Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Stan McCammon Steps Down
As President and CEO, McCammon oversaw the the Canucks' transformation from that of an underchieving, money-losing team in the late '90's to the Stanley Cup contender and business model franchise it is today. But while he was the one who hired former Canucks GM Brian Burke, the engineer behind the current team, he will most likely be remembered for ultimately letting Burke go.
Orca Bay has expressed its interest to replace McCammon with someone who has strong ties to the local community.
Cooke's Lost Leverage
One of Cooke's biggest attributes is his versatility which allows him to play in almost any role the Canucks give him. As I talked about in a previous post, he is a third-liner who is also capable of playing minutes on the scoring lines. However, the Canucks don't have him pencilled for the scoring lines this season. In fact, the team signed Anson Carter to be the Sedins' full-time right-winger. Carter is a 50-60 point player; comparedly, Cooke's career-high is only 42 points. After Carter on the depth chart, the Canucks also have Jason King, who started last season as one of the league's hottest rookies while playing on the Sedin line.
Cooke is quick and tenacious on the puck and often plays in penalty-killing situations. But now the Canucks also signed free agent forward Richard Park. While I admit that I haven't seen Park play a lot, by most accounts he is also a quick and defensively-responsible forward. He last played for Minnesota in Jacques Lemaire's defense-first system and finished even in the plus/minus category. He logged 16 minutes a game, playing in every situation including on the powerplay and the penalty-kill. After Park on the depth chart, Ryan Kesler is coming off a solid year in the AHL and should be able to play a bigger role.
Cooke plays a gritty and agitating style to get under other players' skin. Enter Jarkko Ruutu. While Ruutu doesn't have the same offensive potential Cooke has, he is similarly gritty and is fast becoming one of the most hated players in the league. Tyler Bouck should also be able to step into the lineup this season and fill the same role.
Last week, Cooke's agent, Pat Morris took an (un)intended shot at Jarkko Ruutu and his value to the Canucks. He stated that given the Canucks' cap situation, the team is better off spending the extra money on his client rather than trying to re-sign both his client and Ruutu. (My apologies... I don't have the actual quote.) But if Nonis' statement yesterday is true, then Cooke can forget about getting a piece of Ruutu's pie. And he doesn't have a lot of other options left.
Canucks Release TV Schedule
Especially because the games at GM Place are sold out for the season, it's great to see that all the games are going to be available on the tube.
CBC - 15 games
SNP - 45 games
TSN - 5 games
PPV - 17 games
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Hurricane Katrina Aftermath
NHL and EA Sports Explain Rule Changes
The video clips - viewable using Quick Time Video - are on NHL.com. Good on the league to put this out, not only because it's great for the casual fan but also because it shows the league is willing to try innovative ways of marketing and communicating their product.
Monday, August 29, 2005
What To Do With Jovo
One rumor that seems to persist involves trading Jovanovski to the Panthers for Jay Bouwmeester. Thanks to an intact core of players from their Northwest Division-winning season, the Canucks are IMHO close to winning it all. Having Jovo in the lineup - a veteran defenseman who can skate, score, hit, and play the physical playoff game - makes the team that much better and trading him for someone with only the potential to be the same seems like taking a step backwards. But something Tom Benjamin said in Canucks Corner made me think about this trade. Tom said:
Close? No team is ever close. Either you are good enough or you are not. If you are good enough, then you are only one of 10 teams or so that is good enough. You need puck luck.
Ohlund - Salo
Allen - Jovanovski
McCarthy - Baumgartner/FA (Bombardir, Baron)
Ohlund - Bouwmeester
FA (Witt, White) - Salo
McCarthy - Allen
(Remember that Bouwmeester makes approximately half of what Jovo makes. The extra cap space allows the Canucks to sign a higher-caliber defenseman.)
Now with the second lineup, are the Canucks still good enough?
With regards to the possibility that the Canucks can lose Jovanovski for nothing, Tom asks:
To illustrate his second point, think of having the first set of defensive pairings for one season versus having the second set for three seasons. Should the Canucks put all their eggs in this year's basket or distribute them over the next three?
Are they better off being very good - say one of the top five teams - this year but as a result they drop to average for the next two years?
