It's NHL Eve, one of the most exciting days of the year north of the 49th parallel. Every day of since the end of the regular season has been X'd off: here we go again. I decided to purchase NHL Center Ice this season; I just can't get enough of the boys in blue. With this disgusting surplus of games being fed to me I decided to try my hand at blogging some of them. There hasn't been any casual, regular, Canucks bloggers (to my knowledge), so hopefully I can fill the void. If anything it should help improve my questionable writing.
What better way to start the season then have a thorough shakedown of the current roster. There have been fairly significant changes up front, although the defensive core stayed largely intact. Between the pipes haven't varied from last season, which couldn't make me happier. Let's dive in.
07/08: 29-45-74p ~ 1yr/3.575m
Our top sniper needs to be at his best this season. At age 28 he is entering what is generally regarded as a scorers prime. Daniel needs to have a career year for all parties involved as he approaches free agency.
07/08: 15-62-76p ~ 1yr/3.575m
Like his twin Daniel, Henrik needs to have career numbers. He's shown he can score in the pre-season, but he needs to continue that trend coming into the season. Hopefully he can feed some passes towards his new linemate, which will make shutting the top line down a little harder for the opposition.
07/08: 16-16-32p ~ 1yr/2.5m
St. Louis' offer sheet puts the Canucks in an awkward position with Steve. Big numbers mean a big contract next summer. Steve needs to gel with the twins, and needs to avoid an "Anson Carter
" disaster when we need to resign him.
07/08: 15-39-54p ~ 2yr/4m
Gillis' biggest signing, and his biggest gamble. Pavol will be the biggest factor in Gillis' hiring being a success or failure. He suggested that his offense was stifled by Minnesota's defense first system: we sure hope so!
07/08: 9-12-21p ~ 2yr/.883m
Mason is the epitome of a wildcard. His pre-season display was nothing short of promising. Chemistry between him and centerman Demitra is already forming and the Canucks are poised to reap the benefits. Raymond needs to bulk up his paper-thin frame to avoid further injuries.
07/08: 16-21-37p ~ 1yr/1.575m
Demitra specifically asked for Pyatt, so Pyatt he'll get. This is Taylor's job to lose and there is no shortage of players chomping at the bit to take his spot. Regarded as terribly inconsistent, Taylor needs to shake off the 07/08 campaign and come out of the gate strong.
07/08: 21-16-37p ~ 2yr/1.75m
There was talk of Kesler taking a more prominent role in the Canucks offense, namely a top 6 spot. It looks like he'll remain on the 3rd checking/pest line. Kesler's offensive upside can no longer be ignored, and I'd like to see him get some powerplay time to show it off. Still a solid two-way center, he can only get better.
07/08: 12-19-31p ~ 1yr/.483m
Currently the least paid Canuck on the roster, Burrows is the ying to Kesler's yang. The second half of one of the better pest duo's in the league, Alexandre should be getting a hefty raise next summer if he even matches his production from last season. Burrows showed tenacity and competitiveness in the pre-season, and we love it.
07/08: 0-0-0p ~ 1yr/.508m
The most notable part of Hansen's career thus far has been his brief appearance in the 06/07 playoffs versus Dallas. While only registering 1 assist in 10 games, Jannik created opportunities and rarely was a liability. He has shown he can play extremely well with Kesler and Burrows, and I can't see him leaving their line anytime soon. Short of a meltdown, Hansen should make a fine addition to the third unit.
07/08: 5-13-18p ~ 2yr/1.1m
Obviously not brought on board for his offensive contributions, Johnson will be a solid centerman for the fourth line. Touted as a faceoff specialist, our fourth unit should have the puck more often then not which, hopefully, should translate into less goals against. Ryan rarely takes penalties, and should log some good numers on the penalty kill.
07/08: 1-2-3p ~ 3yr/.775m
He loves to fight, and Gillis loves to pay him to fight, as shown by his three year contract. Although slightly undersized as far as enforcers go, Hordi will scrap anyone and make them remember. A huge upgrade from recently departed Cowan (who I think lost every fight last season.
) I'm excited to watch the Stars/Canucks games, as this already heated rivalry has been taken to new heights with the Hordichuk-Avery conflict tossed into the mix.
07/08: 1-2-3p ~ 1yr/.522m
Ripper! He finally makes the big club, and who can't say they're happy to see it. The current Grouse Grind champion rode his big heart all the way to the Canucks opening roster. Arguably the most fearless fighter in the NHL, Ripper uses his boxing pedigree to successfully scrap opponents much larger than himself.
