Pass it to Bulis

Pass it to Bulis is Harrison Mooney and Daniel Wagner. The official Canucks blog of the Vancouver Courier, PITB is also the only blog that knows who needs the puck.
  • Troy Stecher sets up opening goal, heads to gold medal game with Team Canada

    It has been a wild and wooly World Championship tournament for Team Canada. Canada suffered a surprise upset to a Finnish team devoid of NHL players that looks less like an upset now that Finland has made the gold medal game. They pulled out a win with a last-second goal in a wildly entertaining 6-5 game against Slovakia. Then it took another last-second goal in to push their quarterfinal against Switzerland to overtime where they won to make the semifinal. Now Canada is heading to the gold medal game against Finland after a big win over Czechia. Along for the ride is the Canucks’ Troy Stecher, but he’s definitely not just a passenger.

    Daniel WagnerMay 25, 2019

  • Scouring the upcoming free agent class for some potential UFA bargains

    The Canucks have gotten themselves into trouble in free agency over the last few years. Loui Eriksson is the big one, a $6 million albatross that still has three more years left on his contract as he’s sunk to the fourth line, but with Eriksson are more minor missteps like Jay Beagle, Tim Schaller, and Matt Bartkowski. This isn’t unusual: GMs around the NHL make their biggest mistakes in the free agent frenzy, frequently overpaying players and landing themselves in salary cap trouble. The Oilers certainly regret signing Milan Lucic and the Flames can’t be happy that James Neal is signed for four more years. Yet, there are bargains to be found in free agency. It’s just sometimes difficult to see who those bargains are going to be. One way, would be to use a contract projection model and see which projected contracts don’t fit a player’s real value.

    Daniel WagnerMay 24, 2019

  • NHL’s officiating issues don’t end with the big blown calls in the playoffs

    When all goes well for the NHL, the referees and the calls they make recede into the background. This is particularly true in the playoffs, when the adage, “Let the players play” comes into full effect. In the playoffs, the NHL rulebook, like the pirate’s code in Pirates of the Caribbean, is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Unfortunately for the NHL, the officiating in the playoffs has taken centre stage thanks to a series of controversial calls.

    Daniel WagnerMay 24, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson scores a beauty, but Sweden falls to Finland in overtime thriller

    Finland wasn’t supposed to be one of the top teams at the World Hockey Championship this year. They didn’t have a single full-time NHLer on their roster, with stars like Mikko Rantanen, Aleksander Barkov, Sebastian Aho, Patrik Laine, and Teuvo Teravainen missing the tournament due to an injury, a long playoff run, or both. Sweden, on the other hand, was coming off back-to-back gold medals and was a favourite to medal again. While missing some stars, they still had a strong team, led by a deep defence corps anchored by John Klingberg, Mattias Ekholm, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Adam Larsson. At forward, William Nylander set a new record for most points by a Swedish player at the World Championships, while Elias Pettersson, Patric Hornqvist, Alexander Wennberg, Adrian Kempe, Anton Lander, and Elias Lindholm all had great tournaments. In net, Sweden had the legendary Henrik Lundqvist, backed up by Jacob Markstrom, who had a superb season for the Canucks.

    Daniel WagnerMay 23, 2019

  • The Boston Bruins might play “heavy” but they’re not exactly a big team

    It’s that time of year again: the time when teams learn what you need to win in the new NHL based on who got to the Stanley Cup Final. Is it speed and skill? Size and toughness? Veteran savvy? Youthful energy? It’s silly, really. The attributes that lead to a winning season can’t be narrowed down to a couple pithy words and definitely shouldn’t be derived from the small sample size of a few playoff games. It’s always going to be a combination of factors and winning teams usually have a bit of everything: size, speed, skill, experience, youth, and a little luck to hold it all together.

    Daniel WagnerMay 22, 2019

  • All six Canucks qualify for quarterfinals at Worlds, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing

    The preliminary round of the 2019 World Hockey Championship came to a close with a couple marquee matchups featuring Canucks: Canada versus Team USA and Sweden versus Russia. All six Canucks at the tournament were in the lineup in those two games, though one didn’t play — Cory Schneider got the start for Team USA ahead of Thatcher Demko. Troy Stecher and Canada didn’t have any issue dispatching Quinn Hughes and Team USA, but Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom, and Loui Eriksson had all kinds of trouble with Russia.

    Daniel WagnerMay 21, 2019

  • Pettersson gives Latvia death stare, Sweden survives surprise scare

    After an early upset at the hands of the Czech Republic, Sweden has gotten down to business at the 2019 World Hockey Championship. They’ve easily dispatched the lower tier of teams — Italy, Norway, and Austria — then got past Switzerland in a close game over the weekend. Against Latvia, however, Sweden looked vulnerable. They barely beat Latvia to ensure qualification to the quarterfinals.

    Daniel WagnerMay 20, 2019

  • If Jim Benning wants a defenceman in the first round, Canucks should consider trading down

    Was the band They Might Be Giants singing about the Canucks’ top pairing of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev when they said, “You’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older”? No. They were singing about the inexorable passing of time in a more general sense. The sentiment, however, still applies. Edler and Tanev are the lone remaining members from the 2010-11 Canucks and time has not been overly kind. Simply put, the Canucks need more defencemen in their prospect pool, particularly a defenceman or two with top-four upside.

    Daniel WagnerMay 17, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson gets fancy at Swedish practice, heads puck into net

    Elias Pettersson has some clever tricks up his sleeve. Sure, he can rip the puck and is a great passer, but Pettersson goes a little further, incorporating all sorts of unique and nasty moves to control the puck in traffic, beat defenders, or just show off. There were his ankle-breaking dekes from his rookie season or his ludicrous back heel against Czechia in Sweden’s opening game of the 2019 World Championship or the insane stick flip trick he pulled off at a Canucks skate. On Friday, he added a soccer move to his repertoire, heading an airborne puck into the net at practice for Team Sweden.

    Daniel WagnerMay 17, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson breaks through against Austria at 2019 World Championship

    Through his first three games at the 2019 World Hockey Championship, Elias Pettersson had been kept relatively quiet. Sure, he had a point in all three games, and flashed some incredible skill in the tournament opener, but when other players are racking up points around you, a point-per-game pace isn’t quite as impressive. The points were sure to come, of course. Pettersson already had 11 shots through three games without one finding the back of the net and there’s nothing like games against the lesser lights of the World Championship to get on a roll, as Loui Eriksson demonstrated against Italy. Sure enough, when Sweden faced Austria, Pettersson finally got off the schneid, scoring his first goal of the tournament and adding a couple assists as part of a 9-1 walloping.

