Something Is Missing
Heading into a fresh 82-game season the Vancouver Canucks once again face high expectations. After a brutal end to a lockout-shortened season the team was forced to take a step back to re-evaluate during the summer, and forward depth was one of the many concerns for General Manager Mike Gillis.
Fast forward four months later and forward depth remains a key issue for the club, especially at centre ice.
Off-season acquisitions Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli have impressed during their short pre-season auditions, however many are worried the current roster simply isn’t deep enough to compete for the Stanley Cup.
And yet, Richardson and Santorelli have arguably been two of the Canucks‘ most consistent skaters during this year’s pre-season action.
Richardson, a Stanley Cup winner with the LA Kings in 2012, was told he would have a shot at the third line centre position when he signed with the Canucks this summer, and by all accounts he has earned the spot to start the year.
Santorelli, a Burnaby native and former BCHL player has also earned his way on to the roster, and is expected to slip in on Vancouver’s third or fourth line.
But will the pair of pleasant surprises be enough to keep the Canucks afloat down the stretch?
Dalpe & Welsh
The recent acquisition of Zac Dalpe and centre Jeremy Welsh tell me the answer is no.
Dalpe, a former centre, represents somewhat of an insurance policy for the Canucks, who currently carry what could be described as a shallow bottom-six at best. Welsh on the other hand is a depth forward unlikely to see much NHL time this season.
And while both Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk also had solid showings during training camp, the organization simply could not afford to burn one year of their entry level contracts at the young age of 18.
John Tortorella has been known to let young players loose on NHL rosters, but with the writing on the wall and only a nine-game window to work with, the kids were sent packing.
So now, we wait.
Centre Jordan Schroeder will be in a walking boot for the next couple weeks, which gives the Canucks ample opportunity to assess the play of their off-season acquisitions in games that count.
But what happens when Schroeder returns?
The Canucks carry up to four potential centres in their bottom six, but barring a breakout year from Richardson I doubt if any of the candidates are capable of playing third line minutes consistently.
Depth at centre has been a key for the Canucks in the past, and while new head coach John Tortorella has the chance to shake up the roster in Vancouver, it is up to GM Mike Gillis to find a long term solution at centre ice.
The Canucks have the bodies necessary, but I’m still not convinced the quality is there.