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Press Round-Up: FEB.04.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Rookies done like dinner at upscale eatery: Raymond, Edler and Brown buck up $10k

The Province said night of team bonding leaves rookie’s with big bill to pay.

“Shula's On The Beach is a mainstay restaurant of the upscale Fort Lauderdale crowd where deep-pocketed patrons dine in fine style with a view of the ocean,” said the Province.

“It's also where Mason Raymond, Alex Edler and Mike Brown had to dig deep into their pockets Saturday night to pay for the Canucks' annual rookie meal.”

“Total attendance: 32 (players, trainers and public relations staff).”

“Total tab: Close to $10,000.”

"It's was a fun night and we all enjoyed it," chuckled Raymond. "We were hoping for more help [with the tab] and pushing for that, but that's all we had because the guys declined."

“Those rookies were Luc Bourdon, Jason Jaffray and Nathan McIver, who haven't been up in the NHL long enough this season to get stuck with part of the bill,” said the Province.

"We had a great time and the guys were loose and any time you get away a bit from the rink doesn't hurt. It was a key bonding thing."

“Like his teammates, Raymond is convinced the Canucks aren't playing bad through their 2-7-2 funk. He believes digging a little bit deeper for big plays -- like the one Jaffray made Friday to dive forward with his stick to spring Raymond loose for a third-period goal against Florida -- are the difference to salvage this four-game road trip,” said the Province.

"That extra effort -- that's the difference," added Raymond. "We don't feel like we're playing terrible and getting blown out of the rink. We feel we're really close and it's right around the corner."

“With a rash of injuries, Raymond has been asked to play centre and the point on the power play. He has 13 points in 30 games and coach Alain Vigneault believes the added responsibility will advance the rookie's learning curve,” said the Province.

"It's huge," said Vigneault. "All this time and experience will help him down the road."
GM Nonis scouts top Swedes: Forsberg's NHL future up in air, Brunnstrom on radar

Ben Kuzma said Dave Nonis’ scouting trip to Sweden provides hope, but little answers.

“The Super Bowl wasn't the only big game played Sunday,” said Kuzma.

“There was also the ongoing guessing game as to where Peter Forsberg will play this NHL season and where Swedish Elite League late-bloomer Fabian Brunnstrom will play next season. Vancouver is a possible destination for both Swedes.”

“Canucks general manager Dave Nonis was in Sweden last week to scout five players before the Sweden Games. And despite not talking directly to Forsberg, he didn't mask his team's level of interest in the unrestricted free agent.”

"Yeah, we're one of them, but I haven't talked to a GM who isn't," said Nonis.

“While Nonis wouldn't say whether he's made an offer to agent Don Baizley, he did say that Forsberg's ankle remains a concern -- even though reports have Forsberg announcing his destination this week after undergoing November surgery,” said Kuzma.

"Reports out of Sweden and a lot of areas are suspect," added Nonis. "Am I convinced? No. I don't think anyone is as far as I'm aware. And I don't think anybody has had him in for physicals.

"That's the question that will have to be asked before anyone signs him."

“Forsberg, 34, has been practising with Modo of the SEL for the past two weeks. While Philadelphia is reportedly the frontrunner -- GM Paul Holmgren was also in Sweden last week -- it's not hard for the Canucks to envision what a healthy Forsberg could provide,” said Kuzma.

"It's going to be interesting," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund. "He's definitely coming back."

Henrik Sedin saw last summer what impact Forsberg could have. He played with Forsberg in exhibition games against Finnish teams and was impressed,” said Kuzma.

"He hadn't practised for a while and came out and dominated," said Sedin. "He can come back and be a difference right away."

“Forsberg could command a pro-rated $5-million salary and would want at least the same next season. If the Canucks consider Forsberg a better bet than waiting for Mats Sundin to waive his no-trade clause from Toronto -- that deal would cost players and picks -- they at least have the money to make it happen,” said Kuzma.

“With 23 players on the active roster at $47.6 million, there's $2.7 million to play with before the Feb. 26 trade deadline -- enough to take on what would be left in Forsberg's deal this year. And with six of nine unrestricted free agents at forward positions, the Canucks could free up as much as $12.52 million this summer if none of those players are retained. That would help extend Forsberg.”