    Daniel WagnerMay 16, 2019

  • Conference finalists in Stanley Cup Playoffs prove you don’t need to win the draft lottery

    Over the last four seasons, the Canucks have been one of the worst teams in the NHL. Only two teams have fewer wins and points over those four seasons and one of them is the Vegas Golden Knights, who have only been in existence for two of those seasons. Despite the Canucks’ struggles, however, the highest they’ve picked in the NHL Entry Draft is fifth overall. In fact, the Canucks haven’t picked higher than fifth since 1999, when they drafted Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The draft lottery hasn’t been kind to the Canucks.

    Daniel WagnerMay 16, 2019

  • What should the Canucks do with Markus Granlund?

    The Canucks have a dozen restricted free agents to deal with this off-season. Reports have already come out that some of those RFAs won’t be getting new contracts — neither Derrick Pouliot nor Brendan Gaunce will be receiving qualifying offers from the Canucks — and it seem possible, if not likely, that Reid Boucher and Yan-Pavel Laplante join them in unrestricted free agency. That still leaves eight RFAs in need of new contracts, with Brock Boeser the biggest of them all. Beyond Boeser, however, the Canucks have some interesting decisions to make on Josh Leivo, Nikolay Goldobin, and Ben Hutton. Then there’s Markus Granlund, who might be the most difficult of the group to evaluate.

    Daniel WagnerMay 15, 2019

  • Canucks unlikely to sign Kristoffer Gunnarsson, as he signs in the Allsvenskan

    “I want to pick Gunnarsson. I think he’s gonna play.” That was Jim Benning at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft before he and the Canucks picked Swedish defenceman Kristoffer Gunnarsson in the fifth round. Unfortunately, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Gunnarsson will ever play in the NHL, particularly for the Canucks. The Canucks have until June 1st to sign Gunnarsson or they’ll lose his rights, but the word was already out that Gunnarsson wasn’t likely to be signed. The news out of Sweden on Wednesday is that Gunnarsson won't be signing with his Swedish Hockey League club, Frolunda, either. Instead, he’ll be moving to the second tier of professional hockey in Sweden, the Allsvenskan.

    Daniel WagnerMay 15, 2019

  • Troy Stecher scores key goal for Team Canada in wild win over Slovakia

    Undrafted, undersized, and underrated: Troy Stecher has had to work for every inch of respect he’s been granted on the ice. Now, with Team Canada at the 2019 World Hockey Championship, Stecher should be getting more respect than ever. Stecher was a force in Canada’s win over host nation Slovakia, playing over 21 minutes, scoring a goal, and effectively defending against a surprisingly strong Slovakian team that had already upset Team USA. It was a wildly entertaining game, complete with comebacks and controversy.

    Daniel WagnerMay 13, 2019

  • Loui Eriksson lights up Italy with three-point game at World Hockey Championship

    The format of the World Hockey Championship, with two groups of eight teams each, means that countries of widely varying skill levels face off against each other at the tournament. Different countries have different goals at a tournament like this. For countries like Canada, Sweden, and Russia, they’re playing to win gold. At the very least, they’re aiming for a medal. On the other hand, countries like Italy, Great Britain, and Austria are just happy to be in the top division of the World Championships.

    Daniel WagnerMay 13, 2019

  • Canucks players on the receiving end of upsets on opening day of 2019 World Championship

    All three teams featuring Canucks prospects were in action on Friday, as the 2019 World Hockey Championship tournament kicked off in Slovakia. Unfortunately, all three teams got off on the wrong foot, losing their opening games in upsets. Troy Stecher and Canada dropped their opener to Finland 3-1. Then Quinn Hughes and Team USA fell to the host team, Slovakia, 4-1. Finally, Elias Pettersson, Loui Eriksson, and Sweden lost to Czechia 5-2. Each of those is a surprising upset, even if FInland, Slovakia, and Czechia are all respectable hockey countries.

    Daniel WagnerMay 10, 2019

  • When do overtime goals get scored in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

    If playoff hockey is the best hockey, overtime in playoff hockey is somehow better than the best. The back-and-forth frenetic pace of hockey combined with the threat of a goal ending the action at any moment keeps fans in both ecstacy and agony. Or, as Jon Bois put it, “why watch overtime playoff hockey when you can simply snort cocaine and ride a motorcycle out of a helicopter?”

    Daniel WagnerMay 10, 2019

  • REPORT: Brendan Gaunce heading to free agency with no qualifying offer from the Canucks

    Every time I look at statistics from last season for the Canucks, Brendan Gaunce shows up. Unless I remember to filter by games played or time on ice, there’s Gaunce at the top of the list in points-per-game and goals-per-60-minutes. The forward that was constantly criticized for never producing points did exactly that in his limited opportunities this past season. It wasn’t much — three points in three games — but it was a far cry from the player that once went 94 games without scoring a goal. Alas, it wasn’t enough to get him any more games with the Canucks last season and it looks like he won’t get any more in the future either.

    Daniel WagnerMay 9, 2019

  • The Eastern Conference Finals give Canucks fans a good reason to cheer for the Hurricanes

    There are some Canucks fans that are enlightened souls, content to let the past stay in the past. Old rivalries and past slights are now just water under the bridge. All is forgiven; can’t we all just get along? Every other Canucks fan still hates the Boston Bruins.

    Daniel WagnerMay 9, 2019

  • What’s left of the Canucks roster that Jim Benning inherited?

    The Canucks’ decision to walk away from Derrick Pouliot and let him go to free agency cut off a branch on one particular tree: the remains of the roster that Jim Benning inherited when he became general manager of the Canucks. One of the main defences mounted by Benning’s most ardent supporters is that he walked into a very difficult situation when he was hired as GM. The prospect pool was limited, with only Bo Horvat and Ben Hutton going on to make a significant impact. Most of all, Benning didn’t have much to work with to acquire more picks and prospects; as it’s frequently put, in order to make a trade, you need to have players that other teams want.

    Daniel WagnerMay 8, 2019

  • REPORT: Derrick Pouliot will not receive a qualifying offer from Canucks, will be UFA

    For the second year in a row, the Canucks have chosen not to give restricted free agent Derrick Pouliot a qualifying offer. Last year, it was because they wanted to avoid arbitration that might have granted the puck-moving defenceman a contract richer than they wanted to give him. He ended up signing a one-year deal with the Canucks worth $1.1 million. According to a report from Sportsnet 650’s Rick Dhaliwal, the Canucks will once again eschew a qualifying offer for Pouliot. This time around, however, it doesn’t appear to be to avoid arbitration but to avoid Pouliot altogether.

    Daniel WagnerMay 7, 2019

  • With next season’s compensation limits, does an offer sheet make sense for the Canucks?

    One of the most intriguing tools in a general manager’s toolbox rarely gets used: the offer sheet. An offer sheet is the only way to sign another team’s restricted free agents and can only be tendered after that player has received and rejected a qualifying offer from their current team. After a player signs an offer sheet, their current team has the option to match the offer or accept a compensation package of picks from the team that signed him. In the last twenty years, there have been just eight offer sheets in the NHL, with all but one of them getting matched by the player’s original team.

