WWYDW: “Power” Play


Despite their best efforts, the Canucks just can’t lose in regulation, and somehow remain within spitting distance of the playoffs. Perhaps they’d be a little closer if they could get a handle on special teams, but alas, they continue to struggle mightily in that realm. They have the league’s 26th ranked PP, and Willie Desjardins seems to be the only man on planet earth that believes the current group is working. 

So, what changes would you make to the PP if you were in charge? Is it as simple as just changing personnel, or would you make tactical adjustments as well?  

Before we get into it, I just want to say that there were so many answers this week, most of them quite good, that I simply couldn’t include them all. If you’d like to see more, check out last week’s comment section.

Last week I asked: Do you deal vets for picks and prospects at the deadline, or hold on to your guys in hopes of making a prolonged postseason push, even if that means losing a good player for nothing?  


Deal the vets.

1. This team needs an infusion of talent whether through drafting from picks obtained, prospects or a young roster player.

Particularly true since suitable players on waivers are passed by so often.

2. May be more fair to vets to let them go to contenders with the hope of a legitimate Cup run, not just one and done.

3. Given Benning’s marketing talents, there won’t be many trades anyway so likely the roster won’t change and some guys will walk for nothing.

This is just such a waste with WD coaching. It’s obvious he wants to win but his inability to adapt, change, and to make decisions are bigger barriers than the simple lack of talent and depth on this team.

Is management still in a post turkey tryptophan slumber? Time to wake up and get busy! 


Rebuild. Rebuild. Rebuild. Anyone over 30 who doesn’t have a no-trade clause should be considered possible trade bait. I would honestly even consider moving Chris Tanev. He’s a good player, but the Canucks have an abundance of defensive defensemen, and he’s the kind of player who could fetch a decent return, like a young forward or a high draft pick. Tanev is no spring chicken either – he’s 27 and will probably be past his prime when the Canucks are seriously ready to compete again in 2-3 years. 


Of course you deal – unfortunately Jimbo has yet to do that at the two deadlines he’s been at the helm.

Vrbata, Matthias, Hamhuis, Weber, Richardson etc. All on expiring contracts – not one asset to show for it. Not even a 7th rounder.

Absurd for a team that’s supposed to be rebuilding.


Vancouver will likely have the same problem it did last year; the players they have on expiring contracts aren’t likely worth much on the trade market. Horvat, Guance, Rodin, Gudbranson, and Tryamkin aren’t going anywhere. Larsen, Skille, Megna, Chaput, and Boucher have no value to a team looking to contend. The only players that Vancouver has on an expiring contracts and that are worth anything on a contending team are Burrows and Miller and if the last couple years has shown us anything is that those guys will not fetch Vancouver more than a few mid-round picks.

Looking at players under contract Edler, Tanev, Sbisa, and Hansen are the guys that have some value for a contending team. Hansens recent injuries have likely damaged his trade value, JB has said he wont move anybody with a NTC/NMC so Edlers out, that leaves Tanev and Sbisa. Of those two Tanev is the only one worth anything substantial. The problem with trading him is who replaces him? He plays a large roll on this team, it hurts when he is not in the line-up.

Tanev, Hansen, Sbisa, Burrows, and Miller. That’s all the trade bait Vancouver can muster.

This is a very contentious issue with the fan base. Personally, I put winning above all else. By selling the farm and gutting the team of anybody of value its basically throwing in the towel and giving up. Management saying they would prefer it if the team were losing instead. Is that the kind of attitude that we want? Is that the kind of message they want to send to their players? Winning begets winning, losing begets losing. I would rather see this team stay together and push as hard as they possibly can for a playoff spot than see them resign themselves to losing for the sake of landing a higher draft pick. 


See if there is a viable offer for the vets on expiring contracts. I agree with the principle that GMJB has of not giving away players for the sake of giving them away but this team does need more picks and more depth for the farm in the upcoming years.

One other thing…..please please do not be buyers at the trade deadline. We do not need more Weinrichs or Carneys. If this team somehow makes the playoffs then do it with the players already in the system. 

Bro Horvat:

You absolutely deal the vets if you can get any kind of decent value for them.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t aim for the playoffs too. You aim for the playoffs while relying more on players that actually have a chance of being part of the future. Does that drop your odds a bit in the next couple of years? Maybe so, but that’s not the point.

