Warhippy Posted June 6, 2015 Share Posted June 6, 2015 http://www.tsn.ca/off-season-game-plan-vancouver-canucks-1.300525 The Vancouver Canucks returned to the playoffs, making the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons and rebounding from a down season in 2013-2014, but they were bounced from the postseason by the Calgary Flames. Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Canucks team that is pretty good, and might be a playoff team next season, but there is little reason to believe that they are capable of competing with the best that the Western Conference has to offer; even less reason to believe it after losing the worst puck possession team in the 2015 Playoffs. Between the Sedins, Radim Vrbata, Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Miller, that's a lot of minutes going to players that are 32-years-of-age and older. If the Canucks mostly maintain the status quo, then they would have a fair shot at returning to the playoffs, and that's cool, but a team with its best players in their mid-thirties is not likely for a deep playoff run and that is the situation in which the Canucks find themselves. Can they re-tool on the fly? Presuming that the Sedins aren't going anywhere, there are still ways for the Canucks to get younger while icing a competitive team. It will take some time for the young players and prospects to have the desired impact, and the Canucks might get away with waiting another year before they start clearing out, but there are options available if they are prepared to move veterans for prospects and picks. Currently without a second or third-round pick in the 2015 Draft, there are steps to take if the Canucks are going to take a longer view to building their team, but it's not easy for a playoff team to get aggressive in a rebuilding effort. HOCKEY OPS/COACH Jim Benning/Willie Desjardins RETURNING FORWARDS NAME GP G A PTS SAT% SPSV% SCF% SAT%Rel OZS% '15-16 CAP Daniel Sedin 82 20 56 76 53.3 98.3 49.3 5.2 54.3 $7.0M Henrik Sedin 82 18 55 73 54. 99.1 50.2 6.3 54.2 $7.0M Radim Vrbata 79 31 32 63 51.3 100.4 48.8 2.5 52.3 $5.0M Nick Bonino 75 15 24 39 51.3 99.9 50.5 2.2 46.9 $1.9M Chris Higgins 77 12 24 36 50.8 100.7 50.4 1.2 48.8 $2.5M Alex Burrows 70 18 15 33 52.8 96.9 51.8 4.9 52.0 $4.5M Jannik Hansen 81 16 17 33 48.4 98.3 48.7 -1.8 47.3 $2.5M Bo Horvat 68 13 12 25 44.8 99.6 45.9 -5.6 47.3 $894K Derek Dorsett 79 7 18 25 43.1 101.8 45.2 -7.8 50.7 $2.65M Zack Kassian 42 10 6 16 49.8 98.3 43.9 -1.8 52.0 $1.75M FREE AGENT FORWARDS NAME GP G A PTS SAT% SPSV% SCF% SAT%Rel OZS% '14-15 CAP STATUS Shawn Matthias 78 18 9 27 47.5 99.2 47.3 -3.0 49.7$1.75M UFA Linden Vey 75 10 14 24 48.0 99.2 46.3 -1.4 52.4 $735K RFA Brad Richardson 45 8 13 21 48.1 99.6 47.0 -1.8 48.5 $1.15M UFA Ronalds Kenins 30 4 8 12 47.7 99.8 46.5 -4.1 42.2 $680K RFA Brandon McMillan 58 1 3 4 46.6 94.5 47.6 -2.3 35.8 $625 KRFA After a down year in 2013-2014 the Sedins bounced back and were nearly point-per-game scorers again. Daniel Sedin had 76 points, though the 34-year-old's goal-scoring seems to have settled around one every four games and his shots on goal rate (2.76) was his lowest since 2005-2006. Henrik Sedin's point production bounced back too but, like his brother, Henrik's average time on ice (18:37) was his lowest since 2006-2007. The Sedins are still very good but, in their mid-thirties, they aren't likely to get better, which presents a conundrum for the Canucks. In many cases, a team that is clearly not a championship contender would consider moving out aging forwards, even if they are productive, in order to build for the future, but that's not easily accomplished - or even contemplated -when they are a package deal with no-movement clauses. One of the best free agent signings from last summer, Radim Vrbata had a career-high 63 points in his first season with the Canucks. He signed a two-year contract, so Vrbata will be a free agent at the end of next season and he turns 34 in a little more than a week. How does that fit, long-term, with the Canucks' direction? Acquired in the deal that sent Ryan Kesler to Anahemi, Nick Bonino was a solid contributor - he's not Kesler, but that's not a fair expectation either. For one thing, Bonino is a bargain at under $2-million per season, and for another, he was one of 61 players that had better than 2.00 points/60 at even strength (minimum 500 minutes). A veteran winger who has been a solid contributor for the Canucks, Chris Higgins saw