Tag:Paul Bissonnette
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:17 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:29 am
 

Morning Skate: Stars keep playoff push going

The Stars go searching for a fifth straight win. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

7:30 ET, Pittsburgh at Dallas (NBC Sports Network)

The teams in the Atlantic Division (excluding the Islanders) are in an interesting spot here. Barring a miracle, they aren't going to catch the Rangers but none of them is fighting for their playoff lives either. Maybe New Jersey has to worry if they lose a few more -- maybe -- but they're six points up on ninth-place Winnipeg. So they're left playing big games seeing that it's playoff push time and all, but nothing all that impactful.

But you find ways to make them meaningful. For example, only one non-division winner is going host a first-round playoff series as the four seed. That's no doubt worth playing for. And that's what the Penguins are going after right now.

Their opponents on Wednesday night, however, have a lot greater sense of desperation. That's because the Stars enter the night in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the West (holding the tie-breaker with a game in hand). Dallas would be thinking about hopping into the division race if the Coyotes weren't hotter than the Phoenix summers. They have won four straight games and have gained no ground on the Coyotes.

Now none of the above means the Penguins are going to come coasting into the game while the Stars come guns a blazin'. They wouldn't be in the position their in if they did that ever. In today's NHL you can't do that against any team. It's just something to remember if you notice a difference in "compete level."

It also marks, by the way, the first time that James Neal has come back to Dallas to face his old team (and Matt Niskanen, of course). Seeing the season that Neal is having with his brand new contract extension has to be a little painful for the Dallas faithful thinking of what could have been.

Oh and don't forget about Evgeni Malkin. He has five goals and two assists in his last three games. I hear he's good.

8 ET, Toronto at Chicago

This game should be sponsored by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Free Falling could be the theme song.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a tail spin that Chuck Yeager would have a hard time pulling out of. They've lost five in a row, most in ugly fashion. They've lost nine of their last 10 games. The fans are chanting for the coach to be fired. They are on the verge of falling completely out of the playoff race, going into tonight's game four points behind eighth-place Washington. The Leafs are as close right now to 14th in the East as they are eighth.

Well OK, I guess it's a pretty typical end of February in Canada's biggest city.

But let's not forget about America's Second City here and Chicago. They are going through their own swoon. They have only four wins in their last 16 games and bring a three-game losing streak into the battle with the Leafs.

If they were to get no points tonight, the Blackhawks would legitimately have to start worrying about being on the playoff bubble. Right now they are only three points up on teams 8-10 and will have played more games than all of them. When teams come into Chicago this out of sorts, the Blackhawks need to be able to deliver the next blow.

I'm not sure who is more desperate for the two points tonight.

Others worth watching

9:30 ET, St. Louis at Edmonton: The Blues are in fight for the Central Division crown with the Red Wings and have finally found their form on the road. They've won three straight away from home but the Oilers seem like a perfect team to play spoiler the rest of the way.

10 ET, Buffalo at Anaheim: To be frank, but of these teams is all but done in the playoff race. It would be remarkable if either made it in. But I'm still going to dub this a "loser leave town" match. Don't win this game and you can definitely forget about it.

Your promised miscellany

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Posted on: November 20, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: Wild move to top of the NHL

By Brian Stubits

When I was trying to wrap my head around the aftermath of the weekend in hockey, you must pardon me if I'm a bit staggered. It's not exactly the college football landscape after Saturday, but it's equally as jolting.

It's still only late November, but a tour of the standings is surprisingly fun. And confusing.

Who'd a thunk the NHL's top team at this (or any) point in the season would be the Minnesota Wild? Was there anybody not busy laughing at Dale Tallon that they could have seen the Florida Panthers ahead of the Southeast Division? Did anybody believe Dave Tippett could work his magic again and have the Coyotes in first place of the Pacific? Lastly, who saw the Maple Leafs atop the Northeast Division?

This is the bizarro NHL. Or maybe it's just that this is the NHL with the 2-1-0 point system.

