Why Bo Horvat will be in tough to replace what Brad Richardson brought to the Canucks penalty kill

Thomas Drance
June 13 2015 09:00AM

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson / USA TODAY Sports

It seems likely that the Vancouver Canucks will be moving on without pending unrestricted free agent Brad Richardson.

Though Canucks general manager Jim Benning recently suggested that he's still in touch with Richardson's agent (Mark Guy of Newport Sports) and hasn't given up on bringing the penalty killing ace back for next season, the club is dealing with a significant cap crunch. It's probable that the club will have to replace Richardson's quiet, useful contributions internally.

Luckily there's a tailor made in-house replacement available to the Canucks in 20-year-old pivot Bo Horvat. Horvat has serious defensive chops, and his play driving ability came on in a major way towards the latter half of his rookie campaign. When it comes to stepping into Richardson's skates at 5-on-5, Horvat is a good bet, and might even be an upgrade. It's a different story shorthanded though...

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Comets pushed to the brink by Monarchs in 6-3 blowout loss

Thomas Drance
June 12 2015 08:33PM

The Vancouver Canucks' AHL affiliate the Utica Comets have been a sturdy puck possession team that was able to count on stellar goaltending all season long. Then Friday night happened.

Playing in a high leverage Game 4 of their Calder Cup Final series against the Manchester Monarchs with a chance to even the series 2-2,, Utica came unravelled. The Comets fell behind early, with the Monarchs pouncing on two ugly giveaways to score two quick first period goals. Though the Comets were able to level the score before the period ended, they were throttled in the first frame. It was a sign of things to come.

In the second period the Comets surrendered two power-play goals, then goaltender Jacob Markstrom permitted an unscreened rush wrist shot goal with just seconds left on the clock to cement Utica's defeat - and a 3-1 series deficit.

Read on after the jump.

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7 potential Canucks trade partners that need help in goal

Thomas Drance
June 12 2015 09:23AM

Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports

It's not exactly a secret that the Vancouver Canucks would like to trade a goaltender, ideally for additional draft picks, ahead of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. 

While the question of which goaltender ultimately gets dealt remains an open one - will it be the Eddie Lack who carried the Canucks to the postseason with a stellar six week run, or Jacob Markstrom who carried the Utica Comets to the Calder Cup Final? - it's obvious that the Canucks will be sellers on the ever-volatile goalie trade market once again this summer. They won't be the only ones.

On Thursday night Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a radio interview that he's taking lots of calls about the availability of Lack and Markstrom. Here's a quick look at seven NHL teams that could use some additional help in net, and some of the assets they have to play with.

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Top-10 UFA countdown: #8 - Martin St. Louis

Thomas Drance
June 10 2015 09:00AM

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

This is a series counting down the top-10 pending UFAs. It will be posted across the Nation Network over the next month! Enjoy!

Over the course of Martin St. Louis' Hall of Fame worthy career the 5-foot-8 winger has won a Hart Trophy, a Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal and two Art Ross trophies (including one as a 37-year-old). His resume is beyond reproach. 

Built like a bumper car, St. Louis has accomplished everything a hockey player can accomplish. And as much as hockey's trend watchers are fawning over undersized players now, St. Louis has been doing Tyler Johnson-like things for more than a decade. So how can a future Hall of Fame immortal find himself ranked eighth on our countdown of the top unrestricted free agents? 

It's simple really: age catches up to everyone, even the best among us, and St. Louis will turn 40 this month. Thanks to a variety of advances in the field of human performance, players are remaining effective for longer, and no one doubts St. Louis' work ethic or ability to be an outlier, but St. Louis' advancing age combined with his least productive offensive season in 13 years is sure to dampen the enthusiasm with which he's pursued on the free agent market this summer. 

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The Bruins won't re-sign Carl Soderberg, does he fit with the Canucks?

Thomas Drance
June 08 2015 12:38PM

Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

Barring something major, the Vancouver Canucks are going to be pressed up against the uncertain upper limit of the NHL's salary cap this summer. That doesn't mean we're in for a quiet off-season though. 

In consecutive summers Canucks general manager Jim Benning has been at the centre of some massive transactions. From the Tyler Seguin deal (which Benning advocated for in Boston's pro-meetings that June), to the Jason Garrison and Ryan Kesler trades, the frank Canucks executive has shown ingenuity in creating salary cap space on the trade market and a willingness to ask highly paid players to waive their no-trade clauses. 

Based on the club's balance sheet and their posture we might reasonably expect the club to be in for a quiet offseason. Based on Benning's usual modus operandi though, we also shouldn't be shocked if they're in the middle of the action once again on the draft floor. And if the club can clear the requisite space, should they pursue Boston Bruins centre Carl Soderberg?

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