Seldom has a team’s roster been changed so little yet produced so much pre-season uncertainty. That’s precisely where the Canucks roster stands, with few new additions, some significant subtractions, and a new decision maker with a plethora of mediocre options at his disposal.
Fans expect something to be done on the blue-line before the regular season begins, but it’s likely that the Canucks roster has the basic configuration that it will for the near future at the forward position.
- How many young players will stick with the big club?
- How many journeymen will make the big club?
- Will there be any more additions?
- What skills will be emphasized in these open spots?
To me, the most interesting part of the roster is the third line because there are so many numbers of ways that coach John Tortorella could take the team.
Lets take a look at some of the top choices Torts could make about the perpetually perplexing third line.
The scoring line – Chris Higgins, Jordan Schroeder, Jannik Hansen
This line has some major benefits. First, it would take some of the scoring heat off of the second line.
It’s still not clear whether David Booth can be counted on to provide consistent offense or whether Ryan Kesler will fully return to his all-star form.
There is something to be said for a balanced roster that can roll four lines, and this would be a good way to attempt that. This combination would be a fast skating line with a good balance of offensive ability, defensive responsibility, and a bit of sandpaper.
The downside to having this kind of a third line is that Schroeder is a small forward who is not known for his defensive game.
Also, the fact that he is centering the third line would obviously mean that he is not playing a tremendous offensive game as a second line winger.
Perhaps that would be the best case scenario, with Schroeder chipping in offensively while a bigger, tougher forward could center the third line.
The safe line – Chris Higgins, Brad Richardson, Jannik Hansen
This is perhaps the most “conventional” third line option currently available to the Canucks.
Richardson in theory could provide some offense, although he has yet to really do that consistently at the NHL level.
Richardson is a good skater who offers some grit, some toughness and some valuable checking line experience.
This is more than likely the most defensively responsible option at third line for the Canucks.
I think the job is Richardson’s to lose, and the decision may come down to the chemistry between the long-time Canucks and the new centre.
The “beat-em-up” line – Jannik Hansen, Brendan Gaunce, Zack Kassian
I don’t think this is the route they should, or would, go.
I just like the idea of a 6’2, 200lb face-off machine at centre with a 6’3, 215lb power forward on his right wing with a pesky forward who can skate like the wind on his left.
This would be a very intriguing line if both Gaunce and Kassian can improve their skating, but there is virtually zero chance of seeing this line in 2013 due to Gaunce’s slow foot speed.
I’d like to see the team at least try this line in training camp to see if they can keep up speed-wise.
It will be fascinating to see, and ultimately indicative of how Tortorella is going to coach in the future, if he goes with the “scoring” line or the “safe” line.
The wildcard for this team is going to be Jordan Schroeder. As he goes, so do the Canucks.