End Of Season All-Star Teams (Including All-Rookie and All-Canuck)

At the end of each season, the real all-stars are selected. None of this fan-voted, skill-competing, goofball atmosphere baloney. These are the real best of the best. Each year, a first and second all-star team are selected, as well as an all-rookie team. Here are my picks and, for fun, my all-Canuck team. (NOTE: For the rookie team, forwards are not selected by position, just the top three forwards).

First Team All-Stars

G

Braden Holtby- A legendary season in which Holtby tied the single-season record for wins.

D

Erik Karlsson- The first defenseman to lead the league in assists since Bobby Orr.

D

Brent Burns- Half-forward, half-defenseman, all-beast.

LW

Jamie Benn- Second in league scoring, and the best power forward in the game.

C

Joe Thornton- A truly resurgent season that saw Thornton nearly lead the league in assists yet again.

RW

Patrick Kane- Led the league in scoring by a long shot. Likely Hart Trophy winner.

Second Team All-Stars

G

Ben Bishop- A quieter season than Holtby, but still dominant. Had better personal stats.

D

Drew Doughty- May never win a Norris, but still a top-level defenseman.

D

Kris Letang- A bounceback season saw Letang at nearly a point-per-game, and strong defensively.

LW

Johnny Gaudreau- Quickly becoming a true NHL superstar.

C

Sidney Crosby- Looked like a bust of a season at first, then led all centers in scoring by the end.

RW

Blake Wheeler- Wheeler is underappreciated, perhaps due to playing in Winnipeg, but has developed into a dynamic star.

All-Rookie Team

G

John Gibson- Made a valiant effort at winning the starting role in Anaheim.

D

Shayne Gostisbehere- Came out of nowhere to lead Philly into the playoffs.

D

Colton Parayko- Was overshadowed by Gostisbehere, but has made Shattenkirk expendable in STL.

F

Connor McDavid- The next one lived up to the hype in his rookie year.

F

Artemi Panarin- Cracked the top-ten in league scoring, almost made one of the All-Star teams.

F

Jack Eichel- A much quieter debut than McDavid, but Eichel still looks like a long-term superstar.

All-Canuck Team

G

Jacob Markstrom- Did as Canucks fans were hoping and wrestled the starting role from Miller.

D

Chris Tanev- Mr. Dependable on the blueline.

D

Ben Hutton- An absolute revelation in his rookie season, and from out of nowhere, too.

LW

Daniel Sedin- The Canucks’ MVP this season, outplayed brother for once.

C

Bo Horvat- Perhaps a controversial choice, Horvat edges out Henrik with a breakout second half.

RW

Jannik Hansen- Another breakout season, although Hansen’s may be more of a “one-hit wonder” than Horvat’s.

2016 NHL Awards Picks (With Canuck Candidates)

Some people may not realize this, but this is the time of year when all the NHL awards are decided. In fact, most of them will have been picked already. The NHL awards, except for the Conn Smythe (playoff MVP), are picked after the regular season, and are not meant to take playoff performance into consideration.

For each award, I’ve listed my pick to win it as well as two other nominees. I’ve also selected a Canuck candidate for each award, which required a bit of creativity here and there.

Hart Trophy (Most Valuable Player)

Winner: Patrick Kane

Nominees: Braden Holtby, Erik Karlsson

After a controversy-filled off-season, many would not have been surprised if Kane’s play took a step back this season. Instead, Kane put up a career year, leading the league in scoring by a long shot. His dominant 106 points were 17 more than his runner-up, Jamie Benn. Kane is a no-brainer for the Hart.

His advantages over the other nominees include the fact that his team made the playoffs, unlike Karlsson, and that he had no other obvious MVP candidates on his team, unlike Holtby.

Canucks Candidate: Daniel Sedin- Almost gave this to Bo Horvat, but Sedin put his very best effort into this season and helped the young roster gain a little pride.

Calder Trophy (Best Rookie)

Winner: Connor McDavid

Nominees: Artemi Panarin, Shayne Gostisbehere

This Calder race is particularly interesting, because it will show what voters truly value. As with any “best of” award, it’s ultimately subjective what categories one weights most heavily. The rookie who produced the most was Panarin by a long shot, but he played with Kane all year and is much older and more experienced than other rookies, which may be held against him. Gostisbehere plays a more difficult position to enter into, and helped lead Philadelphia to the playoffs. However, if the voters are truly looking for the best rookie, and the one who performed with the greatest level of skill, it has to be McDavid. His point-per-game rate is the highest of all rookies, and he is doing that in his teen years with a relatively untalented team.

