With the Canucks' 30th season over with, we've decided to start a fresh page for off-season news. We've archived the pre-season and regular season, and are starting fresh for what could be an interesting off-season.
They're leaving, on a jet plane...
As I type this, the Canucks are in the air on their way to training camp in Sweden. Well, most of them... Only 23 players were asked to make the trip, the prospects having to settle for a nice trip to... 8 rinks. Among the players on their way to Sweden include newly signed Pitt Meadows native Brendan Morrison, who agreed to a deal just a few days ago, and starting goaltender Felix Potvin, who signed a few weeks back. Among those not attending are Donald Brashear who has yet to sign with the team. Brashear is reportedly asking for a Ti Domi-like salary, which would basically double the $750,000 he made last season. So, the Canucks signed tough-guy Dodi Wood to a 2-year deal to take Brashear's place until a deal can be reached. The Chetwynd, BC, native who played for the Canucks' new minor league affiliate, Kansas City, last season, has played 106 games with the San Jose Sharks. He had 13 goals and 28 assists in 71 games with Kansas City last season, and has been named their "most popular player" 3 times in the past 5 years. Sounds like a good guy to me!
Will the real back-up please stand up?
Just days after coming to terms with minor league goalie Corey Schwab, the Canucks have signed free agent Bob Essensa. The 35-year old veteran has played for 4 different NHL teams, playing in 30 games last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. He has a career record of 155-159-44 with a 3.07 GAA and will play back-up to Felix Potvin next season. That is, once the Canucks SIGN Potvin... The two sides are said to be very close, and will most likely announce a deal before next week. So, with Essensa signed as back-up, that leaves Corey Schwab to play for our new minor league team, the Kansas City Blades, and that leaves Garth Snow out in the cold. Poor Snowy... Hope he finds himself a good new team cause it's looking like his days are here are kaput. The Canucks also announced today the signing of forward Jarkko Ruutu. The 24 year-old played in 8 NHL games last season registering 1 assist and 6 PIM and recorded 58 points in 65 games with Syracuse. In other news, minor leaguers Brian Bonin and Chris O'Sullivan have signed with other teams, Bonin with Minnesota and O'Sullivan with Anaheim. We do still have 13 other free agents, of which only 5 will most likely sign. These include Potvin, Donald Brashear, Brendan Morrison, Brent Sopel and Lubomir Vaic.
After months of speculation, Mark Messier finally signed a 2 year deal with the New York Rangers. The 39-year old will make $11 million over 2 season plus a $1 million signing bonus. Including the $2 million he got from the Canucks as a buy-out, Messier will make $14 million over the next 2 seasons, the most he's ever made in his career. A lot for a 39 year old... Messier leaves the Canucks after 3 unsuccessful seasons to return to N.Y. where he spent 6 seasons prior to joining the Canucks in 1997. As most of you may know, we're not that fond of the Moose... In honour of that, we've written a new song :) Check it out in our SONGS section.
- So long, farewell: is it time to say
We may be jumping the gun, but all reports indicate that Mark Messier is heading back to broadway to reunite with the New York Rangers. Rumour has it that Mess is set to sign a two year deal that will pay him almost $5 M per season, much more than the Canucks were willing to pay to retain his services. Going back to NY will allow Messier to work with Glen Sather again, as well as some of his remaining teammates from the '94 Stanley Cup championships. Messier's three years with Vancouver were filled with injuries, not unusual for a 39 year old playing against 200 pound 25 year olds. However, despite the fact that Mess was unable to recreate the success he had earlier in his career, he did contribute on a regular basis, and provided great leadership for the younger, more inexperienced players. He's helped, but here at the Odds and Endzone, we've never gotten over our '94 bitterness, so we'll be having a "Mess-less" party as soon as the contract is officially signed. Now, if only we could get Trevor back...
- Smart boy signs with Canucks
The Canucks have signed Jeff Scissons, their 8th round pick in the 1996 entry draft. The 23 year old Saskatoon native, who captained the University of Minnesota - Duluth Bulldogs last season, accumulated a 3.91 grade point average and earned a BBA in finance. Wow! 3.91?? That's almost a straight A average! He was named WCHA Student Athlete of the year in March, and was also a three-time member of the All-WCHA Academic Team.
In other news, the Canucks have bought out old-timer centre Mark Messier's contract. Messier, who would have made another $6 million next season if the Canucks had opted to pick up his option, accepted a $2 million buy-out to become an unrestricted free agent. Rumors have him re-joining Glen Sather in NY where everyone thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Also, Brad May signed a 3-year, $3.3 million deal with Phoenix last weekend. The Canucks will receive a draft pick next year if May scores his 40 goals (his career high is 18....) in compensation for letting the Coyotes sign him a week early. Good luck in Phoenix Brad!!!
Finally, if you'd like to see something funny the people at Orcabay put together go to http://www.orcabay.com/canucks/photo_video/video/main.html