Vancouver Canucks go down memory lane, hand Brendan Morrison a tryout

morrisonhitbyhamrlik.jpgWhile the group is a faded memory for many, chances are that the principle characters of the Marc Crawford era Vancouver Canucks – Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrision and the coach himself – must look back at that time with a wistful eye. Once things fell apart and they disbanded, each person bounced around the league without truly sticking anywhere, with Naslund retiring, Crawford and Bertuzzi struggling and Morrison barely holding onto whatever hope of a career he still has. None could say that their hockey lives have improved since that band split up.

Perhaps it makes sense, then, that Morrison’s career has come full circle this off-season. After failing to click during single season stays with the Anaheim Ducks/ Dallas Stars (08-09) and Washington Capitals (09-10), the Canucks handed him an opportunity to earn a poorly paid spot in his old stomping grounds. News 1130 has the story.

Morrison will join the squad in Penticton, Saturday, for the start of camp and fight for a roster spot. The centre spent eight seasons with the Canucks, most notably as a part of the West Coast Express line with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi, putting up 393 points in his Vancouver tenure.

With a good pre-season showing, the Canucks could offer the free-agent a contract, likely at the league minimum.

My guess is Morrison would be the team’s fourth center at best, as he ranks far behind Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra at this point in his career. He produced 42 points in Washington last year, but that was on a ridiculously over-powered squad that could probably pump up anyone’s offensive numbers. He’s not a great two-way forward, isn’t very big or physical and cannot do much in the faceoff circle, so his appeal is limited.

Will he be able to get by on anything beyond mere nostalgia? Good luck to him there.

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    John Tavares to explore his options during free agent interview period

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    DALLAS — John Tavares may still re-sign with the New York Islanders, but he’s going to at least see what’s out there before making a final decison.

    When the interview period for prospective free agents opens this week, Tavares will meet with five teams, his agent Pat Brisson confirmed.

    The 27-year-old Tavares said all season long that he wants to re-sign, but as we sit eight days away from the opening of the free agent market, he’s yet to agree to any deal. The Islanders can offer him an eight-year contract, while other NHL teams can only go as many as seven.

    “This is where I hope to be. I’ve always stated that,” Tavares said in April. “But obviously I have some time to think about my situation and go from there. I’ve loved it here and people have really embraced me, the team and organization have been first class since I’ve gotten here. Obviously, some great talent and some great things ahead. Definitely a lot of positives and I’ll have to take some time and figure out what I want to do and go from there.”

    The Islanders have used their off-season to begin taking the franchise in a different direction. GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight were relieved of their duties and Lou Lamoriello was brought in as the new president and GM. This past week he went out and replace Weight with Barry Trotz, who just won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals.

    Those are definitely a pair of moves not only to improve the organization but also show Tavares that ownership is serious about making the team a contender again. Will this work? Only time will tell, but the Islanders are hoping their solid off-season continues with No. 91 back in their lineup next season.

    “Right now, until something’s done, it’s not done,” said Lamoriello. “There’s no question that he’s a very important part of this organization. We want him to be here. We’ll just have to wait.”

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Free agency looms for Orpik as Avalanche ready buyout

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    When the Colorado Avalanche gave up their 47th pick to land the rights of RFA goalie Philipp Grubauer, they also took on Brooks Orpik and his $5.5 million cap hit. Joe Sakic didn’t play coy about Orpik’s time likely being brief with Colorado, and that appears to be the case.

    [Get the lowdown on the trade here]

    The Avalanche placed Orpik on unconditional waivers with a buyout in mind, according to reporters including Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

    Via Cap Friendly, a buyout would mean a $2.5M cap hit in 2018-19 and a $1.5M cap hit in 2019-20 for Colorado. Between the buyout, 47th pick, and Grubauer’s eventual contract, Colorado is clearly making a significant investment in the former Capitals goalie.

    As TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported on Friday, this situation shouldn’t be a surprise for Orpik.

    “I told him I owed him the respect to let him know that the plan is to buy him out and let him be a free agent,” Sakic said. “I’m sure he’ll have a lot of teams that’ll want to add him to their group.”

    Is it possible that Orpik, 37, could be back with the Capitals? The team kept the door open.

    Considering that Orpik is essentially double-dipping here, it wouldn’t be shocking if the rugged defenseman came at a reasonable price. Then again, some teams might (over-)value a hard-hitting, veteran blueliner who’s won a Stanley Cup with two different squads.

    After a 2018 NHL Draft loaded with modern-style, fleet-of-foot, smaller defensemen, it should be interesting to see how an old-school guy like Orpik will fare during free agency.

    Chances are, there will be room for someone like Orpik somewhere, possibly even Washington.

