Free Agency Frenzy Ch-ch-changes

The 2014 free agency frenzy has come and gone. It was a crazy pace of signings and dollars flying by as teams JUMPED back and forth to get the big names sign the dotted line. Following their big splash at the NHL draft, many expected the Vancouver Canucks to make a big splash during free agency. I would describe it as more of a subdued affair compared to the non-stop action that the Canucks were involved in during the draft.

Rumors ran rampant in the days leading up to July 1st, that the Canucks were trying to land Ryan Miller and his veteran experience in goal to bring experience to the net. The Canucks made the rumors, fact with the announcement, July 1st that they had signed Ryan Miller to a 3-year contract.

It may surprise or anger some to see Ryan Miller come in and theoretically take the starter’s position ahead of Eddie Lack. Like the decision to bring Miller or not, the team was always going to have bring in a veteran to help stabilize the net WITH Lack. I’m NOT saying that Lack is not a capable goalie just simply that he still needs time to fully develop into that starter that we all know he will be.

Last year Lack got thrown into the lion’s den when the Luongo saga ended and he had the weight of an entire fan base thrown upon him. Lack came in last year ready to be the support role and ready to play whenever asked which is exactly what he did. He did NOT ask for the drama that unfolded when he was given consecutive starts over Luongo, nor did he ask for the fallout from the fans that came with unfair expectations after Luongo was traded to Florida.

With Ryan Miller coming in, it takes the immense pressure off of Lack and will push him to play his best every time he’s in the net. Yes, it is true that he may not play as many games as last season but what is the use of guessing the number games? No matter how many games Lack and Miller each play at the end of the day does not matter, all that does matter is which ever goalie is in the net on any given game night will give the team a chance to win.

Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks, Ryan! We’re happy to have you! Here’s to the next great Canucks goalie bromance with you & Eddie!

To you, Vancouver, I have a FEW words of caution. We had Luongo until this city drove him to demand a trade. Luongo was NEVER given the respect that he deserved during his tenure and often shouldered the blame even when it was not his to own. It is now our chance to once again watch not one, but two talented goalies in net that BOTH deserve respect. about THIS year we start off on the right note by RESPECTING BOTH of our goalies ALL year round? Does that not sound like a refreshing concept?

Radim Vrbata became the Canucks second acquisition through the free agency pool as they looked to help fill the scoring hole left by Ryan Kesler, signing Vrbata to a 2-year contract. Vrbata brings with him power play prowess and some shoot out skills, both of which will be greatly appreciated on the roster. It is a well known fact that the shoot outs have never been the Canucks strong suit and that one of their biggest struggles last year (at least in the second half) was their power play. Having spent the last 5 years playing in the desert (Phoenix), it will be a change for him to play in a hockey crazed Canadian market.

Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks, Radim! I’m looking forward to you helping the Sedins and seeing you use some of those patented shoot out moves in my least favourite hockey tie breaker!

With the additions of Miller and Vrbata to the Canucks, Benning announced that the roster movements were completed for now. First came free agency frenzy, next comes re-signing our restricted free agents. The Canucks are looking to re-sign the following RFA’s: Zack Kassian, Yannick Weber, Chris Tanev and the newly acquired Linden Vey. UPDATE: You can cross re-signing Zack Kassian and Yannick Weber off the list as they are officially INKED to new contracts with the Canucks as of July 4th. The Canucks are hoping to lock down Tanev and Vey in the upcoming days/weeks.

The ch-ch-changes have arrived in the the form of the NHL draft, trades, free agency, and the re-signing RFAs. There may be more changes to come, but for the time being the waters of change have calmed.

Next up for the Canucks brass: The Canucks 2014 Prospect Camp where they will get a closer look at the young core of depth within the organization. The likes of Dane Fox, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Cole Cassels will be partaking in the camp hoping to make an impression and perhaps lead to a training camp invitation.

The waters of free agency have calmed…but I suspect that there will be MORE changes to come from teams that are currently over the salary cap maximum or below the salary cap minimum. Here’s to enjoying the calm while it lasts and being prepared for any changes that may be around the corner.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Canucks 2013-2014 Season Headlines

It’s that time of year to take a look at the season ahead and the story lines that will inevitably surround the Vancouver Canucks. The headline possibilities are endless, here are a few that are sure to revolve around the Canucks this season.

NHL Re-Alignment has officially been activated for the start of the 2013-2014 season. The re-alignment will see the new 2 Conference system fall into place featuring 4 divisions rather than 6. Each team team will play each other at least twice [every team will play in EACH arena at least ONCE]. The top 3 teams in EACH division will automatically qualify for the playoffs leaving 4 wildcard spots [2  wildcards per conference go to the teams that have the next highest points below the top 3 in each division; –either there could be 4 qualify from each division OR 3 in one and 5 in the other].

