June 16 2012 08:15AM
The NHL Draft is only 6 days away, and for the Canucks there's a lot of uncertainty, especially in goal. One thing that is certain, however, is that Luongo is the best goaltender in franchise history and it's not even close. We've put together an infographic to convey Luongo's dominance over his six seasons in the Canucks net, so click past the jump to check it out!
June 15 2012 02:30PM
NHL announces "retirement" of referee Stephane Auger after 12 yrs and one major blowup with Alexandre Burrows. More to this than meets eye.— David Shoalts (@dshoalts) June 15, 2012
Look, despite the obvious temptation to go into your best munchkin falsetto and cry out in joyous celebration that "the wicked witch is dead!" - it always sucks when anybody loses their job, and their livelihood. Yes, that includes Stephane Auger.
Read past the jump for more.
June 15 2012 01:54PM
Mike Gillis shakes hands with goaltending prospect Joe Cannata, a 6th round pick in 2009.
Cannata is one of several "older players" selected by the Canucks over the past four seasons.
We've spent the past few days ruminating on the Canucks, and General Manager Mike Gillis' "draft strategy." In particular we've looked at which leagues the Canucks tend to draft a disproportionate number of their players from, and whether or not "player size" is a big factor governing who the team selects.
Today we're going to briefly discuss player age - because the Canucks are a significant outlier among NHL teams when it comes to their willingness to select older players on draft day. This is a trend that preceded Mike Gillis, but, it's one that has continued in earnest during his tenure.
Read past the jump for more.
June 14 2012 11:23AM
What is behind the curtain for the Canucks at the 2012 NHL Draft? And will Gillis continue to target hefty forwards?
The debate about whether or not there's an inherent advantage to drafting "big players" is a contentious one. While there is no correlation between size-advantage and teams that win championships and no apparent pattern either way, the heaviest 5% of drafted players do significantly outperform the rest of their cohort (that last link is to an ESPN Insider article, you have to pay up if you want to read it). Despite conflicting evidence, Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli - clearly one of the smartest General Managers in the league, except for his total inability to sign Chris Kelly to a reasonable and legal contract - spoke openly about looking to draft bigger players at the MIT Sloan Conference earlier this year.
One of the important things to remember about the draft is that there are very few executives who are good at it. That isn't reflective of 30 General Managers drafting players incorrectly necessarily, it's just that drafting eighteen and nineteen year-olds (outside of the top-ten, essentially) is a total crap-shoot. In limited information situations, finding a workable approach that can yield even a slight edge - be it a "Fishing Hole" league that you're particularly good at evaluating talent in, or drafting exclusively younger players or heavier players - is potentially very valuable, especially in a salary-capped league where parity rules.
Short of picking first overall, there aren't any "silver bullets" in terms of a guiding draft philosophy that will always pay dividends. But whether or not drafting players based on size is the "right" approach, let's take a look at Gillis' draft record through this lens. Read past the jump for more.
June 14 2012 09:21AM
In February, the Canucks made a deadline deal and acquired defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani from the Buffalo Sabres. He was technically traded for Alexander Sulzer in a one-for-one deal, but the trade was tied closely to the Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian swap that was made official only minutes earlier on deadline day.
The Sabres were more than happy to move the young puck moving defenseman, as erratic play had landed him in Lindy Ruff’s doghouse. After leading the team in scoring during their 2011 first round match up against the Flyers (seven points in seven games), Gragnani struggled to hold down a regular roster spot for much of 2011-12.
His offensive dominance at the AHL has been impressive. In four seasons with Rochester and Portland, Gragnani has broken the 50-point mark three times, including a 12-goal, 60-point performance in 2010-11. Gragnani was equally as effective in the QMJHL with Alain Vigneault's former club the PEI Rocket, recording 22 goals and 68 points in his best campaign there (2006-07).
However, the transition to the NHL has been difficult (outside of his impressive playoff series last year). In 73 career regular season games, Gragnani has scored only three goals. He has decent size (although he isn’t physical), and he is very mobile and great at moving the puck.
Why has he struggled?