Do The Canucks Need A Top 4 Or Top 6 defenceman?

I just read an intriguing article by Derek Jung at The Hockey Writers called "What Do The Canucks Really Need?" I think I am in agreement with most of what Jung states. Here is his conclusion:

  • 65+ games from Sami Salo:  A full season is too much to wish for, so let’s not bother.  If the Canucks can get 65 or more games from Salo, the power play will be in great shape.
  • Fewer risky plays from Kevin Bieksa (and Willie Mitchell, for that matter):  The only thing holding back Bieksa is sheer boneheadedness.  If he can cut down his mental mistakes, he is a potential all-star.  Willie Mitchell was very steady during the regular season and the first playoff series, and much less so against the Blackhawks.  He needs to get back to playing steady defense; doing so would help ease the loss of Mattias Ohlund.
  • Continued development from Alex Edler:  If Edler can continue to improve, all this talk of needing a new offensive defenseman will disappear in a flash.
  • A dependable sixth defenseman:  Salo, Bieksa, Mitchell, Edler, O’Brien.  That’s five.  There will be ample opportunity for the likes of Lawrence Nycholat, Aaron Rome, Evan Oberg, or a Mike Gillis acquisition-to-be-named-later to step up and fill the void.
  • Some way to convince Kirill Koltsov to play in Vancouver: If only.
  • Beyond the Kolstov thing, because I don't know enough about his potential greatness, I think Jung's list of needs is near spot on. I do believe we can expect great things from Bieksa and Edler.

    That being said, the dilemma now rests upon the shoulders of Sami Salo. This guy, even though it frustrates the hell out of him (and all of us), cannot stay off the IR. The only time he has played more than 70 games was 2 seasons with the Canucks between 2002-2004. Since then he has played 59, 67, 63, and 60 games respectively over the last 4 seasons as a Canuck. Call a spade a spade: he is not reliable. And it angers me further that he gets injured in the playoffs when we need him most.

    Has your trust level in him staying healthy all but died? Mine has. But what about Mike Gillis? Has he succumbed to Salo defeat as well? Or is he holding on to a thin hope?

    These are the questions that need to be answered as MG goes forward to potentially acquire another defenceman. Does he accept the fact that Salo will eventually get hurt and acquire a suitable backup before October, or does he take it in stride (and watch Tony Robbins positivity speech tapes) hoping Salo can play more than 60 games and not hurt himself picking his nose, thus prompting him to acquire a top 6 defenceman?

    I'll tell you my opinion. I think MG should get another top 3/4 defenceman. I do believe that Bieksa and Edler can anchor our offense from the point this year at a consistent basis. But I have lost all faith in Salo staying healthy. Is it fair to say that Shane O'Brien can jump up into the top 4 role when Salo gets hurt? M'eh, possibly. But he hardly has the impact that Salo does offensively. Willie Mitchell is not going to score 15-20 goals in a season, nor should he. His specialty is a defensive defenceman.

    To sum it:

    - I'm not comfortable with Aaron Rome or Doris the Funk-asaurus possibly moving into the top 6 role. I want more. Is Evan Oberg ready for top 4 minutes? The jury is out.

    - Matthieu Schneider, for example, is not an option unless he takes a major cut and plays a bit of a lesser role with the emergence of Bieksa and Edler.

    - I do think that Dennis Seidenberg or Darryl Sydor do fit the bill via the free agency route.

    - I also believe that, without sacrificing too much of the farm, that a 3rd or 4th defenceman is all we'll get with the current assets that we have (like Mason Raymond for Ian White as an example).

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