Canucks And Kraken
I’m trying to build something different this week, something that could provide useful and potentially entertaining information to fans of the Kraken and the Canucks. It’s the Pacific North version of Simmer’s Sunday 9. Or should it be North Pacific? I prefer the previous, because it sounds more like a hockey region rather than a body of water.
If fans want their own versions, then maybe I’ll do two nines, which for me will mean 18, unless I cheat and share some of the material. This week, some of the news and views overlap anyway, which leads us to number …
1) Former Kraken turned Canucks defenceman Carson Soucy suffered what looked like an ugly injury in the preseason finale against the Calgary Flames on Friday night. His ankle, leg, and/or knee appeared to bend in one of those directions it’s not supposed to bend when it got pinned under fallen Flames forward Yegor Sherangovich.
Soucy left the game following the late 2nd period incident and didn’t return.
Following Canucks practice on Sunday, we learned that Soucy is out “week to week”. A great guy, something you can say about a majority of NHL’ers, we wish Soucy the best regardless of the rivalry or for whichever team he plays. This, after having a chance to cover him last season with the Kraken and chat with him this September during informal skates with the Canucks.
2) There have been some successful Professional Try-Outs (PTO’s) in NHL training camps in recent years, with players making teams and signing contracts, but no one had the formula down quite like former Canucks forward Alex Chiasson.
After signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars, the team that drafted him in the 2nd-round in 2009, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2014 and then to the Calgary Flames two summers later. He signed single year contracts with both of those clubs.
As a free agent in the summer of 2017 Chiasson went unsigned. That’s when he started PTO’ing. He made the Washington Capitals, signed a contract on October 4th of that year and, oh, whatayaknow, he helped win a Stanley Cup.
Very nice, role playing successfully in 16 playoff games, but not enough for the Capitals to want to keep him around.
So he signed a PTO with the Edmonton Oilers and once again was successful. This time signing a one-year contract for the league minimum with then GM Peter Chiarelli. After putting up career numbers, as in 22 goals and 16 assists, Chiasson parlayed that into a two-year deal with new GM Ken Holland for $2.15-million per season. Not too shabby.
When that run was over, Chiasson picked up another PTO opportunity with the Canucks. Deemed a “power play specialist/net front presence” by Vancouver GM Jim Benning, Chiasson signed a one-year deal on October 12th, 2021, 12 days after his 31st birthday. He’d finish the season with 13 goals and nine assists in 67 games.
Chiasson played AHL hockey with the Grand Rapids Griffins last season and didn’t sign an NHL contract with the Detroit Red Wings until March 3rd, 2023. He played 20 games and had six goals and three assists.
That brings us to this year’s PTO with the Boston Bruins. No such luck. The right winger was released one day ahead of his 33rd birthday.
It was a helluva run.
By the way, on the same day, the Bruins waived former Canucks goalie prospect Michael DiPietro and sent him to AHL Providence.
3) Speaking of Ken Holland, I finally had the opportunity to confront him last week about the 2018 NHL Draft, to find out the truth on behalf of Red Wings fans. In his last draft as Detroit GM, Holland took Czech winger Filip Zadina 6th-overall, one ahead of the Canucks taking Quinn Hughes, two ahead of the Blackhawks taking Adam Boqvist, four ahead of Edmonton, where Holland works now, taking Evan Bouchard, and six ahead of the New York Islanders taking Noah Dobson.
Those are all defencemen: Rebuild from the blueline out.
Obviously, not all 1st-rounders pan out. Some do, some don’t, it’s a crap shoot. Zadina had credentials, he was rookie of the year in the QMJHL with 82 points for the Halifax Mooseheads leading up to the draft. It wasn’t so much about him, it was the D-men left on the table. Imagine Hughes now playing with big righty Moritz Seider.
We chatted for awhile about a bunch of stuff the other night in Seattle and I’ll just say this: Kenny took full responsibility for missing out on those D-men. “That was my fault.”
I brought it up to him, not only because I’d been whining about it for five years, but because Zadina was waived by Detroit a couple weeks ago and snagged by the San Jose Sharks. A Red Wing no more.
My respect for the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted executive Holland, already robust, only got stronger.