Keeping Burr, Hansen and Miller (and possibly Edler) throughout the duration of their contracts to make a “run” right now is ridiculous. You try to get the best deal you can for them and bank it. Give every young player you’ve got a real chance to grow and become a part of the future nucleus. Give Rodin ice time with legit linemates. Throw Boucher in there and at least see if he’s got anything. Roll with Marky until Demko is ready.  

Another Hamhuis/Vrbata debacle would be absolutely crushing. 

Jamie E: 

A few thoughts:

1) If you are hoping for strong returns for veteran players at the deadline, this is the wrong year. With expansion looming I expect this to be the quietest trade deadline in years. I expect most trade activity will be post-season, just prior to the expansion draft. Sure a few teams will add a few expiring contracts, but people fantasizing about liquidating the entire roster for a ground up rebuild THIS YEAR are dreaming in technicolour.

2) Who cares what happened last year? Water under the bridge. Re-litigating past trade deadlines is a waste of time.

3) I expect the Canucks will miss the playoffs. The injury bug is starting to bite and I expect a couple of underachievers like Dallas and Los Angeles to find another gear in the 2nd half.

4) Tanking is no guarantee of a top three draft pick and there are TONS of examples of first line talents taken outside the top ten. I personally cannot countenance a plan to win by losing.

5) Play to win, let the chips fall where they may, and draft the best player available wherever that is.

  • Fundamental revamp. Move the Sedins to the 2nd unit and put the young guns on the first unit (the Sedins would benefit from playing against a second PK unit too). Skilled guys like Baertschi, Granlund, grit like Horvat and Gaunce, QB’s like Stecher and Hutton. Emphasize puck movement that results in a shot as soon as possible by whoever has the puck when a clear shot becomes available. Fancy backdoor plays should be opportunistic, not the core strategy. Everyone is a triggerman. Get back to fundamentals like puck-on-net and then crash-and-bang. Make a guy in front of the net mandatory as a screen, using someone like Gaunce, Horvat or maybe even Eriksson. Hire a PP coach that understands how to break down the defensive box using puck movement and how to exploit its breakdowns. Shoot the damn puck.

    If you look at epic Sedinery on Youtube like “The Shift” or “The Shift 2.0” and you see fast puck movement, fighting for position and possession and lots of shooting that you don’t see anymore.

    • JuiceBox

      My concern with Tryamkin in front of the net is what happens if he is the one to go behind the net to get the puck? in a 1-3-1 formation does he have the IQ and the skill to maintain possession and get the puck back out to one of the half walls under pressure or engage in a cycle in the corner? Then what happens if the formation shifts to an overload with the weak side D swinging to the front of the net in his place leaving Tryamkin to QB from behind the net? The only way I see that working is if there was a forward playing as the weak side D and I don’t like that because that forward would almost always have to get out of position in order to switch with Tryamkin to make sure he gets back to the front of the net. It would limit the Canucks options, make the powerplay less dynamic, and create a higher risk of 2-on-1 opportunities coming back the other way.

      Kesler was a beast in front of the net but he could play behind the net, along the half wall, and in the Ovie zone, this allowed the Canucks to be dynamic. With the powerplay it is always best to put as much skill on the ice as possible at all times, there is no reason why Eriksson – a player with more skill and hockey IQ couldn’t fill that role.

  • TD

    The best power plays have movement all over the ice. The Canucks PP is static, unless you count the slow movement of Daniel up the right boards and Henrik to the middle. They then return to the same spot. The only other movement is the back door pass to Baer dropping down from the point which creates a very difficult pass to make.

    With the lack of shot generation, it would be hard to imagine how any changes could make it worse. Try Baer on the right side and any right shot on the left side for some one timers. Put Tryamkin in front of the net. It may not work but they have to try something.

    It’s funny that they are the 10th worst PP by percentage over the past while, and yet three other teams this year are worse.

  • Killer Marmot

    Lot of criticism in the article.

    Which is a little strange, given that the Canucks have 15 points in their last 10 games. One might almost think these guys aren’t happy when the Canucks win.

    • Locust


      These guys hate it when anything Canuck is positive. I have seen eighty year olds with their pants pulled up to their nipples happier than CA writers.

      Any ten year old can spout trash and be negative, it takes some insight and brains to convey a positive message.

      That’s why, generally speaking, the comments are far more enjoyable and entertaining than the articles.

      • Saundero

        I’d usually agree with you that CA is overly negative, however in this instance I’d have to argue it’s warranted. The argument that they’ve gotten 15 pts out if 10 games, while factually correct, misses the point that the PP if functioning at close to 20% over the last 6 games probably nets them 2-3 extra points.

        Sticking to a stagnant pp that shows no signs of bumping the slump, strikes me as best case stubborn and worst case indicative of a complete lack of creative thinking. It’s literally one of the only areas that solid coaching can make a material difference mid-season.

        When watching games I honestly moan when they get a PP because it’s more likely to be a momentum killer than a goal.

        • Killer Marmot

          That would be fine if the commenters in the article stuck to discussing how to improve the power play. Their criticisms, however, went far beyond that.

  • JuiceBox

    The Canucks powerplay took a massive step forward in 2010-2011 when Newell Brown moved Kesler from the second unit to the first. From 2009-2012 Ryan Kesler was the Canucks most efficient powerplay scorer and the Canucks leading shooter on the power player. The impact of Kesler’s “impatience” was the perfect complement to the Sedins “pass-first” mentality. The Sedins were always looking to make that one extra pass to open a larger shooting lane or to set up that perfect shot and Kesler was always eager to shoot. Moving Kesler to the first unit also gave the Canucks two shooting options up front with Kesler in the high slot or in-front of the net and Daniel Sedin from beside the net or in the “Ovi Zone.” The Canucks could quickly and efficiently rotate between an umbrella formation, standard spread formation, and a 1-3-1 formation depending on the puck location. The constant rotation between formations confused opposing penalty kill units and the Canucks were able to generate shots at an elite rate and convert shots into goals at a league best 16.46%.

    Everything that made that powerplay great is missing from this power play. shot volume, formation, personnel, and skill are all an issue and I have no clue where to begin to fix it.

    • “Everything that made that powerplay great is missing from this power play. shot volume, formation, personnel, and skill are all an issue and I have no clue where to begin to fix it.”

      Step 1: Draw up dynamic power play options (formation).

      Step 2: Assign 5 players capable of executing all of the plays (personnel and skill). Each player needs to be able to read off the defense and know which offensive option best defeats the defensive structure. Practice communication so all 5 players can switch plays quickly.

      Step 3: Execute play options with instructions to shoot when the opportunity is there (shot volume).

      You hit all the key points, fixing it is simply a matter of putting it in a logical sequence and then executing it. Something that Desjardins is unwilling to do.

    • TheRealPB

      Both this and your next post about what you’d do should be a featured post by CA, since it accurately describes that time we actually DID have a good PP and how we might change strategies and personnel to do it now.

      In all the years I’ve been a Canucks fan (since the 80s) the PP has sucked other than two times — once when Paul Reinhart manned the point and once when Edler would carry and everyone was terrified of Salo’s monster shot. With Reinhart I seem to remember at least a couple of shooters both up front and on the back end (ironically Jim Benning, Doug Lidster and maybe Robert Nordmark). The point is in both of these iterations there was always a good puck moving defensemen who could orchestrate the play and get the puck into the zone. That to me seems to be the biggest problem now. If the Canucks can actually get the puck off the face-off (which happens far too infrequently and results in Sutter being on the PP too much) they have some set-up but it’s way too predictable. Stetcher misses the net, Tanev’s shot is still weak, and Edler breaks his stick 79% of the time. If we have to gain the zone we either have Baertschi and Horvat trying to carry it in one on four or the Sedins getting stood up at the blue line or dumping it in and not retrieving the puck.

      I’d agree with others that as crazy as it sounds I’d not run the Sedins on the PP1. They use up 1:30 in mostly not generating chances. I’d run out Granlund, Horvat, Baertschi, Stetcher and Edler, and give them a shot, but given my caveats I still don’t know that it would solve anything.

  • Vanoxy

    Desjardins complete lack of willingness to try anything new to address a glaring issue should be enough to get him fired.

    With the Islanders in the market for a coach, Travis Green may have an opportunity to jump ship in the very near future.
    Now’s the time to admit WD is just not creative or flexible enough to be an effective NHL coach.

    Give Green a chance to get the most out of the kids here before losing him and being stuck with WD.

    • apr

      I like Green, but I don’t understand why people are so quick to anoint him as some sort of saviour. Who has he developed in the Canucks besides Markstrom (who developed by the goalie coach) and Baertshi (for half a season). Hutton didn’t get playing time. Stecher was in 2nd pairing. We have Biega and Gaunce – Ok.

      I don’t understand why so many people think he is a “new progressive forward thinking” and creative coach, when by all accounts he is as old school “earn your time” as WD. JV is playing third line in Utica and the first line with Valk and Archibald – don’t even have NHL contracts!! Does that strike you as a progressive thinking coach developing youth? Sounds like a coach who will only play guys he trusts to win games so he can save his job. Does that remind you of anyone?

      • Vanoxy

        I share your concerns about Green, and I’m not anointing him as a saviour.

        I think it’s clear that WD is not the solution long term, so give Green a look, while he is part of the organization. Then make an external hire after the year if he does in fact just give us more of the same.

        If they wait until the end of the season to fire WD, then we’re stuck with the new guy for at least a full season. This is a chance to see what we have in-house with little risk involved.

  • Condorman

    Completely agree with Vanoxy….this team is going nowhere with WD at the helm. If mediocre is a goal, then he’s achieved it. He loves “reponsible” players but unfortunately, in this league you need talent too. You can teach responsability, you can’t teach talent.
    It doesn’t matter who they trade or who they pick up…as is evident by far more talented player in the organization not being given a chance….Subban, Pedan, Rodin. The Canucks even draft “responsibly” and like to create bottom 6 NHLers.

    It’s very frustrating to watch. I love Bo, Sketch, Tryamkin, but as good as they are and will continue to develop, still no high end or elite level talent anywhere to be found.

  • Steamer

    No answers – but options abound: more desperation, less patience on PP; play D (BFG) up front for net presence; switch personnel &
    alignment entirely – if none of these furnish a working PP, then consider declining & punt the ball. All PP’s struggle from time to time, but Canucks’ PP is dreadfully predictable & lacking any innovation; other teams know months beforehand how Canucks will set up, this has to change. As it is now, other teams allow the Canucks to kill off their own PP with endless passes seeking a perfect shot that rarely occurs.

    • JuiceBox

      The difference is Byfuglien had above average skill and was playing as a forward at the time. . My concern with Tryamkin playing there is he isn’t skilled enough to do the things he needs to do if he ever finds himself down low away from the front of the net. On any powerplay you want your most skilled forwards in those positions.

  • JuiceBox

    If I could try something new I would split the Sedins up and completely abandon the 1-3-1. I would keep Henrik where he is, I would put Hutton on the right point behind him, I would put Eriksson in front of the net, Baertschi and Stecher on the left side. With that line combination there would be two set-up men in Hutton and Sedin and three of the Canucks highest volume shooters Stecher, Eriksson, and Baertschi. That combination could seamlessly transition between an overload and 2-1-2 formation. Henrik can glide between goal line and half wall, Eriksson would play mostly around the front of the net and in the high slot, Baertschi behind and beside the net opposite Hank, Stetcher and Hutton at the points. Henrik and Eriksson could draw in players into the front/side of the net leaving Hutton open for easy passing or shotting through traffice from one point, Stecher and Baertschi would have plenty of room to roam the other side looking for ice to get open for one-timers or rebounds.

    The other unit I would use Horvat, Sutter, Hansen, D.Sedin, and Edler. I would put a priority on an umbrella formation with Sutter and Horvat in front/side of the net, D Sedin and Hansen on the wings, and Elder right in the middle of the ice. This combination could easy shift from umbrella to 2-1-2 to overload. The umbrella is risky with only one defenseman, but Hansen still has enough wheels to cover.

    Two completely different set-ups with two completely different looks. They can’t be any worse than they are now.

  • wojohowitz

    As Torts said; `Stale, stale, stale`. Break up the twins and make them use their linemates and here`s an idea from way out there in left field. Gaunce actually has a very good wrist shot so park him in the slot and let him fight for rebounds.

  • EddyC

    To fix the PP you only have to do one thing. Get the muffin man off of it and put Tryamkin on it unleashing bombs or bring in Pedan to do it. Tryamkins wrister is harder than Stechers Slapper. The rest of the Debbie Downer stuff is hard to understand because, how do you guys not know that they are half way through the rebuild? Goal is done and so has the defense. We have a few guys at forward that will be serviceable in the future on the team already and some in the wings that are part of our future. Do you want to be in a fifteen year rebuild that might not work anyway? The team is progressing nicely if not as fast as some would like or to fast for others that have no idea what is really going on.