Or are they better off making the deal and being above average for all three years? A one in five chance this year and two years where they have a 1 in 20 chance? Or three years where your chances are one in ten?
So what do you think... what should we do with Jovo?
(Postscript: One of the things I've enjoyed immensely during my short time in the blogging biz so far is the chance to get additional insight from other bloggers. Thanks to Tom for his on this particular subject.)
Friday, August 26, 2005
At What Cost, Cooke?
Now don't get me wrong... I love Matt Cooke. Back in 2002 when Orca Bay offered me a Canucks jersey signed by anyone on the team (it was an incentive for booking a bunch of group tickets), I picked Cooke's. Not Markus Naslund's or Todd Bertuzzi's or Ed Jovanovski's, but Matt Cooke's.
Matt Cooke bleeds Canucks blue. He is a gritty and scrappy player. He is responsible in his own end and plays a key role on the penalty-killing unit. When offered the opportunity to replace Bertuzzi at the end of last season, he responded by putting up 10 points in the last 13 regular season games and 4 points in 7 playoff games, including his now infamous goal in game 7 when he sent the game to overtime with 5.7 seconds left.
The problem is that Pat Morris' argument is based on this role. And while it's a definite bonus that Cooke was able to elevate his game when required, this is not the regular role they have for him. Matt Cooke is a third-liner - and in my humble opinion he is one of the best in the league because of the reasons I stated above - but unless the Canucks see him in any regular role bigger than that, he should only be paid as such.
In a way, I feel bad for Cooke. He's been one of the most underpaid players in the league over the last couple of years. But he's not going to get back money lost and nor should he expect to. Not in this economic system and not with the Canucks. With the Canucks, he is worth somewhere under the Sedins and over Jarkko Ruutu.
Does he deserve a raise? Absolutely. The real question is how much.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Canucks Re-Sign Ohlund to 4-Year Deal
Most Canucks fans would agree that Ohlund is the team's most valuable defenseman. He is a big, solid, steady defenseman who plays a lot of minutes (usually upwards of 25 minutes per game), and always against the opposing team's top lines. And while he doesn't put up Gonchar or Niedermayer-like numbers, he is certainly capable of producing some offense. In his career, he has averaged 30+ points per season. Last season, he ranked 27th in defenseman scoring (14-20-34,+14), scoring only 4 points less than Nicklas Lidstrom (10-28-38, +19), and more points than prominent offensive defensemen Roman Hamrlik (7-22-29, +2) and Alexei Zhitnik (4-24-28, -13). Over the same number of games last season, he scored at a similar rate as Ed Jovanovski (0.41 ppg).
The deal itself is is a steal. Ohlund is 28 years old and would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. With this contract, the Canucks have locked Ohlund for three years - three of his prime years - that he would have been in the open market. To get a sense of what the open market is like, remember that this summer, Adrian Aucoin was signed for $4 million/year, Adam Foote for $4.6 million/year, and Alexei Zhitnik, Roman Hamrlik, Mike Rathje and Derian Hatcher for $3.5 million/year each - and I would personally rank Ohlund higher than any of them.
Ohlund's signing was probably the most important next to Markus Naslund's. He is the anchor of the Canucks' defense, and now he will anchor it for the next four years.
Welcoming More to the Blog Roll
Make sure you visit them and say hi.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Brent Skinner to Sign with the Canucks
Canucks Re-Sign Josh Green
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Hossa Traded For Heatley
Hossa didn't endear himself to Senators fans by demanding Iginla-type money. Hossa's and Iginla's stats may be similar - see Jes Golbez's comparison chart - but that's where the similarities end. While Iginla was leading the Calgary Flames to within one win of the Stanley Cup, Hossa was hiding behind Zdeno Chara and again fading early in the playoffs.
Heatley himself comes to Ottawa with some question marks. The Dan Snyder tragedy took its toll on him and he asked for a trade out of Atlanta a week ago. However, he is one of the most promising, young stars in the league and he only needs to return to his form of two years ago to justify this trade. He obviously hopes that a return to the Great White North - to be closer to family among other things - can facilitate this.
