February 02 2017 03:00PM
Any of you that followed me during my most recent stint on Twitter will know that a have a particularly strong affinity for Nico Hischier, one that I was particularly vocal about during the World Junior Championships, when he basically single-handedly scared the pants off the Americans in the quarter finals. Hischier, who started the year outside the top ten by many (and in 10th by my early top ten), was already a consensus top five pick at this point and was only heading up (he's now provided a reasonable challenge for first overall).
Meanwhile, the Canucks heading into the Christmas break (and thus the start of the World Junior tournament) were undoubtedly one of the league's worst teams, and their position in the standings showed it. They sat in 27th place at Christmas, and even with a couple of early wins out of the Christmas break, hope was allowed to creep in and create draw a line between the Canucks' terrible record, their eventual draft position, and this shiny young Swiss centre that was setting the WJC on fire.
As a rule, the Canucks aren't usually allowed to have nice things, with a few exceptions. In nearly 50 years, they have never captured the first overall pick - a trend that started with a spinning wheel back in 1970. So rather than hoping for number one, hoping for a top two or three selection seemed like a safer bet for a Vancouver fan, right? This could really happen!
It was then that my bubble was burst by the mention of one name: Michael Rasmussen.
February 02 2017 01:41PM
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports
With the Canucks a mere few weeks from the NHL trade deadline, it's time to take stock of the position from which they're operating. For the purpose of today's exercise, we'll prioritize fiscal assets ahead of personnel.
Having a clearer picture of what the Canucks have regarding their forwards, defence, goaltending, dollars and contracts will provide insight into some moves, if they happen, in the coming weeks.
Over the course of the next month, I will be able to use this snapshot to analyze, suggest some ideas, and create discussion, but for today, we are just visualizing where the organization stands.
February 02 2017 12:00PM
Here's what we're reasonably sure of right now: the salary cap probably isn't budging next season. That means the Calgary Flames will have $73 million to spend on their roster for the 2017-18 season.
But, as always, there are some holes and some complications moving forward.
February 02 2017 11:18AM
The NHLN Notebook is a semi-regular feature of interesting hockey content from the past few days that doesn't quite deserve its own article.
Poor goaltending costs Ken Hitchcock his job, good goaltending gets Thomas Greiss an extension and could singlehandedly save the Islanders' season, and the Avs are a complete disaster.
February 02 2017 10:00AM
So the Flames' goaltending has not been totally ideal this season. It currently sits at a .900 save percentage, tied for 24th in the NHL. (Not last!)
It wasn't ideal last season, either, and that was with a completely different cast. Then, however, it was .892, very much the worst in the league - and the only team below .900.
When's the last time the Flames had what could be considered ideal goaltending? Uh... 2014-15, probably, when every percentage went the Flames' way, and their .911 collective save percentage was tied for 15th in the league.
Except in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Flames had the same goalies for the most part, give or take a stray Joni Ortio. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo held down the fort one year - not masterfully, but well enough to give the rest of their team a chance night in and night out - and then had the fort cave in the very next season.
But both their contracts were up, and with a new cast, it should have been saved. And for some reason, it hasn't been.