The Vancouver Canucks admitted on Monday that they had a disappointing end to the 2012 Playoffs.
This team set its sight on returning to the Stanley Cup finals, and they were deemed the favourite to be there in the finals by TSN expert analysts.
So what went wrong for the Canucks this season? Take a look at my previous article about the five key problems this season that really forced them out early.
In today's section, I wish to address the No.1 concern on this team, and the biggest issue, which is player personnel.
This year, the playoff teams saw a trend towards sound defensive hockey with great goaltending—the bonus being opportunistic offense. The Canucks must find a replacement on the point for the power play this offseason via free agency or through trade.
Sami Salo has played 100 playoff games in his career and he is approaching 38 years of age in September, so it is highly unreasonable to ask him to be the main guy on the offensive blue line carrying all the play.
Dan Hamhuis is a terrific two-way defenseman who is phenomenal in his own end for the Canucks. However, he does not possess an NHL-caliber slap shot that could beat goalies in this league. He shouldn't be asked to continue playing big minutes on the first power-play unit.
Therefore, a few potential player-play quarterbacks could be Jason Garrison from Florida, Dennis Wideman from Washington, veteran Joe Corvo, veteran Sheldon Souray, or restricted free-agent Shea Weber from Nashville.
The former four options are currently pending unrestricted free-agents, but Weber will likely require a significant trade with the Predators before a signing can occur.
Suppose Mike Gillis could pull off big deals,
Wideman, Corvo, and Weber would be players that could provide the Canucks with a balanced attack, as well as quality minutes from the blue line.
Garrison may be a higher risk due to the fact he is more of an unproven first-year success story. He may or may not be able to maintain his production in the new season.
Lastly, the Canucks definitely should try everything possible to trade away Roberto Luongo to a team that needs to solidify its goaltending, trade away Keith Ballard to save cap space, and re-sign Salo to a one-year contract extension if he decides to come back for another NHL season.
The cap number saved from removing Luongo and Ballard equals to:
5.333mil cap space + 4.200mil cap space = 9.533mil cap space or 14.5% of the team cap space (64.30mil).
In the next sequel, I will discuss the need for additional team toughness, and how the team can address that problem.
This is Joseph Trenton reporting from Vancouver.