The difference between the best in the NHL (Wild and Chicago Blackhawks) to 25th place (Winnipeg Jets) is only eight points. Four of the six divisions have the fourth place team within four points of the division lead.

One of the divisions that doesn't fit that bill is the Northwest, and that's not because the Vancouver Canucks are running away with it again. Instead, the Wild are, building the biggest division lead in the NHL, holding a five-point lead on the Edmonton Oilers (we told you this was bizarro world).

If we want to take the last 10 games (which we do, it makes this look better) the Wild are the hottest team in hockey alongside the Boston Bruins. Each of them are 8-2-0 in that span after the Wild took the two points from the St. Louis Blues on Saturday with a shootout victory.

It must be the offseason additions of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi, right?

They haven't hurt matters, to be clear. But I wouldn't go as far as to call them the reason the Wild have the most points in the league. Offensively speaking, the Wild have been well below average. Their 2.20 goals per game ranks 28th out of 30 teams.

Obviously that means it's the defense that's led them to a league-high 12 wins. The Wild are surrendering a very impressive 1.95 goals against average. It's funny how starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom is the "worst" goalie of the tandem of he and Josh Harding as he sports a 1.97 GAA and.935 save percentage.

The most amazing part about this is the Wild are doing it with what most would agree is a no-name group of defensemen. Brent Burns is gone to San Jose. Greg Zanon has been sidelined as have Marek Zidlicky and Marco Scandella. That leaves a cast of characters that I doubt anybody outside of Minnesota or Houston (the Wild's AHL affiliate) had heard of; guys like Justin Falk and Kris Fredheim.

This is all under first-year NHL coach Mike Yeo, by the way. He has come in from Houston and has this team as one of the biggest turnaround stories of the season. I defy anybody, including those fans in Minnesota, to say they saw the Wild starting this well.

Speaking of surprising turnarounds ...

There's another team shocking the NHL under a first-year coach after an awful season a year ago. That would be the Florida Panthers.

Kevin Dineen, certainly with a great pedigree as a player in the NHL, has put his name in the early running for the Jack Adams (next to Yeo) with what he has done in Florida. Or perhaps we should say with what Dale Tallon has done.

The top line for the Panthers is making all the difference right now. For years, the Panthers didn't have much production from the top line. If you had to rank where they stood, it was always in the bottom five of top lines in the NHL, that includes when it featured Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Nathan Horton.

The new top line of Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg showed its prowess on Saturday night against the Penguins in South Florida. They were in on all three Florida goals, including Weiss' power play tally in the final minutes. Each member of that line is on pace for about 80 points or more. None of the three has ever had more than 61 points in a season (Weiss in 2008-09).

The team has some serious gumption. After taking the late lead on the Pens, they withstood a massive barrage, particularly the final 65 seconds when the Penguins pulled goalie Dan Johnson. That's when Jose Theodore -- another surprise -- stood tallest and denied Pittsburgh's numerous scoring chances. Theodore, by the way, has a very respectable 2.46 GAA and .923 save percentage.

We are close to a quarter of the way through the season and it's just so weird to call them the first-place Panthers. But that's exactly what they are.

Getting Bizzy

Another one of the surprising teams (boy, there are a lot of those) is the Phoenix Coyotes -- we'll have more on them this week. They have been winning in seasons past, but I think many believed that Ilya Bryzgalov was a big reason for that and when he left for Philadelphia, most predicted they would falter.

Surprise is a word that would aptly describe Paul Bissonnette's night on Saturday, too. Maybe even surprise doesn't cut it, shocking would fit better.

The Coyotes tough guy who hardly plays but is one of the most popular players in the NHL due to his Twitter fame, had the rare shot to play in Buffalo, near his hometown of Welland, Ontario. It also happened to be the first time his mother had the chance to see him play live in the NHL. And so wouldn't you know it, this happened:

As I said, shocking. That goal brings his total to five goals in the past three seasons with the Coyotes. Maybe equally shocking was Tyler Myers' play to give Bissonnette the shot on the doorstep.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes' 4-2 win moved them into a tie with the Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division.