Eastern Conference- Atlantic Division:

  1. Boston Bruins *The Bruins have locked up Rask following a very good season, eventually locked up Iginla and will be looking to build on the success they had last season.
  2. Buffalo Sabres *The Sabres will be looking to have much stronger season and get back to the playoffs.
  3. Detroit Red Wings *The re-alignment moves Detroit from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference. Teams should never take Detroit lightly because despite what some call their ‘aging’ roster, they never stop competing.
  4. Florida Panthers *Florida signed the ever colorful Tim Thomas following his absence from the NHL for more than a year and will be looking for the success they had during the 2011-2012 season.
  5. Montreal Canadiens *Montreal will be looking to build upon the success of last season when they won their division and push themselves further in the post-season.
  6. Ottawa Senators *Ottawa may have lost Alfie to Detroit BUT they gained an offensive weapon in acquiring Bobby Ryan. New captain, Spezza will be hoping to help the team go all the way.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning *Tampa will be looking to return to the playoffs this year. Despite missing the post-season last year, St.Louis led the league in scoring.
  8. Toronto Maple Leafs *Toronto returned to the playoffs for the first time in 9 years and will surely want to return to the post-season to erase that game 7 memory.

Eastern Conference- Metropolitan Division:

  1. Carolina Hurricanes *Carolina with a healthy lineup and dependable goal-tending could be dangerous.
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets *Columbus surprised a lot of people last season as they only missed the playoffs by a single point. The Blue Jackets will look to keep themselves as a contender this year.
  3. New Jersey Devils *Brodeur & Schneider in the net give New Jersey impeccable goal-tending.
  4. NY Islanders *Newly named captain, John Tavares will be looking to lead the Islanders straight back to the playoffs.
  5. NY Rangers *The Rangers will look to push themselves to their best under new coach Alain Vigneault.
  6. Philadelphia Flyers *Philadelphia will look to have a turn around year and get back to the post-season.
  7. Pittsburgh Penguins *Pittsburgh will want a much a different ending to their season this year and will bring a new determination to their game.
  8. Washington Capitals *Alex Ovechkin will be looking to build upon the success the Caps had in the second 1/2 of last season and hopefully help lead them to a long post-season.

Western Conference- Central Division:

  1. Chicago Blackhawks *The 2013 Stanley Cup Champions will be looking to carry their success from last season into the current one. With most of their SC roster still in place, they will make a very tough opponent. 
  2. Colorado Avalanche *Patrick Roy returns to the Avs as the new Head Coach and hopes to lead the team back to the post-season.
  3. Dallas Stars      *Lindy Ruff takes over as Head coach, Tyler Seguin joins Dallas & Jamie Benn named Captain.
  4. Minnesota Wild *The Wild will be looking to push themselves further.
  5. Nashville Predators *Trotz will be looking to get the Predators back on track following a year when they were not at their best.
  6. St.Louis Blues *The Blues have solidified their defense and will look to build upon their last two seasons pushing further in the post season.
  7. Winnipeg Jets *The re-alignment moves them from the Eastern conference to the Western Conference.

Western Conference- Pacific Division:

  1. Anaheim Ducks *Getzlaf and company will be looking to make Selanne’s final season a memorable one.
  2. Calgary Flames *It’s a new era in Calgary with Iggy in Boston and Kipper retiring, they will be looking to find new ways to win.
  3. Edmonton Oilers *A new coach and a talented young core will make Edmonton a competitor as long as all stay healthy.
  4. Los Angeles Kings *LA is a team that no opponent can over look, they are competitors that make their opponents pay.
  5. Phoenix Coyotes *Ownership now in place, Phoenix will look to gain back some momentum that they had in the 2011-2012 season.
  6. San Jose Sharks *A talented line up and when all cylinders are rolling can be dangerous to their opponents.
  7. Vancouver Canucks *With new coach Torts at the helm, the Canucks will look to push themselves to new levels and recapture some post-season success.
    The Canucks have won 6 division titles in the last 7 years prior to the re-alignment but this new alignment brings new rivalries to the surface. The Pacific division will not be easy but it will be a great battle to watch as these 7 teams compete for playoff positioning. It will be a tight race, but incredibly fun to watch. 

