Not since Pavel Bure has a Canucks sixth round draft pick generated so much interest before ever playing an NHL game. The Canucks signed their 2006 draft pick Sergei Shirokov on Monday. This begs the question: so who is this guy exactly? Well, Shirokov looks like he has the potential to be a steal of a draft pick. Last season, he lead CSKA Moscow of the KHL in points with 41 points in 57 games. Not too shabby considering his age (22) and the age of the other players he’s playing against. Of course, there are many examples of players who dominate in Europe and fall flat on their face in the NHL (hello Pavel Brendl, hello Jiri Dopita) so this should be taken with a grain of salt. Regardless, the Canucks might have an unexpected blue chip prospect on their hands here. He’s probably a long shot to make the team this year, but could be in their plans by next season.
And now for the best news of the Canucks signing a Russian player, Ra-ra-rasputin! Enjoy…
Cool story from this week. Mason Raymond worked a shift at Dairy Queen yesterday, to help out with Miracle Treat Day. Proceeds of all Blizzards sold on Miracle Treat Day go to help the Children’s Hospital. Apparently this wasn’t a planned event, Raymond just happened to visit the DQ in Yaletown to get Kyle Wellwood a Peanut Buster Parfait, and was asked if he could help out this week. Raymond obliged, and gave a few fans a pleasant surprise on Thursday. I’ve had the chance to meet Raymond briefly once, and he seemed like a real down to earth guy. Lets hope he can take the next step this season, a very important one for his career.
I checked out icethics.info for a sneak peak at the Team Canada jerseys to be unveiled on Monday. Not a huge difference (you’ll notice the logo is different as they were forced by the IOC to remove the Hockey Canada logo. I’m not really a fan of the design (I liked the Salt Lake 2002 design the best), but I think I like the logo better. It’s simpler and I think it works. Below is a sneak peak at the leaked jerseys:
Every Tuesday, Canuckz.com profiles a Canadian sportscaster. Sometimes they’re sportscasters we like, sometimes they’re ones we don’t. This week we profile a sportscaster that we like to look at but don’t like to listen to! This week’s Sportscaster of the Week: Hazel Mae.
You probably remember Hazel Mae from her days at Rogers Sportsnet, accompanied by a glass desk and little leather skirt, cheerfully providing the day’s sports highlights. After Sportsnet, she moved on to NESN in Boston, working Red Sox games as a sideline reporter. She was probably the most obvious example of a sports network in Canada trying to sell sex in their sports reporting. I’m not sure she ever got the network high ratings, and I’m not sure she was ever taken seriously, given her attire. It’s not like she’s the only good looking female sports reporter to come out of Canada (Jennifer Hedger, Martine Gaillard, Evanka Osmak are other examples), it’s just that she’s like the Anna Kournikova of Canadian sportscasting. Marginal talent, above average looks, and most importantly… a willingness to flaunt it!
But the real legacy of Hazel Mae in Canadian sportscasting is her little leather skirt and its ability to accurately judge hockey fights during Don Taylor’s sportscasts! Well, that, and a reference in the best Canucks rap video ever made: “Trapper’s Delight.”
New site design is up (well just general layout). In the next few weeks, I’ll be slowly tweaking it to handle some of the new features we’ll be introducing , refining / adding details to the layout, as well as fixing any stupid bugs (so post a comment if you find any! I’m already aware of a bunch).
Tonyz Tanti, all you get is a pint for this. Still made it in before the deadline after all!
He’s out there somewhere… isn’t he? It seems ever since Ed Jovanovski signed with the Phoenix Coyotes three summers ago, the Canucks have been trying to find a “puck moving defenceman” (that’s the buzz word of the year for Canucks fans) that can make a good first pass and run the power play. Not that the Canucks don’t have decent offensive blueliners already. Kevin Bieksa is a good all-around defenceman, but is not a true power play quarterback. Sami Salo and Alex Edler both have the big shot from the blue line, but they don’t rush the puck up the ice with ease and they each need a lot of time to load up their canons. So who will it be? Who is available? Who can fit under the cap? All legitimate questions that depend on who the Canucks will move (and believe me, it will be somebody) to make room. That player will be a forward, which will make room for a defenceman.
How about Anton Babchuk? This article out of Carolina from the News & Observer states that Babchuk, a restricted free agent, will be traded. Apparently the Hurricanes are not looking for a forward in return, rather they are interested in a prospect or draft pick instead. That’s not great news for the Canucks, who are thin on prospects, but deep on forward. While this is the case, Gillis could always trade one of his forwards for a draft pick to lessen the impact of losing a draft pick for Babchuk.
