Prospect Profile: #4 Nicklas Jensen

Jeff Angus
August 27 2013 11:53AM


Image via Matthew Henderson

Nicklas Jensen sure did rack up the frequent flyer miles in 2012-13. Jensen left his OHL club in Oshawa to join AIK of the Swedish Elite League, a move that was “supported” by the Canucks. He then went on to play in both the AHL and NHL after his SEL season concluded.

While competing in Sweden, Jensen produced at a very impressive rate for his age. The power winger has a bevy of impressive attributes, and he got a small taste of NHL action last year. But how far off is he from sticking around for good?

Read on past the jump for more.

Jensen scored 17 goals in the SEL in 2012-13, placing him 11th among all SEL skaters in goals scored. He posted only six assists, but still finished fourth on the AIK roster in overall production. Not bad for a 19-year-old (Jensen led all SEL teenagers in goal scoring by a significant margin).

Jensen recorded only four points in 20 games with Chicago after coming over to North America, and was pointless in two games with the Canucks near the end of their regular season. He has good size (6-3 and approaching 200 pounds), good skill, and from my limited viewings, a solid understanding of the professional game.

His two-way game improved leaps and bounds in his second OHL season, even if his production remained constant (he finished with 58 points for Oshawa in both 2010-11 and 2011-12).

He first really teased Canucks fans at the 2011 prospects camp as an 18-year-old, and later as a first-year pro player with Chicago at the end of the 2011-12 season (four goals – including a hat trick – in a six-game span will have that effect).

His versatility was on display at the 2012 World Junior Championships, when he served as the powerplay quarterback for the Danish team. Jensen finished with one assist and five shots on goal in an impressive performance – albeit in a 10-2 loss – against the Canadians.

To add a few more contributors to this year’s prospect profile, I consulted with Canucks.com writer Tyson Giuriato. Tyson has tracked Jensen’s development over the past few years very closely, and he talked with Jensen back in March about his experiences in Sweden.

Jensen on the differences between the SEL and North American rink sizes:

"It’s so hard to compare which league is better or if a league is better, it’s a different style and a totally different game in my opinion. In Sweden, it’s the big ice to start with and they really like to keep the puck and not dump-and-chase as much. Over here it’s more straight ahead and crash the net, which they also do in Sweden but it’s different with the big ice, there is so much more room and that’s why there is not as much hitting there compared to in North America."

Is Jensen ready for the NHL now? How many games will he see with the Canucks in 2013-14?

"I think Jensen could play in the NHL right now, but I wouldn’t rush him there unless there was an opening in an offensive role where he can showcase his talents. If he doesn’t make the team out of the gate, I think you will see him at some point this season in a Canucks uniform, maybe even for an extended period of time. A tiny bit of seasoning in the AHL wouldn’t hurt him."

Is his stat line from the SEL indicative of his playing style? Or is it more indicative of the team he was on?

"Jensen is the type of player that will have more goals then assists most seasons. This doesn’t mean he has limited playmaking abilities, I just think he has so much confidence in his shot that he chooses to use it more than dishing the puck off. People look at his goals-to-assists ratio and figure he isn’t much of a playmaker, but he will surprise a lot of people with his creativity and skill-set on the ice. Underrated playmaking ability, in my mind."

Who in the NHL does he play like? What are his strengths and weaknesses as a player?

"I am not big on player comparisons, but if I had to choose a player that reminds me of Jensen it would most likely be former Canucks Michael Grabner. Like Grabner, Jensen possesses a deadly wrist shot, good speed, good size and a shoot-first mentality. What I really like about Jensen’s game is the way he competes. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, battles for loose pucks and is very dangerous around the net, especially on the power-play. He is one of those players that seem to always want the puck on his stick. One thing he could work on is his defensive zone play, but that’s improving. It may have hurt his stats in the AHL last season, but Jensen worked very hard on improving his defensive play during his 20 games with the Wolves."


Where do you see his long term fit in Vancouver?

"I think with just a little bit more seasoning at the AHL level and some added strength, Jensen could develop into a legit top-six winger in the NHL for a long time. He has the size, shot, skating, and confidence to be a 30-plus goal scorer down the road."


