October 06 2014 09:00AM
Vrbata, who has out produced any number of more famous forwards over the past three years including Rick Nash, Mike Cammalleri, Scott Hartnell, T.J. Oshie, and Alexander Semin, has routinely led all
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes forwards in scoring, and he's done it seemingly without ever making a major headline. The Czech winger's uncanny ability to hide in plain sight could prove a more useful skill in a rabid hockey marketplace like Vancouver, where the media's glare can be paralyzing even when the demand for tickets is soft, than even Vrbata's right-handed shot on the power play.
Entering training camp Vrbata's story line - can the 33-year-old first line winger revitalize the Sedin twins offensively - is arguably the most critical question for a club that couldn't buy a goal last season. Yet the attention was focused instead on Vancouver's burgeoning youth movement, on Nick Bonino's impossible task of replacing Ryan Kesler, on the possibility of a redemption season for Alex Edler, or on the three-way goaltending controversy...
So let's give the anonymous Czech volume shooter some due attention on the other side of the jump.
October 05 2014 12:53PM
In the past 12 months the Vancouver Canucks have traded a pair of star players in Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler in exchange for a pair of offensively gifted pivots best suited to playing a bottom-six role (and also two non-tender candidates, and a first round pick, and a third that became Derek Dorsett).
That pair of centers with offensive talent includes Shawn Matthias who has size and skill, but has never really put it all together. At 26-years-old he's likely running out of time and upside.
What can we expect from Matthias this upcoming season? Read on past the jump.
October 03 2014 01:27PM
It's Friday, and with the dawn of a new season rapidly approaching, we've decided to revamp an old favorite: "Cheers and Jeers!"
This regular feature was originally started by Canucks Army forefather Cam Davie during the 2011-12 hockey season. Now that I'm the old hand at this here Canucks hockey blog (that happened... quickly), I figure it's my turn to carry on, carry on tradition.
This week, I give a high-five to the Canucks' suddenly promising stable of young talent and the Smylosphere in general, while I point and laugh at Luca Sbisa and the Edmonton Oilers.
October 03 2014 09:00AM
For a quality middle-six forward on a very good contract, Danish-born Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen takes a good deal of flack in the Vancouver market.
Perhaps it's because he's coming off of the worst offensive season of his NHL career, or because he's not seen as gritty enough, or North American enough, or skilled enough. Irrelevant concerns aside, Hansen remains a credible and productive top-nine forward at the NHL level and the type of player who can anchor a very good third forward group.
Read on past the jump.
October 02 2014 12:58PM
You'd be hard-pressed to find an unrestricted free agent who has provided his club with more value during the salary cap era than Smithers native and good local boy Dan Hamhuis, 31, has brought to Vancouver since signing here in 2010. An oft-criticized second pairing guy in Nashville (his regular pairing with Kevin Klein was never very good for some reason), Hamhuis has spent his late-20s with the Canucks, where he's blossomed into a bona fide top pairing defender, and one of the league's best hybrid-type shutdown types.
While Hamhuis remains a credible top-pairing guy, even a fringe "1A defenseman", and isn't quite at the age where we might reasonably expect the Canucks to begin to incur some significant diminishing returns on their investment, he had something of an off year last season (though he can take solace in the Olympic Gold Medal he won as a depth defender with the Canadian men's ice hockey team). Was it the so-called 'Torts effect' or has Hamhuis lost a bit of his fastball in his early 30's? We'll answer that question and more on the other side of the jump.