Petersen’s 2011 Stanley Cup Prediction

October 7, 2010

There has been a ton of hype over the last few days from hockey fans and media on the 2011 NHL season just days away. I have seen too many preview shows and read too many analysis’s predictions, so I decided to post who I think is the favourite to win it all. First I checked to see who other NHL experts picked to win it all:

  • NHL.com predicted the Detroit Red Wings to defeat the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Finals
  • The Hockey News looked into their crystal ball and saw Henrik Sedin and the Vancouver Canucks lifting Lord Stanley
  • Hockey nut, Pierre McGuire said that the Detroit Red Wings will win another Stanley Cup over the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • James Duthie predicted John Toews to once again lift the Stanley Cup, beating out Philly once again
  • Sportsnet analysis’s Darren Millard and Mike Brophy both picked the Washington to win it all, meanwhile Doug Mclean picked the Nucks and Nick Kypreos picked Pittsburgh

So with all the rumours and speculation from around the league, I have picked the Vancouver Canucks to win it all. Yes the Vancouver Canucks. On paper Mike Gillis and the Canuck management has put together the best team in the league.

But why the Canucks? : It has been 40 years since the Vancouver Canucks have entered the National Hockey League and through those 40 years the Canucks have been cup-less. The city is desperate for a winner. Well Vancouver finally has a team. The Sedin’s have ripped apart other teams defence and have given goalies a sore neck from looking in the back of the net. Luongo is one of the best goalies in the league and has backstopped team Canada in the 2010 Olympics that won the gold medal. Luongo has come into training camp determined to win and shredded some pounds for easier side to side movement. Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard were brought in this offseason adding onto a defence core that already contains Elder, Ehrhoff, Bieksa, and Salo. Gillis did an amazing job at improving the blueline without giving up too many picks and prospects. Also the depth up front is strong. Burrows, Samuelsson, Kesler, Raymond, and Torres all can provide secondary scoring for the Sedin twins.

The thing that gives me the most hope is that Vancouver has been knocked out of the playoffs for two straight seasons and underachieved both years, and the team has taken it personally. The Canucks were pissed off for being knocked out of post-season play in the second round against the ‘Hawks. Vancouver is now on a mission to prove to the rest of the league and themselves that they can win in the playoffs. Luongo lead by example by gave up his captaincy and has focus on improving all offseason, not taking the recent failures lightly. With all the adversity, I believe has brought the team together and made them even stronger building up to this year. Things are starting to fall in place for the Canucks and it is a do or die year for the Nuckleheads.

It was a tough decision for me to pick the Canucks, as I think that the Penguins are a threat to take home the Stanley Cup. We all know how good the Penguins offence is, improving defence, and Flower is bound to play better this season. Crosby and Penguins are a close second in my books.

It is early to pick anyone to win the Stanley Cup and a lot can change between now and June. Let’s sit back and have fun seeing on how things will play out.

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O’Brien is done in Vancouver

October 6, 2010

Shane O'Brien is now going to have to revive his career around in Nashville

Earlier today the Vancouver Canucks made a deal with the Nashville Predators, shipping Shane O’Brien and Dan Gendur to Nashville in exchange for Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson.

Shane O’Brien, the big piece in the deal, spent the last two years with the Canucks putting up 2 goals, 18 points, and 275 PIM’s in just 141 games.

Shane O’Brien had been on thin ice in Vancouver for the past few years. I don’t think Shane ever got out of Alain Vigneault’s doghouse. Last season, O’Brien actually got suspended three games by Alain for showing up after the Olympic break out of shape, gained weight, and showed up late to a practice. Alain had constantly been harping on OB to fight more, openly in the media. Also O’Brien has been seen multiple times in Vancouver partying it up with locals. Not the image the Canucks really want. To top it all off Shane got into a heated discussion with assistant coach Ryan Walter in between whistle on the bench. All Canuck fans new the OB would get traded from the Canucks, it was where.

Despite all the problems, O’Brien was mainly moved because the Canucks were tight for a buck and needed cap room. Shane was waived October 2nd by the Canucks, along with Darcy Hordichuk, because of cap problems. O’Brien is set to make 1.6 million this year, in the last season of his contract.

