Author: Jason Brough

Don’t expect a major roster overhaul in Vancouver


The Vancouver Canucks intend to stay the course. Their goals for next season remain making the playoffs while developing their prospects in a “winning environment.”

That’s not to say the Canucks don’t recognize the need to get younger, because they do. There will be opportunities in 2015-16 for the likes of Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi, Frank Corrado, and Adam Clendening.

Just don’t expect a massive roster overhaul this offseason — even after the Canucks lost their fourth straight playoff series, this time to a younger, faster Calgary squad.

“We are committed to our plan,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said today. “We started that last year. We’ll have difficult decisions to make this year, as every team does.”

Some of those “difficult decisions” may include approaching veterans with no-trade clauses and asking them to accept a move. GM Jim Benning reiterated his willingness to do that, which won’t do anything to quell speculation about Kevin Bieksa, Chris Higgins, and a handful of others.

But Benning also provided a caveat there: “It’s tough. When you go to a player and you approach him to do that, they have all the leverage and they decide which teams they want to go to. You have to try a figure out a deal with those teams.”

Moreover, Vancouver management has no interest in developing its prized prospects in a losing environment.

“You end up with a team full of real good players that never wins anything,” said Benning. “We want to draft and develop well, but we want our young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment, so they learn the right way to play.”

Related: Despite ‘step in the right direction,’ do Canucks need to alter core?

Flames trio of Wideman, Russell, and Brodie are ‘basically our motor offensively’

Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell

When the Calgary Flames finished off the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, not only did they advance to the second round in six games, they also avoided a seventh and deciding contest, thus buying a few extra days to rest up for the Anaheim Ducks.

Those few extra days could prove key, given all the ice time that three Flames defensemen — Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell, and T.J. Brodie — have been logging.

“We asked those guys to play lots of minutes,” coach Bob Hartley said Tuesday, per the Canadian Press. “They’re very important in our game. We just don’t want them to defend. They’re basically our motor offensively.”


Wideman, Russell, and Brodie each registered four points against the Canucks, their puck-moving abilities drawing rave reviews, especially when compared to Vancouver’s inability to handle Calgary’s forecheck.

Looking ahead to Thursday’s series opener in Anaheim, expect the Ducks to do all they can to wear down the Flames’ trusted trio, laying the body whenever possible, a la Matt Beleskey on Adam Pardy:

Just don’t expect said trio to roll over.

“Those guys have the power of recovering very well,” said Hartley. “They’re great athletes and they want those minutes, they love those responsibilities. They’re giving us unbelievable hockey.”

Related: Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’

Not just Kronwall — Zidlicky (concussion) also expected to miss Game 7

Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three

As if playing without Nicklas Kronwall wasn’t going to be enough of a challenge, it appears the Detroit Red Wings will also be without Marek Zidlicky for Game 7 of their series with the Lightning tonight in Tampa Bay.

Zidlicky reportedly suffered a concussion in Game 6. He did not skate this morning. (Update: Zidlicky is confirmed out, per coach Mike Babcock.)

With two veteran defensemen missing — one suspended, the other hurt — Detroit’s defense is expected to look like this:

Jonathan Ericsson — Alexey Marchenko
Danny DeKeyser — Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith — Jakub Kindl

Neither Marchenko nor Kindl dressed for Game 6, in which Kronwall logged 24:16 and Zidlicky 17:22. In fact, Kindl has yet to appear in the postseason; he last played April 11 in Carolina.

Related: Can Mrazek steal Game 7 for Red Wings?

Crosby joins group of ‘high-end, young’ Canadians at Worlds


A quick glance at some of the forwards that have committed to playing for Team Canada at this year’s World Championship, and perhaps it’s no surprise that Sidney Crosby wanted to be a part of it.

Still, Team Canada GM Nill didn’t expect Crosby to play. And he certainly didn’t expect Crosby to be the one to reach out to him.

“I was going to give him a call out of respect, just to see if he wanted to go,” Nill told TSN 1290. “Well, it was the opposite way. As soon as [the Penguins were eliminated], he reached out to me right away and said, ‘I want to be part of this team.’”

Among the “high-end, young kids” that Crosby will be skating with in the Czech Republic are forwards Claude Giroux, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin, and Ryan O’Reilly, while on defense, there’s 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad.

“They’re the new guys that are kind of taking over Hockey Canada, so it’s going to be very exciting to watch,” said Nill.

Team Canada opens the tournament Friday against Latvia.

Related: NBCSN to air every Team USA game at Worlds

(Video) PHT Extra: Can Mrazek steal Game 7 for Red Wings?

Petr Mrazek

For some reason, Halford picked the Red Wings to beat the Lightning in seven games.

What’s even crazier is he could be absolutely right.

We discuss tomorrow’s big game in Tampa Bay:

Related: Wings’ Kronwall has hearing today for hit on Kucherov