With the final instalment of the Year in Review series posted yesterday, I figured now was as good a time as any to do a retrospective on the entire lot. The process started in the middle of April and almost lasted into June. Almost every Canucks Army writer contributed, offering their own unique takes on the Canucks lineups from a player-by-player perspective.
Let’s look at the group as a whole, with links and everything, on the other side of the jump.
Assuming this was Hamhuis’ last stand as a Canuck, though, it’s been one hell of a ride. I’m not sure the Canucks are a Stanley Cup contender in 2010-11 without him. They sure as hell weren’t a playoff team this year without him – although, really, they more than likely weren’t with him either.
If the Canucks can continue on this path, they can likely carve out a role wherein Sbisa’s deficiencies aren’t constantly setting them back. Assuming further development, which isn’t altogether unreasonable given the steps he took this season, Sbisa could develop into a high-end third pairing defender – if there ever was such a thing. Like I said, that’s a start.
If the goal of a defender is to auger favourable shot and goal differentials, then most lineups could benefit from having a player like Weber on their third pairing. Less so if we’re talking about Weber’s ability to control favourable scrum differentials.
That being said, the team would be wise to tender him a qualifying offer. His underlying numbers are in the wheelhouse of fellow reclamation projects Markus Granlund and Emerson Etem, two players the team will likely roll the dice on in the hopes that they can improve their overall game. It’s hard to envision a scenario where things could go any worse than they did this past season for Vey, so he likely deserves another chance in the same way that they do.
There might be room in the NHL for a player like Brandon Prust. I’m just not necessarily sure where. The role of the enforcer is being phased out, and as his body deteriorates further into his thirties, it’s fair to wonder if he has much else to give outside that role.
Alex Burrows might have his detractors outside of Vancouver, but he’s a player that this city will always collectively root for, and for good reason. He’s forever the underdog and is able to channel that into a gritty, yet effective and entertaining form of hockey which really encapsulates what the city is all about.
Moving forward, if the Canucks plan on keeping Dorsett he is probably best utilized in limited minutes as a depth forward filling in for injured players or when the Canucks need a little extra sandpaper in the lineup. There is no question he brings value as a hard-working, character player who took his bumps and bruises to get to the NHL. Having him around in the locker room is a good thing to help the Canucks younger players transition.
In reality, though this season was a massive step back and hugely disappointing, Vrbata was the least of the Canucks problems. Were he riding shotgun alongside the Sedins, or playing with a playmaking centre, he likely would’ve shown better by most, if not all metrics. A little luck wouldn’t have hurt, either.
All things considered, I’d count Virtanen’s rookie campaign as a success for the franchise. He was able to come into his own as the season progressed, he got international experience (despite the performance) and he got the chance to deal with the media scrutiny at its peak, which might train him for what this market could be like for him. Regardless, I think this market is collectively awaiting the second season of Making a Murderer: Jake Virtanen edition.
Higgins career is much closer to the finish than the start, or maybe even it’s height. Perhaps a change of scenery could rejuvenate his career, though. It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened for an over the hill player. A buy-out is the likely next step, then time will tell where his career goes. Likely he’s on to bigger and better things. He surely deserves as much.
If Sutter’s first 20 games with the Canucks are any indication, he might be better than advertised. Certainly as an offensive and perhaps even as a possession player. Sutter was on pace to match his career high in goals, smash his career high in assists and be a break even possession player for the first time in his entire career.
Daniel Sedin had a pretty incredible year, all things considered. As a 35-year old on a floundering team, surrounded by kids, years removed from a head injury, and with not much of a light at the end of the tunnel, Daniel and his brother laid down the law and set the tone, all while scoring goals like the Daniel Sedin of old.
At the end of this season, Jim Benning suggested that Alex Edler could become a Chara-like #1 defenceman. Edler just turned 30, so Benning’s wish is not all that likely to come true. However, Edler remains a useful defenceman and a key part of the Canucks blueline going forward. He and Tanev will likely start the 2016/2017 campaign together on the top pairing and lead whatever interesting collection of defencemen that end up on the Canucks roster. Barring a trade or another major injury, Edler will in all likelihood lead the franchise in points by a defenceman within a couple of seasons and though he is not the Chara-esque dman that many wish he was, he will hopefully age gracefully and provide a relatively dependable presence on the back-end of a transitioning team going forward.
The Gavle, Sweden native will turn 27 in January, so now is the time for him to seize the starting role. If he can do so, the Canucks will have a once highly touted prospect in his prime. If this all goes to plan and given that he would only have one year as a starter, Canucks would then be able to get Markstrom at a fairly reasonable rate next summer.
I’m not going to say Etem had an unbelievable season, because, well, he didn’t. He put up what could’ve been a 15-goal, 25-point season if the pace kept up over the full season, and did a few positive things, but ultimately was pretty average. He’ll likely never reach his full potential, and his acquisition didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but as he heads into RFA territory, he did OK in his time in Vancouver.
Hutton is an extremely important piece to the puzzle moving forward, and his season was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise abysmal year.
In the Jacob Markstrom year in review, I suggested that the Canucks are better served in the long term to play Markstrom more next season, and that still remains true. Ryan Miller is 35 years old and won’t factor into the long term plans of the organization, but if this past season is any indication, Miller still has something left to give and the Canucks would be wise to take advantage of that.
Henrik had a tough year. He spent most of it injured, while pretending he wasn’t. He frequently took a backseat to his brother, who had a relatively fantastic year scoring goals, thugging it up, calling out rookies, and playing while bleeding profusely. Henrik played second fiddle to Daniel this time around, and that was probably fine for a man who struggled just to bend his body at times.
Regardless of what Hansen’s future holds and where it is held, this season legitimized the Danish winger as a player with top-six credentials, in spite of his well-documented stone hands and a penchant for all-around clumsiness. He might not be a 27 goal talent over the course of an 82 game season, but he’s probably closer than most, even his most ardent supporters, give him credit. That’s not nothing, especially for a former ninth-round pick.
Bartkowski is a nice guy, by all accounts a good teammate, and his mom is fantastic. However, this is a business, and removing Bartkowski is a clear cut case of addition by subtraction. It’s what it best for the team, and it’s likely that every other defenceman is going to benefit from by no longer playing with him.
In all likelihood, Baertschi will return to the second line, alongside presumptive running mate, Bo Horvat. The two developed innate offensive chemistry down the stretch, trading blows as the Canucks two breakout stars. Here’s to hoping for an encore next season.
Gaunce thinks the game very well and it shows in his defensive side of the game. So there are no concerns of that part of his game being able to be translated to the NHL.
Horvat had a respectable sophomore campaign, with room to grow as the seasons go on for sure. He proved he can be a formidable scorer in this league, and lead this franchise for the years to come.
The Alex Biega story took another turn for the better this season, as the career minor leaguer transitioned into a full-time role as a depth defender with the Vancouver Canucks. And all it took was nearly 350 AHL contests within three separate organizations.
Granlund continues to struggle as a two-way player and scorer at the NHL level. Despite flashing high-end skill in every other professional league he’s played in, that’s yet to manifest itself at the NHL level. Granlund just turned 23, though, and players typically reach their prime around 24. This is to say that Granlund is entering put up or shut up territory.
It remains to be seen just what exactly the Canucks have in Nikita Tryamkin, but he has a long way to go before he’s the top-four Zdeno Chara-clone the organization seems to think he can be. The Canucks look to be very crowded on the blueline heading into next season, and Tryamkin has a clause in his contract allowing him to return to the KHL should he fail to make the Canucks’ roster, so he’ll certainly be a player worth keeping tabs on heading into the 2016-17 season.
The Canucks have an excellent piece to build with in McCann. It’s becoming increasingly clear that McCann’s offensive punch is considerably more potent than we gave him credit for at the draft and it’s hardly at the expense of his defensive game, which was passable in his first year as a professional hockey player.
Next up will be a Free Agent Profiles series, starting on Thursday with a look at Eric Staal. There’s another 30 or so planned thereafter, so no matter who signs in Vancouver, we’ll have you up to speed! Thanks for sticking around.