Ryan Parent was the defenseman heading the other way in the deal. Parent is just 23 and has already spent 102 games in the NHL. He has got 1 goal, 7 points, and 36 PIM’s in his short NHL career. Parent was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 18th overall in 2005. Parent has won 2 gold medals at the WJC  with Canada in both 2005 and 2006. In 2005 at the WJC, Parent played with Luc Bourdon (2005 Canuck draft pick) and it was in Vancouver, so Canuck fans have seen this guy play, but not knowing he would be a Canuck one day.

Parent has a nice upside to his game and is still just a kid. Ryan is a smooth and steady defenceman who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a solid penalty killer and great in his own end. Ryan still needs to fill out his big frame and learn to shut down NHL forwards.

It was an ironic story this offseason for Parent. He started off with the Flyers, and then was moved to Nashville in exchange for the rights for Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis was later traded again to Pittsburgh, but signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. Ryan Parent, the guy who was traded for Hamhuis, ended up on the same team as Dan Hamhuis.

The add-ons in the deal were Dan Gendur and Jonas Andersson. Gendur, who was shipped off to Nashville, is 23 years old and has spent most of his time in the ECHL, struggling to make in the AHL. Andersson was originally drafted by 33rd overall by the Predators in 1999. Andersson has spent most of his time in Europe, but has played 5 games in the NHL back in 2001-2002 season.


Top Ten Canuck Prospects

October 4, 2010

During the summer I wrote who I believe are the top ten Canuck prospects. Cody Hodgson is cleary the prized gem of the Canucks system, but also contains Schnieder, Scheoder, and Shirokov. Mike Gillis and the Canucks scouting staff have done an excellent job with drafting young talent, now it is developing there kids and getting the most out of there prospects.

How will Cody fit into the Canuck plans and can we see him suite up for the Canucks this year?

1.  Cody Hodgson C (10th in 08)

Cody is no doubt the Canucks best prospect and is one of the elite prospects around the NHL. Hodgson missed most of last year with a back injury and has Canuck fans wondering, but has an excellent shot at making the Nuckleheads this fall. He is one of many small but high end talent prospects in the Canucks system. In juniors Cody has shown great leadership, smooth hands, good on special teams, and is smart in all three zones. Potential first liner.

2. Cory Schnieder G (26th in 05)

Cory has been waiting for the opportunity to play with the Canucks and heading into training camp Schnieder has an excellent shot at the #2 job. Cory has played with the Moose for past couple of years and has been a headache for many shooters. Cory Schnieder will no doubt start in the NHL but the question is, will it be with the Canucks?

3 Jordan Schroeder C (22nd in 09)

Schroeder is the most skilled Canuck prospect. While Jordan is only 5’9/180, he makes up for it with his smarts, enthusiasm, and quick feet. Watching him play a few games this year with the Moose was a thrill. He was great offensively and showed a lot of positives on the ice. I don’t think Jordan will be able to crack the lineup this year with the strong forward depth, but you might see this kid making a big impact with the Canucks a few years down the road.

4. Anton Rodin RW (53rd in 08)

Mike Gillis said the Canucks stole Rodin in the draft 3 years ago., and couldn’t believe that he wasn’t picked in the first round. Canuck fans were happy to hear this but had no clue how he was, well they found out at this year’s WJC.  Playing for team Sweden at the WJC, Rodin racked up the points 10 points in 6 games, including 2 game winners. Rodin has a strong shot, good stick handling, not afraid to use the body, and awesome hockey sence. Anton is small at 5’11 and could add some more muscle before he makes the NHL. Will likely fit in on the 2nd or 3rd line in the NHL in the future.

5.Sergei Shirokov LW (136th in 06)

Last year Sergei had an amazing training camp and made the Canucks roster straight out of training camp, getting the fans eager to see how there Russian  prospect would do. Well Shirkov had a rough start and ended up playing with the Moose. Sergei had a pretty good rookie pro year with the Moose, posting 22 goals, 23 assists, and 45 points in 76 games. Shirokov has great vision and finishing capability, which potentially could be a solid NHL scorer. With Grabner gone (trade this offseason with Florida), it opens up for this Russian sniper to squeeze into a NHL spot this year or next year.

6. Kevin Connauton D (83rd in 09)

This year Kevin made the jump from University hockey, to the WHL. He played for the Giants and impressed Canuck fans with 24 goals and 72 points in just 69 games. Connauton is an offensive defenseman, that can move the puck. His strong point is controlling the power play and let go of his cannon. Kevin is the Canucks best prospect on defence, which improves his odds of stepping in one day. Expect Connauton to make the NHL jump in two or three years.