    Daniel WagnerMay 6, 2019

  • Jacob Markstrom and Michael DiPietro both got injured on the weekend

    The Canucks had some tough luck with injuries last season, something Jim Benning has been quick to point out despite his stated reluctance to use injuries as an excuse. Just one Canuck played all 82 games this season: Bo Horvat. One other Canuck, however, was on the roster for all 82 games this season and shows that the Canucks’ luck with injuries could have been a lot worse. Jacob Markstrom played 60 games this season, but was actually on the roster for all 82; he didn’t miss a game.

    Daniel WagnerMay 6, 2019

  • Looking back at some of the best Bobs in hockey history

    If you’re not familiar with Jon Bois, it can be tough to explain his appeal. He’s long been my favourite sportswriter, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that he’s barely recognizable as a traditional sportswriter. He’s written about the best sports gifs, breaking sports video games with absurd scenarios, and speculative sports-adjacent fiction. Bois has a knack for turning the seemingly inane into the profound. His latest video in his Chart Party series, “The Bob Emergency: a study of athletes named Bob,” is no exception. What sounds like an absurd endeavour — exploring the history of athletes named Bob — delves into serious corners of the sporting world, touching on racism in turn-of-the-century boxing, an incredibly unlikely Hall of Fame pitcher, a basketball innovator, and the greatest season by a pitcher in major league history.

    Daniel WagnerMay 3, 2019

  • Loui Eriksson admits he and Travis Green “don’t get on 100 per cent”

    Publically, Travis Green has always been supportive of Loui Eriksson. He has repeatedly defended Eriksson, pointing out the subtle details in his game that make him an effective player, to the point that Jason Botchford coined the nickname “Little Things” for Eriksson. Some of those “little things” were readily apparent — he was one of the best penalty killers in the league last season, for instance — but it was still hard to ignore his lack of offensive production. That’s particularly true when you consider Eriksson’s contract, a six-year, $36 million albatross that made Eriksson the highest paid player on the Canucks last season. Green has said that he doesn’t care about a player’s contract. That’s for management to worry about; all he cares about is the player himself. From what’s been said publically, then, it seems like Green and Eriksson are on the same page. At least, that’s how it seemed until Eriksson spoke to the Swedish media this week.

    Daniel WagnerMay 3, 2019

  • Milan Lucic “wouldn’t rule out” playing for the Canucks; can someone else rule it out please?

    Three years ago, Jim Benning and the Canucks wanted Milan Lucic and they wanted him bad. Lucic, however, responded like Club Kuru and simply said, “I don’t feel the same for you.” Now, however, Lucic’s feelings have changed. During an appearance on Sportsnet 650, Lucic was asked by James Cybulski if he could “see a day where [he] could finish [his] career here in Vancouver.” “That’s definitely something I wouldn’t rule out,” responded Lucic. “It’s obviously something that potentially could happen.”

    Daniel WagnerMay 2, 2019

  • Canucks are on the precipice of a nearly-unprecedented run of rookie success

    In a shocking development, Canucks centre Elias Pettersson has been named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Okay, so that’s less “shocking” and more “inevitable.” Pettersson was hoisted up as the surefire winner of the Calder about a month into his rookie year after he scored ten goals in his first ten games. Even after his scoring pace slowed down in the second half of the season, Pettersson was still the odds-on favourite to win the Calder, with The Hockey News even speculating that he could be the first rookie since Teemu Selanne to win the Calder with a clean sweep of first-place votes from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

    Daniel WagnerMay 2, 2019

  • No, Nikolay Goldobin didn’t sign in Russia, but he does have a new agent

    Jannik Hansen retired a champion. After 626 games in the NHL, the vast majority with the Vancouver Canucks, Hansen played one season in the KHL, winning the Gagarin Cup with CSKA Moscow. This weekend, he announced his retirement from professional hockey at the age of 33. What does that have to do with Nikolay Goldobin? After the Canucks traded Hansen for Goldobin at the 2017 trade deadline, it looked like Goldobin might swap spots with Hansen for a second time. It was rumoured that Goldobin would sign with CSKA Moscow, his hometown team, this off-season, bolting the Canucks for the KHL like Nikita Tryamkin before him.

    Daniel WagnerApril 29, 2019

  • REPORT: Troy Stecher will join Team Canada at the 2019 World Hockey Championship

    Team Sweden will have plenty of Canucks content at the 2019 World Hockey Championship, with Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom, and Loui Eriksson all committing to play for their country. So will Team USA, represented by youngsters Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko. For a while, it seemed like Sweden and the US would be the only two countries with Canucks. Finland’s Markus Granlund declined the invitation, Switzerland’s Sven Baertschi is coming off a concussion, and France’s Antoine Roussel is recuperating from knee surgery.

    Daniel WagnerApril 27, 2019

  • Ask it to Bulis: Could Mike Gillis return to the Canucks?

    Ask it to Bulis is a semi-regular feature where I answer your Canucks and Canucks-adjacent questions. We’re in a bit of a lull in the Canucks’ world, as we’re still two months away from the NHL Entry Draft and even the World Hockey Championships is a couple weeks away. That makes this a perfect time to pause and consider some Canucks questions. I put out the call on Twitter and got some captivating queries. Let’s dig in.

    Daniel WagnerApril 26, 2019

  • First round upsets show just how good you need to be to even make the NHL playoffs

    The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is always a little wild and wacky, but this year’s edition has been more unpredictable than most. For the first time since NHL expansion in 1967, the two top-seeded teams lost in the first round. Not only did they lose, but they got completely creamed. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning went from one of the best regular seasons of all time, tying an NHL record for 62 wins, to being swept in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that had never won a playoff series.

    Daniel WagnerApril 25, 2019

  • Canucks re-sign Thatcher Demko to a two-year bridge contract

    The Canucks have quite a few restricted free agents to re-sign this off-season. The key re-signing will be Brock Boeser, but Thatcher Demko is not far behind in terms of importance. At least, he will be if he becomes the number one goaltender that the Canucks hope he can be. So, it’s nice that Canucks’ GM Jim Benning got that contract out of the way early, re-signing Demko on Wednesday to a two-year deal.

    Daniel WagnerApril 24, 2019

  • The Vegas Golden Knights didn’t get knocked out of the playoffs by a blown call

    Tuesday’s Game 7 between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights was one of the craziest, most entertaining games in NHL playoff history. The third period and overtime, in particular, was a wild ride, featuring an unthinkable comeback, a last-minute stunning goal, and a gorgeous overtime game-winning goal from the most unlikely of sources. It couldn’t have happened without an egregiously bad call halfway through the third period.

    Daniel WagnerApril 24, 2019

  • According to Wayne Gretzky, Elias Pettersson is like Michael Jordan

    Elias Pettersson’s outstanding rookie season has led to some pretty hyperbolic comparisons. Ten games into his season, Pettersson had ten goals, putting him on-pace to tie Teemu Selanne’s rookie goalscoring record. His style of play had some comparing Petterson to Pavel Datsyuk, one of the best two-way forwards of all time. His statistical accomplishments drew comparisons to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin. Wayne Gretzky, the Great One himself, even drew a comparison between himself and Pettersson.

