DownUndaCanuck Posted June 15, 2015 Share Posted June 15, 2015 Chicago may not win the Stanley Cup this season, but if they do that's 3 in 6 years which I believe should be considered a dynasty. This is something that was considered impossible to accomplish during the modern era with 30 teams, but Chicago have found a way by consistently contending for the Cup year after year. The thing is, most good teams (Pittsburgh, Anaheim, St. Louis, Nashville, New York etc.) all have great core players that make up their team. What is so good about Chicago's? And what is so good about their complementary players? More importantly, how can the Canucks take what they currently have and create a similar core to that of Chicago's? 1) Chicago's Core. Jonathan Toews - 3rd overall pick in 2006. First line center Patrick Kane - 1st overall pick in 2007. First line winger. Marian Hossa - Signed as a free agent in 2009. Top-6 winger Patrick Sharp - Acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in 2005. 2nd line center, now winger. Duncan Keith - Drafted 54th overall in 2002. Brent Seabrook - Drafted 14th overall in 2003. Corey Crawford - Drafted 52nd overall in 2003. 2) Chicago's Complementary Players Niklas Hjalmarsson - Drafted 108th overall in 2005. Johnny Oduya - Acquired in trade with Winnipeg for 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2012. Saad, Bickell and Shaw - Drafted 43rd overall (2011), 41st overall (2004) and 139th respectively. As you can see Chicago's core was built on some very high picks, but a lot of their players are former Chicago 2nd round picks that they've developed and groomed themselves over a long time. Their drafting has been superb, but their development has been even better, as we watch their older players and guys lost due to cap problems constantly replaced seamlessly by other guys in the organization. 3) How the Canucks Compare Obviously in 2011 we had a pretty perfect core, and about as good a team as there is. We had the Sedins, Kesler and Burrows up front who were probably the best at their roles in the league at the time. In goal we questionably had a Cup-worthy goalie, and on defence we were stacked. That aside, how does the new wave of Canucks get back to the Cup Finals? How does what we have in the system compare to Chicago, and what holes need filling? The way I see it, a "core" has 4 forwards, 2 defencemen and a goalie. Of the forwards, you have the first and second line center and a couple of wingers. 1) Bo Horvat - Our core starts here. Former top-10 pick, he's got the tools to become a Toews-like, natural born winner, two-way playoff-thriving captain and ideally a top-2 center. 2) Jake Virtanen - Like Kane is to Toews, hopefully Virtanen can add some skill to our top-6 and become a physical mainstay in our future top-6. Anything less would be a massive waste of a 6th overall pick considering the talent out there. I hope he sticks on our future first line. 3) Sven Baertschi - Most skilled forward in our prospect pool, hopefully he can become a first line winger. Former first round pick, this guy lit it up in the AHL, is dedicated and I'd say his skill is comparable around the league (which is a rarity for a Canuck prospect). 4) Cole Cassels - McCann could be mentioned here but Cassels was a clutch leader and winner this post-season so I'll include him here as hopefully part of our future core and top-2 center with Horvat, but of course McCann could slot in as well. 5) Alex Edler - He's 29 now and his game isn't improving anymore, we desperately need a left-handed defenceman to replace Edler and Hamhuis and fit in with this core. 6) Chris Tanev - At just 25 he fits in with our new core a bit better. Never put up big offensive numbers so he'll need a puck mover to complement his fantastic defensive game in the future. 7) Eddie Lack - Getting old, and is probably going to get traded this off-season unfortunately, but I think the Canucks did a brilliant job of grooming and developing this kid into a near-starter. Hope they don't give up on him just yet because I feel this playoff experience has been vital to his growth, and give him another season or two before he's ready for a deep run. There you have it...Personally, I believe our future forward group is fairly stacked. We have a prospect pool at forward comparable with the Cup-winning cores of the league right now. Horvat-Cassels-McCann is a fantastic trio to have at center and despite a true skilled first liner who can score 80-100 points, I think that group will do well enough. They're clutch, they're physical and they're very talented thanks to Virtanen and Baertschi. Complementary forwards like Shinkaruk, Hansen, Jensen and Kassian round out our forward group VERY nicely. I'd say these guys are very similar to Chicago's complementary players, and can do the job, if not better, than they are right now. Any minute holes there can easily be filled in with UFAs or minor trades but for the most part, our forwards are gold. Then we go to defence. As you can see, we don't have a future Keith or Seabrook in the pipeline at all. Edler is getting old and when his game starts to decline, we're finished. As complementary defencemen we're pretty set with Corrado, Clendening, Sbisa and Subban who are IMO comparable with the 2nd pairing defencemen of Hjarmarsson/Oduya. They don't need to be flashy, just sound defensively, which Corrado and Clendening are for the most part. The problem is that top pairing. Tanev is great, but he doesn't put up points and we NEED a top defenceman to replace Hamhuis and Edler eventually. As this team doesn't have one drafted, we may need to either draft one soon (ie. this draft) or trade for someone/sign a UFA. Finally in goal, we've got a bit of a mess brewing. Miller is a bandaid fix right now and not part of our core. Eddie Lack could be a bit of the old core and a bit of the new, but even he's getting old. That leaves Markstrom who has been superb in the AHL, but doubts exist about his play in the NHL. Demko in the distance is a nice backup plan but ideally Markstrom becomes the starting goaltender this team needs. IN SUMMARY This Canucks prospect pool is closer than most people think. We've got a core under construction and in my opinion it compares nicely to those of the Cup winning teams like Chicago and Los Angeles even. We've got 2 fantastic centers in Horvat and Cassels, and 2 great wingers in Baertschi and Virtanen. Then there's plenty of great supplementary players still being developed who, like Shaw and Saad, will be able to burst onto the scene as bottom-9 forwards. When the time comes for a deep Cup run, I'm sure Benning will be able to make the trades necessary to fill in any needs, whether it be another top-6 veteran scorer or not. Until then though, we're good up front. Even in goal we have a few backup plans with Lack, Markstrom and Demko all viable options. The problem exists, however, in defence. We have no one who compares to Keith-Seabrook. Edler is 29 and on the downswing, as is Hamhuis who only has a couple good seasons left in him, and while this team has a bunch of fantastic options for the 2nd and 3rd pairings, we have no true top defencemen. THE FIX Start drafting defencemen in 2015 obviously, but I don't think that's enough. There is no bonafied top defenceman around the 20ish pick this draft. Kylington would be a perfect replacement for Edler, but he's nowhere near Keith/Seabrook/Doughty/Chara, which is what we need if we want to win a Cup in the future. If I were Benning, I would strongly consider trading up, or throwing our 1st rounder away in a package for a stud young defenceman like Shea Theodore, Derreck Pouliot or Joe Morrow. Even our new core is getting old, we can't keep waiting around for this star defenceman... Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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