ben hutton

Gutting Current Roster Stalls Canucks Future

The NHL Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the rumour mill is churning out new material by the day. Regardless of what side you’re on, the changes the Canucks make could potentially shake the future direction of where the team wants to go. It’s no surprise who’s on the block, what their respective trade destination list looks like or who potentially will be the realistic destination for any of the said players. What may end up being a surprise is what could happen if Jim Benning decides to stock the cupboards with picks and prospects and lose valuable mentors in the room.

Building for the future comes at a cost, how quickly they decide to build will dictate how soon the true results are achieved.

I, like everyone else, want the Canucks to turn the corner and become what they used to be: a competitive, winning hockey team. I understand that they had an opportunity to get to the top of the mountain and they let the window close for any future chances at getting back to the Stanley Cup. It’s been a trying few years and now, Vancouver is facing some tough decisions with their current team.

On the one hand, they can trade Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, and Ryan Miller to name a few and get valuable draft picks to start putting together a stable that will compete 3-5 years down the line. There are other players who haven’t been mentioned that could be moved right now and in return would bring players that have already been developed by other teams.

There have been discussions on the Internet about moving Ben Hutton because of the progression of Troy Stecher and Nikita Tryamkin and the promise of Olli Juolevi. What people don’t realize is that you can’t just eliminate a player like Hutton and expect that everything will be ok. Every action causes a reaction. If Hutton goes that leaves a spot for Erik Gudbranson or even Jordan Subban. Minutes go up for players that aren’t used to seeing that kind of action and the dominos begin to fall.

Does everyone remember when Kevin Bieksa was forced to play monster minutes? Ya, it didn’t go so well. Same goes for Luca Sbisa or even Alex Edler. Unless you are a true star and survive on your own, being thrown into the fire hampers the effectiveness of the player in question. Can taking Hutton out of the mix really help the Canucks? It just doesn’t feel like the right move. The other take there is the question of why would you even consider trading him so early on when he hasn’t even developed yet?

Moving on from Ben Hutton could end up being a huge mistake and considering the huge mistakes the Canucks have made in the past, there could be some serious damage done to the franchise.

Trading away Burrows gains a draft pick and there is a chance the Canucks can re-sign him in the offseason. Same can be said for Jannik Hansen and even Ryan Miller. Parlaying all those players puts a pretty big hole in the lineup and inevitably a freefall will occur. The problem with getting rid of all of these guys is that the leadership of the team takes a monster hit and it puts the Sedins in an awkward position to step their roles up on the team.

The Canucks need to ease the Twins into a supplementary role where they can maintain minutes in the low teens and still be effective. It’s obvious they aren’t getting any faster and their decisions throughout the game are starting to be routinely compromised. Their bodies aren’t reacting as fast as they can think the game and it shows.

Sure, they still sit among the leaders on the team in points but they are placed in so many situations that they have become overworked and in turn, it affects their teammates progression as well.

So what do the Canucks do?

They need to rebuild but they can’t have a massive void that keeps them from smoothly transitioning. Is it a case of starting over cold turkey or can they make the move a few players at a time? There no doubt are players coming up from the farm and in junior that will put the Canucks in a better position to win but not all of those players will be instant impacts on a nightly basis.

When those players make the switch to the NHL it also empties the cupboards of anything they have been working on and puts the team right back in the same position, not enough players drafted that they can develop.

I think this is called a “catch-22” situation.

What the Canucks SHOULD do, in my opinion, is admit defeat with a few players and maybe even the coach and give the players they moderately more responsibility. Loui Eriksson is a good start to move on from. Whatever the Canucks believed they had in Eriksson has not shown up on the scoresheet this season.

Maybe he’s injured and maybe he’s not but a player making $6 million a year for the next 5 years after this one is a pretty big waste of money if this is as good as he gets here. There is no Patrice Bergeron to play with and even playing on a line with Bo Horvat won’t amount to all-star numbers within a season, I just can’t see it happening.

Finding a buyer for Eriksson would be just as hard but Benning is a confusing character so I do have odd faith that he could pull it off. Jake Virtanen could be yet another “power forward” that doesn’t work out and he could be another Hunter Shinkaruk clone that fizzles out. A pick or a comparable prospect or a package deal to go get a star from that Denver team would be great.

Ryan Miller is the odds on favorite to move this year or at the very least, be the first one shipped off. The handling of both goalies this year has really clouded up what the team has in either player. Miller performs well when he’s rested and Jacob Markstrom performs well when he’s played more than once every three weeks.