    Daniel WagnerApril 23, 2019

  • This contract prediction model projects a 7-year, $7.4 million contract for Brock Boeser

    Looking at the Canucks’ roster, it’s clear that Jim Benning and his management team have some big decisions ahead of them. Benning has talked about finding top-six help for his young core at forward, as well as upgrading their defence, neither of which will be an easy task in free agency. Before they look outside their roster for help, however, they have some work to do within their roster. Specifically, they have 22 players in the organization that are pending free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. That includes one of the most important players for their franchise’s future: Brock Boeser, whose entry-level contract is coming to an end and will be a restricted free agent.

    Daniel WagnerApril 19, 2019

  • Injury-free, Brock Boeser hopes to use long offseason to take “huge step”

    Brock Boeser had a strong finish to the 2018-19 season in more ways than one. He led the Canucks in scoring in the back half of the season, including 13 points in his final 16 games. He was regularly playing 20+ minutes per game. Most importantly, he was healthy.

    Daniel WagnerApril 19, 2019

  • Elias Pettersson and Loui Eriksson join Jacob Markstrom on Sweden at 2019 World Hockey Championship

    It’s that time of year again: time for Canucks fans to care about the World Hockey Championships. Two more Canucks have announced they’ll be playing for their respective countries at the 2019 World Championships in Slovakia after three announced their intention to play at the end of the Canucks season. Elias Pettersson and Loui Eriksson will be joining goaltender Jacob Markstrom on Team Sweden.

    Daniel WagnerApril 18, 2019

  • Who do the experts have ranked 10th overall for the 2019 NHL Draft?

    The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is two months away, but with the results of the draft lottery already in, the Canucks know exactly where they’ll be picking: 10th overall.

    Daniel WagnerApril 17, 2019

  • 2019 Lightning overtake 2012 Canucks for the worst playoff result for a Presidents’ Trophy winner

    This wasn’t the script. This isn't how things were supposed to end for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were dominant in almost every way possible during the regular season. They tied the 1996-96 Detroit Red Wings for the most wins in a season with 62. Their goal differential was in the triple digits: +103. The next best team was +62. They had the league’s best power play and the league’s best penalty kill. The Lightning had incredible top-end talent: Nikita Kucherov won the Art Ross Trophy with a whopping 128 points. He was one of three Lightning forwards with 40+ goals. Beyond their top scorers, they had fantastic depth, with players throughout their lineup that could score, including 11 players in double digits in goals and a dozen with 30+ points.

    Daniel WagnerApril 16, 2019

  • Which Canucks dropped off the most in the second half of the 2018-19 season?

    When Elias Pettersson scored a rocket of a goal on the very first shot of his career, he set the tone for the entire 2018-19 Canucks season. When he went on to score ten goals in his first ten games, he changed the conversation surrounding himself as a player. With Pettersson’s hot start, suddenly no one was questioning if he was too small to play in the NHL or whether he could play centre. Instead, he was getting compared to Wayne Gretzky, Pavel Datsyuk, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin. The hype got a little bit out of control, but it was also hard to avoid.

    Daniel WagnerApril 16, 2019

  • Important dates for the Canucks 2019 off-season

    The 2018-19 season is over for the Vancouver Canucks, but that only means the work is just beginning for next season. While the players, coaches, and management will have a little bit of downtime, it won’t last long. This is an extremely important off-season for the Canucks, who have now missed the playoffs in four-straight seasons and need to transition from rebuilding to contending. So let’s look towards the 2019 off-season and see what lies ahead for the Canucks.

    Daniel WagnerApril 12, 2019

  • Playoff-bereft Canucks know they need to improve in every area

    At the Canucks’ year-end press conference, the team as a whole was overall very positive about the 2018-19 season, but the simple truth is that this isn’t where any of them wanted to be. None of them wanted to be packing their things and heading home while their rivals were preparing for the playoffs. All of the excitement for the future is no replacement for the feeling when your team is heading into the postseason.

    Daniel WagnerApril 11, 2019

  • A Canucks fan’s guide to choosing a team to cheer for in the 2019 NHL playoffs

    The NHL playoffs are underway, which is a little depressing for Canucks fans. The Canucks have missed the playoffs in four-straight seasons for the first time since the year 2000 and have won just three playoff games in the last eight years. Still, the playoffs feature the best this sport has to offer, particularly in the first round, when every single night of the week is filled with multiple games, with every shift invested with import. If you count yourself as not just a Canucks fan, but a fan of hockey, you can’t miss the playoffs.

    Daniel WagnerApril 10, 2019

  • Ranking the 2019 NHL playoff matchups by aesthetic appeal

    The 2019 NHL playoffs kick off on Wednesday with five games. The first round of the playoffs is the most wonderful time of the year for hockey fans, with multiple meaningful games on TV every single day. Sure, it’s tough for the fans of teams that didn’t make the playoffs, but it’s still some of the best hockey you’ll ever see. In fact, there’s almost too much great hockey to watch. With eight first-round matchups to choose from and multiple games every night, it’s impossible to watch them all without some sort of multiple TV/tablet setup. Even then, your focus will be split. You need some way to decide which series will get your full attention.

    Daniel WagnerApril 10, 2019

  • Nikolay Goldobin loves Vancouver and is ready to prove his doubters wrong

    Even with the way his season ended, Nikolay Goldobin was in good spirits with reporters on Monday, facing even the toughest questions with thoughtful, honest answers. It’s been a tough season for Goldobin in many different ways. It started strong, with him finding some early chemistry with rookie Elias Pettersson, but even in those early good times there was a negative undercurrent. Goldobin couldn’t find the back of the net, even as he put up plenty of assists, and some started to wonder if he was good enough to play alongside the Canucks’ top player.

    Daniel WagnerApril 10, 2019

  • Canucks fall to tenth overall at 2019 NHL draft lottery

    Barring some miraculous wheeling and dealing from Jim Benning, the Canucks will not be reuniting Quinn Hughes with his younger brother, Jack, at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. It’s a crying shame, because it’s been far too long since the Canucks were led by an elite brother duo. The Canucks did not win the draft lottery on Tuesday and will not pick first overall. Nor did they move up into second or third. They didn’t even stay in their original spot at ninth overall, which was the most likely result. Instead, the second-most likely result occurred: the Canucks moved down one spot to tenth overall.

    Daniel WagnerApril 9, 2019

  • Jim Benning on Canucks’ youth: good teams win with 26 to 35-year-old players

    There was an interesting mix of emotions towards the end of the Canucks’ 2018-19 season: there was both disappointment and hope, with most fans leaning towards the “hope” side of the equation. Certainly it was disappointing that the Canucks missed the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, but the performance of the Canucks’ youth provided a lot of sugar to help that medicine go down.