We want 10!

How crazy are things right now? The Oilers scoring nine goals on the Blackhawks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recording five assists goes here. Oh, and Taylor Hall had a hat trick.

The Oilers had eight goals at the mid-way mark of the game, prompting the chants of "We want 10!" from the Edmonton faithful. They came close, real close, in the final minutes, but didn't get it. Instead they had to settle for a 9-2 rout. For shame.

For the Oilers, it's what you would call a rebound win. They entered the game on a four-game skid. The quick start to the season seemed long ago in the rearview mirror. But then in 60 minutes they scored more goals (nine) then they had in the entire span of that losing streak (eight).

What's more, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to live up to the billing. Labeled as a play-making center, the Nuge's five-assist night was the a record-setter. No 18-year-old had ever done that before in NHL history. His 19-year-old linemate Hall had his second career hat trick. Whatever they wanted to do, they did.

As for the Blackhawks, their four-game win streak ran into the Alberta armor and went kaput in back-to-back nights to the Flames on Friday and then the Oilers.

"Right now, it seems like every little mistake we make it's in the back of our net and we're making a lot of mistakes," defenseman Duncan Keith said on Saturday. "We all as a team need to focus on committing to playing the right way and the way we know how to play. We have to. The last two games have been embarrassing. The only thing we can do is try and learn from it and move on."

Make it eight

The Boston Bruins can't be touched right now.

With their 6-0 trouncing of the Islanders on Saturday, they have won eight games in a row. With that run, they have finally climbed back into the top eight of the Eastern Conference standings.

The most amazing part of the eight-game run? The Bruins have outscored their opponents 42-14 in that time. That's an average margin of victory of 3.5 goals per game. As I said, they can't be touched right now.

Caps popped

The Capitals are in a tailspin, leading to the annual chatter of Bruce Boudreau's job safety starting up again. That can happen after taking a 7-1 pounding by the similarly struggling Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

When asked after the game about a vote of confidence for Boudreau, GM George McPhee game a "no comment."

But it's still hard to put this on Boudreau in my mind. He's trying everything he can to right the ship. The problem is partly on the shoulders of Alex Ovechkin, who has failed to score a point in any of the past four games. The last time that happened? Go back to February of 2007.

So what's the next step after a team meeting and a practice on a typical off day? It could be the benching of Alexander Semin. The other talented Russian forward on the Caps, Semin has already seen demotions this season. In Sunday's practice, he was dropped all the way to the third line and when Boudreau was asked if Semin might be a healthy scratch on Monday against the Coyotes, Boudreau didn't say one way or the other.

Matters could be coming to a head very soon in D.C. one way or another.

Coming back to Earth

Once sitting atop the NHL in points, the Dallas Stars have gone into a funk, losing five in a row, topped off by a 3-0 loss at Colorado on Friday and a 4-1 defeat in San Jose on Saturday.

That prompted first-year coach Glen Gulutzan to go off about this team, leading to ...

Quote of the weekend

From CSN Bay Area:

“We whine like little babies throughout the game,” Gulutzan said. “I don’t know if there’s been a history of that here or not, but every team that I’ve coached, we’ve always been at the other end of the scale. I think we’re the worst penalty differential in the league, and every team I’ve coached we’ve always been the opposite.

“That’s going to change. We’re going to change that culture here. We’ve got to do it by zipping our mouths one step at a time. The refs are human, and if you whine that much, they’re not going to give you calls. That’s just the bottom line. We’re not getting some calls, and it’s our fault.

“I’ll be glad to go back to Saskatchewan if we don’t get out of this, but at the end of the day we’re going to do it the way we’re going to do it,” he said. “We’re going to be men, we’re going to have character, we’re going to shut our mouths and we’re going to play. If that’s not good enough, then so be it.”