Thatcher Demko shouldn’t be rushed into the league which means the Canucks need more time. Sending away Miller puts everything on Markstrom’s shoulders and even though he wants the chance to shine, there’s no way he sustains a winning record with no one to spell him after the burnout. Is trading Miller the answer in net?

The critics say yes but what does that solve? Not a whole lot and it creates issues in net which in turn means the Canucks would have to either find a cheap backup for Markstrom or take Richard Bachman from Utica and force Demko to be everything on the farm.

There is no easy fix and it feels like if the Canucks cut the wrong wire or push the wrong button, this team will create more problems than they originally had.

But hey, at least we’ll all scream at them regardless of what they do. That’s our thing.

Follow me on Twitter: @always90four

photo – vancitybuzz.com

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Why Are The Canucks Playing The Good Hockey?

This season was supposed to be a dud. It was supposed to equate to 65 points and one of the worst NHL seasons ever, combined most likely with the first overall pick. But, we all know they could never achieve such a feat. Now, the Canucks are winning multiple games in a row, playing without regular NHLers and it looks like they are having fun.

How do you even explain this season? It’s not like any fancy stats can back up how surprising this team has been, heck, the real stats say they suck too! So why does it feel like the Canucks can actually achieve more than they should? Let’s take a look:

First off, there isn’t any particular reason that injuries should make any team better aside from seeing how some of the prospects on the farm are coming along, but injuries to key Canuck players like Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Derek Dorsett and Jannik Hansen have forced the Canucks to dress half of the Comets pretty much.

Starting Troy Stecher in Utica seemed like the dumbest move ever but sure enough, the injuries came and Stecher was back on a plane to start on the number one pairing. That gave the Canucks just enough time to see a bit of Philip Larsen and what his PP decisions looked like. It’s evident he has lost that job, on the first unit anyways.

Stecher looks like a seasoned vet out there and when he unleashes that shot, you’d never believe it could come from such a small man. Ben Hutton is getting right back in there and looks like he has been on the team for years. Crazy to think Hutton was just a rookie last year.

Nikita Tryamkin started the season a little shaky and even though he was able to play out the end of last year to gain some valuable experience, it didn’t feel like he was going to make an impact… until he did. Tryamkin is yet another surprise player that most Canuck fans couldn’t see this team without.

Tryamkin has a powerful body that can dominate on the boards, the accidental injuries he has caused prove there is a lot of power there. So far, it doesn’t look like Nikita will be an offensive weapon but he can do what Erik Gudbranson was supposed to do, but for way less money.

These are just the guys on the team RIGHT NOW. Olli Juolevi is still in junior and will eventually challenge for another spot. The expansion draft next year will most likely peel away Luca Sbisa for cap reasons but that still leaves 5 other guys. Chris Tanev isn’t going anywhere, neither is Hutton or Stecher. Alex Edler is up there in age and the amount of sticks he breaks is getting borderline ridiculous, but aside from a trade he’ll probably finish out as a Canuck.

That leaves two spots and with Erik Gudbranson becoming an RFA next season, there will be some important decisions made.

But back to how weird this team has been.

Vancouver starts the year 4-0, then goes on a 9 game losing streak. They split a few here and there before putting themselves in a position to now win 3 straight. I don’t get it. This isn’t an overly talented bunch, compared to the rest of the NHL but somehow they are staying relevant. You can’t miss a game because there always seems to be a story.

After the Canucks finished off the Wild on Tuesday, a team they probably should have lost against, this happens:

So now they just score goals all the time, a squad that… doesn’t score goals very often? OK, I’ll bite. There was an article about the Canucks face-off success and how Manny Malhotra has helped them get back to winning those battles, cheating a bit and starting with the puck instead of losing draws and eventually giving up goals.

One area the Canucks have stepped up is at the Bo Horvat position. He is the heir apparent and it doesn’t look like that will ever change. Horvat leads the team in points, has re-ignited long-serving Canuck Alex Burrows and has created options for coach Willie D to use Brandon Sutter up front with the Sedins while $6 million dollar man Loui Eriksson, makes Michael Chaput and Markus Granlund look like real NHL players.

It feels like the Canucks have channeled their inner District 5 Ducks talent and taken a rag-tag group and made them into a team that can compete, you know, without the DUI.

Making the playoffs is still quite a long shot for this team but if the Canucks are going to actually rebuild which is what I believe we have been sold, this is sure a fun team to watch despite the ultimate goal of hoisting the Cup.

Waiting a bit longer for this team to rise up again isn’t always a fun task but as I’ve said before, guys like Juolevi, Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko make waiting a bit more tolerable.

I still don’t know how the Canucks are making this happen, though. Proper lines is a good start.

