Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Canucks Add Redhead, Sign Raffi Torres

If you're just waking up, the signing of depth forward and former Canuck nemesis Raffi Torres broke last night on Dan Murphy's Twitter, no doubt intentionally, by Dan Murphy himself. The reactions to this signing were mixed. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Some people want to be happy, but come on, Raffi Torres looks like such a douche. Some people named Harrison were excited because it was Canucks news and wanted to give it more thought but his wife decided that right then at the moment the news broke was as good a time as any to have a very serious talk about how much time I spend during the offseason trolling for Canucks news. Not cool, wife.

How am I feeling this morning? Tired, because that argument got way out of hand and the prospect of going to bed drifted further and further into the night. But also? Pretty happy about this signing.

Let's talk about Raffi, and let's agree right here and right now that Raffi the children's singer is too obvious a connection to make. We at Pass it to Bulis strive for a higher level of pop culture referencing, which is why, off the top of my head, I'm more inclinced to bring up Hakob Malik Hakobian, the Armenian author whose pen name is Raffi, and whose seminal work, The Fool, is an inspiration to patriotic freedom fighters from Tavush to Syunik. Or to reference the ironically named Raffi Armenian, who is not the Armenian Raffi I just referenced, but rather a French-Canadian conductor-composer and member of the order of Canada with no connection to his aforementioned namesake.

Okay, who am I kidding? As far as anybody's concerned, there's only one Raffi, and I guess, if I'm being honest, you can't fight the pop sensibility of If I Were a Gorilla.

Now let's talk about the hockey player. Raffi Torres is only six feet tall, but I've learned over the last two seasons to look less at height and more at weight. Keep in mind that Ryan Kesler and Alex Ovechkin are the same height. It's just that Kes is 195 lbs and Ovie is 220. Or consider that Mason Raymond and Raffi Torres are the same height, but Raymond is 180 lbs. and Torres, like Ovechkin, is 220. Don't get your hopes up, Canucks fans, as that's the only connection between the hockey of Raffi and the hockey of Ovechkin, but what you should be optimistic about is that Torres adds some girth to the forward corps. Torres is an energetic winger who likes to crash and bang and be a pest. He's tough to move from out in front of the net. And he's skilled. He's averaged about twenty goals a season for his career.

In fact, the only reason that Raffi Torres is coming to us for the meager cost (in NHL money) of 1 million is because of his post-deadline suckitude with the Buffalo Sabres. In sixty games with Columbus, Torres got 19 goals. That's very good. But, in 14 post-deadline games with Buffalo, he was unable to bump that number to an even twenty. That's very bad. But, if anything, it's an argument for trade deadline acquisitions needing more time to gel with their team, or perhaps that not every acquisition is a perfect fit. Torres simply didn't fit in Buffalo. He had a bad stretch, which he tends to have every now and then, but while he's known as a streaky scorer, his career stats indicate a noticeable level of consistency. He deserved better than this cheap, short contract, but his misfortune is our gain.

On top of this, Torres is built for the Western Conference, and perhaps more specifically the Northwest division. Canucks fans might remember him as Public Ginger Enemy #1, that redheaded Oilers forward who lit us up on a number of occasions. He never played better than at the Canucks, scoring timely/untimely goals and doing his trademark goal celebration (he pumps his fist, and shouts "F**kin' rights!"). Torres was so predictable against Vancouver that even my wife grew to hate him, his stupid red hair, his big hits, and that insufferable fist pump. It's hard to like him: he looks like such a douche.

What's bad about this signing? Not much. If we had gotten Torres for 2 million, there was a possibility that he could underwhelm and wind up overpaid and on the fourth line. (We call this the Steve Bernier conundrum). His time in Buffalo is definitely a little concerning, but if he's not scoring goals, he can still be a serviceable bottom-liner; he's better than Tanner Glass. Reports are conflicting about Torres's personality, too. I've heard that he's great in the room, but I've also observed that he's kind of a douche (he looks like such a douche), so that's a wash. Gillis tends to get good room guys, mind you. He's probably quite a jovial fellow. In truth, there isn't much downside anybody can find to this, other than that he isn't a better player (the gist of forum naysayers' arguments), but that's like being given an HBC gift card and complaining you can't use it at Sears. Suck it up, whiner--you'll get what you need out of it.

Torres will be a good player for Vancouver. He adds grit and veteran presence, playoff experience (he went to a final, remember?) and most importantly, top-nineness to a team that needed more of that. I have to think this spells the end of Bieksa's time in Vancouver, but, come on, we all knew that was coming anyway, Raffi or not. He'll be good with Manny Malhotra, and the overall size of the two of them makes it likely okay if a smaller guy is plugged in on that wing (or at center). With Burrows out to start the reason, we'll probably see two young kids filling out the top nine, which might not be ideal, but consider now that, in every case they'll likely be skating with two vets (The Sedins, Raymond & Kes, ManRaf). That's good for everybody.

From my extremely biased perspective, this is a good deal. In fact, Torres is a better player than Asham, who I've been skeptical about since he impressed as an energy guy with Philadelphia last year. Maybe I'm missing something, but I see low-risk, and potentially, high-reward. Nothing but good, except that I have to look at him, and he looks like... well, you get the idea... such a douche.

Skeeter? Qris? Anybody? Anything to add?

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