The Utica Comets: a long-term fit or a short-term solution?

Thomas Drance
June 17 2013 12:47PM


Image via Canucks.nhl.com

Last week the Canucks finalized an agreement with Utica, New York to place an American Hockey League team in the Mohawk Valley. On Friday the deal and the team's logo and jersey was officially unveiled at a Press Conference in Utica.

Geographically speaking, Utica is far from an ideal spot for Vancouver's top farm team. But in agreeing to a deal with Utica the Canucks come out net winners on balance. First of all, the club avoided having their AHL affiliate franchise go dormant and dodged a player development nightmare in doing so. Secondly, the club will be in a better position next year - even in Utica - then they were this past season when they reportedly clashed with their Chicago Wolves affiliate over a variety of issues.

Still as more details about the deal emerge, we're interested in looking forward. What does the affiliation deal between Utica, New York and the Vancouver Canucks tell us about the teams future plans and the future of professional hockey in the Mohawk Valley? We'll get into it after the jump.

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Canucks Team Needs: Third Line Centre

Thomas Drance
June 17 2013 11:17AM


In looking for a depth centre this summer, Mike Gillis has to do better than Samme Pahlsson.

That the Canucks have struggled mightily to replace Manny Malhotra over the past couple of seasons is, or at least should be, obvious to anyone who has followed the Canucks closely the past few years. General Manager Mike Gillis even admitted as much in a Team1040 appearance earlier this month, describing the loss of Manny Malhotra as "devastating" and adding that "I know some people think you just go out and replace those kind of guys but you don’t."

Whether replacing your ideal third-line centreman Manny Malhotra is easy or not, it's something this Canucks club requires this summer. Malhotra's eye-injury left a lacuna in the middle of the club's third-line, a breach that the club has sought to address at consecutive trade deadlines with the acquisitions of Samme Pahlsson and Derek Roy respectively. Needless to say, neither Pahlsson nor Roy proved up to the task.

With Henrik Sedin turning thirty-three this offseason and Ryan Kesler beginning to earn a reputation as "injury prone" the club's lack of top-nine centre depth has taken on an increased degree of urgency this summer. It is, without doubt, the team's greatest area of need, which is why the third-line centre position will kick off our "Canucks Team Needs" series this week. Read past the jump.

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Some Thoughts on Vigneault's New Job

Thomas Drance
June 15 2013 03:52PM


Screencap via Sharks.nhl.com

If you've missed it, Alain Vigneault is in the process of finalizing a deal to begin coaching the New York Rangers. Vigneault reportedly turned down an exceedingly lucrative offer from Jim Nill to coach the Dallas Stars in order to meet with Rangers owner Jimmy Dolan and work out the final details on his new contract. Meanwhile rumours circulate that Mark Messier may yet join Vigneault staff as an assistant, and also that the Canucks might hire the man Vigneault is suceeding.

Amidst the hubub, I have a few spare thoughts on Vigneault's new position in New York. Click past the jump to read them.

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Canucks Sign Swedish Goaltender Joacim Eriksson

Thomas Drance
June 15 2013 09:25AM


The Canucks have reportedly signed Joacim Eriksson, probably the best European goalie on the market.
Photo Credit: Studio Eriksson Photography.

Last weekend, reports out of Sweden indicated that the Canucks were close to a signing an entry level deal with UMass-Lowell defenceman Christian Folin. Folin subsequently made like a PSA and stayed in school. But this weekend is different, it seems, as the Canucks look like they've actually landed a highly-touted Swedish born prospect in goaltender Joacim Eriksson according Swedish newspaper Noran by way of Pass it to Bulis

Joacim Eriksson is twenty-three years old, so any entry-level deal the Canucks sign with him will be of the two year variety. Eriksson has put in two seasons of stellar play for Skellefteå over the last couple of years, including a dominant performance in the postseason as Eriksson his club to the Elitserien title in his most recent campaign.

Read past the jump for more.

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Canucks Make it Official: Locate AHL Franchise in Utica

Thomas Drance
June 14 2013 12:22PM

 
Screencap of Laurence Gilman unveiling the new Utica Comets logo today.

After months of speculation, back room dealings, and legitimate concerns that the Canucks were going to have to shutter their newly acquired AHL franchise for the year, the Utica Comet were officially unveiled on Friday at a Press Conference in Utica, New York.

While the specifics of the deal between Robert Esche's group, the Canucks, and the city of Utica remain a mystery at this point, the dominant mood at the Press Conference was optimism. Laurence Gilman, Lorne Henning and Tom Sestito - a threesome henceforth to be known as "the brain trust" - were in attendance representing the Canucks, and Laurence Gilman spoke at the presser.  Read on past the jump.

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