Canucks Candidate: Ben Hutton- A slam dunk pick. Despite the large number of rookies the Canucks iced, Hutton out-classed them all.

Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie)

Winner: Braden Holtby

Nominees: Ben Bishop, Martin Jones

This is a fairly easy one to pick, perhaps the easiest. Holtby was dominant from start to finish, and tied Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record fairly easily. Holtby continuously found a way to win, and helped the Capitals have their best regular season ever.

Bishop quietly had a great season, as well, with personal stats even better than Holtby’s. Jones gets in as the third nominee for his MVP-qualities, as he played a massive role in San Jose’s quick turnaround this year.

Canucks Candidate: Thatcher Demko- Getting a little creative here and considering goaltending performances at any level. Demko ruled the NCAA and earned a Hobey Baker nomination.

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)

Winner: Erik Karlsson

Nominees: Drew Doughty, Brent Burns

If the Vezina was the easiest pick, this is definitely the second easiest. Karlsson had a historic season, with a point-per-game and the league lead in assists, the first d-man to do so since Bobby Orr. Karlsson was simply unstoppable.

Doughty continues to be snubbed for the Norris, and may end up playing through his prime without ever winning one, as other players keep overshadowing him. Burns is a controversial pick, due to his questionable status as a full-time D, but he was only 7 points behind Karlsson this year and brings more bite to his game.

Canucks Candidate: Chris Tanev- Tempted to pick Hutton here, but Tanev is still the glue that holds the blueline together. Criminally underrated, but nice to see Tanev get some attention from Team Canada this summer.

Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward)

Winner: Anze Kopitar

Nominees: Patrice Bergeron, Joe Thornton

            The Selke is always a tough trophy to pick, as it is usually more of a “best defensive forward who is also great offensively” award than anything. With that in mind, it is hard to ignore Kopitar’s season, as he and the Kings dominated in almost every trackable statistic. Kopitar cracked the top-10 in scoring, and also had huge performances in things like faceoffs and possession numbers.

Bergeron is a perennial candidate, and it would be nice to see Thornton rewarded in some way for his resurgent season. All three candidates were in the top-16 in scoring.

Canucks Candidate: Jannik Hansen- Hansen fits the Selke profile perfectly; a forward who was always good defensively who is rewarded for a sudden offensive breakout.

Jack Adams (Best Coach)

Winner: Mike Sullivan (Penguins)

Nominees: Dave Hakstol (Flyers), Barry Trotz (Capitals)

            The Jack Adams always seems to reward the coach that played the largest role in a team’s turnaround, and Sullivan was definitely able to visibly demonstrate that quality. The Penguins were absolutely floundering under Mike Johnston, and scoring stars Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel were mired in brutal slumps. After Johnston was replaced by Sullivan, the whole team caught fire, and they were paced by their best players, including Crosby who played himself back into MVP-contention.

Hakstol came out of nowhere to basically will the Flyers into the playoffs, and Trotz is rewarded for having such a dominant season in his first year with the Caps.

Canucks Candidate: Travis Green- Also getting creative on this one. There can be no real doubt that Green had a more successful season than Willie Desjardins, and managed to pull a lot from a depleted Comets roster. Unfortunately, Green’s performance may have been too good, and the team may lose him to an NHL opportunity.

GM of the Year (GM of the Year)

Winner: Brian MacLellan (Capitals)

Nominees: Jim Nill (Stars), Dale Tallon (Panthers)

            MacLellan may be riding on the coattails of his teams’ dominant performance here, but he did play a large role in the Caps’ success. While the main pieces of the team, like Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Holtby, were not MacLellan’s acquisitions, he was able to supplement his team with smart pickups like TJ Oshie and Justin Williams, leading to Washington’s best season ever.

In Dallas, Nill made some important moves to supplement the burgeoning talent on his roster, including grabbing Johnny Oduya and Patrick Sharp. Tallon continues to make it work with limited resources in Florida, and has the fanbase excited once again.

