chris tanev

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

Advertisements

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.

Ben Hutton Is My Nike AIR MAG (You know the one)

Its never too early to start criticizing coaching decisions, GM decisions or anything resembling doom and gloom for the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also never too early to award praise to a player that is better than he should be, bang on what we want him to be or just the next player we all can’t wait to draw hearts around in third period history. Ben Hutton is not a bad coaching decision, Ben Hutton is not a bad GM decision; Ben Hutton is my cover of Canucks Teen Beat magazine, he is my Nike AIR MAG with self tying laces.

Ben Hutton is the coolest kind of awesome!

Is this too much praise? Is it a verbal love affair for a defenseman yet again? I mean there was Willie Mitchell (dreamy), Alex Edler (currently dreamy as well), Chris Tanev (cooler than craft beer, ya that’s right) and now Hutton too? This is all too sudden. Frankie Corrado was supposed to be that next guy and then Ben Hutton just shows up and says its his job?

That’s what has basically happened.

Drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Draft, Ben Hutton did the college thing and honed his craft. Through 6 games this year he has racked up 3 helpers and 6 shots. Hutton’s ice time is in the 18:00 min/gm mark and he’s averaging close to 25 shifts a game. He’s trusted to make important decisions and I think like Alex Edler, he eventually is one of the go to guys on the power play; a power play that right now has a problem.

I stated before either on twitter or on here as well that BH reminds me of the blue line version of my favourite future NHLer Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets. They have eerily similar styles of play albeit one is a winger/centre and ones a defenseman but the way they both move the puck and hold on to the puck is a thing of beauty.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Not to make this too much about Merkley but he has the talent to carry the puck a little bit longer than most without being a puck hog. He can make a timely pivot or pass he has no business making and it instantly changes the course of the shift. His hockey IQ is beautiful. Ben Hutton has those same characteristics.

Being a star on defense for the Canucks is no easy task, in fact playing for the Canucks is no easy task. As the famous line from The Dark Knight goes “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. Right now, BH is the hero and he is far from dying off this roster, that takes at least 10 years on the blue line; less in net.

When the Nike AIR MAG shoe released on Wednesday to the world with self tying laces, the world stood still. This shoe is the holy grail of shoes. Ben Hutton is my Nike AIR MAG. Slight exaggeration maybe. He is developing a shot that will put his name on the marquee, he has confidence with the puck that rivals the Sedins and his decision making skills are already NHL veteran status.

Chris Tanev once received this treatment and really, he hasn’t let up. He isn’t our #1 dman but take him out of the lineup and we have serious problems. Hutton hasn’t even been here a month and you could poll Canucks nation and I’d bet he’s on the list of guys you cannot be without. Tanbir from Surrey knows what’s up:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

In a recent article on Vancity Buzz by Ryan Biech regarding Hutton, you’ll see a clip of Ben going away from his defender on a zone exit and its subtle but its such a pro move that any coach would love to teach that all day long. Im not a coach, I can barely skate but I know an amazing move when I see one.

Marty McFly had the Nike’s and the hoverboard and he traveled through time, we don’t need to travel through time though; The Canucks have Ben Hutton right now and he just might be that find other teams wish they had. Thats been our position on every eligible player we could have taken and now its Vancouver’s turn to enjoy some talent.

It could be argued this is a fluff piece on BH (it basically is) but even Chris Tanev would admit that Hutton brings the Canucks game to another level, you know if Willie would allow better players to be on the ice with him instead of Prust and Dorsett for entire periods at a time.

#Huttonmania is runnin wild in Vancouver and its gonna run wild all over you.

Follow my twitter: @always90four

Will Canucks Offer UFA Willie Mitchell A Contract?

He’s fresh off his second Stanley Cup in 3 seasons and was a big part of the first one, helping the Kings mesmerize their opponents on the power play. At 37, he still looks like he can offer a lot to any team that wants him. He did so much in Vancouver when he first arrived until his ill fated concussion ushered his exit. Will the Canucks make a play for BC boy Willie Mitchell once free agency opens July 1?

Looking for a new team at 37 isn’t exactly an appealing process. Willie has 2 Cups in the last 3 years and they came while wearing a Los Angeles Kings jersey. That can’t be easy to leave beaches, sunshine, open sea fishing and well, winning. Vancouver is in a state of change and need a splash this offseason. Coming back to the Canucks may not be high on Mitchell’s wish list either. The end of his tenure was pretty ugly.

With Trevor Linden and Jim Benning at the helm now, maybe there is a chance “Bill Pickle” will migrate home. I personally would love to see him back in a Canucks uniform. He was a great defensive specialist, had a stick that swept away numerous chances and is a complete fan favorite. He won’t be relied upon for goal scoring but his recent awakening on the offensive side of the puck sure helps his cause.

If the Canucks can land the Port McNeill native on the relatively cheap, he is still a big add on the blue line. His addition would allow the Canucks to potentially move Chris Tanev for value. This isn’t something I’m saying will happen but you take value where you can get it. Tanev is entering his prime and could, i’ll say it again, could fetch a great ready now forward or be packaged together with a pick and prospect like Hunter Shinkaruk or Bo Horvat for a guy like Ryan O’Reilly.

Big Willie has improved some things during his time in LA. His shot totals went up, he was used on the power play somewhat regularly and proved he can bounce back from a concussion problem that plagued him the better part of a year. Willie is a gamer, a born leader and as long as he is healthy, he’s an integral part of any defense he is a part of.

Hopefully, the Canucks will make a smart move and get Mitchell at value and build up their porous defensive core. Winning 2 Stanley Cups is a nice teaching tool as well.

Follow me on twitter @hankthetank10 and @always90four

Photo courtesy: robthehockeyguy.com