Hamhuis, Bieksa and Heavy Lifting

Thomas Drance
June 18 2012 03:04PM


Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis: just a couple of guys who know how to clear the crease.

Though he's performed as well, or nearly as well, as any defenseman on the roster over the past couple of seasons, Kevin Bieksa's play has been a source of perpetual frustration for many Canucks fans. You know a fanbase has an irrational, bi-polar relationship with a specific player when that player begins to accrue false narratives that "explain" their play. For Roberto Luongo, it's that he's a choker. For Mason Raymond, it's that he's a "perimeter player." For Kevin Bieksa, you can pick your poison - he only plays well in contract years is a popular one, but the idea that he's not good at defense (demonstrably untrue) is another favorite.

The way the story is usually told, Kevin Bieksa's defensive play turned around when Dan Hamhuis arrived in Vancouver. Once Hamhuis arrived, Bieksa stopped his positional "swimming" in Vancouver's own end, cut down on his unforced errors with the puck and was magically transformed into a reliable defensive presence along Vancouver's blue-line. 

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Aaron Volpatti and the "New Age Fourth Liner"

Thomas Drance
June 18 2012 08:36AM


Aaron Volpatti does something that Darcy Hordichuk can't...
Be on the ice at the same time as the opposition's top-line.

Occasionally, albeit rarely, a story like Aaron Volpatti re-signing with the Canucks - falls through the cracks and we don't comment on it for a couple of days. On Friday, however, Ivy League graduate, pugilist and Revelstoke native Aaron Volpatti re-upped with Vancouver's club on a one year deal worth $600,000 in the NHL, and $105,000 in the AHL (or the maximum amount an AHLer can be paid without requiring re-entry waivers when he is shuttled between the big club, and their affiliate). 

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Samme Pahlsson Expected to Sign with Modo Tomorrow

Thomas Drance
June 17 2012 03:13PM

It has been rumoured for weeks now that free agent defensive centre Samme Pahlsson, most recently of the Vancouver Canucks, would retire from NHL hockey and sign with Örnsköldsvik club team Modo of the Elitserien (SEL). According to Swedish sports journalist Jonatan Lindquist of Expressen, that deal looks to have been finalized. Says Lindquist:

Modo will hold a press conference tomorrow at 13:30 Swedish Time (4:30 AM PST). It's expected that they will announce the signing of Samuel Pahlsson. Pahlsson has been open to the possibility of returning home, though Modo doensn't normally hold Press Conferences when they sign players.

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More Than Meets the Eye on Auger's Retirement?

Thomas Drance
June 15 2012 02:30PM

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.

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NHL Draft: Drafting Older Players

Thomas Drance
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.

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