Just Get It Right!
After a shocking and unexpected loss in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks find themselves packing up their lockers in April, unable to push through to a second round of summer hockey.
As a pivotal off-season approaches, the Canucks and their fans can feel the winds of change blow through Vancouver, but who will be in a different uniform next season?
President and General Manager Mike Gillis has a myriad of options heading into a long off-season and must find a way to improve his team once again after another disappointing exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What 3 areas concern you the most with respect to gameplay with the Canucks in 2011/12?
Mike Gillis was adamant in his end-of-season meetings with the media that scoring would be a big part of the Canucks’ game plan in the future.
Twice the Canucks have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs unable to generate enough offence to turn the team around, and the President seems determined to provide additional support for Henrik Sedin & Daniel Sedin with another scoring presence heading into next season.
Gillis already acquired Zack Kassian at the trade deadline in order to receive a proper return for Cody Hodgson, but the Canucks remain in need of some size and strength heading into next season. The aggressive, physical play of both the Bruins and Kings has been a key to victory over Vancouver during the last two playoff runs.
While stat-heads will roll their eyes at the term “clutch,” I firmly believe there is something to be said for players that manage to elevate their performance during the playoffs.
Think Daniel Briere, or more recently Claude Giroux, for easy examples. This isn’t necessarily a knock on the current corps of Canucks skaters, but when was the last time you saw an individual player on the Canucks completely take over a game or series?
Probably Ryan Kesler’s performance against the Nashville Predators. Yes, the same guy who went without a goal throughout his last 17 games to close the season.
What do you do with Coach AV and his staff and why?
Only in a hockey-mad market like Vancouver would the coach of back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy Winners be concerned about his future. Alain Vigneault has done a magnificent job managing this team into a top contender, winning back-to-back league titles during the regular season in addition to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
After a disappointing end to this season, criticism of AV’s ability to motivate his players has emerged as a convenient scapegoat, however the Presidents’ trophy winners would be hard-pressed to upgrade at the coaching position this summer.
Over the off-season Vigneault and his stuff must seriously address Vancouver’s problems on the power play. After struggling to convert against the Kings it is clear that special teams will play a big part in any future Stanley Cup Playoff run.
Vigneault will be in Vancouver for a few more years of playoff hockey as long as his team continues to address their weaknesses and optimize their strengths.
What players on this team don’t deserve to be back next year based on their 2011/12 play?
Mason Raymond must go. After a tough off-season in which the speedy center was forced to rehabilitate a brutal vertebrae compression fracture, Raymond was unable to ratchet up his game down the stretch, becoming a concern for his coach after it became clear his performance was not worthy of the top three lines.
Unless Raymond can convince his hands to catch up with his skates I can see the speedster being sent elsewhere over the off-season.
If you would trade a goalie, which goalie would you trade and why?
Despite the signs pointing towards the contrary (and the Luongo list of teams he’d potentially go to), I would trade Cory Schneider and keep Roberto Luongo heading into next season. Luongo is a proven competitor and has won at the highest level.
Besides hype and a comfortable backup position, what exactly has Cory Schneider honestly proved at this point of his NHL career?
If you are the GM what moves do you make? What 3 things do the Nucks need to get right for another cup run?
Mike Gillis has done a superb job as the President and General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks.
The loss of the team’s leading scorer and the emergence of a strong, defensively disciplined Kings team spelt doom for his team in 2012, however the future remains bright for Gillis and his organization.
With a surplus of assets at his disposal, Gillis is minimally restricted in the moves he can make this off-season.
Under the assumption Gillis will choose either Cory Schneider or Roberto Luongo over the off-season, the potential return for a goaltender of such a high calibre would allow Gillis to declare a true starter and acquire size and scoring in the process.
With all the pieces in place to form a Stanley Cup contender Mike Gillis is undoubtedly the right man for the job heading into a difficult and complicated off season for the Vancouver Canucks.