Canucks Candidate: Jim Benning- I tried to pick out a lesser known executive, but it is hard to tell who does what, as Benning really is the creative force behind everything, for better or for worse. Many of his 2015-16 moves paid off better than fans were expecting, and it will be interesting to see how some long-term gambles develop.

NOTE: I’m going to leave out the Lady Byng, the King Clancy, the Masterton, and the (ugh) Mark Messier Leadership Award, as they’re all entirely subjective, and best picked by the people that actually interact with NHL players regularly

Further Arguments for the Signing of Lucic

Okay, I had better address the Lucic thing.

First of all, I dislike Lucic with a passion. Not so much for his dirty play, which isn’t unique to Lucic, but more for his whining whenever anyone gives him a taste of his own medicine. He is a giant, malformed baby.

As far as mentorship goes, Lucic is definitely not the guy we want influencing Matthews the most. However, the Sedins would still be the dominant personalities in the room. One has to think that Lucic would shift his attitude to match the culture of the team, rather than the other way around. If that doesn’t happen, at least a short-term deal would make Lucic movable.

Here are the three main reasons why Lucic would be a valuable addition in UFA.

1) He has the skill to play with Matthews or another top-6 center. Lucic is definitely in the top-3 of most skilled UFA wingers. Only Okposo and maybe Erikkson are superior, however, they would be more expensive.

2) He has a reason to give the Canucks a hometown discount. Vancouver is, after all, his home town. No reason for any other UFA (other than Hamhuis) to give us a discount. If we’re signing a UFA this offseason, it will be on a tight budget. Lucic may be willing to sacrifice on term to play in Vancouver. No chance Okposo or Eriksson take any form of discount.

3) He can play multiple roles. If they draft Matthews, the team will need somebody to protect him. I know the age of the enforcer is over, but you still need someone to keep the other teams accountable. Derek Dorsett just won’t cut it, and definitely doesn’t have the skill to keep up with Matthews anyway. Lucic could play on his line and keep other teams off his back to a certain extent.

I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but if the Canucks can get Lucic on a short-term deal, it should be welcomed. He is our only real shot to get something valuable in the free agency market without sacrificing future flexibility.

The Darkest and Brightest Timelines for the 2016 Canucks Offseason

The year is 2016, and comic book culture is at its absolute peak. The idea of alternate timelines have never been more popular, and this mindset has definitely leaked into other forms of culture, Canucks hockey included.

Whether they realize it or not, Canuck fans have become obsessed with alternate timelines as the 2016 offseason rapidly approaches. Will the Canucks win any of the three draft lotteries? Will Jim Benning choose to pursue free agents or stick with the rebuild? Will the Canucks be able to cut some dead weight? Let us gaze into the future and look at both the darkest and brightest timelines for the Canucks offseason in 2016, all within the bounds of realism.

Darkest Timeline:

Draft 6th overall, draft someone off the board:

The lowest the Canucks can draft is 6th overall, so the darkest timeline begins there. However, the 6th overall pick isn’t necessarily that dark. Many great prospects may be available, including Jakob Chychrun, Matthew Tkachuk, Alex Nylander, or Olli Juolevi. However, the timeline gets real dark real quick when the Canucks go off the board with their pick, picking someone ranked in the late teens or early twenties. To make things even worse, it’s a two-way center.

Sign Lucic and Eriksson at overpayments with long-term

Due to Benning’s Boston history, the two free agents most tied to the Canucks in rumours are Milan Lucic and Loui Eriksson. Both are aging wingers, with Eriksson the more senior of the two but Lucic more likely to see his play deteriorate quickly. Signing either to a long-term overpayment could seriously hinder the team’s ability to re-sign their developing youngsters. Signing both could be devastating.

Buyout Burrows to fit them in

Many Canucks fans have come to terms with buying out Alex Burrows, but only because it helps to clear a roster spot for a young player and gives the team some salary flexibility. If instead of those worthy causes, Burrows is sacrificed for Lucic and Eriksson, it will be a sad day for Canuck fans.

Do not re-sign Hamhuis

The trade deadline day was a stressful one for the Canucks, and ultimately Dan Hamhuis stayed with the team. This was saved from being a total disaster because of the open secret that Hamhuis would be re-signing with the Canucks in the summer anyway. If the Canucks fail to sign Hamhuis, they really are letting an asset walk away for free.

