, Nathan Dempsey, Ric Jackman, Rob Scuderi, Sean Hill, Shane Hnidy, Sheldon Brookbank, Thomas Pock, Tomas Mojzis and Yannick Tremblay (Va fa napole).

UFA Defensemen
Will break bank/move contracts for
: Timonen, Rafalski, Hannan
Hold your breath and pray
: Numminen, Markov
Go nuts, but don't expect much
: Lukowich, Poti
Plan a project
: Skoula
Look fondly at Manitoba
: Edler, Rahimi, McIver, Ryan, Fortunus, Wood, Coulombe, Rullier, Koltsov (Omsk Avangard), Bourdon (QMJHL), Fredheim (NCAA)
Just get a warm body
: Fitzpatrick, Ference, Jackman, Klee, Hill and Akuma if he's free and stops wandering around trying to kill Ryu. Because, honestly, if you're going to have a ninja on skates helping to defend and add some punch to the man advantage, it should at least be the angriest ninja out there.


No one should get drunk and post stuff

...because if you do, then you run the risk of writing something with an sickly sweet and patently annoying headline (not that it's overly shocking considering the source) to the outright nonsensical (while I appreciate the concept Bob, you may want to review the team's weaknesses before giving them the cup a mere 30 seconds after it's given to the team that ousted them).

I suppose common civility would dictate I'm supposed to post something congratulatory about the new Stanley Cup champion Ducks? That's tough. I still vehemently dislike Pronger and am happy that I've ducked any visuals of that punk holding/sullying the cup so far. It's also tough to get excited about a team that wins it all when they were revoltingly stacked (at least in defense and in net) from the beginning of the season. I fear the 2007-08 season predictions are going to be even more disgusting then usual because so many mouthbreathers in the MSM picked the Ducks this year. Grand.

But, I will say I'm very happy for the fans of the team since I can only imagine (I'll repeat: I CAN ONLY IMAGINE) what it must feel like to see a team you backed for 8 long months finally reach that finish line. Enjoy the moment and soak it up and try to ignore your hangover this morning as best you can.

And I feel happy for Brian Burke. With no offense to Nonis, I never wanted Burke to leave Vancouver and enjoyed watching him throw out the garbage in Anaheim (anyone see how Fedorov is taking the news this morning?) while also building the team very much from within. He's a hell of a GM - even if he rubs almost everyone in the media the wrong way - and the Duck fans should be happy as hell he's there for the next few seasons.

That said, let's focus on next week when Luongo sweeps up the awards and then we can swiftly segue to whatever the Mammoth Nonis Summer Trade of 2007 will be. Go get 'em Dave.


MySpace returns for two

Life has been hectic the past few days so my apologies in getting to this late, but as expected, Taylor Pyatt is no Anson Carter. Pyatt will make $1.5 $1.75 million a year, thereby more then doubling his previous $700,000 from last year, lucky guy. But honestly, if you are coming off your best season (23 goals and 14 assists) and can skate a few more years with Tomax and Xamot, why would you leave anyway? He can pad his resume for two more seasons and then jump into the UFA pool and bank big so it makes sense all around.

Moreover, for some reason that I am convinced centers on a cosmic-kick-to-the-groin, sir Pyatt and his girlfriend have driven quite a good deal of traffic my way. Don’t believe me? Think again. So thank you all you Vancouver tween fans that have Pyatt fever. And naturally thank you Taylor. You go big dog.

In other news, Sir Nonis seems to enjoy what he did last year (snagging Lui from a drunken Keenan) that he fancies doing it again. Sadly we don’t have a moody brutish winger to offload on a starry eyed GM for someone who can f’ing score, but as long as he doesn’t move Luongo, I don’t care who he brings in as long as they can score. Well, that’s not true…I do care as long as it’s not some people.

Lastly...oh what the hell, why not? It sure beats watching the punk Pronger get his filthy hands on it.


Gambling with Humans, Part IV

What an opportune time to look at the goaltending possibilities for Vancouver in the upcoming free agency period.

What's that you say? "We have Luongo so why even bother?" Well, because first it would be a poor investment strategy on management's behalf to play him damn near 80 games a year yet again and, moreover, he's one groin pull/concussion/puck to the throat/errant Nagy crease crashing disaster away from sinking the hopes of the team that is built around him.

Secondly, as the Province notes this morning, Sabby is going to test the shallow end of the free agency pool. I do like the guy so more power to him if he bolts, particularly if he finds a GM who wants to pay him more then $450,000 a year because he did his job for three minutes in a playoff game. In fact, he should just head to LA now because I feel confident he can give their crew a run for their money.

So, if Sabby flies the coop, what is left out there to buddy up with Luongo and keep that bench warm?

J.S. Giguere - Not a chance in hell
Niklas Backstrom - See above; although it would be fun to screw the Wild by getting him
Curtis Joseph - FORE!
Dominik Hasek - I really don't care what this man does
David Aebischer - See above
Kevin Weekes - No reunion here
Mathieu Garon - Not bad backup if he wants it at a substantial discount
Robert Esche - Same issue as Garon plus carries some injury woes

Rounding out the cheaper options include:

Brian Boucher, Dany Sabourin, Ed Belfour, Jamie McLennan, JS Aubin, Jocelyn Thibault, Jussi Markkanen, Karl Goehring, Mike Dunham, Mike Smith, Scott Clemmensen, Sean Burke, Ty Conklin, Wade Dubielewicz and Wade Flaherty.

At the end of the day it's not going to matter much since, for the first time in this fan's tenure of a Canuck fan, the crease isn't a problem. But it's good to be thorough so...

UFA Goalies
Will break bank/move contracts for: No one. See redundancy for more detail.
Hold your breath and pray: Smith
Go nuts, but don't expect much: Boucher, McLennan, JS Aubin
Plan a project: Goehring, Dubielewicz
Look fondly at Manitoba: Ellis, Flaherty, Grumet-Morris, MacIntyre. Also that Schneider bloke out in beantown.
Just get a warm body: Clemmensen (he knows the score), Flaherty, Dunham and Shredder because he can double as an maintenance guy (skate sharpening, quick stitch jobs, bench security, haiku's) while he sits and waits. Plus his blades will impale the pucks to reduce rebounds and any crease crashers will be murdered.