All signs are pointing to the Willie Mitchell making a decision on where to play this week. Mitchell has worked out for the Canucks, Sharks, Kings and Capitals this week. One would assume that he is undergoing physicals to prove his health to these teams before they tender him an offer. He has reportedly already been offered a two-year deal by the Los Angeles Kings, but the price is not yet known. Cap-wise, the Kings are by far in the best position. The Sharks could also fit-in Mitchell with relative ease, that is if they stick with Niittymaki and Greiss in net. The Capitals and Canucks are both in tight against the cap as it is, and would probably need to get creative.
The rumour mill is heating up with regards to Willie Mitchell and shockingly it appears the Canucks may still be in the race. It looks like the free agent d-man is now symptom free and will be ready to start the season. He has also reportedly narrowed his search to four teams: Washington, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver. Mike Gillis didn’t do anything to curtail rumours, admitting to talking to Mitchell.
It went somewhat under the radar because it was reported the same day as Markus Naslund’s jersey retirement was announced, but the Canucks have announced that they will be having a “ring of honour” at Rogers Arena. The idea behind the ring of honour is that they will be able to honour some players from the past that don’t quite deserve to have their jersey retired. Is this a good idea? In a way I like the idea of honouring past players in a way other than jersey retirement, but just what will be the criteria to get on the ring? Four players will be honoured this year, beginning with Orland Kurtenbach. The other three have yet to be announced.
When you have eight NHL defencemen under contract and are still set to re-sign Shane O’Brien, rumours are bound to follow. When you’re the #6 d-man on the depth chart and making $3.75 million, chances are you’ll be the guy talked about in those rumours. I’m speaking of course of Kevin Bieksa, who was rumoured to be on the trade block by yours truly after the Keith Ballard trade and is now being rumoured all over the place. Despite the fact that Mike Gillis isn’t confirming that Bieksa is being shopped, you have to believe he is.
Ok, maybe there’s not a true goaltending controversy in Canuckland these days, but if it weren’t for Roberto Luongo’s reputation, there would be. Luongo is having his worst season in a Canucks jersey, being pulled more times than ever, while Andrew Raycroft is enjoying the the best season by a Canucks backup since Alex Auld. Statistically speaking, Raycroft has better numbers. They share essentially the same save percentage (Luongo at .913, Raycroft at .914) and Raycroft has a better goals against average (Luongo at 2.55, Raycroft at 2.31). These stats should be skewed a bit given the fact that Luongo plays fatigued more often and usually plays the tougher teams, but this is still highly unusual for Luongo. Luongo typically has numbers far superior to his backup and is usually at the top of the league in GAA and SV%. This year, he’s middle of the pack, 18th in GAA and 17th in SV%. To put that in perspective, Dan Cloutier was 16th and 18th in GAA and SV% in 2003-04.
Who likes rumours? Everyone! Matthew Sekeres is reporting that the Canucks and Blues may be working on a deal that would see the Canucks acquiring David Backes with Cory Schneider heading the other way. Apparently Mike Gillis decided last minute to skip the Top Prospects Game in Windsor in favour of the Habs-Blues game in Montreal, presumably to watch Backes.
With a pair of goals on Monday against Nashville on top of last week’s NHL number one star of the week honour, Alex Burrows is red hot at the moment. But it’s the controversy that revealed itself on Monday night that is all anyone can talk about.
The Canucks have announced that Mathieu Schneider has been placed on waivers (as per Team 1040). In most likely not unrelated news, the Canucks have called up Alex Bolduc.
Willie Mitchell and Ryan Kesler are fighting mad. Jim Jamieson is reporting that Ryan Kesler and Willie Mitchell almost fought this morning at practice. What is up with that? Usually this happens when a team is in the midst of a losing streak, not just right after a win. It also doesn’t usually happen with two assistant captains. Even weirder is that this is the second time that Willie Mitchell has been involved in something like this in the last calendar year. During an eight game losing streak last year, Mitchell was involved in an altercation with Mason Raymond. Is this a case of Willie Mitchell being a little chippy in practice? Or maybe there’s a rift in the dressing room. Either way, don’t believe the spin that’s sure to come, this is not a good sign.
Interesting stuff from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. Among other things, Garrioch is reporting that the New York Rangers are interested in acquiring Pavol Demitra and that the Canucks are shopping Shane O’Brien. Interesting news on both fronts.
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