In my humble opinion, Ottawa wins this trade. Heatley is bigger, younger and tougher. But perhaps more importantly, the Sens now have the cap space to re-sign Wade Redden. The choice essentially became one between keeping Hossa and deVries, or Heatley and Redden - and I would have easily made the same choice.
From a local perspective, I am curious to see what Redden signs for. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and I believe Redden is one his comparables - what Redden signs for will impact what Jovanovski will command in the summer.
More Additions to the Blog Roll
Pass by and say hi to both of them.
Shoring Up Depth
The signing of Anson Carter gives the Sedins the big, scoring right-winger they've been waiting for. At best, he is capable of producing 20 goals and 50-60-points, giving the Canucks some much-needed secondary scoring.
Matt Cooke and Trevor Linden are both gritty, defensive forwards. The Canucks can throw anyone of Richard Park, Ryan Kesler and Jason King with them and they form arguably one of the best third-lines in the league. Park and Kesler are becoming regular Team USA invitees; Jason King has shown a lot of promise, though he needs to learn to play more consistently. To illustrate the Canucks' depth, if needed, any of those players are also capable of providing some offense and play minutes on the scoring lines.
Jarkko Ruutu, if he re-signs, can fill the 12th forward spot. Tyler Bouck and Wade Brookbank can also play fourth-line minutes when required. Same can be argued for farmhands Josh Green, Lee Goren, Nathan Smith and Fedor Fedorov.
On defense, much screaming was made by fans in Canuckdom when Marek Malik signed with the Rangers and Brent Sopel was traded to the Islanders. In the meantime, Dave Nonis quietly replaced them with Steve McCarthy and Sven Buchenson. While Malik and Sopel had good offensive numbers, both were also widely considered the weakest links of the team's defense. Further, this year they commanded a combined total of almost $5 million in salary.
On the other hand, McCarthy and Butenschon will make a combined $1.25 million this year. McCarthy will be pencilled in the 5th defenseman spot - see my previous post for his scouting report - until the Canucks are able to sign another defenseman, something which Canucks management have alluded to. Until then, Butenschon will rotate with Nolan Baumgartner, who is coming off his best season in the pros, albeit at the AHL level. Kevin Bieska and Kiril Koltsov may also be ready to fill in the no. 6 and 7 spots.
The Canucks finally have some depth in their lineup. Hopefully, gone are the days when we cringe at the thought of taking a regular out of the lineup and replacing him with a press box regular or a Moose call-up. On paper at least, the next few guys down the depth chart in each position are capable of simply stepping into the lineup.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Additions to the Blog Roll
Make sure you visit and give 'em a read.
Canucks Acquire Steve McCarthy
McCarthy, a Trail, B.C. native, is an interesting addition to the Canucks. I'm looking forward to see if he will able to fill a spot on the 3rd defensive pairing - his $760K contract certainly suggests that the team thinks he does. He's an offensive-minded defenseman with good speed and a hard shot. He's also only 24 years old and a former first-round draft pick. By media accounts, McCarthy is a solid guy both on and off the ice, having captained Team Canada's World Junior Championship team in 2001.
His TSN scouting report:
Assets: Has excellent offensive instincts for a blueliner. Is already a gifted passer. Sees the ice extremely well and loves to lead the rush up ice.
Flaws: Could use more bulk to better compete at the NHL level. Must learn to play a tighter defensive game.
Career potential: Top-six defenseman.
Carnival of the NHL No. 6
For those who haven't been to one before, the Carnival of the NHL is basically a gathering of original posts, musings and analysis from various hockey bloggers that a carnival "host" puts together in one blog post.
Have a read and enjoy. Your regularly-scheduled original posts in this space will return tonight.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Canucks Sign Sven Butenschon
I would, however, like to take this opportunity and pass on that the Vancouver Canucks have signed defenseman Sven Butenschon. Sven who? Exactly.
Butenschon is a depth player. Very big guy, kinda like a Marek Malik. He's played with the Panthers and the Islanders, but has yet to play a full season in the NHL. Hope he gets a good look as the no. 6/7 d-man.