    Daniel WagnerApril 8, 2019

  • The Canucks will most likely end up with a top 10 pick at the draft lottery

    The Canucks didn’t exactly tank to end the 2018-19 season, winning three of their last five games and picking up a point in their final game with a shootout loss that carried them above the Anaheim Ducks into 23rd place. They finished the season with 35-36-11 record for a total of 81 points. While a fun way to end the season for Canucks fans, particularly with the debut of Quinn Hughes, but it does mean the Canucks get reduced odds at winning the draft lottery, which takes place on Tuesday, April 9th.

    Daniel WagnerApril 8, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Pettersson finishes strong, but Canucks lose to Blues in the shootout

    Heading into the final game of the season, there wasn’t much on the line for the Canucks aside from pride. All that hung in the balance on a team level for the Canucks was whether they would finish above or below the Anaheim Ducks. After the Ducks won their final game of the season on Friday, a regulation loss for the Canucks would have meant finishing below the Ducks and getting a 1% higher chance at winning the draft lottery. That was it on a team level. There was definitely something to play for on the individual level, however. Elias Pettersson is aiming to the Canucks’ first winner of the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year since Pavel Bure in 1992.

    Daniel WagnerApril 6, 2019

  • A lot is going right for Tanner Pearson with the Vancouver Canucks

    Before arriving in Vancouver, Tanner Pearson was having a nightmare season. After three seasons of providing consistent secondary scoring with the Los Angeles Kings, he went the first 17 games of the season without scoring a single goal and tallying just one assist.

    Daniel WagnerApril 5, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Hughes comes through, but Canucks lose late lead against lurking Predators

    Despite clinching a playoff berth quite a while ago, the Nashville Predators still had plenty to play for on Thursday night. A win meant first place in the Central Division, but their position is precarious: the Winnipeg Jets, despite their recent struggles, are still right there, and the St. Louis Blues are nipping at their heels. Both teams are just one point back with one game left to play for all three teams. With the win, the Predators have control over their own fates. If they win their final game of the season, they lock up first in the Central, along with home ice advantage through at least the first two rounds, assuming they get out of the first round. Home ice not only provides a small competitive edge, but also means more playoff revenue and more games for your hometown fans. The Canucks, on the other hand, don’t have anywhere near as much to play for.

    Daniel WagnerApril 4, 2019

  • Healthy again, Sven Baertschi is embracing every shift

    For Sven Baertschi, every shift over the past week must have felt like a gift. The 26-year-old winger was off to a strong start in 2018-19, tallying six points in his first nine games, when suddenly his season came to a screeching halt from a blindside hit to the head by Tomas Hyka of the Vegas Golden Knights.

    Daniel WagnerApril 3, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Canucks hand out team awards and hand Sharks a loss in final home game

    Tuesday was the Canucks’ final home game of the 2018-19 season, so they announced their team awards throughout the night. The first award of the night went to Alex Edler: the Babe Pratt Trophy for best defenceman. Edler led the Canucks defenceman with 10 goals and 31 points, despite playing just 53 games. In fact, this was the third best season of his career by points-per-game, trailing only the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

    Daniel WagnerApril 2, 2019

  • Travis Green is in no rush to put Quinn Hughes on the Canucks’ first power play unit

    After Quinn Hughes’ electric debut last week, fans are eager to see more. That’s particularly true when it comes to his performance in 3-on-3 overtime with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, where the extra time and space, as well as teammates that process the game in a similar way, has shown Hughes at his best. Hughes’ performance with Pettersson and Boeser in overtime has fans equally eager to see that trio in another situation where there’s a little more time and space: the power play.

    Daniel WagnerApril 2, 2019

  • Canucks sign Brogan Rafferty from Quinnipiac University to add right-side depth on defence

    One of Jim Benning’s best free agent signing in his tenure as GM of the Canucks was an undrafted defenceman out of the NCAA: Troy Stecher. The right-handed Stecher quickly established himself in the NHL and has proven himself to be a key part of the future of the Canucks’ defence corps. Benning is likely hoping the same will be true of his latest signing out of the NCAA: right-handed defenceman Brogan Rafferty.

    Daniel WagnerApril 1, 2019

  • Canucks address goaltending depth, sign Jake Kielly out of Clarkson University

    The Canucks made a much-needed move on Monday, signing another top college free agent to an entry-level contract. 22-year-old Jake Kielly was one of the best goaltenders in the NCAA this past season and he joins the Canucks on a two-year, two-way contract with a reported average annual value of $925,000. You might ask what made the signing so needed: from one perspective, the Canucks’ future in net had never looked better.

    Daniel WagnerApril 1, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Magnificent Markstrom carries Canucks to shootout win over Stars

    The Dallas Stars are a playoff team. It’s all but assured at this point: they have 41 wins and are seven points up on the ninth-place Arizona Coyotes. The Vancouver Canucks are not a playoff team. They were mathematically eliminated on Friday night when the Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche went to a shootout, with the Coyotes picking up a single point in the shootout loss. And yet, the Canucks were able to beat the Stars and keep them from clinching a playoff spot.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 31, 2019

  • Shift-by-shift: An overly exhaustive look at Quinn Hughes’ first NHL game

    Quinn Hughes’ first game with the Canucks couldn’t have gone much better. The anticipation was built up by the delay to his debut thanks to an ankle injury and, to a certain extent, it was improved by the Canucks being completely out of the playoff picture. Instead of worrying about the outcome of the game, fans could focus on Hughes and really appreciate what the 19-year-old defenceman brought to the table. He brought a lot.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 29, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Quinn Hughes makes magical Canucks debut as Alex Edler sets franchise record

    Is it too much to say that this game felt like a changing of the guard or a passing of the torch? There was something serendipitous about Quinn Hughes’s first NHL game coinciding with the Canucks’ current best defenceman breaking a record by the team’s previous best defenceman.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 29, 2019

  • Can the Canucks avoid becoming the next Oilers or Panthers?

    The Canucks have a promising core of young players. Elias Pettersson looks like a legitimate superstar, dominating the rookie scoring race while breaking franchise records in the process. Brock Boeser is a sniper, tallying 58 goals in the first 135 games of his career. Bo Horvat is a heart-and-soul two-way sniper, putting up 28 goals and 58 points with a rotating cast of mediocre wingers. Then there’s Quinn Hughes, who’s set to make his Canucks debut Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Hughes has the potential to be an elite, point-producing defenceman, the likes of which the Canucks haven’t seen since Paul Reinhart in the late-80’s. That’s a solid core for the Canucks to build around for the future. When you look around the rest of the NHL, however, it might not be enough.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 28, 2019

  • Have the Canucks learned from past mistakes when it comes to their defence?

