My Thoughts on the Canucks Offseason

Ramblings

So the Canucks have made quite a lot of significant moves this offseason.

I have followed along, analyzed, and thought about a lot of these moves. I unfortunately also had to listen to the fans who in typical Vancouver attitude bitched, whined, and trashed every move.

Let’s recap what happened:

-The Canucks get eliminated by the Calgary Flames in six games in the NHL quarter finals

Let me start off by saying the Canucks had a successful season all things aside. No one in Vancouver or on the NHL pundit side picked as high of a finish as fifth in the western conference WITH 101 points. They finished the year before with around 80 points and picked sixth overall. I don’t care what anyone says or how they did it, that is a success.

I thought they had a chance to make it to the second round since the Calgary Flames, no offense, were the worst squad to get into the postseason. At least in the western conference. What happens? Well, six games later, the Canucks lost. I won’t really get into the first four games where they went down three games to one. But they looked like they were getting their act together thereafter. Of course until the second period of game six where they forgot what defense was.

How do you go up 3-0 to losing 7-4? That can’t be on coaching. Willie can only do so much if his squad decides to stop playing defense or playing at all. No wonder Benning made huge decisions on the squad after this sham of a performance. There is completely no excuse, I don’t care where you are playing, to lose in that matter. You also can’t blame it on Ryan Miller. If you put a sad sack of losers who refuse to play defense in front of any goalie, and that goalie is coming off a good game plus an injury-esque season, the blame is not on him. The blame is on the leaders of the team and the defense.

-The 2015 NHL draft happens

So after the embarrassing game six and an early start to golfing season once again for the Canucks, the management team made no moves until after this draft occurred (or at least started).

The draft was by all means not that bad. Brock Boeser will be a future NHL player and looks like he has good character in the videos I’ve seen. Lots of people were saying this was a solid, shrewd pick. Craig Button who is an analyst on TSN was high on him. Who could we have drafted over him that was available and better at the 23rd spot? Pretty much no one. He is young and still playing in the US high school hockey league. But in four years, this may be a great pick.

Guillaume Brisebois with the third round pick we got in the Eddie Lack trade (I will talk about this next), looks like a good pick. Too bad he’s in a rough spot with the fans. They will ask for his head whenever he doesn’t perform well because “we got rid of Lack for him”. Typical Vancouver fans once again.

Dmitri Zhukenov was said to be a decent pick in the fourth round as well. Adam Gaudette from Boston College in the fifth round is a player many scouts are said to be high on.

Basically, we will have to wait four years to see how this draft went. But all the positive signs are there. I am a believer in Jim Benning’s ability to draft and develop. The 2014 NHL draft he had the year before was the best draft the Canucks have had in a while.

-Eddie Lack traded to Carolina Hurricanes for a third and seventh round pick

I knew this was going to happen. We were not getting rid of Ryan Miller since he is experienced and will handle the load next year unless he goes down to injury once again.

Therefore it’s a choice between Eddie Lack and Jakob Markstrom.

Let’s be logical here, Canucks fans.

Markstrom was once said to be the number one goalie prospect during his days in Florida. He had an MVP caliber season in Utica the last season in the AHL.

Eddie Lack has never had that potential. He was good in the AHL, no doubt, but not the clear cut best goalie like Markstrom was for Utica last year. And he’s never been talked up to possibly become on the better goalies in the league.

It was a tough decision but what had to be done.

The return? I’m not a fan. Brisebois who we draft in the third round is the wildcard. And Jim Benning is high on him. He has great character and became captain on a QMJHL team at a very young age.

I do believe Benning when he says Carolina will use Eddie Lack as a backup. Cam Ward has never lost the starting job while there. Lack will be a 1B to Ward’s 1A. Lack as a 1B behind Ryan Miller this year was alright. Not outstanding like the fans claim. He didn’t win games like Ryan Miller did. I don’t care about the stats or numbers quite frankly. Miller is ahead of him regardless.

So those are my thoughts on that. Good luck in Carolina, Eddie.

-Zack “unmotivated” Kassian and a fifth round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Brandon Prust

Let me start off by saying that this is a fantastic trade.

I don’t give a shit what people say.

Good riddance to you, Zack Kassian. You have to be delusional as an NHL fan if you think this guy will ever be an all star in the league.