And the skill, too:

So where do his NHL prospects lie? Short term, he is in tough to make the team unless he has a really, really impressive camp. He does play a somewhat similar game to David Booth (strong skater, shoot-first mentality) and could potentially replace him when the inevitable injury strikes. Right now, there are a lot of open roster spots on the roster, but most of those are of the center ice variety. How many open winger spots are there? Realistically, Sedin, Burrows, Kassian, Booth, Higgins, Hansen, and Weise are all locks to make the team. That leaves one winger spot open. Jensen won't make the team as a fourth line player (he shouldn't, at least). 

If he does come in and impresses in camp, it would give John Tortorella a lot of options up front. Jensen's cap hit is south of the $1 million mark ($925,000, and that includes a $92,500 bonus that could potentially slide to 2014-15), which makes him a very attractive option in the top-nine.

And suddenly the Canucks would become a pretty deep team (at least on the wings) again.

L1: Sedin-Sedin-Kassian

L2: Booth-Kesler-Burrows

L3: Jensen-Schroeder-Hansen

L4: Higgins-Richardson-Weise

(This is just one of about a thousand different line combinations you could come up with between now and opening night.)

Not many players drafted out of the CHL head over to Europe to play pro hockey before entering the AHL or NHL, and thhe Canucks are hoping that Jensen's development is expedited because of it.

Other Prospect Profiles in This Series:

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Jeff shares his Canuck-related thoughts with the Army a few times per week. His work can also be found over at DobberHockey.com, as well as his personal blog, AngusCertified.com. Give him a follow on Twitter @anguscertified.
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#1 dallascanuck
August 27 2013, 12:13PM
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jensens going to be on the team on opening night since booth hasnt even started skating

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#2 blue fart
August 27 2013, 12:19PM
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I would rather have booth in utica

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#3 Dimitri Filipovic
August 27 2013, 12:23PM
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blue fart wrote:

I would rather have booth in utica

Seems like a pretty rational thing to say.

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#4 Nat
August 27 2013, 12:35PM
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dallascanuck wrote:

jensens going to be on the team on opening night since booth hasnt even started skating

He has started skating. If you check the Canucks twitter feed from last week, there are pics of Booth skating in Vancouver (amongst pics of other teammates).

That being said, I would love to see a bunch of the young guns make the team. Probably not in the best interests of their development though.

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#5 Ted
August 27 2013, 12:51PM
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You have to let these guys develop. Canucks did a good job developing Cody Hodgson's skills. It isn't an exact science. Horvat, Gaunce, Shinkaruk, Jensen should be in the minors or junior teams next year.

The older guys might be more NHL ready so you could see a Lain get the #4 centre spot etc.

Perhaps the young guys get a call up for an injury. Maybe they start in the NHL and get a taste by being around for the first few games. Unless they blow away the competition, they should start 2013 at Utica or minor teams.

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#6 NM00
August 27 2013, 12:55PM
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Jensen is the most NHL ready forward prospect the Canucks have.

Aside from jumping the market and overpaying, signing both Burrows and Higgins to 4 year extensions with NTCs was poor roster construction.

The Canucks would have been better off with Jensen replacing Higgins on the 3rd line and using the savings on Cullen, Gordon, Roy or dare I say Grabovski.

Instead, the Canucks are hoping that either Gaunce or Schroeder can be the 3LC.

Good luck winning this year with that.

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#7 PB
August 27 2013, 01:09PM
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@NM00

I think Higgins is a very good value at $2.5 million for what he brings -- ability to slide between 2nd and 3rd lines, much more hustle than I ever thought prior to him coming here, though his offensive production should be better and will be with Kesler back in form (especially if Booth can come back up to near form as well). I also don't know about Burrows being overpaid; you might argue it's more for his previous play (and being arguably underpaid) than for his current play but looking at his peers I'd only say that Backes, Marchand and maybe Versteeg are potentially better. Most of them I wouldn't spend nearly as much on.

