One of the biggest offseason needs for the Vancouver Canucks has been to find a scorer to play on the wing next to Ryan Kesler. After seemingly playing by himself for most of the playoffs the lack of scoring on the second line became an elevated problem to address after the Finals.
As free agents and trades were flying around the NHL this past month, the Canucks, for the most part, stayed pretty quiet. After watching potential scoring wingers either re-signed or snatched up by other teams, Vancouver is still looking for that guy.
Could it be that they already have that player on their roster?
It is time to move Alex Burrows to the second line to play with Ryan Kesler.
Burrows can score. In the past three years he has averaged just under 30 goals a year. What better sniper to play with Kesler?
Burrows and Kesler are not strangers either. When both players were just breaking into the NHL with Vancouver they were often linemates, down on the third or fourth line.
Back then they were the Canucks energy line. They didn’t score much, but they brought energy and were pests that got under their opponents' skin.
They have been killing penalties together for several years now and are among the league’s best penalty killing forwards. They are familiar with each other.
In Game 6 of the first round series with Chicago this past year, coach Alain Vigneault was desperate for his team to play with some intensity and moved Burrows to Kesler’s line.
The move worked as over the next two games the Burrows-Kesler-Raymond line provided three goals (all by Burrows) and five assists. The line also put up 12 shots in Game 7.
This line could be an energetic, goal-scoring machine for the Canucks this season. Barring any trades before the season starts, this is the move Vancouver should make.
Now, of course, the only major drawback is that this move takes Burrows off of the line with the Sedin twins where he, and they have flourished.
There would need to be a replacement for Burrows on the top line.
This might be easier than first imagined as well.
The Sedins have shown that they can turn most average players into goal scorers (with the exception of Taylor Pyatt) and someone like the newly signed Jannik Hansen could easily fit in with the Sedins.
Hansen has shown improvement over the past two seasons, was one of the better Canucks in the Finals and plays bigger than Burrows—something needed for the top line.
With Hansen moved up, it would free up Marco Sturm to take his spot on the third line with Manny Maholtra and either Chris Higgins, Raymond or Cody Hodgson.
Making this move would offer the Canucks a more balanced scoring attempt, something they desperately needed in the Finals and something they have not been able to acquire this offseason.
Sometimes the player you are looking for is right under your nose.