Follow me on The Twitter™: @always90four

 

Photo: nhl.com

Canucks Lack “THAT” Playoff Guy

Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins force a Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I couldn’t help but notice yet another player that seems to always hang around the late stages of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Brian Boyle. Now he hasn’t been to a ton of Final appearances but he’s a guy you want when things go the distance. The LA Kings know exactly what they had with Justin Williams which is why when he was free, the Capitals were more than happy to add that Game 7 magic.

The Canucks aren’t in a position to be going the distance anytime soon, as far as we can tell, but they do lack the can’t miss talent that knows what it takes to make it through a long season and a long playoff push. If they actually let Dan Hamhuis walk this offseason, you really wonder what exactly it is that they are trying to accomplish.

In 2011, yes I’m going there again, they had built up a team that was battle tested, knew what REAL losing felt like and when it came time to adding a few extra playoff performers, they knew recent warriors Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre would be key pieces to their accession up the mountain. Raffi Torres ended up being one of those guys as well and every Canucks fan could feel that they were about to watch it all finally happen.

Well obviously it didn’t, big spoiler I know, and they have struggled to put together the right mix until recently and now that things are coming together, again, quite slowly, they need to add the pieces that will once again make them a chore to beat.

I look at Joel Ward and it drives me crazy that the Canucks never signed him after 2011. He’s gritty, he has a certain Ryan Kesler to him (which let’s not kid ourselves, we need), and he’s proven that he’s a playoff warrior. If the Sharks end up going to the Final, or even further, winning; he is a big reason why.

He’s not Joe Thornton or little Joe Pavelski but he’ll be a guy that will score a big goal in a game when they aren’t shining. Joel Ward is still valuable at 35 and is worth a look if a trade every came up. The Canucks aren’t in a position to go after the Cup right now so unfortunately for them, he won’t be in their plans.

Milan Lucic isn’t THAT guy but he might be able to mold into that guy. Sometimes its the guy you expect and at the same time, least expect to shine that actually does. He’ll come with a big price tag most likely but you can sell him at least as ONE of the answers.

There’s no doubt Steven Stamkos would be THE #1 guy to be THAT guy but I doubt the Canucks are close to landing him. We can dream and I mean, hey we got Luongo, but let’s all be real – that isn’t where this team is headed. Now David Perron, is still out there and ripe for the picking. Vancouver can right their wrong by getting him for dollars instead of trying to trade for his services. I think he’s a THAT guy, but I’m wrong a lot.

Kris Russell is rounding the rumour wheel and I believe many think HE is a THAT guy…he’s not. Let’s not Kris Russell ok?

Going full Chicago Blackhawks may be the answer, it’s kinda like the Marian Hossa model but as a team; Troy Brouwer and Andrew Ladd will both be UFAs and by the time this team is ready to pounce again they might get a small run to the second round and with Cup winners littered on the team, the impressionable guys will take notice.

Every team has a THAT guy when they win the Cup and the Canucks will need to start digging to find theirs. There is a potential Cup run inside this team but a few pieces need to surface for that to become a possibility. The recent success of Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton winning the World Championships with Canada give the Canucks more ammo that even missing the playoffs can produce winners.

Tanev is a THAT guy, Hutton is a THAT guy and so is Bo Horvat. But they are also more than that, they’re stars. Who is the guy Vancouver needs? July 1 will give us a glimpse into the answer.

Again, I’m wrong a lot.

 

photo – canucks.com

The Canucks Have Sucked EXACTLY As Much As Expected

So I just got a new Dyson from a refurbished  goods auction site, saved about 200 bucks. I missed out on about five or so in the last few weeks so I felt redeemed I finally got my unicorn. But because I was so excited to just “get one on the cheap” I failed to read the semi fine print; it was missing some key accessories and I was kinda bummed out.

This Canucks season in a lot of ways is like my “new to me” Dyson; when the season started, we knew things weren’t a whole lot better but we figured we knew what we were going to get. They were going to most likely suck and probably miss the playoffs. Just like me and my Dyson though, we didn’t read the semi fine print – but in the Canucks case, when your team actually DOES SUCK, it’s not a whole lot of fun.

 

There are only seven games remaining on the Canucks schedule and it will be a struggle to get through them all. The saving grace is that they could easily lose all seven of those and with the Leafs and Oilers randomly pulling off the odd win, that’s good news in Canucks land.

It’s passed the point of finger pointing and blaming when it comes to Willie Desjardins and his methods; Jim Benning has a C+ INCOMPLETE on his GM report card and his bright spot is basically his draft picks, Sven Baertschi and the end result of Nikita Tryamkin sans the contract issue.

