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In search for a 3rd Line Centre


DonA

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The Canucks have been looking for a 3rd line centre for the longest time; but within their own roster they have the best 3rd line centre in the league - Ryan Kesler, Selke winner.

At the early stage of his career, Kesler has been centering a shutdown line for the Canucks and was very effective; thus attracted the attention of the Flyers and their offer sheet. After that incident and the inflated contract, he was pegged into the role of a second line centre and is expected to produce secondary scoring and slowly lost his own identity. Kesler is not a play making centre. He often flies solo like a helicopter that doesn't neeed wings. Burrows, Hansen, and Mason Raymond had been slotted into his line and they all can produce more when they are playing with others. Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, and perhaps even Bo Horvat have demonstrated better play making skills than him.

Kesler's All-Time 351 points scored as a Canuck centre is ranked 6th among all Canucks centres. That points total included 193 assists over 584 regular season games (2003-2013). The number of games played (584) is ranked 5th among all Canucks centres; but the number of assists (193) is ranked 8th - only ahead of Christopher Oddleifson’s 180 (in 469 games played, 1973-1981); Barry Pederson’s 137 (in 23 games, 1986-1989); Andrew Cassels’ 128 (in 198 games, 1999-2002). That assists/games-played ratio suggested that he is more suitable as a defensive shutdown centre than an offensive scoring line centre. Is it because he has a $5M contract (second highest for centre position in the team) that he automatically carries the 2nd Line Centre title?

Is a shutdown line less important than a secondary scoring line and thus one is tagged as the “3rd Line” and the other the “2nd Line”? Is a secondary scoring line must be dressed by second highest paid players and therefore the roles and ice-times of the players be awarded according to their pay, and not according to the flow of the game? It’s time that the coach utilize the players according to their “play” and not their “PAY”.

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The Canucks have been looking for a 3rd line centre for the longest time; but within their own roster they have the best 3rd line centre in the league - Ryan Kesler, Selke winner.

At the early stage of his career, Kesler has been centering a shutdown line for the Canucks and was very effective; thus attracted the attention of the Flyers and their offer sheet. After that incident and the inflated contract, he was pegged into the role of a second line centre and is expected to produce secondary scoring and slowly lost his own identity. Kesler is not a play making centre. He often flies solo like a helicopter that doesn't neeed wings. Burrows, Hansen, and Mason Raymond had been slotted into his line and they all can produce more when they are playing with others. Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, and perhaps even Bo Horvat have demonstrated better play making skills than him.

Kesler's All-Time 351 points scored as a Canuck centre is ranked 6th among all Canucks centres. That points total included 193 assists over 584 regular season games (2003-2013). The number of games played (584) is ranked 5th among all Canucks centres; but the number of assists (193) is ranked 8th - only ahead of Christopher Oddleifson’s 180 (in 469 games played, 1973-1981); Barry Pederson’s 137 (in 23 games, 1986-1989); Andrew Cassels’ 128 (in 198 games, 1999-2002). That assists/games-played ratio suggested that he is more suitable as a defensive shutdown centre than an offensive scoring line centre. Is it because he has a $5M contract (second highest for centre position in the team) that he automatically carries the 2nd Line Centre title?

Is a shutdown line less important than a secondary scoring line and thus one is tagged as the “3rd Line” and the other the “2nd Line”? Is a secondary scoring line must be dressed by second highest paid players and therefore the roles and ice-times of the players be awarded according to their pay, and not according to the flow of the game? It’s time that the coach utilize the players according to their “play” and not their “PAY”.

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Between Richardson, Schroeder, and Santorelli, I think one of them should be able to play the third line centre role -OR-we can hope Schroeder can centre the second line and stick Keeler on third.

I kind of think Richardson needs to be our fourth line centre before we can start thinking we are even close to being a deep enough team.

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That's the problem, we've been looking for a third line centre for so long, when the real problem is having a non existent 2nd line. If we picked up a solid 25-30 goal scorer for the second line, players would move down and create depth once again in our bottom six.