Speaking of Whistler, the Canucks also announced that this year's training camp will be split between Whistler and Vancouver. Rookie camp starts on September 5th; the main camp begins on September 13th.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Canucks Re-Sign Cloutier
I honestly thought the Canucks would only sign him for one-year. While Cloutier's regular season stats are among the best in the league, the main knock on him has been his inability to carry the Canucks in the playoffs. A one-year deal would have given him one more chance to prove himself in the playoffs, after which the team can decide on whether or not to hand over the starting duties to Alex Auld. Or someone else.
For now however, there isn't anyone else. Unless the team is willing to part with a Todd Bertuzzi or an Ed Jovanovski, they wouldn't be able to acquire an "elite" goalie like Luongo or Theodore. Sure they could have signed Jocelyn Thibault or Cujo, but can they be considered "upgrades"? Thibault is injured more than Cloutier and has a worse playoff record; Cujo is ten years older and still hasn't won a Stanley Cup. They also could have decided to go with Alex Auld now, but why would the team go with an unproven, rookie goalie when the team is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender?
So instead the Canucks simply placed their trust on Clooch. At 29 years old - the age at which most players start to hit their prime - we can only hope that this is the year Dan truly becomes the man.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Canucks Get Carter
Carter is coming off a forgettable 2003/2004 season, when he played for three different teams. However, he is a career 20+ goal scorer and may well be the right-winger the Sedins have been waiting for. His TSN scouting report:
On a side note... I hope Carter's signing doesn't signal an end to Matt Cooke's tenure in Vancouver. Having lost Chubarov and May already, the Canucks need Cooke's grit and intensity. He bleeds Canuck blue and has improved his game steadily in the last few years, scoring two of the biggest goals in recent Canucks history. He even earned a spot on Team Canada's World Championship team in 2003.
Assets: Is a very heady player and also sound in defensive situations. Uses his size to drive to the net in order to cash in on scoring opportunities. Can skate well and has a surprising shot.
Flaws: Should be more of a physical presence on the ice but isn't. Doesn't light up the scoreboard consistently. Needs to become more of a take-charge guy.
Career potential:Top six forward.
However, he is a restricted free agent and some indicate that contract negotiations are not progressing smoothly. And now that the Canucks have a surplus of forwards and only four NHL-caliber defensemen, his name has been linked to trade rumors.
Vinnie and the Max
I'd like to take it another step further and ask - is anyone worth that much money, especially within a cap system?
Lecavalier's contract represents 18% the team's salary cap. Next season, when the salary cap goes down, this increases to 19% - essentially the max percentage a player can make under the cap. With 23 players on the roster, does it make sense to tie up 1/5th of a team's salary cap to one player, and giving the remaining 22 players an average of 2.8% each?
Of course I'm not suggesting that every player on a team is worth equally. I'm simply pointing out that the more cap space one player takes, the less remains for his teammates. In Lecavalier's case, his huge contract means that other key players on the team like Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis will have to settle for far less. Or sign somewhere else. And if one of Richards or St. Louis leaves - is Lecavalier and his huge contract worth it?
New Blog on the Block
Lots of excellent, insightful articles written about the Canucks and hockey in general. Make sure you give 'em a read.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
As Mr. Benjamin also notes, Brad May is a player whose contributions to the team is more extensive off-ice than on-ice. He is an average hockey player, but off the ice was one of the most valuable members of the team. Not only is he very active in the community - remember the Brad May Charity Challenge for Canucks Place and other charities during the lockout - but he plays a key leadership role on a team whose core players are only reaching the prime of their careers.
Other players who filled this role in the past season include veterans Mike Keane, Trevor Linden and to a lesser extent Marc Bergevin. Don't think for a second that the Canucks would have went on to win the Northwest Division title without them.
These guys may not have scored a lot of points but they brought a lot of veteran leadership to a locker room surrounded by a media backlash, the magnitude of which no one on the team has ever witnessed. Their leadership - not the least of which was their willingness to field tough questions from the media - shielded star players like Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Ed Jovanovski from the negative spotlight, and allowed them to focus on the on-ice game rather than the off-ice circus.