Is it really surprising the team has ended up being this bad? This offseason, Zack Kassian was traded for equally awful Brandon Prust who by the way doesn’t really want to be here. Chris Higgins was waived and has up until recently, been banished to Utica to waste away (well he’s still getting paid but you know what I mean).

Frankie Corrado, yet another budding prospect, waived for absolutely nothing and claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hunter Shinkaruk was this year’s Cody Hodgson and found his plane ticket to Calgary for Markus Granlund. On the surface, this year was doomed from the get go.

Going back to my Dyson for a sec, it has that great ball technology and the loss-less suction, this is the reason you get it. It’s the best and you want the best. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are the Canucks main selling feature and the reason they didn’t plummet to the bottom much, much earlier. My vacuum has some scratches on it but at the end of the day its a Dyson vacuum and it still does what all the other ones do – sucks.

The Sedins are 35 and lead the team in scoring; they have wear and tear and have to shoulder the load of criticism and noise as the losses pile up. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy and even though they’ve paid their dues, how they do to finish off their careers and how they set this team up for the future is how their legacy will be capped.

Thankfully for Willie Desjardins, his unique coaching style has been given the vote of confidence for next season. I don’t entirely buy that but to be fair he hasn’t been given a very good team. The 2006-07 Canucks had a mediocre team but with Luongo in the pipes, they won a ton of games and most of that was defensive hockey; this year’s team does not have that luxury.

Another luxury they don’t have? Anything better than Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett. This can’t actually be what hits the ice every night, can it? When your GM fails to charge his phones on trade deadline day and accidentally drops his chirpy in the lake on July 1, you can’t have a lot of faith in the team he has paid to play for him.

Willie has given Vey a bit more ice time than is warranted according to basically everyone but him, but with Henrik Sedin being the top pivot for the Canucks, letting Vey get key faceoffs makes sense. Or not. The Canucks almost look like they want to be bad on purpose.

Injuries have really hampered this team but the Canucks aren’t the only team with banged up players, they’re actually 7th in the league with 277 man games lost; just under 100 less games than the Leafs. Think of it this way: the Canucks are 2 points ahead of the Leafs and have done it with 100 more man games played and a more complete NHL roster. Basically, the Canucks are bad and you should have known this already in October.

There isn’t any reason to think Bo Horvat was going to win over everyone along with Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann and lead this team back to the playoffs one year later with a new found direction; the Flames kind of did it but you can check the standings and they suck again too! It doesn’t happen that way, you can’t win overnight.

The argument to this would be of course Ben Hutton.

Hutton had a great camp and was absolutely a lock to make the team. He has had a quick learning curve and hasn’t looked out of place. Without Hutton, the Canucks looked even more lost than they do now and we would all shutter to think what this team would look like if he didn’t play for them all year.

Being bad on purpose might be the only thing that makes sense in all of this. Yes, every team says the playoffs are the goal every year; you don’t want to say you’re content with just playing 82 games and calling it a good year – restructure when you know things aren’t going to pan out and start molding the future instead of watching it whittle away game after game.

If Auston Matthews is the end game, then sucking as much as my Dyson is the way to go. This season shouldn’t have been a surprise, so appreciate the fact that this team was actually following through on a promise. Normally predictably unpredictable, this Canucks team sucked EXACTLY as much as we should have expected.

 

Canucks Are Gluttonous For Hutton

It didn’t take long for Ben Hutton to become a star in the Canucks fans eyes AND the Canucks themselves. Once it was official in training camp, but did it even really need to be, Ben Hutton took the wet coast by storm and climbed his way up the rankings in less than a season. On Monday night against the Los Angeles Kings, Hutton was on the Canucks top d-pairing with Luca Sbisa.

That was his 58th career game. The Canucks love them some Ben Hutton.

 

He has such smooth moves, determination and a lovable face but his ability to be a little bit of everything on the ice has caught Willie D and Canucks management’s eye and its safe to say they want him to eventually drive this thing. I mean, if you didn’t absolutely believe in this kid, would you be giving him top minutes every night?

Right now, Hutton is 4th in TOI at 19:20/gm only behind the obvious Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis workhorses; the thing is he belongs there and those numbers will only increase. A rookie season we have waited for since well, Chris Tanev showed up, but with the offensive potential of early Alex Edler and the defensive prowess of the former, Tanev; Hutton is the new hybrid that will eventually QB the power play and will get the top line assignments most nights.