his ice time drop significantly (from 19:10 per game in 2013-2014 to 15:47) last season. There's nothing wrong with keeping him around, on a reasonable contract, but he's 32 and might have value to other teams if made available. Alex Burrows bounced back from a terrible 2013-2014 season but, like Higgins, he's a complementary forward on the wrong side of 30 who saw his ice time cut last season (from 17:49 per game to 15:29 per game). Jannik Hansen also saw his ice time cut (from 15:40 to 13:58) yet was reasonably productive, tying a career-high with 16 goals. Signed for three more years at a reasonable price, Hansen could very easily fit in a top-nine role. The ninth overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Bo Horvat had an impressive rookie campaign, coming on stronger - playing more minutes and contributing offensively - as the season progressed. Horvat still has lots of room to improve - he still got thumped in possession terms - but he's only 20, so there's also time for him to naturally grow into a bigger role. Gritty forward Derek Dorsett put up a career-high 25 points last season, showing that he is more than just a guy who ranked second in the league with 17 fighting majors, but the Canucks somehow decided Dorsett was worth a four-year contract extension and that's a risky proposition considering that Vancouver gets buried in its own end with Dorsett on the ice. 24-year-old Zack Kassian hasn't yet reached the heights that might have been hoped for when he was drafted 13th overall in 2009, but has had some decent production over the past couple of seasons, occasionally getting time with the Sedins. Injuries cost him nearly half of the regular season as well as the first round of the playoffs, so the first order of business is to get healthy, but Kassian is a physical depth player who can chip in offensively. Whether it's in Vancouver or somewhere else is the question. Linden Vey started well in his rookie season, but faded in the second half, ending the year with eight points (3 G, 5 A) in his last 38 games played, his ice time dwindling in the last quarter of the season. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old has enough skill that he ought to improve the Canucks' depth. Undrafted Latvian winger Ronalds Kenins made his way to North America after six seasons in Switzerland, and split the year between the AHL (where he had 12 points in 36 games) and the NHL, where he had 12 points in 30 games. He's industrious and can play a physical game, but probably sits on the roster bubble. Claimed on waivers from Arizona, Brandon McMillan hasn't been able to build on his 2010-2011 rookie season, when he had 21 points in 60 games for the Anaheim Ducks; he has 15 points in 111 games since. The Canucks have enough bodies to ice a competitive group of forwards, but there aren't a lot of high-upside players on the roster. There are a good number of prospects in the system, and some might offer that greater potential, but they also may not yet be ready to make a difference. RETURNING DEFENCE NAME GP G A PTS SAT% SPSV% SCF% SAT%Rel OZS% '15-16 CAP Alexander Edler 74 8 23 31 51.9 99.7 50.1 3.6 48.6 $5.0M Chris Tanev 70 2 18 20 52.0 98.9 51.4 3.4 48.2 $4.45M Dan Hamhuis 59 1 22 23 50.8 98.7 50.1 1.4 47.0 $4.5M Kevin Bieksa 60 4 7 11 48.5 98.9 48.2 -1.6 50.4 $4.6M Luca Sbisa 76 2 7 9 47.2 98.7 44.5 -3.1 49.0 $3.6M FREE AGENT DEFENCE NAME GP G A PTS SAT% SPSV% SCF% SAT%Rel OZS% '14-15 CAP STATUS Yannick Weber 65 11 10 21 50.1 100.2 49.2 0.2 54.7 $850K RFA Ryan Stanton 54 2 8 10 44.9 103.0 44.3 -5.3 55.8 $550K RFA Veteran blueliner Alexander Edler recovered from a 2013-2014 season in which he had a league-worst minus-39, combining with partner Chris Tanev to form an excellent - and underrated - first pairing. It's amazing how much better results are when not saddled with league-worst percentages. A late-bloomer who has developed into a quality NHL defenceman despite being undrafted, Chris Tanev earned his contract extension and it's not unreasaonble; in fact, it might be a good deal for the Canucks if Tanev continues to play like he did in 2014-2015. Dan Hamhuis missed time with a groin injury and had his lowest per-game ice time (21:32) since arriving in Vancouver, but remained a steady influence. Going into the final year of his deal, the ever-reliable Hamhuis could be considered a possibility for trade, though he does have a no-trade clause. In a similar situation, going into the final