Archive for July 2006

Next for Canucks

July 31, 2006

What’s next?  Take a look at the salary committments for 2006-07:

http://hockeyanalysis.com/?page_id=333

That’s only 14 players signed.

So to start, Nonis is likely going to spend some time to get the following signed this week, as they are restricted free agents:

Tyler Bouck, Ryan Kesler, Mika Noronen, & Lukas Krajicek.

And that still leaves the team with only 6 defenseman and 10 forwards.  Then again, I haven’t included the likes of Brandon Reid, Jesse Schultz, Jason King, or Lee Goren in this list.  But it does include Luc Bourdon as making the team in his first year as a pro.

Still, you have to think that Nonis realizes the importance of Linden to the Canuck organization and will spend some time getting him signed this week.

It would just to too strange to have him in another uniform again, especially at this point in his career.

Other than Linden, I would think that Nonis is getting pretty close to solidifying the line-up for 2006-07.  However, Nonis himself has already noted that some teams may be looking to fill some holes and make some deals as the arbitration process proceeds.  He believes that some teams are more likely to walk away from players than they have in the past with the salary cap limiting them.  We haven’t seen this yet, but there are still a few to go.

If deals are there to be made Nonis will be keeping busy right to opening night.

The Chief Canuck

Unsigned

July 28, 2006

I was reviewing a list of UFA’s, and was suprised at the players still available.  So what’s preventing these guys from getting signed.

A couple issues become apparent.  Risk of injury is at the top of that list.  And even though there is a provision for teams to use a bonus system with some of these players, you can see from Toronto’s response to having signed Lindos and Allison last year to these types of deals, that they are far from advantages.  Pushing teams to devote more money to known entities and taking more risks with their youth instead.

So, here are some of the high profile guys left and what’s putting them on hold:

Jason Allison – He’s nearly a point a game player during his career.  But, over the past five years he’s been hampered by injury.  Part of Allison’s issue is that he’s expecting to be paid well for his services, and in today’s league, teams can’t take a risk on a player they know will be injured.  It wasn’t an issue before the salary cap, but it is now.  Add to that he’s having trouble keeping up in the new NHL. 

Owen Nolan – Unlike Allison, Nolan has never played a full season.  So, he’s hampered by the same issues Allison is.  Teams cannot take a risk on him, especially for the dollars he would want.  Who wants a guy coming of sour mediation with his previous team over injury payments due to back problems.

Anson Carter – simply put, he’s an enigma.  After one decent year, hanging on the coat tails of the Sedin twins, he’s looking for a long term deal.  What’ he doens’t see is that teams are only handing out long-term deals to their core.  Not to their fringe guys.

Valeri Bure – Remember him?  Injuries have left him in the same boat as Allison & Nolan.  Except he can skate a bit, but he’s going to have to come at a pretty cheap price in order for a team to take a risk on him at this point.

Teams are putting their eggs into one basket, their top players that they feel will deliver and are not injury prone.  Gone is this middle class of players.  Their either going to progress and get handed big money, or will be toiling near the league minimum. 

Some of these players are only now figuring out that they’re going to losing their jobs because of this. 

The Chief Canuck

Where’d you go?

July 27, 2006

To steal a line from a recent 10 ten song, Where’d you go?  Goals that is.

The Canucks have lost a lot of fire power recently and this has many wondering who’s going to take on the load lost by those top goal scorers from last year.  So much so that the otherwise quite GM of the Canucks actually spoke out about this.  Nonis defended his team, saying that not all that much was lost when you consider what was also gained. 

So I looked at it, and was surprised by what I found.  Not only that, I was suprised by what I didn’t find.  But more about that later.

The Canucks have lost top 10 goal scorers Todd Bertuzzi, Anson Carter, & Jarkko Ruutu.  Combined they put the puck in the net 68 times last year. 

What did they gain?  Well over the past month, the Canucks have aquired Jan Bulis, Marc Chouinard, and Taylor Pyatt.  Playing 2nd, 3rd, & 4th line minutes, they combined for 40 goals, with half coming from Bulis along.

That leaves a net loss of 28 goals.

To put this into perspective, dropping 28 goals last year would have pushed the Canucks from finishing 12th in goals for, all the way to 22nd.

Only Calgary made the playoffs scoring less goals.  However, they rode the coat-tails of a world-class goalie.  Mind you, Nonis picked one of those up too.

But even if you buy into the methodology that they won’t have to score as many goals with Luongo in net, there’s more to this story than just that.

If you look a little deeper into the players not in the top ten last year, you’ll see an interesting story.  Linden, Park, & Cooke only combined for 23 goals last year.  But remember this, Cooke was hampered by injury, Linden was coming off an emotional 1 1/2 years of CBA negotiations. 

You’ve got to think that they could both obtain 15 goals each next year, and whoever Parks replacement is could do the same (see Jason King, Brandon Reid, or Jesse Schultz).  After all, King got 12 goals with the twins before petering out as a rookie.

So, if you see them getting 15 goals each on average, your looking at a net increase in goals of 22 goals.  That almost covers the loss noted previously. 

And we haven’t accounted for Taylor Pyatt having any sort of breakout.  Nor have you considered the fact that the Sedins were in the top 10 in the league in points per minute played last year, and are going to get even more minutes this year as the teams top line.

While I don’t buy Nonis story straight up, after looking a little deeper, then deeper again, there stands a stong possibility that the team is going to be in about the same offensive shape as last year. 

Only this time, they’ve got a game breaker in net.

The Chief Canuck

Success of the Team

July 26, 2006

As the off-seasons acquisitions die down after a busy first 3 weeks, the potential options become more limited, and line-ups are set for the coming season.  The competition for next season looks good.

