Funny how things work out some nights. The Canucks have the Sedin twins, just got Alex Burrows back in the lineup and they’re facing an Oilers team that can be tricky. It’s also an Oilers team that Raffi Torres used to play for. Don’t suppose that was motivation for him to get it together tonight for Vancouver, was it? They may not be pretty goals, but Torres’ hat trick sealed the fate of the Oilers tonight in Vancouver’s 4-3 win in Edmonton.
In one fell swoop, it appears that the Vancouver Canucks are both improving their third and fourth line depth while also tapping out of the hunt to re-sign defenseman Willie Mitchell. Reports early this morning, including a confirmation of sorts from Sportsnet’s Darren Millard, indicate that the Canucks will sign free agent forward Raffi Torres to a one-year $1 million contract.
Adding Torres gives the Canucks an instantly usable player on their third line on the left wing and a guy that will fit into coach Alain Vigneault’s system immediately. Torres is a tenacious checker and a guy that tends to rub everyone the wrong way while finding ways to put the puck in the net. He’s the precise sort of player the Canucks enjoy. Torres finished last year in Buffalo after being traded by the Blue Jackets and both his and the Sabres seasons ended with a thud.
The effect this has on the Canucks budget-wise is that this now puts the Canucks nearly $4 million over the salary cap. They’ve been rumored to be moving defenseman Kevin Bieksa who is making $3.75 million this season, but if they were hoping that Bieksa alone would clear enough salary to bring aboard Mitchell, they’ll be mistaken. Getting rid of Bieksa and his contract would put the Canucks about $91,000 under the cap. Unless the Canucks are getting some kind of miracle deal from Willie Mitchell, it seems highly unlikely they’ll be bringing him back.
As it is, opportunities with San Jose, Los Angeles and Washington are still out there for Mitchell and with Vancouver making the move to get Torres, it’s possible that they know that Mitchell isn’t coming back already.
Raffi Torres is on his way to Buffalo, as he’s the latest player to be traded in the final months of his contract. He hasn’t scored more than 20 goals since 2006, but he’s on the doorstep this season with 19 goals in 60 games with Columbus. He’ll give the Sabres some needed scoring punch and give Ryan Miller some support on the other side of the ice.
Of course, the Sabres would prefer to be able to re-sign Torres this summer (you’d think), but perhaps they won’t even have the chance.
The Hockey News scout Mike Seidel is saying that Torres is bragging that there’s no way he’ll sign a contract extension, because he plans on going to Toronto this summer. Talk about a player with a plan in mind. No wonder he was traded.
There’s a good possibility this is just hearsay and isn’t true but if it is, what sort of attitude will he have Buffalo? Is he just biding his time until he is able to return to his hometown?
Raffi Torres took a significant step in his return from injury and suspension on Wednesday, as he was added to the Sharks’ roster and sent to the AHL Barracuda on a conditioning stint.
“We’re proud of how hard Raffi has worked over the last four months to continue to rehab from his injury,” San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer said in a statement. “We know Raffi can be a very effective player for our team and this assignment will allow him to get back into game shape.”
Torres has missed the last 41 games to suspension for a hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg during the preseason. During that suspension, the Sharks and Torres revealed he was still dealing with ramifications from his troublesome knee.
Back in early December, DeBoer admitted the veteran forward was having issues with a surgically repaired ACL that’s undergone a variety of procedures over the last two years, costing Torres all of the ’14-15 campaign.
Later than month, Torres admitted he probably wouldn’t be healthy by the time his suspension was lifted.
It’s really not surprising the Sharks opted for a conditioning stint in the AHL. In addition to the knee issues, Torres’ last game of significance came in April of 2014, meaning he’s been out of game action (well, non-exhibition game action) for over 20 months.
In another roster move, the Sharks put veteran forward Dainius Zubrus on IR today. Zubrus, signed midway through the year after joining the team on a professional tryout, has one goal and two points in 17 games this year.
Raffi Torres is just eight days away from being eligible to return from his 41-game suspension.
But earlier this week, he admitted that — sometimes — his return feels a lot farther away.
“Personally, I expect to go out there and I want to be pain-free and play. But, the reality is there are some hurdles,” Torres told CSN Bay Area. “If I can get over them and get over the hump, I still feel like I can be effective in this league.
“But, if I don’t, then it’s obviously time to think about some other things.”
This isn’t the first time brakes have been tapped on Torres’ return. Back in early December, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer admitted the veteran forward was still dealing with his problematic right knee — specifically, the surgically repaired ACL that’s undergone a variety of procedures over the last two years, costing him all of the ’14-15 campaign.
Later than month, Torres admitted he probably wouldn’t be healthy by the time his suspension is lifted on Jan. 14.
This is, however, the first time Torres has talked around a potential retirement (at least publicly, anyway).
It’s easy to see why the 34-year-old is contemplating it, though. His last game of significance came in April of 2014, meaning he’s been out of action for over 20 months.
Still, there’s a part of Torres that really doesn’t want to call it quits.
Part of it stems from how much the Sharks have invested in him — “I owe it to the organization who stuck with me,” he explained — and there’s probably part of him that wants to go out on his own terms, not on the heels of a massive suspension for hitting Jakob Silfverberg in the head during a preseason game.
At the same time, Torres is aware how big this challenge is.
“I’m not a spring chicken anymore,” he said. “I know where I’m at in my career.”