I'd like to start by paying homage to the Twins. Since Naslund last graced us as our premiere offense talent, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have scored 1022 reg season points over 6 years, 85 points per season. We've been to the finals, iced perhaps our best ever team, won how many division titles, the Presidents Trophy..., on the backs of the Twins. Simply Spectacular!
But matchup problems have kept us from the biggest prize, and they might be starting to slip. I believe Kesler needs to succeed the Twins if we are going to raise Lord Stanley’s chalice?
Awkward timing this shoulder surgery, off year & hip surgery this past pre-season?
But after back to back 75 & 73 point seasons prior to this year, 42 goals last year Kesler announced that he could be one of the game’s greatest players against Nashville. For the Canucks, we need him to be again and now be the guy who carries the team!
The crux is three 185 ish lb forwards in Daniel, Henrik and Burrows is simply too small! The tone of this post is not to break up the Twins, but in reality we can craft lines that offer a better balance of talent, size, skills, speed & truculence. It becomes the best way to make use of these marvellous talents, before they decline too far past their peak. I personally don't think we will win a championship with the Twins and Burrows as our first line?
In Kesler, you have a bull athlete, fast and physical with an alpha dog mentality. He brings to the forefront the ability to bust through match up’s with sheer power. He also has enough skills, needing only a play maker to make him an elite goal scorer? And we need to break match up’s, not be trying to slip our best scoring line on only when teams are vulnerable. Against the best teams in 7 game series, that’s exactly where we have been exposed. We need Kesler on the ice going toe to toe and beating top match ups if we are going to win!
It’s also a realistic proposal, and good economics, developing from within. Pundits say we need a Rick Nash RW to make the Twins work, a Purcell or Parise passing forward to solve Kesler’s. That cost would be prohibitive, and likely leave us with other expose able problems.
Kesler, despite all challenges, has to rise to his potential. He is 27, the age when the Twins took over the team. It will allow us to re-craft the lines to compete physically in speed and size, fore-checking and on the boards first. Booth also has to step up if this will work. Work your tail off this off season David! You need to add defensive elements, and cycling to your game. Then we blend in and balance talents of play making and scoring.
This is what it should look like;
-Why? Simple, Danny and Kess are our two best goal scorers. Danny, save Marty St Louis, is also the league’s best playmaking winger. Booth and Kess have scored 40 and 30 goals without such a talent and are near impossible to match up with blazing speed and physicality. It would be an amazing line. Funny, it’s about Kesler, but Danny could be the league MVP on this line?
Burrows/Hank/Higgins work in Kassian and Jensen when...?
-Why? Keeping Burr with Kess makes sense on some levels? But that top line will draw ALL top defensive match ups. It leaves Hank and Burrows, who is now also pretty good at playing tic TAC toe with Henrik, to pick apart lesser match ups. Add Higgins to Burrows and you have two glue guys who win pucks, fore check, compete, play defence & Higgins is also a former 28 goal guy. He would get 30 and lick his chops at his luck! And when Kassian or Jensen arrives, imagine feeding them with the league’s elite play maker!
Critically, both top lines could play two way hockey! We would not have to shelter one line. Both could be rolled out at any time, in any zone against any match up. This alone makes us a much more dangerous team!
I don’t want to over speculate on the bottom lines, the off season will re-tool them to an extent. But a key component to this whole plan is thatit will be dramatically easier to recruit an extra 3rd or 4th line physical player than one capable of playing in the top 6. It also provides a succession plan for Jensen and Kassian to jump in when able, so we can be a great team for years.
The balance of lines could look like;
Moen/Schroeder/Hansen Lappy/Manny/Kassian (I would REALLY like to see Bitz re-signed!) Or
Look, Columbus might trade us Rick Nash straight up for Lou and a forward solution is handed to us? But we still have other issues to resolve, the physical nature of our defence, its ability to rush the puck against pressure. It would be impossible to adequately address our D with a cap hit like Nash’s? This post is about a natural evolution of our team into a champion!
If Kesler can be who we hope he can, we can use resources like Lou & Raymond for talent and size on our defence. It’s the best evolution of the team!
He would need to play like Gordie Howe, or Messier and fight for territory not flop to draw penalties. To lead every battle. He would also need to heal, to take over 1/2 way through next year in full form.
Can Ryan Kesler become the next true leader of this team? I believe he can!
Edited by Canuck Surfer, 13 May 2012 - 04:36 PM.