As Allan Tung notes over at Fansided’s The Canuck Way, Jordan Schroeder is eligible for waivers this upcoming season. Last year Schroeder was up and down between Vancouver and Chicago, but it’s unlikely there will be any flights to Utica in his future—and not just because there are no flights from Vancouver to Utica offered by any airline.
This throws a small wrench into the situation of what to do about the Canucks’ 13th forward. Schroeder borders on being a “ANHL” player, equivalent to baseball’s AAAA, a player deemed to be a star in the minors but not quite there at the top level. Since he’ll be just 23 at the start of the season, it’s unlikely that the Canucks will leave him open to the waiver wire.
I commented to David Ebner of the Globe after Mike Gillis’ presser that it sounded that Schroeder was potentially on the trade block, and I’m a little surprised that the team has kept him around. Frankly, he’s a player that was 9th out of 12 Canuck forwards in points per 60 minutes last season, dead-last in individual shots per 60 minutes and ahead of only Andrew Ebbett in goals. He put together a plus Corsi season, but was a negative Relative Corsi despite having a 60.2% offensive zone starting rate. Part of the problem was a variety of linemates and half of them weren’t very much use, but his 2013 season doesn’t scream “deserves a roster spot before training camp opens”.
The problem is that the Canucks’ should-be 14th forward is waiver-eligible, and poor decision-making on the part of the Canucks by retaining the services of both Dale Weise and Tom Sestito means that there isn’t a lot of space for camp battles. Mike Gillis talked about the importance of having a clear roster spot for a battle by one of the rookies.
Even accounting David Booth’s injury, the Canucks will start the season with a clear nine forwards on the roster: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Chris Higgins, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen, Brad Richardson, Zack Kassian and Dale Weise.
Tom Sestito can be pencilled in as the 13th forward, and I have to imagine that either Mike Santorelli or Benn Ferriero will be given a look. That’s ten and eleven. Is Schroeder number 12? What happens when Booth returns?
Somewhere the team is missing a centreman. Unless John Tortorella is fine replacing his 6’7″ Brian Boyle with a 5’9″ Jordan Schroeder or a Brad Richardson that doesn’t take faceoffs, the Canucks are clearly short one guy somewhere on the roster.
On defence the picture isn’t as bleak. The Canucks should be fine going into the season with their six signed defencemen. Frankie Corrado and Yannick Weber are a fine-enough bottom pairing in the absence of Chris Tanev. If the team sticks to their guns and get Tanev for cheap (I had him pegged at $1.2-million in the Grabovski post, which in some people’s opinion was way too low. These must be the same people that think Tanev is secretly Nick Leddy in disguise, but I can assure you that isn’t the case) there’s enough cap space for another forward somewhere on the roster.
The Canucks need a lot of games from Booth this year and a turnaround season for Higgins, who had a minus-11.5 Relative Corsi last season and suffered as a play-driver. More importantly, they need some sort of injection of offence, and I find it hard to believe that’s going to come from Santorelli. Zack Kassian’s closest comparables range from Jiri Novotny to Nick Bonino to Tim Kennedy, and while there’s the occasional Scott Hartnell in the group, the list isn’t exactly full of impact NHL players. The Canucks need Kassian to be an outlier, which isn’t something to count on, or they need Schroeder to be an outlier, but the view of those two as legitimate “prospects” dwindles every day.
So many things have to go “right” for the team at this point and I just don’t see the team being an offensive powerhouse (they’ll be more than fine defensively to compete for a shot at the 2013 playoffs) but there’s some empty cap space that should be used somewhere.
It’s going to be weird to find the odd man out. Torts didn’t use his fourth line much in New York, so I’d think that Weise and Sestito’s roster spots are secure. Schroeder is in place, as is Kassian. Is there a trade on the horizon? The team simply can’t run with the same forward crew as last year that was 19th in the league in scoring.
So, uh, that’s where we are today. The London Knights seem to think there’s just a 70% chance that the team will get Bo Horvat or Max Domi back to their team, but in the case of Horvat the real figure likely has three digits. There’s just no roster space on this team for upgrades, even if there is some available cap space.