We are now just slightly beyond the quarter-mark of the NHL season, which is generally a good time for reflection. All of the teams in the league have played over 20 games, which means that sample sizes are large enough to get a clear picture of individual performance without the taint of hot starts and cold streaks.
Instead of looking at the performance of current Vancouver players, which we do on a weekly basis, I thought it might be more interesting to judge the play of some recent former Canucks. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve only gathered players that left the organization sometime over the previous two seasons. Please let me know if I’ve missed anyone!
Matt Bartkowski, D , 28 , Providence Bruins (AHL)
14 Games Played, 2 Goals and 5 Assists for 7 Points
–Vancouver fans will not be shocked to learn that Tank Commander Bartkowski did not find an NHL spot this year. It’s nice that he’s back in the Bruins organization, and he seems to be doing well at the AHL level, where he probably belongs. Failed in a tryout bid with Ottawa during the preseason.
Nick Bonino, C , 28 , Pittsburgh Penguins
22 Games Played, 1 Goals and 7 Assists for 8 Points
–Last season’s playoff hero has not kept his hot streak going into the regular season. Despite the occasional reunion of the HBK Line with Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel, Bonino’s offensive returns have been quite poor this year, with only eight points. Not a great showing in a contract year!
Kevin Bieksa, D , 35 , Anaheim Ducks
22 Games Played, 1 Goals and 0 Assists for 1 Points
–The Canucks definitely cut ties with Kevin Bieksa at the right time. Bieksa is still capable of holding down bottom-pairing minutes, but the days of 40+ points are way behind him now. Bieksa’s contract has also made him an absolute anchor, and will cause the Ducks some pain as they approach the expansion draft.
Adam Clendening, D, 24, New York Rangers
6 Games Played, 0 Goals and 2 Assists for 2 Points
–Clendening has continually been an NHL/AHL tweener throughout his career, but he seems to have found a semi-permanent home as a Rangers healthy scratch. While he’s only played six games, many Ranger fans want to see him playing more and blame Alain Vigneault for his poor usage, which is something Canuck fans can certainly sympathize with.
Frank Corrado, D , 23 , Toronto Maple Leafs
1 Games Played, 0 Goals and 0 Assists for 0 Points
–The sad saga of Frankie Corrado carries on. Corrado’s lengthy pressbox stint made headlines last year, and while he eventually played more towards the end of the season, he’s gone right back to the sidelines this year. Hard to believe that Corrado is only 23, but it looks like his career might have stalled for good.
Adam Cracknell, RW/C , 31 , Dallas Stars
22 Games Played, 2 Goals and 1 Assists for 3 Points
–When Cracknell came to the Canucks, he wasn’t considered a lock for the roster, but he’s doggedly held on to an NHL job ever since. He may find himself out of the lineup whenever Dallas returns to full health, but don’t be surprised if he stays, as Cracknell provides great utility whether he goes.
Emerson Etem, RW, 24, Anaheim Ducks
3 Games Played, 0 Goals and 0 Assists for 0 Points
–Etem is currently in the AHL after doing very little in his return to Anaheim. It has undoubtedly been a tough year for the quick-skating forward, and it looks like his NHL career may have come to an end. At least he remains close to home playing for the San Diego Gulls.
Gustav Forsling, D, 20, Chicago Blackhawks
20 Games Played, 1 Goals and 3 Assists for 4 Points
–This one absolutely burns for Canuck fans. Forsling was dealt for the middling return of Adam Clendening, and has since walked out of the Swedish Elite League and right onto a full-time spot with the Chicago Blackhawks. Forsling has yet to put up big totals, but is regularly playing on Chicago’s special teams and hasn’t looked out of place.
Dan Hamhuis, D, 33, Dallas Stars
21 Games Played, 0 Goals and 5 Assists for 5 Points
–Hamhuis has been defensively solid for the Stars, as predicted, but he has little support on the backend, thanks to poor seasons from John Klingberg and Johnny Oduya. On many nights, Hamhuis must feel like he’s back in Vancouver, and the expected offensive boost that playing with Dallas’ potent offense should have brought has not materialized.
Chris Higgins, LW, 33, Nowhere
HAS NOT PLAYED
–Higgins performed fairly well in a tryout with the Calgary Flames, but was ultimately pushed out when Kris Versteeg jumped ship from Edmonton camp and joined the Flames. Since then, Higgins has not played anywhere and may be considering retirement.
Nicklas Jensen, RW, 23, Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)
19 Games Played, 7 Goals and 5 Assists for 12 Points
–I think it’s safe to call Jensen a bust at this point. He doesn’t even approach point-per-game status in the AHL, and is a long way from cracking the New York Rangers’ roster. Easily one of the worst first rounders in recent Canuck history, which have been fairly successful of late.
Zack Kassian, RW, 25, Edmonton Oilers
19 Games Played, 2 Goals and 2 Assists for 4 Points
–Kassian’s days as an offensive force are behind him, but he seems to have settled into a niche role in the Oilers’ lineup. The Oilers made a point of acquiring some muscle to protect their young stars, and Kassian is a key part of that initiative. He’s still a wild man, and the Edmonton fans appreciate it.