    2018 NHL Draft Tracker: Rounds 2-7

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    After a lengthy first round on Friday, NHL teams are tearing through rounds 2-7 in a blur on Saturday. Not every name will stand out as of this writing, but GMs often unearth their biggest, franchise-turning bargains when they get in the weeds.

    Before we get to today’s picks, let’s review some of the earlier action revolving around the top 31 selections.

    This post will be regularly updated with picks coming in rapidly.

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    Round 2

    32. Buffalo – Mattias Samuelsson, D, NTDP
    33. Detroit (from OTT via NYR) – Jonatan Berggren, W, Sweden
    34. Florida (from ARI) – Serron Noel, W, OHL
    35. Montreal – Jesse Ylonen, W, Finland
    36. Detroit – Jared McIsaac, D, QMJHL
    37. Vancouver – Jett Woo, D, WHL
    38. Montreal (from CHI) – Alexander Romanov, D, Russia
    39. NY Rangers – Olof Lindbom, First Goalie Taken, Sweden
    40. Edmonton – Ryan McLeod, C, OHL
    41. NY Islanders – Bode Wilde, D, NTDP
    42. Carolina – Jack Drury, C, USHL
    43. NY Islanders (from CGY) – Ruslan Iskhakov, C, Russia
    44. Dallas – Albin Eriksson, W, Sweden
    45. St. Louis – Scott Perunovich, D, NCHC
    46. Washington (from FLA via NJD) – Martin Fehervary, D, Sweden
    47. Colorado – Kody Clark, W, OHL
    48. NY Rangers (from NJD) – Jonathan Tychonick, D, BCHL
    49. Columbus – Kirill Marchenko, W, Russia
    50. Philadelphia – Adam Ginning, D, Sweden
    51. Los Angeles – Akil Thomas, C, OHL
    52. Toronto (from SJS) – Sean Durzi, D, OHL
    53. Pittsburgh – Calen Addison, D, WHL
    54. Anaheim – Benoit-Olivier Groulx, C, QMJHL
    55. Arizona (from MIN) – Kevin Bahl, D, OHL
    56. Montreal (from TOR) – Jacob Olofsson, C, Swden
    57. Boston – Axel Andersson, D, Sweden
    58. Pittsburgh (from COL, NSH) Filip Hallander, C, Sweden
    59. Tampa Bay – Gabriel Fortier, W, QMJHL
    60. Winnipeg – David Gustafsson, C, Sweden
    61. Vegas – Ivan Morozov, C, Russia
    62. Edmonton (from WSH/MTL) Olivier Rodrigue, G, QMJHL

    Round 3

    63. Minnesota (from BUF) – Jack McBain, C, OJHL
    64. Colorado (From, Pittsburgh, from OTT) Justus Annunen, G, Finland
    65. Arizona – Jan Jenik, W, Czech
    66. Montreal – Cameron Hillis, C, OHL
    67. Detroit – Alec Regula, D, OHL
    68. Vancouver – Tyler Madden, C, USHL
    69. Chicago – Jake Wise, C, NTDP
    70. NY Rangers – Jacob Ragnarsson, D, Sweden
    71. Montreal (from Edmonton) Jordan Harris, D, USA
    72. NY Islanders –   Jakub Skarek, G, Czech
    73. Arizona (from CAR) – Ty Emberson, D, NTDP
    74. Chicago (From Arizona/CGY) – Niklas Nordgren, W, Finland
    75. Dallas – Oskar Back, C, Sweden
    76. Toronto (From St. Louis) – Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, C, Russia
    77. Boston (from FLA) – Jakub Lauko, C, Czech
    78. Colorado – Sampo Ranta, W, USHL
    79. Anaheim (from NJD) –  Blake McLaughlin, W, USHL
    80. Columbus – Marcus Karlberg, W, Sweden
    81. Detroit (from PHI) – Seth Barton, D, BCHL
    82. Los Angeles – Bulat Shafigullin, W, Russia
    83. Toronto (from SJS) – Riley Sotts, C, WHL
    84. Detroit (from PIT) – Jesper Eliasson, G, Sweden
    85. Anaheim – Lukas Dostal, G, Czech
    86. Minnesota – Alexander Khovanov, C, QMJHL
    87. San Jose (from Chicago/TOR via NJD and WSH) – Linus Karlsson, C, Sweden
    88. NY Rangers (from BOS) – Joey Keane, D, OHL
    89. Florida (from Nashville) – Logan Hutsko, C, Boston College (HE)
    90. Tampa Bay – Dmitri Semykin, D, Russia
    91. Winnipeg – Nathan Smith, C, USHL
    92. Minnesota (from VGK) – Connor Dewar, C, WHL
    93. Washington – Riley Sutter, W, WHL