In the 2010/11 season when Chris Tanev arrived, he wasn’t logging top minutes quite yet but to be fair, there were a few stars ahead of him; that and he only played 29 games that year plus the post season. It didn’t take long to realize he was the next “one” as far as defensemen go and he has climbed his way up ever since.

A night without Tanev is the equivalent of watching an episode of Fuller House on Netflix…not good. We’ve already seen that when Hutton is out of the lineup, pretty much just due to injury, that his presence is missed.

The Canucks really brought Tanev along and groomed him until the time was right to have him full time. Ben Hutton was given an opportunity and with a valuable spot open, he owned it.

The only other recent comparable we really have is Edler. In his first full season, Eddie was already getting top 5 minutes behind Ohlund, Salo, Bieksa and Mitchell. He was a point shy of top 10 on the team that year and when you compare Hutton, Ben’s further ahead. However, different situation creates different results.

With just under a third of the season left, Ben Hutton will most likely sit 6th or 7th by seasons end for highest points on the team. He’s already 7th and his 20 assists have been pretty. The goals..er, goal was memorable too!

Hut Bomb (trying something, seeing if it sticks) is just as effective when you break every aspect of his game down. With a minimum of 500 minutes played this season, adjusted, Hutton  ranks 5th with a CF% of 50.5, a pretty nice position for a guy who is still figuring out the pro game.

No doubt, the Canucks are anticipating the arrival and eventual development of Nikita Tryamkin from the KHL and his large frame but that will come; Ben Hutton is everything the team thought he’d be and more.

There will be a time we’ll probably ask him to waive his NTC but until then, Ben Hutton is the hero we asked for so lets just enjoy it.

Fallout 3: The Dan Hamhuis Trade Saga

I’ve never played Fallout 3 but at the very least I got a handful of gamers to read this. The NHL tradeline is inching closer and Dan Hamhuis is still a Vancouver Canuck; but not for lack of trying to move him. Jim Benning has tried relentless (we’re led to believe) to trade Hammer to a team that could utilize his skills for what everyone hopes is a long playoff run. He’s 0-2 so far. Is the third time a charm when the Capitals pick up the phone?

Jimbo hasn’t been able to move DanHam yet and maybe it’s because he hasn’t proposed enough trades on NHL 16 that would net the best results, its possible. Whenever I propose a trade in fantasy football I’m all about the conditional picks. I love the possibility of something from nothing or the opposite.

If the player helps his new team get to the Final or even win it, the pick turns into a 2nd let’s say; if they’re knocked out in round 1, it’s a 3rd. Simple stuff like that makes the world go round. Its the unknown that drives us.

So you’ve all heard me trying to flog the Hamhuis for a pick and Madison Bowey of the Washington Capitals. This trade would work for both teams for a number of reasons and I might only name one but here goes:

Hamhuis is a reliable top 4 defender on any NHL team, let alone the Caps. Washington is poised to make a run at Lord Stanley this season and they have a very real chance of winning it all for the first time since their last real chance when Crosby and the Pens foiled their chances in 7 games. Hamhuis gives them stability on the back end with Carlson hitting the sidelines for 3-4 weeks leading right into the playoffs.

If WAS can put him on LTIR which they most likely will, that frees up enough room for the Canucks fan favourite to move out to D.C. for the spring and if everyone gets what they want, he signs back in Vancouver July 1.

Madison Bowey and a 2nd maybe? would be a great return coming back as Bowser can fit right into the lineup, albeit a RH shot which muddys their setup a bit. Seeing Bowey play in Kelowna for a number of years, he brings maturity, someone who holds the line quite well, a booming heavy shot and a bit of raw intensity which seems to be coming from a few of the Canucks latest young stars.

All things you already know, but why not make this move. Hamhuis deserves a shot at a Cup and we get someone that they don’t need to drop off their roster and a pick which will be late anyways.

Bowey averages 15 min/game so he won’t eat up minutes of the Ben Hutton, Luca Sbisa, eventually Alex Edler and Matt Bartkowski (if he’s still here) and he sees valuable time in all situations.

Benning won’t neccessarily do a lot this year as I expect and if he can make one move that betters this team, why wouldn’t he do it. I really have no clue how high Washington is on MB but I know Ted Leonsis wants a Cup a whole lot more, its on his bucket list.

If they need Radim Vrbata, I’m sure Benning could land another pick.

Most of us would know how.

 

Check The Canucks IR, You Like It So Far?

Props to every single one of you that get that reference.

This season, like so many others has been tested by injuries; but it’s how the Canucks have managed to adapt this year that brings hope for the future. Losing Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter to longer term injuries seems to be par for the course lately as the team has JUST been able to ice a healthy roster. However, the questions of how Willie Desjardins manages his young players are answering themselves through the infirmary.