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 1:29 am
Edited on: November 8, 2011 1:31 am
 

Professor Paul Bissonnette educates Phoenix fans

By Brian Stubits

The city of Phoenix can use an ambassador to try and fill the seats in the stadium. It just so happens the Coyotes have one of the most popular players in the league on their roster in Paul Bissonnette. Talk about a guy who knows how to use Twitter (@BizNasty2point0) as an athlete.

It might have taken awhile, but the two have come together to help spread the world of hockey to the people of Phoenix. (What are they called, Phoenixers? Phoenixonians?)

With that, I introduce Professor Paul. It's sort of like the old feature on Late Night with Jay Leno called Jay-Walking, just with Bissonnette and hockey. Who wouldn't want to watch that?

Here are the first two episodes of Professor Paul quizzing the Phoenicians (there it is!).

I don't think it will surprise many to see the good folks of Phoenix aren't the sharpest knives in the hockey drawer.

Also, Bissonnette, who appears to be a bit of a ladies’ man based on his tweets, couldn't pass up the chance to hit on one of the ladies. I literally laughed out loud when he plowed through an awful pickup line I've never heard: "How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice. Hi, I'm Paul," with a big smile.

Then there was his interview with teammate Keith Yandle about his cover photo on Scottsdale Health.

Well done, Professor Paul. Well done.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:42 am
 

Eye on Hockey Halloween costume contest

By Brian Stubits

Hockey season might be in full swing, but that's no excuse for players not to go out to costume parties sporting their best Halloween outfits.

Considering it is Halloween and all, we figured we would have our own hockey costume contest here at Eye On Hockey. Make your vote and may be the best costume win.

Oh, before we begin, let me just say this is the greatness of Twitter. For those athletes daring enough to share, we get to see things like this which hardly ever saw the light of day before.

First we have Twitter sensation Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes. He is sporting his Hacksaw Jim Duggan outfit with his date dressed as Pocahontas, I believe.

USA! USA! USA!

My take: Kudos for being daring enough to wear that out. It's a solid start and the post makes it better.

Next up on the list is Bissonnette's teammate in Phoenix, Ray Whitney rocking toy soldier outfits with his wife.

Be all that you can be!

My take: This could be a contender here. The costumes are great for starters. But the real kicker is the pose. Whitney's wife has that solider position perfect. You remember that soldier, you always put it on the highest elevation possible.

Third in line is Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. Geno is going with the tried and true costume of the hairy pimp.

Big pimpin', spending Gs.

My take: As I said, a tried and true costume here. I love how both the wig and the mustache are leaning to the side and the sunglasses are a nice touch.

Fourth up is Carolina Hurricanes forward Anthony Stewart as the one and only Chubbs Peterson from Happy Gilmore.

It's all in the hips. It's all in the hips. It's all in the hips.

My take: At the risk of contaminating the voting public, this is my favorite. Stewart nailed Chubbs from the wooden hand to the outfit and even the alligator's eye in the glass container. Chubbs would be proud.

The fifth contestant is Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler as Sylvester the Cat. At least I'm left to assume it's him considering he tweeted it out.

Sufferin' Succotash!

My take: I have to think this one will be on the outside looking in partly based on the photo itself. But at least Kesler didn't go in the same costume as his ESPN the Magazine shoot.

Next up we have recently retired player and former Dallas Stars star Mike Modano trying out an LMFAO costume. You know, the guys who brought you the Body Rock.

Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle! Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle!

My take: I don't know if Modano actually wore this out of the house or not, he tweeted this out a few days before Halloween as a potential costume. But if he was willing to send it out, it counts. Daring is all I'll say. Oh, and please don't wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.

Last up in the contest we present to you the Boston Bruins. Now we already covered this one, but figured it deserved a shot here. For voting purposes, let's just stick with Zdeno Chara in the bunny suit.

"You look like a deranged Easter bunny. He looks like a pink nightmare!"

My take: The homemade touch is great, gives it an authentic feel. But I think this one scared too many people to get enough votes to win.