In fact, even before last year, the Canucks have relied on veteran players to take some leadership pressure off the team's star players. In 2002/2003, it was Trent Klatt; the year before that, it was Andrew Cassels and Murray Baron. Trevor Linden was brought back to the team, in large part, for his leadership. By the veterans taking some of the leadership pressure, the likes of Naslund, Morrison, Bertuzzi and Jovanovski were able to play and simply be the team's star players.
Now as the team tries to re-focus for the upcoming season, there is a noticeable lack of veteran presence on the roster. The Canucks have not re-signed Keane and Bergevin and let Brad May leave through free agency, and with the salary cap limiting the team's ability to sign other players, it seems like more of the leadership burden will fall on the team's star players. On the ice, there was never any question that they are able to carry this burden. Off the ice however - and especially given the expected focus on Bertuzzi and his reinstatement - it remains to be seen if they can also fill the veteran void.
The Kids Are Gonna Be Alright
Saw the Canucks no. 1 draft pick, defenseman Luc Bourdon play live for the first time last night.
The kid's alright. A fluid skater and a big guy (he's 6' 2"), Luc's also very solid positionally and didn't stick out on the ice too much, which is exactly what you want in a defenseman. He wasn't afraid of physical contact and even threw some big hits out there. Offensively, he didn't take a lot of chances. He pitched in and joined the rush a few times, but very conservatively. On his team's winning goal, he hustled to keep the puck in his zone and essentially started the play that led to the winning goal. Luc ended up with one assist for the night and if I remember correctly, wasn't on the ice for any of the opposing team's goals. His play, in fact, backs up the pre-draft comparisons to Mattias Ohlund. Looking like a very good draft pick for the Canucks. One more year in junior should do wonders for his confidence.
The Canucks' other draft pick, goalie Julian Ellis-Plante played the first half of the game. He's a small-ish goalie, but very quick. A couple of times he went down too early and got caught out of position, but used his quickness to get back in the play. Overall, he played a solid game. He wasn't really tested too much so it's hard to get a better evaluation of him. He did allow two goals, but at least one of them (Latendresse's) was unstoppable. One thing I can tell you, he's definitely not the worst goalie in camp - Dubnyk was horrible - and he has a realistic chance of making the team.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Team Canada Hockey Day
I'm just coming back from Team Canada Hockey Day at GM Place, where members of the Men's Olympic Hockey Team and World Junior Hockey Championship Team held an open practice and intra-squad game. (Got great seats too - second row behind the players bench.)
Great day to be a Canadian hockey fan. There aren't many opportunities to see the best Canadian hockey players - both at the NHL level and the junior level - on the same ice on the same night.
I'll post more tomorrow.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Another Rollback on the Horizon
Anyway, the salary cap is based on 54% of an optimistic $1.7 billion in league revenues - or an average of $30 million for each of the 30 teams. This of course is the median point, after which the league and the NHLPA then also negotiated a salary range of $17.5 million for this season... which is how they came up with a salary floor of $21.5 million and a salary cap of $39 million.
If most teams are already above the $30 million median, then it is easy to assume that the average team salary will be over the average salary that the league and the NHLPA set for this season. In fact, if current trends continue the average team salary this season may be as much as $33-34 million - or 60% of league revenues. And this is based on the optimistic $1.7 billion in league revenues. If league revenues decline to even $100K to $1.6 billion, players salaries will then equal 64%; a $200K decline to $1.5 billion and players salaries will equal 68%.
At $1.6 billion, players will need to pay back approximately $156 million from the escrow account to get to the magic 54% number. Because the escrow will be applied to each player proportionate to their own salary and their team's total salaries, for some players, this would mean giving up another 15% of their salary towards escrow. At $1.5 billion, the escrow increases to $210 million or 20% of some players' salary towards escrow.
I wonder if the NHLPA saw this second "rollback" coming?
Allen and Salo Re-Signed
Much like the Sedins signing, Allen's is a win-win situation for player and team. The one-year deal offers Allen an opportunity to solidify himself as a top-4 defenseman. In return, Dave Nonis keeps a key player on his team this season - without jeopardizing his cap space - and can re-evaluate Allen next year under the new market conditions. Also like the Sedins, Allen remains a restricted free agent next year.
