On a hockey less Monday, there is no shortage of discussion topics for the Vancouver Canucks. Despite being on the top of the Western Conference at the All-Star break, the Canucks certainly have some worries headed into the second half.
The first being the realization last Friday that Alexander Edler would miss 2 and a half months with back surgery. Edler has broken out this season as the Canucks’ number one defenseman minutes-wise and a two-way threat. Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa pick up much of the top matchups defensively, but coach Alain Vigneault is never shy about putting his Edler/Christian Ehrhoff pairing out in defensive situations, despite Ehrhoff’s tendency to take stupid risks.
We still may be a couple of games away from the return of Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts, so the Canucks defensive lineup will look very broken for the next week. Lee Sweatt had a debut that included a winning goal, but along with Chris Tanev, he’s not somebody you want to see put up big minutes until adjusting the NHL pace.
It’s never a good thing to have your number one minutes guy fall out for the rest of the regular season. At the very least, the injury gives the Canucks a bit of cap relief to potentially add a player at the deadline.
Onto the bigger news of the day, Vancouver has called up Cody Hodgson, the former 10th overall pick who will potentially make his NHL debut in Dallas on Tuesday. This will be the 8th centre that Alain Vigneault will have played on the fourth line this year.
It might be 2004 again, but I’m hoping that this solves two problems: one being finding a linemate for the Sedin twins and the second being a second-line centre. If Hodgson is given a real shot and plays on the second line, it would free up Ryan Kesler to move onto the top line with the twins, a unit we’ve seen on the powerplay but never at 5-on-5. Alex Burrows is well behind last year’s career season pace and is certainly not generating the chances he has been since moving onto that line.
Getting too far ahead, we do know that the Canucks plan for Hodgson involves his call-up, seeing fourth line minutes, managing nothing, having the media and fans turn on him before he eventually gets sent back down to Manitoba as Vigneault calls out his play for not being good enough. It’s a song we’ve become all too familiar with in the past couple of years.