Alain Vigneault

Vigneault can’t escape blame for Canucks failings

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Fresh off their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy, the Vancouver Canucks could only manage one victory in the playoffs, falling in five games to Los Angeles in the first round.

Perhaps they were worn out, mentally and physically, from last year’s grueling Stanley Cup run.

And the Kings are a good team that nobody would be shocked to see in the final.

But there will still be calls for the coach’s head.

In fact, the calls have already come. When the Canucks were trailing the Kings, 3-0, The Province’s Tony Gallagher, a long-time critic of Alain Vigneault, wrote that losing in the first round would be yet another “ridiculous conclusion” to the season in Vancouver.

Looking back, Gallagher makes a legitimate point.

In 2008, there was a “hideous collapse down the stretch whereby the team missed the playoffs.”

In 2009, the Canucks “had the Chicago Blackhawks down 2-1 with the lead in the third period of game four only to lose those next three and drop a series they should have won.”

In 2010, “the season ended miserably with Chicago humiliating Vancouver in one-sided home games.”

Of course, Vigneault took Vancouver all the way to final last year. “But not before it almost blew a 3-0 series advantage in the first round, ridiculously poor efforts in games four and five the main reason.”

And we’d add the Canucks didn’t exactly fall to the Boston Bruins in the most commendable manner, losing their composure and getting outscored an incredible 21-3 in their four defeats.

Sorry, but some of that has to fall on the man in charge.

Now, many will say it’s insane to get rid of a coach that’s won so many games. They’ll bring up all manner of statistics, comparing Vigneault’s win-loss record to other NHL coaches, and reach the oh-so-obvious conclusion he should be back next season.

But management’s analysis will go far beyond wins and losses, as it should. You don’t and can’t run a team based on numbers alone, though so many Moneyball devotees would like to think you can.

The Canucks took a step back this season, and Vigneault will have to answer in some form for that. Maybe it’ll cost him his job, maybe not. But it’s a discussion that’s worth having.

Related: And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

Report: Ekblad cleared by Panthers doctors

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30:  Aaron Ekblad #5 of the Florida Panthers poses for a 2016 NHL All-Star portrait at Bridgestone Arena on January 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images)
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Aaron Ekblad has been medically cleared by Florida Panthers doctors, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

That’s a big relief for everyone involved after Ekblad was injured while representing Team North America in the World Cup. The injury was originally reported as a “mild” concussion, though it was later called a neck injury.

The 20-year-old has since been back on the ice working out.

“Ekblad is going to be fine,” Panthers coach Gerard Galant said. “You see him out there skating already. I think it was a little scary, but he feels real good. He’s going to skate and see how he feels, but everything looks good.”

The first overall pick in the 2014 draft, Eklbad had already dealt with at least one concussion during his playing career. He suffered one in an international exhibition game during the summer of 2014, just prior to his outstanding rookie season with the Panthers.

Ottawa sends Brown, 11th overall draft pick, back to junior

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Logan Brown celebrates with the Ottawa Senators after being selected 11th overall during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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It didn’t take long for one of the top picks at this year’s draft to be sent packing from training camp.

On Wednesday, Ottawa announced that Logan Brown — the 11th overall selection in June — has been sent back to his junior team in OHL Windsor.

Brown, the son of ex-NHL defenseman Jeff Brown, played in Monday’s exhibition win over Toronto and scored once. He didn’t play in Tuesday’s OT loss to Buffalo.

Though he wasn’t expected to make the team this season, Brown, 18, is considered to be a high-end prospect, which makes his early dismissal a bit curious.

At 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, he has terrific size and the Sens wasted little time locking him in after the draft, signing him to a three-year, entry-level deal in August.

Related: Get to know a draft pick — Logan Brown

Seidenberg expected to sign with Islanders

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 08:  Dennis Seidenberg #44 of the Boston Bruins skates against Mason Raymond #21 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Four of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Dennis Seidenberg is expected to sign with the New York Islanders after the World Cup, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

It’s a one-year, $1 million deal, per Dreger.

Seidenberg is currently playing a significant role for Team Europe, a surprise finalist against the heavily favored Canadians.

The 35-year-old defenseman was unexpectedly bought out by the Boston Bruins over the summer. He had two years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $4 million.

Seidenberg was a key part of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup champion team in 2011, but injuries limited him to just 61 games last season, and his average ice time fell below 20 minutes for the first time since he was with the Hurricanes in 2007-08.

He’ll likely take on a bottom-pairing role with the Islanders, below Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk, and Calvin de Haan. He may even be the extra defenseman, pushing the likes of Thomas Hickey, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Scott Mayfield for a spot in the lineup.

Related: Seidenberg shocked by Bruins’ decision

Devils bolster defense, ink Quincey to one-year, $1.25M deal

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New Jersey needed some blueline depth after this summer’s blockbuster Adam Larsson-for-Taylor Hall trade and now, they’ve addressed it.

On Wednesday, GM Ray Shero announced the club signed veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

Quincey, 31, spent the last four seasons in Detroit, emerging as a regular fixture on defense — but ’15-16 was hardly a positive campaign.

He missed 35 games with a serious ankle injury and, upon his return, never seemed to find his way into head coach Jeff Blashill’s good graces.

Blashill even scratched Quincey in Game 3 of Detroit’s opening-round playoff loss to Tampa, and didn’t provide a reason why — a pretty bold move for a player that, in ’13-14, appeared in all 82 games for the Red Wings, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night.

Overall, this move seems like a pretty reasonable gamble from the Devils. Quincey has his flaws, but the term is short and the money is relatively low.

(Especially considering Quincey’s coming off a two-year, $8.5 million deal that paid $4.25M annually.)

Shero could end up getting a nice return on his investment. Quincey projects  to challenge for top-four minutes in New Jersey, looking to break into a group that features the likes of Andy Greene, Damon Severson, John Moore and Ben Lovejoy.

Jon Merrill, Steve Santini and Brandon Gormley are also in that mix, though likely to be challenging for spots on the bottom pair.