Getting the most out of Marc-Andre Gragnani

Jeff Angus
June 14 2012 09:21AM

In February, the Canucks made a deadline deal and acquired defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani from the Buffalo Sabres. He was technically traded for Alexander Sulzer in a one-for-one deal, but the trade was tied closely to the Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian swap that was made official only minutes earlier on deadline day.

The Sabres were more than happy to move the young puck moving defenseman, as erratic play had landed him in Lindy Ruff’s doghouse. After leading the team in scoring during their 2011 first round match up against the Flyers (seven points in seven games), Gragnani struggled to hold down a regular roster spot for much of 2011-12.

His offensive dominance at the AHL has been impressive. In four seasons with Rochester and Portland, Gragnani has broken the 50-point mark three times, including a 12-goal, 60-point performance in 2010-11. Gragnani was equally as effective in the QMJHL with Alain Vigneault's former club the PEI Rocket, recording 22 goals and 68 points in his best campaign there (2006-07).

However, the transition to the NHL has been difficult (outside of his impressive playoff series last year). In 73 career regular season games, Gragnani has scored only three goals. He has decent size (although he isn’t physical), and he is very mobile and great at moving the puck.

Why has he struggled?

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The Canucks Elect to Take Mason Raymond to Arbitration

Thomas Drance
June 13 2012 04:29PM

We've been wondering what would happen with Mason Raymond's qualifying offer for months now, and thanks to Darren Dreger's afternoon scoop, now we know.

Mason Raymond's status was particularly interesting heading into this offseason. He's a quasi-core piece and one the Canucks have been very high on (despite his relative lack of production the past two seasons) because he "drives play" and has consistently posted spectacular underlying numbers. Of course that changed this season, as Raymond's performance fell off significantly - probably because it can take a long time to physically and mentally recover from breaking vertebrae in your back. 

Read past the jump for more.

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NHL Draft: Mike Gillis' Fishing Holes

Thomas Drance
June 13 2012 02:34PM

In nine short days the NHL draft will begin in Pittsburgh, and it promises to be a very interesting day or two for the Canucks and their General Manager Mike Gillis. As usual, the Canucks don't have any high picks (they select 26th and 57th) and the 2011-12 draft class is not seen as particularly deep, but that hardly matters to Canucks fans, who are more interested to see what Gillis does on the trade market anyway!

Over the next week we'll take some looks at the Canucks' drafting record since Gillis took over the reigns (June 22nd will mark his fifth time at the draft table) and see if we can ferret out any trends in his approach to selecting players. Today's topic concerns Gillis' favorite draft prospect "Fishing Holes." This is a concept that was introduced to me by Scott Reynolds, but was originally coined by our pal Kent Wilson, who explained it as such

Clubs [may] develop what I call "fishing holes", by which I mean they concentrate their scouting in certain amateur/developmental leagues (for the Flames, it's the WHL/CHL) - they can become familiar with the relative degree and value of the competition and therefore can more capably gauge a prospects level of performance.

Read past the jump for more.

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Goats go to hell

Graphic Comments
June 12 2012 06:49PM

Goats go to Hell

A Devil, a goat, eternal damnation.

Steve Bernier hit the trifecta last night. Well, he hit Rob Scuderi and the Kings scored a trifecta on the ensuing five minute major. But the point is, when the reckoning comes, he's going to be sitting on Jesus' left hand. Although the prospect is much more cheery when Cake sings about it.

But enough about that, let's talk about @strombone1!

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Brave New World: @Strombone1, Player Personality and Subversive Access in the era of "Digital Fame"

Thomas Drance
June 12 2012 03:19PM

Easily the most revealing answer @strombone1 gave @passittobulis in last week's Twitter DM interview.

Late last week Harrison Mooney of Pass it to Bulis coyly interviewed Roberto Luongo's irreverent, "anonymous" Twitter account "@strombone1" using Twitter's direct messaging feature. Generally speaking, the hockey blogosphere and the media reacted by chuckling. Now there's nothing wrong with that, it was a light-hearted interview, bursting with tongue-in-cheek half-reveals, but no one seemed to realize just how subversive the whole thing was.

The Canucks are not the Nashville Predators, and there is no "bloggers row" in the media box in Vancouver. With a few exceptions here and there (every rule was made to be broken on occasion), the Canucks like most Canadian NHL teams, have a strict "no blogger access" policy and enforce it stringently.

Yet here was Roberto Luongo, maybe the most famous individual player on the Canucks (at least for the moment), granting an interview to a blogger. In the process, Mooney and Luongo completely circumvented team PR, and set up the interview through a series of direct messages between the @passittobulis account and the @strombone1 account. That Harrison chose to take screen shots of the "direct message" conversation, rather than writing out the interview in text, added an extra layer of "taboo" to the exchange. Luongo's account which, made its name by gleefully playing off of convention, ran roughshod over the usual processes last week, then backed up and did it again.

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