Torts Time has officially begun in Vancouver with the signing of John Tortorella as the 17th head coach in Vancouver Canucks history. Heads and eyes definitely rolled initially when it was announced that Torts had in fact been hired by the Canucks as most are aware of his past with the media and passion for the game. The media have reminded Torts of his colored past at every single press conference just to see if he will take the bait. Perhaps he eventually will snap at a member of the media but why goad him into it just for the sake of seeing him snap? How about instead of attempting to see how quick the media can make the coach snap, they focus on how he can help this team. It is going to be a very different year with Torts at the helm of this team and we ought to give him a chance to push this team to their best before we make assumptions. There are 82 games on the schedule, plenty of opportunity for Torts to prove his coaching skills and give the media their desired media bite.

Luongo’s Return: It is a return that many did not expect to happen with everything that happened in the last two years with Cory Schneider. It was a draft day trade that no one expected, especially Luongo. The trade was made and now its time to move the focus to this season: Cory is now a Devil and Luongo is the starter for the Canucks…ACCEPT the facts. Luongo is here to stay and he is more than qualified to play as the starter. This year there will be a lot scrutiny surrounding Luongo and all eyes around the league will be on him. This is an opportunity for Luongo to show all his doubters that he is still an elite goal-tender and perhaps the media will actually show him some support this year rather than help to turn the fans against him. It may not have been the outcome most people expected this year, but it is what happened. Time to support the team and that includes Roberto Luongo. Call me crazy but with the Olympics looming, I have no doubts that Luongo will have a big year in more ways than one.

A finally 100% healthy Ryan Kesler will be on the Canucks opening night roster. Fans have been waiting nearly two years for Kesler to be starting the season 100% healthy. IF Kesler can remain healthy for the majority of the 82 game schedule, it is possible that we can see him reach an entirely new level. When operating at 100% Kesler is offensively dangerous to all opponents. I think its safe to say that Kesler will be looking to push to a new level with the Olympics on the horizon and the US looking to top their 2010 Silver finish in 2014. Will #beastmode once again be activated? Me thinks, yes. If you’ve seen Kesler at any of the recent press conferences he has a fire in his eyes that wasn’t there in the last seasons, a determination to push himself to an elite level of play.

SEDINS=Forever Canucks: The Sedins are going into the final year of their current contract and are looking to sign an extension prior to opening day OR before season’s end. It is not lost on most, that this could be their final contract of their careers and they WANT to remain with the Vancouver Canucks. Management has also expressed that they want the Sedins to remain with the team. Contract discussions have been ongoing since the start of training camp as both sides hope to have a contract signed, sealed and delivered by season’s start. Rumor has it the Sedins could sign contracts with $7.5 million cap hit which have caused some to be shocked BUT you shouldn’t be as they could easily sign for more if they were to test the open market. Regardless of what the final contracts are signed for, rest assured the Sedins will be career Canucks. This is the only team they have ever played for and this is the team they desire to play with for the entirety of their careers. We as the fans, are lucky have watched them develop from rookies to the superstars they are today.

SC Battle Begins: The expectations will vary for each team every year BUT one expectation that every team equally desires is to win the Stanley Cup. The battle for the 2014 Stanley Cup begins as the calendar flips to October and will go all the to June. A quest that begins with an 82 game regular season, an Olympic interruption in February, and closes with an epic 4 round battle for 16 post season wins. I’m not saying that the Canucks will win[***but I will love it if they do!]; all I am saying is that starting tomorrow every team has a blank slate and the season that follows will determine who goes all the way. Starting tomorrow, when the puck drops in the first game of the season, every team has an equal chance and how they play will determine the final outcome.

As the off-season comes to a close, it feels like Christmas Eve. Now all we can do, is wait for the madness to begin when that first puck drops and skates hit the ice tomorrow. There will be no turning back, as the quest for the 2014 Stanley cup begins with game one of the regular season. Let the games begin!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

#HoneyBadger signs for 4 more!

Say what you will about Mike Gillis, but signing Jannik Hansen to a $10 million, 4-year extension [$2.5 million cap hit] is an absolute steal. Glad that this deal got done prior to the season. Following the 2013-2014 season, Hansen would have become an unrestricted free agent and easily could have tested the waters of the free agency market next summer [& perhaps have been offered more than $2.5 million]. Hansen signing this contract, it shows to management and the fans that it is not about the money but rather his commitment is to playing the game.

It has been fun to see the growth of Hansen as a hockey player from his time with the Manitoba Moose to his tenure with the Canucks; and it will be fun to see him further develop over the next four years. Hansen is entering the prime of his career and has the ability to slot into whatever role is necessary from the third line all the way to the first line with the Sedins whether it is 5 on 5, or special teams. Hansen can be a game changer and hopefully will help this team go all the way in the near future.

Congratulations on your new contract, Jannik! Here’s to a great year from the #honeybadger!