I agree with you that Jensen's the most NHL ready of the prospects (and I don't think any of the younger ones should be up yet). But I don't think he'd do well in either a 3rd or 4th line role; I think he has to be in the top six to play to his strengths. Secondary scoring should come primarily from the 2nd line, with the 3rd providing checking and D, the fourth energy. Jensen's skillset doesn't suit a checker but Higgins' does.

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#8 NM00
August 27 2013, 01:19PM
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@PB

What makes you think anyone else would have given Burrows $18 million for 4 years after riding shotgun with the Sedins for the last 5 years?

As for Higgins, let's see what Raymond, who is 2 years younger, settles for on the open market.

Vancouver is Higgins' 5th team and I'm not sure his market value would have been all that good.

In a vacuum, his $2.5 mil cap hit is fine. It's the term and NTC which is a Calgary-ish thing to do.

But it's not a vacuum. It's a dicotomy.

And it's about opportunity cost.

Would the Canucks be better off with Jensen and a quality 3LC?

Or would the Canucks be better off with Higgins and Schroeder/Gaunce etc as the 3LC?

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#9 Ted
August 27 2013, 01:54PM
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NM00 wrote:

Jensen is the most NHL ready forward prospect the Canucks have.

Aside from jumping the market and overpaying, signing both Burrows and Higgins to 4 year extensions with NTCs was poor roster construction.

The Canucks would have been better off with Jensen replacing Higgins on the 3rd line and using the savings on Cullen, Gordon, Roy or dare I say Grabovski.

Instead, the Canucks are hoping that either Gaunce or Schroeder can be the 3LC.

Good luck winning this year with that.

@NM00

How do you figure Jensen is the most NHL ready forward they have? Some would argue Gaunce's game makes him more NHL ready. Others may say an older prospect, like Lain, would be ready to assume the 4th line centre spot.

Jensen could not replace Higgins. They play completely different games. Jensen has defensive deficiencies in his game so he is not the best option for a bottom 6 role at this point. Not sure where you came up with that possible scenrio.

I think Schroeder is going to have to centre a line and it could be 3 or 4. I really don't know about Cullen, Gordon, Roy or Grabovski. Canucks are too tight to the cap limit. Also, I want no part of Derek Roy and the $ he got.

I really do enjoy your posts. You seem absolutely certain the rubbish you vomit out will happen. You're an idiot but you do entertain us.

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#10 Ted
August 27 2013, 01:57PM
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NM00 wrote:

What makes you think anyone else would have given Burrows $18 million for 4 years after riding shotgun with the Sedins for the last 5 years?

As for Higgins, let's see what Raymond, who is 2 years younger, settles for on the open market.

Vancouver is Higgins' 5th team and I'm not sure his market value would have been all that good.

In a vacuum, his $2.5 mil cap hit is fine. It's the term and NTC which is a Calgary-ish thing to do.

But it's not a vacuum. It's a dicotomy.

And it's about opportunity cost.

Would the Canucks be better off with Jensen and a quality 3LC?

Or would the Canucks be better off with Higgins and Schroeder/Gaunce etc as the 3LC?

Higgins was not overpaid for what he brings and Burr is the one guy that always shows up. Glad to see them back. However, I have made numerous comments in regards to the NTC. I hate that we have like 9 guys with NTC. They are brutal and they're starting to haunt us. One of the biggest issues I have with Gillis.

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#11 NM00
August 27 2013, 02:21PM
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@Ted

Just look at what Raymond settles for assuming he eventually signs.

What makes you think Higgins wouldn't have been in the same boat as Raymond and a bunch of other free agents in the secondary market?

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#12 XY99
August 27 2013, 02:52PM
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@NM00

Because Higgins is a better two way player than Raymond, has 15 lbs on him and has actual chemistry with Kesler and Booth. Over the last two seasons:

Higgins: 112 GP, 28G, 30A, 1.71 5-on-5 Pts/60 Raymond: 96 GP, 20G, 22A, 1.49 5-on-5 Pts/60

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#13 Ted
August 27 2013, 02:52PM
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NM00 wrote:

Just look at what Raymond settles for assuming he eventually signs.

What makes you think Higgins wouldn't have been in the same boat as Raymond and a bunch of other free agents in the secondary market?

