The dust has settled on the 2013 season for the Vancouver Canucks and the second round of the playoffs has begun with the Canucks again sitting at home. There are a lot of questions about what the Canucks need to do in the off-season, and who should be at the helm to make the changes. Although significant changes are possible, it is more likely that the Canucks make some tweaks to the bottom part of their lineup and hope for another division title (whatever their division ends up being called). Understanding the status of each of the Canucks is the first step to determining the future, and a great guide can be found here. What changes can (and should) be made to return excitement to Rogers Arena?
Speculation is rampant that Alain Vigneault has coached his last game with Vancouver. Conventional wisdom was that the Canucks had to win at least one round in the playoffs for Vigneault to keep his job, and they didn’t manage to win a single game, let alone a series.
I believe it is time for a new man behind the bench to reinvigorate this franchise in what might be the last big push of the Sedin era. There are certainly many reasons to questions Vigneault’s decision making over the past two years, but it is undeniable that he has had great success in Vancouver. But at some point, a change is needed to try to get more out of the players provided by Mike Gillis.
Inevitably the players start to tune out the coach when they hear the same voice year after year, and a fresh perspective might be just what this team needs to correct its downward trajectory. The choice Gillis makes to guide Vancouver in 2013-14 could be the key to saving his own job (in addition to the outcome of attempts to finally trade Roberto Luongo).
There is an almost zero chance the Canucks change course and trade Cory Schneider instead of Luongo. Although Schneider would bring more return in the trade market, he is younger, cheaper, and his skills are still growing. Discard the rough time he had in the playoffs; Schneider was rusty and likely still slowed by a groin injury. His play was stellar during most of the season. He finished fourth in the league in save percentage and seventh in goals against average, and he was the main reason Vancouver won their division.
The bigger question will be about the return Gillis is able to get for Luongo. He had a solid season as a backup and played two strong games in the postseason. But teams will be nervous about taking on the big salary commitment, and that will reduce the value Vancouver is able to achieve in any deal.
Another question is who will backup Schneider next season. The Canucks will be reluctant to rely of Eddie Lack, who is coming off an injury, or Joe Cannata. Neither of these prospects has played an NHL game, and the team will want them developing in the AHL (at a location still to be determined). Expect Vancouver to find a cheap veteran to play the few games Schneider does not start next year.
Vancouver forwards need to generate more goals if the Canucks are to have any hope of making a deep playoff run next season. The number of goals scored by Vancouver has steadily declined since 2009-10, from 272 to 262 to 249 to a pro rated 217 in the lockout shortened 2013 season. The Sedins are not going anywhere, and Alex Burrows is underappreciated and needs to be kept in the fold. Ryan Kesler is also a lock to return, as are the relatively cheap Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins. Zack Kassian is still learning and will receive more time to develop his game before his future is decided.
The only other forward under contract for next season is David Booth, and there has been a lot of talk about a possible buyout of his $4.25 million salary. I think the team needs to give Booth a chance to return to action next season. His 16 goals in 56 games with Vancouver in 2011-12 were solid, and although he didn’t score much in his few games this season, he looked strong on the ice. With the Canucks desperate for size and skill, it makes sense to give the big guy another chance. Yes, it would be nice if his salary were smaller, but like Luongo last year, it doesn’t make sense to let an asset like Booth go for nothing.
The rest of the forwards are free agents, and only a couple are likely to return. The Derek Roy experiment was a bust, and Mason Raymond seems to have finally run out of chances to turn the corner (at least in Vancouver). Dale Weise is a solid fourth-liner who can kill penalties, and worth bringing back at a low price. Jordan Schroeder is still developing, and showed enough flashes early in the season to be worth a return.
The gaps that need to be filled are a third line center, unless Schroeder fills that role, which is questionable since he doesn’t have the size to be on a checking line, and a second-line forward to complement Kesler and Booth/Higgins/Kassian. David Clarkson, who scored 30 goals in 2011-12 and was on a 26 goal pace this year, is one possibility, but the options are not great. Youngsters like Nicklas Jensen, Kellan Lain, and Brendan Gaunce are probably another year away from making meaningful contributions.
The situation on defense is a bit more settled heading into the off season. The Canucks top four defensemen (Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison) are all locked up in long term contracts at decent terms. Hamhuis was very steady all year and Garrison got better and better as the year went on and he got used to playing in Vancouver and trying to live up to his big money deal. Bieksa had his usual ups and downs, but the team was much more successful when he was healthy and in the lineup then when he was scratched.
Probably the biggest question about the top four is whether Edler is going to live up to his new deal and/or if it might be worth exploring a trade to fill a need up front. I think that is an avenue worth exploring, though it might be hard to move him with the dollars involved. The Canucks have a couple youngsters who look ready to take on more responsibility in Chris Tanev and Frank Corrado, and an asset like Edler might be worth a scoring forward from a trade suitor. Although Tanev is a restricted free agent, the Canucks should be able to bring him back, unless another team significantly ups the ante, which doesn’t happen often.
Unlike David Booth, a buyout of Keith Ballard looks like a pretty safe move. He is being paid too much to serve as a third-paring defenseman, and the Canucks have the depth to fill his spot. The $4.2 million he is due to be paid the next two years definitely can be better spent elsewhere.
As for the rest of the depth defensemen, Andrew Alberts may come back for a reasonable price, but the Cam Barker era is likely over.
Yes, the Canucks need to undergo a bit of a “reset,” but looking at the commitments they have to many players, the noose of the salary cap, and the unwillingness of other teams to part with prize assets, the Canucks are looking at making some moderate fixes and possibly listening to a new voice and a new approach in the dressing room. It is not impossible that these changes will make enough of a difference to return the Canucks to playoff glory, but much of the team’s success next year will be determined by the productivity and health of the key cogs already in place.