For the record, Raffi Torres of the Coyotes also dressed up, electing to go with the blackface and dressing up as Jay-Z with his wife as Beyonce. As you might expect, that's drawing a whole lot of criticism for Torres.

Photos: Thanks Twitter!

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Coyotes lock up Martin Hanzal for 5 years

MH1By: Adam Gretz

In his four seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes Martin Hanzal has been remarkably consistent with his offensive production, averaging around 11 goals and somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 points every season. Not exactly superstar level production, but don't let that hide his overall value -- and importance -- to the team.

He spends most of his team in a defensive role, usually going against the other teams top lines, and doing everything he can to keep points off the board. It's a role that he's been very successful at, and on Thursday it was announced by the team that he signed a new five-year contract extension that will keep him in Phoenix through the 2016-17 season. The team did not release the terms of the deal, but according to John Shannon of Sportsnet the deal will pay him a total of $15.5 million, which is a cap hit of $3.1 million.

Said general manager Don Maloney in a statement released by the team, “We are very pleased to sign Martin to a five-year contract extension. Martin is a big, strong, skilled center and a core member of our team. He contributes at both ends of the ice and we are confident he will continue to improve to become one of the NHL’s best two-way centers.”

Critics of the deal will likely point to his point totals and question how 30 points gets you over $3 million a year, but again, that completely misses the point of what Hanzal brings to the Coyotes. Phoenix plays a defensive-style of hockey and Hanzal is one of the most important players on the roster when it comes to establishing that style of play.

And it's not all that out of line with what similar players are making around the NHL, while Hanzal is still only 23 years old and can still improve.

Just as a point of reference, the $3.1 million cap hit is nearly $1 million less per year than the deal Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, a similar defensive-minded center with great size, signed a couple of years ago. It's also less than the $3.375 million per year contract Dave Bolland signed with Chicago prior to the 2009-10 season.

Earlier this summer the Coyotes locked up another key part of their future by signing defenseman Keith Yandle to a five-year deal worth over $25 million. On Wednesday they signed Paul Bissonette, master of Twitter, to a two-year deal.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:29 pm
 

NHL, NHLPA adopt new social media policy

By Brian Stubits

The NHL has sunk its teeth into the Twitter regulation business. As a result, no more will you hear from your favorite athletes on Twitter on game days. That's the result of the league's new policy, which was agreed to by the NHLPA.

The whole concept behind the policy is to make sure sensitive material isn't being revealed. I'm sure it had a little to do with organizations seeking some help, possibly feeling that their players could a) tweet said sensitive material, or b) be distracted by the social medium.

“The policy is sensible,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “It lets our players and clubs participate substantially in the opportunity of social networking while identifying and mitigating some of the risks. To date, our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks, and fans should not expect to see any material difference as a result of this policy."

Specifically, the policy calls for a blackout period of two hours before the game until the player's media obligations are completed. This has been a window of time that has pretty much been quiet anyway. Players haven't exactly been active in the locker room or on the bench.

For hockey operations staff members, the ban kicks in at 11 a.m. on game days. So Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, for example, won't have much to say on game days, even if it's something as innocuous as "GAME DAY! See you there Jackets fans!" for an example.

My visceral reaction is to reject regulation, it feel so draconian. It is a chilling effect, even if it is a restriction that was already being adhered to by 99.9 percent of the involved parties, if not 100 percent.

"To date our players and clubs have been exemplary in connecting with fans on social networks," Daly said.

So withdrawing the knee-jerk reaction to regulation, this simply establishes a guideline. Now teams would have actual recourse if a player were tweeting, say, during intermission. Although I think that would be pretty cool. Anything that would separate the NHL from the other leagues and make it stand out, I'm all for. But I understand this would never, ever fly and it's unlikely players would tweet mid-game even if they could.

The biggest tweeter of them all, Paul Bissonnette of the Coyotes (@BizNasty2point0), doesn't seem to have an issue with it.

