The Canucks made a flurry of signings on July 1st, and early reviews have been pretty good, at least within this market. The biggest concern among fans of the team has been how these signings will effect the development of their young players. With only so many spots available on opening night, a few of the Canucks prospects are bound to be pushed out of the lineup. Which players would you have start the season in the AHL?
Last week I asked: What does your opening night roster look like?
Top 6 tries to capitalize on some chemistry from last season. Sutter and Eriksson are sheltering Gagner. 4th line are the leftovers who have to prove their offensive potential (limited minutes but in an offensive role).
I have Edler/Stecher and Del Zotto/Gudbranson initially but Gudbranson needs minutes to prove his worth. Plus I think having a huge middle pairing would be intimidating.
Markstrom (starter), Nilsson (backup)
F: Sedins – Goldobin; Baer-Bo-Brock; Gagner-Sutter-Erickson; Burmitsov-Granlund-Virtanan. (Dorsett rotates)
D: Edler-Stecher; Tanev-Hutton; Del Zotto-Gudbrandson (Biega)
The key will always be the Sedins. If they are 65 + point producers, Nucks are battling for a playoff spot. If they are 40-50 point players, then Bo’s line will slowly transition to first line duties and this will be a sure fire bottom 5 team. I can see one of Tanev, Gudbrandson, Hutton getting traded at TDL. My hope is that the this is a playoff team till January, get ravaged with injuries for a few months, and then trade assets and get a top 5 pick. Just like last year.
Baertschi Horvat Eriksson – Top Line
Sedin Sedin Goldobin – Scoring Line
Granlund Burmistrov Sutter – Checking Line
Gaunce Gagner Virtanen – Kid Line
Boeser, Boucher – AHL
It really depends on the camp. The D lines at least are simple:
The Edler Stecher combo should be a good offensive threat, then the other two pairs are one puck mover, one shut down guy.
The prospects are battling for a few spots:
In an ideal world, Boeser continues to dominate and slots in with Bo/Bae, and Rodin/Goldy/Virtanen or someone slots into the 3rd line. That pushes Gagner to work on a very good 4th line which could be Gagner/Gaunce/ Dorsett, Virtanen, Burms etc.
Everything that Gagner has done in his career to date indicates to me he’s a better offensive and defensive player than Sutter. His underlying relative stats over the course of his career, but especially in the last 3 years since he got out of Edmonton, indicate that he can hold his head above water, while his EV Pts/60 is miles ahead of Sutter, showing he doesn’t just produce on the powerplay. I understand he has a low FO% and doesn’t take as many as Sutter, but hopefully a year with Malhotra will improve that and Sutter will still be used situationally for his (relative) faceoff prowess.
TL;DR: Gagner should be 3rd line C over Sutter.
I’m really scared of that Hutton-Gudbranson pairing to be honest. Almost think it would be useful to drop Edler down to shelter Guddy. Maybe a young pairing of Hutton-Stecher, with Tanev supporting MDZ would work more effectively.