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The Birth of the Vancouver Canucks American Express Line

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Whether Mikael Samuelsson was really scratched on Saturday for a maintence day or whether he was already packing his bags we’ll never know, but the timing of the trade announcement immediately after the Canucks 3-2 overtime win over the Wild made it certain that this trade had been finalized far earlier in the day.

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Samuelsson and Sturm had been struggling to the start the year and the ability of Mike Gillis to turn both into David Booth proves yet again why he was voted NHL Executive of the Year.

There’s no Michael Grabner in this trade to haunt the Canucks, and at worst Booth puts up similar production to Samuelsson on the second line while being 8 years younger.

Of course Booth carries over a heavy contract from Florida of $4.25 milion for the next four years (where have I heard this before?) so the expectations for playing with his former youth hockey teammate Ryan Kesler will be a bit higher than purely replacing Samuelsson.

The Canucks are hoping for a scenario more akin to James Neal landing in Pittsburgh, or perhaps more aptly Nathan Horton on the Bruins last year.

It’s also a move that makes you wonder about the progress of Mason Raymond‘s recovery and his future with this club when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

Kesler + Higgins + Booth

Chris Higgins - Booth and Kesler form the all-American second line

The Canucks have made it clear that the plan will be for Chris Higgins to join Booth and Kesler on an all-American second line. Higgins and Booth know each other from their days in Florida and the Canucks are hoping to capitalize on that chemistry. For Booth, the expectations are simple.

Put the puck in the net and take some of the pressure off the Sedins and Kesler to do it all.

The big-bodied sniper has put up 22, 31, and 23 goal seasons in Florida but missed most of 2009-10 with a severe concussion off hits from Mike Richards and Jaroslav Spacek and regressed last year while still fighting lingering concussion concerns.

If he’s healthy, he should tap in a lot of goals playing with Kesler, but if he’s not it could be another Keith Ballard situation.

It’s a savvy low-risk high-reward move by Mike Gillis, who has been targeting Booth for close to six months.

Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson had quickly become the early season whipping boys and were as good as gone next summer.

Somehow, Gillis turned them into the physical top-six winger the city has been craving all summer and even convinced the rebuilding Florida Panthers to throw in a draft pick for the two veterans.

You did it again, Gillis.

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About Richard Hodges

A proud Vancouverite with a lifelong passion for the home teams that some would classify as pointless and disturbing. Now realizes that The Linden Tree is not the play you think it would be.
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  • Steve

    The American Express line?  Really?  The Canucks faithful couldn’t come up with anything more original than that?  And why does this group deserve to have a “name” when they haven’t amounted to anything yet?  They are far from the West Coast Express, The Mattress Line (Two Twins and a King / Sedins and Jason King), The Brothers (Sedins and Anson Carter).  So much for earning a tag.

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