07/08: 1-0-1p ~ 1yr/.522m
Brown will likely serve as a depth player up front. He provides a little grit and fairly sound play. The Canucks don't expect too much from him, and I don't think he expects to play a whole. Barring injury, we shouldn't see him much, but when we do, he's good stuff.
07/08: 8-13-21p ~ 1yr/.550m
I have a feeling Wellwood will make his way into the starting lineup more often then not as the season progresses. He will likely take Rypien's spot on the fourth line to start, but look to see Vigneault experiment him on our second line from time to time. His obvious offensive skill
will be sorely missed when he is scratched, and a goal starved Canucks team will have no choice but to give him a chance.
07/08: 2-10-12p ~ 2yr/3.5m
Willie won't dazzle you with the puck, but he'll knock you on your ass if you try the same on him. Our defensive specialist remains our most important piece on the blueline. Even with our new up-tempo system as described by Mike Gillis, the value of Mitchell cannot be underestimated. He surely provides a huge presence in the locker room and leads by example.
07/08: 2-10-12p ~ 3yr/3.75m
After an abysmal season last year, which saw Kevin's point total drop from 42 to 12, as well as his calf being severed, Kevin enters arguably the most important year of his career. Bieksa needs to use this year to establish himself as a premium defenseman in the NHL, and not a one year wonder. Three years of a 3.75m cap hit could seem like a very long time if Kevin does not return to form. Fingers crossed.
07/08: 9-15-24p ~ 1yr/3.5m
Captain consistency, Ohlund has been a source of relief on our back end for years. His solid play in both ends of the ice make him a fan favorite. Remarks by Mattias
have cast a shadow of doubt on his return next season. This, combined with an emerging Edler, leads me to believe he will not be in a Canucks uniform for the 09/10 season. Until that time, he's a damn good defenseman.
07/08: 8-17-25p ~ 3yr/3.5m
The "Finnish Al MacInnis" looks to have returned to form this season. His booming shot from the point has already been felt this season. From his own words he feels injury free for the first time in a long time, but don't expect it to last. If Salo plays 82 games this season I will eat my own fecal matter; Trust me, I'm not worried.
07/08: 8-12-20p ~ 1yr/0.550m
Edler thrived under the ice time he received due to injury. He was the bright spot among a blueline of disaster, and all eyes are on him for a breakout season. Look for him to take Ohlund's contract and ice time next season. Edler should be a cornerstone on this team for years to come.
07/08: 4-17-21p ~ 1yr/.950m
Once a promising young player, O'Brien doesn't have many raving reviews anymore. He's a big guy, but he's still trying to find a way to use his size effectively. Shane stays healthy throughout the season, so picking him up brings some much needed assurance that we'll have more NHL ready defenseman in our lineup then last season. O'Brien is yet another player brought in with a promising past and a suspect future. Gillis may be looking to find a diamond in the rough, and by the sounds of the Canucks' positive attitude in the dressing room, he might get one.
07/08: 1-1-2p ~ 1yr/0.560m
Big guy, tough, depth. He will battle O'Brien for the 6th spot on the team and stands a decent chance of winning it. Rob will probably play against the tougher teams in the league. Maybe he will be inspired by the play of his prospective linemate Edler; Chances are not good.
Manning the Crease
07/08: 35W-29L-9OTL ~ 2yr/6.750m
Where to begin? Named the Captain of the Canucks, the entire season hinges on the play of this man. Talk about pressure hey? After a sub-par season, as far as elite goalies go, Roberto is on the verge of what we hope is a comeback season. By all accounts he is fired up and ready to go. His daughter is born, his wife is likely used to living in Canada (let's hope we don't have a Pronger/Nylander on our hands), so let's see him play some damn hockey. Anything less than a Vezina nomination would be below expectations, but I fully expect him to win it. One thing our fearless leader needs to improve is his shootout performance. Most teams have figured out that a simple stick-glove deke puts Roberto on his back
, holding his mitt inches above the ice in despair.
07/08: 4W-3L-1OTL ~ 1yr/0.650m
Sanford gets paid to ride pine. How bad can it be? He always shows up when he plays, and his teammates love him. As long as Curtis keeps this level of commitment to his organization there will always be a spot on the roster for him.
I hope somebody actually reads this; Comments and discussion are always appreciated. Happy season!