Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Nils Hoglander Is A Stud In The Making

The Vancouver Canucks selected Nils Hoglander 40th overall on the second day of the NHL draft. While there are many draft prospects that can blossom into elite studs down the road, my money is on Hoglander being the best value pick of this year’s draft class.

Hoglander has been a player I’d been dreaming about the Vancouver Canucks selecting. It’s not just because we share very similar names, but I figured he would go mid to late in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Who Is Nils Hoglander?

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He possesses blistering speed, some of the best hands of his draft class, a remarkable fitness level and rigorous work ethic. Despite his size, the slippery Swedish forward plays a gritty, physical game and has a highlight reel of big hits. Hoglander is also capable defensively and does not have any real gap in his game other than his height. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many draft prospects get a lot of criticism for height reasons including Hoglander and Cole Caufield, but the Swedish forward is a remarkable talent. At 5’9 and 185 pounds, Hoglander might be considered undersized by current NHL standards, but his work ethic and competitiveness make his size seem like a non-issue.

Hoglander played in the SHL as a U18 player, which is a very rare feat. To top that, Hoglander posted a better points per game average last season than Toronto Maple Leafs star William Nylander (when he played in the SHL). I truly believe that Hoglander has the capacity to become a legitimate top line winger and he’ll have a ton of great talent alongside him in Vancouver to help accelerate his production.

Not only does Hoglander present top line upside, but his good defensive and physical attributes guarantee him being at least a solid top 9 forward. I could see Hoglander’s point production being anywhere between 30 and 70 points per year, but that is depending on his line-mates and ice time.

Potentially One Of The Biggest Steals Of The Draft

I think this is absolutely outstanding value for 40th overall, and potentially one of the steals of the draft. While we’ll have to wait a few years till Hoglander is ready to come to Vancouver, Canucks fans should be very excited as Hoglander is a special player and will be an asset.

stats from eliteprospects.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Tyler Myers

Vancouver Canucks Sign Tyler Myers

It’s beginning to seem like a theme in July. The Vancouver Canucks make a free agency signing (or signings) that have the hockey world scratching their heads. This year it’s Tyler Myers at five years for $6 million per year.

While this isn’t as atrocious as it initially could have been, the Vancouver Canucks make a signing on July 1st that isn’t popular in many circles outside of “Old School Hockey Men”. With rumours floating around in the week prior to free agency that the deal could have been seven years at $8 million average annual value (AAV) this could have been a much worse situation.


Tweet courtesy of @BlakePriceTSN

The Good

Tyler Myers is an NHL Blue liner without a doubt but he could be miscast and played up the lineup at times. What he does bring to the table however are great size and decent puck skills. The 6’8″ defender has a massive frame and outstanding reach. This profiles as an outstanding feature for a blue liner. His skating is good for his massive size and he can be a freight train once he gets up to speed. The Canucks showed that is a video they posted to their twitter.


Tweet courtesy of @Canucks

The Bad

This contract is too long and for too much money. Often playing on the third pairing last season on the Winnipeg Jets , Myers struggled at times. He was often paired with sub-par players and was unable to raise his game to cover for them despite being in favourable matchups against the oppositions lesser skilled offensive players.

Myers has been a steady 30-point defencemen that’s often touted as a two-way or offensive blue-liner. This isn’t the case however, as he is often a source of possession metrics that are less than favourable. His time in Winnipeg and his time with the Buffalo Sabres to begin his career do not show much variance in any either Corsi For (CF%) or Fenwick For (FF%) in the chart below, courtesy of Hockey Reference.

The Ugly

While some may try to blame the poor possession or play driving metrics on his teammates in Buffalo or his reduced role and poor quality of teammates in Winnipeg, the fact of the matter remains that Myers isn’t a positive factor on any pairing that he was on last season. The chart below from Sean Tierney’s Public Tableau show just that.

Canucks July 1st Misstep

Myer’s doesn’t drive possession and he isn’t a positive impact offensively at all. He isn’t particularly skilled defensively but does have the advantage of size. His last major award or accomplishment was his Calder trophy win in his rookie season over a decade ago. He’s been riding that accomplishment since then and in combination with his mammoth size, he often gets overvalued by the “eye-test” on both ends of the floor because there are tools that are evidently there. The problem is that he can’t be expected to put the whole package together and be a serviceable top-four defender this late into his career.

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats. Visual provided by Sean Tierney’s Public Tableau

Feature image credit Dinur Blum

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: What About Mogilny?

Another year, another Hockey Hall of Fame induction class, and another year in which we can ask “What about Alexander Mogilny?”. The former Vancouver Canucks forward has been eligible for ten years and still isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

It is hard to fault a decision that is so difficult and has countless players that are worthy of the prestigious honour to join the hallowed ranks of the Hockey Hall of Fame, but with year after passing year, it feels like it’ll be a long while before we see this deserving name added.

Mogilny

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Alexander Mogilny, drafted 89th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1988, had to literally disappear in the middle of the night with the help of various Sabres officials from the 1989 World Junior Championships in order to defect from the Soviet Union and join the NHL. Mogilny was a polarizing player that inspired many future NHLers to play hockey and made as many fans as he did haters.

Mogilny set the league ablaze in 6 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. His tenure included 444 points (127 of which were in the 1992/93 season) and joined the exclusive 76+ goal club (joining the likes of Teemu Selanne, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky x2, Brett Hull and Phil Esposito). Every member of that club is in the Hockey Hall of Fame with the exception of Mogilny.

Setting Up Shop In Vancouver

Unfortunately, as quickly as it began, the meteoric rise of dynamic duo: Mogilny and Lafontaine derailed. Pat Lafontaine was hampered by injuries the season after Mogilny’s 127 point explosion, limiting him to just 16 games. Mogilny still produced but there was a significant drop from the season prior and he found a new home in Vancouver. Vancouver traded Michael Peca, Mike Wilson and a 1st Round Pick (Jay McKee) in order to acquire the Russian star.

