Rob The Hockey Guy

// A Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog

Pratt and Taylor Feud and Wellwood's Sweet Tweets!

pratt1040

David Pratt and Don Taylor are off the air! Well, for one day at least. The co-hosts of the popular radio show on the TEAM 1040 got into an argument on Monday that lead to David Pratt throwing down his microphone which was followed by 12 minutes of commercials and then a previously taped interview. Afterwards, Pratt returned, without Taylor. On Tuesday, both were given the day off in order to “cool off”. Both, apparently, are to return to the air today at 3:00pm. If you ask me, both are acting a bit like radio divas, as the argument was centred around the comparison of Tom Watson’s accomplishments at the British Open, to 75 year old poker champion Doyle Brunson. My two cents: interesting comparison, poker requires mental strength, golf requires mental AND physical strength.

***UPDATE*** Pratt and Taylor went to air on Wednesday and all appeared to be forgiven. They did not make mention of the pissing contest that happened on Monday until a caller made mention of it. They downplayed the incident and the show went on as normal.

wellwooddeepthoughts

Kyle Wellwood’s arbitration case is around the corner and I believe there is a high chance that the Canucks will walk away from the deal if he is awarded too much. The Canucks will probably walk away from anything nearing $2 million but if I had to guess, I think he’ll get in the neighbourhood of $1.5 million.

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That’s right! It’s time for another Canuckz.com TWITTER TRACKER! Today’s edition looks at the best tweets from the FAKE Twitter account of Kyle Wellwood:

  • Eagles + Moosehead = good off season. true story.
  • It took me 14 tries to type proportional on T9 in that last update.
  • The size of your stick is not proportional to anything else. althoug maybe inversely to how awesome i am.
  • salary arbitration fun fact number one: I deserve more money. true story.
  • god damn the canucks sure Love us ex leafs players, ugh. i mean, hey Raycroft My old fwend!
  • I think Don Cherry has a crush on me.
  • Does anyone know the special Seasoning for KFC chicken? Paying 200$ for it.

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Contracts, Arbitration and Speculation!

gilliswhat

When you look at the Canucks payroll right now, one thing is clear: something has to give. If Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson are ready for the NHL this season, then Mike Gillis currently has 15 potential NHL forwards. When you consider that most teams carry 14 or fewer forwards, then yes, something has to give. Here’s a list of where they’re at:

Top 9 forwards under contract (one-way contract):

  • Daniel Sedin
  • Henrik Sedin
  • Pavol Demitra
  • Ryan Kesler
  • Alex Burrows
  • Mikael Samuelsson
  • Mason Raymond
  • Steve Bernier

Top 9 forwards under contract (two-way contract):

  • Cody Hodgson
  • Michael Grabner

Top 9 forwards not under contract (restricted free agent)

  • Kyle Wellwood
  • Jannik Hansen

Fourth liners under contract:

  • Ryan Johnson
  • Darcy Hordichuk
  • Rick Rypien

Assuming they play with 14 forwards, then someone is on the trade block if both Grabner (he is not a certainty) and Hodgson (he is) make the team. Now assuming that the 4th liners stay in the line-up on a regular basis and that they re-sign their restricted free agents, they will have some players in the press box that they don’t want there. If Hodgson and Grabner make the team, they will want them playing often, most likely on their top 3 lines. That means that Wellwood, Raymond and Hansen will be in the press box (or traded) unless Gillis makes a move. With Ohlund gone, their need is clear on defence.

demitrasad

So who is on the move? I think that Wellwood and/or Demitra will be on the move. Wellwood’s probably in line for a raise and is also probably penciled in to be in the press box with Hodgson and Samuelsson on their way. Demitra makes $4 million, and is the most expensive of their forwards not named Daniel or Henrik. Look for them to find a defenceman from a team without depth up front and good depth on defence.

carle_orange_1212

A team like Toronto would make some sense, if not for the grudge that Brian Burke has with the Aquilinis/Canucks. A team like Philadelphia might work. They’ve just acquired Chris Pronger, and probably no longer need a guy like Matt Carle, who would surely help the Canucks power play. He’s young and only has a cap hit of $3.438, which fits him into the Canucks payroll structure nicely. Philly has just lost Mike Knuble to free agency and Joffrey Lupul via trade. They’re deep at centre, but could use wingers like Demitra or Hansen. They could also use a goaltender of the future like Kevin Weekes Cory Schneider.