Re-sign Bartkowski

I don’t have to say much about Matt Bartkowski. He had a dreadful season, and the amount of minutes he played were way too high. Of all the possible re-signings, only Radim Vrbata would frustrate Canuck fans more, and that is so unrealistic it doesn’t make it into any timeline.

Keep Higgins

I doubt that many Canuck fans hold any ill will towards Chris Higgins. However, it is definitely best if he is not on the NHL roster next year. If the Canucks are unable to dump him via trade with retention or buyout, but do get rid of a more useful veteran like Burrows, it will be a bitter pill for Canuck fans to swallow.

Keep Sbisa

The physical role of Luca Sbisa has been bettered by both Nikita Tryamkin and Andrey Pedan. At this point, his presence on the roster is just holding them back, and tying up unnecessary salary. If there truly is a market for him, and the Canucks decide to keep him, it will be a foolish and unpopular choice.

Do not sign Thatcher Demko

Hurray, this potential disaster has been averted! Maybe the darkest timeline won’t come true!

Extend Miller

The hype of signing Demko could be quickly squashed if the Canucks extend Ryan Miller, cutting off Demko’s access to NHL action in two years. Miller is not quite at retirement age, and while the Canucks may look to trade him this season, they could lock him up for a few more years of serviceable goaltending.

Fail to sign Larsen

This one might look minor, but the Canucks did trade a 5th round pick to Edmonton for the rights to Philip Larsen. Wasting another 5th rounder, like the Canucks did in the Brandon Prust trade, would be annoying. To make this even worse, that 5th rounder could end up riding shotgun with Connor McDavid for years.

Miss out on any further NCAA signings

The Canucks should be happy with Troy Stetcher, but many fans have their hearts set on more signings from the NCAA. Missing out on Brandon Tanev was a bummer, missing out on Drake Caggiula will be worse, especially if he goes to a rival team like Chicago.

 

Don’t wallow in the dark for too long, move on to the…

Brightest Timeline:

Draft 1st overall, draft Auston Matthews

The brightest timeline starts off with an obvious event; the Canucks win the first draft lottery and pick Auston Matthews. Matthews becomes the most-hyped prospect to ever enter the Canucks system, and transforms the franchise overnight.

Sign Lucic to hometown discount

The most controversial choice on this list, but directly related to the first item. While Lucic is not popular amongst Vancouver fans, he does have some enticing qualities, one of which is definitely his ability to add some serious muscle to a top-6. The idea of him riding shotgun with Matthews during Matthews’ first few years in the league is really appealing. If the Canucks can manage to sign Lucic to a hometown discount, especially in term, they could benefit greatly. Something at or under three years, and hopefully under $6 million per year.

Sign Hamhuis to hometown discount

Perhaps a more realistic candidate for a hometown discount is Dan Hamhuis, who has pretty much stated his desire to do exactly that. If the Canucks are able to keep Hamhuis’ term low, at around four years, that’s a win. If they can also keep his salary similarly low, at around $4 million per year, that is major win. It also sets up the next point

Trade Edler for a huge return, including NHL-ready d prospect

The Canucks can run next season with a top-4 defense of Hamhuis, Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, and Nikita Tryamkin. This gives them the opportunity to dangle one of their biggest trade chips, Alex Edler. Edler’s no-trade clause complicates matters, but the Canucks should still be able to land a huge return for Edler, a top-2 D on a great contract. If that return contains an NHL-ready defense prospect who can eventually slide into Hamhuis’ spot, all the better.

Trade Hansen for huge return

Another controversial choice, but the logic is that trading Jannik Hansen is an obvious opportunity to sell high. Nobody expects Hansen to repeat his career season. If the Canucks can get a 1st round pick for Hansen, or a top prospect, they should do it. This opens up a roster space and gets the Canucks another pick in a deep draft.

Find a way to keep Burrows

The above trades could result in a consolation prize of sorts, keeping Alex Burrows. Burrows can fill a role on the 4th line for another year, and ideally retire as a career Canuck.

Dump Bartkowski

Not re-signing Bartkowski is definite addition by subtraction. At the very least, this will result in a happier season for the Canuck goalies. Canucks fans will cheer when he signs elsewhere in July.

Dump Higgins

Again, no ill will towards Higgins, but getting rid of him gives the Canucks some needed roster flexibility. Ideally, they can trade him with retention and gain a spot for someone like Brendan Gaunce or Alex Grenier.

