At the trade deadline Canucks GM Mike Gillis, as he has stated on many an occasion, that he would not trade away Nucks draft choices for rental players, filled at least a depth position at defense. Andrew Alberts, at 6’5”, 218 lbs is a player I have been screaming for to help bolster the lack of toughness at the back end.
You have all read about his stay at home, defense first type of play, but what I like is his toughness, clear the front of the net attitude and his willingness to drop the gloves if need be and trust me with Chicago that will not be a problem.
Alberts, although a No. 6 D-man, will easily replace Nolan Baumgartner and most likely push Aaron Rome to the press box when Kevin Bieksa returns possibly before the end of this road trip.
Who knows if Bieksa, who was struggling before his injury can return to the form he played at three seasons ago, but if not, Rome could be a temporary six spot player as he has been lately.
Willie Mitchell still is not expected back before the playoffs, is the mantra Gills and Alain Vigneault have been singing, but who knows with these concussions. If not Mitchell will be missed come playoff time but if he does return than Alberts acquisition sure helps the depth which will be needed come playoffs.
A lot of readers got all bent out of shape when I dared suggest that the Canucks might not make the playoffs! Do I really believe that I was asked? No I don’t think they will miss the playoffs but it sure stirred the pot and hey it was boring hockey (Columbus game) after the Olympics and everyone had that 17 day euphoric hangover. So let’s get back to business.
The Mathieu Schneider trade for Sean Zimmerman and a conditional six round draft pick, bolstered the farm team’s defense (Manitoba Moose) and shed the remainder of Schneider’s salary, was a great move because Schneider was not going to play for the Nucks unless they ran out of D-Men. Another depth player for the big club.
Yan Stastny for Pierre-Cedric Labrie adds some more depth at centre for the Moose and unless there is a rash of injuries at that position on the Canucks, Stastny has most of his five year career in the AHL and most likely will remain there.
Did the Canucks get that top four defenseman that was truly needed to replace Mitchell? No nor did Gillis get a top six forward either. BUT, if Pavol Demitra can continue his Olympic play, where he was the top point leader in the tournament, then maybe, just maybe he can be that forward.
Do the Canucks have the horses to go far into the playoffs? Being a Canucks fan since they broke into the NHL in 1970, my heart would like to wish yes but my realistic side says no. Sure they have been able to remain in the top five in the league in scoring but everything changes in the playoffs.
The other thing is that there is such parity in teams three through to eleven in the standings. Any one of those teams could knock the Canucks off so it will depend who they face in the first round and it’s like, pick your poison. I would hope it’s not Chicago, San Jose, Anaheim, or Calgary, if Anaheim and Calgary make it into the playoffs.
Let’s see how the Nucks stack up against Chicago tonight because that will be a great litmus test.
One more road win and that will allow the Canucks to return home from a 14 game road trip with a .500 record. Considering that they left being one game below .500 that’s not too bad. I would say after that experience the rest is a piece of cake!