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The Canucks’ improvements need to come from roster building, not coaching: Canucks Conversation

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Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Clarke Corsan
24 days ago
On today’s episode of Canucks Conversation, David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal discussed some recent quotes from head coach Rick Tocchet and how the most noticeable changes to the on-ice product will come from lineup adjustments rather than coaching style changes.
“I give our coaches a project to look at the top three rushing teams and see what they’re doing that we can learn from, without sacrificing our defensive game,” said Tocchet on an appearance on The Chirp podcast. “That’s what I mean by reinventing ourselves. Good coaches take a deep dive to figure out what can be improved.”
The guys discussed.
“When you think about how offence is created off the rush, I’m sure there are stylistic things in terms of opening up the system that Tocchet could do, but most of it is going to be personnel-driven,” Harm stated. “Can you find players with specific skill sets? A major part of creating offence off the rush in today’s NHL is your defencemen need to be able to jump up. Two-on-one chances are pretty straightforward, but they don’t happen often. Can you create in non-two-on-one situations as well? That’s where it’s often the defenceman stepping up as that second layer of offence, you hit the trailer getting those chances from the high slot.”
Harm cited Dallas as an example of a team the coaches analyze to improve. “Look at a team like Dallas, for example; they generate a ton in transition. Miro Heiskanen, Thomas Harley, guys up and down the lineup who have speed and mobility and can jump up in the play. This is why it’s so difficult to build a cup-contending blue line because you’re looking for multiple skill sets. We know the Canucks like a jumbo-sized blue line, defenders who can break up the cycle, defend the front of the net—those meat-and-potato qualities—but I don’t think the blue line they iced this past season had enough speed and mobility to be asked to jump into the play. A guy like Ian Cole; once in a blue moon would step up, sometimes it would work, but often he’d get caught because he doesn’t have the speed to get back. A team like Florida has guys who can jump up but also recover. When I look at this Canucks’ blue line, I only see Quinn Hughes who can consistently do that. When we talk about opening things up and creating more off the rush, a lot of it is personnel-based. Can you find defencemen who can be reliable in their own end and help in jumping up in the play?”
Vancouver’s blue line could use some help in the mobility department, and with top prospect Tom Willander still at least a year away from the pros, the Canucks will have to look for other options in free agency.
Harm continued, “In the forward group as well, do you have wingers that can drive offensive zone entries with control? The Canucks don’t have a lot of players with that skill set. It’s easy to say, ‘let’s just open the system up,’ that’s great, but it’s not all of a sudden going to make Pius Suter or Ilya Mikheyev dangerous. You need guys who can thrive off the rush; inject speed and dynamic skill. I love to hear Tocchet realize they need to open things up slightly, but the bigger gains are going to happen when the Canucks actually find the right pieces in the top six and maybe another defenceman or two on the back end.”
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