Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's not nice to make fun of Brian Burke...

...but a recent tweet from Bill Sweatt's Twitter helps do just that.

this is for all Leafs Fans, I never turned down anything. Just wanted to wait to see how things shaked out with their trades

Then Burke yanked the deal. If he didn't there is a possibility I could have been a Leaf today   

Kind of interesting how those comments absolutely conflict with Burke's side...

Sweatt, however, declined to accept the Leaf offer, and instead an angry Leaf GM Brian Burke opted to sign German prospect Marcel Mueller. Sweatt is still unsigned, and Burke blamed his agent, Scott Norton, for the failed negotations.

“I believe a more experienced agent would have got this done,” he said.    

Brian Burke is certainly the man for the Maple Leaf rebuild.

Bieksa Buzz... Again...

Canucks Bound? 

There's a rumor floating around that there might be a deal between the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks centering on Tomas Fleischmann for Kevin Bieksa in the works.

Honestly doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me as I can't see Fleischmann being a fit on the Canucks and I don't think that's the best maximization of assets for Bieksa, but I guess we'll wait and see. It does seem logical that a trade may go down this weekend and fits in with the buzz we've been hearing about Mitchell.

Tavares will get his respect this season!

Even though this blog will tend to be Canuck centric as that's the main team I follow and the main team I care about, I am also a huge fan of the NHL in general. One of my favorite things about being a hockey fan is being able to follow a player from his youth all the way through his professional career. A few of these such players include Evander Kane (who I actually named a species of sunflower I bred this summer after... I'm sure wherever Evander is, he's comforted to know there's a sunflower named after him) Varlamov, Schroeder, Hedman, Duchene, and a number of others. However the number one player who excites me this season has to be John Tavares.

John Tavares has been a hockey prodigy his entire life. However his body and his skating not being prepared for the NHL last season. He only got 54 points last season (because that's considered mediocre now for an 18 year old kid...) and the buzz in the hockey world last season was largely about Matt Duchene. Also it doesn't help that Islander fans are the most cynical people on the face of the earth, and through years of having a front office seemingly conceived in Hunter Thompson's imagination are afraid to express any kind of optimistic thought.

However I think people are vastly underrating John Tavares. The amount of disrespect he gets amongst the league's fans is staggering, especially since his campaign on the Island last season was exceptional. In the games I watched of John Tavares this past season, I saw a kid who has borderline miraculous hockey intelligence. Each game Tavares seemed to have 2 or 3 perfect blind passes into the slot to a winger who inevitably whiffed or fouled up the gift wrapped pass. You also have to consider that Tavares had absolutely no support last season. Tavares was first in scoring on his team with 54 points with a 20 year old Kyle Okposo behind him at 52,  defenseman Mark Streit in third place with 49 points (seriously, start the letter writer campaigns now to declare Streit the most underrated player in the league) and Matt Moulson (an AHL journeymen turned Taylor Pyatt) with 48. Just for a frame of reference, in Sidney Crosby's first year he had Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Ryan Malone, and Zigmund Palffy. I think the case could be argued that there isn't a former 1st round pick in the last decade who's come to a team and had to play with less talent than John Tavares. Also Tavares was expected to carry the Islanders last season while most prospects are eased into the line up.

I am buying NHL Center Ice this season for a lot of reasons, and that's a rhyme. One of the main reasons is I want to see Tavares progress this year. From game one to game eighty-two, it should be a heck of a roller coaster ride for hockey fans. There's something really special going on in Long Island with this kid, however a lot of hockey fans are missing out on it.

My take on Tavares

John Tavares's playing style reminds me of a hockey jedi. His hockey vision and IQ is insane. He's capable of three or four beautiful passes a game. His ability to score in close is second to none among even established vets. The one thing that's concerning about Tavares's game is that he seems to only be comfortable scoring from one spot in close on the net. This is something that got him a lot of punishment last season (by game 30 teams were out right gooning him which was a significant contributor to his mid-season slump) and also was easy to stop once teams figured this out. However they say it's much easier to teach a guy who plays in close the permitter game rather than vice versa. I would project Tavares to have 30-40-70 this season and probably in all likelihood a -10. I also expect him to take a significant leap in his physical development and skating.

Also if anyone out there has any articles or info on what training Tavares is doing this off-season, let me know. I've been looking for info but can't find it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Willie Mitchell/Kevin Bieksa Buzz... Again...

Apparently there's some buzz beginning to generate around the Vancouver Canucks as UFA defenseman Willie Mitchell says he will not make a decision about his future team until after this weekend. It's rumored right now that Van, LA, SJ, and Wash are in the hunt for Mitchell's services. Mitchell was rumored to be in LA sometime in the last week and the buzz has been that LA was his most likely destination. However now the buzz thinks Mitchell is waiting for Gillis to move Bieksa out before signing with the team. It would make sense as Mitchell has become a cornerstone on the backend in Vancouver and is originally from British Columbia. I also think one could argue that the Canucks would have the best defense on paper if Mitchell returns to VanCity. Things seem to be heating up in Vancouver.