Trade Sbisa for scraps

Pretty much the same description here as for Bartkowski. Tryamkin and Pedan can more ably fill Sbisa’s role, and getting rid of his frequent gaffes can only help our goaltenders’ confidence. Who cares what return they get, as long as they don’t have to retain salary.

Sign Thatcher Demko, give him starting role in Utica

Part one of this is already done, and part two is almost certainly happening. With Joe Cannata unlikely to re-sign, Demko just has to beat out Richard Bachman for the starter role, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Maybe the brightest timeline is already coming to pass!

Bring Larsen over

If Larsen is able to come over and step into an NHL role, it will be a nice moral victory for the Canucks as they reclaim an Edmonton prospect and make him work, similar to what the Canucks did to the Flames with Sven Baertschi. Bonus points if Larsen can help the powerplay.

Sign Drake Caggiula

The cherry on top for a perfect Canucks offseason, the team landing Brock Boeser’s UND linemate would leave the prospect pool looking perhaps the best it ever has. Canucks fans would have a reason to tune in not just to NHL games next year, but also to catch as many Utica Comets games as possible.

On Fighting In Hockey

Why we’re talking about this

With the ever increasing attention paid towards head injuries, and the frequently fightless playoffs taking center stage, the debate over fighting in hockey is once again on the docket. This debate makes the rounds almost every year, and usually it covers the same ground. Very little progress seems to have been made in the past few seasons, as the same handful of talking points are hashed out over and over again. I think most of the reason for this impasse is that people are essentially debating two different subjects. There are two distinct types of fighting, and by looking at their differences, we can clearly see that one belongs in the game while the other should probably be removed.

Separating the Two Types of Fighting

I will refer to these two types of fighting as Staged Fighting and Reactionary Fighting. Staged Fighting is the type that usually occurs off of a faceoff between two “designated” fighters or “enforcers.” Reactionary Fighting, on the other hand, comes as a direct or indirect reaction to something that has occurred within the game. There can be no doubt which form of fighting currently belongs more in the game, as Staged Fighting has become nearly extinct, and enforcers have gone along with it. However, I believe that Staged Fighting is responsible for many of the most common criticisms of fighting within the game, and that its removal can solve many issues while still keeping fighting in the game.

How the Staged Fighting Evolved, Why It Isn’t Needed

Staged Fighting evolved in an interesting way throughout the years. It is not dissimilar to the arms race that occurred during the Cold War. Indeed, the enforcers were often referred to as “nuclear deterrents.” Basically, hockey teams have always had some form of enforcer, a player who stands up for his teammates. Occasionally, players developed that were both skilled enough to play regular shifts in the NHL and tough enough to take on all comers. These were the John Fergusons and later the Bob Proberts of the league.

Assets like Probert were few and far between, but a player like that could absolutely dominate the opposition. Since getting a Probert clone was next to impossible, teams settled for players that could at least fight as good as a Probert-type. These goons were countered with further goons, and the whole situation escalated out of control. Even worse, since these players’ roles were defined almost solely by the presence of other goons, it made sense for them to just “get it over with” and fight whenever they hit the ice together. Voila, Staged Fighting begins.

Some of the most common complaints about fighting in the NHL are more applicable to Staged Fighting than reactionary fighting, not the least of which is the danger factor. Fighting in hockey is surprisingly less dangerous than one might think, even where head injuries are concerned. The factor of being on skates and ice can reduce the impact from bareknuckle punches. However, the danger from fighting is drastically increased as the size of the players involved increases, and so the prospect of having trained and designated fighters in the league has increased the risk. Players who are essentially designed purely for fighting on skates end up doing a lot more damage than players who are primarily hockey players who only fight on occasion.

As well, the idea that fighting is a “sideshow” stems almost entirely from Staged Fighting. It can be very difficult to explain why two 4th liners must fight three minutes into a game off a random faceoff, but nobody struggles to understand a Reactionary Fight. Staged Fights seem to happen almost separate from the game, whereas Reactionary Fights always develop from within the game action.