Vancouver would be his home for the next 5 years as he accumulated 308 points in that span. Many of those seasons were shortened for Mogilny but the production was there. In his first season with the Canucks, Mogilny put up 55 goals and 107 points despite his star linemate, Pavel Bure‘s injury. This silenced a few doubters as he showed that he didn’t need Lafontaine or Bure in order to produce. Both of which are now Hall of Famers in their own rights. As the years wore on, however, injuries and inconsistency eventually wrote the conclusion to his tenure in the Pacific Northwest and at the 2000 NHL Trade Deadline, he was traded to New Jersey for Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson.

Time In New Jersey & Toronto

You might think that would be the wind down of his career, but the move to New Jersey was rewarding. He would go on to be a member of the 2000 Stanley Cup Champions. Number 89 would go on to have an injury plagued tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs before rejoining the Devils to conclude his career.

Snubbed Yet Again

With career totals of 473 goals, 559 assists for 1032 points over 16 seasons and 990 games played. Alexander Mogilny finished his career with 1.04 points per game.

No doubt, with the elite company that he shared the ice, a Stanley Cup, and numerous records with; it is only fitting that he share a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame with them as well.

stats from hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

 

Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Alex Biega Deserves More Ice-Time

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega has been a consistent seventh defenseman for most of his NHL career.  Throughout his time with the Canucks, he has been rather effective even though he doesn’t play quite often.

He is truly a defensive defenseman who should probably get more ice time. He has been crazy loyal to Vancouver as he as been in the organization since 2013. Before joining the Canucks, he was part of the Buffalo Sabres organization, but he never played a single game in Buffalo. While he was in the Sabres organization, he mostly played for their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans.

On July 5, 2013, he signed a contract with the Canucks.

Offense

As stated earlier, Biega is a defensive defenseman, so you won’t see him making too many flashy plays in the offensive zone. But, Biega did have post a solid offensive season last year as he tallied 2 goals and 14 assists in 41 games played. It’s an improvement over last season. In his 2017-2018 campaign, he played in 44 games and posted 1 goal and 9 assists.

I also want to share that Biega played in less games than Jay Beagle, Adam Gaudette, Derrick Pouliot, Chris Tanev, Tim Schaller and Erik Gudbranson, but still managed to out score them. 

Defense

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Biega’s defensive skill-set is underrated. His defense alone should get him a spot on the bottom defensive pairing, but Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green preferred to use Luke Schenn and former Canucks defenseman (now on the Pittsburgh Penguins) Erik Gudbranson more often.

If it were up to me, I would have deployed Biega more often than Schenn and Gudbranson. In the visuals below from CJ Turtoro, you’ll see a comparison between Biega and Schenn, as well as a comparison between Biega and Gudbranson.

visual from CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Across the board, Biega’s entry defense, exit defense, possession entries and shot contributions are far better than Schenn and Gudbranson. But, the best parts about Biega’s defensive game is his entry defense and possession entries. It’s evident from CJ Turtoro’s visuals, Biega has been dependable when he’s been in the roster but it doesn’t get appreciated by the coaching staff.

Lack of games 

While Biega’s offense obviously holds him back, his defense has been stellar and he does deserve more playing time. The 2017-2018 season was the first season of Biega’s pro career that he spent the entire season in the NHL. As mentioned above, he played in 44 games during his 2017-18 season, and saw slightly less playing time this season. But, he has proven that when he’s in the lineup that he’s effective. Perhaps with Schenn hitting the free agent market on July 1st, the Canucks won’t pursue re-signing Schenn and will look to put Biega in the bottom six pairing permanently.

Overall

3.5 out of 5

I don’t think there’s anything else you could ask from such an amazing 7th defenseman and hopefully he’ll get a full-time spot in the lineup next season.

stats from hockey-reference and Corey Sznajder

visual from CJ Turtoro

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: JT Miller Heads To Vancouver

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded Center Iceman J.T. Miller to the Vancouver Canucks for a haul of picks and a prospect.

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a splash at Day 2 of the NHL Entry draft. With a Brayden Point contract looming, and the salary cap, at the time, an unknown, Julien BriseBois decided to make a move now to ensure that no matter what, he would have enough room to bring back Point. But the guy who found himself packing was a favorite of mine, and he goes by the name JT Miller.

What Was The Deal?

The Vancouver Canucks were the team that got JT Miller, and what they had to cough up was quite the return for Tampa. The Lightning got a conditional 2020 1st round pick, a 2019 3rd round pick (Hugo Alnefelt) and goaltender Marek Mazanec. The condition for the first is this: If the Canucks don’t make the playoffs, the first is in 2021. If they make the playoffs next season, then it’s a 2020 1st. The Lightning would then find themselves with 2 first round picks in either 2020 or 2021, and if the Canucks miss the playoffs in 2020 and 2021, they have a solid lottery pick in two years. To get that value alone is a very good return for JT Miller, who was often rotating through the Lightning top 9. But to also get a 3rd rounder in a deep draft? Now that’s a steal.  I’m sorry, I really like JT Miller, but the Lightning got more than enough from Vancouver. Marek Mazanec ultimately becomes their AHL starter for the Syracuse Crunch, as the Lightning lost Connor Ingram in a trade with Nashville and Eddie Pasquale went to Russia to play in the KHL. That ultimately leaves their AHL goaltending empty, until now.

Salary Cap Room For Point Now?

Miller carried a $5.25M cap hit that would go on for the next 4 seasons. With that contract off the books, the Lightning went from $5,376,669 in free space to $10,626,669. That should absolutely cover Point’s next deal, in full.