Agreement between the Canucks, Utica approved but still shrouded in mystery

Thomas Drance
June 14 2013 07:58AM

Here stands a relic, and the new AHL home of the Vancouver Canucks.

We didn't comment on the AHL Board of Governors long anticipated approval of a deal to move the Canucks owned and operated AHL affiliate, formerly the Peoria Rivermen, to the Mohawk Valley yesterday. We avoided writing it about it then because, frankly, details about the deal were scant. They still are.

We've covered this story for months, doing our best to recap the public record and provide insight despite the information vacuum. It's a vacuum we're still dealing with, though we may get more answers today.

For now the deal remains shrouded in mystery. No one in the Vancouver Canucks front office has commented on the agreement as of yet, with Scott Arniel being the highest profile Vancouver Canucks employee to go on the record yesterday. There have been reports about a "one year deal" between the city and the Canucks, though AHL sources have indicated to me that it's a bit more complicated than that. Also, and perhaps most importantly, there's no firm indication as to whether or not the new Utica based AHL club will recieve any type of operating subsidy from the city or the region.

Read past the jump for more.

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Tom Sestito and the Enforcer Market

Thomas Drance
June 13 2013 01:51PM

Nearly a month ago, Tom Sestito broke the news about his having signed a new two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Twitter. The restless denizens of Canuckistan were mostly unmoved by the news, while we reacted with a brief, subdued shrug.

In describing why the team decided to sign Tom Sestito - a player who was only months removed from being waiver fodder -to a one-way deal worth 1.5 million, Canucks Assistant General Manager Laurence Gilman told the Vancouver Sun that “Players like Tom Sestito are a commodity, they really are." 

You can debate the utility of pure enforcers in the modern game, and I tend to think a club is better off employing a twelfth or thirteenth forward who can kill penalties, bring speed and possesses hockey ability. But Laurence Gilman's assessment of Sestito's value has proven to be astute. Read past the jump.

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Night Time Headshots: June 11th

Thomas Drance
June 11 2013 10:23PM

Found a tumblr today called "Edler Wand" (by way of Sealcat).
Here's a choice pick from their series of 23 photos of the Canucks blue-liner.

On this particular Tuesday in mid-June we chewed over the possibility of an offseason mega deal between the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, reacted to Canucks goalie coach Rollie Melanson's rather explosive interview in a small New Brunswick daily, and used Keith Ballard's current contract situation as a point of departure with which to discuss Retained Salary Transactions and Compliance Buyouts. 

More Canucks news, most of it about John Tortorella, after the jump.

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Keith Ballard's Contract, Compliance Buyouts and "Payroll Room"

Thomas Drance
June 11 2013 04:13PM

How do you solve a problem like Keith Ballard?
Image via wikimedia commons.

To put it kindly, Keith Ballard's Canucks tenure has been forgettable.

The likable defenceman with speed to burn made sense as an acquisition at the time, but he never really earned the trust of Vancouver's coaches, and was rarely able to keep a spot as high sixth on the blue-line depth-chart. In the 2013 postseason Ballard didn't dress in a single postseason game, with raw rookie Frank Corrado and lumbering Andew Alberts playing on the team's third pairing instead...

Keith Ballard will turn thirty-one in late November. He has two years and according to 8.4 million dollars in actual salary and salary cap-hit commitments remaining on his contract. With the Canucks pressed up against the cap this offseason and deep along the blue-line, a 4.2 million dollar depth defenceman is not a luxury item the team can afford for another year. With that, let's look at several ways the Canucks could potentially remedy their situation as it pertains to Mr. Ballard.

Read past the jump.

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On Rollie Melanson's Curious Interview

Thomas Drance
June 11 2013 11:59AM

Screencap via Jason Botchford.

When Mike Gillis fired his coaching staff in late May, goaltending coach Rollie Melanson was retained. And why not? Cory Schneider has improved enormously under Melanson's tutelage, Roberto Luongo has made some tweaks to his game under Melanson that have paid off, and the Canucks have been right at the top of the league in save percentage in two of Melanson's three seasons with Vancouver.

Yesterday, Melanson gave a very candid interview to L'Acadie Nouvelle, a french language newspaper in New Brunswick, which was picked up by RDS. In the interview, Melanson discussed on the record his ultimate desire to return to Montreal as a coach, the easy to avoid Vancouver press, and the "deterioration" of Carey Price's game in Melanson's absence. We'll unpack Rollie's comments after the jump.

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