Wolfgang Amadeus Gragnani
Quick, what happened last Monday?
I can’t actually hear you but I’m assuming you said the Canucks traded Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian, though you should never assume because it makes an ass out of you, especially when you got the trade wrong.
Alex Sulzer, who you forgot existed until 3:30 pm Monday, was also shipped out in the deal for Marc-Andre Gragnani. We can’t pretend Hodgson for Kasssian was a straight one-for-one deal because otherwise Buffalo gets fleeced in the defender swap.
By virtue of actually playing on Saturday, Gragnani has already surpassed Sulzer’s contributions to the team this year.
In fact his blatant disregard for the basic concept of traditional positioning, especially on the powerplay, has made him down-right intriguing. Who is this mystery defenceman that won’t be chained down and why has Alain Vigneault not murdered him between giggle fits?
Well for une, he’s Quebecois, so he knows the secret handshake. For deux, his Junior coach was a man named Alain Vigneault.
For the trois, the captain of the PEI Rockets at that time was a player named Maxim Lapierre.
Funny how these details also seem to show up in Mike Gillis trades. Did I mention Sami Pahlsson played with the Sedins at MODO?
Also, he might be harbouring some serious offensive talent.
193 points in in 256 QMJHL games; 206 points in 283 AHL games; 7 points in seven games during last year’s playoffs with the Buffalo Sabres.
At 24, Gragnani only has 61 NHL regular season games under his belt, 46 of them this year where he has a respectable 16 points.
His defensive game is rather limited and the Marc-Andre Bergeron comparisons are easy, but as a player who has put up tremendous offensive numbers in every league he’s competed in, dropping him into a high-octane offensive system like Vancouver’s is very, very exciting.
This is assuming that Vancouver’s system is still high-0ctane. The Pahlsson acquisition seems to be a response to the increasing defensive battles in the West as St. Louis and Nashville, and to a lesser extent Los Angeles and Phoenix, have surged to the top of the standings in the strength of never allowing goals ever.
The Sedins are slumping, out of the Art Ross race and clinging hopefully to the top 10, yet are still the highest scorers in the Western Conference.
Of course I could be reading too much into what may have been the best available option to replace Cody Hodgson.
Still, with the powerplay dragged down by the Sedin slump and losing that Cody kid, Gragnani could be a welcome boost in the times when he should be exclusively occupying the offensive zone.
Gragnani switched briefly to left wing in his first season in the AHL which is another wrinkle that could be explored by the Canucks. Remember when Andrew Alberts was dressing as a forward in late November?
He’s quite the unique package and his landing in Vancouver definitely adds more potiental to a blueline that still looks a bit like a work in progress long-term.
Still, as a Junior star with offensive talent, especially on the powerplay, and deficiencies in his defensive game that may concern Vigneault, there’s a good chance he gets traded to Buffalo.