Canucks Team Needs: Third Line Centre

Thomas Drance
May 29 2012 03:05PM


The Canucks had a rotating door of third line centres last season, and never really found the right fit.

Despite a second straight season at the absolute top of the league table, the Vancouver Canucks were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs in the first round this Spring. Changes are clearly required to put this club over the hump, but the front-office has elected to return the entire coaching staff (a move we generally support) so those changes are going to have to come in the form of roster moves this offseason.

We're spending this week looking at the Canucks' areas of need, for a series quite creatively dubbed: Canucks Team Needs. Yesterday we looked at the team's gaping hole in the top-four of their defense-corps, and today, we'll turn our attention to club's most pressing need: a reliable tough-minutes centreman for the third line.

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Canucks Team Needs: A Top Four Defenseman

Thomas Drance
May 28 2012 12:56PM

 
Beyond Bieksa and Hamhuis: the Canucks defense-corps is a big question mark going into this offseason.

As the ink dries on Alain Vigneault's long-awaited (and controversial) contract extension, and with the brush fires Vigneault started with comments regarding Kesler's injury and Luongo's trade request more or less extinguished by Mike Gillis - we're probably in for a slow week (or two) of Canucks news. To help pass the time we'll be running a series this week that looks at what didn't quite work for the Canucks this past season. We'll diagnose some issues, poke at some holes in the roster and discuss some possible offseason remedies for what ails Vancouver's hockey club. We're calling it our "Canucks Team Needs" series, and it starts today with a look at the blue-line.

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Justin Schultz Withdraws from Wisconsin

Thomas Drance
May 25 2012 10:04AM

For months now, it has looked likely that highly regarded prospect defenseman Justin Schultz would take advantage of a rarely used CBA loop-hole, withdraw from school, spurn the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and become a free-agent on July 1st. According to Bob Mckenzie, that's exactly what has happened today:

So the process has begun by which Justin Schultz will become a free-agent on July 1st, however, there is one more wrinkle.

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Vigneault Catches Flack over a Couple of Clumsy Statements

Thomas Drance
May 24 2012 12:29PM

We were ecstatic yesterday when consistently successful and innovative head coach Alain Vigneault received a two year extension from the Canucks. He's not without his flaws as a bench boss, but generally speaking, he's among the league's best and the Canucks have morphed from an over-matched defensive squad into a perennial contender under his stewardship. His record as a hockey coach is unassailable for the most part, the fact that he hasn't won a championship during his tenure being the only blemish. His persistent foot-in-mouth disease, however, is another story.

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Juggling the Rebound: is Gillis Losing the Plot Between the Pipes?

Thomas Drance
May 24 2012 10:52AM

For a couple of years now, the Canucks have enjoyed the luxury of trotting out two blue-chip goalies in Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo to guard their net. While it's widely assumed that Roberto Luongo will be traded over the course of this summer, and Coach Vigneault reiterated Luongo's desire to get a fresh start elsewhere just yesterday; late last week, General Manager Mike Gillis told the Team 1040's afternoon show that the Canucks would be very happy to deploy that same platoon again next season.

And why not? The Canucks were in the top-5 in terms of fewest goals allowed this past season, and Luongo and Schneider combined to stop .930% of all shots against at even-strength. While the team in front of them was occasionally listless, the two Canucks goaltenders were spectacular. By Gillis' own admission they carried the rest of the club through long stretches of the regular season, and were unquestionably the team's two most valuable players. 

That said, if Canucks training camp opens this fall and both Luongo and Schneider report for duty, it will represent a major failure of asset management on the part of the organization. 

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