    There were some raised eyebrows heading into the 2018-19 season when the Canucks came back with the exact same defence corps that had struggled so much in the previous season. It was the exact same group, right down to their seventh and eighth defencemen. That won’t be the case next season. Thanks to mid-season trades, Michael Del Zotto and Erik Gudbranson are already gone. Derrick Pouliot’s contract is expiring and he will be a restricted free agent (RFA), but it’s unclear whether the Canucks will bring him back given his struggles with consistency.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 28, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Canucks can’t quite complete comeback, succumb to Sam Steel and the Ducks

    Heading into Tuesday, there was talk that this might be Ryan Kesler’s final game in Vancouver. Talk radio buzzed with the suggestion that the Rogers Arena fans give Kesler a standing ovation for his final game, which would be quite the switch from the boos that typically rain down whenever Kesler touches the puck. The talk was awfully premature, not because Kesler could play again in Vancouver in the future, but because it was unlikely he’d play Tuesday. Kesler has been missing from the Ducks lineup since March 6th with a hip injury (and arguably missing on the ice all season long).

    Daniel WagnerMarch 27, 2019

  • The Canucks aren’t alone; the Utica Comets could also miss the playoffs

    For the Canucks, it’s all over but the math. The Canucks haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, as there is still some Byzantine scenario where they could sneak into the playoffs, but the chances of it happening are so low that they may as well be nil. HockeyViz places the Canucks’ playoff probability at just 0.03%, as they sit 13th out of 15 Western Conference teams, seven points back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final Wild Card spot. Even the most optimistic of Canucks fans have to admit it’s over. Across the continent, the Canucks’ farm team is also in dire straits.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 25, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Canucks lose to the Blue Jackets and gain the Crap Mantle

    Bad news, everyone. Not only did this loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets change the Vancouver Canucks’ playoff chances from slim to monomolecular, it also handed the Canucks the most ignominious of titles: the Crap Mantle.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 25, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Flames' fourth line does damage in win over Canucks

    The Calgary Flames clinched a playoff spot a week ago and look to have sewn up the top spot in the Western Conference with their win over the Canucks on Saturday night. They look poised to make a deep playoff run after missing the playoffs in seven of their last nine seasons. They have incredible depth at forward, led by an elite talent in Johnny Gaudreau: they have three played with 30+ goals and eight forwards in the double digits, but they get contributions throughout their lineup. For instance, all three of the Flames’ goals against the Canucks on Saturday came from the fourth line.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 24, 2019

  • Quinn Hughes should play with Troy Stecher when he makes his Canucks debut

    When Quinn Hughes signed his entry-level contract with the Canucks over a week ago, fans were eager to see the fleet-footed defenceman in action. Regrettably, Hughes wasn’t ready to hit the ground running, or the ice skating, as it were. While he told reporters when he first arrived in Vancouver that he had asked to skate that morning, the Canucks wanted to wait for the In fact, Hughes has yet to skate with the Canucks at all, as an MRI revealed a deep bone bruise as a result of a shot he blocked in the penultimate game of his NCAA season.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 22, 2019

  • Who are some young, right-handed defencemen the Canucks could target in a trade?

    The Canucks have an issue on the right side of their defence. When you look at their long-term future on the right side, there are some major concerns. Chris Tanev is on the top pairing, but his game has declined and his body keeps breaking. Alex Biega might be able to play consistently on the third pairing, but he’s about to turn 31 and likely to experience a decline of his own. In the prospect system, Jalen Chatfield and Mitch Elliot are long shots to make the NHL. That leaves Troy Stecher and newly-signed prospect Jett Woo as the only two right-side defencemen that could reasonably be expected to have a long-term future with the Canucks. That means there's a big gap on the right side, specifically on the top pairing.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 21, 2019

  • Four reasons you should still be watching the 2018-19 Canucks season

    If you gave up on this Canucks season a week ago (or more), you could easily be forgiven. Not only did the Canucks go on a long losing skid, the sun also came out over Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. It's completely understandable if you chose hanging out on a patio over watching the struggling Canucks.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 21, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Canucks stymie Senators comeback on a wild Wednesday

    Ever since he was traded to the Ottawa Senators, Anders Nilsson has suddenly turned into a fantastic goaltender. Heading into Wednesday’s game, Nilsson had a .917 save percentage in 20 games with the Senators. He was coming off a 37-save performance against the Leafs and, before that, a 35-save shutout of the St. Louis Blues. Meanwhile, Jacob Markstrom has made a legitimate case to be the Canucks’ MVP this season. His .915 save percentage on the season is well above the league average of .909 and, when you take into account the quality of shots he’s faced, you can make the argument that he’s been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. So, a meeting between these two former teammates would naturally be a goaltender’s duel, right?

    Daniel WagnerMarch 21, 2019

  • Can Alex Biega be a consistent top-six defenceman?

    Over the past few years, Alex Biega has found his niche in the NHL as a seventh defenceman. He’s hassle-free: even when he’s a healthy scratch for weeks on end, he still works hard in practice and is ready to plug into the lineup at a moment’s notice to provide a little energy and some reliable minutes. When Alex Biega signed his two-year contract extension a year ago, however, he believed he had something more to give beyond being a seventh defenceman.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 20, 2019

  • Breakdowning Elias Pettersson’s record-setting 61st point in his rookie season

    Elias Pettersson is a very different player from Pavel Bure, but they do have some things in common. Like Bure, Pettersson has been the most exciting rookie to hit Canucks ice in decades. He’s ignited a spark of hope in the Canucks fanbase that the team is closer to contending than anyone expected, though there’s still a lot of work to be done to build around Pettersson’s foundation. Also, like Bure, Pettersson is likely to take home the Calder Memorial Trophy as the rookie of the year. While he has a little competition for the crown, Pettersson should still walk away with the trophy because of how he’s placed an entire franchise on his supposedly-too-skinny shoulders.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 19, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Elias Pettersson breaks Pavel Bure and Ivan Hlinka's rookie record

    This Canucks season would have been an unwatchable without Elias Pettersson. That’s not a revolutionary statement, by any means, but it’s still true. When the Sedins retired, it was tough to see where the offence would come from, apart from the general offensiveness of the Canucks’ defence corps. The only way the Canucks could possibly avoid their goal totals plummeting this season was if Pettersson immediately became a first-line centre in the NHL. What was the backup plan at centre? Brandon Sutter? Markus Granlund? Sam Gagner? Thankfully, Pettersson was up to the task, silencing all doubters right from the opening game of the season.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 19, 2019

  • A look at the Canucks' defensive depth after signing Jett Woo, Josh Teves, and Quinn Hughes

    In the space of one week, the Canucks have signed three defencemen. On Sunday, March 10th, the Canucks signed their top prospect, Quinn Hughes. On Tuesday, they nabbed Josh Teves, a free agent out of the NCAA. They wrapped up the week by inking their second-round pick in 2018, Jett Woo, to a three-year entry-level contract. Woo could be key for the Canucks for one simple reason beyond his talent and potential: he’s a right-hand shot.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 18, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Tim Schaller the unlikely hero in Canucks win over Stars

