With the Vancouver Canucks getting eliminated from the playoffs only two weeks in, many expected the post mortem to be somewhat grim. Full credit to Mike Gillis for at least appearing to have some semblance of sanity by using direct statements and humor. It’s not entirely clear what direction the Vancouver GM will head in, but his statements about getting younger in particular should raise some eyebrows. Most of the team’s core is at or around the 30 year old mark, so to accomplish this will take some shuffling.
The real question many should be asking, was the trade of Cody Hodgeson to Buffalo for Zach Kassian a blip on the radar, or a preview of coming attractions. Kassian has been known in his short career to toe the line in terms of physical play, but he wilted like a flower after arriving in Vancouver. Also of note were the comments that Cody Hodgeson wanted out. It is strange and rather unprofessional by my estimation to even make something like this public, look at the outrage surrounding Dany Heatley not three years ago. If it was wrong for the player to make it known that he wanted out, it is no less so for the management group to come forward after the fact when the popularity of the decision is in question.
Lupul for Masterton
It was not surprising news to hear that Joffrey Lupul will be in Las Vegas at the annual NHL awards show as a finalist for the Masterton awards, given to the athlete that is the best example of perseverance in sport. Lupul had a career year skating beside Phil Kessel and was in the top 10 in scoring up until he suffered a season ending shoulder injury. It was only a season ago that Lupul was back and forth between Syracuse and Anaheim recovering from a back injury and subsequent infections that nearly ended his career. From all the writers at editorinleaf.com, congratulations.
Luongo will waive No Trade Clause
This was hardly surprising news given the way the playoffs ended for Roberto. The question now becomes is whether or not he will use the out clause to veto a move a-la Dany Heatley. If so, he will likely hamstring the team for years to come as the audience willing to accept a 10 year deal without a collective bargaining agreement in place will be captive at best. The amnesty buyout possibility exists in terms of a possible way to move him out of Vancouver, which may be in the best interest of the Canucks long term. Many speculate that Bobby-Lou could garnish some return, but in reality almost any team willing to take him is going to expect the Nucks to take some salary back in return. If this ends up being the case, they might be better served to open up salary space with an amnesty buyout which is all but guaranteed to be available.
Another scenario that may present itself is the possibility for teams to make a one time restructure to contracts on the books. The NHL and players may both agree to this as it may not have the upside down effect on the market place as simple buyouts. The idea being that certain contracts could be reduced with a one time bonus payout to reduce the cap hit without releasing the player to the open market. Such moves are currently and readily used in the National Football League as well as the National Basketball Assosciation.
Marlies Sweep Amerks
Congratulations to all members of the Marlies organization for the first round playoff sweep. From the limited amount I was able to catch, Ben Scrivens looked good all series, but great last night. All aspects of the game were good and hopefully are a sign of good things to come for the Maple Leafs. The development system has not been very good for a long time due to the short term mentality that Leafs operations employed. If Brian Burke deserves credit for anything, it is the turnaround of the baby Leafs. He made two key decisions since taking over as the Leafs general manager, first moving Dallas Eakins within the organization to the coaching ranks, second not allowing the short term prospect of a playoff round dictating the movement of young prospects for stop gap solutions.
In all of this lauding, prospect Jerry D’Amigo deserves special praise for his performance in the series. The Leafs have been high on this young man since he arrived via draft into the system. He earned a Gold medal in the 2010 World Juniors while playing for team USA, and spent parts of the last three years between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Kitchener Rangers before spending the entire season with the Toronto Marlies. With all the talk of drafting, this appears to be an example of improvement in the other “D”, which is developing.
Speaking of all of this, when did it become a sin to develop your players? Between the weekly tirades of Don Cherry and the latest attack by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, you would swear the Leafs have struck out on every draft pick since the late 1960’s. It is really that bad for draft picks to spend time in the minor leagues honing their craft as opposed to stepping in well over their head in a limited NHL role?
If Nazem Kadri is struggling at times in the NHL because, as Don Cherry suggests, the kid is hurt from being kept in the minors, then the Leafs have more troubles than his slow progression. Kadri, for the record has displayed disappointment at times, but has never been anything but professional in terms of dealing with the situation. If he was lighting up the AHL on a nightly basis, then maybe there would be a justification for furor over his being held back. He is learning while playing on a good team which he is learning how to win. I personally believe that he will be a regular contributor next year, and that he will excel because of the fact that he was patiently groomed for NHL duty.