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Canucks Quarter(ish) Season Report Card

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Hamhuis2

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Shape of the Canucks 2015/2016  

4 members have voted

  1. 1. Do the Canucks need to shake up the team?

    • Yes
      3
    • No
      1
  2. 2. If so, should they look at solving issues internally (AHL promotions), or look at external sources (other teams)

    • Promote the young guys!
      2
    • Bring in new players from other teams!
      2
  3. 3. What is the weakest position that the Canucks should look to improve in?

    • Top-6 forward
      1
    • Bottom-6 forward
      0
    • Top-4 defenceman
      3
    • Top-6 defenceman
      0
    • Starting goalie
      0
    • Backup goalie
      0
    • Prospects
      0

Through 18 games this 2015/2016 NHL season, the Vancouver Canucks currently sit 3rd in the Pacific Division with a record of 7-6-5 (19 points, good for 15th in the League). This blog will detail both team and individual aspects of this Canucks team as they’ve been through the first quarter(ish) of the season, resulting in me giving them a letter grade (from A+ to F) for both the team overall, as well as each individual player. In the first section of this blog, I will be focusing on the Canucks team stats, to analyze how they actually match up against their peers league wide

The Canucks currently have a GF/GP of 2.83 and a GA/GP of 2.56, which is actually pretty solid considering their very average record so far. The goals are coming (9th in the League), and the goals against is pretty mediocre (14th in the League), so their record should be better, right?

Wrong. The Canucks have lost 10 one goal games this season, including 5 in overtime. While their goals against isn't terrible, the timing of the goals is. They've given up 22 goals in either 3rd periods or overtime (43.1% of total goals against), 3rd worst in the league only behind CAR(46.9%)  and CBJ(43.5%).

The Canucks are also being let down on special teams. Their powerplay ranks 23rd in the League at 15.8%, and their penalty kill is 20th at 79.2%. Furthermore, they've given up 3 shorthand goals already, good for 3rd most in the league. Taking a look at PP and PK time, the Canucks have the 14th most PP time in the league, and the 22nd most PK time in the league. These stats tell us that the special teams should be benefiting them, since they are more times on the powerplay than they are shorthanded when directly compared to their peers. However, due to the poor conversion rate of their PP and PK, the Canucks special teams are actually hurting their chances of winning games when compared to their normal 5-on-5 play.

Face-offs have also been an area of concern for the Canucks. Overall, they win 49.3% of their draws, ranking 21st in the league. Looking more specifically, at even strength they win 49.4% of their draws (21st in the League), 61.9% of their draws when on the PP (5th in the League), and 40.2% of their draws when on the PK (27th in the league) Overall, they’re not fantastic, but not terrible either, however based on the stats, it’s pretty clear that they are struggling hard when shorthanded. This results in less puck possession for the team while shorthanded, and ultimately leads to more goals against.

In total, I would give the Canucks a “C-”. The even-strength play indicates a slightly higher grade, however the special teams and face-off driven possession, combined with the untimeliness of goals against really hurts them, and ultimately drags them down a few ratings.

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In this next section of this blog, I will be rating the Canucks players individually, going in order from best to worst, separating them by position. These ratings take into account production, as well as expectations put on the players based on their salary, age, and playing time.

Forwards

Jannik Hansen: A

Hansen has produced at a great offensive clip with 11 points in 18 games and is also a relentless checker who can play in all roles. In my mind, he’s the one of the best 3rd liners in the league.

Daniel Sedin: B+

Daniel has 16 points in 18 games, leading the team in points. Although the Twins aren’t as dominant every night they were a few years ago, they still produce at a high level.

Henrik Sedin: B+

Henrik has 13 points in 18 games, which is an alright offensive pace. He’s probably expected to produce a bit more based on his salary, but he’s still the straw that stirs the drink for the Canucks offense, and definitely could have had a few more assists. His line is not the one to complain too much about.

Jared McCann: B+

McCann made the team unexpectedly as a 19 year old rookie, and has performed exceptionally. He has 7 points in 16 games, and his 5 goals co-lead the team. He seems to be improving his defensive game as well as he learns the system and adjusts to NHL pace, and looks to be a future lock for the top-6.

Alex Burrows: B

Burrows is a consistent, hardworking, and tenacious player. He has 9 points in 18 games, and is steady at both ends of the rink. While he may not put up the numbers he did in his prime, he is still a solid contributor who can play anywhere in the lineup.

Brandon Sutter: B

Many people scrutinized Canucks GM Jim Benning for his trade to bring Sutter over from Pittsburgh, however, he has shown to be a good fit for the team. He has excelled defensively, and gives the Canucks a good matchup player besides Horvat, who may become overwhelmed at the age of 20. Sutter has also produced solid offence with 8 points in 16 games, and is another guy who can play up and down the lineup.