Higgins actually makes contributions. He is a role player that has a defensive game, scores a bit and is versatile. You can move him around in the lineup and he isn't too out of place in any role. He does a lot of little stuff and is battles for the puck. He is OK in many areas of the game.

Mason's primary role is to provide offence. He has struggled to provide any real offence especially after his injury. An obvious correlation but who knows for sure.

Mason could be an OK PK guy but he has no physical part to his game. He doesn't often score. Why would you sign him? How is he contributing to a lineup? Mason brings very little other than great speed. I don't think he should make over 1.5 million unless he shows something. Even 1.5 seems generous.

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#14 dallascanuck
August 27 2013, 02:56PM
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@Nat

thats good to see he wouldve been completely screwed showing up to torts camp outta shape

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#15 Cam Charron
August 27 2013, 02:58PM
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Potential = QUICK! SLOT HIM INTO THE LINEUP ASAP WE DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TIME!

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#16 NM00
August 27 2013, 03:11PM
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@XY99

Over the last two seasons...because the last season or the last three seasons would have been arbitrary...

And what is the value of having "chemistry" with two injury prone players?

Does Higgins get a personal day whenever Kesler and Booth are out of the lineup?

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#17 NM00
August 27 2013, 03:21PM
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@Ted

Let me put it this way.

Would you rather have Higgins or one of Gordon/Cullen/Roy for example?

Not that it's a guarantee any of the above 3 would have signed in Vancouver.

But it's a risk I'd be willing to take.

Also, Dupuis signed a 4 year extension at $3.75 mil/yr.

Aside from being 2 years younger, what advantage does Burrows have on him?

Burrows' PPG declined for the 4th year in a row down to 0.51.

Dupuis PPG increased for the 3rd year in a row up to 0.79.

Both players are in good situations to rack up points, of course.

But if Burrows wasn't willing to take another discount then let him walk.

The idea of giving raises to a mediocre team sans Schneider is the definition of insanity.

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#18 NM00
August 27 2013, 03:22PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

Potential = QUICK! SLOT HIM INTO THE LINEUP ASAP WE DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TIME!

His ELC and years of team control are finite.

Perhaps drafting and developing an NHL regular would be a nice change of pace for this management team.

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#19 Unknown Comic
August 27 2013, 04:41PM
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I see this comments section continues to slide into the depths of pretentiousness.

Now that a new season is before us lets get back to discussion over grandiose statements or the need to come across as having all the answers. Because no one is buying it.

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#20 JFR
August 27 2013, 05:21PM
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I like the reasoning that the prospects like Jensen should start in Utica or Junior teams, unless they really impress at camp. This is a regular NHL season and unlike last year there is no sprint to the finish. Giving vets like Santorelli a legit shot can be worth it in the short term. Santorelli won over 60% of his face offs last year and had his only 20 goal season with Booth as a winger. Schroeder wasn't ready to play in the NHL and neither was Kassian. Sitting at the end of the bench does a young player a disservice. Let them skate and learn the pro game and if they make you bring them up.... Cut a stop gap vet and let the kid play. Don't force the situation.

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#21 Peachy
August 27 2013, 05:28PM
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@Unknown Comic

In all fairness, the comments section was just plain dead until a few weeks ago.

The section might be a bit grotesque, but at least it's come to life.

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#22 Fred-65
August 27 2013, 05:33PM
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I don't know how anyone can judge unless they've seen the kid play a few times. I watched him in his couple of games he was called up and he looked lost IMO. I'm sure he'll do better with a full camp

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#23 andyg
August 27 2013, 05:34PM
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Dimitri Filipovic wrote:

Seems like a pretty rational thing to say.

Lets just hope they make sure he is 100% before they let him play. Letting a guy play into shape never works.

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#24 PB
August 27 2013, 10:46PM
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@NM00

I think you're way off base on all of this. I shouldn't have to explain why Burrows has been as valuable to the Sedins as we've seen him to be -- we know why they're outstanding but we also know that he's been by far the best winger they've had. Or are you pining for Anson Carter, Trent Klatt, Steve Bernier and Taylor Pyatt again? In a league where Clarkson pulls in $5.25 million and Ryan Clowe $4.85 million you really think no one else would have signed Burrows? He's played two very different roles on the Canucks -- checking 2nd/3rd liner and effective 1st liner. What makes you think someone wouldn't pay something in this range for him?