7. Evan Oberg D (Signed in 09)

Oberg had a strong season last year and rose on my list of top prospects as the year went on. Oberg fit into the Manitoba Moose’s lineup and played some good hockey. Evan is a offensive defenseman, who has great offensive instincts. Oberg struggles shutting down bigger forwards and can get pushed around in physical games. Evan has a good shot at making the team next year, as the Canucks have 8 NHL defenseman on there roster heading into training camp.

8. Yann Sauve D (41st in 08)

Yann played in the QMJHL this year with the Saint John Sea Dogs, and had a stellar +42 (yes you read that right, 42!). Sauve is a big, mean defenseman that you would want to keep your head up going into the corner with him. At 6’3, 209, he is built to be a solid defensive defenseman in the NHL.  Yann will most likely step into the NHL in two to three years from now into a depth defence role. If all goes well for Sauve he could find himself on the 2nd or 3rd defence pairing.

9. Patrick McNally D (115th in 10)

Patrick was the Canucks first pick in this year’s draft. McNally played for the Milton Academy in Massachusetts this year. He recorded 35 points in 28 games and was named to the All New England First Team. Patrick has already committed to Harvard University in 2011. McNally is a bright kid who possesses the skill that Canuck GM Mike Gillis couldn’t pass up on. Don’t expect this offensive blueliner to step into a Canuck uniform for another 4-5 years.

10. Taylor Ellington D (33rd in 07)

Taylor played his first full pro season last year. He split time between Manitoba and Victoria. The rookie struggled posting -3 in 16 games with Manitoba and -13 with Victoria. Taylor is a steady, reliable defenseman, who doesn’t shy away from physical play. He projects to be a 2nd or 3rd defensive line pairing in the NHL, playing the role of a defensive defenseman. Ellington will spend a few more years in the minors before he is ready for NHL action.


Petersen NHL Preview – Vancouver Canucks

October 3, 2010

Can Hank have build off of last years success?

After a year of many positives for Canuck fans, the season ended with fans scratching there heads wondering what went wrong. The Sedin’s had a monster year with the Nuckleheads, ending with Henrik winning the Art Ross and the Hart Trophies. Alexander Burrows had a nice 2010 campaign, leading the Canucks in goals with 35. Kesler, Raymond, Samuelsson, and Erhoff all had solid offensive numbers last season. It surprised everyone when the Canucks finished a top of the league with goal scoring, coming from a defence first hockey team. Luongo had a good season in net, but wasn’t himself. By the time the playoffs rolled around it caught up to Luongo. Once again the Canucks lost in the second round to the Chicago Blackhawks. Another factor for the second round exit was the Canucks defence looked bad against the high flying ‘Hawks offence. Mitchell missed the playoffs due to a hit from behind by Evgeni Malkin and it showed on Vancouver’s blue line.

With the offseason additions by Mike Gillis, the expectations are weighing on the club. Many fans are all ready saying, “this year is the year”.

Last Season: 49-28-5, 103 points, 3rd in the Western Conference

Incoming: Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Victor Oreskovich, Joel Perrault

Outgoing: Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, Willie Mitchell, Kyle Wellsood, Andrew Raycroft

Reason For Hope: The city is buzzing about the Vancouver Canucks and there chance to make a run at Lord Stanley. The Canucks are pegged by many experts to win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver was close last year, but after a few offseason pickups, adding depth to the blueline and grit to the bottom six forwards, the Canucks have the best team in the league on paper. UFA singing, Dan Hamhuis was thrilled to sign with Vancouver on July the 1st. He returns to his home province and comes to a team that has a shot at winning something. Hamhuis will play top 4 minutes on defence and has high expectations. The other UFA signed by Mike Gillis was Manny Malhotra who is expected to eat up minutes on the third line and help out a struggling PK unit. Keith Ballard was traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline for Grabner, Bernier, and the Canucks first rounder. Ballard will add both depth and a physical presence on the ‘Nucks defence. Mike Gillis has made sure this offseason to pick up as much depth as he can. But, the main reason for all the optimism around this Canuck team is Henrik Sedin coming off a career best year winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies. Fans are excited about Henirks follow-up year and to see what he has in store. Also anytime you have Luongo in net there is a chance to go far. He has come to training camp this year shredding a few pounds (will hopefully help out his side to side movement) and a chip on his shoulder, Luongo is a determined man. With a core of the Sedins, Luongo, Burrows, Kesler, Raymond, Hamhuis, Edler, and Ehrhoff, what’s not to like about this Canuck team?

