Zack Kassian is about to enter a maelstrom of media and fan attention the likes of which he will never have experienced or believed. Vancouver is hockey mad and the Canucks have fans across the globe (me included). He would be scrutinised and studied and criticised no matter what, but given the way he has been brought to the Canucks, it’s all going to hit the upper echelon of craziness.
If Kassian does not perform he will be crucified. If he doesn’t perform and Cody flourishes, Mike Gillis will be crucified alongside him. If the Canucks don’t win the Cup this year, he’ll probably be blamed for it.
To succeed and be a fan favourite he has to bring scoring and grit. He simply has to come as advertised because the fans won’t accept another Bernier. He had better bring his ‘a game’.
Basically, he’s just got to do more of this. Here’s a few highlights of Zack Kassian’s short NHL career.
Kassian’s first NHL goal:
Kassian shows nice hands with a backhand pass to Leino for a pretty goal
Kassian takes on Sestito and holds himself well against the bigger tough guy
Bring the pain KASSASSIN!
I really like Cody Hodgson as a player (and he seems like a good guy too – just adorable). So to say goodbye, here are just a few of his highlights playing for the Vancouver Canucks. Good luck in Buffalo kid.
Cody Hodgson’s first NHL goal 2nd Feb. 2011 vs Phoenix
That slapshot vs Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings
That slapshot vs Tim Thomas and the big bad Bruins
Some folks are bemoaning a boring trade deadline day. Obviously those folks are not fans of the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabers or Nashville Predators. Jebus what a crazy day. Here’s my take on some of the more interesting trades to go down on the trade deadline day 2012.
Nashville Predators acquire Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal Canadiens for a 2013 2nd round pick & condition 2013 5th round pick
The first sign today that Nashville are going for it. They already have stellar goaltending and a super beefy defence but they need scoring. Who better to go for that Sergei Kostitsyn‘s older brother Andrei? Ahh… Yeah. Maybe? We’ve seen this show before. The Kostitsyn brothers are not the Belorusian answer to the Sedins. That said, the Preds have made something out of Sergei. He’s playing much better in Nashville than he ever did in Montreal and I suspect David Poile and Barry Trotz think they can invigorate Andrei’s game in a similar way. He doesn’t bring Rick Nash level talent to Nashville’s top 6, not by a long shot, but look out for Andrei to pot some timely goals come playoff time.
Nashville Predators acquire Paul Gaustad & 2013 4th round pick from Buffalo Sabers for 2012 1st round pick
So, not ready to call it a day, Nashville give up a 1st round draft pick for Paul Gaustad. If that was the asking price for a defensive centre like Gaustad no wonder the Canucks traded for Sami Pahlsson (see below). Gaustad is big (6’5″ 212lb) and from what I’ve seen of him, plays defense first. I don’t really understand the Predator’s need for a player like him given the existing make up of the team, except to say that they must be really keen to beat the living crap out of the Canucks in the playoffs this year.
Vancouver Canucks acquire Samuel Pahlsson from Columbus Blue Jackets for 2 2012 4th round pick (one from the Islanders) and prospect Taylor Ellington
In retrospect, this should have been the harbinger of doom for Cody Hodgson fans in Vancouver. Instead, it spawned blog posts like this one. I mean really, another centre? We should have seen the writing on the wall. Anyway, enough Hodgson (for now). I have a theory on the Pahlsson trade. The Canucks wanted to trade for him so that no other team could acquire him and then play him shift after shift against the Sedins in the playoffs. Pahlsson trained with the Sedins in the off season before his 2007 Stanley Cup winning season with Anaheim (he also played with them years earlier for MODO Hockey in Sweden). In the playoffs that fateful year the Canucks came up against the Ducks in the 2nd round and Pahlsson completely shut them down, almost single handedly. He went on to finish the playoffs 3-9-12, +10 and with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger. Many people considered him to be one of the most important reasons for the Ducks’ success that year. Since then Pahlsson’s value has dropped significantly after so-so outings with the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets. With Hodgson gone I can see Pahlsson sliding into the 3rd line centre role and the Canucks will be hoping that he can regain his 2007 playoff form this year.
I know technically these were 2 separate trades but I can’t help but believe they are intrinsically linked. You don’t just trade Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian straight up. You just don’t. To me, these 2 trades actually equal Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.
This was the big daddy of trades this year. The one that shocked everyone, from the fans to other GM’s to the players themselves. It came so late that the trade was announced quite a while after the deadline had passed. The press and fans were so keen for something exciting, something bold, that the second there was even an inkling of Hodgson getting traded, Twitter almost exploded. News got out so fast that Chris Tanev read it on his phone while he and Hodgson were out walking, even before Mike Gillis could get to the phone to tell Hodgson himself.