“People asking about NHL's new policy on Twitter. I think its good. I don't even play much and I don't tweet on game days. Plenty of off days,”

And for those who are still resisting Twitter (I was once one of you, but it is truly perfect for sports fans) then this will have no impact whatsoever on your hockey fandom.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 10:27 am
 

Daily Skate: Modano sounds done; new cities?

By Brian Stubits

MODANO DONE? There is still no word from Mike Modano on if he has played his final game in the NHL, but the smart bet is that he has. In an interview with a Dallas radio station, he largely affirmed that believe, but wouldn't go as far as to confirm it. "I don't know. I think that was the swan song," Modano said. So are you officially retiring? "Not yet," Defending Big D has all the details on the radio interview and says that it's hard to come away from it believing anything but Modano's career is finished.

LOCATIONS FOR RELOCATION: The Atlanta Thrashers just became the Winnipeg Jets. Soon the New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes could be on the move as well, if things don't go their ways. There really are no Plan Bs in either city, so it's a boom or bust scenario. But Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star points out that serious problem in the relocation aspect ... relocate where? Quebec City is the first city on the list, but it doesn't have an arena. At least it does have potential owners who could build an arena by 2015 (when the Isles lease runs out). But others? Kansas City has an arena with no prospective owner. Same goes for Houston. Seattle doesn't have a suitable arena and no apparent serious owners. I'm still wondering why Milwaukee is never in this conversation. Perhaps it would be time to consider Hamilton, Ontario.

LOONEY TIMES: Former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty made a brief return to professional sports on Thursday, joining the Dodgers' Class A affiliate, the Great Lakes Loons, as a player for a day (Detroit Free Press). Unfortunately, McCarty didn't actually play in the game, he just signed autographs throughout as part of a Red Wings legends series. What I want to know is if he would have jumped in the fray if there had been a basebrawl. That would have been a time to have McCarty on your side, now wouldn't it?

KICKIN' KICKS: Paul Bissonnette is, thanks to Twitter, one of hockey's best-known personalities at this point. The Coyotes fourth-liner just got some awesome new shoes that seem to fit his personality ... and his team. The Biz tweeted out a picture of his custom Coyotes high tops that, as you might have guessed, are red. Take a look. I think he should have custom-made skates to match.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:34 am
 

Daily Skate: Yashin still looking, Boogaards talk

By Brian Stubits

STILL LOOKING: So far, the NHL interest in Alexei Yashin has come from one source, his former team in the Islanders. But that doesn't mean the 37-year-old is packing up for a return to Long Island yet. Yashin continues to consider all of his options -- which include multiple teams from the KHL. "There's not any rush to make a decision," Yashin told Newsday. So imagine this: The Isles could be rejected by somebody they once dumped (and are still paying) to go play in a league other than the NHL? Ouch.

BOOGAARD STATEMENT: As if grieving over the loss of Derek wasn't enough, the Boogaard family is now struggling with the charges brought against Derek's younger brother Aaron, who has been accused of providing Derek with the prescription drugs that contributed to Derek's death. Older brother Ryan released a statement for the family, expressing their disappointment in the authorities for the charges and maintaining everything will be set straight when Aaron has his day in court.

PROUD NEW PAPA: The Coyotes' Keith Yandle and his wife Krystin welcomed their first child on Monday, baby Mila according to teammate Paul Bissonnette. It's always nice to have this happen in the middle of the offseason so Yandle doesn't have to miss any time ... both with his team and his family.

LITTLE BITZ OF A MOVE: The Vancouver Canucks made a small acquisition on Monday, signing right winger Byron Bitz to a contract. Bitz, 27, comes over from the Florida Panthers after sitting out all of last season due to a sports hernia. He played seven games with the Panthers in 2009-10 after he was traded from Boston in a deal that shipped Dennis Seidenberg northward. How'd that one work out, Boston? In 87 career games in the NHL, Bitz has nine goals and nine assists. He is a big body that fits on a third or fourth line, but he will be hard-pressed to make the NHL squad.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com