So who is Anton Babchuk!? He’s a 25 year old defenceman who in his first full season in the NHL last season scored 16 goals (5th best in the league last season) and 19 assists. He was also a plus 13 (second to only Eric Staal on Carolina last season). He was at his best on the power play, notching 9 power play goals. To put that in perspective, consider that Salo, Bieksa and Edler each scored only 5 power play goals last season. Babchuk is also 6’5″ and has a great slap shot that he can get away quickly.
Don’t believe me? Check this out:
Jeremy Roenick officially retired from the NHL today. A lot of people remember him as being a bit of a jerk or a loose canon, but he was a lot more than that. He was one of the most entertaining players both on and off the ice. Back-to-back 50 goal seasons in Chicago in 1991-92 and 1992-93 and three straight 100 point seasons between 1991-94 were his best seasons. He also went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992 and won a World Cup with Team USA in 1996. He never won a Stanley Cup though, but he joins great company with that distinction.
Anyway, what better way to look back at some of his greatest moments than to look back at his early years with the Chicago Blackhawks…
….And some of his funniest moments! Enjoy:
The Canucks have re-signed RFA Jannik Hansen to a two-way deal worth $550,000. Hansen would have to clear waivers in order to go to the minors, and I think it’s unlikely that he wouldn’t be claimed by another team if they tried to send him to Manitoba. This is an interesting deal for the Canucks. Hansen is a nice role player to have, but he’s also the 13th NHL forward that the Canucks have signed (14 when you include Cody Hodgson and 15 if you include Michael Grabner). Consider that most NHL teams only carry 13-14 forwards, and it’s only a matter of time before Gillis pulls the trigger on a deal for a defenceman.
Every Tuesday, Canuckz.com profiles a Canadian sportscaster. Sometimes they’re sportscasters we like, sometimes they’re ones we don’t. Last week we featured an underrated old guy, this week we feature an annoying young guy: Jason Portuondo.
Portuondo, for those that don’t know, is an anchor for Sportsnet Connected who has brought us some quotes that even the “boom goes the dynamite” guy would find lame. Continually he tells us “remember to wash your hands after you.. FLUSH” (basketball), “that old Beatles song: all you need is… GLOVE” (baseball/hockey), and “E-fence, that’s right, E-fence, because there was no D!” (any sport). Ouch.
Maybe what annoys me most, as a Canucks fan, is the fact that he can’t pronounce the word “Canuck”. Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite to getting a job as a sportscaster in this country? There’s only 6 teams here, you should probably know them.
Rumours are swirling that Canucks president and CEO Chris Zimmerman is set to resign. A little surprising, seeing as how he was hired less than three years ago. In his time with the team, Zimmerman has overseen many changes, including a new general manager, new jerseys, a new scoreboard, and numerous other improvements to in-game presentation.
One of the biggest wild cards heading into the 2009-10 season will be Mason Raymond. After a mildly impressive rookie season in 07-08, Raymond was supposed to take the next step in the 08-09 season. He started well, scoring 10 points in his first 13 games on the second line. After that, he sputtered, ending the season with an unimpressive 23 points in 72 games. The former 2nd round pick was shuffled in and out of the lineup, and between lines. He seemed to find a bit of a home on the third line towards the end of the season, with Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier. Regardless, he is supposed to be a scorer, and failed to produce enough offence last season.
So what can we expect this season? Things could go in a lot of different directions. If the team doesn’t make a move, then one of Raymond, Kyle Wellwood, or Cody Hodgson will see time in the press box or on the 4th line. But don’t bet on the golden boy Hodgson being in the press box. Furthermore, if Michael Grabner makes the team, that will bump one more player down the depth chart. It is time for Raymond to sink or swim. If he fails to produce 20 goals this year, he will be written off as a bust. There is lots of competition for roster spots at the moment, so he will have his hands full.
I am cautiously optimistic about Raymond this year. He did take a step back last season, but he showed flashes of brilliance, and has undeniable speed and a hard shot. A lot of prospects follow a bad 2nd year with a breakout 3rd year in the NHL (expect Sam Gagner to have a breakthrough season in Edmonton). If he does, he will have to prove that he belongs in the top 6-9 forwards currently on the Canucks roster and could find himself on a line with the likes of Demitra, Wellwood and Kesler. If he doesn’t, he could find himself shuffling through the lines, and spend time in the press box.
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