In this edition, Under Further Review takes a closer look at the Canuck’s superstar-in-waiting Elias Pettersson plus the axe is out early among the NHL coaching ranks.
A Star is Born – How about some revisionist history? There isn’t a General Manager in the NHL who wouldn’t pick Elias Pettersson first overall if you re-did the 2017 NHL draft. There’s not a chance anyone would select Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, Miro Heiskanen or Cale Makar ahead of Pettersson! He’s absolutely taken the league by storm.
All the questions you had about Pettersson before the start of the season are out the window now. Could he play centre? Could he defend? Could he handle the rough going? Could he win a faceoff? He’s answered every question emphatically. He’s a generational talent and the Canucks next legitimate superstar. They just have to keep him in one piece.
When you watch him play he’s got a little Gretzky in him, a little Datsyuk and yes, some Sedin. But even the Sedins would admit he does some things better than them, mainly his quick release and deadly shot and how he can beat goalies one-on-one which was always a challenge for the Sedins and one of the reasons they were seldom used in shootouts.
Coming off his record-breaking season in the Swedish Elite League, Pettersson was able to negotiate a first contract with the Canucks that was akin to deals given to players selected first overall in the draft. Based on his performance to date and the terms of his incentive-laden contract, Pettersson could end up earning close to 3 million in bonuses this year in addition to his $925,000 base salary.
Pettersson scored 10 times in his first 10 NHL games, putting him in elite company all-time. By hey, he’s no Odie Cleghorn who scored 12 goals in his first 10 games in the 1918-1919 season.
That slap shot goal into the top corner that Pettersson scored against the Red Wings immediately brought to mind Gretzky’s goal against Mike Vernon and the Flames in the 88’ playoffs. It was eerily similar. I am not surprised that TSN dug it out of the archives and showed it during their highlight pack of that game. I was standing at ice level to the left of Vernon when Gretzky scored that goal. After the game, Flames coach Terry Crisp said you couldn’t have put the puck in the same spot with a pee shooter.
Of course, fans and the Canucks ‘homer’ media (myself included) are all giddy with the team’s great start this season but before we get too carried away, we should remember the team is still in the talent accumulation phase of their rebuild. The team still has plenty of holes especially on defense so they would be wise to remain in sell-off mode at the trade deadline even if they are close to playoff contention.
News & Notes – You’ll remember that last year, not one coach was gassed during the entire NHL season. However, the axe is out early this year!
Do you really think Willie Desjardins will help the Kings move the needle now that he’s been installed to replace John Stevens in LA? Could they not find a better retread? Please don’t try and tell me Desjardins is a better coach than Stevens because he’s not. I can’t think of a more uninspiring hire! Toe Blake couldn’t get anything out of that crew. Have you seen a team in recent memory that is more in need of a tear-down?
Can the Senators just agree to stay away from using Ubers when on the road? First, the assistant GM tries to fondle an Uber driver and ends up in court. Now a video is getting massive YouTube circulation showing the players ripping an assistant coach while riding in an Uber shuttle van. Of course, hard to argue with the players comments. They pointed out that the coach – Martin Raymond – had handled the power-play one year and the penalty kill the next and both units finished dead last in the NHL. That’s what you get when you pay the coach 28 bucks an hour plus taxi fare. Guaranteed – Guy Boucher doesn’t last the year in Ottawa. The budget-conscious Sens will probably replace him with Bob Hartley whose claim to fame was working in a windshield factory in Hawkesbury. The players in Calgary hated Hartley so much they were ready to mutiny.
I think it’s safe to say other NHL coaches like Mike Yeo, Dave Hakstol and Randy Carlyle are not exactly on solid footing either.
It seems to me that all the NHL salary cap serves to do is prevent good teams from being great. Case in point – the Winnipeg Jets are an excellent team with a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup but cap issues prevent them from going out and improving themselves. They have big holes on the left side of their defense behind Josh Morrissey and they could definitely upgrade at centre behind Mark Scheifele. Their window for winning is wide open but how can you make any moves to improve when you are having trouble finding cap space to sign all your young stars? Top teams like Nashville and Tampa are stuck as well. If they get key injuries it will be very hard to go out and find any replacements.
Can we please avoid another lockout in the NHL? Memo to Bill Daly and Donald Fehr – don’t even bring the subject up until you are ready to announce a new deal. Can you spare the fans that much?