Comparing Higgins to Raymond makes little sense. I think Raymond is not given a fair shake in some respects here but he's still not nearly the player that Higgins is and has been, both by stats and by effort level. So what if Vancouver's his 5th team? He's had a pretty decent run here.

Regardless, Jensen on the 3rd line is misusing him. He's not a plug-in for Higgins so this swap makes no sense. The other 3rd line centers you are proposing are similarly either miscast (Roy, clearly not a checking center and given what he displayed here, not that effective) or would be overpaid aging players at a position we need to develop from within (with two aging centers on the first two lines). And Grabovski being bought out by the Leafs was a terrible idea but he'd be a terrible fit on the Canucks -- he hated being seen as a third line checker in TO so why would he want it here?

I have no idea what you mean by this being a dicotomy (sic). Dichotomy is not the opposite of a vacuum if that's what you're trying to suggest (though in truth I have no idea what you mean by this).

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#25 PB
August 27 2013, 10:46PM
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@NM00

I think you're way off base on all of this. I shouldn't have to explain why Burrows has been as valuable to the Sedins as we've seen him to be -- we know why they're outstanding but we also know that he's been by far the best winger they've had. Or are you pining for Anson Carter, Trent Klatt, Steve Bernier and Taylor Pyatt again? In a league where Clarkson pulls in $5.25 million and Ryan Clowe $4.85 million you really think no one else would have signed Burrows? He's played two very different roles on the Canucks -- checking 2nd/3rd liner and effective 1st liner. What makes you think someone wouldn't pay something in this range for him?

Comparing Higgins to Raymond makes little sense. I think Raymond is not given a fair shake in some respects here but he's still not nearly the player that Higgins is and has been, both by stats and by effort level. So what if Vancouver's his 5th team? He's had a pretty decent run here.

Regardless, Jensen on the 3rd line is misusing him. He's not a plug-in for Higgins so this swap makes no sense. The other 3rd line centers you are proposing are similarly either miscast (Roy, clearly not a checking center and given what he displayed here, not that effective) or would be overpaid aging players at a position we need to develop from within (with two aging centers on the first two lines). And Grabovski being bought out by the Leafs was a terrible idea but he'd be a terrible fit on the Canucks -- he hated being seen as a third line checker in TO so why would he want it here?

I have no idea what you mean by this being a dicotomy (sic). Dichotomy is not the opposite of a vacuum if that's what you're trying to suggest (though in truth I have no idea what you mean by this).

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#26 XY99
August 27 2013, 11:47PM
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NM00 wrote:

Over the last two seasons...because the last season or the last three seasons would have been arbitrary...

And what is the value of having "chemistry" with two injury prone players?

Does Higgins get a personal day whenever Kesler and Booth are out of the lineup?

Two years because that's the number of full seasons Chris Higgins has spent with the Canucks and it is the number of years since Raymond's injury. Not particularly arbitrary if you actually think about it.

Those two injury prone players are still two of the best players on the team (I know Booth's value has been questioned.) Getting injured is also mostly luck. It's not like Kesler's bones are more brittle than Henrik's. Getting his foot broken in his first game back was sheer bad luck and not an attribute of him as a player.

This "chemistry" thing is a bonus anyway. All the other ways he is better than Raymond (even without Booth and Kesler) have already been pointed out. I'd also add that the 2-year stats provided previously were from him playing mostly *without* Kesler and Booth, due to them being "injury prone".

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#27 JDM
August 28 2013, 08:45AM
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NMOO is such an effective troll that I can't help suspecting that it's actually Cam incognito looking to stir up more activity in the comments section. I mean look at this page, it's just 4 guys arguing with NMOO.

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#28 NM00
August 28 2013, 10:58AM
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@PB

I'm pining for the team taking a risk to have a chance at improving.

