Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Canucks trade Nick Bonino for Brandon Sutter, throw in Adam Clendening for kicks

Canucks fans have had to cope with the loss of several fan favourites this season, so it was nice change of pace when the team announced on Tuesday that they had traded Nick Bonino instead.

Save for two weeks in late October, when we entertained the idea that he was better than Ryan Kesler, the man he replaced, Nick Bonino didn't accomplish much in his time in Vancouver. And in the playoffs, he was arguably Vancouver's least effective player. It was enough to wish that Jim Benning had a do-over on the deal.

Benning must have felt the same way, which is why Bonino is outbound, and centre Brandon Sutter, now formerly of the Pittsburgh Crosbies, is the newest Canuck. Sutter was, you may recall, the centrepiece of a collapsed trade deadline deal that would have sent Ryan Kesler to the Penguins.

But, alas, time travel comes at a cost. Doc Brown warned us about paradoxes; Trader Jim didn't listen. The full deal sends Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a second-round draft pick to Pittsburgh for Sutter and a third-round pick.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Canucks 2015 prospect development camp invitees: goaltenders

The Canucks' goaltending depth took a hit this off-season, as they traded Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes and chose not to qualify RFA Joacim Eriksson after he signed in the KHL. Meanwhile, goaltender of the future Thatcher Demko will head back to Boston College in the Fall and is at least two years away from competing for a job in the NHL.

Though the Canucks still have Joe Cannata and signed journeyman Richard Bachman to compete for starts in the AHL, they could still use another goaltender to start in the ECHL and step up to the AHL in case of injury.

That makes the goaltenders the most interesting group of invitees. There's a real need for another goaltender in the system and these invitees represent a cheap and easy way to plug that hole.

This is the final instalment of invitee profiles, having already covered the forwards and defencemen. Here are the four free agent goaltenders invited to development camp: Matt Ginn, John McLean, Jackson Whistle, and Clay Witt.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Canucks 2015 prospect development camp invitees: forwards

PITB's annual look at the invitees to the Canucks' development camp continues. Yesterday, we looked at the defence; today, it's the forwards.

Once again, there are two 21-year-olds from the NCAA -- Matthew Lane and John Stevens -- and a teenager from the CHL, this time a 19-year-old from the WHL: Reid Gardiner.

Thatcher Demko gives the Canucks another goofy goaltender

Eddie Lack was a fan favourite in Vancouver for a few reasons. His on-ice play had a lot to do with it: he twice came into difficult situations to be the team's starting goaltender and performed remarkably well.

But where Lack will be missed the most is off the ice. Lack is an entertaining personality and a great person: his cheerful smile masked his competitive nature. His calm demeanour seemed ideal for a tough market like Vancouver. Then there was his oddball goofiness: the side of him that would put Swedish Chef on his goalie mask, tweet emoji-filled overtures to Roberto Luongo, and do a silly dance after every win.

Lack is a big loss for Canucks fans on the entertainment front, but there is some good news. There's another goofy goaltender on his way to Vancouver: Thatcher Demko.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Canucks 2015 prospect development camp invitees: defence

The Canucks 2015 development camp is in full swing, which means it's time for PITB's annual look at this year's invitees.

Let's start with the defence, featuring two 21-year-olds out of the NCAA and an 18-year-old out of the OHL: Matthew Caito, Rob Hamilton, and Justin Lemcke.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Spitballin' on house-selling Daniel Sedin, journeyman Blair Jones, and helpful Brandon Prust

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass ITBulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.


Canucks prospects drag a bus, Perry Pearn tortures a metaphor

The Canucks released the first video of the prospects in action at this year's development camp and it's a combination of fun and cringe-inducing.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Canucks begin 2015 development camp, featuring fewer invitees

The Canucks kick off their 2015 prospect development camp today in Shawnigan Lake, with 29 players scheduled to attend, including all of their selections from the 2015 draft. Over the next week, the prospects will go through various on-ice and off-ice training sessions designed to introduce or reinforce what it takes to play professional hockey in the Canucks system and send players away with a plan for the off-season.

Most of the players attending the camp are Canucks draft picks or free agent signings, with the rest of the camp roster filled out with undrafted and unsigned free agents. These invitees are a cheap way to add to a team's prospect pool as there is no cost in assets to invitee them or even to sign them afterwards. A team like the Canucks that has (in principle) money to spend shouldn't hesitate to cast a wide net by inviting a large number of free agents in hopes that a diamond emerges from the rough.

This year, however, the Canucks have invited just 10 undrafted and unsigned free agents to their development camp, a lower number than in previous years.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Canucks re-fire Gillis by proxy, firing Gilman, Henning, and Crawford

In retrospect, my reaction to the Zack Kassian trade may have been over-the-top. My take was tinged by how much I like Kassian, who is an odd, if troubled, character. I felt like he got a raw deal last season, getting scratched when it was undeserved, which ultimately submarined any trade value he might have had. I didn't take into account Kassian's back injury or whatever off-ice issues he might have, because when he was healthy and on the ice he was an effective player, just not always effective in the way the Canucks wanted him to be.

Having been up since 6:30 am with two sick kids might have also played a role.

I still don't like the trade, but I can accept at least some of the reasoning behind it. It feels like the wrong move to make even if Kassian had to go, but maybe Benning is right and Kassian will never reach his potential. The trade could very well be just a minor move with little impact.

Today, however, the Canucks made a move that could be far more damaging to the team's future, sweeping the front office clean of the remains of the Mike Gillis era, firing Assistant GMs Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning, and Director of Player Personnel Eric Crawford.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Recapping the Canucks' first day of 2015 free agency

I'm not going to lie, I wasn't planning on spending my Canada Day inside watching TSN's 47 different panels break down the Phil Kessel trade and pay lip service to everything else. Not only are we no longer with the Vancouver Sun, the Canucks weren't expected to be particularly active in free agency, preferring to look for bargains, which are generally found later in the summer.

But then my boys came down with a contagious virus, scuttling any plans to go out to Canada Day celebrations. So I was stuck inside for the day, flipped on TSN, signed in to Twitter, and got swept up in the wackiness of free agent frenzy.

Now, what was once a liveblog is now a recap. Follow along with me as I experience the ups and downs of Jim Benning's second go-around at free agency.

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