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Let The Kids Play

I guess I should start bitching about the most recent twist in the Summer o' Sundin which is he may not make a decision until after the season starts. I'd, rather, recommend a moratorium on mentioning this guy and the "Canucks" in the same sentence anymore. It's simply not happening and it would behoove us, as the beleaguered fan base we already are, to let it slide and walk away with some friggin' dignity. As has been said before: dude, he's just not that into you.

However, in the same article, waaaay at the bottom where most readers might miss it, is an interesting tidbit:

If Sundin decides not to play or signs elsewhere, Gillis would have to resort to his Plan B, which he said Wednesday may include giving one or two of the team's young prospects an opportunity to play.

"I am confident that some of younger players that we have spent a lot of time with this off-season are going to really push to be on this team," he said. "We have added players, but I think there are going to be a couple of players who are going to step up here and show us they are prepared to play in the National Hockey League."

Gillis wouldn't name names, but was likely referring to the likes of Michael Grabner and Jannik Hansen [emphasis mine].
The Grabner era can begin and the Jannik Hansen era can be resurrected? $20 million for an aging center or let the kids play? Who cares because there isn't an option A anyway.

The 14th pick in the draft two years ago, Grabner didn't precisely knock the Canucks socks off last year in training camp. He did, however, have a successful year in Manitoba and the hope is that his game has matured to be far more then just relying on his speed. If his game can round out, a young one-two fast punch of Raymond and Grabner would be an incredible asset.

Statistically speaking, Hansen was right behind Grabner in points last year for the Moose after he failed to make the stay with the Canucks following the 2006-07 playoffs and a five game call-up last year. He played through some injuries and managed to not only rack up some points but finish up with a team best +/- of 23. He played this summer for the Danish national team in the Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and, in case you missed it, showcased his stuff by zipping around the Leaf's Tomas Kaberle (*snicker*) for his first goal of the tournament.

Both Hansen and Grabner are right wingers so where would these guys fall in? Optimistically speaking, something like this could work:

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Steve Bernier
Mason Raymond - Pavol Demitra - Michael Grabner/Jannik Hansen
Kyle Wellwood - Ryan Kesler - Taylor Pyatt
Matt Pettinger - Ryan Johnson - Alexandre Burrows

I don't imagine Hordichuk suiting up for every game, so he's an easy person to scratch. Also, I'm not sold on "hit or miss" Wellwood making the top six at all, especially if someone from camp outworks him. And I know Demitra has said he doesn't want to shift back to the center role, but whatever.

If Wellwood earns his spot on the wing, then the third line is a decent blend of "talent" (Wellwood), grit (Kesler) and size (Pyatt) while allowing the top six to be focused almost entirely on speed and cycling. That brings with both pros and cons but it's certainly better then how this team ended last year (remember when Isbister was centering Naslund? Right).

There are several ways it could play out obviously, but with camp coming around the bend and this squad checkered with a million question marks, seems like a fine time to let the kids play.

And it sure beats blowing $20 million on a guy who doesn't want to be here in the first place.