2011 Roster Breakdown
When the Vancouver Canucks kick off their 2011-12 campaign against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena on Thursday night, the team will surprisingly ice much of the same lineup it did a year ago – a season which saw the team come one game away from hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup.
Of the 21 players to suit up, only 7 differ from the 2010-11 version that suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings. The caveat of this calculation being the omission of Alexandre Burrows and Sami Salo – two regulars who were out with injuries.
And considering the Canucks are once again plagued by postseason casualties, the team might have looked even more similar if Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond were able to recover in time for the opening day puck drop.
As it stands, everyone’s favourite twins, the Sedins, remain the focal point of the Canucks offence. But this year they start off with trigger man Alexandre Burrows instead of Mikael Samuelsson who filled in a year ago. Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen return to the third line duties and are flanked by trade deadline acquisition Chris Higgins, as Raffi Torres signed with the Phoenix Coyotes in the offseason.
Which leaves the most notable makeovers to the second and fourth lines. Rookie Cody Hodgson, 21 – now wearing Gordie Howe’s #9 instead of the #39 he skated around with last year and preseason – is being given the daunting task of replacing Kesler and his 41 goals. While newcomer Marco Sturm, 33, and sniper Samuelsson, 34, flank the youngster on the wings.
On the fourth line Aaron Volpatti, 26, from Revelstoke, B.C. earned his opening day spot with his mitts and muscle, and was arguably the talk of the preseason up until Hodgson – the much-hyped 10th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft – potted two against Edmonton in the preseason finale.
Newcomer Dale Weise, a 6-2, 210-pound bruiser acquired on Tuesday from the New York Rangers, and Maxim Lapierre, the latter acquired by Mike Gillis at the trade deadline and who performed brilliantly in the postseason, round out the final threesome.
The Canucks blueline stays relatively in tact, minus the glaring absence of Christian Ehroff who led all Vancouver d-men with 50 points. After posting a plus-32, Kevin Bieksa and the ever reliable Dan Hamhuis, plus-29, take over the first pairing, while minute-muncher Alexander Edler drops down the depth chart ever so slightly after an inconsistent campaign.
Edler, who looks like a Norris Trophy candidate one night and the seventh defenceman the next, should temper his inconsistency with the help of partner Sami Salo, 36, pacing the youngster.
After sleeping in the doghouse for much of 2009-10 Keith Ballard has something to prove, and he and diamond in the rough rookie Chris Tanev round out a Canucks’ defence, which once again will be one of the best in the NHL.
Goaltending remains the same, but with another shaky postseason and the bar set so high on the Canucks, and what seems Roberto Luongo, their might be more Cory Schneider sightings, if not just to give Bobby Lou some rest and Mike Gillis more opportunities to dangle his trade bait if Schneider continues to play like a No. 1.
Opening Day Roster 2011-12:
1st Line: Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alex Burrows
2nd Line: Marco Sturm – Cody Hodgson – Mikael Samuelsson
3rd Line: Chris Higgins – Manny Malhotra – Jannik Hansen
4th Line: Dale Weise – Maxim Lapierre – Aaron Volpatti
*Players in bold were not on the Opening Day Roster last year
Opening Day Roster 2010-11:
1st Line: Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Mikael Samuelsson
2nd Line: Mason Raymond – Ryan Kesler – Raffi Torres
3rd Line: Tanner Glass – Manny Malhotra – Jannik Hansen
4th Line: Peter Schaefer – Alexandre Bolduc – Guillaume Desbiens
Starter: Roberto Luongo
Back-up: Cory Schneider