What Would You Do Thursday: Alex Burrows

Welcome to a new feature here on Canucks Army and all sites on the Nation Network: What Would You Do Wednesday THURSDAY, where we put you, yes YOU, in charge of your own imaginary Vancouver Canucks. We’ll present you with a different scenario each week, and you tell us how you’d solve it in the comments section below. Give props to the answers you do like and trash the ones you don’t. Easy! So let’s get started:

Due to the Christmas season, this is our first What Would You Do post in a couple of weeks. In case you don’t remember, we asked you how to get Vancouver’s anemic powerplay going last time around, and as always you responded with some great ideas. The best one, as chosen by you, came courtesy of Waffles:

First of all, I’m happy with the PP personnel and think we have the players that can make some magic on the man advantage.
Vrbata needs to consider taking more one-timers. He usually settles the puck first before taking the shot. This allows the goaltender to reposition across the crease and be set for the shot. It also allows defenders to cycle over to the other side of the ice and position themselves to clear rebounds. It’s in this type of scenario that defenders typically gain puck possession and are able to clear the zone getting some fresh legs out on the ice.
Speaking of which, there are a low amount of rebound opportunities generated on the PP in its present state. A lot of PP goals are really dirty – unfortunately the Sedins naturally strive for clean, pretty goals. Put some bodies in front and start taking some more one timers. A little better positioning in the front of the net with a quicker release on the shot should generate more rebound opportunities where defenders and the goaltender are out of position. This increases the shooting percentage and will result in more goals.
The PP has still been generating some solid chances and only needs some minor tweaks to make it successful. It was a strong PP at the beginning of the season with the same personnel and I think it can get to that level again without any personnel changes.

The call for “dirtier” goals has been something that seems to have been repeated a lot of late as Vancouver’s offensive game seems to be drying up. Even though they’re still among the NHL’s best offensive teams, scoring an average of 2.89 goals for per game, their output saw a drop-off in December. Taking out the outlying performance against Arizona, Vancouver scored just two goals per game on average.

While it doesn’t begin and end with the Sedins (after all, Nick Bonino had half as many points as Derek Dorsett this past month), it’s worth pointing out that Henrik Sedin is currently carrying his lowest points/60 rate of his NHL career, and Daniel, while improved from last season, is also producing points at a rate lower than the average 1st line NHL forward. If the purpose of Radim Vrbata was to help get Daniel and Henrik’s offense back to pre-Torts levels, it simply hasn’t worked.

But the Canucks still have a trump card to play: Alex Burrows. Burrows skated on the fourth line against San Jose last game, helping Bo Horvat open the scoring through some hard work out front. He’s also the second most efficient scorer on the Canucks so far this season at 2.06 pts/60, and has traditionally worked well with the Sedins. The problem is whether the rest of Vancouver’s lineup is strong enough to withstand the loss of Burrows to a 1st line role.

Burrows’ impact on his centres can’t be understated. Other than Henrik Sedin, who he’s spent the least time with, Burrows has had a positive impact on the possession numbers of all three of Vancouver’s other centres. When sharing the ice with Burrows, Nick Bonino has seen a Corsi boost of +5.1%, Bo Horvat has seen a boost of +11.9%, and Brad Richardson also benefits, seeing a boost of +1.5%. In short, Burrows is a guy who takes teammates getting routinely outplayed and allows them to outplay the opposition.

So what would you do with Alex Burrows? Do you bite the bullet one way and play him with the Sedins in hopes to summon more scoring from them in the form of some good ol’ fashioned hard work and grit? Or do you bite the bullet the other and keep your other nine forwards’ heads above water? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Kaizzer-3

    The Sedins have produced similar results with with Burrows, Hansen, Kassian and Jensen (~60% GF and CF) and could probably find similar chemistry with a player like Vey. Basically the impact Burrows has on the Sedins is more replaceable than the impact he could have on other lines.

  • Fred-65

    I think if Vcr had more players like Burrows they’d be a lot better off than they are. He personifies the hard work ethics that succesful teams need to suceed. I can count on one hand the games or even shifts when Burrows hasn’t out worked every one else on the ice. Combine that with his agility, quickness and hockey IQ should inspire more of the young players .. ( yes I’m looking at you Kassian ) Where do you get the best bang for your buck from these efforts is likely the Sedin line but in all honesty Vrbata has earned his keep on that line….so the next option would be put him with another skiiled centre and there’s the achillies heel. Bonino has not proven he’s a second line centre and Vey who might become a second line centre is not there yet. Propspects such as Gaunce, McCann, Jensen, Kassian maybe Grenier can learn a lot from this rags to riches player Burrows. Right now I’d like to see Vey centring Burrows and move Bonino to wing

  • Fred-65

    Put Burrows back with the twins — a proven scoring combination and have Kassian play with Bonnino and Vrbata so he can use his play making skills
    with two shoot-first type players.

  • Fortitude00

    Burrows should be traded for a prospect or draft pick so the Canucks can free up 4.5mil to acquire defensive help.
    No way I would take the leading goal scorer off that line and replace him with Burrows. Burrows hasn’t scored 30 goals in 5 and half years where as Vrbata might this year playing with the Sedins.

  • RandomScrub

    I think the question of what to do with Burrows should be dictated by the needs of the Canucks’ organization going forward – and I think Burr’s value now isn’t necessarily in scoring the dirty goals himself but in mentoring the upcoming crop of Canucks prospects coming into the pipeline.

    He works hard, plays hard, sees the ice well, defensively responsible, etc. etc.

    Those are fine and valuable qualities (that apply to Hansen and Higgins as well) – but also ones that can be ataught and need to be learned by a lot of young players.

    This was originally seen as a rebuilding year by management prior to their run of early-season success, and the Canucks should stay focused on developing their young players and you can’t tell me that Burrows doesn’t have a lot to teach Horvat, Kassian, Vey (and later Virtanen and McCann) about consistency, work ethic, location (and bad shooting percentages).

  • RandomScrub

    Burrows is an excellent player and a long-time favorite of mine. He could fill a series of roles, but depending on how the above discussed underlying values play on the open market, if there’s still an opportunity to sell high on him then that might be a good idea for a 33 year old. Of course, with his boxcar stats being what they are, it’s more likely that his best value right now is akin to that of Chris Higgins, moving him up and down the lineup as needed to plug holes and spark others. That contract will pass and the next be more affordable for the team.