I'm one to say no. Some Canucks fans seem to think that we need to give this team another face lift. Would a top 6 forward be nice? Yes, it would, if you want to get Naslund going again. Can we make the playoffs without a top 6? Absolutely.
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We showed last year that even with our scoring dilemma, we won our division. Why is that? Solid, solid defense, and an all star goaltender, something Vancouver hadn't gotten used to yet. Vancouver has finally learned to play defense, at the expense of our offense. This offseason, Nonis did the best thing a GM in his position could do: Strengthen his teams most relied on position; Defense.
I don't know how many times I heard Jim Hughson say "Brent Sopel coughs the puck up" or how many times I saw Rory Fitzpatrick without a check, but those were the little things that cost us the Anaheim series, that cost us the trip back to Vancouver for a game 7 in Dallas. We had a great top 4, and an inconsistent 5-6 pairing.
Let's look at our top 4. Salo, Ohlund, Bieksa, and Mitchell. This shows that we probably have one of the best, if not the best, defensive core in the league. Then you would look further down the list and see Brent Sopel and Rory Fitzpatrick. And then we would have an injury to our top 4, and in comes Yannick Tremblay or Alex Edler. Do you see what im getting at? Slowly this great core withers away as the season goes on, and we filled our defense with inexperienced defensemen.
Last offseason, the Canucks re-tooled the whole team. So, we didn't really have one position we could focus on. Nonis did the smart thing, he realized that the Canucks finally had an all star goalie. So what he did was keep the D core, with the exception of Jovanovski, intact. And this offseason he had planned all season. With the nice blossoming of Bieksa, it made Nonis's job alot easier. Now all he had to do was strengthen the bottom 5-6. So he went out and he got Aaron Miller, and who better to fill the number 6 spot than our own Lukas Krajicek?
So now we have a solid top 6, and great depth on the moose to pick from. No longer in Van City will we panic over a defensive injury, because it only means more development time for Edler and Bourdon.
One could argue, however, that in the new nhl it takes offense to win a stanley cup. I'm one to argue this: You could have as much offense as you need, but in the end it's the defense that make sure that offense doesn't show up in the game. If the Canucks defense is as good as they are on paper, they can frustrate many offensive teams, and even if we end up winning all of our games by one goal games again next season, we can prove to the world that defense is still number one priority.
So why haven't we landed a top 6 forward yet? Because rebuilding takes time. Nonis is taking it one year at a time, which is a great tactic. If this year was devoted to strengthening our defense, then it is obvious what next year is devoted to. Nonis knew that this year the forward free agency pool wasn't very wide open, and that forwards would land huge contracts... Money we didn't have to spend. So we went out and got a big body in Isbister, Re-signed Bieksa and Kesler, two great pkers, and got us a great backup and a great 5-6 guy in Aaron Miller.
Next year when we have a much deeper forward free agency pool to choose from, we can focus on our offense, which I am certain will include Markus Naslund staying a Canuck. The cap will go up next year, and with the solid D core that we have built for years, we can finally focus on our offense solely. That only means good things to come.
Remember, the Canucks were just starting to get used to each other come December, and thats when we really showed up. Although we might have to watch another tough goal scoring season, we will enjoy watching our defense win us the games, and our god, Roberto Luongo, stealing the spotlight.
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