So, what’s it going to take to win?  Well, it will be different things at different points in the season, but let’s break it down this way:

Coaching – Chemistry- Injury – Best Players

Coaching 

Teams will need to be well prepared every night.  There is no opportunity to take a night off against any team.  With more divisional match-ups, and increased competition, preparation will be key every night, games 1 through 82.

Chemistry

With so many new players on each team, there is going to be a ‘getting to know’ factor.   Trust will be an issue, and those teams that can gel early on will find success throughout the season.  Sticking together and finding that unknown quantity we so often refer to as chemistry is going to be key in finding ways to win.  How quickly teams get it will be a factor in obtaining some early wins.  Making it to a playoff spot will demand that they find it throughout the season.

Injury

Any team hit with significant injuries will have extreme difficulty making a run for the playoffs.  And I mean any team.  With so much money devoted to a teams top players, and the lack of depth of top players on each team, any injury will devastate any teams playoff hopes. 

Top Players 

Your best players need to be your best players.  If they’re not, every team lacks the depth to succeed and has no chance of making the playoffs.

These aren’t complicated story lines, but watch as the season go by and you’ll see that those teams dropping out of a playoff spot will be those with one or more of these 4 key issues.

The Chief Canuck

Canucks Sign Bulis – Not for Sedins

July 25, 2006

Well, that should put an end to any future Anson Carter back to Vancouver rumours.

Bulis will NOT end up playing with the Sedins.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s this years Carter.  When Nonis picked up Carter he did it with the deliberate intention of playing him with the Sedin twins.  Bulis was brought in for depth on the forward lines.  He may get some time with them, but Nonis is looking at other options for the Sedins right now.

Bulis got 20 goals and 20 assists last season playing 3rd line minutes.  But he was also benched quite a few times for his lack of intensity.  The Canucks are going to need a bit more consistency than he’s given.  I think he’ll surprise us a lot this year, but remember he’s not Todd Bertuzzi, and he’s only making 1.3m.

So, options for the Sedins…

Remember Jason King?  He’ll be back and expect him to get a big opportunity to reclaim a position he previously held. 

Unfortunately there isn’t much else out there in the Canucks depth chart that can surprise us.  And that’s the issue right now.  They need to draft and develop more prospects, and ones that become game breakers.  We have enough 3rd line prospects, but I digress…

The Sedins have progressed to a point were it won’t matter too much who get’s put with them.  They are going to get their points.  And Nonis knows what kind of player it takes to help them out a bit.. see Anson Carter.  That said, a right handed shot on this line always seemed to work well. 

Whoever it is is going to be in for a big raise next year, and on the coat tails of Daniel & Henrik.  You watch, players will be lining up to play with the Sedins in years to come. 

The Chief Canuck

Filling the Canuck Roster

July 24, 2006

It’s apparent from the Canucks latest move that there are few UFA’s left on the market.  Well, at least ones that can be signed at a reasonable price.

This leaves only a few options for a team like the Canucks who have invested so much long term money into the core of their team.  Luongo (6.75), Naslund (6.00), Sedin/Sedin (3.75,3.75), Ohlund (3.50), Mitchell (3.50), and Morrison (3.20) take up a collective 30 million dollars.  With a self imposed cap of 2.5 million below the NHL Cap of 44 million, they now have only 12 million dollars for 13 more players.  Ouch. 

Don’t forget, they’ve also committed 1.5 million to each of Salo and Cooke for the upcoming season.  Make that 9 million left for 11 more players. The Canucks are going to the best possible place to fill out the roster.  Youth, and more youth. 

Players like Taylor Pyatt, who was recently acquired for a pick from Buffalo, fit the bill perfectly.  He was immediately signed to a single year deal, and at the age of 24, is ready for a breakout season. 

Even with no breakout, this kid will deliver quality 3rd line minutes and points for the team, and at a price the team can afford.

Widely unreported in June, the team had previously signed Brandon Reid signed a deal to return to Canada, and the Canuck organization after two years in Europe.  He’s small, at 5’9, but with the new age NHL, and only 25 years old, he’s affordable, and could be a surprise to many.

See a trend? 

It’s called taking a risk.  Gone are the days of 2-3 million dollar 3rd line veteran guys. 

Teams are ready, or rather, deliberately designing their teams in a way that leaves them no choice but to take a risk on their 3rd and 4th lines. 

Watch in the next season for more youth to be given full opportunities.  I think we’ll all be surprised by some of the names we see high in league scoring.  For some of these guys, it will be all they’ve ever wanted.  A chance.

The Chief Canuck.

Vancouver’s Best Ever Goalie

July 21, 2006

Ranking and commentary provided by Jim K.  A frequent reader. 

Number 1 – Richard Brodeur (King Richard)

While never considered much of a technical goalie, King Richard took a below average hockey team to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to one of hockey’s great dynasty’s, the NY Islanders.  Broduer gave the team hope at a time when Gretzky was rocking the league.

Number 2 – Kirk Mclean (Captain Kirk)

He was a good goalie on a good team.  Technically a better goalie than Brodeur, expectations were also higher.  He backstopped them within one game of a Stanley Cup, losing only to a team that money bought, the NY Rangers.

Number 3 – Glen Hanlon (The Carrot)

Glen Hanlon was a good goalie that gave us hope.  However, it was probably his trade out of Vancouver that benefited us the most.  Getting us Jim Nill from the St. Louis Blues.

Number 4 – Gary Smith (Suitcase)

The Canucks enjoyed their first regular season success with Gary ‘Suitcase’ Smith in net.  He also led the Canucks to their first playoff appearance in 1975.

Number 5 – Dan Cloutier

A good goalie on a great team.  He delivered as expected, except when it mattered most.  Still, he’s 3rd in games played and in wins all time, so he’s earned himself a spot in the top 5.

The Chief Canuck