Canucks call up Nicklas Jensen and partake in some other less exciting roster gymnastics

Thomas Drance
March 31 2013 12:37PM


Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/Getty Images.

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday night's blowout loss at the hands of the habitually underwhelming Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks have understandably decided to shuffle the deck somewhat. In particular they've decided to send journeyman forward Andrew Gordon back to Chicago, in favour of speedster Bill Sweatt and highly regarded Danish sniper Nicklas Jensen. They've also re-assigned Zack Kassian to Chicago - presumably for something of a conditioning stint.

Read on past the jump.

Let's start with the less sexy elements of these roster maneuvers before moving on to Zack Kassian and Nicklas Jensen. Andrew Gordon was alright in fourth line minutes for the Canucks over the past couple of weeks. He wasn't on the ice for a single Canucks goal-for in seven games and was somewhat under-water by the possession data, but he mostly held his own in a limited role, started mostly in the defensive zone, and didn't take any minor penalties which is a plus.

He was woeful on Saturday night in Edmonton, however, and for a player of Andrew Gordon's ilk the line between keeping an NHL job and losing one is razor thin. Professional hockey is a tough business and one awful game is sometimes all it takes.

For Bill Sweatt, this is his second cup of coffee with the Canucks during his tenure with the organization. You might remember that he played in two mostly uneventful games for the team last season and was mostly forgettable. This season with the Wolves, Bill Sweatt has upped his shot rate significantly and is having something of a bounce back campaign after he regressed somewhat offensively during the 2011-12 AHL season. Sweatt brings more raw speed to the table than Andrew Gordon does, and it's a safe bet that he'll be a comparable piece in a limited fourth line role. 

One additional wrinkle is that Bill Sweatt is on the last year of his entry-level contract. His stock as a prospect has fallen over the past couple of seasons and certainly he doesn't look like a guy who'll ever develop into a top-six forward at the NHL level. But he could have some defensive value, and this stint with the big club could be important for him if he hopes to remain in Vancouver's plans going forward.

There'll be some folks who'll surely overreact to Zack Kassian being sent back to the AHL at this point in his career. It's true that Zack Kassian's offensive production has fallen off since his hot-start to the campaign, but he's also been sidelined for much of the past several weeks with a back injury.

So I'd wager that this roster move has more in common with a conditioning stint than it does with a pure demotion but because of Kassian's waiver exempt status, the team isn't forced to make that explicit. Zack Kassian has been a mostly effective top-nine presence this season and his being sent down to the AHL shouldn't change our overall perception of his abilities and potential.

Finally we get to Nicklas Jensen who has dazzled with his Forsbergian shootout skills while underwhelming on the score sheet. His shot rate isn't particularly auspicious and neither is his production through 11 AHL games this season. But Jensen lit up the SEL earlier in the year, has an NHL-ready offensive skill set and on a team that has struggled mightily to score over the past month, I tend to think he'll be somewhat helpful - especially on the power-play.

3136ae487fac57943f99a50e66e4d6cf
Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
Avatar
#1 VC
March 31 2013, 12:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

'Andrew Gordon was alright in fourth line minutes for the Canucks over the past couple of weeks. He wasn't on the ice for a single Canucks goal-for in seven games and was somewhat under-water by the possession data, but he mostly held his own in a limited role, started mostly in the defensive zone, and didn't take any minor penalties which is a plus.

He was woeful on Saturday night in Edmonton, however, and for a player of Andrew Gordon's ilk the line between keeping an NHL job and losing one is razor thin. Professional hockey is a tough business and one awful game is sometimes all it takes.'

Sad thing about that was; He was no more woeful than the Sedins, Raymond, Higgins and many others. He wasn't a difference maker and nor was he expected to be, hopefully he gets another shot sooner or later. Good to see that Niklas Jensen will get a shot too, I hope he will be given an honest chance to shine and not just put with Higgins and Ebbett on the third line.

Avatar
#2 JCDavies
March 31 2013, 12:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

The trade deadline could also have influenced this move. The Canucks might be anticipating the possibility a deal, made under time constraints, might leave them short handed for a game or two. With Kassian coming off a back injury, there is no guarantee that he will be able play to if they needed him too. The Canucks have lost bad like this before and 'stayed the course'. I find the timing of this move interesting.

Avatar
#3 Fred-65
March 31 2013, 12:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

The first crack of panic maybe ? Desperate time demands bring about desperate action.The very thing the Canucks were founded on, speed, seems to be lacking. It was men and boys

If Kassian needs any conditioning it's between the ears....more like shock treatment

Avatar
#4 Mac962
March 31 2013, 01:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Hey Drance ! Limp wristed ? Takes one to know one you goof. How you write is beyond me. How does it feel this morning knowing that last night is going to be the norm going forward ? You are such a homer crackhead. Lol....

Limp wristed ? Look at the girls your team has... Known NHL Wide, City to City. You make me laugh.

Planning another Parade yet there Drancy pants ?

Avatar
#5 Daeno
March 31 2013, 01:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Totally need somebody to make a faux-obama style fan-campaign poster for Jensen.

Something like "Jens. We. Can."

Photoshop gurus, step to it!

Avatar
#6 Fred-65
March 31 2013, 01:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Mac962

Hit a nerve did he :-)

Avatar
#8 EastVanHalen
March 31 2013, 03:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

How about "ineffectual"? You get the point made without the unfortunate connotations. That said, poor Mac962 makes me wonder whether helmets should be compulsory for keyboard warriors. Guy's clearly taken one too many shots to the head.

Avatar
#9 Fred-65
March 31 2013, 03:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Just out of inetrest, if the Canucks stall in the play-offs again this year are their chances better or worse next season. And will the Sedins pull a fashionable "Iginla" at the end of next season to try and win a cup for themselves

Avatar
#10 JCDavies
March 31 2013, 04:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Fred-65

FWIW, I see the Sedins re-upping with the Canucks next year for below market value. Their age and the fact that they probably want to stay together will limit their potential destinations and they will probably take a "home-town discount" to stay in Vancouver.

If (and it's a BIG if) GMMG can find a way to build a new 1/1a line, the Sedins would look good as a 1b/2 line for the next couple seasons. Assuming they sign for 2nd-line money, that is. If the Sedins are expected to be a top first line for the Canucks beyond '13-14, the Canucks are probably in trouble.

Avatar
#11 Fred-65
April 01 2013, 12:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

There's always going to be some team that will offer the Sedins as UFA better money. Their stay after next season is tenuous at best. Think of Ohlund and Salo.

Hate to say it after next season it looks a mess, however maybe MG will go to the FA market to replace them.

I think we've enjoyed our day in the Sun

Comments are closed for this article.