Let the speculation begin…
This is Part 2 in the series of 4 offseason analysis articles that our Vancouver Canucks writing team will be adding to NWSB in the coming days.
Well, it’s the article we didn’t want to write for another two months, but circumstances weren’t exactly complying with those wishes. “Q” asked me to answer five key post-season questions.
So here it goes.
This could be the most active off-season looming in quite some time, and here is an early look at how one observer believes that everything should shake out.
1. What 3 areas concern you the most with respect to gameplay with the Canucks in 2011/12?
This team won the President’s Trophy for a second consecutive way, but the manner it was accomplished was stop/start unlike the storming of the gates approach taken by the 2010/11 squad.
- The team still struggled to handle more rough and tumble teams. The Canucks were manhandled by the LA Kings in these playoffs, but also found it hard to cope with similar teams in the regular season.
- The power play started well but was increasingly unable to pick up the team as the year progressed and the stakes increased. Daniel Sedin did help somewhat in Games 4 & 5, but the PP had long been an issue with him on it before the concussion as teams realized they could disrupt play by pressing high on the blue line at the entry point .
- The inconsistency of several of the veteran, well-paid forwards including Chris Higgins, David Booth and big name Ryan Kesler.
2. What do you do with Coach AV and his staff and why?
Alain Vigneault deserves another year to make his adjustments to the current group. Henrik Sedincommented after Game 5 that the coaching was not the issue, and he has gone on record several times that they feel very comfortable with Alain. Look at Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager in England’s Premier League who has been with his team over 25 years demanding and expecting a culture of success.
The main problem for the Vancouver Canucks was with players not performing to expectations.
However, some components of his staff could do with a shakeup and that’s where the hard decisions need to be made.
The power play disappointed for example, and assistant Newell Brown could not make more adjustments as the season wore on. Several times the TV cameras caught glimpses of him looking miserable and out of ideas on the bench as another PP ran dry down the stretch.
He is a candidate for replacement.
AV and main assistant Rick Bowness need to look for some creative minds for specialty play.
3. What players on this team don’t deserve to be back next year based on their 2011/12 play?
There are a number of players who disappointed this year. Those who need to leave are rated from the immediate to the unsure.
The first group are those that require an instant departure. Raymond is fast, skilled and effective on the penalty kill, but he plays far too much on the fringe areas.
He offers little in the post-season.
Booth has showed tantalizing glimpses of power and strength but does not produce commensurate with his skill level. He finds it hard to work with linemates by trying to do too much on his own, and seems unable to link well with others.
The next level includes players who performed capably but are not likely to offer much going forward, and are on the margins.
The first choice is tough, considering his great character and loyalty, but the time has come for Sami Salo to depart. His injury history and lack of speed are becoming detrimental and the team needs to find a dependable, tough as nails blue liner replacement.
Manny Malhotra is a huge question mark outside of faceoffs as he never seemed to fully recover. Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts are OK in spot situations, but have no long term benefit. This group may hang on, but it would be better if they were moved to facilitate upgrades.
Kesler has received a pass due to injury concerns, while Edler’s potential has been trumpeted to death. Kesler was unable to score when needed down the stretch while Edler’s propensity for poorly timed errors put the team in a hole.
I say give them one more season, and if there is no improvement then they need to be moved for more reliable options.
4. If you would trade a goalie, which goalie would you trade and why?
This is a no brainer now.
To me Roberto Luongo had a huge part in turning around the Canucks fortunes, and he remains a goaltender of jaw dropping ability at times, but there is too much bad blood between him and certain sections of the fans and media, who are very unforgiving.
Cory Schneider to his credit has earned the right to a starting role and his demeanour fits well with west coast attitudes.
NOTE: This decision is a little bit easier now after an interview by Luongo a short while ago…
5. If you are the GM what moves do you make? What 3 things do the Nucks need to get right for another cup run?
GM Mike Gillis has acquired many good parts, but what worked on paper has not always panned out. I believe that he needs to take his tradable assets (though he will have to be at his creative best with Roberto’s contract) and parlay them into tangible returns.
- The team need at least one regular scoring winger with size for the Sedins who can be a part of their passing game
- A power play quarterback (with better defensive tendencies than Christian Ehrhoff)
- Some bigger bodied role players who fit the playoff mindset