    On a better team, Nikolay Goldobin getting scratched wouldn’t be much of a story. The 23-year-old winger is playing in his first full NHL season and struggling with consistency. He has just two goals and two assists in his last 23 games — a healthy scratch to give another skilled winger a chance to produce would be eminently justifiable. Unfortunately, the Canucks are not a better team and they don’t have better players to put in or move up the lineup.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 18, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Pettersson busts slump, but Canucks lose in shootout to Devils

    When the team you root for loses, the way that the Canucks lost to the Devils tonight, there are a number of ways you can respond. You can choose to rage with the fury of a thousand suns, allowing the hatred to flow through you. You can choose to feign indifference, as though the loss hasn’t crippled you both spiritually and emotionally. You can choose to just be really, really sad, becoming a blubbering mess like Seth Rogen in Funny People.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 16, 2019

  • Ashton Sautner keeps things simple to carve out a spot on the Canucks defence corps

    Late in the third period against the New York Rangers on Wednesday, Ashton Sautner was checked into the boards by a hard-forechecking Brendan Smith. Sautner’s left leg went awkwardly into the boards and he doubled over in obvious pain. Sautner stayed in the play, however, even as he could barely put any weight on his left leg. He hobbled to the front of the net in time to intercept a centring pass and prevent a scoring chance, then struggled to the bench as quickly as he could when Tyler Motte cleared the puck out of the zone. That’s the determination of a young player trying to find a place on a changing Canucks defence.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 15, 2019

  • Will Lockwood sign? Quinn Hughes’ Michigan teammate is pondering his future

    Quinn Hughes led the University of Michigan Wolverines in scoring this past season with 33 points in 32 games. Another Canucks prospect, however, led all Michigan forwards in scoring: William Lockwood. When the Wolverines’ top forward, Ottawa Senators prospect Josh Norris, suffered a season-ending injury at the World Junior Championships in January, it was up to Lockwood to lead the team. He met the challenge head on, scoring 11 of his 16 goals over the final 17 games of the season. Lockwood set new career highs in goals and points in his junior year, with 31 point in 36 games. There’s a strong argument that the 20-year-old winger is ready to take the next step into professional hockey.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 14, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Two Tyler Motte goals carry Canucks over Rangers

    25 years ago, the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers met in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. It was a defining moment for many Canucks fans, perfectly encapsulating the rapture and heartbreak of cheering for the Canucks in one seven-game series. This game between the Rangers and Canucks had much lower stakes. Neither team is making the playoffs this season and there are most certainly fans for both teams that secretly — or openly — would prefer their team lose as many games as they can to close out the season, hoping to improve their odds of winning the draft lottery and adding Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko to their respective rebuilds.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 14, 2019

  • Quinn Hughes says, “I don’t need to be a hero,” but Canucks fans hope he’ll fly to the rescue

    Quinn Hughes didn’t seem the least bit phased by the gaggle of reporters and cameras that surrounded him for his first media scrum as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. That shouldn’t come as a surprise: on the ice, Hughes is as cool and calm as they come, carrying the puck with deceptive ease. A frequent target of agitators, Hughes doesn’t shy away from confrontation, but rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. Off-ice, he’s just as even-keeled.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 13, 2019

  • Canucks dip into college free agency, sign defenceman Josh Teves

    “We’re hoping that we can get a defenceman signed through college free agency,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning on Monday. A day later, those hopes were affirmed, as they inked Princeton defenceman Josh Teves to a one-year contract. That one year, incidentally, is this year. According to Benning, he could only be signed to a one-year Entry Level Contract because of his age. That means the 24-year-old Teves will become a Restricted Free Agent in the summer and will need a new contract before next season.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 12, 2019

  • Jim Benning expected Loui Eriksson to be a consistent 20-goal scorer

    The vast majority of Canucks fans are frustrated with Loui Eriksson. If you’re not, perhaps it’s because you’ve become inured to his overall mediocrity this season, which is understandable: he’s become less and less noticeable as the season has progressed. If you’re frustrated with Eriksson, however, imagine how Jim Benning must feel.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 11, 2019

  • Jim Benning doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Quinn Hughes

    Unlike this season, the Canucks won’t be bringing back the same defence corps next season. That became a certainty when Canucks GM Jim Benning traded Michael Del Zotto to the Anaheim Ducks earlier in the season and continued when Benning moved Erik Gudbranson to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline. The biggest and most important change, however, came on Sunday, when the Canucks inked their top prospect, Quinn Hughes, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 11, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Golden Knights chase Markstrom, cruise to easy win over Canucks

    I’ve been looking forward to Captain Marvel for months. I’m a huge nerd. Admittedly, it’s not particularly nerdy to look forward to a movie in the most successful ongoing movie franchise/cinematic universe in the world, but it goes a little further than that. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go to see a midnight showing on Thursday, as babysitters are hard to come by that late at night. We couldn’t see it on opening night on Friday, as I was coaching soccer practice late in the evening. And on Saturday night, I had to watch the Canucks get thrashed to within an inch of their lives by the Vegas Golden Knights. Again.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 10, 2019

  • Looking back at the last time the Canucks missed the playoffs in four-straight seasons

    Barring a miracle, the Canucks are about to miss the playoffs for the fourth season in a row. It will be only the third time in franchise history they’ve missed the postseason in four-straight years.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 8, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Oilers keep slim playoff hopes alive, Canucks don't

    It would truly be something if Sam Gagner somehow helped the Edmonton Oilers make the playoffs this season. The Canucks decided they didn’t need Gagner this season, a year after signing him to a three-year, $9.45 million contract. It was understandable, given how the Canucks constructed their roster, with a clear delineation between the offensive-minded top-six forwards and their defensive-minded bottom six. If they couldn’t shelter him in a depth role, they would need to do so in a top-six role, and the Canucks were leaning towards using their youth in those roles.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 7, 2019

  • Troy Stecher has staked his claim as a key part of the future of the Canucks defence

    It seems unthinkable now, but Troy Stecher was a healthy scratch earlier in the season for a game against the Los Angeles Kings. “You’re never happy when you come out of the lineup,” said Stecher later that week. “You’re pretty pissed off, doesn’t matter who you are.” There’s no taking Stecher out of the lineup now, and not just because the Canucks’ defence corps has been depleted by injuries and trades. Stecher has emerged as arguably the Canucks’ best defencemen over the last couple months, or at least their steadiest and most reliable. In the process, he’s made a strong argument to be a significant part of the Canucks’ future.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 7, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Alex Edler's overtime winner completes Canucks comeback over Leafs

    It’s been 15 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs last made it out of the first round of the NHL playoffs. They’re looking to change that this season and they have a team talented enough to make it happen. The Leafs have the second-most wins in the Eastern Conference and the second-best goal differential in the entire NHL. They have three players scoring at better than a point-per-game pace, two players with more than 30 goals already, and ten players in double digits in goals.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 7, 2019

  • Does Elias Pettersson have some late challengers to the Calder crown?

