August 26 2016 01:00PM
Anne-Marie Sorvin: USA Today Sports
The Canucks have a series of difficult questions to face at the onset of training camp. Paramount among them is whether they can accommodate Jake Virtanen as a feature on their opening night lineup.
It's not even a matter of regression, or whether Virtanen has done anything to loosen his grip on a full-time job. By all accounts, Virtanen had one of the best second halves among all Canucks' forwards; a distinction worth making, but one that perhaps undersells his body of work last season as a whole, truthfully. He's apparently been putting in serious work this off-season, too.
August 26 2016 11:00AM
Hockey season is on the horizon, so news is really starting to pick up the pace. At the moment, we are counting down the top 20 prospects within the Canucks organization, some of which the current regime acquired.
At the moment, Jim Benning's left no stone unturned as he continues to look for ways to add to the current prospect pool. The Canucks are rumoured to be in the hunt for NCAA UFA Matt Benning. Yes, he is related, it's Jim's nephew -- and he plays with Adam Gaudette, too.
Given that rumoured interest, we used pGPS to look at M. Benning, and an underwhelming 3.1% went onto becoming NHL regulars. I tweeted this out, merely as a 'for your information', but someone asked a question that got the wheels turning:
Nation World HQ
August 26 2016 05:00AM
Leafs scaring off free agents, Ken Holland's worst GM moves, why Giordano still can't make the World Cup team, Jets and Oilers need Captains, grading Chiarelli to date, why fighting is still part of the game, looking at Team North America and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by Violent Gentlemen.
August 25 2016 07:17PM
Taylor Beck signing on with the Edmonton Oilers got some brief attention when it happened and has mostly been ignored since. Yet he’s not a player who should be entirely counted out of the team’s plans for 2016-17. Not only should he be good enough to challenge for a spot in training camp, but even if he’s sent down that may not be the last of him.
August 25 2016 04:38PM
Times were good back in 2009: the Detroit Red Wings were defending Stanley Cup champions; Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had established their status as The Eurotwins; Detroit had a legitimate top-6 defense corps headed by team captain Nick Lidstrom; and Niklas Kronwall was at the top of his game.
At 28 years old, Kronwall played an 80 game season and broke the 50-point barrier. He had 94 hits, 106 blocks, and was named an NHL All-Star for the first time. Soaking up the leadership from vets like Chris Chelios and Brian Rafalski, Kronwall was touted as the man who would take the reigns from Lidstrom one day on the blueline.
Unfortunately, the skates were too big to fill. In Kronner’s defense, though, it was Lidstrom. He was irreplaceable.
And Kronwall didn’t do too bad in the years following Lidstrom’s retirement. In the lockout shortened 2012-13 season, he put up 29 points in 48 games and in 2013-14, he recorded 49 points in 79 games. He was named an All-Star both years and ranked top-15 in Norris voting. He was by no means the best defenseman in the league, but he was the best defenseman on the Red Wings.
This is no longer the case as Kronwall has entered a decline that I don’t think he’ll be coming out of.