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

2013 Free Agency Frenzy…!

Everyone’s favourite or least favourite day of the NHL off-season has arrived ladies and gentlemen: Free Agent Frenzy! If you are like me than you also have a love/hate relationship with the crazy part of the off-season when your favourite team/players makes moves that anger or excite you. Some teams made bigger moves while others went for the smaller moves.

Around the League Free Agency moves/trades:

In one of the most surprising moves of the day, Daniel Alfredsson chose to not re-sign with the Ottawa Senators but has indeed signed a 1-year contract [$5.5 million] with the Detroit Red Wings. Don’t forget with the re-alignment official at the start of next season, Detroit and Ottawa are now division rivals both on the Eastern side of the equation.

The Detroit Red Wings have also signed free agent Stephen Weiss to a 5-year contract [$24.5 million].

Former Detroit Red Wing, Valteri Filppula has agreed to a 5-year contract [$25 million] with Tampa Bay.

Following the loss of their longtime captain to Detroit, the Ottawa Senators acquired forward Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forwards Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 2014 first round draft pick.

Yesterday the Boston Bruins grabbed headlines with the trade of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars. Today a few more fan favourite Bruins signed elsewhere when Nathan Horton agreed to a 7-year contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Andrew Ference agreed to a 4-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers.

Speaking of the Bruins grabbing headlines remember how it was initially reported that he chose Boston prior to the trade deadline? Well, this time he its true he has agreed to a 1-year contract with the Boston Bruins [$6 million]. It is safe to say I can longer root for you Iggy now that you have crossed over to the dark side!

Jason Labarbera signed a 1-year contract [$1 million] with the Edmonton Oilers.

Last year it was the Wild that made the biggest splash in the free agency pool with spending $198 million on 2 players. This year has been a much quieter start to the free agency bonanza for Minnesota. The Minnesota Wild traded forward Devin Setoguchi to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2014 2nd round draft pick. Everyone’s favourite pest, Matt Cooke has come to terms with the Minnesota Wild on a 3-year contract [$7.5 million].

Rob Scuderi has come to terms with the Pittsburgh Penguins on a 4-year contract [$13.5 million]. Scuderi won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 and with the LA Kings in 2012.

The Dallas Stars have signed back-up goalie Dan Ellis to a 2-year contract [$1.8 million].

Stanley Cup champion goalie Ray Emery has signed a 1-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is once again a Chicago Blackhawk after agreeing to a 1-year contract.

Former Philadelphia Flyer, Danny Briere agreed to a 2-year contract [$8 million] with the Montreal Canadiens.

The New Jersey Devils were busy during the first day of free agency signing Ryane Clowe to 5-year contract [$24.25 million] along with Michael Ryder  to a 2-year contract [$7 million]

Claude Giroux agreed to an 8-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Toronto made some bold moves following the buyout of Mikhael Gabrovski yesterday. The re-signed Bozak to a 5-year deal [$21 million] and signed a free agent David Clarkson to a 7-year deal [$36.75 million] that includes a limited to trade clause + a no move clause.

The Nashville Predators made a few splashes in the free agency pool to help fill some of the gaps that haunted them last year. Stanley Cup champion, Viktor Stalberg agreed to a 4-year contract [$12 million]. Former Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cullen and Nashville agreed to terms on a 2-year contract [$7 million]. The Predators also signed forward Matt Hendricks to a 4-year contract [$7.4 million] and forward Eric Nystrom to a 4-year contract [$10 million].

The New York Islanders re-signed Travis Harmonic to a 7-year contract [$27 million]. The Isles also re-signed Evgeni Nabokov to a 1-year contract [$3.25 million] following a solid year by the veteran goal-tender who helped New York get back into the playoffs for the first time in 7 years.

Canucks News:

The Canucks began their free agency course earlier this week when they bought out the remainder of Keith Ballard’s contract to free up cap space and allow him to become a free agent. As you know he was not unemployed for long as he was snapped up by the Minnesota Wild for a 2-year deal worth [$3 million]. Best of luck Ballard near your home town, you deserve a fresh start!

[***has yet to be officially announced]. Rumor has it that free agency has claimed Mason Raymond who reportedly was signed by the Calgary Flames to a 2-year deal. It would exciting for him to play in his home province in front of friends and family. I will miss saying things like #EVERYBODYLOVESRAYMOND every time he scores. I will not root for the Flames ever if this rumor comes to pass, but I do wish Mason the best of luck wherever he ends up.

Forward Maxim Lapierre has signed a 2-year contract[$2.2 million] with the St.Louis Blues. You will be missed by the fans! Best of luck in St.Louis Max!

Short-term Canuck Derek Roy has signed a 1-year contract[$4 million] also with the St.Louis Blues.

