Jensen Train, Next Stop: Vancouver

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Image via The Stanchion

There has been very, very, very little to get excited about or provide reasons for optimism moving forward from the Vancouver Canucks in 2014 thus far. They’ve gone 5-16-3 in the new year, having been outscored by a 73-39 margin. That’s 1.63 goals/game for those of you that don’t have a calculator handy. To put that figure into context: the Buffalo Sabres, ranked 30th in goals/game on the season, are at 1.95 on the year.

Every which way you look at it, things have been bad; the best goaltender in the franchise’s history was dealt, one of the two best players on the team asked out and after not being traded is now forced to play out the remainder of the season with this giant cloud looming overhead, and there have been intimations that both the GM and coach are lame ducks at this point. That’s atop all of the losing and mind-numbingly boring play every time they hit the ice. 

Maybe they’ll be slightly more palatable now that they’ve finally given in to the cries and pleas from their fans, and called up their ’11 1st rounder and highly regarded offensive prospect, Nicklas Jensen.

This is an interesting development on a couple of fronts. First off, just two days ago, the team’s Assistant GM Laurence Gilman said that Jensen wasn’t “ready” yet. But with Zack Kassian now out of the lineup with a suspension, and the team playing a couple of home games in a row, it certainly makes sense that they’d try to appease the fans and try to sell some tickets.. because those Flames, Islanders (sans Tavares, Vanek) matchups on the docket look pretty irredeemable.

Beyond the hype and PR stunt, there’s also the very real possibility that Jensen could actually help the team out by putting a couple of pucks into the net while up here, as well. He only has 15 goals in 51 games down in Utica, but keep in mind the context. As I write in length for the Prospect Midterm Report a few weeks back, Jensen has done a fine job of turning his season around and salvaging it after an abysmal start.

It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used. I figure that they wouldn’t be giving in and calling him up at this point just to have him play a couple of minutes on the 4th line and sit on the bench for the rest of the time. Hopefully he’ll be given at least a sniff of a scoring line (next to Henrik Sedin, please) but I can’t help but shake this terrible feeling that he’s going to fall through the cracks on a line with Matthias (/Richardson) and Sestito. I attribute that skepticism to all the years of watching the Vancouver Canucks.

Regardless, the #JensenTrain is coming to your television sets on Saturday night. Even if he doesn’t make an immediate impact, at least this news provides something that has been difficult to come by around these parts lately: hope, and a reason to watch.

  • Andy

    I was hoping they wouldn’t call him up. Canucks are a mess. I’d hate to see them shatter Jensen’s confidence. I guess a cup of coffee won’t hurt…

    I am impressed by his development lately. Hey, Rhys J, don’t let facts get in the way of your lame attempt at humor! We wouldn’t want your attempt at a joke make you look really ignorant…oh wait….

    • The Benevolent Orca

      If you think playing in the NHL on any team good or bad is going to shatter a young prospects confidence, you have a lot to learn about hockey and hockey players.

      • Have to disagree. Teams should handle their younger players with caution. Jensen has been improving in Utica and while his team was not great, he was improving. Now the Comets and Jensen are doing well. I think you may want to do some homework 😉

        • I think it never hurts to bring a player in for a few games and play him in a role he’s likley to succeed at in the NHL. I hope Torts does the samrt thing and lays him on either the first or second line. It’s a process and if he does little, that’s fine. Send him back down.

          This isn’t Bobby or Brett Hull here. This Nik Jensen, who at his best tops out as a second line winger. Let’s see if he can handle that role.

          • andyg

            3 games is not going to hurt and then back down once kas is back.

            I worry that he will score a few goals and help the team win a few games.

            That will just push us farther away from a “topfivepick”

  • This team is in a shambles. Gotta start building things from the ground up

    1) fIre all the scouts (except our European division) and poach their counterparts from the Bruins, Wings and Anaheim. Offer them triple of whatever salary they are making. No expenses spared.

    2) retire the Steamer from his position as Head of Personnel Development (or whatever BS title he has). We should be hiring the best people to teach and develop our prospects regardless of whichever organization they come from (ie. not the best available ex-Canuck). It is no wonder that we have been producing 3rd and 4th line pluggers for the last little while. I’d rather our prospects maximize their skills than to drill them into being skill-less checking drones.

    3) Fire GMMG. Not because it is fashionable to do so. Fired him because he has shown a lack of leadership through these last 2 years. His greatest weakness (which is also his greatest strength) is his loyalty to his players (ie. handing out NMCs like a pez dispenser). We need a GM much like Wally Buono, someone who is not afraid to cut bait when an asset is depreciating, instead of rewarding them for their long standing service. While the idea of player loyalty to an organization is admirable, players are also attracted to a culture of winning. Build a winner and there will be a line up of players willing to play for you. Fire him because he has exhibited a lack of understanding that one should always buy low and sell high (instead of riding an asset until it is of no further tradeable value… ie. MayRay, Erhoff, WillieMitchell). Fired him because of his inability to spot talent/heart (or there lack of… ie. Booth, Ballard)

  • andyg

    I’m very interested to watch Jensen play tonight. His recent hot streak hopefully means that he is beginning to get used to playing on NHL ice surfaces and why not call him up when his confidence is so high. every time I have watched Jensen in a Canucks uniform he seems to disappear. He isn’t around the puck so I never hear his name called. I hope he comes out aggressive and puts his stamp on the game. It not how many minutes he plays. It’s what he does with those minutes.

    Another interesting aspect will be if having some youth around will put some energy in this team. I’m honestly at a loss for what has happened to the Canucks. I thought that torts would bring an intensity to this team that AV lacked, but it’s just not there. I know injuries are a big reason that the wins haven’t come since the new year, but the focus and passion are gone.he talent is there, if Edler, Kess and the twins were announced as being traded every team would be bidding for their services, in fact The US and Sweden seemed to believe they were good enough to compete are the Olympics….so the fault must lie with the coach.

    A coaches first job is to put players in a position to be successful. Has he done that with the Twins or Edler? At least torts admitted that he has not coached up Edler enough and his -24 shows it. This team seems to be thinking about playing a style not just playing. They are soft then vs LA and Calgary they are brawlers, then back to passive. They can’t make up their minds. Torts needs to play a style that suits his players, not fit a round peg in a square hole. This season is the worst in a generation and changes have to be made. Get a real hockey guy at GM not a players agent. Gillis is the worst talent evaluator in the league. His philosophies change draft to draft small and fast, over age college players now finally tough players from OHL and WHL… Took long enough. If he sticks around he better have a stellar draft and lure top flight free agents to play along side The twins and Kessler or there will be pitch forks and torches outside Rogers Arena.