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Raycroft's In, O'Brien's Back, Wellwood's to Arbitration

raycroft

Will the real Andrew Raycroft please stand-up? Andrew Raycroft, pictured above with the Calder Trophy, was named rookie of the year with the Bruins in 2003-04. Since then, he has had one sub-par year with the Bruins, two with the Leafs, and backed-up the immortal Petr Budaj last year in Colorado. I don’t think anyone thinks the Canucks are getting the Raycroft of 2003-04, but I think he can be an effective back-up for a good team. He signed a one year deal for $500,000, so the risk is minimal.

obrien-topless

With a body like that, how could you NOT have him back!? O’Brien signed a 1 year, $1.6 million deal with the Canucks on Monday. This likely cements himself as the team’s #5 defenceman, and I think they may have paid a little much for him. Maybe that’s just the going rate for young defencemen. I guess when you compare his contract to the player he was acquired for, Lukas Krajicek (1 year at $1.475 million), maybe it’s a fair deal after all.

wellwoodhi

Kyle Wellwood will be going to salary arbitration if he can’t reach a deal with the Canucks soon. He’s an interesting case, as he was so up and down all season. He ended up with 18 goals, but only 27 points in total. He also put up 6 points in 10 playoff games. If I had to guess, I think an arbitrator would award him $1.5 million, which would be reasonable for the Canucks to take.

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Meet the New Guy

samuelsson yeah

On Friday, the Canucks signed right winger Mikael Samuelsson to a 3 year contract paying him $2.5 million a season. This brings a few different things to the team. For one, it brings probably the last big name free agent to the Canucks this offseason because they have almost used up all of their cap space. It also means that the Canucks will have a Stanley Cup winner, a rarity on any Canucks team in the last 10 years. Consider this, since the Sedins entered the NHL in 2000, the Canucks have only had 3 Stanley Cup winners play for them: Mike Keane, Jiri Slegr, and Ryan Shannon. Of those three, only Keane had true Cup experience, as Slegr and Shannon rarely played.

ryan-shannon-blackhawks

Mikael Samuelsson is an interesting player. He was essentially a third liner on a very good Red Wings team the last four years, was among the NHL leaders in shots on goal, and played the point on the Wings’ power play. He was also a player who didn’t hit his prime until age 29 (his first season with the Wings). Before he joined the Wings, his best NHL season was a 22 point season with the Rangers in 2002-03. Since joining the Wings, he has averaged about 40 points per season. The question Canucks fans might be asking is: can Samuelsson thrive in any system or is he simply a product of the big red machine in Detroit? Clearly he learnt how to play in Detroit, but I also think he’ll bring that same 40 point total to the Canucks.

sweden

So how does Samuelsson fit-in with the Canucks? The team sees him as a top 6 forward, which is a need with Sundin still contemplating his future. He is also a right-handed shot (despite what many internet sites may tell you), and has prior experience playing on a line with the Sedins in the 2006 Olympics. Count on him getting a look with the Sedins this upcoming season, especially if they can’t regain the magic they found with Alex Burrows.

The Samuelsson signing now brings the total of forwards committed to for next year to 11. Consider that they should re-sign Kyle Wellwood and Jannik Hansen, plus Cody Hodgson should be a lock to make the team, bringing the total to 14 forwards (the maximum that they would likely carry). So does this mean that Mats Sundin will not return? Some media types in Vancouver would have you believe this, but hearing Mike Gillis’ recent comments lead me to think that he would make room for the big Swede, should he decide to return. Regardless, look for a forward to be moved for some help on the blueline, especially if Michael Grabner is ready for prime time. Stay tuned…


Did we mention he’s clutch?

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Eklund, Tweeting and the New Volcano Taco!

the-riddler

Just a few thoughts about some of the rumours we’ve heard in the last few days about free agency. With rumour blogs such as Eklund / countless twitter accounts, Canuckz.com asks: what stories have they really broken? Here’s a few snippets of rumours from Eklund on the day before free agency began:

  • Ohlund to LA, NJ, or Anaheim (or maybe a real surprise)
  • Knuble will re-sign with Philly
  • Hossa will be a domino after Heatley decides if he wants to go to Edmonton or NY
  • Cammalleri will sign with Buffalo, Nashville or Toronto
  • The Sedins will sign in Montreal
  • Komisarek will sign in NJ or the New York Islanders, but don’t rule out a return to the Habs
  • The Hawks will attempt to move Huet and bring back Bulin
  • Havlat will not be signed today, but will likely end up back in Chicago
  • The Wild will get in on Hossa and make another play for Heatley (and possibly Vinny)
  • The Islanders will make a play for a major player as well. if not Komisarek, maybe Ohlund
  • Kaberle to Boston for Kessel will be revisited

So yeah, not right on a SINGLE rumour! The only things he kind of predicted correctly were vaguely predicting that the Rangers would spend their money (duh!), and that the Thrashers would sign some players unexpectedly (what exactly does that mean?). You’d think if he was just making up stuff that he’d be able to guess better than that!

