Weekly Canucks Report: Week of January 9-15
Who Had a Good Week:
Bo Horvat- Honestly, this wasn’t Horvat’s strongest week, as he put up only one point in three games and was a -2 overall. However, this was also the week that Horvat was named to the All Star Game, and that makes it a good week. Furthermore, Horvat is starting to consistently get as much ice time as the Sedins, so even the coaching staff is noticing his team-leading play.
Brandon Sutter- Sutter had a big week, with two goals and three points overall, including the game-tying goal late against Nashville. Sutter and Markus Granlund are becoming the team’s second-leading dynamic duo, after Horvat and Baertschi. My, how the times have changed.
Markus Granlund- Granlund’s offense continues to be a bit spotty, as this week saw him score two goals in one game and go pointless in the rest, but it’s hard to deny the numbers he is putting up. It’s becoming more and more difficult to imagine exposing Granlund in the expansion draft.
Jayson Megna- Let’s give credit where credit is due. Not only did Megna manage a two point effort when removed from the Sedin line, but he actually seemed to fit fairly well with Sutter and Granlund. Megna still seems to add little aside from his skating speed, but at least it appears that his time on the first line is over, which will get the fans off his back.
Alex Edler- Quietly, Alex Edler continues to put up massive minutes for the Canucks amidst defensive injuries. Edler received far more ice than Chris Tanev in two of the three games this week, providing a modicum of offense and some seriously steady defense. His veteran presence allowed Troy Stecher to bounce back after a tough game in Nashville.
Who Had a Rough Week:
The Sedins- The Sedins managed to put up two points each in three games this week, but they continue to look a step behind the play at most times. Luckily, Willie Desjardins has recognized this and is beginning to share the ice-time more evenly between his top three lines. It could be argued that Loui Eriksson helped the twins more than they helped him this week, and while that’s nice, fans are hoping to see a lot more mutual chemistry in the future.
Alex Burrows- Trade rumours regarding Burrows surfaced this week, and the timing probably couldn’t be worse. Burrows has hit an offensive slump, and while he’s still keeping up with Horvat and Baertschi, one has to wonder if his goal-scoring resurgence has run its course.
Nikita Tryamkin- After a strong last week, Tryamkin hit a bit of a wall, and saw his ice time slashed as a result. Tryamkin made a few too many errors in judgement, and found himself on the losing end of some puck battles with smaller, more skilled opponents. He needs to get back to playing within his wheelhouse.
Alex Biega- Playing with Alex Biega does not help Tryamkin at all. Biega’s workmanlike effort is commendable, but he’s getting exposed as a less-than-NHL-quality defenseman this season. The sooner the Canucks can replace him in the lineup, the better.
Rumours swirled around a potential Colorado trade due to the presence of some Canuck scouts at their games, but nothing seems likely at this point. The big ticket items in the Avalanche fire sale include names like Duchene, Barrie, and Landeskog, but each would require a package of young assets and draft picks that the Canucks just can’t afford to give up right now.
It was also mentioned that an Alex Burrows trade may be on the horizon, with various teams apparently kicking the tires this week. Most Canuck fans would only be alright with seeing Burrows dealt if it meant he got a real chance to win the Stanley Cup, preferably with his hometown Canadiens. Burrows could hopefully net the Canucks a second round pick, and would be a great addition for any playoff contender.
The issue of expansion protection continues to get more complicated for the Canucks. Granlund’s excellent play of late, combined with Jannik Hansen’s injury and age, make it likely the Canucks will protect Granlund and expose Hansen come the expansion draft. If the team hangs on to both Burrows and Dorsett, fulfilling its expansion requirements, they may look to trade Hansen at the deadline to avoid losing him for nothing. Expect a late first in return.
With Cory Schneider defeating the Canucks, it was yet another opportunity to revisit the Horvat for Schneider trade. However, for the first time ever, it could actually be argued at this point that Horvat is the more valuable asset. At the very least, Horvat is having a better season than the struggling Schneider, and that provides some nice vindication for former GM Mike Gillis.
With Jake Virtanen’s struggles in the AHL well-documented, it’s worth noting that Jared McCann is in the same boat. McCann has only put up six points in 15 games at the AHL level this season, and added one more NHL point in a brief call-up.
It was a perfect week for the streaking Comets, who put up three straight wins. The first came against the breakfast cereal-sounding Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday, a 2-1 victory. Alex Grenier and Darren Archibald, two bruisers who have been pacing the Comets’ offense of late, each put up a goal and an assist, with Curtis Valk and Thatcher Demko also snagging assists. Archibald’s tally was the OT winner.
Richard Bachman was back in the net for the next two games, starting with another 2-1 win over the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Jordan Subban returned to score against his brother, Malcolm, with assists going to Borna Rendulic and Michael Carcone. Mike Zalewski finally got his first goal of the season, which proved to be the winner.
Saturday’s game was the best of the week, a 3-1 victory over the hilariously-named Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Grenier and Archibald again got a goal and an assist each, and Valk picked up two assists. Evan McEneny finished things off with an empty net goal. Once again, Jake Virtanen was pointless in more ways than one, although he did register at least four shots in each game this week.
Bits and Bobs:
-It was nice to see Troy Stecher have an immediate rebound game right after a tough outing. That shows great mental fortitude.
-Is it time for a Jordan Subban call-up? Now might be the perfect time, with similarly offensive defensemen Ben Hutton and Philip Larsen both out with injuries.
-Alex Grenier is perhaps even more deserving of a call-up. Not only is Grenier putting up his best AHL season yet, but he could add a physical element that the Canucks are sorely missing.
-We need to talk about Jake. Virtanen’s performance at the AHL level is now impossible to ignore, and the numbers say it almost certainly precludes him from playing in a scoring role at the NHL level. It’s still too soon to completely write-off the 20 year old, but things don’t look good at all.
-Henrik Sedin inched closer to a big milestone in what has become an intolerable wait for 1000 points. I originally predicted that Henrik’s big moment would come sometime between December 20th and January 7th, so he’s already beyond that point. Here’s hoping it will come soon.
-The NHL All Star Game will feature the reveal of the NHL’s Top 100 Players Ever, and one has to wonder if there will be any true Canucks on the list. Pavel Bure might be the best bet, but he seems like a long-shot. Perhaps Igor Larionov will sneak in.
-If the Canucks barely miss out on the playoffs, and thus screw themselves out of a high draft pick, then loser points will become a major part of the discussion. This makes overtime losses a particular slap in the face, and gives more evidence that the league should convert to a 2-0 point system.
-I think some fans need a bit of clarification on the exact rules regarding expansion and its requirements. Many have noticed that Alex Biega is close to hitting the minimum number of games to count as an exposed defenseman for the draft, but don’t quite understand what this means. Every team needs to expose two forwards, a defenseman, and a goalie that have hit certain longevity-related milestones and are still under contract for at least another season. The Canucks currently have a multitude of forwards that meet this requirement, along with many defensemen, but the team is still limited to only protecting a certain number of players. Essentially, Luca Sbisa and Biega both hitting the minimum means that the Canucks now are over and above the requirements for exposing defensemen, but it doesn’t mean they can keep Sbisa and just expose Biega, unless they also want to expose one of Edler, Tanev, or Erik Gudbranson. However, it does mean that the Canucks could trade one of the two and still be just fine.