Vancouver signed defenceman Yannick Weber to a 1-year contract [$650K] along with forward Brad Richardson to a 2-year contract. Welcome to Canuck Nation, Weber & Richardson! Remember going into free agency the Canucks did not[& do not] have a lot of cap space to make a big splash.

Canuck nation is also waiting to hear confirmation of defenceman Chris Tanev being re-signed. Fingers crossed it is announced sooner rather than later and that the team is not forced to match some ridiculous offer sheet [mind you that is a real possibility!].

Day one of free agency has come and gone with its mark left on many teams. It is hardly the end of the free agency saga that will continue over the next few weeks. Along with more signings to come there will also inevitably be more trades announced. Prepare yourselves hockey fans, this is only the beginning!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

T’was the night before the NHL trade deadline…


T’was the night before the NHL trade deadline,

when all through the league not a GM was supposed to stir,

when suddenly more than 10 deals were made and the quiet was but an echo

as teams began making deals in the days prior to deadline day.

Hockey fans and media alike thought themselves ready for the circus

while they made dream predictions for their teams and their prospective playoff hopes

and coaches hoped that the difficult decisions would not be theirs to make or break the team

as they prepared for the media storm that would inevitably follow a busy trade deadline.

When all of a sudden one team made a move that shook league to the core,

fans and media sprung to sports centre and social media to share their collective reactions

as the players looked to each other as to what this would mean to their team and their playoff hopes,

and the hours became minutes, and the minutes became seconds as the eve of the trade deadline slipped away as all must now see what will follow each move.

These are but a few thoughts surrounding each team tonight as we all wait to see what tomorrow’s circus shall bring. We do not know what it means just yet, but many teams have begun to make big moves prior to the big day which is slightly out of the norm.

So far the notable moves are these:

Jarome Iginla was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospects and a 1st round draft pick.

Brendan Morrow was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a prospect and a draft pick.

Douglas Murray was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for two draft picks.

Jaromir Jagr was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Boston Bruins in exchange for prospects & a draft pick.

Kent Huskins was traded from the Detroit Red Wings to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a draft pick.

Jordan Leopold was traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the St.Louis Blues in exchange for two draft picks.

Michal Handzus was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a draft pick.

Jay Bouwmeester was traded from the Calgary Flames to the St.Louis Blues in exchange for two prospects and two draft picks.

Robyn Regehr was traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the LA Kings in exchange two draft picks.

Marc-Andre Bergeron was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Adam Hall and a draft pick.

Derek Roy was traded from the Dallas Stars to the VANCOUVER CANUCKS in exchange for a prospect and draft pick.

Ryane Clowe was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the New York Rangers in exchange for three draft picks.

There is bound to be a media storm in the final minutes of the deadline tomorrow as the clock winds down to 12 PM[pacific time]. What will happen? Will your team be improved? Will favourites be moved? Will new favourites emerge? Will one team steal all the thunder with one big move? Will any teams stand pat? All will be revealed and once that clock strikes 12, all rosters will be set until the end of the season. We will have to wait and see what this trade deadline has in store for us!

I would like to say WELCOME to CANUCK NATION, Derek Roy! We look forward to seeing you help the Canucks down the stretch this year! This is a great pick up by the Canucks and will help address a gaping hole in centre and also allow the option of having Kesler play wing when he returns. Rumor has it that MR.RK17 could be slipped back into the line-up this week. Roy is expected to arrive in Vancouver for practice with the team tomorrow. In acquiring Roy, the Canucks gave up defense prospect Kevin Connauton, best of luck in Dallas!

In other Canuck news, today marks Chris Higgins re-signed with the team. He signed a 4-year $10 million contract extension[an annual hit of $2.5 million]. This guy plays with so much heart, great to see him get rewarded.

The Canucks are officially 3/4 through this shortened season. The team sits tied with the Minnesota Wild in points and are locked in a battle for the division title. The stretch drive begins now. #GoCanucksGo!