Hodgson is in the running for the Calder this year. He’s proven himself at the NHL level. Kassian has not. He’s only posted 7 points in 27 games with the Sabres this year. But Kassian is a big boy, plays a really gritty game from the right wing and has put up decent offensive numbers in lower levels of the game (77 points in 56 games for Windor in the OHL in 2010-2011). He could be the second coming of Milan Lucic. He could also be the second coming of Steve Bernier. Gulp. But I think not. Kassian to me is blue chip, the real deal, and if not this year then in years to come he will be a beast next to Kesler or the Sedins.
Gragnani is the dark horse in this deal. I truly believe Mike Gillis has been looking hard at this guy for a while. There’s mixed reports out there about him and I’ve personally never seen him play, but +10 on a shitty Sabres team this year has to mean something. All I hope from him is that he fills in nicely for Ballard and somehow helps to reduce Salo’s ice time down the stretch.
Hodgson meanwhile gets to move back east, much closer to home and (probably) will get top 6 time on a team that will give him every chance to be their franchise cornerstone. I think Cody will flourish with Buffalo and in years to come will be a great captain for them.
Most laughable trade of the day has to go to the Rangers and Blackhawks:
New York Rangers acquire John Scott from Chicago Blackhawks for a 2012 5th round pick
John Scott is the absolute true definition of a pylon. Not only can you skate around him like he was one, but he’s so big you could probably use him as a pylon. Not often you can say a team overpaid for a player by giving up a 5th round pick, but the Rangers certainly did here. I hope for the Rangers’ sake they never have to play him this year.
When I wake up in the morning it’s around noon on the west coast of Canada. A lot happens between the crack of dawn on the east coast and my getting up, so during my summer months (ie. hockey season) I like to get up, make myself a strong coffee and sit down to read my hockey news list on Twitter (@wayneinjindy is my alter ego, “personal” account).
This morning I slept in a little (hey, it’s Sunday here!) so by the time I had my coffee and sat down to get my fill of hockey news a fair bit had happened on the Canucks front:
- Jimmy Howard said this of the Canucks “They’ve got a bunch of idiots over there”. Ouch. I’ll leave that for better people like Pass It To Bulis to deal with that one. I’ll just call Jimmy Howard names back
- The Canucks have placed Keith Ballard on LTIR, giving them around $4.6 million in cap space (according to Cap Geek)
- Immediately this led to rumours surrounding a potential trade between Vancouver and the Dallas Stars, with the name Steve Ott being said loud and clear. Interestingly, the Canucks and Stars face off in Dallas on Sunday
So there’s a few things to consider here.
Keith Ballard was first taken out of the lineup before the February 9th game against the Minnesota Wild (his “home team”). That was exactly 10 games before the trade deadline. A player has to be out 10 games before the deadline to be placed on LTIR to have his salary against the cap removed.
It’s not a mystery why some analysts and hockey writers jumped on that fact and became very suspicious. Perhaps I’m naive, but I don’t view this as suspicious. I think the hockey gods are staring down on the Canucks.
This might sound harsh, especially if Ballard is in fact concussed or has a serious neck injury. I don’t wish harm on anyone . But you have to face facts. FACT – Ballard has never fit with the Canucks. FACT – His $4.2 million salary is a big chunk of the cap, especially for a player getting 3rd pairing minutes and not doing much with them.
Canucks GM Mike Gillis must surely have been trying to move him before the deadline. The injury a couple of weeks ago would have raised alarm bells, not just because of Ballard’s long term health, but because it could not have happened at a worse time. Trading a player with a long term injury is tricky stuff and also not such a nice thing to do. For the Canucks sake, they must have been hoping that Ballard had a speedy recovery or at worst, that he would be out for a couple of months.
Well, looks like he is out for a couple of months, which takes him out of the roster and frees up a large amount of cap space that I am sure the Canucks will want to use for something. It’s bad luck for Keith Ballard but it’s good luck for the Vancouver Canucks. The kind of good luck that happens to teams that go on to win the Stanley Cup.
So what to do with that $4.6 million in cap space? Thanks mostly to Bob McKenzie Canucks fans are looking in the direction of Dallas to see who can be added to their roster. Steve Ott’s name came up straight away. Ott is a former 20 goal scorer, is gritty as hell (117 PIMs this season, good for 5th in the NHL) and is a hell of a faceoff man for a winger – running at 57.3% this season. He could slide in with Kesler and Booth, or play on the 3rd line and clear all kinds of room for Hodgson to work his magic (not to mention winning faceoffs for him). He’s 10-19-29 and a +4 so far this season, so he hasn’t lost his offensive ability either.
But Ott is hated. He’s an elite agitator and rumour has it amongst NHL players he is considered in the same league as Burrows, Lapierre and Kesler. Just take a look at his run in with Flyers coach Peter Laviolette:
I think he’ll fit right in on the Canucks team, and after I read his thoughts on playing in Vancouver, I was convinced he belongs in Vancouver:
“Yeah I’m an asshole, sure. But am I Canucks-grade asshole? Not sure.”
