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?
June 06 2012 01:20PM
Alain Vigneault is far from perfect. He has angered past (Cody Hodgson) and present (Ryan Kesler) Canucks with his comments on injuries and injury recovery. He incorrectly assumed Daniel Sedin’s concussion was minor (let’s remove ‘minor concussions’ from our vocabulary while we’re at it), failing to plan for a postseason without Daniel.
His biggest mistake may have been keeping Roberto Luongo in goal too long in any of the three games in Boston last June, but game three especially.
Vigneault is an innovator, and has been a successful regular season coach with the Canucks, winning five division titles in his six seasons, including two Presidents’ Trophies as the league’s best team.
His postseason record isn’t as stellar – in 11 playoff rounds behind the Vancouver bench, Vigneault holds a 6-5 record. Thomas Drance took this to task back in April, breaking down Vigneault’s postseason coaching history in Vancouver.
The players, for the most part, like playing for him. Vigneault demands effort and consistency, but he allows the players the luxury of running the dressing room, something many other coaches around the league do not. He plays favorites, just like every coach in the history of every sport. However, he doesn’t award ice time based on a player’s pedigree, contract status, or favorite colour. He rewards performance.
After the Canucks were bounced in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings a few months ago, members of the local media (without naming names) clamored for a coaching change. Many in the fan base got behind the movement.
Why, exactly, would people want the Canucks to fire the most successful coach in the history of the franchise? Let’s use some well-known cognitive biases to explain.
May 31 2012 09:11AM
This week, we've been focussing on "Canucks Team Needs." While the team is probably in need of a top-four defenseman, a third line center and a top-six winger, they're also in need of more youth, size and strength this offseason. Last week, we profiled three potential targets – Kyle Beach, Nikolai Kulemin, and Zac Dalpe.
This week, three more players were profiled. Unrealistic targets were not considered, so don’t expect to be reading about Corey Perry or James Neal. Some of the players profiled would be easier to acquire than others, and some of them are further along in their development than others.
Read on past the jump.
May 24 2012 09:36AM
Should Gillis target Leafs winger Nikolai Kulemin this summer?
When Brian Burke came to Toronto in late 2008, he promised a philosophical shift to bring in “proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.” The results have been mixed, but Burke has made it a priority to add those things to Toronto’s roster (Phil Kessel notwithstanding). The jury is still out whether or not that you need those elements to ice a winning team (the flavor of the month Los Angeles Kings definitely fit the bill), but at the very least Burke introduced truculence to our vocabularies.
At his recent season-ending press conference, Mike Gillis outlined his general plan for the future.
“I think we need to get younger, [and] I think we need to get bigger and stronger.”
Read past the jump for more!
May 17 2012 10:07AM
Google “Ryan Parent bust” and close to 200,000 results come up (although in fairness many of them link to article about Ryan Leaf). Parent was once an important piece of the trade that sent Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia to Nashville. How far has he fallen? In December 0f 2011, the Chicago Wolves pawned him off on Canada’s Spengler Cup team. Parent was barely playing, and the Wolves wanted to give ice time to their better defensemen.
Click past the jump for more.