The playoffs demonstrate this beautifully. Staged Fights disappear almost entirely, as the idea of “pumping up the team” is a moot point. However, Reactionary Fights are still prominent, as players react to perceived slights and attempt to “send messages.” Look no farther than the Detroit vs Tampa Bay series. Neither side has any designated fighters, but each team has found ample reasons to react to the other with some Reactionary Fighting. The series has been better and more intense for it, all while remaining relatively clean. Staged Fighting is not a natural part of the game, and that is why it disappears come playoff time.

Why Reactive Fighting Is Different, Is Needed

Reactionary fighting, on the other hand, comes from a very natural place in the game. With a game as fast as hockey, the diversity of actions taken throughout the game is enormous. Reactionary fighting helps police a dynamic and violent game. While policing the game is ultimately the job of the referee, reactionary fighting can do a great job at covering some areas that the refs cannot. Punishment for actions taken during a game can only be policed by referees in set ways, while the policing done by players in a reactionary fashion can change to suit each action taken.

For example, let’s look at slashing. If a player commits a basic act of slashing, by breaking an opponent’s stick, they will be assessed a two-minute minor for slashing. If they commit an act of slashing that is incredibly dangerous or heinous, they can be charged a five-minute major and a potential suspension. However, there is a wide range of slashes between those two offenses that, by the books, should be dealt with by that same two-minute minor. Players policing the game are able to react to a specific kind of slash, like one that targets the back of the legs or a star player, where the ref simply cannot.

These reactionary fights can often prevent an escalation in violence. For all of its wild fury, a one-on-one hockey fight is a relatively controlled experience. Escalation in the severity of bodychecking, slashing, or crosschecking can quickly get out of hand in a way that fights rarely do. Sometimes, having that steam valve is worth it.

Possible changes/solutions

There are a few possible solutions that would help alleviate the issues surrounding fighting in hockey without removing it entirely. I’ve written in a previous post about the potential benefits of removing the instigator rule, and the league should seriously consider that. There are also rules that can target designated fighters specifically, including automatic suspensions once someone passes ten fights and similar rules. Ultimately, perhaps the best solution may be allowing the ref some discretion in identifying Staged Fights and kicking the offenders out of the game. Usually, it is pretty obvious when a fight has little to do with the game itself. Hopefully, these rule changes can help get fighting back to the purpose it originally served in the game, and get rid of the sideshow nonsense that has developed in the interim.

Further Evidence For My Draft Proposal

When I posted my draft-fixing proposal around, the largest criticism of it is that it would hurt the weakest teams and reward teams that had a poor start. The notion seemed to be that strong teams could still be low in the standings by the end of January, or February, or whenever the draft was decided in my proposal.

I’ve done some further research and found that this is not the case, especially if only the top eight selections are decided mid-way through the season.

Here are the NHL standings at the end of January and February (the trade deadline) from this past season:

http://dropyourgloves.com/Games/AnyDateStandings.aspx?League=1&Date=2016-01-31

http://dropyourgloves.com/Games/AnyDateStandings.aspx?League=1&Date=2016-02-29

As you can see, even strong teams that had poor starts like the Anaheim Ducks have climbed the standings by this point in the season. The weakest teams are already at the bottom of the standings, and many had been all season.

If you look at other seasons, this is true for them, as well. In fact, the only two playoff teams who would have been even close to having their draft pick selected at the trade deadline (under my proposal) were the Flyers and the Wild, two teams who made late charges to make the playoffs.

The real difference under my proposal would have been the avoidance of a post-deadline race to the bottom of the standings. Teams like Vancouver and Arizona would have had no incentive to perform their post-February nosedives. Food for thought.

 

 

 

 

Vancouver Canucks: Who Should Stay and Who Should Go

For each player on the cap currently, here is my opinion on what the Canucks should do with them during the 2016 offseason.

Options: KEEP, TRADE, RE-SIGN, LET GO, SEND DOWN, WAIVE, BUYOUT

Ordered by cap hit:

Forwards:

Daniel Sedin, LW, 35

Contract: NMC, 2 years remaining at $7mil hit

KEEP: An obvious choice. The Sedins will retire Canucks, and ideally help mentor the incoming youth as they slide into secondary scoring roles.

Henrik Sedin, C, 35

Contract: NMC, 2 years remaining at $7mil hit

KEEP: See above.

Radim Vrbata, RW, 34

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Another easy choice here. Vrbata pouted his way through a season that was full of disinterest and disappointment. He’ll probably find NHL work, but it won’t be in Vancouver.

