The Canucks are such an enigma of a team this year. With all the change, there is so much to talk about. While it is no surprise that the discussion has meandered across the lines on the road, in and out of the ditch, and, of course, has blazed along at Autobahn speeds straight down that superhighway most of the time as well is par for the course. It is what we do here in Canada's California.
There is no offseason for the fans. Sure, we relax and do all the summer things, but we are still really into it at the draft, and free agent frenzy feels like a guilty pleasure as temperatures rise and the days feel longer. If your team is one of those that have moved players that year, you are always scanning for updates, regardless of the season. And when you get them, you have to debate them. Thank god for Twitter !
But that is us. For the players, they live where they live in the offseason, and then start skating ( at Eight Rinks and occasionally UBC for the local players ) here in the weeks before the Young Stars, camp, etc, etc. This year, the youth have all been here early and out there, and the vets too, of course. We have spent a bunch of time around here on the former, so let's focus on the latter.
It is a truism of sports that every vet knows well. It is how they got hired in their current position. They know all too well that some of those young bucks they are skating with are gunning for their jobs. Which guys are most secure and which are not is a question that will be answered in camp, the preseason, and the early part of the year. Let's go through them with that in mind. Green is good, red bad...
Daniel Sedin - Sedin the Younger gets top billing because he was the points leader last year, with 20 goals and 76 points, tying Jiri Hudler for 8th in the NHL. They will retire as Canucks.
Henrik Sedin - Sedin the Elder did not even beat his bro in assists, with 55 of them and 73 points. Still, that was tied with Giroux, Tarasenko, and Foligno, and 1 point ahead of Stamkos. Yeah, the Captain is in the deep green too.
Alexandre Burrows - Burr' is another stalwart of the team, a contributor on the PK like few others, and going to him playing with the Twins is like a security blanket for the coach ( es ), who have all seen how he is still one of the best options with Daniel and Henrik. His 18 goals and 33 points were his best numbers since 2012, but the best number for him was 70 GP, after two years of less than 50. Green, but a lighter shade, with some definite yellow in there too.
Chris Higgins - Had 12 goals and 36 points last year, which was pretty OK. Just a few more goals and he's be at his best as a Canuck, when he had 6 more goals and 1 more assist in 2011/12. Did have a helluva bounce back in Willie's system ( +8 ) instead of Torts ( where he had more minutes, but was a -14 ). Who knows ? Could be one of those guys gone if the team falters this year. Yellow, with a tinge of orange.
Jannik Hansen - Had close to his best season production wise ( 16 goals and 33 points, just a bit less than '12, when he had 6 more assists ). At 29 he is Mr Everything Jr to Burr's Sr. You're running in the green Honey Badger.
Radim Vrbata - Was everything we asked for. Top scorer on the team, ( 31 goals ) and had 63 points. Maybe GMJB re-signs him again ? Would like to give him the first red rating here, but let's make it a provisional one. If the team is "out of it" by the deadline. Otherwise a yellow. He is in his last year.
Derek Dorsett - Meat and Taters. Just resigned, and is one of those guys that are "glue guys" in the room ( they bring and keep people together ) Solid green.
Brandon Prust - See above. They traded a guy with talent but no work ethic for a guy with some of the former, but a whole helluva lot of the latter. Green, green, green.
Brandon Sutter - He just got here, and the boss said he is a foundation guy. Need I say more ?
Alexandre Edler - He has the mantle of " #1 defenseman " in Vancouver while being the subject of a "whisper campaign" his entire career. ( "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if the Canucks had a "Norris guy". You need a "Norris Guy" to win Cups, you know..." ) Look at his numbers here. He had his best year in a while, and almost a career year. A stud on the power play ( just needs to hit the net! ), and a PK stalwart. Safe.
Dan Hamhuis - Not so safe. I love this guy's game. He makes the right play so often. He is the single biggest reason the PK was the second best in the NHL last season. Straight red for the local boy though. He is in the last year of his deal, and the team wants to get younger. Let's hope the team is close at the deadline. Hell, that might not even be enough to keep Dan in the 604 .
Yannick Weber, Lucas Sbisa, Christopher Tanev, Matt Bartkowski and Lucas Sbisa - These three are all guys that have some experience. Let's call them sorta vets. Weber definitely has the time in, and Tanev and Bartkowski are close as far as that goes. Weber is banking on another big year to get the deal that gives him some security. He could have gotten that ( maybe, he and his agent might have been pretty smart to sign as quick as they did, considering how defensemen that went the free agent route are only now getting signed. ) on the open market, but really wants to be here. The Tanman ? He's been a "vet" since day one anyhow, being so cool and mature on the ice. Look for him to try and expand his game this year in new ways. As for Bartkowski, he is like that new toy you got at Christmas . It could be fun to play with, but you have to figure it out and read how it works to really get the most out of it. Sbisa is going no where, apologies to his "non-fan club". Yellow, green, incomplete and green.
Ryan Miller - I know there are some in the marketplace that think he should have been traded this offseason, but that was never a real thing, according to GMJB. The Canucks like having a vet between the pipes. He had an average season last year, and will need a better one this year, but he is in the second year of his deal, and it is doubtful he is going anywhere, unless the wheels fall off entirely. Green with a hint of yellow. Just a very small hint.
As any veteran rosterbator knows, things can change, of course. Teams makes decisions on a myriad of factors that we never get to know. These are all just educated guesses, of course, and just for discussion sake. This will be an interesting year for the team as far as what is expected, and accomplished. According to the "experts", nothing much is expected anyhow. Count me in the minority who thinks they compete once again for a playoff spot. That will be in no small part due to the contributions of the veterans, no matter how fast the team wants to get younger. They may speed up the process if the "experts" are closer to right, but with this team, the "experts" are usually just guessing and voicing their petty biases built up from a lifetime of not being on, around, or a fan of the team. Except for John Garrett ( which is why I love Cheech, we have plenty of guys shitting on the team, it is fine to have a partisan FOR them once in a while ), there are few in the hockey media in this country that are willing to give the team a fair shake.
At least it sure seems that way as the day to day reporting on the team from the national puck media heats up. Perhaps a lifetime of interpreting those biases has made ME biased, right ?