As is, there isn't a logical reason to expect this team to get past the 1st round aside from luck.

I don't dispute that Burrows has been valuable to the Sedins.

But, personally, I'd rather see them use Kassian in the Anson Carter role and see what he can do.

And if Burrows was making what Dupuis is, I'd be fine with keeping him.

He's not comparable with Clarkson or Clowe. Teams pay a premium for size/physicality.

Burrows went from undervalued asset to overvalued asset with his contract extension.

Grabovski was a joke.

But Cullen, Gordon and to some extent Roy would be a fit here.

Dichotomy as in either Higgins or an improved 3LC. There isn't money for both.

How many 15 point wingers received $10 million contracts with limited no trade protection this offseason?

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#29 NM00
August 28 2013, 11:04AM
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@XY99

My point on "chemistry" is that you don't want Higgins to be overly dependent on others to be a good player.

I'm not sure what the current opinion in hockey is, but in baseball there are people such as Keith Law that argue health is a skill.

And what makes you think a 15 point winger would have received a $10 million contract on the open market?

Teams (over)pay for the recency effect, I'd argue.

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#30 NM00
August 28 2013, 11:05AM
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JDM wrote:

NMOO is such an effective troll that I can't help suspecting that it's actually Cam incognito looking to stir up more activity in the comments section. I mean look at this page, it's just 4 guys arguing with NMOO.

At least the character count in the comments section beats the articles now.

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#31 PB
August 28 2013, 12:36PM
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@NM00

I wouldn't mind seeing Kassian given a legitimate shot to make the Sedin's wing; I also wouldn't then have a problem with Burrows shifting down to play with Kesler and Higgins or Booth.

I cannot believe you would suggest that Burrows is worse than Clarkson or Clowe. The first is third-liner being monstrously overpaid by the Leafs, the second is a very slow third-liner who could barely manage a goal last year. The grit/physicality/character each brings did zero for their teams in the playoffs.

I'll grant you the argument that improving the 3rd line C is important. But the names you're throwing out are not better than Higgins on the wing and would arguably detract from either using a more cost-effective stop-gap or developing from within. Please explain how you see Roy -- a talented playmaker -- fit the role of a 3rd line checking center.

In answer to your last question, Clowe got a $24.25 million contract on the basis of a 19 point season (3 goals). I don't know what games you've been watching but Burrows had 24 points (11 goals) this season, not 15.

If you want to talk comparables in terms of contracts, Burrows is equal or greater value (age, stats, intangibles) to almost any on his list.

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#32 NM00
August 28 2013, 12:52PM
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@PB

"I cannot believe you would suggest that Burrows is worse than Clarkson or Clowe."

I didn't suggest this. What I said is "he's not comparable with Clarkson or Clowe. Teams pay a premium for size/physicality."

I also never said Clarkson and Clowe were good signings...

"Please explain how you see Roy -- a talented playmaker -- fit the role of a 3rd line checking center."

I don't see him as a perfect fit which is why I qualified it with "to a lesser extent".

I've mentioned recently in a post on Grabovski how I thought Roy's usage killed his market value.

But if Higgins was not on the books, the Canucks could have made an offer close to what he ended up signing for in St Louis.

Where he may also be 3rd on the centreman depth chart behind Backes and Berglund for all I know.

As I suggested earlier, Cullen or Gordon are better fits.

A quality 3LC might also give Schroeder the opportunity to play on the wing.

There are enough guys (Booth, Kassian, Hansen) that can play as third line wingers.

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#33 Senrik Hedin
August 28 2013, 07:46PM
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The extent to which Burrows is being undervalued here offends me. That is all.

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#34 kermit
August 29 2013, 03:11AM
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Jensen is def an intriguing option. I remember AV drooling over him in preseason a few years ago. When Av drools, you that kid has a future.

I also remember his first ever NHL game (where he played with the Sedins). I've never seen somebody so visibly nervous. He looked like he was about to puke the entire game. I felt so bad for him cause it was written all over his face. I don't think he calmed down the entire game. At least he got a taste. Once he's at that level for a longer period of time (and not paired with 2 superstar twins) - he'll def calm down. Lol.

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