It’s now been more than a month since opening night, and the Vancouver Canucks have collectively dropped the mitts two times – once when Brandon Sutter duke it out with New Jersey’s Mirco Mueller, and again last week when Micheal Ferland took on LA’s Kyle Clifford.
The latter bout, unfortunately, took a turn for the troubling when Ferland exited the game shortly thereafter – and was later put on concussion protocol with at least his third serious head injury of the past half-decade. It’s an incident that has again raised the question of whether or not fighting truly has a place in the modern-era game-plan of the Canucks organization.
Vancouver isn’t the only team chucking knuckles with ever-increasing infrequency. Fighting is down league-wide – with just 34 having occurred around the NHL thus far in 2019/20 – and that’s part of a trend that has been apparent for years now.
The debate still rages on as to whether or not fighting will ever be completely removed from the sport of hockey – but things are clearly moving in that direction. This leads one to wonder exactly what sort of message coach Travis Green and his staff are giving the Canucks when it comes to scrapping. Is it something to be avoided unless completely necessary – as Ferland’s injury might suggest – or something that can still be an important tactic to shift momentum and spark one’s teammates?
We may not be privy to Green’s thoughts on the matter quite yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask our readership their opinions – and so, this week we ask:
What would you say to the Canucks about fighting if you were head coach Travis Green?
Last week, we asked:
What would you do to facilitate the return of Antoine Roussel?
Goodbye Loui, thanks for the memories. Gaudette, you’re staying in Utica until you’re ready to be a full-time NHL 3C.
Once Roussel returns, it’ll be the first time they’ll have their full team. Vancouver and Utica have more than enough replacement players when the inevitable injuries hit. For the first time since he’s been here, Benning is dealing from a position of strength. It’s time to start unloading those who are not part of the future and try to return value over volume.
I see Roussel coming back and being a utility knife-type of player. Move up and down the line up, bringing energy to a line that needs it. I’m not thinking he will score goals like he did last year, but to be the guy they pay him to be.
Roussel played best on Horvat’s line last year. Green should try him back on left wing there but that means moving Pearson down to probably the third line. Pearson’s production has tailed off since his hot start, but he is still good enough to bump another player off the roster? (Or is it Roussel doing the bumping?) Gaudette or Motte would likely be sent down to Utica although lots of posters want Eriksson sent down.
In any case, upon Roussel’s return don’t expect too much. He will be 30 years old, returning from a major injury, and having to perform on a much-improved team who are in mid-season form.
Will his return improve the team? I have my doubts, given the above-mentioned reasons. I would love to see him back with Horvat, because I think Horvat is better with Roussel than with Pearson. For Roussel to crack the lineup, his commitment and fortitude will have to be top tier.
Usually by this time of the year there is a significant injury which clears up cap space and would allow Roussel to easily slip back into the lineup. I suppose having a healthy lineup is the proverbial good kind of problem to have and it will force GMJB to make some difficult decisions.
Loui waived and Gaudette demoted seem like the obvious choices to clear cap space, but Benning has proved to have other tricks up his sleeve – so we’ll see I guess.
The good thing with Roussel is that he is capable of playing anywhere in the lineup. Last year, he was a fan favourite as he added some sandpaper to the team and popped a few tallies. I think a lineup with Roussel, Ferland, and the other large players on this team would be one that can do well in the playoffs and provide protection for the youngsters as they develop. I’m glad to have Roussel back in this lineup.
Harken back to last year when Nylander sat out and it took him a long time to get going. Green should work Rouss slowly into the line up because it will take him time to catch up. The Canucks need this guy to agitate people and he was very effective last year, but don’t rush him. We have much more depth now and don’t have to rely on him to lead the charge, per se.
The Canucks can buy themselves more time by sending him down to Utica on a two-week conditioning stint to get back into game shape. Odds are inevitable that injuries will open up a spot for him. Send Gaudette down when the time comes to bring Roussel back up if the team is still healthy. Keep a rotation of Motte and Eriksson in the pressbox as spare forwards. I would spot-sub him into the Horvat line if/when Virtanen’s consistency drop off. Everyone on the roster needs to be aware that they better bring it every night or there is someone else that can take their spot in the lineup.
Puck N A:
Motte (when healthy) to the pressbox next to Loui. Baertschi up, and Roussel on 4th line to start, ideally moved up with Horvat if/when up to speed.
Eriksson, Pearson, Leivo, Schaller, Motte, or Gaudette could be displaced by Roussel.
Eriksson likely becomes a $6 million popcorn-maker and Gaudette goes to Utica. Motte has little value but is a decent role player, so he might get waived or sat in the press box with Loui.
Pearson is the expensive one and if his production doesn’t pick up may be on the block for whatever JB could get. Both Schaller and Leivo are relatively cheap, and contribute somewhat at times in terms of scoring so will likely hang on.
With Ferland, Roussel does become a little expendable but also gives Green the ability to rotate them in and out of lines as needed.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence.)
Roussel’s return really gives the Canucks a wealth of riches at the winger positions – the big club is full, Utica is overflowing, and there are high-end prospects still to be signed. Give Roussel some conditioning time in Utica, but start working the phones for a trade now. Canucks need some roster space and some tradeable assets. Roussel fits in well in the middle-six. On a line with Virtanen, Ferland, or Pearson, he is going to be effective.
Canucks still have two needs; a high-end third line centre and a young high-end RHD. You won’t be able to trade wingers for those things, but it is definitely time to acquire some extra picks to use as currency in a deal at the deadline or in the offseason. Roussel is as good or better than Leivo in every facet of the game. Leivo is expendable.
Motte and Eriksson to the pressbox. They should be trying to guide Eriksson towards retiring with his summer signing bonus – so a demotion to Utica after christmas if the team is healthy enough seems like the right move
Roussel starts on the fourth and works his way up
Roussel is a nice addition and one of the team’s better forwards. I think with the overflow of depth forwards and the army they’ve assembled in Utica, JB should be looking to move a couple players for an upgraded piece. Quantity for quality.
Ahhh…first world problems!
Nice place to be.