The latest on the Canucks and an update on Nikolai Kulemin.
NEW YORK POST/VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Larry Brooks and Ed Willes expect Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella will be fired at season’s end. Both point out Tortorella’s failed efforts to turn a Canucks roster built for speed and puck possession into a grinding, defense-first team.
VANCOUVER SUN: Brad Ziemer reports the Canucks must decide if they’ll buy out David Booth or retain him. Booth has one season left on his current contract, and in recent weeks has been among their best forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting how things have changed in just a few months. Entering December Tortorella was earning praise in Vancouver and New York when the Canucks were doing better than expected while Alain Vigneault was being questioned as the right coach for the then-struggling Rangers. Now, Vigneault is being praised and Tortorella is under fire. In my opinion, the Canucks can either fire Tortorella or rebuild the roster to suit Torts’ system.
As for Booth, while some Vancouver pundits suggest retaining him is only a one-year gamble, if the Canucks are serious about a rebuild, using their remaining compliance buyout on Booth is part of it. He’s a good scoring winger but his injury history suggests he’s a gamble which won’t pay off.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Nikolai Kulemin’s agent had an informal chat with members of Leafs management. Kulemin makes $2. 8 million this season but Hornby doesn’t see him returning at that price. He’ll be a UFA this summer and his intention is to remain in the NHL.