Brief comments on various stories or issues around the NHL:
1) Are there any other Canuck fans who are hoping that Columbus ends up with the first overall draft pick? They’ve already indicated they are prepared to deal the choice and I can’t think of a better return for Cory Schneider.
2) I know Oiler fans are delighted with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (and I might feel different about this if RNH hadn’t been hurt) but for my money Gabriel Landeskog is this year’s best rookie.
3) The announcement that Quebec City is committed to a new rink sounds like the death knell of the Phoenix Coyotes to me. I’ll be surprised if the franchise lasts a week beyond the Coyote’s last game of the year. RIP.
4) David Ebner reports out about expectations in Vancouver and the pressure on Alain Vigneault:
The seeming consensus – even if it’s unreasonable, and short-sighted – among chatterers is essentially this: Vigneault, the best coach Vancouver has ever had, has to make the Cup final to keep his job. A third-round exit might be acceptable, depending how it unfolds. Second-round failure, almost-guaranteed firing. First-round, goodbye.
Tony Gallagher would fire him today even though it is unreasonable and short-sighted. Fortunately for the sentient, Mike Gillis is not a chatterer, he is not unreasonable and he is not short-sighted. Me, I’d extend Vigneault, no matter what. I’d extend him today.
I have faith in Gillis, so I don’t think Vigneault’s job depends on playoff success this year. But if it does, and if Alain does lose his job, the Habs will hire him in a heartbeat. It would be our loss, their gain.
5) I can understand why David Poile chose to let Alex Radulov return this year – will they ever have a better chance to win a Cup? – but it’s a very sweet deal for Radulov and Poile may very well end up regretting it. It is great right now, but when the season ends…
Radulov will be an RFA, but a special RFA in that he will be looking at an offer from the KHL that Nashville will find difficult to top especially if they still hope to sign Suter and Weber. Since the NHL will be locking out the players in September, Radulov will probably be returning to the KHL anyway.
This is a short term deal and it is very late in the season to be trying to fit a new star into the lineup. It changes the pecking order on an already successful team, pushing most forwards into different (and lesser) roles. I’ve got a lot of time for Barry Trotz, but that type of transition isn’t always easy.
6) Zack Kassian isn’t making anyone in Vancouver forget Cody Hodgson (yet) but Sami – er, Samme or Sam or whatever he wants to call himself – Pahlsson has reminded me why he has been one of my favourite players for years. He does so many things to help a team win, I’ve nearly forgotten who he replaced.
Gillis made the Canucks better at the deadline.
7) Is there an explanation for the swan dive the Sharks have taken this year? I expected them to be better after getting Brett Burns, but they might miss the playoffs. I think they will hang in there, but I’m still shocked.
Still, they only project to be 11 points off last year’s pace. The Capitals project to 90 points this year – a stunning 17 points off what they accomplished last season. And even they aren’t the Habs, who are 19 points off last year’s record. Or the Lightning, down 20 points. Pick your disappointment.
A reminder to Canuck fans: Enjoy this while you can. It can all go poof, and in a hurry.