While the hockey world debates the substance of the Canucks’ offseason moves and often the intellect of the Canucks’ brass, the reality is that the moves they are making do follow their words. In an attempt to infuse youth into the lineup, remaining respectively competitive is still what’s going to sell tickets. Let’s not forget what happened in Edmonton when the youth movement moved far too fast. With the predicted current lineup, the Canucks would have five roster players under the age of 25: Ronalds Kenins (24), Sven Baertschi (22), Linden Vey (24), Frank Corrado (22) and Bo Horvat (20). Not to mention the rising possibilities of Alexandre Grenier (23) and Jake Virtanen (18) having a roster spot this season.
The roster will feature at least nine players 26 years of age and younger: Brandon Sutter (26), Yannick Weber (26), Chris Tanev (25), Luca Sbisa (25) and the previously mentioned bunch. Luckily players like Sutter, Weber, Tanev and Sbisa have considerable NHL experience attached to their young careers. These three NHL vets are poised to have big years for the Canucks this season. Their successes may make or break the Canucks’ playoff hopes.
Brandon Sutter (26-years old)
Lineage can be important. For Brandon Sutter, his last name holds some serious weight in the National Hockey League. Sutter’s young-but-seasoned career hasn’t quite taken ahold of its perceived track. Drafted 11th overall in 2007 by the Carolina Hurricanes, Sutter was expected to develop into an elite two-way center. After being moved to Pittsburgh in the 2012 offseason, Sutter was condemned to third-line duty. After three seasons of playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Sutter is finally being given the chance to quarterback a second line again. And this time he’s older, more mature and has almost 500 NHL games to his name. In 2014-15, Sutter skated in 80 games for the Penguins, notching 21 goals (surpassing 20 goals for the second time in his career). With the Canucks, he will most likely skate with Baertschi to his left and Radim Vrbata to his right – two pretty offensively powered players. Common sense would dictate that if those three mesh, Sutter’s production will surely benefit, as will his linemates’ success as they will be skating with a true two-way center.
Derek Dorsett (28-years old)
Dorsett is tough. There is no doubt about that. His penalties-in-minutes stats show that quite nicely. In 2014-15, he registered 175 PIM, the third highest tally of his career. The stat that has been overlooked is his 25 points in 79 games played; the highest total of his seven-year career. Dorsett’s presence on the ice for the Canucks last season was irreplaceable. The franchise finally replaced the energy and skill and strong skating that Raffi Torres’ departure in 2011 left. Dorsett is 28-years old and recently signed a four-year extension to stay in Vancouver. If he can log the same kind of minutes he did last year but spend a bit less time in the box, likely a thanks to fellow fourth-liner Brandon Prust’s arrival, one could imagine Dorsett eclipsing his 25 points and reaching the 30- or 35-point range. Fourth-line production like that is how a dark horse makes their way.
Yannick Weber (26-years old)
Somehow, somewhere along the journey that the 26-year-old Yannick Weber has taken through his career, he hasn’t been able to find himself a sure NHL home. After a wildly successful 2014-15 campaign where he scored 11 goals and 21 points in just 65 games on the blue line, Weber finally earned himself a deal that paid him what he’s worth. Unfortunately, the Canucks only signed him for one year at the modest price of $1.5 million. He’s surely earned himself a top-six and power-play role with his cannon of a shot, crisp passing and incredibly smooth skating. If he plays the full season, expect 30-plus points out of him, and with numbers like those, you can expect that $1.5 million to double itself in 2015-16.