Vancouver Canucks update and League quick hits

Jonathan Willis
October 24 2008 09:08AM

Lots of stuff happened in Vancouver over the last week. For starters, they recalled first Matt Pettinger, and then Kyle Wellwood and Jaosn Krog. Pettinger was snagged by the Tampa Bay Lightning on re-entry waivers, which is almost always a good move, given that they now only need to pay half of his $1 million salary—they’re getting a replacement level player for league minimum.

On the other hand, last I checked Tampa Bay has a million forwards, so perhaps they weren’t the best team to make this particular move. Either way, Mike Gillis sees a small portion of his ample cap space disappear, and is left with two other fringe NHLers in Krog and Wellwood. One wonders how long it is until Michel Ouellet gets a recall.

In unsurprising news, Pavol Demitra is injured again. This should effectively move the Canucks’ secondary scoring from inconsistent to nonexistent for the next month, while Demitra recovers from fractured cartilage in his ribs. For those Canucks fans who entered the season with the belief that the massive run of injuries that derailed 2007–08 couldn’t occur again, Sami Salo, Darcy Hordichuk and Rick Rypien all missed the Canucks’ last game.

In related news, Mats Sundin has finally begun skating, although his agent downplayed the idea that he has decided to return to the NHL. That didn’t stop Mike Gillis from sounding optimistic when asked by TSN to comment on the report:

“We were told that last week. It's encouraging. I always felt that he was going to return and play because I think he's got a lot of hockey left in him and I think there's some goals that he expressed to me when I spoke to him a while ago that he wanted to fulfill. So, I'm not surprised."

And as for the $10 million/season offer that the Canucks gave to Sundin, it’s still on the table:

”Yeah, we haven't removed our proposal, we haven't digressed in any way in terms of our interest in trying to get him to come and play in Vancouver," Gillis said. "We're going to put our best foot forward when the time comes and he indicates that he's ready to play and hopefully we can get him to come."

It almost goes without saying that signing Sundin would move the Canucks from being a fringe playoff team to being the favourite to win the division. Sundin’s a quality hockey player, the kind of guy that can go head to head with any level of opposition and less than stellar linemates and still come out ahead.

Other Notes

Anaheim has signed Bret Hedican to a one-year contract and assigned Ken Klee (acquired at the start of the season in the Mathieu Schneider giveaway) to the minors. Mirtle’s all over this one, and I don’t have much to add except to say that this is a great pickup by the Ducks at a very reasonable rate.

Speaking of excellent pickups, one of my favourite UFAs this summer has finally signed, inking a one-year deal with Tampa Bay. Marek Malik is underrated because he isn’t at all pretty in getting results—he just gets them, and against quality opposition. There must be some fairly serious behind the scenes stuff against him for it to have taken this long for him to get a contract offer. He brings a lot to the table that Tampa Bay is short on.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 n00b1aNpR1n(355
October 24 2008, 09:13AM
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n00b1aNpR1n(355 wishes that the blonde girl lived in his closet

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#2 Scott
October 24 2008, 09:29AM
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Apparently Malik showed up out of shape, so the character issues might be real. It's the best explanation why every team stayed away from a reliable 20 minute shut down defenseman through training camp and the first two weeks of the season.

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#3 baggedmilk
October 24 2008, 10:23AM
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Mats Sundin needs to sign somewhere already so I don't have to hear about him anymore.

Demitra is fragile, much like the china dolls that I cuddle until I fall asleep at night. Vancouver is in for a long haul with that glass tiger.

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#4 Moony
October 24 2008, 11:02AM
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I just read on Dan Tencer's blog on the Oilers' website that Mac-T mixed up the lines. The lines for practice this morning were:

Nilsson - Horcoff - Hemsky

Penner - Cogliano - Gagner

Moreau - Pouliot - Cole

MacIntyre - Brodziak - Stortini

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#5 Jonathan Willis
October 24 2008, 11:09AM
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Nilsson - Horcoff - Hemsky Penner - Cogliano - Gagner Moreau - Pouliot - Cole MacIntyre - Brodziak - Stortini

I like the looks of those. My only question is whether or not Penner can keep up with Gagner/Cogliano.

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#6 Chest Rockwell
October 24 2008, 11:09AM
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who gives a shit about the canucks, this is oilersnation isn't it.

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#7 tricksnard
October 24 2008, 11:10AM
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I like those lineups, only thing I'd add is me getting frisky with Penner's mom/sister/girlfriend/wife (at the same time?) so the guy develops a mean streak to match his size.

That being said, all I want is our boys to put down a nice whoopin' on the nucks Saturday.

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#8 Gord
October 24 2008, 11:13AM
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Cole to the 3rd line? He has been the best player on the 1st line in 6 games and he is getting demoted? MacT better start listening to himself when he said he will be playing his best players.

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#9 Moony
October 24 2008, 11:14AM
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Does anybody know if Gagner could play the left side because I would like to see if Cole could fit in with Cogliano and Gagner. It would only make sense though if Cole could stay on the right side. I am really hoping Nilsson could gel with Hemmer and Horcoff because I am a big believer in what Nilsson can do and the type of player he can be.

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#10 Smokin' Ray Burnt
October 24 2008, 11:49AM
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I thought he would switch Cole and Penner. MacT is a mad man.

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#11 Jason Gregor
October 24 2008, 12:16PM
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Moony,

I've spoken with Sam about his preference of wings, and he feels the right side is better suited for him, but of course he'd like to play in the middle down the road.

Also, Pisani's back is still bothering him and when I spoke to him it doesn't sound like he will play tomorrow. And look for Staios to return to the lineup in Van.

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#12 Jonathan Willis
October 24 2008, 01:02PM
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who gives a shit about the canucks, this is oilersnation isn’t it.

Because clearly, major moves by a division rival will have no effect on the Oilers whatsoever.

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#13 Moony
October 24 2008, 01:25PM
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Jason,

Do you know the reason why Gagner is not playing in the middle? Is it that they prefer Cogliano in that position or Gagners lack of size, strength and experience? Do they want to ease him more into the middle?

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#14 Jason Gregor
October 24 2008, 02:31PM
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Moony,

He played the wing last year, because MacT wanted to protect him a bit. Playing the wing meant less responsibility in all areas of the ice. MacTavish has hinted he will have Gagner back in the middle at some point, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happens sooner than later if the Oilers continue to struggle scoring goals.

People need to remember very few players become dominant centres right away. Doug Weight was a 4th liner in NYR and even here for a bit. Same with Horcoff. The Sakics, Yzermans, Crosbys, Malkins are rarities.

I'd expect Gagner to play in the middle at points this season and eventually he will be back in the middle.

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#15 Fiveandagame
October 24 2008, 06:18PM
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"Because clearly, major moves by a division rival will have no effect on the Oilers whatsoever"

HAHAHA! That just happened Chest Rockwell!

I like the looks of these new line combos.

Regardless of who is playing with who and the whole chemistry thing. The Oilers need a solid 60mins from everybody, those first 4 wins were lucky and slim.

Nils and Hemmer could be super sweet!

My concern is the fourth line. Who drops in for MacIntyre when he's not pounding the crap out of Hordichuck (of he's back in the line up)

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#16 Temujin
October 26 2008, 02:59AM
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"This should effectively move the Canucks’ secondary scoring from inconsistent to nonexistent for the next month"

6-3 Canucks

Put that in your "nonexistent secondary scoring" pipe and smoke it!

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