 

This is Roberto Luongo's team and how he plays will dictate the outcome of the season

What Could Go Wrong? : For the past 40 years, the Canucks have been in the league and have never won a cup. As a religious Canuck fan, it seems the Canucks just find a way to lose when it counts. The last couple of season’s the Canucks have been cup contenders but have collapsed under pressure. It worries me that the same will happen this year. Luongo has looked shaky his last few post-season appearances and is hoping to forget the past and have a great 2011 playoffs. This is Roberto Luongo’s team and how he plays in the playoffs is how the rest of the team will play. Also I know it’s only preseason, but Keith Ballard hasn’t look like anything special and if making the Canucks was based on how he played, he would be starting the year with the Moose. Kevin Bieksa has been in a slow and steady decline over the past few years, which really worries me. Vigneault’s headache, Shane O’Brien was placed on waivers on Saturday and isn’t likely to wear a Canuck uniform this season. Finally Salo is expected to miss a big chunk of the season coming off surgery from a torn Achilles tendon. With all these factors the Canucks blue line isn’t as deep as we thought it was.

Prediction: 1st-3rd in the Western Conference


B-MO, A Feel Good Story

September 19, 2010

Morrison will hopefully wear his hometown Canuck colors this winter

For those of you who don’t know, I’m from the West Coast and from the time I was old enough to walk I have watched almost every Canuck game shown on TV. I always loved to watch and cheer for those who work hard every shift and wreak the rewards from their tenacity. Brendan Morrison was a good Canadian kid from the Lower Mainland, whom the Canucks picked up from New Jersey in the Alexander Mogilny trade. Morrison looked great wearing the Canuck colors and instantly became a fan-favourite. B-MO was a feel good story for the Canucks and always had a smile on his face.

MO was the odd duck on the old West Coast Express (Naslund, Bertuzzi, and Morrison) that ripped apart Western Conference goalies. He and the Canucks were a powerhouse in the West, posing a threat to make a long cup run each year. Unfortunately, this era of in Vancouver came to a crashing halt when Big Burt punched Steve Moore in the back of his head, ending Moore’s hockey career. After a disappointing year following the lock-out, GM Dave Nonis shipped Bertuzzi to Florida for Roberto Luongo. The Canucks switched styles that year, from a high-flying offence to a tight defence that never fit in Brendan’s game. Former line mate Naslund jumped up to join the Sedin twins on the first line, leaving B-MO and officially ended the West Coast Express.

Brendan Morrison wasn’t just known in Vancouver for his on ice play, but his charity work and connecting with the community. B-MO was at Children’s hospital and Canuck Place almost every day spending time with kids that were facing the biggest challenges of their young lives.

During the 2006-2007 season while I was playing minor hockey I had an opportunity to come to Vancouver for a practice and then watch the Canucks practice after our ice time. It was a dream for any kid to skate at GM Place, the same ice where the pros skate.

Unfortunately the big leaguers didn’t even acknowledge that we were there. No one came to give autographs or even to say “hi” to our hockey team of 12 year olds. I realize it’s a tough job being a pro and constantly being hounded by the media and hockey fans.

Although there was one Canuck, who stood at the end of the tunnel grinning ear to ear, waiting for us when we all came off the ice. Brendan Morrison made our day, tapping each kid’s gloves and saying hi to every player that can off the ice. I will never forget his toothy grin and how I never washed my glove since that day!

Since then Morrison has struggled, the ex- Canuck tried to re-boot his career in Anaheim, Dallas, and Washington. All were failed experiments and it appeared that he didn’t have the magic in his stick since he left Vancouver.

The members of the West Coast Express have all gone their own ways and struggled to return to find their games. Naslund has since retired, but not before joining the New York Rangers for one last kick at the can, which was unsuccessful.  Big-Burt has jumped around from team to team, similar to Morrison, trying to get his game back. Todd’s game has slowly declined and his body is constantly injury riddled. Bertuzzi has become a veteran role player for the Red Wings, hoping to win the Cup before his body breaks down.

So, when I heard Morrison was coming back to Vancouver to try-out for the team I got excited. One of my favourite Canucks was back in Van-city to return to a place where he had been in his glory days. I am itching to see how B-MO will do and I am rooting for the BC boy, Morrison, to rekindle his career.