Canucks Army Monthly Player Grades – Forwards, Jan 5th, 2015

Player Report Cards

By popular demand, we have moved the player grades feature from a weekly feature to a monthly feature that will run on the first Monday of every month. Since our friend Moneypuck looks at monthly performances in his Deep Dive, these grades will focus on the season-long performance of Canucks forwards. The defensemen’s grades will run in a few hours.

Let’s get started then. Read past the jump!

7 Vey

  • Vey’s powerplay performance was solid earlier this year, but with the recent success of Alex Burrows as the net front guy on the first unit coupled with Vey’s relative ineffectiveness at 5-on-5, it looks as if Vey’s spot in the lineup is tenuous at best.
9 Kassian

  • As with everyone else in Vancouver, Kassian’s early season play did leave something to be desired, though his impact on puck possession was a positive one. Back from a finger injury, he’ll look to prove his offense from last year was for real.
13 Bonino

  • Bonino’s grades are still strong since he started the year in such a fantastic manner, but’s he’s slowed down in a big way. His second unit powerplay has also been more or less toothless this season.
14 Burrows

  • Burrows once again brings stability, strong support scoring, and defensive upside to an otherwise vulnerable group of depth players for the Canucks. His possession numbers have taken a beating lately thanks to playing with Bo Horvat, but look for his powerplay totals to jump if he’s on the first unit permanently.

15 Richardson

  • Richardson is once again providing what he did for the Canucks last season: strong penalty killing, good depth scoring, and mediocre 5-on-5 play. He’s a premium and valuable 4th line piece that’s just out of his depth carrying a 3rd line in the NHL.
17 Vrbata

  • Vrbata has been a very dangerous weapon on the powerplay, but it’s fair to call the 33-year old’s 5-on-5 legs into question. He’s getting 1st line TOI, but is scoring at a below average rate for a 1st line forward. Also, in an admittedly small sample, he’s a sub-40% possession player away from the Sedins. But as long as he keeps scoring goals, most of that can be forgiven.
20 Higgins

  • Higgins is putting together a strong season that’s so under-the-radar that many fans have been questioning where he’s gone. Like Bonino, most of his damage offensively was done early, but unlike Bonino, he’s added some strong two-way play and excellent penalty killing to his arsenal too. As a career 9.9% shooter, he’s also due for a bit of regression.
22 Sedin

  • Concerns that the Sedins are losing their touch are legitimate, but they’re also still Vancouver’s best forwards. They’re not as dominant possession wise as they once were, nor do they score as often. Then again, they don’t have the supporting cast to facilitate the role they once played.
27 Matthias

  • Shawn Matthias genuinely appeared to be turning a corner before viciously attacking Stephane Robidas’ elbow with his forehead. Since then, it’s a return to where he was earlier in the year. He’s crushing 3rd unit penalty kill duty, but other than that, his play on the 3rd line leaves a lot to be desired, especially in terms of keeping the puck put of his own end of the rink.
33 Sedin

  • A lot was made about the Sedins’ decline under John Tortorella last season and how playing fewer minutes under Willie Desjardins would help them remain effective through the season. Their possession numbers have been steadily declining since the start of the year though, and Henrik’s scoring rate at even strength is below what it was in the nightmare that was 2013-2014. He’s Vancouver’s undisputed best centre, but for how much longer?
36 Hansen

  • For the role that he’s been given, Jannik Hansen’s scoring rate is very good, but we kind of expected that since he’s always been better than a 4th line winger. He’s also crushing the penalty killing duty he’s being given, but hasn’t been able to overcome carrying a rookie centre at even strength.
51 Dorsett

  • Like Hansen, Dorsett’s scoring rate has been exemplary for a 4th liner; especially one that’s known for his “meat and potatoes” first and foremost. He’s also been adequate in spot duty on the PK, but he’s been buried at even strength. Seeing as he’s never been a terrible possession player, even cracking 50% last season with the Rangers despite brutal deployment, the most probable reason for this is being saddled with a weak centre.
53 Horvat

  • Vancouver’s top prospect has flashed NHL skill and definitely has the potential to be an effective player in this league. Unfortunately, he just isn’t ready yet. Given a neutral deployment with good wingers and weak competition, Horvat has been absolutely crushed at even strength. He may be a good player one day, but that day won’t be this season.

  • orcasfan

    Always interesting info. Thanks, Rhys. The question begs to be asked…was it a mistake to keep Bo up with the club? I have no doubt that he is learning valuable stuff. But there is potential in his 4th line role for his confidence to suffer. And, of course, as those stats indicate, he is dragging down that 4th line.

    All in all, I’m still hopeful that this season’s experience will be a valuable building tool for him. But, until he puts it all together, his presence on the roster comes at a price.

    • orcasfan

      Good observation. It’s really the price of having youth on the roster for any team. I’m not sure what the comparables are here, but a lot of kids go through the learning curve to get up to speed.

      Last year most fans were complaining about the lack of youth in our line-up. This year, if we’re a bubble team I’d rather see a kid develop and go through growing pains now.

      I was pretty much against keeping Horvat up when it happened. But he doesn’t count much against our cap, and aside from poor corsi, he actually plays the game right. As shown by the coaches confidence to deploy him mostly in the defensive zone.

      • orcasfan

        I also think that Bo has shown enough to stay up. His obvious intelligence and great attitude (work ethic) create a much shallower learning curve than say, Kassian’s! He is definitely a young player who is ready, wiling and able to soak up all the lessons from mentor-vets like Burrows.

  • orcasfan

    I really think Bo will benefit from staying with the big club. The Kings went through the same trouble w Dustin Brown. Should he stay up or go back to Junior. They decided to keep him and I believe he then missed most of his rookie year w and injury. He still said being in the pros showed him how to be a professional, which lead to him earning the C after Blake left.

    Horvat matching up against Getzlaf, Kessler, ThortonRichards et al… Will be so much more beneficial than playing against teenagers.

    The two most disappointing forwards are Bonino and Vey for sure. They aren’t the biggest guys so the need to bring a compete level every night.. They are a microcosm of the Canucks themselves. Against the Ducks and Kings the Canucks got pushed around and basically took shot after shot trying to hold on. While against the Sharks the Canucks stood up, took the shots and fought back.