The Vancouver Canucks aren’t even in the top 10 in man games lost but anyone watching on a regular basis knows its not just how many games are lost but the players that are injured. Dan Hamhuis just returned from a broken jaw after missing 21 games and Brandon Sutter’s sports hernia surgery kept him out for 33.

Not to mention Henrik Sedin’s back and Luca Sbisa’s hand, OH! and Ryan Miller; the Canucks have once again been dealt a pretty terrible hand. It might seem like all is going against the Canucks but when you look at who has been injured and I guess really, when, the guys looking to play full time have been given their chances.

When Jake Virtanen, Ben Hutton and Jared McCann made the team back in October, injuries to Chris Higgins and the timely poor play of Linden Vey and Frankie Corrado all made it possible for the guys everyone wanted to see crack the lineup. Same happened with Bo Horvat last year and now you couldn’t imagine this team without him.

Alex Biega was rewarded with a  shiny new contract after proving he is able to provide valuable services when the team is depleted. Circumstance can breed success and in the Canucks case, oddly enough its paying off. Biega has been a pretty nice depth addition to the Canucks and at some point he’ll be an every day top 6 for them. Ben Hutton pretty much took his own roster spot when September came, didn’t even ask. That’s so Hutton!

It hasn’t all been skittles and unicorns though; the injuries have really stretched this team thin and there have been moments this year where ice time has been amped up for guys that just shouldn’t be playing that much and mistakes mount. I seem to remember when Hamhuis was injured and Bieksa had to shoulder the load, that didn’t always end well.

It didn’t end well, you can cut out the maybe.

Matt Bartkowski is always in the mix for things to go wrong it seems (aside from when his mom is watching him live), and asking him to play more minutes on a defense that is adjusting on the fly can result in mistakes.

There’s a chance a trade or two happens by the deadline and injuries would continue to offer up opportunities for call ups to the likes of Andrey Pedan, Brendan Gaunce, Taylor Fedun and obviously Hunter Shinkaruk.

The Canucks are transitioning to a younger, faster, potentially Matthewsier type team and as the injuries pile up, we get more and more chances to see the eventual next wave of stars; and that’s just the guys up front.

On the back end, Jacob Markstrom is quickly becoming the next goalie the Canucks trade away for a 1st round pick. His 5-0-1 run in his last 6 games is turning heads and making Ryan Miller expendable. Ryan Miller hasn’t slouched this year but his age and cap hit aren’t very fan friendly. He can help any team making a run this year going into the deadline and would most likely bring back value.

For the second year in a row, Miller went down and this time Markstrom was the recipient of more starts. He didn’t disappoint. Eddie Lack didn’t either but that didn’t stop the Canucks from shipping him off. With Markstrom making a case to be the eventual #1, its just one more example of how injuries are secretly helping the Canucks.

It would be nice if we didn’t have to constantly see this team get decimated with hammys, hernias and hips but that’s hockey. Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins are very close to making some tough decisions based on their misfortune in the health department but every guy that has been given a chance has stepped up.

#TeamTank may still happen but the rebuild, if that’s what you want to call this, seems more like a reno. It may turn around quicker than we think.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Breaking Down The Canucks Season With Bullet Points

Seems like everyone is ready to fire Willie Desjardins. They’re already sick of the “rebuild” and I don’t think anyone has any idea of what happens next. The Canucks are a mess to say it nicely; a train wreck if we’re being more specific and a raging tire fire if you want to be close. The papers…err, their blogs and such have the coach being fired , well maybe not (Vancity Buzz), Canucks TV ratings down (Canucks Army) and Jake Virtanen. I have no link here. I just feel bad for the guy.

So let’s take a look at how this season has gone down in BULLET POINTS; because that’s what has been shot into this season: BULLETS! But in no particular order OK, I really don’t want to put in too much work. You’re already reading this so just sit back and enjoy!

    • Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen make the Canucks. We’re all SUPER happy for them and think “Hey, maybe the Canucks have turned a new leaf and are doing this rebuilding thing we all talked about”. I…..don’t think we knew what was going to happen. But we were happy for a bit.
    • Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom were gonna be better this year. No Eddie Lack? No problem. Except that there IS a problem: our goal tending.
    • Goal scoring slumps. If you aren’t a Sedin or a Hansen or Hunter Shinkaruk in the AHL you probably haven’t done much this season. Figure that one out. Is it even possible to not have anyone score but the first line? I think even Edmonton has more than 3 guys that score goals. EDMONTON!!!!!
    • Dan Hamhuis took a freaking slap shot to the face. He broke his jaw and it pretty much capped his first half of the season in style; his on ice play has suffered dramatically and the giveaways, oh jeeeeez the giveaways. Dan Hamhuis is a great man, a great Canuck but seriously, his time is running out/has run out. He’s in Willie Mitchell territory; but minus the Cups.
    • Alex Edler gave up a pretty bad turnover against the Kings in overtime and the Canucks lost. I think we knew at that point, we knew where things were headed. Funny story, that was about a week or so ago.
    • Ben Hutton made the team and we all thought CHRIS TANEV WITH OFFENSE!!! He liked the rest of the team has lost his mojo. Oh and when Ben got injured the hashtag #HUTTONmania broke up. It wasn’t good.
    • Vancouver has already seen what seems like half the Comets called up with a combined, what, 4 games played for the Canucks? The problems aren’t just on the ice, its between the coaches ears too!
    • Frankie Corrado got waived because obviously? There were ways to get around it with Higgins starting the season on the IR:
  • Losing streaks; we’ve had a few
  • Hunter Shinkaruk did so well that the Canucks finally called him up….then sent him down. That was depressing.
  • But then they brought him back. But then they sent him down after one game. Sensing a pattern here.
  • Canucks snapped the Canadiens winning streak at 9 games. It felt pretty good. Since then the Canucks have won 7 times and lost 16 times (OT/SO) Ugh.
  • Jake Virtanen gets sent to the Canadian World Junior team, probably to the Hitmen after that.
  • Jared McCann isn’t far behind
  • Things are so bad you’ve now read 14 bullet points about how this season has gone in the tank. I haven’t mentioned Auston Matthews yet. Let’s not go there yet.

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Canucks All Smiles After Trading Kesler and Bieksa…Mostly

Watching the Canucks wait for the opening puck to drop after 60 minutes against the Ducks was tough to watch. Plenty of story line to go on and if Vancouver even puts in 40 minutes, they probably could have beaten the Ducks. That didn’t happen, they didn’t put in 5. Aside from that game though, things are noticeably better in Vancouver after jettisoning Kesler and Bieksa to Anaheim. They didn’t really have a choice but Vancouver’s loss is actually their own gain. Who would have thought no Kes or Juice would be a good thing? 

You can’t replace experience but the Canucks should be all smiley face emojis now that they don’t have a selfish centre and an aging, stale defensemen bogging them down. 

Only recently has Ryan Kesler started to show his worth after inking a 6 year deal worth $41M. His 3 goals are alarming but his body has been beaten to nothing over his career. Thankfully the Canucks brass saw that they had an unhappy, selfish player and granted his exit to the Ducks, apparently Chicago wasn’t lucky enough! Now, the Ducks are on the hook for a whole lot of wasted space and it only gets worse for them.

The Canucks took on up and coming defenseman Luca Sbisa and Nick Bonino as well as Anaheim’s 2014 1st round pick who now is the Canucks 2nd line/3rd line pivot Jared McCann. We all know Nick Bonino aka  too many men on the ice was moved to the Pens for Brandon Sutter and his injury is being felt up and down the middle of the lineup.

On the surface it would seem the Canucks are very happy with their return on Kes and on a scale of 1-10 smiley faces, they have to be an 8. McCann is quickly turning into a reliable two way centre and is leaned heavily upon only 26 games into his career. When Sutter returns, McCann will be able to see a bit more space and further his game even  more.

Luca Sbisa has gone from new guy to token hated new guy to apparent 2016 Cyclone Taylor Winner. Figure that out. The return for Kesler a year later is easily in favour of the Canucks and for Anaheim, they  have to start breaking down how much Kesler is going to cost them:

So far, Ryan Kesler’s “Between Two Zambonis” skits are costing the Ducks $1.25M/ per episode – might want to get syndicated Kes. Imagine if they continue to film these things? Their budget will be through the roof and for a guy that isn’t exactly friendly, they’ll be off the air in no time; but they’ll still be paying him until Ryker, his son, gets drafted.

Feeling better yet Canucks fans? We don’t have to pay for this guy anymore and look how much happier the team is. Ben Hutton can’t wipe the smile off his face but I’m beginning to think he has a medical condition because no one should smile that much. Just kidding Ben, nothing but love.

HUTTON MANIA!!!!

But who really cares about Kesler anymore? Let’s go over how disappointed the Ducks must be that they have a extremely underperforming defender in Kevin Bieksa.

