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‘Frustration’ is how Benning would describe Vancouver’s deadline day

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Dan Hamhuis was willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Dallas or Chicago.

But when today’s deadline expired, he’d been traded nowhere. The 33-year-old defenseman — a player who was good enough to win Olympic gold for Canada just two years ago — was still a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

In fact, save for Adam Cracknell, a depth forward who was plucked off waivers by Edmonton, the same was true for everyone else who started the day with the Canucks organization.

Radim Vrbata. Not traded.

Matt Bartkowski. Not traded.

Yannick Weber. Chris Higgins. Brandon Prust. Ronalds Kenins. The Canucks were willing to trade them all.

None of them found takers.

At the very least, GM Jim Benning thought he’d get something for Hamhuis and Vrbata.

“They’re both good players,” said Benning. “They both could help winning teams make a difference in the playoffs.”

Benning was asked how he felt about not getting anything for either.

“I think maybe frustration,” he said. “We tried hard to give our players an opportunity to go to a winning team and have playoff success and be a part of a Stanley Cup team. Then the other part is, from an organizational standpoint, it would’ve been nice to recover some picks for them.”

Benning explained that, initially, the Stars chose Kris Russell from Calgary over Hamhuis. However, he also said that the Stars came in with a last-minute offer to get Hamhuis as well.

“They had made a deal for a defenseman,” he said. “They phoned and they gave an offer that probably from their perspective they thought was fair, but we just didn’t see the value in accepting that offer.”

Not surprisingly, Benning said that the Canucks “haven’t ruled out re-signing” Hamhuis.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Hamhuis confirmed that he was willing to be traded to the Stars or Blackhawks, but would have refused a trade to a team in the Eastern Conference.

He also reiterated that he wants to remain in Vancouver past this season.

“From now to July 1, we’d certainly entertain the idea of being back as a Canuck,” Hamhuis said, using “we” to mean his family.

“We love playing for this organization. We love playing in this city. We’d have no reason to want that change.”

For the Canucks, that may turn out to be the best remaining option from a public-relations standpoint. The worst-case scenario was always that Hamhuis would walk away for nothing in the offseason.

It may also be the best option from a roster standpoint. Because as it stands right now, the Canucks’ blue line is a glaring weakness, with no easy solutions to fix it. 

Bottom line: today was not a good day for the Vancouver Canucks.

“If we could have got draft picks…” Benning lamented. “I come from a draft background. I value picks, and that’s how we’re going to rebuild this thing, through getting draft picks and drafting well and developing our players. So if we could’ve recouped draft picks, we would’ve done that and we would’ve been on our way.”

But in the end, they didn’t.

They didn’t get one, single thing.

(Click here for Benning audio.)

DeBoer praises ‘courageous’ Thornton for playing with torn ACL, MCL (Updated)

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In a fairly stunning admission on Monday, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters that Joe Thornton played in four of San Jose’s six playoff games versus Edmonton with a significant knee injury.

Thornton, who was hurt against Vancouver late in the regular season, suffered tears to both his left MCL and ACL.

“I’ve never seen a guy play with a torn MCL and ACL,” DeBoer said, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s a courageous effort as I’ve ever seen.”

Thornton, 37, missed the first two games of the series to rest his knee, before suiting up for the final four. He averaged 18:50 TOI per night and finished with a pair of assists, numbers that are pretty remarkable given the severity of his ailment.

Jumbo wasn’t the only unhealthy Shark during the first-round playoff ouster. Logan Couture‘s face/mouth injury was well-documented and, today, DeBoer also revealed that Tomas Hertl was playing with a broken foot, and Patrick Marleau with a broken thumb.

Looking ahead, Thornton’s knee injury might cloud what’s an already murky future. He’s a pending UFA, and there have been no clear signals from the organization on how they’ll address his potential return. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported in January the Thornton camp was looking for a three-year deal.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Sharks GM Doug Wilson has time on his side. It’s understood the club probably wouldn’t act on an extension for Thornton until after the June expansion draft, which could give the Sharks enough time to better gauge his health.