year of his contract and holding a no-trade clause, Kevin Bieksa's ice time (20:50) last season was his lowest since his rookie year, 2005-2006. If the Canucks are intent on getting younger, finding a taker for Bieksa shouldn't be hard. He's not the player he was at his peak, but the soon-to-be 34-year-old still has some tread left on his tires. Another part of the Kesler deal, Luca Sbisa didn't do a lot to distinguish himself in his first year with the Canucks, though he did play more in the second half, and yet he secured a three-year contract extension. There's some projection involved for the 25-year-old to provide value on that deal, so it will be interesting to see if he can improve enough to justify the price tag. What's interesting about the Sbisa extension is that the Canucks' other Swiss defenceman, Yannick Weber, was better, playing a top-four role in the second half of the season and contributing on the power play. As a restricted free agent, Weber is due for a new contract and how much he gets could be a good indication where he fits in the Canucks' plans. Ryan Stanton has been a serviceable inexpensive depth consideration on the blueline, though he was more effective in 2013-2014 than he was last season. Depending on how much turnover there is on the blueline, the Canucks may have some openings for prospects like Adam Clendening or Frank Corrado. If Bieksa or Hamhuis are moved, that could give the Canucks additional flexibility to wade into the free agent market. RETURNING GOALTENDERS NAME GP W L T SV% EV SV% ADJ SV% '15-16 CAP Ryan Miller 45 29 15 1 0.911 0.914 0.918 $6.0M Eddie Lack 41 18 13 4 0.921 0.921 0.932 $1.15M It was understandable that the Canucks, looking to get more competitive, decided to spend the money necessary to sign Ryan Miller as a free agent in the summer of 2014, but his season was cut short by a knee injury and he wasn't particularly effective before getting hurt. Now, with two years remaining on his contract, it might behoove the Canucks to check out the trade market for their 34-year-old goaltender. Part of the reason that the Canucks might want to consider shopping Miller is that Eddie Lack played pretty well when given the chance. Lack has a .917 save percentage in 82 career games, which is encouraging, but still a small sample in the grand scheme of goaltender evaluation. The other piece to play in Vancouver's goaltending situation is Jacob Markstrom, a former top prospect that was acquired from Florida in the Roberto Luongo trade. He has an .896 save percentage in 50 career NHL games, but had a .933 save percentage between 50 AHL (regular season plus playoff) games last season, perhaps rekindling his prospect flame. TOP PROSPECTS PLAYER POS. GP G A PTS +/- TEAM (LEAGUE) Jake Virtanen RW 50 21 31 52 +15 Calgary (WHL) Thatcher Demko G 35 0.925 Boston College (HE) Jared McCann C 56 3447 81 +30 Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) Jacob Markstrom G 32 0.934 Utica (AHL) Sven Baertschi LW 51 15 25 40 +6 Utica (AHL) Cole Cassels C 54 30 51 81 +34 Oshawa (OHL) Hunter Shinkaruk LW 74 16 15 31 +2 Utica (AHL) Adam Clendening D 49 2 14 16 +1 Utica (AHL) Frank Corrado D 35 7 9 16 +12 Utica (AHL) Nicklas Jensen RW 59 14 14 28 -12 Utica (AHL) DRAFT 23rd - Daniel Sprong, Denis Guryanov, Brandon Carlo, Thomas Chabot FREE AGENCY The Canucks have approximately $65.8M committed to the 2015-2016 salary cap for 17 players. NEEDS One top-nine forward, younger assets, draft picks WHAT I SAID THE CANUCKS NEEDED LAST YEAR One top-six winger, one top-nine forward, goaltender THEY ADDED Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Bo Horvat, Linden Vey, Ryan Miller TRADE MARKET Chris Higgins, Zack Kassian, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack POSSIBLE 2015-2016 VANCOUVER CANUCKS DEPTH CHART LEFT WING CENTRE RIGHT WING Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Radim Vrbata Chris Higgins Nick Bonino Alex Burrows Sven Baertschi Bo Horvat Jannik Hansen Derek Dorsett Lindey Vey Zack Kassian Ronalds Kenins Brandon McMillan Nicklas Jensen Hunter Shinkaruk Cole Cassels Jake Virtanen LEFT DEFENCE RIGHT DEFENCE GOALTENDER Alexander Edler Chris Tanev Eddie Lack Dan Hamhuis Yannick Weber Jacob Markstrom Luca Sbisa Adam Clendening Peter Budaj Andrey Pedan Ryan Stanton Ben Hutton Frank Corrado Very interesting take on things from Cullen Thoughts? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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