Sometimes you need to do what is best for the player, and sometimes you need to do what is best for the team.
In this case, the Canucks need to do what is best for the player.
Just two weeks ago I wrote about how the Canucks should send Jake Virtanen, and not Jared McCann, to the World Junior Hockey Championship. It made sense for both Virtanen and the Canucks considering that Virtanen was playing fourth line minutes when he wasn’t swapping seats in the press box with Sven Baertschi.
Sending McCann to the World Juniors? Not a chance. He was the Canucks second-best centre and arguably still is. However that statement is a knock on the Canucks lack of depth rather than glowing praise for McCann’s play.
After watching the Canucks fare poorly in a number of games over the past couple of weeks, it’s clear that they should send McCann to the WJC and get him away from this rapidly unraveling mess which is becoming the Canucks season.
Spare McCann as much of this as you can. Send him to the World Juniors.
— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) December 16, 2015
McCann is one of a number of Canucks mired in a goal scoring slump of late. Pretty much anybody not named Sedin or Jannik Hansen is having trouble putting the puck in the net for the Canucks. McCann is included in that category with one goal and one assist in his last 15 games. He has also struggled mightily in the faceoff circle with a 33.5% winning percentage at the dot.
He was easily one of the best Canucks forwards in the beginning of the season, but he’s become lost in this murky mess known as the Canucks “secondary scoring.” He talked about his drought in an interview with Ben Kuzma of The Province:
“There have definitely been some tough nights with sleeping and it’s never easy,” said McCann to The Province. “The compete in you comes out and you always want to win. But I’ve got to learn to let things go.”
Is this kind of "experience" really helping teenager Jared McCann?
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) December 16, 2015
You can tell that McCann is shouldering too much blame for his struggles because it’s not just on him, it’s on the whole team. The Canucks are a trainwreck right now, and they need to send him to the World Juniors. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for a player who missed out on a chance to represent his country last year due to injury.
Canucks Are Mediocre, McCann or Not
One of the main arguments for keeping McCann with the Canucks through the World Juniors is that the Canucks don’t have enough centre depth to replace him if he is gone.
It’s a valid point. The Canucks’ options on the farm include Alex Friesen and the long-forgotten Linden Vey. Those aren’t exactly the players you want to have stepping up to fill a second or third line void, but it’s the only options they have.
But let’s face it, McCann or not, this Canucks team is still a mess. Nobody is playing well other than the first line and that isn’t even the most pressing concern for this team. The Canucks defence is a mess outside of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev, with Yannick Weber, Matt Bartowski, Ben Hutton and Alex Biega rounding out the top six. There is nobody left to fill the void after the injuries to Dan Hamhuis and Luca Sbisa, and the defence was exploited egregiously by Minnesota on Tuesday, as they scored six goals on 36 shots through just two periods of hockey.
McCann isn’t going to solve the mess on defence. Neither is Linden Vey, Alex Friesen, both Sedins’ combined, or Santa Claus. Until their porous defensive play is solved, this team is going to continue to lose games.