Brandon Sutter, C, 27

Contract: 5 years remaining at $4.375mil hit

KEEP: Sutter looked good as a Canuck when he was healthy, which wasn’t very often. His versatility and relative youth will make him a valuable “bridge” player as the team reboots.

Alex Burrows, RW, 35

Contract: Partial NTC, 1 year remaining at $4.5mil hit

KEEP: I don’t see the Canucks being in any dire need of cap next season, so why not keep Burrows around in a 4th line role? There are other ways to clear out roster spots, especially given the low or negative value Burrows holds on the trade market.

Derek Dorsett, RW, 29

Contract: 3 years remaining at $2.65mil hit

KEEP: Like Burrows, Dorsett won’t have much value on the trade market. Also like Burrows, Dorsett can still play a few valuable roles on the team. Dorsett’s willingness to play his role shone through in comparison to Brandon Prust’s sour attitude this season. One of Dorsett’s best traits is that he absorbs a lot of attention from opponents that might be directed elsewhere.

Jannik Hansen, RW, 30

Contract: Partial NTC, 2 years remaining at $2.5mil hit

TRADE: The first of a few tough calls. As mentioned above, the Canucks will be looking to open up some roster spots for younger players this offseason. While they could accomplish this by dumping Burrows, Dorsett, or others, trading Hansen allows them to clear space while gaining some serious value and opening up a meaningful role. Hansen’s return would ideally be a 1st round pick.

Chris Higgins, LW, 32

Contract: Partial NTC, 1 year remaining at $2.5mil hit

BUYOUT or TRADE (with retention): The number one priority with Chris Higgins should be getting him out of the way. He will not be on the NHL roster, and doesn’t do much good down in Utica. If we can trade him with a bit of retention, that is ideal, and if not, we should buy him out.

Brandon Prust, C, 32

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Prust will have a tough time finding NHL work next year, and it certainly won’t be in Vancouver.

Linden Vey, C, 24

Contract: RFA

RE-SIGN: Despite some negativity from the fans, Vey had a pretty decent season. He still has potential to develop into a regular NHL player, so why let that value go for free? No reason not to retain his services.

Sven Baertschi, LW, 23

Contract: RFA

RE-SIGN: Absolutely no reason not to re-sign Baertschi, who broke out in a big way this season.

Jared McCann, C, 19

Contract: 2 years left in ELC

KEEP, BUT SEND DOWN: I don’t buy rumours of McCann’s bad attitude. He seems like a great teammate, and should be kept barring an unbelievable offer. However, McCann should start next season in Utica. He has some high-end offensive potential, and playing on the top line in Utica should be great for developing it. Ideally, he works his way back onto the NHL roster by midseason.

Jake Virtanen, RW, 19

Contract: 2 years left in ELC

KEEP: While the same could be said about Virtanen as McCann, Virtanen’s physical game should be allowed to mature at the NHL level. He will have the opportunity to play himself up the lineup.

Bo Horvat, C, 21

Contract: 1 year left in ELC

KEEP: Horvat is untouchable.

Emerson Etem, LW, 23

Contract: RFA

KEEP: This one comes with a caveat. Etem is arbitration eligible. If he manages to lever his late-season surge into a large arbitration payout, the Canucks should walk away. If they can re-sign Etem at a reasonable rate, however, they should do it.

Anton Rodin, RW, 25

Contract: 1 year remaining at $950thou hit

KEEP: The Canucks didn’t sign Rodin to play in the minors. He will start the 2016-17 season in Vancouver.

Markus Granlund, C, 23

Contract: RFA

KEEP: Granlund is not arbitration eligible, and the Canucks will be able to re-sign him for fairly cheap. Granlund showed enough skill to earn an extended look at the NHL level.

Brendan Gaunce, C, 22

Contract: 1 year remaining on ELC

KEEP: Gaunce is one of the players that the Canucks should be clearing space for, so that they can see what he can do at the NHL level and not risk losing him to waivers.

Ludwig Blomstrand, LW, 23

Contract: RFA

LET GO: It is abundantly clear that, despite ECHL success, Blomstrand is not going to get his chance in Utica. Let him seek opportunity elsewhere.

Ronalds Kenins, LW, 25

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Kenins regressed heavily this year at both the AHL and NHL level. He likely doesn’t have a future in the Canucks organization.

