Instead of Luongo, should Kesler be Canucks' captain?

robertoluongoc.jpgIn late March, the writers at my old blog Cycle like the Sedins discussed whether or not the Vancouver Canucks should make Ryan Kesler their “true” captain rather than having goalie Roberto Luongo stand as their unofficial one. As you may know, goalies cannot wear a captain’s ‘C’ but the team considers him their captain, going as far as to allow Luongo to paint a big ‘C’ on his goalie mask. I wanted to tackle that subject in March, but it just didn’t happen. So when I heard that Don Cherry recently weighed in against Luongo being the team’s captain, I find now to be a good time to touch on the subject.

If you look at the scenario without the inconvenience of context, the idea seems sound. After all, you’re not technically stripping Luongo of the captaincy, right? He’s not technically your captain … so it’s like getting two for the price of one! All snark aside, the question for me is: would naming Kesler – a great player who brings offensive punch and defensive play to the table – your captain going to bring enough benefits to off-set the bruises on Luongo’s ego? I’m not so sure, so I thought it would be wise to take a look at similar situations in recent NHL history.

Recent moments of quality and/or big-name players being stripped of the captaincy

Mike Modano to Brenden Morrow: In the summer of ’07, the Dallas Stars decided to take the captaincy from the face of their franchise, Modano. The move was controversial to say the least (enough to make Modano’s future-wife angry) but it seems like things have blown over. Then again, the Stars haven’t made the playoffs for the last two years and Morrow seems to have regressed a bit possibly due to injuries.

Vincent Lecavalier: The Tampa Bay Lightning star was named their captain for the first time in March 2000, becoming the youngest captain in NHL history. That didn’t last very long as he was stripped of the captaincy before the 2001-02 season. That ended up working out nicely, though, as Dave Andreychuk’s leadership helped the Lightning win a Cup. Lecavalier was re-named captain before the start of the 08-09 season, which isn’t really working well; at least I say that because his team is a sinking ship that is paying him way too much money and he’ll be in trade rumors until he actually produces to expectations again.

Patrick Marleau to Rob Blake: Perhaps the strangest of the captaincy shuffles, meek but spirited captain Patrick Marleau was stripped of the Sharks ‘C’ last summer thanks largely to the fact that the team lost in the first round to the Anaheim Ducks. Eventually the team named Blake the captain which seems like a band-aid solution; Blake’s age and Marleau’s pending free agency indicate that they both may be gone after the playoffs.

So what do these cases say? To me, they show that getting to the question itself is already a dangerous undertaking. Perhaps I underestimate the beyond-symbolic effect of the ‘C’ but I can’t help but wonder if the Canucks would be better off soothing Luongo’s ego and making Kesler their spiritual captain. Like he is, already.

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    Kings sign Andreoff to two-year extension

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    The L.A. Kings have brought back pending restricted free agent forward Andy Andreoff.

    The Kings announced Saturday that they have re-signed Andreoff to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $677,500.

    He appeared in only 36 games last season, spending time on injured reserve, adding two assists. The previous year, however, he played in 60 games for L.A., scoring eight goals with 10 points.

    At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Andreoff is known more for his physical style and checking abilities than offensive production, with 146 penalty minutes combined over the last two seasons.

    Stars hope they got a second-round steal in Robertson

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    CHICAGO — His stats jump right off the page.

    On a Kingston Frontenacs squad that really struggled to score, Jason Robertson had 42 goals as a 17-year-old. Nobody else on his team had more than 26 goals.

    For that reason, the Dallas Stars are hoping they got a steal in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft. Robertson, a winger, went 39th overall Saturday at United Center. A lot of scouts had him pegged as a first-rounder.

    So why didn’t he go earlier?

    Probably his skating.

    “Everyone needs to work on stuff,” Robertson said. “Obviously, for me, I need to work on that. It’s something I’m always going to keep working on.”

    But skating didn’t stop Robertson (6-2, 192) from shooting up the prospect rankings in 2016-17. At the midpoint of the season, NHL Central Scouting had him as the 34th-best North American skater. By season’s end, he was 14th.

    “I think a lot of it came from confidence,” he said. “I gained more confidence in my game, my skating, my shot. Once I did that in the second half of the year, I really took off.”

    He sure did, with 30 of his 42 goals coming in the final 40 games of the regular season. He then added five goals and 13 assists in 11 playoff games.

    Robertson was born in Los Angeles, where his dad and grandpa were Kings season-ticket holders. He started playing hockey in L.A., then moved to Detroit when he was 10.

    Isles keep dealing, send Hamonic to Calgary (Updated)

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    It’s been rumored for days that Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic might be on the move.

    And now it’s happened.

    Per Sportsnet, the Isles have dealt Hamonic to Calgary. It’s the second significant move of the draft weekend from GM Garth Snow who, on Thursday, acquired Jordan Eberle from Edmonton in exchange for Ryan Strome.

    Hamonic, 26, is coming off a difficult campaign in which injuries limited him to just 49 games. That said, he’s still a well-regarded blueliner that will make Calgary’s defense one of the deepest in the league.

    There, he’ll play alongside Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie, putting the Flames in the conversation with Nashville for the best top-four in the NHL.

    Hamonic had made waves during the ’15-16 campaign, when it was learned he’d requested a trade from the Islanders due to a family issue. That request had since been rescinded.

    It’s worth mentioning that Hamonic has one of the more club-friendly deals in the league. He has three years left on a seven-year, $27 million deal, one that carries a $3.857M average annual cap hit. For a top-four defenseman that can log big minutes and post solid possession metrics, that’s a pretty low price to pay.

    No word yet on what the return is for New York. The Isles selected a pair of defensemen — Robin Salo and Benjamin Mirageas — with their second- and third-round picks on Saturday morning.

    UPDATE: Looks as though the Isles are only getting picks in return.

    If Calgary misses the playoffs on 2019, the Isles get the pick that year. That condition stems from an earlier one in which Arizona would get the Flames’ second-rounder in 2019 if the Flames make the playoffs.

    Got all that?

    There’s widespread speculation Snow isn’t done dealing. The bounty of draft picks acquired could be utilized in a future trade, which would be the likely direction for a club that’s in “win-now” mode.

    Jets extend Chiarot — two year, $2.8 million

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    Winnipeg has retained some of its defensive depth, re-signing Ben Chiarot to a two-year deal worth $2.8 million.

    It’s a $1.4 million average annual cap hit for the 26-year-old, and a nice pay bump from the $850,000 he was making on his previous deal.

    Chiarot had a nice campaign in ’16-17, scoring a career-high 12 points while appearing in 59 games. The season ended on a down note, however, as he suffered an upper-body injury in mid-March and was shut down for the year.

    Looking ahead, Chiarot will likely continue to serve in a depth role for the Jets. The club is bringing back nearly all of the same defensemen it had last year, and it’s expected youngster Josh Morrissey will take on an even bigger role.