Forward Ryan Kesler, won’t be available as a net-front presence to start the season – thanks to off-season hip surgery that is expected to keep him out until November – and point man Christian Ehrhoff took his 50 points with him when he signed as a free agent with Buffalo.
“We have a lot of depth,” said Newell Brown, the Canucks assistant coach who oversees the power play. “Christian did a great job last year, but Eddie (Alex Edler) missed a lot of time last year and we filled in for him pretty well.”
Brown has used Alex Burrows as the stand-in for Kesler in power play work this week also with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He also envisions Edler and Mikael Samuelsson on the first unit points and Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa on the second unit, with Sami Salo also in the mix.
“We’ve got five guys we can use (on the point),” said Brown.
Brown also believes free agent Marco Sturm will be a good addition to the second unit power play. He also plans to use Cody Hodgson there in the preseason.
Burrows – who led the Canucks with 24 even-strength goals last season – deserves the opportunity, said Brown.
“He’s really good around the net,” said Brown. “He creates a lot of space for Hank and Danny.”
Burrows said he’s willing to go to the front of the net and take his lumps – just like Kesler did last season.
“Obviously, Kes is really good with the twins, playing in front of the net, tipping pucks and recovering pucks after shots and winning battles,” said Burrows. “He’s one of those reasons why we had such a good power play last year. For now, at the start of the year if Kes isn’t there and they want me to play in front of the net I’m more than willing to be there and create some havoc for the other team’s goalie.”
Ehrhoff scored 28 of those 50 points on the power play, when he was regularly manning the right point on the first-unit power play.
But Ehrhoff’s career-high points total last season certainly had a lot to do who he was often playing with – namely Daniel and Henrik, winners of the NHL scoring crown the last two seasons, and 41 goalscorer Kesler.
Hamhuis, who signed with the Canucks a year ago in part because of more opportunity to play on the power play, believes Ehrhoff’s points can be replaced.
“Christian put up a lot of points, but it certainly wasn’t a one-man show up there,” said Hamhuis. “With our power play and the other four guys out on the ice with him, I think you can slide a fifth guy in there quite seamlessly and get the job done.”
Hamhuis, who forms the Canucks’ shutdown pairing with Bieksa, said he welcomes more regular duty on the PP.
“I enjoy that role,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s challenging. It is a big role, but I think every player wants a big role. If that’s where they want me to be I’ll make sure I’m ready for that.”
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