canucks injuries

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.

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Canucks Need Bill Pickle (That’s Willie Mitchell)

Willie Mitchell is 38 years old and might not be the ideal candidate to be traded to the Canucks. He has a modified NTC so he basically would still have to agree to be moved. Florida is a pretty nice place this time of year all the time and he wears the “C”. There is really no reason whatsoever for him to want to come back and play for the team he grew up cheering for and for a time dominated the blue line on. So why bother make a play for an old defender who probably, maybe even definitively could retire after this year? Experience, 2 Cups and one more challenge.

Willie Mitchell, I want you back in Vancouver.

When Willie was hit by Evgeni Malkin in 2010, the Canucks were ultimately robbed of the true potential of Mitchell. He didn’t skate until August of that year and was eventually signed by the LA Kings and went on to win not one but two Stanley Cups with them. He became a PP demon and showcased a shot most of Vancouver never knew he possessed. There was a good chance he would have returned had he been healthy.

Late in his career, Mitchell has seemed to settle down and enjoy the sunshine that is Florida. He’s the Captain, Luongo is there too and honestly he should stay there.

But this is sports and sports players don’t always stay in one place. He’s been to the top of the mountain and will play out what might be his final contract but who knows; a player of Mitchell’s ilk has so much to offer to players like Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev, Luca Sbisa and yes even a jilted Alex Edler. That…and we are getting pillaged by injuries and brain farts on the back end.

Bill Pickle’s cap hit is 4.25M this season but if something is going the other way, say Vrbata, Ballard and a 3rd (just kidding!)…Seriously, the Canucks have a player like Vrbata at a juicy cap hit and Florida can’t expect a huge return for a guy on his way out.

Getting into the important stuff, this season WM has a PDO value of 103.2 (war-on-ice.com) which is pretty respectable. Not over achieving but still bringing value to the team. He’s known for his defensive defensiveness but is he still useful? Defensive defensemen usually mean they aren’t good but considering his shutdownness, I’m willing to see past that term.

His Corsi % is beyond disgusting but the Nucks wouldn’t be getting him for that. You don’t date a super model because she’s smart.

If the Canucks are going to stick with Miller and Markstrom until Thatcher Demko is ready, they are going to need some competent defensemen for the next couple of years and even ONE season of Willie Mitchell hockey would be enough to help groom guys like Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev to become top pairing guys; not just because they’re on the Canucks but because that’s where they should be.

Willie has proven he can hang with the best in the world and he was an absolute pillar when he patrolled the Canucks blue line. Those were better times. He already has 44 blocked shots this season, 39 hits and he’s averaging just under 20 min/ game of ice time. He’s a RD and those are pretty valuable. Considering the Canucks seem to have many a faceoff in their own zone, Willie’s ZSO%Rel is -21.8%, meaning that he isn’t having to start in his own zone a whole lot. Not really a surprise but with a stick like he has, he isn’t a liability.

To add to this his GF% is 46.9 so if he’s on the ice, its not overly common a goal will be scored against him.

THE STATS DON’T LIE BENNING!!!!

Would you honestly NOT want to see him back? It kills me he left and if there was one last legitimate hurrah, I think the fans would be accommodating.  The Canucks blue line is becoming a bit more porous than they had hoped I think and bringing back Mitchell into a teaching role would be beneficial IMO.

The key for a rebuilding team would be to get younger and not WAY more experienced but having a few older guys for LA seemed to have worked out. And quite frankly, Roberto Luongo would be just fine without him.

Just make the move JB, things aren’t getting any better and he won’t make it worse.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four