Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vancouver brings home an old name and welcomes a new one

Vancouver was busy on the trading front on Monday, with Dave Nonis avoiding the need to get up particularly early on Tuesday morning by taking care of some business by Monday night.

Nonis cut a deal with Chicago to bring in winger Brian Smolinski, a much traveled forward who should help add some punch to the Vancouver attack. Smolinski must be getting used to the idea of having to pack up a bag and move on deadline day, he last endured the deadline day entertainment a few years ago when Ottawa picked him up for a run at the Stanley Cup playoffs. The run fell short, but not through the fault of Smolinski at the time.

The 14 year veteran is expected to centre a line with Markus Naslund, a player he once played with in Pittsburgh back in their early days, it’s hoped that by reuniting him with Naslund, the Vancouver captain will finally get back into a scoring groove that has eluded him for most of this season.

The cost of Smolinski was relatively small, a second round draft choice in this years draft, if he can help give the Canucks some extra scoring punch on the second line then he’ll be well worth the pick. On an anemic Chicago team this season, Smolinski was the second leading scorer with 37 points. Vancouver will be his sixth team in the 1071 games he’s played during his career.

The Canucks also picked up a familiar name for Vancouver fans late in the day. While the sports shows pondered the possibility of a return from Todd Bertuzzi to the West Coast (a most unlikely scenario) , it was a defenseman from LA that got the call to return back to the team he was once a major part of.

Brent Sopel will be joining the Canucks to try and shore up a defensive corps that is struggling at times, depending too much on their solid rock of a goaltender Roberto Luongo and not giving him as much help as they could.

Sopel was a 95 draft pick of the Canucks and played for them from 1998-2004, his arrival at the cost of a couple of draft picks will be a timely addition to the defense, there will probably be a little less room for opposing forwards to work with when Sopel patrols the blue line, a veteran acquisition that hasn’t come at a very high cost, nor caused any disruption to a line up that seems to be working well together for the most part.

Nonis who has been rather cautious at the helm of the Canucks this year, has been rewarded as the Canucks while not running away with anything, have managed to stay relevant in the challenging Northwest Division. His moves today add some depth to a team that doesn't seem too far away from returning to a place of dominance in the West.

The two moves on Monday probably take the Canucks out of the hunt for players as the deadline counts down Tuesday morning; maybe Nonis will just sleep in and watch the proceedings on television instead of from a Canucks war room.

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