Canucks Roster Depth: Right Wing

This photo is from Oct 28, 2008. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
It looks like it could have been taken in June 2011.
(Photo courtesy NHLI/Getty Images)

Canucks Army continues a series where we look at the depth at each position for the Vancouver Canucks.

In our third installment of our series, we look at the Canucks depth at RIGHT WING.

While the Vancouver Canucks have three top right wingers who are obviously legitimate NHL’ers, they don’t have one that is a career game changer. It is an area that Canucks’ GM Mike Gillis will almost certainly address this season, whether it’s before opening night or sometime leading up to the trading deadline. With Alex Burrows slotted comfortably on the top line with the Sedins, Gillis must decide if he is happy with an aging Mikael Samuelsson coming off a serious injury in the playoffs or an emerging Jannik Hansen who has yet to really prove he deserves any top 6 minutes. Will Mike Gillis trade one or the other? OR BOTH? And who will round out the lineup on the fourth line?

Alex Burrows

Last season was a strange one for Burrows. He missed the first 10 games of the season as he recovered from off-season surgery, and it took him a LONG time to get back on track. After returning November 2nd, he scored only 1 goal and 2 points in his first 9 games. However, Burrows made up for a somewhat lacklustre regular season with an outstanding playoff run. He scored in every series, including 2 overtime winners. His game winning goal in Game 7 against Chicago in the first round will be remembered by Canucks fans for decades. There will be stories told of his legend. Paintings will be hung in his honour. Burrows will be a hero in this town no matter what happened for the rest of his career.  For this coming season, Biting Burr will once again be lined up with the Twins and, if healthy, he’ll likely put up 30 goals. All Canucks fans care about now is if Burr can be a playoff hero again next Spring.

Interesting Stat from 2010-11: Burrows lit it up against Calgary last season. In 6 GP, Burrows had 5G 4A 9Pts +7. That accounted for over half his points scored against the Northwest Division last season.

Mikael Samuelsson

Samuelsson had a decent season last year, notching 50 points for the second consecutive year and had his best assist-per-game ratio of his career. But his playoffs were quite disappointed, ending in season-ending injury after only 11 GP and scoring a paltry 3 points. He comes into the 2011 season on the final year of his contract with the Canucks and will turn 35 just before Christmas. The chances that the Canucks finish the season with Samuelsson are slim-to-none, as he is now becoming the epitome of trade fodder with the Canucks having a clear need to put a dominant winger on Kesler’s second line. My big question for Sammy is: now that Rypien have moved on, will he retake his familiar #37 jersey? THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, PEOPLE.

Interesting Stat from 2010-11: Samuelsson loved February and Mondays last season. In February, the Swede put up 16 points in 13 games. On Mondays, he had 13 points in 9 games. It was the only month and day of the week respectively where Samuelsson had more than a point per game.

Jannik Hansen

Last year was Hansen’s first full season with the Canucks, after splitting time with the AHL’s Moose and suffering a few injuries over the previous three years. As a result, Hansen had career bests in assists, points, +/-, Assists/game, Pts/game, shots and Avg TOI. He had a great post-season, and opened his playoff campaign perfectly with goals in each of the first two games against the Blackhawks this year. Unfortunately, he didn’t score again until Game 3 against Boston, so the blistering start was curtailed for basically three full rounds. That said, Hansen was a workhorse during the playoffs, playing solid minutes and was one of the team’s key penalty killers. Many are pegging Hansen to be a dark horse candidate to start the season as Kesler’s winger on the second line, as his trajectory points ever upward. While I love Hansen’s work ethic, his attitude and his emerging talent, what I love most about him is his Beaker-esque interview voice. Please enjoy this interview with TSN’s Gord Miller and Cory Schneider’s absolutely spot-on impression of Hansen on After Hours. And folks, we have three more years of this delicious awesomeness to come, as Hansen signed a three-year contract with the Canucks, avoiding arbitration.

Interesting Stat from 2010-11: Hansen tallied 20 assists in the regular season this year, and not a SINGLE one occured during a Canucks’ loss. All 20 of his assists were tallied when the Canucks won.

Victor Oreskovich

Oreskovich had an underwhelming regular season, playing only 16 games and tallying a mere 3 assists. He managed to play 16 games in the playoffs, but didn’t register a point and only averaged 6:21 of ice time per game. Oreskovich’s role on this team could be a pivotal one, as Mike Gillis looks to solidify a fourth line which looked out of place for most of the post-season. As of today, he remains an unsigned restricted free agent. With his low cap hit and limited NHL experience, it’s not critically important that Oreskovich gets signed immediately. However, if the longer he remains unsigned, the more chance it gives to other fringe players the chance to slot in to the fourth line in his place.

Interesting Stat from 2010-11: Oreskovich didn’t score a single point in the regular season in games played between Saturday and Wednesday. His 3 assists games in 5 games played on Thursdays and Fridays.

Byron Bitz

Oh, the jokes started quickly when the Canucks signed Byron Bitz as an unrestricted free agent earlier more than two weeks ago. Put him on a line with Alex Burrows and call them Bitz n Bites. HAHAHAHAHA. Just shut up. Bitz didn’t play a single game in 2010-11 after suffering a sports hernia injury in October 2010. He had two separate surgeries to repair the hernia, only to have his doctors determine that the worse problem he had was a torn hip labrum. After months of rehab, Bitz is ready for another shot in the big leagues. He’s big, menacing, and has some game… all the things that departing winger Tanner Glass was missing. Bitz could play adequately on the fourth line to provide a towering physical element. It’s up to the coaching staff and management to figure out if Bitz will replace Oreskovich on the fourth line, have them play together, or have both of them play in the minors. Frankly Bitz has more game and deserves a legit crack at a roster spot and his menacing physical presence will do the Canucks wonders next season, even if he’s only playing 6-8 minutes a game.

Interesting Stat from 2010-11: None. Absolutely none. What cuz he didn’t play. Like I said earlier.