Torts confirms Booth will play vs Anaheim, but says another player from Utica will join team in Phoenix. Suspect it will be Jensen. #canucks
— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) January 14, 2014
Following last night’s "moral victory" the Vancouver Canucks have been using their day off in Anaheim to make some moves. Don’t worry, our boyfriend Tom Sestito is safe. It’s Darren Archibald, on the other hand, who needs to pack his bags and head on back to Utica. As a result of Archibald’s departure it’s expected that David Booth will be back on the lineup on Wednesday v. the Ducks, and that highly touted prospect Nicklas Jensen could get the call.
Read on past the jump for a quick assessment of the landscape moving forward.
I still like Archibald’s game, and think that there’s a distinct possibility we’ll be able to look back on a relatively successful 4th line NHL career from him 10 years from now. With that being said his 2nd stint up with the big club was a pretty forgettable one, aside from the impressive showing in the SuperSkills competition. As a result, he has been handed the cruelest of sentences..
a) His former location:
b) His new destination:
Ouch. As for David Booth, his last game action actually came against Anaheim; he was on the ice for 4 shot attempts for, and 26 against in what was a massacre all the way across the board, and wound up being a healthy scratch for the following 3 games. It’s honestly tough to say what his future holds, but you’d think that he’d be well suited for a 3rd line gig next to Mike Santorelli and Jannik Hansen for the time being.
It’s no secret that I’ve been bullish on Booth in the past, but after it appeared like he had really turned his season, he went back to being the same ol’ riddle, buried in a puzzle, hidden in a maze. The optimist in me would still like to think that he’ll be able to contribute to the team in some fashion over the course of these final 30+ games of the year. However, we could quite conceivably be a few bad performances away from the team just shutting him down, sending him home, and making sure he’s not injured come the buyout period in the Summer. It has gotten to that point with him, sadly.
From a more positive angle, though, it sounds like we could see the #JensenTrain make an appearance in Phoenix on Thursday night. Jensen has had a weird season, and I’ll just recycle what I wrote about him following the news that he was being sent back to Utica back on September 24th:
"As for Jensen, he seemed to be a very viable option to start the season as the left winger on the 2nd line next to Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler, with David Booth still not quite ready to go. We were quite high on him when we ranked him as the number 4 prospect in the team’s system, and may have even appeared to be too low on him when he dominated in Penticton at the Young Stars Classic. Jason Botchford was ranting and raving about him (leading to #JensenTrain becoming a thing on Twitter), and his play even brought the dirty old man out of Tony Gallagher. His play didn’t translate to the preseason, though, as he looked quite overmatched and out of place.
Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise for him and the Canucks that he’ll be given the opportunity to get fully healthy, and build his confidence back up in Utica before potentially being called up once the team inevitably struggles to generate goals. Keep in mind that he’s only 20 years old, and has only 28 games of AHL experience under his belt. There’s no real reason to rush him at this point."
But despite the Canucks struggling to score goals all year, Jensen wasn’t doing himself any favours with his performance in the AHL. He came out of the gate really slowly, and only has 5 goals + 9 points in 29 games this year. But he has been en fuego lately, with 4 goals and an assist in his past 3 games.
I think a slight pass needs to be given to him based on the fact that he was clearly working his way back from a shoulder injury, and that he was playing with, putting it nicely, inferior teammates. Also, we’re pretty fond of him on this platform. Based on the recent production and the news coming out of Utica, it sounds like he’s rounding into form:
Not only is he starting to score, Jensen’s speed appears to be back. All over the ice tonight. Very active on the back check. #Canucks
— Tyson Giuriato (@TysonGiuriato) January 14, 2014
An interesting spot for him in the lineup might be on the 2nd line with Kesler and Kassian, bumping Higgins down to form a wicked 3rd line with Santorelli and Hansen. If Jensen is indeed going to be up with the team I’d ideally like to see him be given a legitimate shot to succeed, which means he needs to be in the top-6. Another interesting caveat with Jensen is that he’s absolutely filthy in the shootout (4 for 32 as a team), and considering all of the team’s noted troubles in that department he could potentially prove to be a nice little asset:
Of course all of this news doesn’t necessarily mean anything long-term, because we could see another complete reshuffling of the bottom-6 when Alex Burrows makes his long awaited return, which could be as soon as Saturday night v. the Calgary Flames..