Chris Higgins: B-

Higgins is hard to judge, as he has missed most of the year with injury. Since returning however, he has a couple of goals, and has been relatively solid defensively. He currently has 2 points (both goals) in 6 games.

Brandon Prust: B-

Prust has exceeded expectations so far this season. While he’s currently out with injury, he was a solid player on the 4th line, and was doing well killing penalties. While not the fastest or flashiest player, he is effective, and has a respectable point total with 5 points (all assists) in 9 games. His toughness is also much appreciated.

Adam Cracknell: B-

Cracknell is another 4th liner who has exceeded expectations early this season. He has been solid defensively, and has scored some timely goals, with 2 goals and 3 points in 12 games. He is a very hard working player that gives it his all every shift.

Bo Horvat: C+

Horvat had high expectations put on him coming into this season, and they were probably unrealistic. After a strong rookie year, including a dynamic improvement in the second half of last season and postseason, Horvat has been given a much more significant role on the team this year. That being said, he’s only 20, so the tougher matchups have resulted in some mistakes playing against better players, as well as some slightly disappointing offence, having 6 points in 18 games. Still, Horvat is a resilient player, and has been getting his chances. I expect him to improve as the season goes on, much like last season.

Jake Virtanen: C+

Jake is a tough player to figure out. Physically, he has been great. He is physical, fast, and chippy. That being said, sometimes he doesn’t look too tenacious, and his effort level seems to vary from game to game. He is a young player, so inconsistency is expected, however it would be nice to see a bit more offense from him. Again, like Horvat, he’s getting his chances, but unlike Horvat, his defensive game isn’t too polished, so he doesn’t have the luxury of not being able to produce for long. He has 4 points in 14 games, and is expected to improve as the season goes on.

Derek Dorsett: C+

Doresett has played alright, but his new contract is pretty tough to justify. Tangibles are a hard specify the value of, and while he is a mentor and leader on the team, he needs to show a bit more on the ice as well to live up to his contract, with just 4 points in 18 games so far this year.

Sven Baertchi: C+

After lighting up the AHL last season, Baertchi hasn’t had too much of an impact at the NHL level this season. While he’s putting up a good point pace with 7 points in 15 games, he hasn’t played like a difference maker, and he has been pretty soft on the puck, especially near the boards. He still plays too much of a perimeter game, but does show promise.

Radim Vrbata: C

Vrbata has lost most of his confidence this season, and has no puck luck. He has been getting chances as well, but has been uncharacteristically not been finishing. This includes missing a few seemingly open nets, and simply just missing the net. I expect that once he gets a couple of goals (goes on a bit of a hot streak), he’ll be fine for the rest of the year. He has 3 goals and 7 points in 18 games, and needs to pick up the pace if the Canucks have any hope of making the playoffs.

 

Defence

Chris Tanev: B+

Chris Tanev has (quite easily) been the best defenceman for the Canucks this season. Offense has never been his strong suit, and he has 4 points in 17 games. Defensively however, he has been very solid, and he really been relied upon in all situations.

Ben Hutton: B+

Ben Hutton has really exploded as a blooming young star this season. While may fans didn’t really know about this NCAA gem (I had him ranked #7 for Canucks prospects in my July 2014 blog entry), he came in, made the team, and has just produced. His 8 points in 18 games are 2nd amongst Canucks defenders, and his defensive game is better than expected. His skating, smarts, and on-ice awareness may allow him to become a top pair defender in the future.

Alex Edler: B-

Edler had a great start to the season, and his 8 points in 17 games are very solid. The past 5ish games however, Edler (along with the rest of the defence) has looked a bit lost out there, causing giveaways and scoring chances for the other team. Furthermore, his mobility hasn’t looked very good, so he could be playing hurt.

Dan Hamhuis: C+

Speaking of giveaways and lack of mobility, Hamhuis has looked uncharacteristically poor this season. Hamhuis is still very good in his own zone, but his transition game has been subpar, and his offensive awareness is near non-existent. Again, like Edler, I thought he started the year pretty solid, but he has been playing with a revolving door of sketchy partners, and he may be playing injured. With just 2 points in 15 games, he needs to be better.

Mark Bartkowski: C+

Bartkowski is a great skater, in fact, one of the best skating defenceman I have ever seen suit up for the Canucks. However, that’s almost all that he can contribute. While he tries to play a rugged game, he is ineffective at it, and often gets out muscled in the corners or in front of the net. Also, his defensive coverage is spotty, and he is often left chasing the play. His transition game is fantastic, and his skating is much needed, but don’t expect him to be creative and create offense out of that skating ability (5 points in 17 games). He has a role on this team, but currently, he is playing  a bit out of his depth in the top-4.

