February 07 2013 11:09AM
What are the Canucks going to do with their forward lines when Ryan Kesler and David Booth are both ready to return from the injured reserve? The Canucks haven’t been lighting the league on fire offensively, but not many expected them to without two of their best possession players.
Assuming Kesler and Booth are both back within the next week to 10 days (and that seems like a safe assumption based on what we've heard), how will Alain Vigneault put his lines together?
Well, he will have some options. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
January 31 2013 09:45AM
Now that the 2013 NHL season is a few weeks old, we are able to begin to form some preliminary thoughts and opinions on teams and players across the league. Because of the condensed schedule, this season is going to be more difficult than a typical 82-game season to predict. The larger the sample size in a given situation, the lower the impact that luck and randomness have on the outcome.
And the opposite holds true for a shortened season with a smaller sample size (in this case, a 48 game season). If the Canucks don’t get Ryan Kesler and/or David Booth back soon, they may be facing an uphill battle in the Western Conference, as they won’t have the benefit of 82 games to get back on track as a dominant hockey club.
January 24 2013 10:24AM
When the Canucks originally acquired Keith Ballard back at the 2010 NHL Draft, a lot of people in Vancouver were thrilled about the move (myself included).
Throughout his time with Phoenix and Florida, Ballard had proven himself to be a capable top four defenseman known for his excellent skating and ability to jump up into the rush (as well as his ability to nearly decapitate teammates, unfortunately).
Mike Gillis was looking to construct a defensive group based on sound defensive play, mobility, and offensive prowess on all three pairings. On paper, Ballard seemed like a natural fit and a suitable replacement for Willie Mitchell or Kevin Bieksa (who was involved in just about every possible trade rumour that summer) on Vancouver’s back end.
However, Ballard’s time in Vancouver has been marked by injuries, inconsistent play, and limited opportunities to do much of anything on the ice. Assuming Ballard isn’t given top four minutes this season (and unless a few injuries strike, expect him to remain on the bottom pairing), what will the Canucks do with him this coming summer? He has two years left on his current contract (a $4.2 million cap hit).
Option #1 – Keep Him
Of the three options (the other two are below), this is the least likely outcome in my estimation. At $4.2 million, Ballard is simply too expensive for a number five or six defenseman, especially in light of the recent extension given to Alex Edler ($5 million per for the next six years after this one). I could see the Canucks rolling with a top six of Edler, Bieksa, Garrison, Hamhuis, Tanev, and Kevin Connauton next season (or a similarly priced veteran defenseman in Connauton’s spot).
If Ballard has a strong season in 2013 with the Canucks, it wouldn’t be completely out of the question for him to stick around. It would be a lot of money to pay for a defenseman, but there likely wouldn’t be a ton of options available through trade or free agency that would represent a significant upgrade at a reduced cost.
January 17 2013 09:38AM
The Stanley Cup is obviously the best possible outcome for the Canucks in 2012-13 (technically, sweeping the Bruins in the Cup Final would be the best possible outcome). And missing the playoffs would be the worst possible outcome (again, the absolute worst possible outcome would be a 30th place finish in the league).
What has to happen for the first outcome to come true for Vancouver? And what do the Canucks have to worry about if they hope to avoid the second outcome coming true?
January 10 2013 01:11PM
I opened up the Twitter mailbag yesterday and received a wide range of questions from Canucks fans. Turns out fans really, really want to know where Roberto Luongo is going to end up.