Ronalds Kenins, LW, 25, Zurich SC (Swiss-A)
22 Games Played, 2 Goals and 4 Assists for 6 Points
–If you needed proof that Ronalds Kenins brief offensive explosion with the Vancouver Canucks was a fluke, look at his Swiss-A totals this year. Kenins is a grinder everywhere he goes, and he probably never really had what it took to be an NHL player. At least he gets to finish his career in beautiful Switzerland.
Shawn Matthias, C, 28, Winnipeg Jets
10 Games Played, 2 Goals and 1 Assists for 3 Points
–It’s no surprise that Matthias has missed a bunch of time and hasn’t put up big offensive totals, as he has always been injury-prone and streaky. He hasn’t since approached the production he put up while in Vancouver, indicated it was somewhat of a lucky streak. Still, he fits in well with the big-bodied Winnipeg lineup.
Jared McCann, C, 20, Florida Panthers
17 Games Played, 1 Goals and 2 Assists for 3 Points
–Things have not gone as planned for Jared McCann. McCann is currently in the AHL after failing to do much at the NHL level. Most disappointingly, he had a real opportunity for offensive minutes with Jonathan Huberdeau out long-term, but his play just didn’t warrant it.
Brandon McMillan, LW, 26, Zagreb Medvescak/Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo (KHL)
33 Games Played, 9 Goals and 6 Assists for 15 Points
–McMillan was barely hanging on to an NHL job while with Vancouver, and he’s made the wise choice to head overseas to the KHL. McMillan is likely pulling down a pretty nice paycheque to play as a middle-6 forward in the second-best league in the world, and it’s nice to see.
Brandon Prust, LW, 32, Germany, perhaps?
HAS NOT PLAYED
–It’s been a weird year for Brandon Prust. After failing to earn a contract with the Leafs, Prust hung around the team anyway for the first quarter of the season, practicing but not playing. This awkward situation has just recently ended, with Prust reportedly heading overseas for an opportunity in Germany.
Brad Richardson, RW/C, 31, Arizona Coyotes
16 Games Played, 5 Goals and 4 Assists for 9 Points
–Out of all the former Canucks on this list, Richardson might have been having the best season relative to expectations. He was playing at a 45 point pace, a career high, and still being defensively responsible for the youth-laden Coyotes. Unfortunately, the gigantic frame of Nikita Tryamkin put a stop to Richardson’s great campaign via a horrifically broken leg. Best wishes to Brad in his recovery.
Tom Sestito, LW, 29, Pittsburgh Penguins
8 Games Played, 0 Goals and 1 Assists for 1 Points
–2016 has been great for Tom Sestito. Not only is the outspokenly right-winged knucklehead undoubtedly pleased to be living in Trump’s America, he is holding down an NHL job way after most assumed he’d be out of the league. Sestito hasn’t done much for the Penguins, but he offers a modicum of security to Crosby and the boys.
Hunter Shinkaruk, 22, LW, Calgary Flames
6 Games Played, 0 Goals and 1 Assists for 1 Points
–Shinkaruk continues to impress at the AHL level, but has done absolutely nothing for the Flames in the big leagues. Shinkaruk looks non-competitive most nights, and seems to have lost that spark which once made him a preseason sensation. It is looking like Jim Benning made the right call when it came to cutting ties with Shinkaruk.
Ryan Stanton, D, 27, San Antonio Rampage
15 Games Played, 1 Goals and 3 Assists for 4 Points
–Stanton is a perfect example of a player whose peak playing ability was just at the cusp of the NHL. He played two full seasons for the Canucks at the ages of 24 and 25, and since then he has settled back down to being a career AHL defenseman. Stanton’s game hasn’t changed much.
Linden Vey, RW/C, 25, Calgary Flames
4 Games Played, 0 Goals and 0 Assists for 0 Points
–Vey’s status hasn’t changed in his address switch from Vancouver to Calgary, and it looks unlikely that he’s going to forge a long-term NHL career at this point. He’s soon to be surpassed by younger forward prospects, and this might be his last chance at the big leagues.
Radim Vrbata, RW, 35, Arizona Coyotes
19 Games Played, 6 Goals and 7 Assists for 13 Points
–Vrbata has been a pleasant surprise for Arizona, especially with his bargain basement contract. He’s not yet approaching the point totals he put up in his first Vancouver season, but he is on pace for about 50 points and has meshed well with the young Coyote forwards.
Yannick Weber, D, 28, Nashville Predators
19 Games Played, 0 Goals and 3 Assists for 3 Points
–Weber has, somewhat unexpectedly, become a permanent fixture in the Nashville lineup after floating in and out for the Canucks last year. Weber’s presence is almost a cruel reminder of that other Weber fellow who is no longer with the Predators, but Nashville fans have been reasonably pleased with Yannick’s level of play.