New Raptors coach Nick Nurse is looking like a genius by playing Serge Ibaka exclusively at center. He poured in a career-high 34 against LeBron and the Lakers on a 15-for-17 shooting night and also had 31 in another game. It never worked playing Ibaka at forward in combination with Jonas Valanciunus and Nurse was smart to recognize that.
When is Mike Trout going to wake up and realize he will never win anything as long as he’s with the Angels? His contract is up in two years but I would try and get the heck out of there as soon as I could. The best player in baseball is wasted there.
Please don’t let Manny Machado sign with the Yankees! With Didi Gregorius likely out for a portion of next season due to surgery, I wouldn’t bet against it. The Yankees only move so far was to re-sign the bloated C.C. Sabathia. He’s so fat they should rename him SS Sabathia. No buffet is safe with him around.
Only the NBA would allow a player to shamelessly cheer for the other team during a game. Jimmy Butler waved a towel along with Golden State fans while his T-Wolves were being roasted by the Warriors. Instead of being forced to trade him, why not suspend him for conduct detrimental to the team?
After watching the Rams defense get shredded by Drew Brees and the Saints, something tells me the Rams won’t reach the Super Bowl. The Rams gave up over 300 yards in offense in the first half alone.
The Seahawks-Chargers game last week was one of the worst officiated games in recent memory. The Hawks were flagged 10 times and the Chargers an even dozen. Can the referees please put the flags away and let the players decide the outcome? The Seahawks play-calling in the first half was atrocious. However, it doesn’t help when you are constantly in long yardage situations thanks to penalties and sacks and other negative plays.
The Seahawks need to stand up and be counted Sunday in LA. You want a season-defining win? Go down there and kick some butt! However, it will be very difficult if Bradley McDougald, Chris Carson and D.J. Fluker are all out with injuries.
I still think the Seahawks need a premier pass rusher before their defense is back to anything near previous levels. I kind of thought Seattle would sign former Seahawk Bruce Irvin after he was cut loose by the Raiders. Instead, Irvin signed with the Falcons so he could be reunited with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
Pat Mahomes has 29 touchdown passes so far this season. Buffalo Bill quarterbacks have 3. Nathan Peterman of the Bills is the guy who started the YouTube videos where he throws footballs off the roof into garbage pales down below on the ground. That would be good practice except for the fact none of the Buffalo receivers are garbage cans. Peterman is so pathetic he’s already thrown 12 interceptions in just over 100 pass attempts.
Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly is a free agent. Memo to the Lions – do whatever you have to do and sign this guy! He’s the best quarterback in the CFL and makes his off-season home in Seattle. Prove to Lions fans you actually want to win. It’s certainly not out of the question. It was Ed Hervey who made the deal with Wally that sent Reilly to Edmonton.
The Duke Blue Devils just started their NCAA season and what an embarrassment of riches. Canadian R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish could be taken 1-2-3 in next year’s NBA draft which would be unprecedented. All 3 were 5-star recruits by the team this season.
A Real Heel – The best thing that could happen to the Blue Jays this off-season would be a retirement announcement by Troy Tulowitski. He’s coming off surgery on both heels and still maintains he wants to continue playing. His Tulo-ness is owed another 20 mil in 2019 plus 14 million in 2020 plus a 4 million dollar buy-out the following year.
On a more positive note – Vlady Guererro Jr. hit a ball with an exit speed of 117.2 m.p.h. in the Arizona Fall League. Can’t wait to see him in a Jay’s uniform on an everyday basis!
DOM-ination – According to that bastion of journalism TMZ, the Red Sox partied big time after winning the World Series in Los Angeles. They reportedly racked up a tab of over $300,000 at the Nightengale Plaza nightclub in a celebration that lasted all night. The tab included 60 bottles of Moet & Chandon and 48 bottles of Dom Perignon. At the end of the night, players left a tip of $195,000, bringing the bill to an even half million. And they were not done there!
After the World Series parade in Boston, they retired to the Icon Club in Beantown and proceeded to rack up another tab of 300 grand. I guess that’s what you do when you are the highest salaried team in baseball.
Reminder: If you are in the area on Saturday afternoon, tune into the Bro Jake Show on TSN 1040 in Vancouver. I will be joining Jake and Gene Valaitis at 5:00pm for our regular weekly gabfest!