“The Canucks have pressing needs with the uncertainty of how Brendan Morrison's surgically repaired wrist and Kevin Bieksa's lacerated calf will hold up once they return. But in the midst of a 2-7-2 funk that has the Canucks ninth in the Western Conference there's a sense of urgency around this bunch -- even though Nonis doesn't see it that way.”

"I have a hard time poking holes at the effort or the way we've played," he said.

"And a hard time writing off the playoffs being one point out with a lot of hockey left to play and a lot of players coming back."

“That's great. But a pitch for Forsberg wouldn't cost the Canucks a roster player, prospect or draft picks,” said Kuzma.

“Meanwhile, Brunnstrom, 22, is intriguing because the undrafted winger can pick his NHL destination and would be affordable in an entry level deal.”

“The Canucks, Maple Leafs and Red Wings are frontrunners to sign the 6-foot-1 playmaker, who had seven goals and 29 points through 35 games with Farjestad of the SEL,” said Kuzma.

"He wasn't the best player on the ice, but it wasn't a very good game," Nonis said of his scouting mission.

“Brunnstrom won the Division 2 scoring title in Sweden last season with 73 points in 43 games. This season, he was released by a Division 1 team after two weeks before signing with Farjestad,” said Kuzma.
Petty fits well with Canuck heartbreakers
Brad Ziemer said Canuck management is happy with the team’s performance, but disappointed with non-indicative results.

“The NFL brought back that old rocker Tom Petty to do halftime duties at Sunday's Super Bowl,” said Ziemer.

“Petty would also be a good fit at a Vancouver Canuck game. This is, after all, a team that is 'free-falling' and turning into real 'heartbreakers' to its fans.”

“But Canuck coach Alain Vigneault and general manager Dave Nonis insist their team is neither down nor out.”

“The Canucks have gone 12 games without a win in regulation and are a league worst 2-6-2 (tied with St. Louis) over their last 10 games.”

“But Vigneault and Nonis both said Sunday they feel their injury-riddled team played some its best hockey of the season in January and got little to show for it,” said Ziemer.

"In all of the four months that we've been in action probably the month of January has been the one where we've played the best and got the least amount of results for it," Vigneault said after the Canucks practised at a suburban Miami rink Sunday afternoon.

"We just have to keep going. We're looking to improve, we're looking to find ways to win and we're going to continue to do that."

“Nonis said much the same thing Sunday after returning from a trip to Sweden,” said Ziemer.

"I think it's easy to get frustrated when the results aren't there," he said. "I look at the way we played in January and in a lot of ways we have played some of our best hockey with our worst results.

"It's a lot like November of last [season] when a lot of things were going right except for the final score. Our play has been pretty good. I think we maybe need to improve our special teams a little bit."

INJURY REPORT: “Getting some of their injured defencemen back would be a big help to the Canucks. Sami Salo (groin) did not practise Sunday, but skated afterwards with injured centre Brendan Morrison,” said Ziemer.

“Salo may try to practise today in Dallas and there's a chance he could play Tuesday night. But Lukas Krajicek (shoulder) and Willie Mitchell (back) won't see action on this trip. Krajicek was sent back to Vancouver on the weekend.”

"We sent Lukas back and he is going to get rechecked," Vigneault said. "His rehab wasn't going well. He'll see our doctors.

"It's the same shoulder that got operated on a couple of years ago. We were hoping the rehab would fix it."

“Mitchell did not accompany the team on this four-game trip and after skating Friday in Vancouver said he only felt like he was at 75 per cent. Mitchell is recuperating from a lower back stress fracture,” said Ziemer.

"All I can go on is what our doctors are telling me," Vigneault said of Mitchell's injury. "All of them are telling me the same thing, that this type of injury you can play with. I don't doubt what our doctors say and I don't doubt what Willie says, that the pain right now is stopping him from playing."

IT'S A BOY: “Winger Daniel Sedin returned to Vancouver on Sunday morning, but missed his wife Marinette's delivery of their second child, a boy, by a few hours,” said Ziemer.

"I talked to him this morning and everything went good," brother Henrik Sedin said. "He was on the plane when it happened. Her labour was really short, about three hours." Daniel is expected to rejoin the team late today in Dallas.
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