In a recent article I sought to demonstrate what a Canucks team with the Sedins moved behind Lecavilier and Heatley would need to look like. It wasn't pretty, the defence would need toaccept a questionable pair into the top six. There would be a rookie and a journeyman in goal. This is because so much salary would need to be dumped.
But an attached poll revealed that half the respondents wanted the Sedins back. Also offered were Lecavalier, Marleau and Heatley, three big guys that can play center. They did not raise much interest, although Lecavalier had some votes. Gaborik, Demitra's pal, also raised little interest. This seems counterintuitive as the Canucks are small down the middle. If Hodgson makes the team, they shrink even further.
It is true the Sedins displayed some grit during the playoffs, but they are not enforcers. In fact, the twins need protection on the ice. Since they require a speedy winger to chase down shoot-ins, this protection needs to come from the defense. The Canucks do have some muscle on the back-end. This leads to a slow defence. Also, the slow D-men proved insufficient in the muscle department, anyway.
In short, the Canucks aren't one or two pieces away from contention. They aren't very big or very fast or too skillful.
They must upgrade on defense. This is a glaring weakness once you subtract Ohlund. A puck-moving speedster that can lead the rush would be good. A big guy with wheels and a shot would be ideal. Guys like that are not cheap or plentiful. Anyway, Niedermayer and Komisarek might not want to come here.
The offense was pretty good at the start of last season. The Kesler/Burrows combination was clicking, stealing pucks and getting chances. Demitra played center well on the second line. The Sedins played well together, occasionally ricocheting a puck in off Bernier's stick.
Goaltending was considered no problem at all.
Then the season happened and events forced the evolution of the team.
Can the Canucks be that good again? Perhaps. A set line featuring the Sedins and Burrows would seem to be a good start. If the Sedins don't return, though, a replacement roster cannot be cobbled together from free agents. Trades would be necessary. This handcuffs the Canucks because Gillis is not a popular member of the old boy's club.
So, what to do? Getting better through the draft is how some teams do it. The Canucks could go this route, but not without shifting major assets. Also, this is a club with immediate needs! An impact player from this year's draft seems like a long, longshot. They could try to move up, but those waters are muddied by the desperate Brian Burke
We'll know this week where the Canucks will go. I hope the Sedins can go with them.