After winning the Jack Adams trophy you'd think that Alain Vigneault had everything figured out. Well, you guess wrong. The Vancouver Canuck head coach is currently sitting in his chair with about a million and a half different line combinations running through his head.
The club announced eight releases today. Seven players are making their way to Manitoba (Bourdon, Brown, Coulombe, Hansen, Grabner, Jaffray, and Rypien) and defenceman Dan McGillis was released to free agency. There is justification to all the releases except maybe Rypien and McGillis who were likely released to simply releave the stress from the situation.
You see Vigneault, his coaching staff and GM Dave Nonis must come up with a creative way of getting Ryan Shannon, Mayson Raymond, Brad Isbister and Alex Burrows into the line-up on a nightly basis without upsetting the nucleus of the club.
The Canucks currently sit at 24 players. 2 Goaltenders, 7 defenceman and 15 forwards.
Goaltending? why waste time writing about it, we all know that Curtis Sanford will be doing Roberto Luongo's laundry for the next 8 months.
Carrying an extra d-man is something that most clubs tend to do and with the injury to Salo it is pretty obvious that Alex Edler has made the club...at least for now.
Up Front is where the questions and the serious log jam is. 15 does not go into 12 very nicely and there is going to be some upset people when all is said and done here.
My suggestions? Simply move Alex Burrows. I don't have time for this guy, I have never been a fan of him and I don't see a reason for him being in the line-up. Players such as Matt Cooke, Jeff Cowan, Bryon Ritchie and even Ryan Kesler do a good enough job pestering the oppnents and they all provide one demision that Burrows does not...an offensive pressence. Burrows would have trouble putting the puck in to the Burrard Inlet if he were standing on the Lions Gate.
The coach seems poised to move Ryan Kesler out of the checking roll and into a more offensive roll which could mean that local product Brendan Morrison is going to have to accept a roll as a third line centre man. This may not sit well with Brendan and I would venture to believe that Dave Nonis will not like paying a third liner 3.2 million dollars. With Morrison in the last year of his contract and a several teams (still) having interest in his services, Brendan may be on his way out.
The line-up could look something along these lines:
For a franchise that seemed to lack depth (not more than a year ago) the Canucks have did an about-face and look to be headed in the right direction. The top six forwards are going to be key to any success that they may have but there is a possibility that the top nine forwards all chip in with offense. If that were the case the Canucks will be sitting pretty come playoff time.
Of course there are all sorts of factors that play in to that equation. The headache that Vigneault and his staff are experiencing (as we speak) will one day pay dividends for this franchise. Developing from with in is key to success in the salary cap era. The performances of the youngsters warranted at least a start in the NHL and for some of the veterans (Morrison for example) their old legs had best figure out a way to keep up.