Canadian NHL teams have been on the rise, but the Vancouver Canucks continue to buck that trend.

Winners and losers in trades, transactions, and free agency are subjective and can be debated.

Most teams are not of championship calibre but many have “star” power to build around.

In the 2015-16 season none of the seven Canadian franchises made the playoffs, however, five qualified for the post-season in 2016-17.

For their hard earned money, fans expect their favorite team to be competitive game in and game out; having superb recognizable players are essential to building a winning culture.

The Canucks have the second worst record in the NHL over the previous two seasons (61-81-22), only ahead of Colorado (61-95-8).

Vancouver is considerably behind the other Canadian teams!

Its short-term future looks bleak compared to the other six franchises across the country that have given an indication they are on the right track.

Ottawa has Erik Karlsson, arguably the best defenceman in the league, and the Senators were an overtime goal from reaching this year’s Stanley Cup Final.

Montreal has locked up the game’s top goalie for the next nine years after Carey Price signed that eight-year, $84 million extension.

The Habs have Price and two-time Olympic gold-medalist defenceman Shea Weber under contract through 2025-26.

I’ve never been a Maple Leafs fan, but after many seasons as the butt of jokes, Toronto appears to have finally turned the corner.

Rookie of the Year Auston Matthews (40 goals) and Mitch Marner (team high 42 assists as a rookie) are part of the cornerstone for Toronto to build upon.

508-goal man Patrick Marleau (three years, $18.75 million) would never have signed with the Leafs had he felt the team would struggle going forward.

Edmonton is set to contend for the next decade after scoring champ (100 points) and NHL MVP Connor McDavid signed that eight-year, $100 million extension.

The Oilers are in the process of trying to sign McDavid’s teammate, 21-year-old Leon Draisaitl (16 points in 13 playoff games) to a long-term deal.

Calgary is without a mega-star, but the Flames have an upper echelon defence led by Dougie Hamilton (50 points; +12) and Mark Giordano (39 points; +22).

The Flames also have a crop of promising forwards, including Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, and Matthew Tkachuk, with their prime years to come.

Gaudreau is close to a point a game player over the past two seasons.

Winnipeg can boast of Patrik Laine, a 36-goal man in his rookie year and 24-year-old Mark Scheifele, who was seventh in NHL scoring with 82 points.

(The Canucks top scorer, Bo Horvat, was just 86th in the league with 52 points)

The Jets also upgraded their roster by signing defenceman Dmitry Kulikov (three years, $12.99 million) and goalie Steve Mason (two years, $8.2-million).

Last year, the Canucks grossly over spent on Loui Eriksson (24 points in 65 games) when he was given a six-year, $36 million contract.

Vancouver learned its lesson, and this year signed six players for $22.5 million, none of whom received more than three years.

There was no splash, but to be fair, there weren’t many marque free agents available.

The signings themselves are hardly a cause of excitement.

Forward Sam Gagner (three years, $9.3 million) is on his fifth NHL team and a first round pick (Edmonton, 2007) that hasn’t fulfilled expectations.

Gagner has averaged 16 goals and 45 points over 80 games over his 10 NHL seasons.

Defenceman Michael Del Zotto (two years, $6 million) is on his fourth NHL team; he may help the power play, but he also has not lived up to the billing of a first round pick (New York Rangers, 2008).

27-year-old goalie Anders Nilsson (two years, $5 million) was the Buffalo Sabres back-up goalie last season appearing in just 26 games.

Now, he is expected to help replace Ryan Miller, who bolted to Anaheim, and challenge Jacob Markstrom for minutes.

The others were added strictly for depth: forwards Alex Burmistrov (one year, $900,000) and Anton Rodin (one year, $700,000), plus defenseman Patrick Wiercioch (one year, $650,000)

President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden and General Manager Jim Benning are entering their fourth year together of running the show.

Clearly, Vancouver is much further behind now than when they took over.

Like all teams, the Canucks have some promising talent but escaping the bottom of the Canadian NHL rankings appears to be years down the road.

 

GARTEIG SHOPPING HIS SERVICES:

Goaltender Michael Garteig of Prince George is hoping to land with another NHL organization.

The 25-year-old, who was a standout in the BCHL and later at Quinnipiac University, became an unrestricted free agent after the Canucks failed to tender him a qualifying offer.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

The Chicago Cubs made their second visit to the White House. Wow! Two White House visits in one year; who do they think they are, the president?

*Late Night host Seth Meyers

 

MLB ump Joe West celebrated working his 5000th game last month. His seeing-eye dog honored him by digging up the back yard and kicking dirt all over him when he came home.

*Comedy writer Tony Chong of Vancouver

 

Major League umpire Angel Hernandez is suing the league for discrimination. Apparently he is claiming they violated the Disability Act by not making it so the locker room could accommodate his Seeing Eye dog.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

 

A Toronto man who threw a can of beer at Orioles OF Hyun Soo Kim during last year’s playoffs has been sentenced to community service and ordered to stay away from major league ballparks for one year. So does that mean he can still go see the Phillies?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

 

The Discovery Channel announced that Michael Phelps will compete against a shark (July 23rd) in a swimming race. Meanwhile, Ryan Lochte will compete against a shark in a spelling bee.

*Conan O’Brien of TBS

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Russia reportedly interfered with voting in at least 39 states during the 2016 elections. In a related story, President Trump awarded three U.S. Open titles to Anna Kournikova.

Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

 

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat.
He also is the 94.3 radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller