Monday, September 30, 2013

What you (probably) didn't (care to) know about Zac Dalpe

Zac Dalpe is a little over 24 hours into his new tenure with the Vancouver Canucks. And sadly, Wikipedia remains devoid of interesting tidbits to sate my inner hockey geek. As pointed out by The Province shortly after the trade, the 23-year-old Ontario native is already familiar with BC, having played for the Penticton Vees back in 2007-08.

But caman. We can do better, internet! As far as obscure Google finds go, Pass It To Bulis got the ball seriously rolling with these NHL Award predictions from 2011-12. According to two out of five Hockey Prospectus analysts, Dalpe was your surest bet for the 2012 Calder Trophy. Take that, Gabriel Landeskog. 

But what else? I don't know about you, but when Dalpe gets that first call-up, I wanna be well-stocked with some truly mundane facts to casually toss into pre-game conversation. How else are you supposed to signal your superiority of unnecessary hockey knowledge?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The all-time precedence for Hunter and Bo

Gone are Frank Corrado and Brendan Gaunce, re-assigned to Utica and Belleville, respectively. Meanwhile, the Canucks' original wave of the future, Jordan Schroeder and Nicklas Jensen, have both been reduced to the press box with a pair of injuries.

So with four of the Canucks' top prospects out of the rookie derby running, the stage was set for yesterday's report regarding Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk. Despite being the two youngest players among the team's current rookie crop, Bo's London Knights and Hunter's Medicine Hat Tigers were both informed that they'd be without their star players for at least opening night in the NHL.

Shinkaruk's offensive skill has been on full display over the pre-season (feel free to re-live this outrageousness), while Horvat has been a steady presence at centre. In other words, both have come exactly as advertised since their draft. And with one half of this new tandem costing the team one of the best goalies in the league, this is welcome news for Vancouver.

Granted, the Canucks' dearth at centre and Shanahan's most recent misjudgement Zack Kassian's suspension have as much do with this development as the pair's actual play. But credit is due to the 2013 duo for taking advantage of the opportunity.

It is rare in any circumstance that a Canucks prospect cracks the lineup in his draft year -- let alone two. That said, what sort of precedent is there for Canucks rookies cracking the roster immediately following their draft?

Thanks to a rainy afternoon and a storm of Wikipedia-ing, I can elaborate for you exactly the sort of precedence that exists. Down to the last Murray Bannerman.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Henrik and Daniel: Plus-minus royalty among active players

Neither Sedin has ever won a plus-minus crown.  (Of all their Canucks teammates, who would have thought that Marek Malik would have beat them to it...) But ever since a combined -5 rating in their rookie seasons all 13 years ago, the Canucks duo have been plus players every year of their careers.  And from 2009-10 on, Henrik has been an annual staple on the league's plus-minus leaderboard -- ranking 8th, 14th, 15th and 11th in that span. Meanwhile, in that same four-year run, Daniel has come closer to the NHL's Plus-Minus Award, but has been a bit less consistent at 5th, 5th, 64th and 45th.

Henrik and Daniel at 3rd and 6th overall. See the note at the end
of the article for differences between our list and's.
As a result the Sedins steady 5-on-5 play, Henrik enters the 2013-14 season ranked third among all active players in career plus-minus.  In some part to his current ironman streak, Henrik, as always, has an edge on Daniel at a career +200 to +172.  The only two above him?  Jaromir Jagr and Pavel Datsyuk -- one is likely the greatest offensive threat of his generation, while the other represents the best two-way forward of his.  In other words, Henrik stands among pretty heady company.  Daniel, meanwhile, ranks sixth* with Marian Hossa and Patrik Elias sandwiched between the twins.

(Borderline related: See BTD's January article on the Sedins' ranking among active players without a Stanley Cup.)

The Sedins, defence and shot blocking

Coming soon to a Sedin near you. Shot blocking!
Copyright The Province.
Much has been made since Tortorella's initial christening with the media about the Sedins' newfound expectation to be more defensively responsible. (See the National Post, PITB and The Province, to name just a small few.) That, as Torts has routinely indicated, will include penalty killing and yes -- not Henrik's ironman streak! -- blocking shots.

Now the idea of either Sedin throwing their graceful, talent-laden bodies in front of 100 mph slapshots is probably enough to make even Don Cherry question Torts' expectations. But the Sedins deserve a lot more credit for their defensive capabilities than doubters seem to give them.