Oh man, he belongs there!
EDIT This wasn’t a real quote. I wish so much that it was though.
But there is another player on the Stars that I think would be an even better fit for the Canucks. He is a defensemen and his name is Stephane Robidas.
He’s right handed. He can play on the powerplay. He can kill penalties. He is 4-14-18 and even so far this season. In 18 playoff games he is 3-8-11. In 780 career NHL games he is 49-175-224 and +1.
He could slide in with Edler, take the big minutes and allow Salo to play with Rome on the 3rd pairing. All of a sudden the Canucks defensive corps looks that much better. If I am Mike Gillis, Stephane Robidas is the guy I’m looking to trade for.
And the best part? Word has it Mike Gillis and Joe Nieuwendyk talk regularly.
Evgeni Malkin is end to end rushing his way to the Hart Trophy this year. After 54 games this year he’s posted numbers of 36-41-77, is a +12 and is the NHL leader in points, 4 clear of Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who probably watched this goal happen right in front of him and thought “If only the Penguins D were so soft with me”
A beautiful goal, sure, but if the Lightning D had played that even half effectively, that goal doesn’t happen. For the kids out there it goes to show – take the puck to the net, good things will happen.
Fox Sports Live
Greg Clark, Greg Martin, Phil Kearns, Rod Kafer
Rod Kafer’s declaration of having eaten “200,000 pies while in Canberra”. Kafer kept up the foody talk later in the game, claiming that his diet of “lots of salt & vinegar chips” kept cramps away.
Now Onto The Game:
Exactly what you would expect from Bryce Lawrence. By the end of the game the Brumbies fans were hating him as much as the South African fans. He missed an obvious knock on late in the game and called penalty after penalty throughout. Perhaps he was keen to give Nic White and James Stannard practice – they definitely need it.
Brumbies 19 Force 17
Tries – J Mogg, R. Coleman
Pen – N White 3
Tries – J Stannard
Pen – J Stannard 4
The Brumbies choice of pre-kick off music is brilliant – “Lux Aeterna” by Clint Mansell from the Requiem For A Dream score. That’s enough to fire anyone up to steal the ball in rucks like they were stealing their mother’s TV.
A not so inspired choice is to play a brumby “neighing” when they kick off. It sounds like a recording from a glue factory.
Canberra Stadium has erected a giant McDonald’s M at the southern end of the ground. Perhaps it’s there as motivation for Ita Vaea, or perhaps it helps to get him running in the right direction.
Those electronic advertising boards flashed and scrolled harder than Sonic the Hedgehog. This game should have came with an epilepsy warning.
It was also very nice of the Brumbies fans that actually attended the game to be so quiet that we could hear every word said on the ground on the broadcast. The highlight for me was when Nic White was attempting another penalty shot from the sideline and you could hear one angry fan screaming “You get bonus points for scoring tries, y’know!”
These were few and far between in what was quite obviously the first game of the season for these sides. Scratchy game all round.
The first half was mostly a kicking duel between Nic White and James Stannard. Unfortunately these guys are not Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter. Stannard kicked an easy one right in front to open the scoring, then a minute later White potted an easy one to even the scoring. The kicking highlight of the night was White’s 53m penalty kick that soared over the black dot. It was a huge kick. After that things went downhill on the kicking front.
It was a kicking duel only because the discipline from these sides was terrible and Bryce Lawrence being Bryce Lawrence, was more than happy to call them every single time. Penalties were 7-6 to the Brumbies at the 34 minute mark. Principal Strickland was yelling slacker so much he fell of his porch.
Moore’s first line out throw of the season was more crooked than his nose. He really has to stop using that shnoz as a guide.
Nathan Charles’ first thrown in wasn’t much better, but for whatever reason it wasn’t called.
The first try of the game came from a great short pass by Matt Toomua off a 5 metre scrum. He did the Gregan shuffle 2 steps to the right and fired it right onto the chest of Jesse Mogg who blasted through a gap wider than Northbourne Avenue.
Shockingly, White missed the conversion from an absolute pisscutter of a position. He hooked it further than I do off the 1st tee at Thredbo. Fortunately for the ball boys it didn’t end up in a river though, unlike my ball.
Stannard scored every point for the Force, including a nice try on an open wing in the second half. This brought the score to 19-17 and if he had been able to convert his own try the last 20 minutes of the game might actually have been interesting.
The crowd got overly excited when either team ran with the ball for more than 5 metres. The key to getting fans back into Canberra Stadium? Run with the ball, score tries. Unfortunately this game was so dull that the Canberra Raiders have a fair chance of stealing fans back this year based on this game alone.