May 25 2015 01:19PM
Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
British Columbian hockey fans get very attached to NHL players from Canada's westernmost Province, and take particular pride in the Province's habit of churning out the best defenseman in the country.
Vancouver hockey fans, meanwhile, have a particular attachment to former Vancouver Giants players. From Evander Kane, to Milan Lucic, to Brendan Gallagher, to Lance Bouma - every time the Vancouver Canucks miss out on landing a former Giant, the rallying cry of 'moar giants!" can be hearding echoing from the mountain tops all along the sea-to-sky highway.
In pending unrestricted free agent Cody Franson, you have the perfect storm. The 27-year-old right handed defenseman hails from the interior and played his junior hockey with the Giants. He excels on the power play and he could be had in free agency. The Canucks have a mild cap crunch situation on their hands though, and a glut of blue-line assets that would presumably serve to make acquiring Franson prohibitive. On the other hand, he seems to be interested in coming home, for whatever that's worth.
May 25 2015 11:27AM
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports
In his first year as the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, Jim Benning learned a crucial lesson about the importance of defensive depth in the Western Conference.
"We’ll start with eight defencemen, but we want to have 11 D capable of playing in the NHL," Benning told Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province. "That’s something I learned this year from being in the West. The travel wears the team down a bit and it seems to take a toll on your defence."
It's an interesting statement, and for a variety of reasons. Let's unpack this on the other side of the jump.
May 23 2015 02:46PM
After another series going the distance, the Comets managed a game-7 win to advance to the third round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The Comets first ever game-7 saw Jacob Markstrom out-duel the Oklahoma City Barons goaltender Richard Bachman, while Alexandre Grenier, the Canucks next power-forward, emerged from the game a hero.
Moving on to the Calder Cup Conference final, Utica's opponents are only looking to become tougher and tougher. In this round, the Comets will be facing the Grand Rapids Griffins (affiliates of the Detroit Red Wings). To see how the two teams stack up, continue past the jump.
May 22 2015 04:06PM
This week, Rhys and Garret ask if Mike Babcock is really worth his $6+ million annual salary, look at Canada's dominance on the world hockey stage, examine Tyler Johnson's unlikely ascension from marginal junior player to NHL playoff hero, and of course do some good ol' fashioned prospecting. Join us past the jump to listen!
May 22 2015 11:55AM
In this series, I've contemplated how the Canucks could achieve their "rebuild on the fly" goal of winning now while incrementally moving towards becoming a contender again.
In the first part of the series, I argued that the Canucks should look to move Chris Higgins, the rights to Shawn Matthias, and 2016 UFA's Radim Vrbata, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis in exchange for draft picks and cap space. In my second and third parts, I suggested forward and defense UFA targets that are worth a look in the efforts of keeping the team reasonably competitive while the rebuild happens through the draft and prospect development.
In terms of the upcoming 2015 draft, I profiled Nick Merkley, Evgeni Svechnikov, Daniel Sprong, Filip Chlapik, Jansen Harkins, Michael Spacek and Anthony Beauvillier as potential first round selections. Using the PCS% system I discussed here.
Now we'll get into players the Canucks should target in later rounds of the draft after the jump.