Top Six Changes the Vancouver Canucks Have to Make

Nucks IceMan@nucksiceman@twitter.comCorrespondent IMay 20, 2009

CHICAGO - MAY 11:  Kevin Bieksa #3, Rick Rypien #37 and Shane O'Brien #55 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrate with their teammates on the bench after O'Brien scored a goal in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 11, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

1. Speed – Forwards - Although GM Mike Gillis was in denial at recent press conferences, it was obvious from the playoff round with Chicago that this needs to be addressed. I started writing about it in the Nov. 3 article and it appeared in others right through to the end of the season.

When you are not quick enough to get in on the fore-check or turn around to back-check, you pay the price. Taylor Pyatt and Steve Bernier, the biggest forwards are too slow and were ineffective in the playoffs.

Now you add in the Sedins and Mat Sundin, that’s five players or one third of your forwards. I don’t care a rats behind about what they did in the regular season.

Defense – Mattias Ohlund, Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo, Rob Davison and Shane O’Brien (who I like) are too slow to get back to beat the fore-check. I will write about what personnel changes (forwards and defense) should be made in the next article.

2. Toughness – Way too many Europeans (Sedins, Demitra and Sundin) = softness, which is exploited during the playoffs. Canucks toughness is Darcy Horidchuk (too slow) and Rick Rypien up front and neither are of the heavyweight caliber.

Sure Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Steve Bernier can be feisty but they are not a Ben Eager, Dave Bolland, Adam Burish, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brower or Dustin Byfuglien.

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Eager really impressed me with his speed for such a big man. Canucks do not have even one of these types.

Shane O’Brien and Kevin Bieksa are all that is on the defense, which is not enough. Alex Edler, a big body plays soft. Sami Salo, same category.

3. Special teams finished 16th (PK) and 17th (PP). I said it would catch up to them in the playoffs and even though the Nucks special teams prospered against St. Louis, look what lost them game six against the Hawks. Three power play goals against.

If Walter Ryan was brought in as a special teams specialist, then fire him because he failed.

4. Depth – Canucks really do not have any good young players in their system. Sure you can say that Cody Hodgson (lacks speed), Michael Grabner and Cory Schneider may push for spots but then who?

I followed the progress of some of their farm team prospects on the Manitoba Moose, and I do not see any big, tough, fast forwards or defense there, or on the Victoria Salmon team (ECHL) either.

Development of young talent is solely lacking.

5. Difference maker – Will Roberta Luongo ever be one?

Canucks do not have a 35-50 goal scorer, a defenseman to quarterback the power play or someone that can change a game on their own.

In other words a Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Jarome Iginla, Eric Staal, etc.

Not since Pavel Bure, from 1991 to 1995 have they had such a player.

6. Special consultants – Chicago has Scotty Bowman. Canucks have Dave Gagner, Scott Melanby, Lorne Henning, Ryan Walters, and others.

How many Stanley Cups have they won as coaches or GM’s? If this is indeed the era of specialty, i.e. power play and penalty kill, then find people that were highly successful in those areas and go hire them.

How come Lorne Henning, who was a penalty kill specialist for the Stanley Cup winning New York Islanders, is not running the power play instead of VP of Player Personnel and Asst. GM.? I thought GM Mike Gillis thought outside the box?

In conclusion, GM Mike Gillis has done a decent job in his first year, but has yet to address the needs. 

The Canucks still ended up being a one line team in the playoffs, slow and soft.

Let's see if he can prove that he deserves all the media adulation that drips with honey.

Canuck fans have seen lots of round two and out over 38 years.  Go out and fix that!


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