I love Bieksa, I really do. His interviews are the stuff of legends and he doesn’t hold a grudge against Vancouver. You can tell when he converses with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. They’ll always be bros…fo sho.

Bieksa just signed a 2 year deal that will net him $4M per. We thought Luca Sbisa was overpaid? I’m so happy we’ve come around to seeing Sbizza has more to offer. Can you imagine paying Bieksa that kind of coin for 2 seasons? Oh man, that’s not even healthy. At some point Dave Nonis will be let go for suggesting the awfulness that is the old Canuck guard.

Jim Benning has quickly become a genius and even though many of us are ready to have his head on a platter, he quietly has turned the Canucks around and if we’re all patient enough we might just buy him a Christmas card next year. Not this year though, they’re awful.

It is yet to be seen what the pick for Bieksa will turn into but having moved him has given Vancouver the ability to give Frankie Corrado Ben Hutton a roster spot and if you watched the two of them on split screen in the same game, its not close. Ben Hutton can become a hybrid of Edler and Tanev and imagine if he does; ok don’t, I hate seeing those pictures all mashed together like they do on the Internet, its creepy.

At some point, everyone will stop grading this trade like so many others that have gone down and we can all focus on one of two things:

  1. How bad the Canucks are currently doing and….
  2. Is Willie Desjardins still the coach?

I feel like this is the direction we are headed and to put a final stamp on things, YES, the Canucks won those trades and they purchased the uber smiley emoji because they are set up the middle for years to come; or until they waive one of them for nothing and Toronto picks them up.

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How Are These Canucks Different From Before?

Everyone’s doing a quarter season article so I figure what the hay? The Canucks have already shown us quite the roulette wheel of games; big wins, big losses, one goal games and a shootout for profiling purposes only. What do we know about them after 23 games? For starters, the sky isn’t falling. I’ve read the tweets and seen all the possible trade locations for anyone that is over 30 and has scored in the last week; this fan base has no chill. So after everything we’ve seen thus far, how are THESE Canucks any different from last season?

 

The Canucks position in the standings is basically the same, they just have less points. If you think about it, they’re accomplishing the same with less. That’s actually better I think?

A year ago, we were all excited to see Bo Horvat in the lineup and we watched his progression from the nine game audition to what many believed to be the 2nd line centre without a doubt. Radim Vrbata was already at 10G, 7A and he has struggled to find his groove this year. We’ve called for his head and just begged for him to score so we can trade him away. Now, he’s finally producing and it looks like he’s ready to take over.

Ryan Miller surprisingly looking back was 14-3 at this point last season and I’m pretty sure we felt the same way we do this year, well, we had Eddie Lack last season; it’s possible we didn’t like Miller as much. This season, we are seeing a bit of Miller’s age but he continues to impress. If Willie D can balance the goalie starts both Miller and Jacob Markstrom could actually get on a serious roll.

Another thing the Canucks didn’t have last year was an abundance of youth. This season, Vancouver has dressed rookies Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Ben Hutton, Hunter Shinkaruk, Alex Grenier and Brendan Gaunce and almost all at the same time. It has been a reeeeeeeally long time since there have been this many young stars playing for the Canucks.

The shift in mentality that youth works is slowly taking over. You can see the reluctance from coach Willie to entrust his rookies with the same responsibilities that the veterans are asked to shoulder and rightfully so, but Ben Hutton and Jared McCann most notably have forced WD’s hand. Ben Hutton is quite possibly the next Chris Tanev/Alex Edler hybrid and he’s 22!!! This guy looks like he’s been in the league for years and his presence on the back end is most welcome. It’s a shame he’s been injured because Hutton is already a staple on the blue line.

Jared McCann has given the Canucks depth at a position they haven’t had it for a few years. What’s better is that the pivots that occupy the middle of the ice are being molded under captain Henrik Sedin. The blend of veterans and rookies is a very happy medium in that players like Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen, Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler can help these newbies adjust to the pro game easier and they will help shape the future of this organization.

Not to drag this on forever but what about Jannik Hansen and the Sedins? Did anyone see this coming? BESIDES THOMAS DRANCE? If you look back and check out the stats, its one of the best possible fits the team has! Aside from Burrows making his run with the Twins, Jannik Hansen is a slam dunk on the wing. Hopefully this run of theirs keeps up and we can see the other three lines develop more regularly.

The Canucks have changed a lot since last season and they will continue to change as this season plays out. The difference though: it’s about to get better and it appears the Sedins will play until they’re 50. Gordie Howe and his sons might want to lace up again just to keep those records intact.

Seriously, the Sedins are playing for keeps again, this might get dangerous.

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cover photo – hockeysfuture.com