November 18 2009 11:14PM
The Vancouver Canucks have finished one quarter of their season so far. Canucks Army looks at the play of the individual Canucks players and how they have fared against our lofty expectations.
Given the number of injuries and call-ups, we'll look at the players who played at least 5 games. That just so happens to equal a 23-man roster. So by popular demand (and by that, we mean that two of you asked for it!) here is how Canucks Army rates your Vancouver Canucks.
Ryan Kesler – A
Kesler has been the most consistent player for the Canucks so far, at any position. His effort every night has been exemplary and he has made up for a lack of scoring due to key absences. Without Kesler, the Canucks would be in serious trouble this season.
Christian Ehrhoff – A-
Ehrhoff has easily been the Canucks best blueliner. With 12 points, and a plus-9, Ehrhoff has been the shining light on the Canucks otherwise dark defence.
Andrew Raycroft – A-
When Roberto Luongo went out with a rib injury, it was up to Raycroft to shoulder the load in goal. In his six starts, he went 4-2 and even led the league in GAA for several games. His last start, an awful outing against Anaheim, mired an otherwise impressive debut for the Canucks
Henrik Sedin – B+
You may ask why the team leader in goals and points is not a A+. Well, we expect a lot from the Sedins, as they are the highest paid players on the team, after Luongo. Hank has played very well without his brother. However, his points total is slightly inflated by points scored in meaningless games and situations. If he can step his game up another level to score in key and important moments in games, he’d be an A+.
Mikael Samuelsson – B
Samuelsson has started his career well as a Canuck, chipping in with key goals, including 2 GWG. However, his minus-2 indicates a slight deficiency to date in his defensive play. If he can improve his game at both ends of the ice, his grade will improve.
Mason Raymond – B
Admittedly, we didn’t think much of Raymond to start the year. So far, he’s proven us wrong. Good offensive production, solid at both ends of the rink, bringing his ridiculous speed every night. Good effort so far.
Michael Grabner – B-
Grabner’s play had steadily and noticeably improves after each game he played. He still needs to learn to get into dirty areas to get the puck and to play with more grit. His defensive play also needs to improve, but he’s 9 games into his NHL career, and isn’t being paid to defend, so we’ll cut him some slack.
Roberto Luongo – B-
He started the year in typical Luongo-slow-start fashion, but got his game back on track quickly… only to fall to a rib injury. It’s time for Lu to prove he’s an A+ player.
Alexandre Burrows – C+
The Burrows from the second half of last year seems gone. Sure, he’s still a solid two-way player, but he point production has dropped dramatically, especially given added time on top lines. Given the number of injuries, we expect more from Burrows. But he’s only making $2m and he’s on pace for almost 50 points.
Willie Mitchell – C+
Statistically, Mitchell is playing a solid game. However, he is surprisingly unnoticeable on the ice most nights. For most defencemen, that’s a good thing. But for Mitchell, we expect to see and notice more big plays from him. Remember the Toews hit? Of course you do. We want more of that from Willie.
Ryan Johnson – C+
Never an offensive juggernaut, Johnson has shaken off some early rust to get his game back to its dependable again. Johnson has it in his game to contribute more offensively and still maintain his sound two-way game.
Rick Rypien – C+
Rypien gets a passing grade based on his pugilism alone. He has contributed very little on the scoresheet, and we know he can pot the odd goal here and there. He needs to improve his play in his own end though.
Tanner Glass – C+
An adequate fill-in. He’s been responsible in his end, has thrown some punches and staying mostly out of trouble. That’s as much as you can ask for a AHL call-up.
Matt Pettinger – C+
Another fill-in who’s fitting the bill. Pettinger is capable of lighting the lamp, and we’d like to see more of that. But once all the healthy bodies are back, it’ll be tough for Pettinger to crack the line-up.
Sami Salo – C
Like always, Salo was hampered by yet another injury. But even when playing, Salo has not been anywhere near the force that we expect from him. Just two points from the big Finn and no goals from a guy with his cannon of a shot are inexcusable.
Shane O’Brien – C
He is surprisingly a plus-3. And that’s why he gets a barely-passing grade. He has no points, and continues to take unnecessary, poorly-timed, ill-advised penalties. He needs to be for more disciplined.
Steve Bernier – C-
He is tied for a team-worst minus-5. Until very recently, he wasn’t contributing anything offensively either. Let’s hope his play in the last three games is a sign of things to come for Bernier. If so, his grade will improve dramatically. If not, he’s trade bait.
Darcy Hordichuk – C-
He doesn’t always cost his team defensively, but he is contributing nothing offensively. He routines ends games with no shots on net. We know he’s not out there to score 50 goals, but he’s on pace for less than 20 shots on net. That’s horrible.
Alexandre Bolduc – C-
We know that Bolduc was only called up because of too many mounting injuries. But we question why he was even called up in the first place. If you are out there as a 3rd or 4th liner, then your job is to play sound at both ends, and remain hopefully unnoticeable. Bolduc was noticeably terrible on several occasions. We don’t suspect you’ll see him called back up this season.
Kevin Bieksa – D
Bieksa has been flat-out terrible so far. At times, Bieksa looks like he’s going to fall asleep while skating the puck out of his own zone. With the exception of the game against Chicago, there is ZERO urgency in his game and he has cost his team a goal more than once with his lazy play.
Alexander Edler – D
Edler has been even worse than Bieksa. More often than not this season, Edler has looked lost, confused and shell-shocked on the ice. He is tied with Steve Bernier for a team-worst minus-5 and has no goals. He needs to turn his game around quickly.
Mathieu Schneider – D
Schneider has been a resounding disappointment so far. Other than one goal scored against Colorado, he has total ineffective on the ice. Maybe the tonic for Schneider is to get a LOT more games under his belt. Let’s hope so.
Aaron Rome – D
Aaron Rome is not an NHL-calibre defenseman. He’s proven that with his dismal play. A nightmare defensively and contributes next-to-nothing offensively.
Sergei Shirokov – D
This grade may seem a bit harsh, but there were lofty expectations on Shirokov to produce and contribute for the Canucks, given the opportunity with the number of injuries to the main roster players. He was invisible most nights and was brutal in his own zone. He definitely needs more seasoning in the AHL before he is ready to get back into the Canucks roster.
Kyle Wellwood – F
One. Single. Point. His point totals indicates how frustratingly invisible Wellwood has been game in and game out this season. If it wasn’t for the rash of injuries, there is no doubt that Wellwood would be sitting in the press box. His game has completely evaporated and he has done absolutely nothing to prove he should remain on the team.
Overall, the Canucks defense gets a failing grade, the second line deserves loads of praise, the forwards get a marginal passing grade, and we can’t wait until everyone is healthy. It needs to happen soon.