Let me count the amount of coaches who have put this kid in their doghouse. I’ve lost count, quite honestly.

If you don’t give it your all in this league, you will have a path like him and fellow good friend Rene Bourque had. A career of being put in the doghouse of coaches and thrown onto the waiver wire.

You think Michelle Therrien will be all buddy-buddy with this guy and turn him into an all star? You belong in a mental institution. Willie Desjardins is one of the nicer coaches in the league to his players. He’s hard and intense, but if you think Therrien is a nicer guy on younger players, you have another thing coming. The guy demoted Alex Galchenyuk to the third and fourth lines on the Canadiens and Galchenyuk has ten fold more skill than Zack freaking Kassian.

Just mentioning Kassian’s name makes me angry. Whenever I read about Canucks fans discussing him on forums and talking up his potential, I don’t get what they are seeing.

Brandon Prust, welcome to the team buddy. I love the way this guy plays. No doubt he will give it his all here. The only problem is he may affect big Ron Kenins playing time. I am a Kenins fan as well. Hopefully these two challenge themselves and play well this year.

The way this trade happened? A waiver wire loser and a fifth round pick for great guy Brandon Prust.

Ignore the fans here, Prust. The true fans are happy Kassian is gone and you will be holding the fort on the fourth line with Dorsett.

-Kevin Bieksa traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick

An excellent trade for Jim Benning, almost a fleece.

The fact we got a somewhat high pick for the worst defenseman on the Canucks all season long is a great trade.

He also accepted the trade since the foolish Anaheim Ducks general manager will extend him. This guy was pure poison in the postseason for the Canucks. Worst player on the squad by a country mile.

He was to Sbisa like that bad kid in high school that you hung out with was to yourself. Your parents hated that bad kid and thought he was a bad influence. Bieksa was the same to Sbisa. He was so bad that Sbisa in turn was bad when they were paired together.

People forget that during the time Bieksa and Hamhuis both went down, Sbisa and Clendening actually played well. They did and I’m not lying. We won games during that injury riddled stretch.

Bieksa returned and the pairing with Sbisa was probably the worst I’ve seen since someone like Eric Weinrich played for the Canucks. The Flames must have scored every time in the series when those two were on the ice.

Let’s not slander Bieksa much though. He was an awesome leader, teammate, and citizen to the city of Vancouver during his time here. A great individual and a great player when we were an elite team in 2011.

I wish him well on the Ducks.

-The management team from the Gillis regime gets canned along with head trainer Mike Burnstein

Okay, this is the one move that took me off guard and was strange. But it sort of makes sense, all things aside.

This is essentially Benning and Linden declaring themselves as the new sherriff’s in charge and wanting to build the organization from the top down.

Gilman was a great assistant general manager but it was clear he had no role on the team anymore. Benning did not go to him before negotiating the Sbisa and Dorsett contracts. That is clear. I doubt Gilman would be advising him to pay that much to both. He’d also maybe want a classic Gillis no trade clause added in.

Lorne Henning was a strange move. He managed the AHL team apparently and they had a great season. I think Benning is taking it over more now as shown by the moves and prospect deals last year.

Eric Crawford I could see why he was let go. The drafting has been shit for years. But if he goes, Ronald Delorme should have gone too. Delorme and Benning did after all used to be team mates on the shitty Canucks squad in the late 1980s. So maybe that friendship still lingers. Crawford did have to go regardless. The scouting needs to be changed immensly. Gillis could not draft worth a damn during his time here. Neither could Dave Nonis.

Mike Burnstein was an odd move. I have no clue why he was let go. Could we speculate and say that maybe he handled the Brad Richardson and Zack Kassian injury situations poorly? Who knows.

Best of luck to them on their future endeavours, I guess.

-Matt Bartkowski free agent signing

A great signing. Love it.

If you hate this move, kiss my ass, Canucks fans. Really. This guy will be solid on the bottom pairing and fit in Willie’s high speed system like a glove fits a hand.

Welcome to Vancouver, Matt.

So there you have it, those are my thoughts. A successful offseason. Jimmy Benning will keep the good times rolling here and will give his middle finger to all the pundits who complain, riot, or whine about every little move.

The next time you complain, think logically Canucks fans. You deserve a team on par with the mid 2000 Edmonton Oilers if you are going to have that attitude.