Salo would have been an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year so signing him for two years was a good move. He is essentially the Canucks' number 3 defenseman (after Ohlund and Jovanovski) means that, assuming Ohlund also signs for more than one year (he wants a long-term deal), the Canucks don't have to worry about 2 of their top 3 defensemen entering unrestricted free agency at the same time.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Lindros a Laff
So let me get this straight, JF Ferguson plays hard ball with Roberts, Nieuwendyk and Domi - 3 players (besides Sundin) who have defined the Leafs - and instead sign Jason Allison, who hasn't played a game since 2002 and Eric Lindros, whose head has been beaten more times than the eggs at a Denny's restaurant. (Roberts and Nieuwendyk of course ended up signing in Florida.)
Anyone else expect the team to sign Adam Deadmarsh next?
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
At What Point Do You Forgive The Unforgivable?
At what point do you forgive the unforgivable?"Good question.
While the London Free Press called the reinstatement shameful and Allan Maki (Globe and Mail) criticized the timing of the league's decision, others like Darren Eliot (Sports Illustrated) simply says its time to move on. We know that Todd wants to and that the Avalanche have - heck, they signed Brad May who was named in Steve Moore's lawsuit.
We can only hope that the NHL learns something out of this incident (Terry Frei, ESPN), Steve Moore recovers and takes something out of the recovery process (Eric McErlain), and of course, the Canucks hope Todd can get back to playing some focused hockey (Ed Willes, The Province).
Chubarov Staying In Russia
Bouck Accepts Qualifying Offer
People who know me know that I am a big Bouck fan. He's a scrappy player who can put in some solid fourth, sometimes third line-type minutes. If he can do that, he will be a fan favorite in the mould of Matt Cooke and Brad May.
Two For The Price Of One
I was worried yesterday when media reports surfaced that Daniel and Henrik were willing to go through the arbitration process. Given their numbers and de-facto second line players status, it would not have been unconceivable for them to argue for contracts close to $2 million each. Instead with today's signing, the Canucks retain two second line players for a combined $2.5 million.
This signing is a win-win for the Canucks and the twins. Presumably, Nonis initially wanted to sign both to long-term deals at a slight raise to their qualifying offers ($1 million). This would mean that given the opportunity to play more minutes and produce more, the twins may well be playing under market value for years. The Sedins, of course, wouldn't have wanted that and instead insisted on a one-year deal to prove they are worth more money for more years. For the Canucks, it means that they don't take a big hit under the salary cap this year, gain more flexibility to re-sign their other key restricted free agents (ie. Ohlund, Cooke, Salo and Allen) and get to re-evaluate the twins' market value under next year's rumoredly lower salary cap. Both are still restricted free agents next year.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The West's Most Coveted Free Agent
As set forth in the terms of his criminal probation, Mr. Bertuzzi will not be permitted to play in any NHL game in which Mr. Moore is a player on the opposite team.So what stops a team from signing Moore to a minimum contract just prior to the playoffs and ensure that Bertuzzi is off the ice when they play the Canucks?
An Open Letter From Bert
Can't wait to see you back on the ice too, ya big lug.
Optimists (such as yours truly) think that these are simply negotiation tactics. However, if true, it does not bode well for Nonis and the Canucks. Ohlund is a premiere defenseman in the NHL, and with the likes of Adrian Aucoin and Adam Foote getting upwards of $4 million per season, it is arguably possible that Ohlund will merit a similar salary. The Sedins, who have consistently improved their games (and their statistics) over the past few seasons, may command close to $2 million per season. Chubarov is one of the team's top penalty killers and defensive forwards. In fact, his line has often been tasked with playing against the opposing teams' top lines. Chubarov's salary demands haven't been made public, but my best guess is that it's a fair bit more than his $1 million qualifying offer.
So how can the Canucks afford to keep four key players for more than $9 million? Well, they can't and the following is what Nonis and company have to consider:
Ohlund and the Sedins
Unfortunately for Nonis, the team has made significant investments in Mattias Ohlund and the Sedin twins and losing any of them will be a huge setback to the team.
Some argue that Ohlund is the team's top defenseman, even more important than Ed Jovanovski. And with top free agents such as Scott Niedermayer off the market, there is simply no comparable replacements available this year. (And yes, I know Roman Hamrlik is still out there.)