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And what about the Twitter accounts? Darren Dreger’s Twitter has been popular, but is he telling us anything that TSN.ca isn’t already? Same goes with Daren Millard’s “tweeting” from Sportsnet. Even Eklund is on Twitter (apparently Kaberle is on his way to Vancouver, but don’t hold your breath). Jason Botchford’s tweets told us about Gaborik buying a home in West Vancouver, who knows how true that is now that he will be living in New York. But my favourite “tweets” are the fake accounts such as Tony Gallagher and Bob McKenzie. Here are the best of the fake tweets:

Fake Tony Gallagher

undertaker

  • Deal is definetly done; Will be on the Province website within the hour
  • Going on the TEAM to announce the deal

and then after Tony Gallagher went on the TEAM to say that he’s not on Twitter even though someone has an account pretending to be him…

  • A Tony Gallagher impersonator has been on the Team claiming that this is not my account. As a newspaper man I would never fall for such lies

“Newspaper man”?! That’s classic!

Fake Bob McKenzie


  • Come tmrw, expect Komisarek to go to the Capitals, Koivu to join Selanne in Anaheim and Dave Hodge to come to work drunk. Ha, I kid
  • While I love Babcock, I’m worried that he’ll forget how to coach a CDN player after being in Detroit so long. Ha.
  • The Williams sisters advance to the Wimbledon final again!!! Am I the only one who finds Serena irresistibly sexy?
  • Has anyone tried Taco Bell’s new Volcano Taco? I had 3 or 4 for lunch. They’re delicious, but the TSN bathroom resembles Pompei, Italy now

I love the way fake Bob McKenzie laughs.. Ha! Now, if that didn’t satisfy your daily Twitter fix, check this out (it’s one sweet tweet):

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Sedins Re-sign, Gaborik to the Rangers and More!

sedins-beard

That’s right! The twins are back, this time making $6.1 million a season. That can only mean one thing. Now Sedin bashers will be adding “overpaid” to the list of things they don’t like about the Sedins (also on the list? They’re Swedish, soft, too polite, boring, don’t produce in the playoffs, too slow, etc.). All the Sedins have done is disprove each one of those allegations one by one, which is why they are indeed worth $6.1 million. They didn’t come at a bargain basement price, but when you see the Montreal Canadiens trading for Scott Gomez, he of the $7.357 cap hit (for the next next five seasons!) and 58 points last season, it’s certainly a good deal for the Canucks.

Sedin news means we get to post this video:

Also moving on Wednesday was Mattias Ohlund, signing a ridiculous 7 year deal at $3.75 million per season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ohlund will be 39 by the time his contract runs out! Ohlund’s play has been declining steadily for the last few years. This deal has the potential to have him being overpaid grossly in the not too distant future.

So what about all of the other free agents moving on day 1 of the free agent madness? You can see the full list here. Often times you hear about “winners and losers” of trades or free agent signings, but it is more complex than that. Some deals like Mattias Ohlund’s contract with the Lightning will be beneficial to them in the short term, but will hurt them greatly long-term. Taking that into account, here are the biggest short and long term winners and losers in free agency so far:

Vancouver Canucks

ohlund-grin

Winners both long and short term. The Sedin twins were two of the most sought after free agents and Mike Gillis landed both of them. Their contracts are fair, so not a home run, but not a strikeout either. The length of contract (5 years) is vital as well. In 5 years they will still only be 33 years old, and shouldn’t have too much of a drop-off in their play. They lost Mattias Ohlund, but he was signed to ridiculous money in Tampa Bay and Gillis would have been crazy to match that. Jason Labarbera ended up in Phoenix, which will hurt, but when you have Luongo playing and making as much as he does, it’s hard to spend big money on a backup or promising significant playing time.

