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WWYDW: Professional Try-Outs

I’m back in the saddle after a week off, here to be the voice of the people that JD Burke could only dream of.

The Canucks have now signed two players to PTOs, Ryan White in late August and Scottie Upshall earlier this week. Which of these two players would you most like to see make the team, and are there any other players on the market you would like to see the Canucks invite to training camp?

Last week JD asked: Now that the Vanek signing is official, let’s have a game of armchair coach. Where would you slot him in the Canucks lineup? Does he play a role on special teams? There are so many different ways you can answer this, so I’m curious to see where you all go with the question. Feel free to speculate on his linemates and how they’ll perform as a unit next season.


On the power play, I see Vanek slotting in where Newell Brown had talked about putting Brandon Sutter – in the old Kesler sniper spot. He’s got the shot and he’s got the skill to cycle with the Sedins. He could potential score 10-15 goals in that position.
At even strength, it really depends on what the Canucks’ plans for Vanek are. If their intention is to flip him at the deadline, I can see them giving him lots of minutes against softer competition to try and pump his numbers. If their goal is to be as good as they can be and try and scrape into the playoffs, his deficits at even strength will probably keep him down to third line minutes, but still with significant power play time.


Since the Canucks do not have the top-of-the-lineup talent to compete with most teams in the NHL, I think the best strategy for winning games is to spread the offense across the lineup and roll 4 lines. In that scenario, it doesn’t matter which “line” number Vanek is on. Accordingly, I see him fitting well with Sam Gagner as his center and Rodin on the other wing.
In a traditional lineup, that would be a 3rd or 4th line getting fewer even strength minutes, but I’d be hoping for Rodin’s purported two-way ability and the offensive ability of Gagner and Vanek to balance out the trio. That would leave the other lines looking something like Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser; Sedins-Goldobin; Eriksson-Sutter-Granlund, with Dorsett, Burmistrov and the recovering-from-injury Gaunce as the extras to start the year. I don’t know about you, but I think that would be a lot more fun of a forward lineup to watch on each shift than what we saw last year. (Although I’d like to see Boucher get some time with the big club this season too!)


I would avoid playing Vanek with the Sedin line. The Sedins could use somebody younger/faster (evident from the stream of players on that line last year). I envision one of the younger players, Virtanen, Boeser, Goldobin, or Granlund playing on that line depending on the pre-season chemistry and skillset the Sedins are looking for.
I see either Thomas Vanek or Loui Eriksson supplying veteran leadership to the Horvat/Baertschi line. Which player ends up on the line I think depends on whether Horvat/Baertschi find chemistry with a left-handed (Eriksson) or right-handed (Vanek) shot. If Vanek does not end up with Horvat, he would likely slot on a third line by committee, playing with any of Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund, Sam Gagner, or a younger player (e.g. Virtanen, Boeser).
Vanek will definitely be the “Kesler” trigger man on Newell Brown’s powerplay. I expect him to be on Horvat’s PP unit (and Gagner on Sedin’s PP unit). Vanek and Gagner could interchange based on pre-season chemistry. Eventually we may see Virtanen or Boeser claim the PP trigger man spot from Vanek or Gagner, but initially I see the team starting with veterans in that position.

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I think Vanek will play with the sedins until that line doesn’t work and then will be put on the horvat line. I think the interesting thing this year is this team is stacked up with “offensively minded” players. Who then “shelters” them all during the rest of the game? Will Green look for help from utica to balance the roster with some reliable defensive play? We have two goalies who have as of yet been unproven as number ones, a defense that has struggled these last few years, and most of our new signings don’t sound like two way studs. At the very least goldy stays in Utica this year… too many offensively minded players on roster already, and maybe JD’s right and Juolevi makes the team just to keep Green’s hair from falling out.


Find: “Reid Boucher”. Replace: “Thomas Vanek”.

    • That's My Point

      YES! Jagr and the faded Sedins will take the Canucks to a 1st overall draft pick. I’m sure Vanek will help and by the way keep the oldest dmen we have. No need to try and tank this year, it’s a guarantee!

  • Rodeobill

    I assume White and Upshall are trying out for Dorsett’s spot. A part of me thinks, well, let’s just forget about all that, play the kids, roll 4 skilled lines and such. But another part of me also knows that (especially in our division) a soft team is going to get bullied around and the team (and fans) are going to look to someone to settle injustices. Without that person, who will that be? Gudbranson? He is a tough guy, but not used to bearing the policeman’s badge. As much as I would like to see more spots for skilled young players to move up, I “predict” they keep White as long as he outplays Dorsett.

    • Moderated Post

      Gudbranson played policeman, messed up his hand, missed a lot of games, and Benning wouldn’t pay him in the office season. I think he’s going to be more focused on getting that big payday than on wearing any shiny badges.

  • peterl

    I don’t see either of the PTOs being a good fit because there is just so much quantity at forward this year (and not high on quality). If I had to choose one, I would go with Ryan White. He is a bit more versatile at centre and a right-handed shot that could perhaps be useful on the PP in the event of injuries.

    As for other PTO possibilities, the Canucks could use some skill and PTO isn’t a great place to find that. Perhaps Jagr or Gionta can offer some offensive skill. It is a stretch though. Realistically, the Canucks are more likely to unearth a Jack Skille. Good enough to play 4th line minutes on a struggling team.

    Honestly, Jagr would just be entertaining to get those Travelling Jagrs from Calgary in town.

  • Cageyvet

    If there was ever a year to demand a spectacular showing from a PTO player it’s this year. If the future stars of the organization have to wrestle a job away from a max-ed out veteran, then these guys better be head and shoulders over the youth to earn a spot.

    I understand that if they are successful they will be pulling 4th line duty and not necessarily impeding a Goldobin or Rodin. There are other options such as Molino, Labate, Carcone etc. who might fit the bill and bring a spark and some upside.

    Adding to the negatives would be the certain addition of another player to the waiver wire. I’m not in favour of losing sight of building “organizational depth” for a modest, if any, upgrade in a role-playing position.

  • There has been a lot of talk about how improving the offence was a top priority for the season (with good reason). And I think they’ve done enough to address at least their PP.

    But their penalty kill wasn’t great either. And with two of their top PK players traded at the deadline, there is a need to fill those skates! If there is room for a PP specialist like Gagner, then why can’t there be room for a PK specialist?

    Upshall might be the guy to do that. He can play on your 4th line and keep his head above water. And he was a part of a very good STL PK unit last year.

  • Neil B

    15.4(c). “(c) A Club shall be permitted to dress a minimum of eight (8) veterans for any Exhibition Game. For purposes of this Section 15.4(c), a veteran shall constitute either: (1) a forward or defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season, (2) a goaltender who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL Games in the previous season, (3) a first round draft choice from the most recent year’s Entry Draft, or (4) any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games. The matter of Player participation in Exhibition Games shall be referred to the NHL/NHLPA Competition Committee for its consideration and recommendations, if any, in accordance with Article 22. “