The Sedins have been the Canucks' pet projects for four years now. Though often criticized because they have been handed over 2nd line minutes - some say undeservedly - the fact remains that both have consistently improved their game. Last season, Daniel finished with 18 goals and 54 points and a +18 rating. His point totals rank him 53rd among forwards - higher than the likes of Yzerman, Roenick, Gagne, Kovalev, Bondra, Morrow, Modano, Bonk and Zetterberg (get the picture?). This despite only averaging 13 minutes of ice time per game. Henrik wasn't bad either, garnering 42 points and a +23 rating in 14 minutes of ice time per game. As much as fans would much rather send the Sedins to Anaheim, the Canucks don't have other options for the second line.
I'm a big fan of Chubarov. He normally plays against opposing teams' top lines and normally does a good job of doing so. He is a regular on the penalty kill and takes key faceoffs. That said however, the new capped system limits what the Canucks can afford to pay him. He made just over $800,000 last season, and unless he is willing to sign for a similar amount, the Canucks may have no choice but to part ways with him and hope that guys like Ryan Kesler and Nathan Smith can fill the role just as well.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Who Is Richard Park?
To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to Park in the past. I know he scored a couple of big goals in the playoffs (one against the Canucks in game 7), but other than that, he hasn't really stuck out. I figure he was signed to play on the second or third line. He's a bit on the small side, but is quick and possesses some good puckhandling ability. And seeing that he played for Jacques Lemaire and the Minnesota Wild, he must be fairly decent defensively.
The Canucks now have a surplus of similar players - Cooke, Ruutu, Bouck and Park all play the same kind of game (some more irritating than others). It can even be argued that Chubarov and King belong on that list.
So who's on the way out?
Big Bertuzzi Is Back!
Gary Bettman finally announced today that Todd Bertuzzi has been reinstated to the NHL effective immediately. Few people condone what Big Bert did. However, most hockey people will agree that it was time to move past this incident. Bertuzzi himself has apologized publicly. Moreover, his 17-month long suspension cost him:
- 13 regular season games
- 7 playoff games
- the World Cup of Hockey tournament
- the World Championship tournament
- more than $500K in salary
Some people will argue that the duration of the lockout shouldn't count towards the suspension, but the fact is, Bertuzzi's suspension also prevented him from playing in Europe.
Last year, he already faced a criminal trial. Sometime in the near future, he will face a civil suit. When he steps back on the ice, he is still considered to be on probation.
In my humble opinion, not much more can be done to punish him.
For Canucks fans, today's decision means that Bertuzzi will be back with the Westcoast Express line on opening night. Let's hope he stays there.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
- Naslund is the team's best player, its captain and heart and soul
- Sopel is a goof
- Malik is a pylon
- Cloutier is a sieve
Since losing out on the Forsberg and Niedermayer hunts, Canucks "fans" have been extremely critical of the team's inactivity. Apparently, they now think that Naslund and Morrison are overpaid. They think both should have signed at bargain basement prices or should have been let go to allow the team to sign Niedermayer and Kariya and Selanne and Carter and Hamrlik.
Because that's the way you should treat your star players.
Well, they still think that Cloutier is a sieve, but they also think that because Khabibulin signed with Chicago, Thibault is a viable option. Fans think Cloutier gets injured a lot, Thibault is coming off a season that saw him only play 14 games because of injuries. Fans don't think Cloutier is a playoff performer, Thibault has a 4-11 record in five playoff seasons.
They think Cujo is an option. Never mind that he has never won the Stanley Cup. Or that he's 10 years older than Cloutier. Or that he'll command a bit more than the $2.5-3 million that Cloutier will get and the Canucks will have to drop yet another player from their core roster to make room for him.
Dear fans... relax. It's the first week of August and our best players are signed. In a new, salary-capped NHL, this isn't a bad situation at all.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Unlike in the NFL, which also has a hard cap, contracts are guaranteed in the NHL. This means that once a team signs a player, they are bound to 100% of the deal. And except for a small window to buyout existing contracts last week, future such buyouts will count against that team's cap. For example, if in two years, the Flyers want to change directions and buy out injury-prone, 33 year-old Derian Hatcher ($3.5 million/year for 4 years), it will cost them $7 million to do so. Further, that $7 million will count against the Flyers' cap.