    Round 4

    94. Buffalo
    95. Ottawa
    96. Carolina (from ARI)
    97. Montreal
    98. Detroit
    99. Vegas (from VAN via PIT)
    100. Dallas (from CHI)
    101. NY Rangers
    102. Montreal (from EDM)
    103. NY Islanders
    104. Carolina
    105. Calgary
    106. Dallas
    107. St. Louis
    108. Calgary (from FLA)
    109. Colorado
    110. New Jersey
    111. Nashville (from CBJ)
    112. Philadelphia
    113. Los Angeles
    114. San Jose
    115. Vegas (from PIT via TBL)
    116. Anaheim
    117. Buffalo (from MIN)
    118. Toronto
    119. Boston
    120. Chicago (from NSH)
    121. Tampa Bay
    122. Montreal (from WPG)
    123. Florida (from VGK)
    124. Washington

    Round 5
    125. Buffalo
    126. Ottawa
    127. Philadelphia (from ARI)
    128. Montreal
    129. Pittsburgh (from DET)
    130. Vancouver
    131. Nashville (from CHI)
    132. NY Rangers
    133. Edmonton
    134. NY Islanders
    135. Vegas (from CAR)
    136. New Jersey (from CGY via ARI)
    137. Dallas
    138. St. Louis
    139. Florida
    140. Colorado
    141. New Jersey
    142. Chicago (from CBJ)
    143. Philadelphia
    144. Los Angeles
    145. San Jose
    146. Pittsburgh
    147. Anaheim
    148. Minnesota
    149. Toronto
    150. Winnipeg (from BOS)
    151. Nashville
    152. Tampa Bay
    153. Winnipeg
    154. Vegas
    155. Minnesota (from WSH)

    Round 6
    156. Buffalo
    157. Ottawa
    158. Arizona
    159. Detroit (from MTL)
    160. Detroit
    161. Vancouver
    162. Chicago
    163. NY Rangers
    164. Edmonton
    165. Los Angeles (from NYI)
    166. Carolina
    167. Calgary
    168. Dallas
    169. St. Louis
    170. Florida
    171. Colorado
    172. New Jersey
    173. Columbus
    174. Philadelphia
    175. Los Angeles
    176. San Jose
    177. Pittsburgh
    178. Anaheim
    179. Minnesota
    180. Vegas (from TOR)
    181. Boston
    182. San Jose (from NSH)
    183. Tampa Bay
    184. Winnipeg
    185. Vegas
    186. Washington

    Round 7
    187. Buffalo
    188. Ottawa
    189. Arizona
    190. Philadelphia (from MTL)
    191. Detroit
    192. Vancouver
    193. Chicago
    194. Ottawa (from NYR)
    195. Edmonton
    196. NY Islanders
    197. Carolina
    198. Calgary
    199. Dallas
    200. St. Louis
    201. Florida
    202. Colorado
    203. New Jersey
    204. Columbus
    205. Philadelphia
    206. Tampa Bay (from LAK)
    207. San Jose
    208. Pittsburgh
    209. Toronto (from ANA)
    210. Minnesota
    211. Toronto
    212. Boston
    213. Nashville
    214. Tampa Bay
    215. Winnipeg
    216. Carolina (from VGK)
    217. Washington

    Ilya Kovalchuk, LA Kings agree to three-year deal

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    DALLAS — The Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes has come to an end and the Los Angeles Kings are the big winners.

    As the second day of the 2018 NHL Draft got under way, the Kings announced they’ve agreed to terms on a three-year contract which carries a $6.25 million cap hit per season.

    “We are excited to add Ilya to the LA Kings organization. He gives us an added element of skill and scoring along with a desire to win. We will withhold further comment until July 1,” said Kings general manager Blake.

    Kovalchuk last played in the NHL during the 2013 season before retiring to go play in the KHL. While he was “retired” the Devils still held his rights until his 35th birthday this past April. Any attempts to make a comeback prior to turning 35 meant that teams would have had to go through the Devils to make a deal.

    After leaving New Jersey, Kovalchuk spent the last five seasons with SKA St. Petersburg helping them win two Gagarin Cups. This past February, he lead the Olympic Athletes From Russia to a gold medal at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

    It was eight years ago that the Kings tried to acquire Kovalchuk from the Atlanta Thrashers before the Devils stepped in with a better offer. According to ESPN, the Thrashers GM wanted Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds in return, but then-Kings GM Dean Lombardi refused to give up those young pieces in return.

    There were a number of teams in the Kovalchuk hunt this time as well, with many pegging the San Jose Sharks as favorites. GM Doug Wilson did a good job of clearing cap space in order to present an enticing offer for the Russian forward, but now the can shift their focus to John Tavares, if he decides to explore the market.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.