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Last Night’s News 📰
CANUCK CULTURE CHANGE: On Monday, Jim Rutherford was officially introduced as the Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations by owner Francesco Aquilini. Rutherford vowed to continue to overhaul the structure of the front office in the hopes of holding people accountable and changing the culture of the organization.
FLICKERING FLAMES: Six players and one training staff member of the Calgary Flames were placed in the NHL’s COVID protocol on Monday, leading the league to postpone the team’s next three games. Calgary was scheduled to play the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, Nashville Predators on Tuesday, and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, with those dates yet to be rescheduled.
THE FUTURE IS FABBRI: Yesterday, the Detroit Red Wings signed Robby Fabbri to a three-year extension worth $12 million. The 25-year-old forward is currently fifth on the Wings in goals scored this season with eight and seventh in points with 14.
How well do you know Ivan Barbashev?
- On July 10, 2013, David Perron was traded for Magnus Pääjärvi and the 2014 second-round pick that was used to select Barbashev. What team traded for Perron?
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Edmonton Oilers
- Anaheim Ducks
- St. Louis Blues
- Barbashev scored his first NHL goal against which team?
- Dallas Stars
- Montreal Canadiens
- Los Angeles Kings
- Ottawa Senators
- Barbashev notched a career-high 26 points in which two seasons with the Blues?
- 2017-18 & 2020-21
- 2016-17 & 2019-20
- 2017-18 & 2018-19
- 2018-19 & 2019-20
Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.
Exactly two weeks before the Boxing Day start of the World Junior Hockey Championship, Hockey Canada unveiled its loaded roster for the event. The group includes five 2021 NHL Draft top-10 selections (Owen Power, Mason McTavish, Kent Johnson, Dylan Guenther, and Cole Perfetti) a standout goalie (Detroit Red Wings prospect Sebastian Cossa), and two future phenoms (Shane Wright and Connor Bedard).
There’ll be time to spotlight all of these guys, but as is always the case in international competition, Canada’s true talent comes in its depth. Nothing highlights that depth better than a look at who didn’t make it, and because Team Canada is so good, they didn’t even need these guys!
Hendrix Lapierre, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Poor Hendrix Lapierre. After experiencing the highest of highs by earning a spot with the Washington Capitals out of training camp and scoring in his first career NHL game, the 19-year-old suddenly finds himself spending the holidays neither at world juniors nor in the nation’s capital. Go figure—good enough to play (and score) in the world’s top professional league, but not good enough for an under-20 tournament.
Luke Evangelista, London Knights (OHL)
The London Knights are in a familiar position near the top of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) standings and they have Luke Evangelista to thank for it. Nashville’s 2021 second-round pick is averaging nearly two points per game (40 points in 21 games) and ranks as one of the league’s leading scorers. That’s nice and all, just not red and white-worthy.
Joshua Roy, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
A former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) top pick, Joshua Roy seems to have answered early questions about maturity and dedication with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Roy is right in the thick of the league’s scoring race as an 18-year-old and won’t turn 19 until next August. Good thing he’ll have another opportunity to earn a spot next year.
The Man With the Plan
Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations, and interim general manager, Jim Rutherford held a press conference yesterday to formally address the media. He spoke about the team’s plans, dealing with their strategies in trades moving forward, and how they will target their next general manager position. With the team investing over $7 million into Oliver Ekman-Larsson in each of the next five seasons, Vancouver will need to work around that contract in order to build a competitive team.
Let’s look at the most extensive takeaways from Rutherford’s moments with the media and provide some insight into how the team will operate moving forward.
Not Fully Relying on Analytics
As the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rutherford was highly criticized for the Jack Johnson signing. The 16-year veteran defender is notorious for ranking poorly in analytical rankings, especially on JFresh Hockey’s wins above replacement model. When asked about the topic, the Canucks president responded by saying, “I use analytics, and I like it a lot, but that’s not what I make my decisions on.”
This means he is willing to listen to his analytics department but will also rely on the eye test and other attributes to evaluate players.
Not Trading High Draft Picks
Another critical storyline was Rutherford stating that the team does not intend to trade its high draft picks away. Most organizations are never looking to get rid of young talent, but the Canucks have been known to part ways with prospects. Before the 2021 Draft, Vancouver sent the ninth-overall selection and its 2022 second-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in the blockbuster deal that landed Ekman-Larsson and Connor Garland.
For a franchise that doesn’t project to make the playoffs this season, contention for the draft lottery is a real possibility. With just one selection in the first two rounds of the 2022 Draft, Rutherford isn’t looking to trade it away any time soon.
Hiring the Next GM
Rutherford also stated that he has a list of 40 potential candidates for the general manager position, which he has separated into two different categories. One category is restricted to former general managers who have already been in the role at the NHL level, while the other category includes assistant general managers waiting for a shot at a promotion.
It will be interesting to see the organization’s direction during the process, whether the Canucks continue to recycle the same names at the GM position or make good on Rutherford’s promise of more diversity and inclusion in the front office.