What makes it even riskier is that the NHL's cap is a moving one, the cap amount based on the previous year's league revenues. This year's salary cap is $39 million based on $1.7 billion in post-lockout year revenues. Assuming however that league revenues are lower than $1.7 billion this year, then next year's cap amount will also be lowered proportionally - teams, of course, will then have to adjust their salaries as well. There are rumors that next year's cap can be as low as $36 million.
Long-term deals will make it harder for teams to adjust to a lower cap. Most likely, these teams will have to trade big contracts for cap space (ie. draft picks or cheap players). However, if the cap is lower, then most teams will likely not be willing to take on bigger salaries themselves. Let's say for example that the Blackhawks decide to trade Khabibulin ($6.75 million/yr) next season to get under the cap. If the cap is lowered to $36 million, what would entice teams to take on his salary when they have already essentially lost $3 million in cap space?
Admittedly, there are merits to teams locking up key players to long-term deals and keeping their core together. However, with a salary cap limiting their flexibility, teams must be sure that they are giving these long-term deals to the right players.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Canucks Re-Sign Morrison
Good to see that while top rivals like Colorado and Detroit are losing key players, the core of the Canucks team that won the Northwest Division are staying relatively intact.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Niedermayers Go To Disneyland
So much for the rumors, fuelled by the departures of Marek Malik and Brent Sopel, of Scott signing with the Canucks. Would've been nice, but given the salary cap, this would have required some serious creativity from Dave Nonis.
The Canucks still only have four defensemen signed. Looks like we're going to see the likes of Nolan Baumgartner, Kevin Bieska and even Wade Brookbank more at GM Place.
Foppa to Philly; Roenick Goes Hollywood
It was obvious that Colorado would have been unable to fit Forsberg under their cap, but most rumors had him coming to Vancouver and Toronto. From a Canucks fan's perspective, I'm glad he signed with an Eastern Conference team - Forsberg usually averaged 2+ points against the Canucks.
Roenick, who only has this season left in his contract, is a perfect fit in Hollywood. He will give the league a big name and some much-needed exposure in one of the league's biggest markets. That he is brash and quotable doesn't hurt.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Sopel Traded to the Islanders
Nonis' First Big Signing
Locking up the team's captain and heart and soul for the next three years. Not bad for the "rookie GM".
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Captain Canuck Coming Back!
I was gonna go to bed, but I suppose I can stay up a bit later and see if anything else comes up.
Free Agent Tracker
Sportsnet has a free agent tracker; TSN has a team-by-team list of free agents and committed salaries.
Malik a Ranger?
Update (4:31 PM):
It's official. The Rangers just sent out a press release.
Setting The Bar
With the Canucks rumored to be one of the front-runners to sign Scott Niedermayer, the key question is, how much will his services cost? Because of the salary cap, the size of his contract will have a huge impact on whether or not the team will lose one or more of its core players.To get an idea of Niedermayer's market value, let's look at what teams are paying other free agent defensemen. The following group of players signed in the last couple of days and easily belong among their respective teams' top 2 or 3 defensemen:
- Adam Foote, Columbus Blue Jackets - 3 yrs/$13.8 million ($4.6 million per year)
- Adrian Aucoin, Chicago Blackhawks - 4 yrs/$16 million ($4 million per year)
- Derian Hatcher, Philadelphia Flyers - 4 yrs/$14 million ($3.5 million per year)
- Mike Rathje, Philadelphia Flyers - 5 yrs/$17.5 million ($3.5 million per year)
Of these players, Foote is probably the most comparable. Like Niedermayer, he has won the Stanley Cup (twice actually) and gold medals with Canada's Olympic and World Cup of Hockey teams. However, Foote has had some recent injury problems, while Niedermayer has just won the Norris trophy as the league's top defenseman.
The consensus is that Niedermayer is this year's most sought-after defenseman. I agree. And given what other top defensemen are signing for, I (humbly) place Niedermayer's market value at 4 yrs/$22 million ($5.5 million per year).