Update:

Per NBC Sports California, Wilson confirmed Thornton is undergoing surgery today to repair the ligaments.

 

 

Online bookmaker: Caps are Stanley Cup favorites

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The Washington Capitals got a bit of a scare in the first round, but they’ll go into the second round as the Stanley Cup favorites.

Per online bookmaker Bovada, here is the full list of Stanley Cup odds for the eight remaining teams:

Washington Capitals   7/2
Pittsburgh Penguins    17/4
Anaheim Ducks             11/2
Edmonton Oilers          11/2
St. Louis Blues              13/2
Nashville Predators     7/1
New York Rangers       8/1
Ottawa Senators           10/1

The Chicago Blackhawks entered the postseason as 4/1 Cup favorites at Bovada. Of course, the ‘Hawks were then swept by the Preds, who’ve gone from 25/1 long shots to 7/1 heading into their series with the Blues.

The Caps’ odds actually dropped to 13/2 after they fell behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1. But three straight wins, two in overtime, clinched them a spot against the Penguins in the second round.

The Ottawa Senators are the long shots of the bunch now, despite having home-ice advantage over the Rangers in the second round.

Isles bring back Seidenberg — one year, $1.25 million

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The Islanders saw enough from Dennis Seidenberg this season to bring him back for another.

On Monday, the club announced it had signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year deal. Per Newsday, it’s for $1.25 million — a slight raise from the $1M he earned this season.

Seidenberg, 35, caught on with the Isles in late September, parlaying a good showing with Team Europe at the World Cup into a contract after going the entire summer unsigned.

For New York, it worked out very well.

Seidenberg was a regular lineup fixture, averaging 19:26 TOI over 73 games. He also provided some good production from the back end, scoring five goals and 22 points — his highest offensive output in five years.

Today’s deal also gives the Isles some flexibility when it comes to the upcoming expansion draft. The club now has six blueliners under contract for next season — Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey and Scott Mayfield — and a seventh, pending RFA Calvin de Haan, will (presumably) be locked in as well. The same might be said of fellow RFA Adam Pelech.

Young d-man Ryan Pulock, who only appeared in one game this year, locked in through 2018.

Cassidy ‘absolutely’ wants to return as Bruins’ head coach

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To nobody’s surprise, Bruce Cassidy is on board with shedding his interim tag and becoming Boston’s full-time bench boss.

“Absolutely,” Cassidy said of coming back, following the Bruins’ opening-round playoff loss to Ottawa (per CBS Boston). “One hundred percent.”

One would think the 51-year-old did enough to warrant a longer look. After replacing Claude Julien in early February, Cassidy led a team on the fringes of the playoff picture to an 18-8-1 record down the stretch, and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division.

Yes, the B’s fell short against the Sens, but were hamstrung by a depleted lineup missing the likes of Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. Top center David Krejci was also extremely limited, missing three of six games to injury.

When further asked about his future, Cassidy tapped the brakes on predicting what will happen, or what changes the team needed for next season.

“Well, now we’re making a lot of assumptions,” he said. “That will be determined going forward by management. It’s a tough question to answer.”

Cassidy’s time with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence, and his history working with young players, may certainly help his cause. A few of his guys — Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, Tommy Cross, Noel Acciari — forged out roles with the big club this season, while other youngsters certainly made an impact in the playoffs.

Prized d-man prospect Charlie McAvoy was a central figure on defense, and one of Cassidy’s more notable lineup moves — putting Sean Kuraly in for Games 5 and 6 — gave the club a boost of energy.

That said, the B’s do have options on the coaching front.

There are a number of experienced bench bosses available. Lindy Ruff, Darryl Sutter and Jack Capuano — a former teammate of Sweeney’s, it should be mentioned — are just a few of the higher profile free agents out there. It’s unclear if Boston is interested in going this route, however. Cassidy has been with the organization a long time, going on eight seasons, and has certainly paid his dues.