The Forgotten Man: What's become of Luca Sbisa?

J.D. Burke
August 06 2014 11:46AM

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We've spent a lot of time on this platform this summer evaluating the return the Vancouver Canucks managed to muster for Ryan Kesler the day of the draft. Well, that's not entirely true. We've discussed Nick Bonino ad nauseam and we've been enlightened on Jared McCann, but there's another piece of the package that has been somewhat swept under the rug.

That's Luca Sbisa, who has largely become an afterthought despite having been quite highly regarded not all that long ago. After all, he was once a 1st round pick that was moved as a key piece in a Chris Pronger trade from the Ducks to the Flyers. The difference is that back then he was still considered a blue chip prospect with skating, size, and the ability to move the puck effectively; all of which led people to project him as a top-4 defenseman.

Obviously things didn't work out that way for him in Anaheim, but we've seen many an instance of a prospect taking time to develop and not making good until his 2nd or 3rd stop in the league in the past. Does Sbisa have that potential, and what can the Canucks expect out of him this coming season?

Read on for more.

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Should Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis be reunited this coming season?

J.D. Burke
July 23 2014 11:45AM


There have been plenty of occasions over the years where Kevin Bieksa's name popped up in trade rumours, and it seemed like a realistic possibility that he could be on his way out of town. One of those times came back in 2010, with the team fresh off of bringing in the likes of Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard and Bieksa set to hit the last year of his contract with the Canucks.

Then a crazy thing happened: Bieksa was paired with the newcomer Hamhuis during his first season with the team, and the two made sweet music together. In essence they became the de-facto first pairing, logging heavy minutes against the opposition's best and making it all look very easy. 

It was nothing new for Hamhuis, who has as we now know made a career of propping up his partners with the unique ability to make those around him look just that much better. In this case though, it resurrected Bieksa's career. 

But after the team dipped its toes into the free agent market and signed Jason Garrison in the summer of '12, Alain Vigneault figured a better allocation of resources was to split the dominant pairing up. Apparently he wasn't alone, because John Tortorella felt the same way last season. 

It'll be interesting to see how Willie Desjardins approaches the matter, but there's ample reason to believe that it would behoove both himself, the team, and the two players in question themselves to put the them back together this coming season. 

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Nick Bonino: Second Line Center?

J.D. Burke
July 07 2014 10:22AM

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The first step of the "retooling" job that Jim Benning inherited with this roster involved trading away locker-room malcontent Ryan Kesler. The move was bound to clear up cap space necessary to not only keep their own RFAs like Chris Tanev and Zack Kassian around, but also dip into the free agent pool

The fact that Kesler had essentially given the Canucks a list of one and a half teams he'd waive his no-trade clause for allowed Canucks fans and media to preemptively temper their expectations on the prospective return. Then the inevitable happened. 

Ryan Kesler was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and the 24th overall pick in this year's draft. You figure that the Bonino component of the package would be the centerpiece in the eyes of the Canucks, given that he's currently viewed as the favourite to fill the spot the guy he was traded for successfully occupied for years prior. 

Is Nick Bonino really a capable 2nd line center option, though? 

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Canucks thinking about getting Iggy With It?

J.D. Burke
July 01 2014 10:24AM

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Lost in all the talk surrounding the Canucks courting of soon-to-be unrestricted free agent goaltender, Ryan Miller, were the reports that the team was setting itself up to take a run at Jarome Iginla, should he hit free agency. There's fraternizing with the enemy, and then there is this.

Canucks fans will remember Iginla for his decade-plus of service as captain of the rival Calgary Flames; some with reverence, others disdain. By large, though, Iginla's name is associated with the type of "meat and potatoes" style of hockey that Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have made clear they're fond of. Is there a match to be made here? 

Find out on the other side of the jump.

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Does John Tortorella Deserve Another Season?

J.D. Burke
April 28 2014 10:36AM

Photo via Getty Images

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are hitting their stride, and for the first time since 2008 the Vancouver Canucks haven’t a part to play in them. There’s two different ways to look at this: the eternal optimist will point out it’s been a great six years, whereas the pessimist will look to this year’s results as being indicative of an equally long and bleak future.

What they can both agree on is that, in large, this change in the regularly scheduled programming was heralded by the debut campaign of John Tortorella as Vancouver’s new bench boss.

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