Keep your eye on the trades tomorrow as you never know what will happen, and the most active time will be in that final hour as some teams may surprise us!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Rumors, Trades, and Facts

March Madness continues to pick speed as the April 3rd trade deadline approaches. Now that Anaheim has settled the matter of signing both Getzlaf and Perry, the rumor mills are picking up speed every day in regards to the fate of Jarome Iginla. Everyone seems to believe that he will be moved by the trade deadline, it just a matter of where. It seems Calgary management may be willing to part with their eternal Flame[admitting that it is time to rebuild] and Iginla willing to admit that the Flames are nowhere near being the contender they want to be and he deserves to play with a contender. Iginla gave the Flames the green light to wave his NTC[no trade clause] and supposedly also a list of teams he would be willing to go to. Teams rumored to be Iginla’s list are: Pittsburgh, Boston, LA, Detroit and Chicago[even Vancouver has been mentioned but that is a highly unlikely destination]. The movement of Iginla is sure to upset many fans but at this point moving Iginla and beginning their rebuild seem to be their only options. Last night may or may not have been his last game as a Flame, and only time will tell which destination becomes his next reality. Following last night’s game, Iginla refused to comment on situation not wanting to add fuel to the fire. Reports have suggested that in exchange for Jarome, Calgary would like one young promising prospect and two draft picks. The rumors will only grow louder as more and more players are thrown into this fruit basket upset that is known as the trade deadline draws ever closer.

Speaking of rumors, the whispers became fact yesterday when the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired [now former] Dallas Stars Captain Brendan Morrow in exchange for a draft pick & defensive prospect Joe Morrow. Add the the San Jose Sharks to the trade talk mix as rumor has it that they may be looking to move Ryane Clowe, Dan Boyle or Douglas Murray as the team has struggled to find that consistency they had at the start of the year. Make the SJ trade talk official as the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to push for an extensive playoff as they have acquired Douglas Murray from the Sharks in exchange for two 2nd round draft picks. The Penguins have been the most dominant team of the East with the dynamic duo of Crosby & Kunitz, as well they are currently on a 12 game win streak. Looks like the Penguins will be the ones to beat the East. The question now for San Jose is do they continue to sell in order to collect draft picks or do they make one or two BIG moves prior to the deadline in the hopes of making a playoff push?

Outside of the growing trade talk madness, this weekend also marked Tampa Bay’s Guy Boucher as the latest coach to meeting the chopping block. The firing comes following a second straight disappointing season leaving many to suggest that either veteran coach Lindy Ruff or the Tampa AHL affiliate coach Jon Cooper will be asked to take his place.

Back to my Canucks.The Canucks have returned home having completed a 3 game road trip with a perfect 3-0-0 record and are back atop the North West Division [Minnesota is only 2 points behind & have 2 games in hand, they will play tonight]. With the road trip success it brings the Canucks win streak to 4 in a row, and I must say it is much more fun to watch win streaks than losing ones! The last two victories came with the Canucks missing Alex Edler on defense as he was forced to sit both of them out due to a two game suspension[he will return to the lineup March 26th]. With Edler out of the line-up the rest of the defense had to step up and they did. Also it certainly helped that Cory Schneider seems to have found his game again and that consistency that everyone came to expect from him last year! Welcome back Schneids! It will be fun to watch both him & Lou down the stretch over the next 4 weeks as they both drive one another to play better.

In other Canucks news, they learned this week that David Booth will be out for the season following season ending surgery [small sliver of hope he could be back for playoffs], and with his absence the Canucks have had to recall Schroeder who has been EXCELLENT since his be recalled. Jordan Schroeder when combined with Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond has had great chemistry. It is extremely fun to watch those three play together! The Canucks also had to call upon defenseman Keith Ballard to play forward for a couple games as they were short-handed in the forward department. He played fairly well and had some pretty decent scoring chances.

May I also take this moment to remind you that it is nearly time for Ryan Kesler to return to the lineup as the Canucks prepare for the stretch drive. He could return as soon as within the next week but probably not until the first week of April. The Canucks could definitely use some extra depth at center, particularly in the face-off circle! Wanted: Ryan Kesler 100% healthy and beast mode ready.  #RK17

And just in case you missed this beauty of a gem last night, here it is, Alex Burrows GWG[P.S. that was the 23rd game winning goal of his career!] What a goal!! Enjoy.

Let’s hope that as the Canucks return home they are able to continue their recent success and continue to fight Minnesota for that NW Division leading spot! #GoCanucksGo

Trades, rumors and facts = March Madness indeed! Only time will tell the drama that is sure to continue to unfold as the April 3rd deadline nears and teams make moves for that elusive playoff run.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Buffalo responsible for BIG offer on the table + CBA meetings resume today + Edmonton in for the long HALL

Rumor has it that it was the BUFFALO SABRES who offered Shane Doan that 4-year $30 million deal but the question remains…if it’s money he’s after why has he not signed on the dotted line? Perhaps it is not the money he is after or maybe it’s as simple as he does not wish to go to Buffalo. His first choice remains returning to the Coyotes unless they cannot assure that the franchise stays in Phoenix. We all kno w that Buffalo is not one to afraid to spend the big bucks…Ville Leino & Christian Ehrhoff[remember that contract that will see him having earned nearly $18 million by the end of next year!] last season and now with the hopes of landing Doan they are at it again. It would appear that while Buffalo has made this lofty offer…there is still no clear answer from Doan aside from he wishes to remain in Phoenix if possible. Once again, only time will tell.