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He has been spending a lot of time on a line with Higgins and Hansen and playing something along the lines of 30-35% o-zone starts. He essentially is on a 3rd line right now.

Now this makes me think, if We have the Sedins with Santorelli for the time being, and Booth with Kassian on a make shift 2nd line, would it being worth putting Burr on that line when he returns and trying him at center again? He has had respectable faceoff numbers in the past and is easily the 2nd best defensive forward we have as well as one of the best 5v5 players we have. If he can work on his faceoff and positioning it would be really impressive going Sedin-Burrow-Kesler-Richardson down the middle.

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Sign Simon Gagne and move Kesler to the wing.

Kesler plays like a winger anyways and he doesn't have the vision to play center and be the primary play-maker for the line and is at his best in the corners and grinding and shutting down people.

He is not even a 30 goal scorer that 40 goal year was a total anomaly. Once people realized he could shoot the puck they began to crowd him right away and now he can't find space to get off his wrist shot cleanly.

The third line automatically improves when guys get slotted down into where they should be and the Canucks get some actual depth that real contending teams have.

Getting Burrows back will help too and if they can even get something decent out of Schroeder and Kassian that will alleviate some pressure.

They should sign Simon Gagne because he is the only proven 20 goal scorer out there. Plus he is good not only as a finisher but he is a playmaking winger and can make passes to set up other guys like Kesler.

Sedin-Sedin-Burrows

Gagne-Santorelli-Kesler

Higgins-Schroeder-Hansen

Dalpe-Richardson-Kassian

Dump Booth and Sestito on waivers or maybe you can trade Booth for something to free up space to sign Gagne.

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Sign Simon Gagne and move Kesler to the wing.

Kesler plays like a winger anyways and he doesn't have the vision to play center and be the primary play-maker for the line and is at his best in the corners and grinding and shutting down people.

He is not even a 30 goal scorer that 40 goal year was a total anomaly. Once people realized he could shoot the puck they began to crowd him right away and now he can't find space to get off his wrist shot cleanly.

The third line automatically improves when guys get slotted down into where they should be and the Canucks get some actual depth that real contending teams have.

Getting Burrows back will help too and if they can even get something decent out of Schroeder and Kassian that will alleviate some pressure.

They should sign Simon Gagne because he is the only proven 20 goal scorer out there. Plus he is good not only as a finisher but he is a playmaking winger and can make passes to set up other guys like Kesler.

Sedin-Sedin-Burrows

Gagne-Santorelli-Kesler

Higgins-Schroeder-Hansen

Dalpe-Richardson-Kassian

Dump Booth and Sestito on waivers or maybe you can trade Booth for something to free up space to sign Gagne.

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Why is everyone calling Kesler a 3rd liner? The guy is a 2nd liner for sure. Also if we traded for another 2nd line center and moved Kesler down to the 3rd line we would still have a 2nd line that can't score.

I think in the next game we should try something like this:

Sedin - Sedin - Kassian (You know Kassian is going to end up there eventually, might as well put him there while Burrows is out.)

Higgins - Kesler - Santorelli (Have we even tried Kesler with Santorelli yet?)

Booth - Richardson - Hansen

Sestito - Dalpe - Weise

OR

Sedin - Sedin - Kesler

Higgins - Santorelli - Hansen

Booth - Richardson - Kassian

Sestito - Dalpe - Weise

That second line up might be a little bit out there seeing as how there is two 3rd lines but it could work. The top line should generate offense every time they get put out there. Santorelli is hot right now. I'm not saying keep this line up long term or anything but we have only scored two goals in the last two games so it could be worth a shot.

When healthy:

Sedin - Sedin - Kassian

Higgins - Kesler - Burrows

Booth - Santorelli/Schroeder - Hansen

Santorelli/Schroeder - Richardson - Dalpe/Weise

Now that's not bad. Gillis should make a deal at the deadline for a top 6 winger or 3rd line center though depending on how things go. I doubt he will though.

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