Chicago Blackhawks

Marian Hossa celebration

Big short term winners, long term losers. Chicago bolstered their lineup with the additions of Marian Hossa, John Madden and Tomas Kopecky. Hossa and Madden are upgrades over Havlat and Pahlsson, who each signed elsewhere, while Khabibulin signed with Edmonton and Matt Walker will be joining Matty-O in Tampa Bay. The reason they are long term losers is that Marian Hossa signed a 12 year deal! Combine this with the fact that Brian Campbell is locked up to ridiculous money until 2016, and they are going to have a terrible time trying to re-sign Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith when all three become free agents next summer! Clearly, someone will have to be moved for it to happen.

Montreal Canadiens

Scott Gomez Devils

Just what is Bob Gainey doing? The Habs are losers in both the short and long term. They signed a bunch of good, but not great, players to huge money on Wednesday. Cammalleri is going to make $6 million and Gionta $5 million. Add that to Scott Gomez’s $7.357 contract that they acquired on Tuesday, and that’s over $18 million spent on an average first line! They also lost Komisarek, their version of Willie Mitchell, who signed for reasonable money in Toronto ($4.5 million per season).

New York Rangers

Marian Gaborik

I guess Marian Gaborik will have to rent out his Vancouver home? Great signing by the Rangers. He signed a 5 year deal in New York, which will be a bad deal when he’s injured and a great deal when he’s healthy. He’s bound to be healthy for at least a portion of that deal, and when that happens, the Rangers will be tough to deal with.

Calgary Flames

jay bouwmeester

Big winners. Jay Bouwmeester was the prized defenceman of this year’s free agency. Calgary’s defence now consists of probably the best top 3 in the league with J-Bo joining Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr.

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Free Agent Shopping List

With free agency beginning tomorrow, let’s look at players who should be at the top of the Canucks shopping list.

Jay Bouwmeester

bouwmeester-stick

Bouwmeester is clearly the best defenceman available and the top young player (age 25) available on the free agent market. This means he will be likely be overpaid by someone. He also fits a need the Canucks have, being a great puck moving defenceman. The Canucks could probably fit him in at about $6 million, but that might not be enough to land him.

Marian Gaborik

marian gaborik tongue

He has reportedly already purchased a home in Vancouver, so chances are good he’ll land in Vancouver. He’ll likely command over $6 million, a little risky considering he makes Sami Salo look like an iron man. But when healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic players in the league.

Saku Koivu

saku-koivu

This year’s free agent crop is thin with centres which makes it curious that nobody is mentioning Saku Koivu’s name. He seems like a Mike Gillis kind of player, kind of like a younger and smaller Mats Sundin. He produces in the clutch and is a great leader. If the Sedins don’t return, Saku Koivu should be at the top of their list. Look for him to sign for less than $5 million.

Mike Cammalleri

mike cammalleri

The Canucks should have the inside track on the former Gillis client, but he will probably get more than $5 million on the open market. He can play centre and wing, but played more on the wing last season. I don’t believe last season was a flash in the pan, but he’s also not going to be a player who will lead you to a cup. He is a very nice complimentary player though, and would look good alongside Gaborik or the Sedins.

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The Night Before Christmas…

sedins-hot-swedish-twins

On the day before July first, there’s still a lot of uncertainty as to which direction the Canucks will go, not just for next season, but the next bunch of seasons. Daniel and Henrik, fresh off a Stockholm visit from Mike Gillis and their agent JP Barry, are presumably pondering a last ditch offer from the Canucks to keep them in Vancouver long-term. We should know within the next 24 hours if Daniel and Henrik will be staying or going. I, for one, think it’s a good idea to bring them back, but not at any price.

The Sedins, to me, are worth about $6 million or less for a 4-5 year contract to the Canucks. Certainly, some other team will offer them more if they reach the open market, but the Canucks will not be in a position to win a cup if they have 3 players (the Sedins and Luongo) all making over $6 million.

luongo-stare

That brings us to Luongo. The latest rumour has him agreeing to a deal in principle (not on paper yet, he can do that beginning on July 1) to stay with the Canucks long-term. That rumour got more momentum after the Canucks netminder was seen with management at the entry draft in Montreal on Friday. It would be hard to believe that Luongo would be announcing the Canucks first round pick if he hadn’t already agreed on a long term deal.

This is a great signing, especially if it’s in the low $7 million or less range. Don’t believe the nonsense that having a high priced goalie doesn’t allow you to win in the new NHL. Just because a couple of teams have won cups with low priced goalies (Carolina in 2006, Detroit in 2008) doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to win. It makes sense to spend big money on the most important position, and when you have a world class goalie like Luongo, it would be foolish to let him get away.