CBA meetings were set to resume yesterday in Toronto between the NHL and the NHLPA following a somewhat shocking development…meetings were canceled for the afternoon yesterday and rescheduled to resume today[Thursday]. It is unclear as to why the meeting was canceled but the move follows a separate meeting the NHL & NHLPA executives[Bettman & Daly vs. Donald Fehr & his brother] had yesterday morning. The canceling and rescheduling of the meetings suggest that both sides have much to consider during this ‘make or break’ session as the ever near deadline looms. Some think this is the CBA session that will determine the future of the pending upcoming season…but no one can really know until the Sept.15th deadline comes & goes. Yesterday also marked some NHL executives, NHL GM’s and NHL players meeting to discuss officiating standards and new rules. Can we just hear the news we are all waiting to here instead of gossip about the latest meeting?! Hopefully some positive steps are taken by both sides to shorten the gap that separates them & moves them towards starting the season on time…wouldn’t that be nice instead of all the negatives?

In other news the Edmonton Oilers shall indeed continue to be ‘taylor-made’ as they announced signing Taylor Hall to a 7-year contract extension worth $42 million [an annual cap hit of $6 million…that is some precedent that the Oilers have set with signing one of their young core!]. With this contract the Oilers have insured that Hall remains with them through the prime of his career [w/ one year left on his current contract..and the 7 that will follow, he will 28 by the end of the contract] making him an integral part of their franchise. One would think that the Eberle extension of near identical money will be announced any way now. The Oilers newest young gun Nail Yakupov is suffering an apparent leg infection.

It appears that the former San Jose Shark backup goalie Antero Nittymaki is going back home regardless of a pending lockout..he has secured a one-year deal to play in his native country of Finland.

Still waiting to hear an official announcement on Burrows being signed to an extension…but I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing about #14 staying in Vancouver long-term any day now…

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Canucks & Burrows talking + BEAM me up SCOTTY extended in Philly + Cherry Commentary

The Vancouver Canucks Assistant GM Gilman has been quoted saying that YES they are in the beginning stages with Burrows agent to get him re-signed beyond next season long-term. Burrows has positioned himself in a place of receiving a well deserved raise (he has scored 26 or more goals in each of the last 4 seasons…MOST of those were even-strength goals as he gets limited if any power play time with the Sedins & Kes being the #1 power play unit. Rumor has that the Canucks are also looking to lock up Edler with an extension beyond next season…#23 has been becoming more & more consistent the last few years…he put up 49 points(incredible saying as no one was supposed to get those type of numbers except Ehrhoff…fascinating tidbit: last year Bieksa also hit +40 points with a total of 44 points & Hamhuis hit 37 points….our top 3 offensive D combined for 130 points…that’s sensational!). Let’s get Burr signed quickly, MG & then Eddy too!

Rumor has it that the San Jose Sharks in trouble….reports have come out that they lost $15 million last season despite having sold out every home game. We’ll have to wait and see how accurate those reports are and how it will affect the franchise, if at all.

While the Philadelphia Flyers have a fading blue-line…they have secure one of their most exciting forwards in signing Scott Hartnell to a SIX-year extension[$28.5 million with an annual cap of $4.75…extra note:BURROWS could request that type of $$ but he probably wouldn’t]. Way to go Scott, the contract was well earned…this guy scored 37 goals last season!  Hartnell is always fun to watch…one of my favourite moments was watching him in the ALL-Star game last year and he kept razzing Phaneuf  or him & Lupul commentating while they were mic’d up so the viewers could hear.Plus that guy has a habit of scoring some clutch goals…like another gritty player I know(#14 in green & blue)! Solid signing Philly! Now they just need some help on the defense.

In the world of CBA negotiations, the ever colourful Don Cherry[you either love the guy &his suits or you hate him] is back at it, giving loud commentary regarding the NHL. He has stated that he believes its a shame that there is going to be a lockout as both sides have yet to come to a new agreement, however he predicts that it will only last two months. Could we have a lockout and hockey in November? People may not always like what Don Cherry has to say, but this guy has NEVER been afraid to call them like he sees them and in this comment…he could very well be correct. While the idea of a lockout is disturbing to me and many other hockey fans…I would take a shortened season any day over NO season. Let’s hope that should there be a lockout, that is a very brief work stoppage. The next round of CBA meetings are set to resume Wednesay between the NHL & the NHLPA and both sides will have to give a little in order to make a new CBA a reality.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