Luca Sbisa: C+

Sbisa has played quite well this season, proving a needed physical presence, and looking more confident. He has limited the amount of giveaways he has compared to last season, and may still have the promise to eventually be a top-4 defenceman, when playing with a solid partner who can cover for his occasional poor pinches and giveaways. He has just played 11 games, putting up 4 points, and is currently injured, making way for this next player in the lineup.

Yannick Weber: C

Weber looked great last season in my opinion, but lost a lot of confidence and looked overwhelmed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Weber has taken his poor pay from the playoffs and brought it to this season. For an “offensive defenceman”, he has just 2 points in 12 games, and has been poor defensively. He’s not dynamic enough offensively to be poor defensively, and with the poor play of other defenceman, his errors are sticking out even more.

Goalies

Ryan Miller: B-

Miller had a hot start to the season, but has cooled down quickly. While the defence hasn’t helped him out much lately, he needs to be better, and can’t give up weak goals at poor times in a game.

Jacob Markstrom: B-

Markstrom has been solid, but really it is too early to judge with such a small sample size.

Richard Bachman: C+

He was a solid fill-in goalie, but with Markstrom back now, he should get some starter time in the AHL.

 

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This final section of the blog will take a look at the player stat projections over a full 82 game pace, as well as my expectation for the players. I will also project our GF/GP and GA/GP over an 82 game season, compare it to past seasons and summarize the results.

Skater

Current Points (GP…G-A-P)

Projected Points (GP…G-A-P)

Expected Points (GP…G-A-P)

D. Sedin

18GP…5-11-16

82GP…23-50-73

82GP…23-52-75

H. Sedin

18GP…5-8-13

82GP…23-36-59

82GP…18-55-73

J. Hansen

18GP…5-6-11

82GP…23-27-50

82GP…16-19-37

A. Burrows

18GP…4-5-9

82GP…18-23-41

82GP…19-25-44

A. Edler

17GP…4-4-8

82GP…19-19-38

82GP….12-25-37

B. Sutter

16GP…4-4-8

82GP…20-20-40

82GP…18-15-33

B. Hutton

18GP…0-8-8

82GP…0-38-38

82GP….3-33-36

R. Vrbata

18GP…3-4-7

82GP…14-18-32

82GP….21-30-51

S. Baertschi

15GP…2-5-7

82GP…11-27-38

82GP…13-23-36

J. McCann

16GP…5-2-7

82GP…26-11-37

82GP…19-15-34

B. Horvat

18GP…2-4-6

82GP…9-18-27

82GP…16-20-36

B. Prust

9GP…0-5-5

82GP…0-46-46

82GP…5-18-23

M. Bartkowski

17GP…2-3-5

82GP….10-14-24

82GP…3-24-27

D. Dorsett

18GP…2-2-4

82GP…9-9-18

82GP…7-15-23

L. Sbisa

11GP…1-3-4

82GP…7-22-29

82GP…3-24-27

C. Tanev

17GP…1-3-4

82GP…5-14-19

82GP…3-17-20

J. Virtanen

14GP…1-3-4

82GP…6-18-24

82GP…9-15-24

A. Cracknell

12GP…2-1-3

82GP…14-7-21

82GP…6-10-16

D. Hamhuis

15GP…0-2-2

82GP…0-11-11

82GP…1-18-19

C. Higgins

6GP…2-0-2

82GP…27-0-27

82GP…14-23-37

Y. Weber

12G…0-2-2

82GP…0-14-14

82GP…6-23-29

 

Projected total goals: 264

Expected total goals: 235

 

#1 for 2014/2015

#9 for 2014/2015

 

#1 for 2013/2014

#8 for 2013/2014

 

#2 for 2012/2013*

#7 for 2012/2013*

 

#2 for 2011/2012

#8 for 2011/2012

 

#1 for 2010/2011

#11 for 2010/2011

 

           

As you can see from the data above, the Canucks are “projected” to have 264 goals (using pure extrapolation). This is, of course, unreasonable, and would be either #1 or #2 in the league over the past 5 seasons. If this was the case, they should have a much better record, because their goals against is not that poor as to counteract this. With my “expected” totals (looking at the game in a vacuum where there are no injuries), the Canucks finish the season with 235 goals. This would put them in the #7-11 range for the past 5 seasons, which I feel is much more realistic, and perhaps even a bit optimistic.

-

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Overall, the Canucks are scoring enough goals, but their defence has been subpar at best. If they want to have a serious chance of making the playoffs, the defence and goaltending has to be better, and they must maintain a GF/GP of around 2.8.

Please feel free to provide feedback on my article, and don’t forget to answer the poll questions! What do you think the Canucks need to improve this season, and where should they look to bring about these improvements?

 Thanks!

 

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