5 thoughts on “Changes Needed for Canucks to Rebound”
First of all you gotta be stupid to trade the sedins. This team is not rebuilding it should rebuild while staying competitive. The Canucks are not scoring because av Is not allowing his players play offense first Defense 2nd. 2011 and below years Canucks scored a lot of goals and we have solid goaltending.
gillis has to go. Whose making draft choices should be replaced. Kassian playing with Sedins?
this club needs a makeover. Let”s get kids who want to win a Stanley Cup.
Fire Gillis. After signing Luongo for 12 years, at 5.33 million annually, that’s enough to be fired for, and all the other dumbass traded he’s committed to. Even fire AV because Alain just isn’t driving this team to their potential, and I really don’t think he has the backbone to wise up, and tell his players how it is, and what they really need to do to improve coming off of a bad stretch, or game. Even if AV did have that ability, a fresh voice for a new season (especially for this team) would only be beneficial.
Coaching, and management clearly need work, but they can only do so much to motivate and create a team, the rest is up to the players. As bad as I feel about Gillis, and AV, when it comes down to it, it’s the players that are skating in the rink and it’s their job to produce wins. Thus, there are crystal clear spots within the roster that need heavy renewal, and if I see Booth, or Raymond go, and Edler stay, I give up on this franchise. I could go on a huge list about who I want to stay, but that’s not going to happen. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be mad if the Sedins were traded, it’s clear to me and hopefully many others, that they are not playoff material and we have seen that time and time again. When the Canucks made it to the SCF, it was mainly do to the leadership and guidance role that Ryan Kesler took on, either unwillingly, or by being the player he truly can be. It wasn’t because the Sedins actually played playoff hockey.
It is time for a complete overhaul, and a revamp, but we need to start with Gillis and Alain Vineault. This city has seen 43 years of disappointment, and enough is enough. I can’t expect a Stanley Cup every year, and why should I, however I should be able to expect a team who try’s their hardest in the post-season, even if they lose.
I absolutely agree with you Robert ive been saying for a long time that they should move av andgillis and ive mentioned time after time about trading those slack ass sedins your right they have done nothing in there pathetic playoff attempt against the much better sharks.they must trade the sedins while they can still get something in return ,I really don’t think these guys want to play for Vancouver the proof was on the ice and don’t you think its strange that the twins are playing some great hockey for there beloved Sweden ,I mean they just popped in a few goals and pocketed a couple of assists in there last game .So I think theres something terribly wrong with these guys there just not performing for the canucks and don’t think they really care ,even after the loss to the sharks they seemed not to be actually bothered with there early ousting but when they were asked about playing for Sweden in the worlds they were all spit and vinegar and they looked quite happy. Robert ive posted numerous times on facebook on how I feel about the losing ways of this team ,I get nothing but bleeding hearts telling me basically to f off I just cant figure out why or how these diehard canuck fans can except and pay through there noses and put up with the canucks terrible attempt of pro hockey ,hell they even gave them a standing ovation when they lost game seven at home to the bruins .You cant tell me they deserved anything less than a good kick in the ass for there disgusting display of a game 7 Stanley cup final you know there is something to say that you support your team but man I just cant support a team that doesent even try they just seem to be going through the motions ,and before anyone person calls me a bad canuck supporter let me tell all you fans that ive been a loyal canuck supporter ever since they were in the WHL I went to every game with my father and we supported them in every way possible and yes when they lost well back then those canucks played every game to its fullest and man was it exciting to watch these guys really tried there hardest to win games not like todays canucks with all there high paying saleries . So yes im coming down on your beloved canucks im just sick and tired of watching these guys get away with playing under achieving hockey ,theres no fight or spirit on this team and its been like this ever since they played that final game 7 against the bruins ,so I hope all you canuck fans out there can see why I feel this way but until they make some drastic changes to this club im going to feel the same way because if they don’t make any changes im sure your going to see the same crap next year and next ear they will be playing far more better teams in and around the league especially the far more better teams from the east .and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the canucks wont even make the playoffs ,so when and if they make some big changes then and only then will I get back to being a loyal fan again thanks all you canuck fans for reading my rant
Wow, what a post, and thanks for the insight.
The Sedins don’t do well under pressure, and when it comes to representing your home nation, no matter who any player will be producing their best hockey. I have seen the Sedins play good hockey, we all have, but consistently year after year, their playoff output clearly is heavily lacking, because if it wasn’t we would have a chance every year for the Cup. Guys like Kesler (all though I don’t appreciate his attitude), Raymond, Booth, Hansen, Roy, and hell even Hamuis are the main foundation of this team, and that’s still not saying a lot. I would put in Bieska, but I just feel he doesn’t have that drive anymore, and has mustered up far too many mistakes. Ballard has clear potential, but I really don’t know what is happening behind the scenes, but yet again it’s in cahoots with AV. So, building up from these core guys, and trading players like the Sedins who are practically telepathic on the ice, and Luongo, there could be a good payback from them, or half-decent draft picks. Edler needs to be traded, he can’t handle the puck for the life of him, and doesn’t seem to have a backbone either. A lot of our players don’t seem to.
The fundamental theme I’m producing my core beliefs on this, is brand new, and precise renewal, and it has been long awaited. As of now, all we can do is sit back, and hope for the best. However, I’ve been doing that for the past couple of years, and Gillis has still been making dumb decisions, we really got lucky with Roy, and thank God for that.
Comments are closed.