Watching the 2015 Canucks summer summit video on Youtube where season ticket holders attended and asked the brass questions left me ashamed. The East Indian kid with male titties was among the worst. He should be banned from Rogers arena or following anything Canucks related.

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Bold Predictions for the 2014-2015 NHL Season

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The NHL season starts around the beginning of October and since the free agent frenzy has pretty much ended I have a few bold predictions for next season that go against “the norm”. In other words, predictions that are bold and go against the public. Here are a few I have:

1. The Vancouver Canucks make the playoffs.

Albeit I’m very biased towards them, I am willing to bet this happens. Everywhere I go people are counting them out saying how they are a tenth seed, etc. I have followed this off season. I followed last season. They sucked ass last season and a large portion of it was due to the goons known as John Tortorella and Mike Gillis. There is no way this team should have been playing a defensive dump and chase style. It doesn’t fit the team. Coach Tortorella is a goof who will never land a job in the NHL again (a not so bold prediction or opinion there either). Jim Benning has made some shrewd moves that I think will pay off. The jury is still out on his draft picks Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann. But signing Ryan Miller for a few years, good move. The pay is a bit steep but that’s the price you must pay for a decent goaltender. Miller looked bad in St. Louis especially in the postseason but that’s his only dark moment of his career so far. I’m willing to see if he has more to offer. Dealing Ryan Kesler was the best move they made. Nick Bonino is a great kid and plays the game hard. Outside of all these moves Jim Benning made in terms of player personnel, the biggest and the one I think will pay off was not made just by him but also president Trevor Linden: hiring Willie Desjardins. The guy has won at every level besides the NHL. He made the Texas Stars in the AHL a great team. He made the Dallas Stars have serious depth alone due to the way he coached the young kids on the Texas Stars. He also won multiple times in the WHL before. I have not heard a single bad word about him. Just great things. Look for him to turn the Vancouver Canucks around, be a well liked coach by the players, and have them become a winning franchise. No, I don’t think they will be Stanley Cup contenders or fighting for the presidents trophy. I also don’t think they will win the Pacific Division, that’s crazy. They will make the playoffs as a sixth-eighth seed. I am putting my mouth on the line here.

2. Pekka Rinne gets exposed as an over rated goaltender

I’m sorry Preds fans. I always hear people talk about him as if he is a top goaltender in the league, top three, etc. I’ve never seen it. He was a huge body in front of the net behind Ryan Suter and Shea Weber all those years. That’s why he looked really good. Take out coach Barry Trotz and his boring ass defensive system and replace him with offensive minded Peter Laviolette, look at people to start doubting Pekka Rinne as among the league’s best in net. This is a little bold and the term “over rated” seems to imply I think he sucks. I think he will still be good, just not in the top three as people typically have him in in their lists of best goaltenders in the NHL.

3. The Boston Bruins don’t repeat as regular season powerhouses this year

The Bruins have been a very successful franchise for years now in the NHL but I think they won’t repeat as president trophy champions or as a top team in the regular season. Just a weird feeling I have. Chara is getting old, he has been slowing down season after season. It is only a matter of time before he retires or fades away. He is a huge driving force behind the team. Without him, I don’t know. They got rid of top scorer Jarome Iginla and replaced him with…well…nothing really? I think this team should have kept him for another year, he fit well in the system. I say they are still a playoff team but finish no higher than third in the eastern conference. And then come playoff time, Tukkaa Rask gets exposed as a choker once again. The Flyers and Canadiens completely lit this guy up when his team had both series in a stranglehold. Definitely not worth the money they are paying him. Roberto Luongo got hated on as a Canuck, why is this guy excused?

4. The Montreal Canadiens don’t go on a huge playoff run again

Not sure if this is bold. I don’t think they have the same success as they did last year. Carey Price is a monster in net no doubt and they still look like a playoff team, but I think they got by last year in the playoffs playing a really gritty style that many teams typically don’t repeat. They had guys such as Dale Weise scoring clutch goals or Daniel Briere (who they got rid of). Leader Josh Gorges was dealt to the leagues worst Buffalo Sabres for scraps. I don’t see this team going as far in the playoffs as they did last year. I rooted them on, it was a great run, but let’s be realistic here.

