Five (Other) UFAs to Target

Jeff Angus
June 28 2012 11:57AM

Should the Canucks try to re-acquire Mikael Samuelsson in free-agency?
Would that qualify as a "bold move?"

The Canucks have the means to take a run at Ryan Suter or Zach Parise. They are also rumored to be in the mix for prized prospect Justin Schultz and we suspect they'll take a big time run as Shane Doan as well. Marquee free-agents, or not, the team would love to add a front line winger or a top pairing defenseman. However, if they are unable to nab any of the big fish, they still have some other roster holes to fill. The UFA market is far from strong, but there are a handful of solid players in the second or third tier that will be available to sign come July 1.

Read on to find out about five UFAs that the Canucks could target this summer.

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Countdown to Launch: The Russian Rocket's Top 10 Canucks Moments.

Jeff Angus
June 27 2012 05:47AM

This article originally appeared on in November of 2011. With yesterday's news that Pavel will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this November, we figured it would be a worthwhile to re-post it. So enjoy reliving some of the Russian Rocket's greatest moments in a Vancouver Canucks sweater:

The 20th anniversary of Pavel Bure’s first game as a Canuck was this past Saturday. Trevor Linden may be the greatest Canuck of all time, but Pavel was the best. At his peak, he made you want to catch every second of Canucks games (sure would be nice to have him on the team nowadays for those Minnesota divisional games…). Throughout his career, he was the fastest and most powerful skater in the league. He had Sidney Crosby’s strength and Marian Gaborik’s acceleration (and then some), combined with Alex Ovechkin’s hunger for scoring goals.

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NHL Draft: Five First Round Targets

Jeff Angus
June 21 2012 08:30AM

Assuming Vancouver doesn’t move up from or trade away the 26th overall selection in this Friday’s first round, who should they target? Here are five realistic (no Nail Yakupov unfortunately) targets who would all fill a long term need.

Read on past the jump.

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Getting the most out of Marc-Andre Gragnani

Jeff Angus
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?

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Alain Vigneault and Cognitive Biases

Jeff Angus
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.

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