Alex Grenier, RW, 24

Contract: RFA

RE-SIGN: Grenier has continued to look great at the AHL level, and there’s no reason not to keep him around for another NHL audition. Worst case scenario, they lose him to waivers.

Alex Friesen, C, 25

Contract: UFA

RE-SIGN: Friesen is a valuable depth player who can help develop our prospects in Utica and serve as a call-up in a pinch. Has continued to improve each season.

Mike Zalewski, LW, 23

Contract: RFA

RE-SIGN: Zalewski earned an NHL contract with his offensive outburst in Utica this year, and it is worth keeping him around to see how he progresses.

Blair Jones, C, 29

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Utica will need some depth players, but there will hopefully be better options available.

Defense:

Alex Edler, D, 29

Contract: NTC, 3 years remaining at $5mil hit

TRADE: If the Canucks re-sign Hamhuis, they should explore trading Edler. His contract should make him extra valuable, and if the Canucks can return a high pick and/or some quality prospects for Edler, they should pull the trigger.

Dan Hamhuis, D, 33

Contract: UFA

RE-SIGN: Hamhuis shows serious willingness to take a discount to re-sign with the Canucks, and the team should definitely take advantage of it. Hamhuis looked especially good after returning from his frightening injuries, and probably has 3-4 years left as a top-4 defenseman.

Chris Tanev, D, 26:

Contract: 4 years left at $4.45mil hit

KEEP: Like Horvat, Tanev should be untouchable. On a bargain contract.

Luca Sbisa, D, 26

Contract: 2 years left at $3.6mil hit

TRADE: If the Canucks can truly trade Sbisa as Jim Benning says, they should do it. He has been surpassed by younger players and his inability to stay healthy is all the more reason to part ways. I would be okay with a low value return, but ideally no salary retention.

Matt Bartkowski, D, 27

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Bartkowski may have been celebrated as a “tank commander,” but having him on the team has to be terrible for our goalies’ confidence. With Markstrom stepping into the starting role and Demko hopefully appearing soon, get Bartkowski far away from Vancouver.

Yannick Weber, D, 27

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Weber recently complained about his usage, but he really did nothing to earn more time. His 2014-15 season looks like an anomaly, and Weber shouldn’t be retained.

Nikita Tryamkin, D, 21

Contract: 1 year remaining at $925thou hit

KEEP: Tryamkin looked even better than expected in his brief NHL audition. The Canucks will plan on him playing a top-4 role next year.

Troy Stecher, D, 22

Contract: 2 years remaining at $925thou hit

SEND DOWN: Stecher, fresh out of college, should definitely start in Utica. Not everyone can be Ben Hutton.

Ben Hutton, D, 22

Contract: 1 year remaining at $896thou hit

KEEP: Hutton was an absolute revelation this season. He should be untouchable as well.

Andrey Pedan, D, 22

Contract: RFA

RE-SIGN: Pedan is another player who could benefit from an extended look at the NHL level. He will get it next year.

Alex Biega, D, 28

Contract: 2 years remaining at $750thou hit

KEEP: Biega is a cheap depth defenseman, who can always be waived if his play dips dramatically.

Taylor Fedun, D, 27

Contract: UFA

RE-SIGN: If Fedun is okay with staying in Utica, they should keep him. He provided valuable depth there this year.

Goalies:

Joe Cannata, G, 26

Contract: UFA

LET GO: Hopefully, the team will sign Thatcher Demko, and will need to clear a slot in Utica. Demko can share the crease with Richard Bachman.

Ryan Miller, G, 35

Contract: 1 year remaining at $6 mil hit

KEEP: Demko should do a year in Utica before playing a backup role in Vancouver, so there is no reason not to keep Miller for another season. Miller could even hold some value at the trade deadline.

Jacob Markstrom, G, 26

Contract: 1 year remaining at $1.55mil hit

KEEP: Markstrom looked ready to be an NHL starter this season, and will likely start at least 60% of the games next season.

Signed Prospects:

(The following are prospects/minor leaguers without expiring contracts, and are unlikely to be dealt unless they are part of a larger package)

Jordan Subban, Guillaume Brisebois, Joe Labate, Ashton Sautner, Mackenze Stewart, Anton Cedarholm, Cole Cassels, Evan McEneny, Richard Bachman