Now that the dust has settled
It’s been five days since the Flyers punched Canucks Nation right in the stomach, making it violently throw up the dream that was Shea Weber. Since my post on the 19th, a few more things have come to light regarding the Canucks and Shea Weber.
Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis confirmed on Team1040 this morning that he had met with Weber and his agent at Weber’s off-season home in Kelowna.
According to Gillis, he felt the Predators would match an offer sheet, had they submitted one. He also mentioned that they looked at acquiring him via trade, but at the end of the day they weren’t able to do it.
Gillis also mentioned the team was still open to the idea of acquiring another defenseman and a top six forward.
With Shea Weber a thing of the past (for now at least) we can look at who the Canucks currently have on their back end and where they’ll (predictably) start the season. Lets start at the top.
Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa
The Canucks who are one-two on the depth chart and that wears jersey numbers two-three. No one expected Kevin Bieksa would pare with Dan Hamhuis in 2010-2011; then again, no one thought Beiksa would be a Canuck long into the 2010-2011 season.
No one expected Kevin Bieksa would pare with Dan Hamhuis in 2010-2011
But, injury being the best friend to former Canuck Sami Salo, it gave Beiksa a chance to become the defenseman he was prior to having two separate injuries from skate cuts.
The two form a great shut down unit that’s capable of putting up points. Bieksa returned to his offensive form this past season putting up a career high 44 points, while Hamhuis managed to register his second highest point total in a single season with 37.
Jason Garrison and Alex Edler
Exit Sami Salo and enter Jason Garrison. Losing Salo to free agency hurt the Canucks.
They lose a smart, puck moving defenseman who has a canon of a shot, but in Garrison they gain a smart, effective puck moving defenseman who has a canon….
Ok, well you get the point.
I’m not saying that the Canucks are seamlessly replacing Salo with Garrison, but while losing out on other defenseman this off season, it was nice that the Canucks were able to bring a player like Garrison in.
Alex Edler and his consistency, or lack thereof maybe the x-factor of this pairing. Both have similar games, Alex Edler is more likely to use his size and make big hits, as rare as that seems to be from time to time.
But if Edler can overcome the inconsistencies in his game then there’s no reason why these two can’t be productive and defensively responsible.
Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard
I have this strange feeling that I could have put an X or a picture of a pylon next to Chris Tanev and people might have been a little happier. For the time being, I’m going to slot him into the top six.
Though he his role has been limited due to injuries and at times poor play, Keith Ballard is capable of much more. Vancouver gave up quite a bit to acquire him at the 2010 draft, and though Florida has only the draft pick to show for it, Vancouver still hasn’t gotten what they’re looking for out of Keith Ballard.
Chris Tanev on the other hand has shown that he is capable or pushing for a top four spot on the team this year. Of course that was an expectation last season when he started with the big club before being sent back to the Canucks minor league affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
But if Tanev’s improvements over the past two seasons are any indication, he’ll be pushing for that spot early on.
What if the Canucks can…?
Land another top four defenseman
If the Canucks are able to land another top four defenseman I think that one of the current top four will be on their way out. If I had to pick one of the top four, my money would be on Edler.
I’m not picking on him, but he’s a pending UFA in 2013 and has struggled with inconsistency most of his career.
The Canucks will have to take back a lot of salary in order to trade Ballard
Even with those things, he still has tremendous upside. He’s an offensive threat, has a great shot and plays big minutes. Once he’s over the consistency hurdle, who knows where his career will go.
Trade Keith Ballard
While I don’t think his value is at an all time high, I still don’t feel like the Canucks will have to take back a lot of salary in order to trade Keith Ballard. If he’s traded I think it would likely be to a team that is struggling to reach the cap floor.
Of course, with stating the obvious, I should mention that the sky is blue and unfortunately there are no such things as leprechauns.
Bring Kevin Connauton up
While I can’t see the Canucks pairing Tanev and Connauton together, I can see the ladder getting his share of games this season with the big club. Of course, that again falls into the obvious with the sky and leprechauns.
Gillis essentially said that Marc-Andre Gragnani became expendable with the strides that Kevin Connauton has made in his game.
He also expects him to push for a spot this year. Connauton is a great offensive defenseman, he has a helluva shot and it would be really nice to see him on the blue line for a few games this season.
It’s also refreshing that there is a possibility of some youth starting to come up from the farm and putting work in with the big club.
All together now
Other than revolving around the blue line, these three topics are all tied together. If the Canucks bring in a top four defenseman certainly one will be moved, could be Edler, could be Ballard. Obviously Edler has more trade value and will get you more, but moving Ballard frees up cap space for Weber next off…oh, right. Flyers!
And it never hurts to let your best defensive prospect get some games in with the big club.
So, I hope I’m not the only who thinks this but, the Canucks D isn’t that bad, is it?
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© Mitch Dyck for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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