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Draft Day Recap: Pronger, Bouwmeester Traded and the Canucks Nab the Next Patrick Kane

prongerthrone

The 2009 NHL entry draft did not offer a lot of surprises in terms of players selected (Tavares, Hedman and Duchene went in predictable order), but did offer a couple of interesting trades.

Chris Pronger was traded from the Ducks to the Flyers (along with Ryan Dingle) for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, two first round picks and a conditional third round pick. Interestingly enough this will be a return to Anaheim for Lupul, and the second time that he has been traded for Chris Pronger. If you ask me, the Flyers gave up too much for Pronger. Pronger only has one year left on his current contract, and is getting up in age. Don’t get me wrong, he will be a force for the Flyers this year, but those two first rounders will come back to haunt the Flyers in the long run. Another thing to ponder about this trade is how in the world are the Flyers going to make this work under the cap? They currently have a cap hit of $17.5 million for their top three centres (Briere, Richards and Carter), Simon Gagne ($5 million), Scott Hartnell ($4.2 million), and over $13 million for three defencemen (Timonen, Rathje and Carle). They must believe that Ray Emery can be a difference maker in goal with his cap hit of only $1.5 million, that is when he’s not coming late for practice or punching out a trainer.

Speaking of team acquiring high priced defencemen they can’t afford, the Calgary Flames acquired the negotiation rights to Jay Bouwmeester, and gave up a third round pick to do it. Now call me crazy, but giving up a third round pick just for the right to speak to a player for an extra week makes no sense to me. Some very good players are found in the third round, for instance, Steve Mason, Cal Clutterbuck, Kris Letang, Kris Russell, Jonathan Quick, Alex Edler, Johan Franzen and Dustin Boyd were all third round picks between 2005 and 2007. Even if the Flames are able to sign Bouwmeester before July 1, how in the world are they going to fit him under the cap? Bouwmeester should command at least $6 million per season, which should require the Flames to have to offload a significant part of their team.

jordan-schroeder

As for how the Canucks fared on draft day, they didn’t make any major trades, istead choosing to keep all of their picks. I, for one, am very optimistic about their first round selection, Jordan Schroeder. Schroeder is a small, speedy centre compared to Patrick Kane. He slipped down from the original projections by NHL Central Scouting and Bob McKenzie. He is small (5’8″), which suggests to me that teams were scared off by his size.

The reason I like this pick, is because he seems like a guy that will either become the next Steve Kariya or will become the next Patrick Kane. When you’re picking in the first round, I believe you ought to be trying to pick a future all star, and not a future third liner. You should try to pick 3rd liners in the second and third round of the draft. Continuing Canuckz.com’s hating on Patrick White (for a good laugh, check out his stats here), here’s a look at Patrick White’s scouting report by TSN before he was picked in the 2007 draft: “A skilled forward with the ability to make a difference. Strong player with a physical presence. Plays tough in the corners and in traffic. Is good on the right wing and gets his wrist shot off with ease. Sometimes lacks urgency in his play”. Sounds like a future third liner to me. Contrast with what they have to say about Schroeder: “He’s a dynamic player, a leader and a type of player that has developed into a complete offensive and defensive threat every time he is on the ice. He has a rocket of a wrist shot and he can beat you by putting the puck in the net, going around a defender, or freezing the goaltender and passing it off to one of his wingers”. That sounds like a future all star to me.

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Draft Day Thoughts

Sedin Twins Draft

Today is a day of optimism in the NHL. Every team will get “the guy they wanted” and willl have “picked the best player available”. Every player is going to be the next [insert Hall of Famer]. So before you believe whatever spews out of the mouths of GMs today, remember that the fact of the matter is that outside of the top three picks this year, it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

This year the Canucks pick 22nd. Mike Gillis will continue to try to prove to Canucks fans everywhere that the Canucks draft day woes are behind them. While most of you are no doubt already having flashbacks of Libor Polasek, Josh Holden and Nathan Smith right now, remember that this is a new era under Mike Gillis. Last year he chose the smaller but smarter Cody Hodgson (92 points in junior last year) ahead of the bigger and more enigmatic Kyle Beach (63 points in junior last year).

To get an idea of what diamonds in the rough you can find at #22, here’s a look back at some of the better players picked at #22 since 1990:

Claude Giroux (2006)

Simon Gagne (1998)

Brian Boucher (1995)

Anders Eriksson (1993)

Dean McAmmond (1991)

Not getting you excited? I don’t blame you. I could show examples of bad picks with the #22 pick (Maxim Ouellet), but you get the point. It’s a crap shoot.

Got to love the positive spin on this pick!

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