My prediction: This is going to be controversial but right now if Mitchell is going to sign in Vancouver, I'd imagine it would a deal between 3 to 4 million for three years.

The Canucks 2010-2011 Line-Up

So right now The Canucks look like...

Sedin Sedin Burrows
Raymond Kesler Samuelsson
Glass Malhotra Hansen
Rypien Hordichuk

Ballard Ehrhoff
Hamhuis Edler
Bieksa Salo
SOB Alberts


With NHL contracts. The Canucks also have Hodgson, Schroeder, Shirokov, Sweatt, Perrault, Oreskovich, Bolduc, and Bliznak probably competing for jobs in the forward corps next season. Also there's much speculation that the Canucks will trade Kevin Bieksa before the season begins (although that's tentative right now with Salo's injury this off-season) and probably add another forward.


Bill Sweatt wants to work his bag off for you!

"God damn Gillis" - Brian Burke

Well, it doesn't get much better than this off-season for Vancouver Canuck fans. With the Canucks signing prospect and former Leaf/Blackhawk property Bill Sweatt today, Mike Gillis has done virtually everything he possibly could this off-season to appease the Canuck nation. The Canucks have addressed their weakness on the back-end by adding two big ticket defensemen, an excellent defensive/pk man, and has now slapped the Canucks two biggest rivals in the face by signing a player neither one could ink. I've felt that Gillis has been the best GM in the league since his arrival in Vancouver (something that no doubt will make some think I'm a fan boy) however the way he's resurrected this team's reputation, built a solid stable of prospects (something this organization has never had) and has structured one of the best teams in the league after the Burke and Nonis slash and burn years is nothing short of miraculous.

My opinion is that Bill Sweatt's destiny is to become a hard-working role player destined for a third line role. He's described as having incredible speed and an excellent work ethic. Sweatt will be entering his first professional year of hockey this season.

What Others Are Saying

13. RW Billy Sweatt, 6-0 185, 9-21-1988, Colorado College NCAA, 30 gp – 9 g – 17 a – 26 points.
++ Amazing top gear, clutch performances, effort
+ Safe pick, honest two-way player, adequate finisher.
- Lack of top end offensive upside.

No one in this draft possesses a top gear that can even match the one Sweatt possesses. He has elite speed even compared to players in the NHL already. What separates Sweatt from say a Fredrik Sjostrom is that he knows how to utilize his speed to generate offensive chances for himself and his teammates. His dynamic top gear opens up the ice and opportunities for the team and he seems to come up clutch at the critical moments with an end to end rush that he either scores with or shifts the momentum to his teams side. The knock on Billy is that he’s not a great goal scorer or play maker. That said he finishes and creates enough plays through his speed and determination. He’s a gritty player with a good motor and awareness away from the puck. Sweatt lacks the finishing ability to be on a teams first line but he has a future on the second line and will receive ice time on both special team units.

Bill Sweatt 6'0" 180lb Elburn, IL

The TSN Insider's Forecast: If there is a faster straight-line skater in this draft than Colorado College's Bill Sweatt, most of the scouts have not seen him. Sweatt, who was a hard-working role player on the U.S. world junior team, is quick to get in on the forecheck and is not afraid to get physically involved, but there are concerns about his offensive limitations. Sweatt is one of those first-round candidates who could be taken a little bit earlier than this rating, but there's also a chance he could slide into the late first round or even the second round. He didn't help his cause by suffering a significant hand injury in the post season after punching out a window in a fit of rage.

From NHL Central Scouting: A skilled forward with the ability to make plays. Is a great skater and creates a lot of chances with his speed. Is a hard worker and very determined each shift. Has good puck handling skills and good anticipation. Needs to get stronger and needs to improve his ability to fight through checks.

From ISS: Not a flashy player, but certainly a player who has some skill and is willing to work hard in the battle areas. Sweatt represented the United States at the 2007 IIHF U-20 World Junior Championship in Sweden, helping the Americans win a bronze medal. Sweatt possesses soft hands and is very smart in his decisions with the puck.  

The Beginning

Hello Hockey Fans!

I am a long time Vancouver Canucks and Hockey fan. I'm also a rather ridiculous insomniac and a bit of an obsessive writer and artist. I've always wanted a forum to put together my thoughts and observations on the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks, and maybe some WHL or whatever random stuff goes through my mind at the time. So thank you very much for checking out this blog. I hope to keep it active and interesting for anyone who comes by.