    Not that long ago, Elias Pettersson was the runaway favourite for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Now, however? Well, he’s still the favourite, but the race is likely to be a lot closer than anyone anticipated. There are a couple reasons for that. One is that Pettersson’s scoring pace has slowed over the last couple weeks. While Pettersson is still above a point per game on the season, he hasn’t scored a goal in his last seven games and has just two assists in his last six games. Whether it’s due to opposing teams keying in on him, fatigue from carrying the team all season, or a lingering injury, Pettersson just hasn’t looked as dangerous of late, with just two shots on goal in his last four games.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 6, 2019

  • Jim Benning doesn’t like to use injuries as an excuse, but can’t seem to help himself

    It’s become an annual tradition for the Canucks over the past few seasons: as the team falls out of the playoff picture, the media turns to GM Jim Benning for an explanation. Part of that explanation, inevitably, revolves around injuries. When Ben Kuzma of The Province asked Benning about the Canucks’ recent struggles, particularly their lack of compete level, Benning turned to a familiar refrain. “A big part of it, and I don’t like using it as an excuse, is injuries,” said Benning.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 5, 2019

  • Five years into Jim Benning’s tenure as GM, should the Canucks be further along?

    The 2018-19 Canucks season has given fans some reasons for optimism. Among them, there’s Elias Pettersson’s fantastic rookie year, Jacob Markstrom’s improved play under Ian Clark, Bo Horvat’s continued progression, and Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher proving themselves as top-four defencemen. On top of that, the Canucks stayed in the playoff race longer than anyone expected heading into the season. The truth is, however, that this is not where Jim Benning and the Canucks anticipated they would be at this point in his tenure as General Manager.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 4, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Canucks get Ivan Drago'd by the Golden Knights

    When one team gets more shots in one period than the other team gets in the entire game, you know something has gone horribly awry. The Canucks didn’t look like they belonged on the same ice as the Golden Knights. It was like Apollo Creed versus Ivan Drago and no one would throw the damn towel. Also, just like Creed and Drago, the Canucks barely had any defence. And it was in Vegas. Lots of parallels, here.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 3, 2019

  • Canucks can’t afford to have too many prospects wash out of the system

    “On the wings, we’ve got Brock.” That was Canucks GM Jim Benning after the trade deadline on Monday, expressing his excitement for the future of the franchise. He extolled their three young centres — Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Adam Gaudette — and talked about the young defencemen they’ll have coming in the near future, as well as Thatcher Demko in net. On the wings, however, he named just one player: Brock Boeser.

    Daniel WagnerMarch 1, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Brad Richardson scores four, Coyotes crush Canucks

    Of all people, I didn’t expect Brad Richardson to be the one to deal such a devastating blow to the Canucks’ playoff hopes. As a Canuck for two seasons, Richardson was a serviceable depth centre, who could kill penalties and occasionally fill in for an injury further up the lineup. It’s not that he’s the last person I would expect to score four goals in a game — he did have another hat trick previously in his career — but he was definitely pretty far down the list.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 28, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Jacob Markstrom held off the Avalanche as long as he could

    Jacob Markstrom may have posted a shutout in the Canucks’ last game, but his performance against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night was far more impressive. The shutout came against the hapless Anaheim Ducks, who were missing their leading scorer, Ryan Getzlaf. Markstrom was only called upon to make 29 saves and the bulk of the Ducks’ shots came from distance; when they did get a good scoring chances, they frequently missed the net. That’s not to take anything away from Markstrom’s performance — a shutout is a shutout, however it comes about — but it was, shall we say, a lesser shutout. The Avalanche, however, are an offensive powerhous

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 28, 2019

  • Adam Gaudette and Thatcher Demko won’t be available for the Utica Comets in the playoffs

    The NHL trade deadline wasn’t the only deadline on Monday: it was also the deadline for NHL teams to decide which of the players on their roster will be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs. In order for a player to be eligible for the AHL playoffs, they have to be on an AHL roster by the deadline of 12:00 Pacific, same as the trade deadline. This results in a plethora of paper transactions: players getting “papered down” to the AHL for the day, but never actually reporting to their AHL team.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 27, 2019

  • Jonathan Dahlen denies demanding trade, dials in on development

    Both of the Canucks’ trades on deadline day were unexpected, but for very different reasons. The Erik Gudbranson trade caught fans off guard because no one expected another team to be interested in acquiring Gudbranson given his struggles this season. The Jonathan Dahlen trade to the San Jose Sharks, however, was unexpected because the Canucks have few other prospect wingers in their system with top-six potential. In his post-deadline press conference, Canucks GM Jim Benning said that Dahlen’s agent had requested a trade. That brought one element of the trade into focus — why it happened at all — but questions still remained.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 27, 2019

  • I Watched This Game: Horvat tallies two as Markstrom shuts out the Ducks

    The Anaheim Ducks are bad. That’s not a particularly bold statement. After all, they’re second last in the Western Conference and have the worst goal-differential in the entire NHL. They average the fewest shots on goal in the NHL and give up the sixth-most shots on goal. The only thing keeping them alive this season has been a heroic effort by goaltender John Gibson, and he’s injured.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 26, 2019

  • Jonathan Dahlen requested trade, sent to San Jose Sharks for Linus Karlsson

    The Utica Comets saw a big influx of Canucks prospects this season and fans were eager to see how the Canucks’ promising young talent would perform in the AHL. It hasn’t gone according to plan. Olli Juolevi suffered a season-ending injury after a strong start. Petrus Palmu, after frequent healthy scratches and a reported lack of communication, went back to Finland for the rest of the season. Kole Lind missed time with an elbow injury and hasn’t produced much when he’s been in the lineup. The same is true for Jonah Gadjovich, who has struggled to adapt to the NHL game. To top it off, Jonathan Dahlen was traded on Monday to the San Jose Sharks for 19-year-old prospect Linus Karlsson.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 25, 2019

  • Vancouver Canucks trade Erik Gudbranson to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Tanner Pearson

    It was a quiet day for the Canucks all the way up to the trade deadline. No buying, no selling, no “hockey trades.” After the deadline passed, however, it came out that the Canucks did submit a couple trades in time. One involved a player that seemed untradeable: Erik Gudbranson, who the Canucks traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for winger Tanner Pearson.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 25, 2019

  • PITB's 2019 NHL Trade Deadline Day Open Thread Extravaganza!

    Trade deadlines under Jim Benning have been a source of disappointment for Canucks fans, with 2017 the one exception. That was the year Benning traded Jannik Hansen for Nikolay Goldobin and Alex Burrows for prospect Jonathan Dahlen, and those moves weren't even made on trade deadline day.

    Daniel WagnerFebruary 25, 2019