Last quarter pole poll as we wait to
destroy abuse lightly slap beat Calgary tomorrow.
If you thought defining most and least valuable was arbitrary, try picking an unsung hero (USH?). My view is it's the type of player who isn't an All Star but one in which I had a certain preseason expectation that he's exceeded for the benefit of the team. Either he brings a work ethic or skill that was lacking, or he's contributing offensively, or he's helped offset some of the injury struggles early on.
Or it's none of the above and you define it differently. That of course works too. Maybe Dank is MVP and the unsung hero? Not for me; spoiler alert - my list is third line heavy.
Show your love in the comments for anyone we missed.
Manny Malhotra: When he signed I assumed he would bolster the FO%, the PK and bottom six scoring. So far he's held up his end of the bargain. Some consistency issues remain & others may continue to think Gills overpaid for his skillset, but I believe Malhotra's strengths are what this team was sorely lacking last season. A crucial faceoff win here, a timely goal there, it's fundamental to the success of an elite team and he helps spark one of the best third lines Vancouver has had in recent memory. Kyle who?
Raffi Torres: When he signed I assumed...well I'm not sure. I guessed he would meet the energy requirement and maybe pot a few goals here and there while earning himself a series of penalties which would induce much kitten punting. Yet like Malhotra he's a spark for the third line and his production has helped soften the struggles of the second line. Torres is currently third in goals (8) and third in hits (35) which isn't bad for a signing that was effectively a reclamation project. His critics were dead on that his consistency is a challenge, but when he decides to he can be a force. Would you rather have Steve Bernier over Torres at this rate? Not a chance.
Jannik Hansen: Like Torres I didn't expect much from Jank besides a warm body for depth purposes. In fact I'm amazed he's still here (AV hates him, I know it). For various reasons Jank has never played a full season and averages only 12 points a year in his short career. Now? Before his demotion he was getting plenty of TOI (almost two and half minutes more than last year) and even briefly got some time alongside the twins. For what it's worth, he leads all forwards in hits (47). But it's the 4th best PK in the league where you see him shine: he only trails Kesler and Malhotra in SH TOI and only Hamhuis has a lower GAON/60 in SH situations than Hansen. The signs are promising if the 24-year-old's game continues to progress.
Kevin Bieksa: I can hear the groans (the interwebs is amazing like that!). I'm not his biggest supporter either, but we touched on this a few weeks ago: without Sami Salo around, Bieksa is playing the tough minutes and - while not perfect - it's working. If Bieksa doesn't slot in there, who does? In preseason a good guess would have been Hamhuis or Ballard; Edler is our all-purpose player, Ehrhoff has the shot and Alberts the size. Yet with all the injuries, Bieksa has filled in admirably and done so with a constant cloud of rumors following him. He may not be a Canuck once Salo returns, or past the deadline, or past July 1st, but besides Edler and maybe Hamhuis who has been more valuable on defense so far?
Aaron Rome: Rome probably comes closest to defining 'unsung'. This time last season he was a questionable NHL'er but proved his worth on a second or third pairing with limited minutes. This season he did it again, helping (presumably) shield Ballard's recovery while working his way onto the improved special teams. Guess who trails only Edler and Ehrhoff in ES GAON/60? Unless he tanks or someone like Ryan Parent gets another crack at the roster, Rome's a staple on our defense going forward.