Monday, November 25, 2013

Raymond and the top five "how come he never did it here" ex-Canucks

So...what do these three players have in common?

This past Thursday, I took a look at Mason Raymond's very well-publicized revival in Toronto. And while I may have been a little premature about Todd Bertuzzi "beating the odds once again" (six games without a point since my post), Raymond is just now coming off a career-high 5-game point streak, upping his season totals to 8 goals and 9 assists in 23 games.

With nearly a third of the season through, it seems like May Ray's awakening has some legitimate staying power. At his current pace, he'll have 28 goals and 60 points by season's end. But without repeating why Raymond's scoring rate would likely not have occurred if he had stayed in Vancouver (see the previous post), it nonetheless constitutes a cruel, cruel joke, given the Canucks' current offensive vacuum.

For years, fans in Vancouver waited patiently, err... passionately for Raymond to put forth this kind of secondary scoring. It's the kind of "he really couldn't have done that here?" scenario that a self-deprecating Canucks fan can really feast on.

So with Raymond's current run with the Leafs in mind, here are the top five players who put in their best years only after handing in their Canucks jerseys.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mason Raymond: Santorelli of the East, and then some

After long having given up on Mason Raymond, Vancouver watched as the perpetually-imbalanced winger opened the season with 8 points in 7 games as a Maple Leaf. By the time he returned to the city on Bure night, however, he had cooled off considerably and everybody generally stopped paying attention. A pair of other former Canucks started turning heads around the league, as Maxim Lapierre earned a five-game suspension and Manny Malhotra authored a movie-script return to the NHL in Carolina.

But after having seemingly leveled off to his previous Canucks pace, Raymond has picked up the offensive slack in Toronto once more. Including his game-winner against the Islanders on Tuesday night, he is currently riding a four-game point streak. And with 8 goals and 8 assists through the quarter-mark of the season, Raymond is on pace for a career-high 62 points. This, at a time when the Canucks' offensive well has all but dried up (6 goals during a 5-game losing skid).

So then. Was letting Raymond go a serious mistake?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Benson looking to rebound after lacklustre U16 Cup

Benson set to make his Giants debut tonight after a
gold medal win with Alberta in the WHL's U16 Cup.
Tyler Benson will make his hotly anticipated Vancouver Giants debut tonight against the Tri-City Americans. Set to play in one of a maximum five games for the Giants before his midget season ends in March, Vancouver is looking for Benson to live up to his "exceptional player" status and all the hyperbolic expectations that come along with it.

The last time that a Giants player was even selected first overall in the WHL Draft -- let alone a year early -- it was Gilbert Brule. Say what you will about the Brule's NHL career -- he came exactly as advertised in the 'Dub, single-handedly leading the Giants to a WHL championship and Memorial Cup appearance in his third junior season. As the hype would seemingly dictate then, the road back to legitimacy for the Giants starts tonight.

Nationwide, the precedence for being drafted into the major juniors a year early begins with John Tavares, which should give you some indication that Vancouver isn't the only city closely watching tonight's game.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Bertuzzi beating the odds, again [with statistical WCE comparison]

Last night, Todd Bertuzzi scored a goal and an assist in an overtime loss to Dallas. A pretty innocuous statement by itself. But a closer look reveals that with those two points, Bertuzzi's current pace (5 goals and 4 assists in 17 games) would see him score 20-plus goals for the first time since 2005-06 -- otherwise known in Vancouver as the West Coast Express's last hurrah.

The fact that Bertuzzi has carved out a very unlikely niche in Detroit's system is a well-covered story. Having been discarded by five different teams in a span of three years, Big Bert reinvented himself as a defensively-responsible cog in Mike Babcock's lineup.

But that was four years ago. The surprise now is that at age thirty-eight, Bertuzzi remains just as valuable as he unpredictably was in his first couple of seasons with Detroit -- if not more. And not only is he at an age when the vast majority of players are retired, he is coming off a season in which he spent all but seven games with a severe back injury.

Continue reading for a year-by-year and cumulative statistical
comparison of Bertuzzi, Naslund and Morrison, post-2006.
Image: Paige Kaitlyn, Flickr

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Bure night: Trevor, the wife and Ron frickin' MacLean

Well that's that. From Jim Hughson at the podium to Pat Quinn seated at centre ice to the spirited fans chanting his name, the pre-game ceremony at Rogers Arena last night was a proper blast from the past and a success in enshrining Pavel Bure's superlative time as a Canuck.

Pavel Bure joining Smyl, Linden and Naslund in the
highest-possible honour to be bestowed on a Vancouver Canuck.
Photo by Sheriff Earp on Flickr.

Gretzky on Malhotra for Bure: "I would not have retired"

Earlier this week, the Hurricanes made the announcement that Manny Malhotra was back in the NHL. Or at least on a two-way contract. As a result, fans on the West Coast couldn't be happier. For Vancouver, the love affair with Manny traces back to 2010, when he was first signed from Columbus as a free agent.

But as the under-explored story goes, Malhotra was nearly a Canuck long before 2010. With Vancouver still reeling from Bure night, the connection traces all the way back to the Russian Rocket's trade away from the West Coast in 1999.

As you know, Bure went to Florida, in exchange for a package that centred around Ed Jovanovski and Nathan Smith the promise of a first-round draft pick. A year after the trade, however, then-Canucks GM Brian Burke commented on a proposed that would have sent Bure to the Rangers instead. 

Similar to the actual return from Florida, the ask was centered around a very promising and high-profile young player, an 18-year-old rookie who was already centering a line for the Rangers named Manny Malhotra. 

Much like Kassian-Hodgson, Malhotra would have likely had to endure
a lifetime of comparison to the Rocket had the Rangers pulled the trigger in 1999.