June 19 2012 09:47AM
Well that's certainly odd.
The Canucks made some newsy noise yesterday by releasing their preseason schedule for this fall, and by qualifying several players we all expected them to qualify somewhat earlier than we expected them to be qualified. Neither event is worth it's own post, I figure, but I've got some spare thoughts to jot down about those happenings. So let's throw it all into our patented Canucks Army magic bullet and discuss what there is to discuss!
Fantasy Hockey: The Preseason Schedule
Vancouver's preseason schedule has been released, and it includes seven games, all of them against teams who would have been Conference Rivals had the NHLPA not vetoed realignment (to the consternation of the Canucks front-office). Here's a screen shot of the schedule from the Canucks.nhl.com press release:
The most important part of that screen shot is the little star point at the bottom warning that: "all start times... may be subject to change." Subject to change as in, none of these games may even occur. The current CBA expires nine days prior to the annual, annoying, preseason-opening concurrent double-header against the Flames and it's possible (probable?) that the NHLPA will be locked out.
It's nice to look forward to October, but, there's an awful lot of uncertainty this summer. Most people expect the NHL to miss at least a bit of time as a result of a lockout, and the Canucks have already taken steps to prepare for this by canceling the Penticton Young Stars tournament that had become an annual September tradition.
So the above games, beyond being dull preseason tilts in which the Canucks will probably dress mostly banged up, soon to be cut veterans on PTO contracts, are pure George R.R. Martin (by which, I mean fantasy). Basically it's fantasy hockey, and not the type you read about on Dobber and play at Yahoo, this type of fantasy hockey features: Narnia, Quidditch, a Canucks Franchise Defenseman, Chrysalids, Ents and the 2012 Preseason.
Valuable Assets Receive Qualifying Offers
Yesterday it was reported (first by the News 1130 sports Twitter feed) that the Canucks gave qualifying offers to two goaltenders in Cory Schneider and Eddie Lack and to promising, if quizzically unpopular fourth-liner Dale Weise. They sent these qualifying offers out early, well before the deadline, so as to be extra, double, super sure that they didn't miss it. Sending out qualifying offers before the deadline to do so? That sort of thing leaves one former Canucks draft pick puzzled:
Anyway, qualifying Cory Schneider and Eddie Lack is beyond unsurprising. Between the two of them, they're the future in net for Vancouver's club.
Qualifying Dale Weise is similarly unsurprising - he quietly had a very effective rookie season and is, unbeknownst to many Canucks fans, a prototypical Alain Vigneault fourth liner. He's basically the forward version of Aaron Rome, as I wrote towards the end of last season:
That Dale Weise has started 80% of his shifts in the defensive end, and finished nearly 50% of his shifts in the offensive end, is a testament to his ability to move the puck forward. Weise's presence on the ice this season has also had a cooler effect, as he's successfully sucked the offense out of the game at both ends of the ice. When you're a fourth line forward, playing difficult minutes, that's really valuable. Weise has the lowest goals/against per sixty rate of any Canucks regular this season, and when you consider the minutes he's played and his deployment - that's pretty impressive.
[Weise's] ability to move play forward and make the sort of good on-ice decisions that prevent goals against is very useful for a fourth line winger. It's not the sort of skill that fans often appreciate, but it is the sort of skill the Canucks' head-coach most certainly does.
I still maintain that Dale Weise has some top-9 potential, he flashed a lot of offensive game during his seasons in the AHL, and he'll only turn 24 this summer...
With Lack, Schneider, Weise and, functionally, Mason Raymond all qualified - that leaves four potential restricted free-agents whom the team has yet to protect: Marc-Andre Gragnani, Mike Duco, Ryan Parent and Victor Oreskovich.
Of those four, I'd be stunned if Marc-Andre Gragnani was allowed to hit the open market, especially after all of the energy the Canucks spent getting him into enough games down the stretch so that he'd qualify for restricted free agency. I'd be equally surprised if Parent or Oreskovich were qualified. Parent's struggles are well documented, while Oreskovich has pretty clearly worn out his welcome within the organization.
That leaves firebrand winger Mike Duco who is easily the most interesting case. Duco is undersized, but he's a potential jerk-puck ace, with a lovely habit of infuriating the opposition. He was a good warrior this past season, with both the Wolves and in limited duty with the big club, so I'd expect him to be qualified. That said, I'm not convinced that the team sees him as an everyday NHLer, so I wouldn't be totally shocked if he were allowed to hit the open market.
I'd be sad about it though, because Duco rules. I totally believe that if he's given a regular role with the team, he could potentially draw 10 to 15 penalties over an 82 game season. Assuming the Canucks power-play capitalizes at a 22% clip next season, 15 drawn penalties would be worth 3.3 goals, and a million bucks against the cap.