NHL & NHLPA still have work to do+ Detroit looking to get a ‘yandle’ on D

Well just like that another day of meetings between the NHL & the NHLPA (NHL Player’s Association) have come to a close. It has been called a clever and creative initiative designed to avoid a  work  stoppage. A few details regarding the NHLPA’s ‘alternative view’ the NHL’s original proposal have become public knowledge: it would give extra draft picks to teams in financial trouble(they would build for the future); franchises[under special circumstances] would be able to trade/sell up to $4 million in cap space to another team. Bettman and NHL however view this as slightly too ambitious as he has stated that there is too wide of a gap between the two sides and must be resolved prior to the deadline. There is one more session of meetings tomorrow and then the next major meeting of both sides is next Wednesday. There is still work to be done before all is said and done. I remain one the sole optimists in this situation and I will remain so until otherwise filled with rage by Gary Bettman making an announcement that will anger all fans. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.

Rumor has it that the Detroit Red Wings have inquired about Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle. They lost both the Suter & Weber sweepstakes & Lidstrom retired…so it appears they are looking for younger solid defenseman to fill the void left behind. Detroit has also been in the pursuit of Bouwmeester from Calgary….it will be interesting to see if they acquire either and what they would have to give up to make either deal a reality.

Below is a link to a tribute one of my favourite Canucks, who will sadly never lace up the skates again…but in his short time here, left the fans with many vivid memories. Rick Rypien had no fear when it came to taking on the bigger guys…his fights and goals always had the crowd on their feet to give him a standing ovation. He may have been small but that did not stop Rypper from playing his tenacious style. #37 will always be remembered. 

We await the coming drama that shall unfold as the off-season winds down. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Skinner determines his future w/ Carolina & 3+1=4 for Doan

Future consideration. That is what Carolina inked today in the re-signing of forward Jeff Skinner to a six year contract extension worth $34.35 million (that’s $4.35 million for the 2013-2014 season, and $6 million for the next 5 years). This kid has so much upside and playing in Carolina’s upgraded lineup next season(& the 6 season that will follow!) is only going to make him a better player. This signing comes after a line great signings by Carolina’s GM Rutherford (Staal, Semin to name a few) as he prepares his team for the upcoming season,hoping that this new lineup will break the playoff drought of the last 3 years(I think there’s a good chance with the Staal’s united and the group of forwards that make a solid top 6 overall).

Philadelphia re-signed defense-man Marc-Andre Bourdon to a multi-year contract today, hoping he can help fill in the void on their patchy defensive blue-line. Bourdon made his NHL debut with Philly last year, playing 45 games and accumulating 7 points(4 G, 3 A). With the right defensive partner this kid will do well. Philly will need to acquire a blue-line veteran before their defense ends up hemmed in their own zone. Philly’s going to have to do something to address the absence of Pronger. Rumor has it that Philadelphia’s GM Holmgren is looking to make another defensive offer sheet, to the #Canadiens RFA, P.K. Subban(which of course Montreal would have to match, leaving Philly once again in the lurch!).

Rumor has it that Nashville’s coach Barry Trotz has stated that Nashville is also in the #DoanLimboLottery which means potentially that, that list is now 4 NOT 3.Rumor has that one of the 4 teams(Nashville, Vancouver, or Philly, but apparently it was NOT New York) have offered him that elusive 4 year term & $7 million per season. However if Doan were to choose Nashville and they were to pay that price tag….that would mean that they would have tied up $21 million of their cap space[just about 1/3 of the total cap space] for the next for years on just TWO players( Doan at $7 million & Weber at $14 million) which lets be realistic, that is, say it with me now: RIDICULOUS! 1/3 of your salary cap tied up into two players is just absurd when you need to get 22-23 guys under the cap….kind hard to get the other 20 guys tied up in what remains.

Rumor also has it that Tuukka Rask is raring to take the reigns that Tim Thomas so willingly left behind when he fled Boston to put his focus back on his life away from hockey. Rask has surprised many by stating that he is absolutely confident that following his play in the upcoming season he will rewarded with a long-term contract by the Bruins as it looks like Thomas will not be returning to Boston after his self-imposed exile. Time shall see how that unravels.

The NHLPA is still preparing their counter-proposal to be presented to the NHL & hopefully soon both sides will agree to a new CBA that will benefit both parties.

As the off-season draws nearer to an end, the winds are shifting signaling more change is yet to come. After August comes hopefully a brand spanking new CBA (& the no more thoughts of a dreaded lockout), followed by training camps for all teams, followed by pre-season(a preview of what to look forward to & a chance to see how prospects have improved their game), and then FINALLY the 11th of October will be here!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.