5. The Anaheim Ducks do not make it far in the playoffs

Of course they make the season with Boudreau being head coach. That’s his bread and butter. I have no shame in admitting they may be a fifth to first rank team in the western conference. But come playoff time, they will lose, again, like Boudreau coach teams do. No way am I betting on this team to win the cup. I also would like to make the bold prediction that Ducks fans become disappointed with Ryan Kesler’s production and wish for Nick Bonino back. Seriously. He has not been good at all since Vancouver’s cup run and I am glad to get Sbisa and Bonino for him. Not joking or trolling. Gibson is young and a question mark. He’s said to be a phenom but this will be his first full year. I don’t know about giving him such a heavy task. Andersen is also a question mark as a 1B/backup goaltender. Look for the Ducks to be golfing by the semi finals and their fans complaining about Boudreau and Kesler.

6. The Kings, Blackhawks, or Penguins become Stanley Cup champions (again)

Okay, this is not very bold at all. This is with the norm. I think the Kings or Blackhawks are easily in line to take home another cup along with maybe the Penguins in the east. Mike Johnston as newly hired head coach of the Penguins should take them into the playoffs. The last time the Pens hired a head coach they destroyed the rest of the league. They were something like 18-3 before going into the playoffs with Bylsma. Mike Johnston may have the same success or it may backfire. The Kings and Blackhawks are still the premium teams of the west. The Blues, Sharks, and Ducks are all teams capable of doing well in the regular season but then shitting the bed in the playoffs. I don’t see either team passing the torch in the west this season unless they have injuries to key players.

GM Jim Benning Has Done a “Good” Job

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The keyword is in the quotes, good.

Not great, not bad, good.

Every time I read hockey forums people are quick to bash general manager Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks for his moves. Such as how he gave away 2nd/3rd pairing Jason Garrison for scraps. And not to forget he essentially got rid of Ryan Kesler for Nick Bonino and Derek Dorsett.

First off, Kesler for Bonino in a few years will look like a solid trade. When I watched the Anaheim Ducks play over the last year Bonino was a solid second/third liner who played a hard game and racked up more points than Ryan Kesler did. Kesler has been hurt and horrible ever since the cup run in 2011.

Hearing how Kesler wanted to leave Vancouver for a cup and handcuffed them into only accepting a trade to either Anaheim or Chicago speaks volumes. The fact Benning got a decent return for him is incredible. He was a waste of money. Good riddance to him. He won’t win a cup in Anaheim either with Bruce Boudreau as the man in charge. That guy is the worst playoff coach in the league next to Dan Bylsma and Alain Vigneault. They should be called the three stooges come playoff time.

After ranting about Kesler, Benning made a solid hire for his vacant coaching position. Willie Desjardins has a solid track record and has won everywhere outside of the NHL. He also plays a high tempo game, unlike coach Tortorella. He also wants to be here and did not accept an offer from Pittsburgh, again, unlike Tortorella who lived in freaking Point Roberts, Washington and as a result constantly canceled practices.

Then we have the Ryan Miller pickup for 6 million a year and Radim Vrbata for five. Those are a bit steep, but decent acquisitions. Eddie Lack is not ready to be the man in charge. In a few years he may be. Ryan Miller only failed in St. Louis and apparently the goalie coach was horrible while he was there (he got fired after the season ended).

Radim Vrbata has a decent track record on the Coyotes and the contract length is not long at all. If he sucks after his first year, well, there’s only a year left. And if he turns out good after his first year, the contract is a success.

And I really liked the Canucks selection at 6th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft of Jake Virtanen from Abbotsford. Just a good BC boy who looks tough as nails, is big, and can skate. If he pans out we will have a very solid tandem in the future with him and Horvat. Two good Canadian kids who aren’t afraid to throw their bodies around. A change from Mike Gillis drafting 5 foot tall figure skaters.

I’m excited about this season as a loyal Canucks fan and think these moves have been solid. The key was to getting rid of John Tortorella (one of the worst coaches I’ve ever seen in the NHL, not just his Canucks season but also his time on the Rangers) and Ryan “never will win a ring” Kesler. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks are neck and neck with Anaheim next season. Yeah I wouldn’t put my hopes up with the Canucks competing against the tough LA Kings but don’t be surprised if Anaheim looks silly picking up Kesler and getting rid of Bonino. Again, Kesler has not looked good for years.

Exhale Canucks fans.