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Title - Shaun Maddex
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Vancouver Canucks Morning Hits
By Shaun Maddex
HometownHockey.ca

Vancouver Canucks Morning Hits
The Vancouver Canucks have reportedly reached out to Dave Bolland and Ryan Miller.
PHOTO CREDIT - VancouverCanucks.com

Edmonton - June 26, 2014 - Free agency is not officially underway, however teams are allowed to contact free-agents in what is essentially the “window shopping” component of free agency, whereby teams can bring potential free-agents in to town and sell them on opportunity to join the team. According to Sportsnet, the Canucks are interested in free-agents Dave Bolland and Ryan Miller, and have reached out to both camps.

Dave Bolland

Bolland is an interesting case, at just 28 years old he has two Stanley Cup Championships (with the Blackhawks) and is coming off a dreadful season in Toronto where he missed 59 games due to injury. In the 23 games he did play he scored 12 points, had CF% of 44.1%, a CF% Rel of +3.1% and was taking most of the defensive zone starts.

Bolland kills penalties, but is not an offensive dynamo whatsoever. He ideally slots in as a third line checking centre, who kills penalties and can fill a need in the top 6 or on the power play sparingly. He is reportedly seeking an 8 year deal worth $4.9 million/season. That is a steep price to pay for this type of player.

WOWY (all that follows is the 5v5 WOWY numbers) is an interesting metric, as it measures the success of a player with and without teammates. Bolland spent most of his ice time in Toronto in 2013-14 playing with Mason Raymond and David Clarkson.

Looking at the WOWY of Raymond with and without Bolland, we see that when they played together Raymond had a GF% of 37.5%, and a CF% of 47.0%. When Raymond was apart from Bolland his GF% was 48.6%, and his CF% was 43.88%. In a very limited sample, just 158 minutes on ice together, Bolland actually had success with Raymond.

Now looking at Clarkson’s WOWY; with Bolland Clarkson had a GF% of 14.3% and a CF% of 41.8%. Without Bolland Clarkson had a GF% of 41.9% and a CF% of 42.4%. Once again, this is very limited data, just 104 minutes of ice time together.

The data for last season is pretty useless in truly evaluating Bolland so here are his numbers for the 2012-13 Regular season (which he spent with the Blackhawks, and happens to be a lockout season). Bolland scored 14 points in 35 games that season, had a CF% 44.8%, and a CF% Rel of -11.0%. In that season he spent the majority of his ice time with Kane and Sharp (which makes his lack of offensive production and poor CF% Rel stand out very poorly).

Kane’s WOWY with Bolland for that season was GF% 43.2%,, CF% 45.0%, and TOI together of 392:09 minutes. Kanes’s WOWY without Bolland for that season was GF% 66.7%, CF% 56.3%, TOI apart of 351:31 minutes. So Kane spent almost exactly the same amount of time with and without Bolland, and was significantly better when apart from Bolland. This highlights the fact that Bolland can’t really hang with offensive players.

Sharps WOWY with Bolland was GF% 46.7%, CF% 41.9%, and TOI together of 201:03 minutes. Sharps WOWY apart from Bolland was GF% 66.7%, CF% 59.8%, and TOI apart of 187:02 minutes. Again, this is incredible in regards to the lack of production Bolland has with skill players.

The WOWY of Bolland when playing with skill guys, versus with third line grinder types is very illuminating. There is no question he is a third-fourth line centre, with some definite penalty killing ability. Unfortunately he is looking for dollars and term that are not indicative of this role, and that is enough to stay away from this player.

You need to consider the type of playing style that Bolland has. He plays a physical, sacrifice the body type of game, and is not a speedster on the ice. He has suffered many injuries throughout his career, and at 28 he is not getting any younger or faster. Locking him up for 8 years at $4.9M would be a crazy bet that he won’t be in and out of the injury room. Never mind the fact that Marian Gaborik, a player with prolific goal scoring ability, signed that same contract with Los Angeles yesterday. Paying a third line centre those dollars, with that term, who has that injury history would be a bad first move by Benning.

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller would be a good safe bet on a short term deal. At age 33 he would provide a veteran presence to the Canucks net which is sorely lacking in this area, and he would be a great mentor for Eddie Lack.

Miller has been criticized for his lack of success this past season, specifically in the Playoffs. However blaming the goaltender is often foolhardy, and St. Louis as a team was disappointing once again this post-season (they need to find a way to not be the San Jose Sharks, awesome in the Regular Season, followed by disappointing Playoffs).

The most interesting part of Miller’s season last year was the difference in his numbers between St. Louis (4th in the entire league) and with Buffalo (dead last in the league).

With Buffalo Ryan Miller posted a 92.3% SV%, 2.7 GA/60 while facing 35.6 SA/60 in 40 games. With the much better St. Louis Blues Miller posted a 90.3% SV%, a 2.5 GA/60 while facing 25.5 SA/60 in 19 games. Now 19 games is hardly an indicator of a goaltender, it is far too small a sample size. Nonetheless it is fun to look at and compare the numbers between one of the best teams in the league and the worst. Miller looks as though he thrives with more shots against, but once again the sample size is too small.

The biggest positive of bringing in Ryan Miller would be his experience and mentorship for Eddie Lack. It would also signal that the Canucks are not in for a long rebuild, but are hoping to retool on the fly and remain competitive in the Western Conference.

Canucks Still Eyeing First Overall Pick

According to TSN, there are now three legitimate offers for the first overall pick. It was rumored last week that the Canucks had offered up 6th overall, Hunter Shinkaruk, and an unnamed roster player. That unnamed roster player is likely the tipping point of this deal. If the Canucks are eyeing Aaron Ekblad with that first overall pick, would that mean the unnamed player is Alex Edler? And with Edler coming off his first truly poor season, would it be wise to move on from him? I’m not so sure, although the potential of Ekblad is much higher than that of Edler.

Chances are that the offers will all fall short and the Panthers will hold onto that first overall pick, every season it seems as though the pick is available, but it rarely gets moved.

Kesler Update

Ryan Kesler is still seeking a trade despite the changes in the management and coaching. The top two teams in the running right now are Anaheim and Chicago. Two teams that Vancouver would likely rather not trade with (due to the inevitable Playoff matchups). The Ducks hold the 10th overall pick, which on draft day could become the final chip in a deal sending Kesler to Anaheim. The Canucks are likely waiting to see how the first 9 picks play out, and if there is guy they want that is still available at 10, that may be when they pull the trigger.

Wrap Up

The Canucks should probably think long and hard before giving Bolland an 8 year contract. They should seek help elsewhere down the middle to fill out their bottom six. Bolland just doesn’t have the pedigree, or history of success that warrants such a long term deal.

Ryan Miller is a different story, if Benning can get Miller in on reasonable dollars for 2-3 seasons, it will allow Lack to get comfortable with the NHL game, and learn from a goaltender who was once one of the best in the league.

This article uses information from extraskater.com, tsn.ca, sportsnet.ca and stats.hockeyanalysis.com

Follow Me on TwitterShaun Maddex has a passion for playing, watching, and analyzing hockey. Growing up in small towns throughout Alberta meant always playing or watching hockey. He has experience as an editor/columnist for Vavel International and enjoys analyzing all aspects of hockey. He brings a straightforward but insightful experience to the Hometown Hockey readers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at smaddex@hometownhockey.ca







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