Roll the Dice on Ryan Kesler, but Buy Insurance

Thomas Drance
May 22 2013 01:11PM

Photo via wikimedia commons.

On the list of "reasons the Vancouver Canucks were swept in the first round by San Jose," the performance of Ryan Kesler probably doesn't show up in the top-five for most people. It does for me. While Kesler had a dynamite 30 minutes in the second game of the series, an impressive display no doubt, it mostly served to disguise "the beast's" larger issues on those rare occassions when he was in the lineup in 2013...

The fact of the matter is that in limited appearances, Kesler was unable to drive play this past season in the fashion to which we've become accustomed. That was true in the regular season and was especially clear during Vancouver's short stint in the playoffs, as the Canucks controlled only 25% of the scoring chances with Ryan Kesler on the ice at even-strength against San Jose. In other words, Kesler fared worse by the chance data than even Derek Roy (40%) who didn't show up.

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The Reverse Cody Hodgson: Three Young Forwards the Canucks Should Target

Thomas Drance
May 22 2013 08:34AM

Perhaps the Canucks should pursue Nino Niederreiter this summer.
Image via wikimedia commons.

Looking over the data - as I did yesterday - I remain unconvinced that the Sedin twins are in any sort of "rapid decline" as a result of advancing age. But that shouldn't obscure the fact that Vancouver's club is getting long in the tooth, and due respect to the likes of Zack Kassian, Brendan Gaunce and Nicklas Jensen, the organization don't appear to have any slam dunk top-line caliber prospects in the pipeline. 

With the salary cap falling, it's ovious that the Canucks roster needs to get cheaper. Mike Gillis has been explicit about the teams need to get bigger and tougher as well. While Jeff Angus is dead right  that the Canucks should forget about working on any one particular area and just focus on getting better more generally, I tend to think that if the Canucks hope to avoid the fate that befell the Calgary Flames over the past half decade, it's imperative that they find a way to get younger.

Trading for former first round picks is demonstrably a risky game, but it's a risky game the Canucks should be willing to try their hand at this summer. Here's a list of three young forwards, with top-ten pick pedigree who, for whatever reason, appear to have fallen out of favour within their organizations. These players won't come free, or even cheap, but could help the Canucks jump-start a youth movement going forward.

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McKenzie: "I expect the Vancouver Canucks to make a Coaching Change"

Thomas Drance
May 21 2013 01:30PM

Should he stay or should he go now?
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

In the Vancouver sports market, Canucks fans have been waiting impatiently for several weeks to hear more about the fate of controversial head coach Alain Vigneault. Since the club's inglorious first round ouster earlier this month, Vigneault hasn't addressed the media - the second year in a row in which he's ducked the press following a first round exit - and General manager Mike Gillis has been quiet as well, aside from an e-mail promising change that he sent to season ticket holders late last week.

For what it's worth, TSN analyst and the godfather of hockey coverage Bob McKenzie appeared on the Scotty and Company morning show on the Team 1040 today. McKenzie quite plainly said that he "expects the Vancouver Canucks to make a coaching change," and then added that he "can't imagine [Vigneault's situation] dragging on much longer than it has."

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On Daniel Sedin's Declining Offensive Production

Thomas Drance
May 21 2013 11:45AM

Is Daniel Sedin declining faster than his brother?
Photo via wikimedia commons.

Way back before this season began Dimitri, Cam and myself engaged in a spirited debate about whether or not the Sedins had "lost a step". Dimitri and Cam argued that they had while I posited that they hadn't - at least not yet. Looking over those old posts, I think I was the closest to being correct, even though the Sedins didn't produce at a point-per-game rate this past season (which I'd thought they would). 

While the Sedin twins's offensive production took a step back this past lockout shortened season, they had a greater defensive burden to carry and significantly less support from the rest of Vancouver's forward group than they've enjoyed in the past. Despite more more difficult roles and circumstances, the twins probably turned in the best two-way season of their respective careers.

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Sedin Twins Power Sweden to World Championship Gold

Thomas Drance
May 19 2013 03:54PM

Henrik Sedin gives a post game interview after scoring two goals in a championship victory.
Image courtesy RadioSporten.

The Sedins were widely criticized for "no showing" in the NHL playoffs earlier this month, as the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated in short order at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. The criticism was a bit much, considering the failure of Vancouver's penalty-kill and the fact that the twins had a couple of really good games (games two and three) despite limited support from the rest of the Canucks lineup...

Following the inglorious playoff ouster, the Sedins joined team Sweden at the World Hockey Championships which were hosted in both Sweden and Finland this year (and last year too for that matter). In four games in the tournament the twins and linemate Loui Eriksson carried team Sweden offensively, giving the Tre Kronor a vicious, explosive power-play that powered the Swedes past Canada, Finland and Switzerland in the elimination rounds, and all the way to a gold medal victory on home soil. I suppose it's a nice way to cap off a disappointing - albeit quietly impressive season - on a winning note.

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