4) The Canucks solved their back-up goaltending situation by trading Tanner Pearson and his $3.25-million contract and a 2025 3rd-rounder to the Montreal Canadiens for Casey DeSmith on September 19th.
The Kraken goaltending situation was way more interesting this training camp. A good old fashioned battle for a job. In the end, as in Saturday, the younger, less expensive and recently more effective Joey Daccord won out over original Kraken back-up Chris Driedger.
Daccord’s background and story are worth checking out.
5) This slot is often a social media slot and this week I stumbled across a dandy. North Vancouver native Connor Bedard’s 1st shoot-out attempt with the Blackhawks against none other than Marc-Andre Fleury of the Wild. There’s a lot going on here.
I love the fact Bedard tries to recover and go ‘tweeners’ after getting poke checked the first time.
Kraken fans will get a chance to see Bedard and his Chicago mates at Climate Pledge Arena on December 14th and January 24th. They can watch their team play the Blackhawks on TV on the road on November 28th.
Canucks fans can see the rookie phenom live at Rogers Arena on January 22nd. The Canucks play the Blackhawks on the road on December 17th and February 13th.
6) Trivia slot: Teams from Seattle and Vancouver each won the Stanley Cup one time, the BC-based team in 1915 and the Washington based club in 1917. You might know the nickname of the team from your city that won the Cup, but can you name them both?
Bonus points if you can tell me the nickname of Victoria, BC’s one-time Stanley Cup champion in 1925. I’m in the US at the moment, but just a little bit east of the provincial capital.
Answers at the bottom of the page.
7) The United States and Canada are facing off in the Gold Medal game of the International Para Hockey Cup taking place in Czechia. If you’ve never watched para-hockey, also known as sled or sledge hockey, check it out. The championship match begins at 9 am pacific time on Sunday morning.
I’m not sure if the call of the game is in Czech or not, but if so, cool. Here’s the link to watch.
8) In my very-preseason prediction back in August, I had the Canucks finishing one slot ahead of the Kraken in the Pacific Division, fourth place to fifth place, with the Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames all finishing ahead of them.
It means the Canucks and Kraken will both have to beat out the LA Kings in their own division and the 4th and 5th place teams in the Central Division for the two Western Conference wild card spots.
It’s gonna be close, call it a ‘battle on the bubble’, and I obviously can’t guarantee that one or both will make it.
There is no doubt in my mind, the Pacific is the deeper division.
“Vegas won the Cup, they’re in our division,” Kraken General Manager Ron Francis told us on Sunday. “You read a lot of the reports, people have Edmonton winning the Cup, LA did some things, Calgary you have to think is going to be better, Vancouver, Anaheim, all those teams have done some things over the summer. There’s no easy games anymore in the National Hockey League, so if we stay healthy, get the bounces, then we should be successful and I know guys will work hard.”
9) The last slot is always saved for hockey royalty. Stories about the great number-9’s in hockey history living up to the most decorated number in the history of the sport. There simply is no greater group to share a number than Gordie Howe, Maurice Richard, Bobby Hull, Johnny Bucyk, Andy Bathgate, and “Teeder” Kennedy.
Those are your Original Six number-9’s and they’re all retired.
How about the Kraken and the Canucks? Until this season, number-9 was worn in Seattle for both seasons by Ryan Donato. He’s moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks. No chance of it hanging from the rafters of Climate Pledge Arena just yet.
As for the Canucks, is the current bearer the greatest to wear it? As in, J.T. Miller?
Dale Tallon wore it briefly in the early 1970’s, Ivan Boldirev in the early 80’s, including for the 1982 Cup Final run, followed by Tony Tanti who wore it the longest, from 1983 to 1990. But would you rank him over Miller?
Maybe the best Canucks number-9 distinction belongs to Don Lever, who donned it from 1974 to 1980.
Russ Courtnall wore it briefly in the mid-90’s.
I’d go Lever for now with Miller closing fast.
— Trivia Answer:
The 1915 Stanley Cup was won by the Vancouver Millionaires, the 1917 Cup by the Seattle Metropolitans and the 1925 Cup by the Victoria Cougars.
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Canucks podcast coming Sunday evening …