Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
There are simply too many assets in Vancouver for the Canucks to drop to the bottom of the league the way an Edmonton or Buffalo has. But if they don’t use those assets to get younger — the way Benning turned Kesler into Bonino (26), Luca Sbisa (24), Dorsett (27) and centre Jared McCann at the draft — they’ll hit the same cliff Edmonton and Calgary have fallen off.
This Canucks team will legitimately push for the playoffs, but if we know Benning — and we’ve been, ahem, right about him thus far — he may forego another first-round exit to maximize a couple of veteran assets at the trade deadline.
When you have a blueline that includes Edler (28), Kevin Bieksa (33), and Dan Hamhuis (32 in December), you’ve got options. One of those defencemen may be worth a first-round pick and a legit prospect at the trade deadline, a time when a guy as smart as Benning with a defenceman as valuable as Bieksa can be a lethal combination.
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
Dollar signs and a starting role sold Ryan Miller on plunging head first into the Vancouver fishbowl.
A suitable contract with sufficient term, style of play and projected linemates would determine whether unrestricted free agent Radim Vrbata would choose the Canucks or other serious suitors like the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes, who made an effort to re-sign the winger.
He chose Vancouver.
Vrbata received a two-year, $10-million-US deal from the Canucks on Wednesday night — $4 million and a $1-million bonus annually plus a limited no-trade clause — and it’s a win-win situation. The player gets a boost from his expiring $3-million deal and the Canucks get the bridge contract they needed so younger wingers like Hunter Shinkaruk and Jake Virtanen can develop and eventually transition into the lineup. Vrbata’s agent, Rich Evans of Surrey, said he had another offer for longer term, but too much added up to the right fit here.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
Now with Luongo, Jacob Markstrom, Eddie Lack and Miller all on the payroll, the Canucks are set to spend $9.15 million on goalies next season.
Some things never change.
Miller does have comfort with Jim Benning, who drafted him.
It won’t be easy in Van City. Especially when his backup is set to be the impossible-to-dislike Eddie Lack, who was handed Roberto Luongo’s job last season and did just fine as a rookie as John Tortorella power-drilled him into the ice.
The inevitable goalie controversy isn’t an if, it’s a when.
Miller, however, must have had some extensive briefs already on what he’s getting himself into. His agent, Mike Liut, also represented Cory Schneider and understands better than most who live outside this city the challenges of playing net here.
It’s not easy and Liut knows it.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Is Miller the answer? He couldn’t help the St. Louis Blues get out of the opening playoff round against the Chicago Blackhawks. Miller actually had a better time of it at the start of the season, playing for the Buffalo Sabres, where he put up a .923 save percentage on a 15-22-3 record and a 2.72 GAA – decent numbers considering he was playing for the worst team in the league.
In St. Louis, considered one of the most defensively sound clubs, his save percentage dipped to .903, with a 2.47 GAA and a 10-8-1 record. But the Canucks needed more depth between the pipes, where Eddie Lack had a decent season for them (16-17-5, 2.41 GAA, .912) but probably wasn’t experienced enough to be a No. 1 goalie, with only Jacob Markstrom in reserve. So Miller, who was seeking a chance to play on a West Coast team, will get a chance to get his career back on the rails.
The new general manager in Vancouver, Jim Benning, began his front-office career, working nine seasons for the Sabres (1995-2004), which coincided with Miller’s draft year, 1999. So he was there at the beginning with Miller, through the three years at Michigan State and three more years developing with their AHL affiliate in Rochester. For most of Miller’s pro career, which included a Vezina Trophy in 2010, Benning worked for their divisional rivals, the Boston Bruins.
Presumably, Benning was satisfied that Miller, who will turn 34 on July 17, still has a number of good years left.
Nick Kypreos reports Ryan Miller signs with Vancouver.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
When Ryan Miller was spotted at the Vancouver International Airport on Sunday, it really put into perspective the soap opera the Canucks have been for the past year.
Especially when it comes to the men between the pipes.
Had you taken a look at the Canucks roster exactly one year prior to Miller’s Sunday arrival on the left coast, you would have seen the names of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo under the heading of “Goaltenders.”
Ask any Canucks fan if he/she could have guessed at that time that Vancouver 12 months later would be wooing Miller because goal was a position of need, they likely would be shaking their heads no.
A goalie? That was the least of Vancouver’s issues at the time.
My, what a difference a year makes.
continued and more hockey topics...
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
After going supervillain on that once-preciouse core, tearing out a chunk of the Canucks roster with the Kesler and Jason Garrison deals, Trader Jim Benning proclaimed he has no intentions to be “careful” as he turns toward finding the tools the Canucks are going to need to actually score some goals next year.
As it stands now, they have only two locks as top-six forwards, Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
“Some of the things we’ve done (in Philadelphia) is supply depth to our organization. Now, we want to sign guys who can make an impact,” Benning said. “We’ve cleared out money and we can be active. That’s what we wanted — so that in free agency, if we see something we want to do, we can now do it.”
“We are going to go after pieces that we think can make the team better.
Could one of those pieces be a starting goalie, say Ryan Miller?
“It could be,” Benning said. “He could be the guy.
“We want to make the playoffs next year. Our goal is to make the playoffs every year and develop young players in a winning environment.
“That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
from Rhiannon Coppin of CBC,
Gino Odjick surprised and delighted hundreds of fans by making an appearance at the rally held in his honour outside Vancouver General Hospital Sunday.
The Former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Gino Odjick has a rare terminal illness affecting his heart, and doctors say he may have as little as a few weeks to live.
"I really appreciate you guys coming. It means a lot to me," he told members of the crowd gathered near the front entrance to the hospital.
"It's pretty amazing," he said, as more fans, gathered across the street, cheered. "I'm a little bit overwhelmed, and really touched."
Below, watch as Odjick meets with the people at the rally...
Jim Benning, GM of the Vancouver Canucks, talks with the guys from Sportsnet and discussed their draft and plans for free agency among other topics.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
As for the Kesler trade, the more we think about it, the more we like it for Vancouver. There are a lot of hard miles on Kesler, who may never again be the guy who dominated Nashville and San Jose, then limped through the rest of that Stanley Cup Final in 2011 like the consummate thoroughbred. Surgical procedures have robbed Kesler of the ability to be that guy anymore — at least for prolonged stretches — and perhaps his medical file is the primary reason for a return from the Ducks that came in a tad short of what many of us expected.
And we forget that a player of Kesler’s experience has a long track record, which in this player’s case would hurt the Canucks’ position almost as much as his short list of destinations did.
Here’s the deal: Kesler wasn’t well liked by many of his teammates, and Anaheim GM Bob Murray’s intelligence would have taught him that. We’re willing to say that on the record, even though NHL players do not go on the record with confirmation of something like that.
The guy is prickly, and by my contacts within the Canucks organization, that attitude went well beyond his dealings with media and stretched to team employees, few of whom will be sad to see this transaction finally get made.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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