With the All-Star break upon us, the time seems right to reflect and evaluate each player’s performance thus far. As a team, the Canucks currently sit 3 points back of the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division, but what about individual results? Some players have struggled, while others, like Jannik Hansen, have mightily exceeded expectations.
Let’s get grading.
Hansen has been a huge success on the first line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and is currently on pace to notch a career high of 25 goals and 43 points. This success can be attributed to Hansen’s speed and improved touch around the net.
Acquired in the Zack Kassian trade, Prust is better known for his Twitter antics than anything he’s done on the ice. Placed on waivers today, it’s very likely that we’ve seen the last of Prust in a Canucks’ jersey.
Horvat came under tons of pressure when Brandon Sutter went out with an injury, and it’s fair to say that he was overwhelmed. Horvat has a league worst -24 plus/minus rating along with a Corsi rating of 44.3%, but this is partially due to having 57.3% of his starts coming from the defensive zone. Horvat caught fire in January with 12 points in 12 games and looks more like the dynamic two-way centre that we saw in the back half of last season.
Baertschi started the season slow with long pointless stretches, but has heated up in the last 15 games with 6 goals and 9 points. He’s finally found chemistry with Horvat and has improved his defensive game to the point where he’s been given 5 extra minutes of average ice time for the month of January.
Dorsett isn’t close to matching last year’s career high of 25 points, and hasn’t been much more for the team besides an enforcer. It’s safe to say that at 2.5 million dollars a year, he’s a pretty expensive enforcer.
At 35 years of age, Daniel Sedin has turned back the clock and is back as an elite offensive goal scorer. Daniel’s shooting percentage has risen to 12%, the best it has been in four years. It’s no wonder that he’s on pace for more than 30 goals, a feat that he hasn’t accomplished since 2011-12.
It’s clear that even when in the lineup, Henrik has been battling injuries that are limiting his play. With this taken in account, it’s truly impressive that Captain Hank has been able to put up 37 points in 44 games.
While his recent play has significantly improved, Burrows’ season has been quite disappointing. He’s been too inconsistent offensively and went through 24-game goalless streak.
Vrbata’s play has definitely looked out of sorts this season with a mediocre 11 goals on 6.7% shooting. However, the streaky scorer could heat up prior to the deadline if he capitalizes on Horvat and Baertschi’s improved offensive performances.
McCann started the season surprisingly strong with 5 goals in his first 9 games, but has cooled off with just 6 points in his last 31 games. Despite this, McCann has shown flashes of brilliance with his confidence and has stepped up during the periodic absences of Henrik Sedin.
Following a disappointing World Junior tournament, Virtanen has displayed his tremendous speed and size despite not being able to hit the scoresheet. Virtanen boasts the highest Corsi percentage among Canucks’ players at 52.7%, but do take this with a grain of salt considering the offensive starts that Virtanen gets. The hard hitting, speedy winger could find himself with a bigger role if Radim Vrbata gets dealt at the deadline.
Cracknell has been a serviceable and reliable bottom-six centre, albeit with a terrible faceoff percentage of 40%.
The whipping boy of advanced stats nerds, Sutter has just returned from a sports hernia injury that sidelined him for 33 games. Look for Sutter’s strong, two-way game to take some pressure off of Horvat.
The former Medicine Hat Tiger has only played 7 games with the Canucks so far, but has displayed nice speed and chemistry on the 3rd line with Linden Vey and Alex Burrows.
Vey was called up in mid December when Henrik and Sutter were out. Since then, he has filled in adequately, and seems to be finding some chemistry on a line with Burrows and Etem.
Edler is the leading scorer from the back end with 20 points and has remained reliable on the top pairing with Chris Tanev. He is an integral player for not only 5-on-5 situations, but also for the power play and penalty kill, resulting in him logging north of 24 minutes a night. While his Corsi percentage of 46.1 is a bit lacking, this is primarily due to having the highest defensive zone starts among all Canucks defenceman.
Tanev has been as steady as ever on the top pairing and remains one of the few defencemen that can be trusted in all situations. Willie Desjardins has relied heavily on him in defensive situations as Tanev has more than 58% of his starts in the defensive zone. Tanev has also chipped in with 12 points, good enough for 3rd among Canucks’ blueliners.
Bartkowski has been disappointing, to say the least, since being signed on a one-year deal last summer. Expected to be a #6 puck-moving defenceman, Bartkowski has been more of a defensive liability than anything else. With the pending return of Hamhuis, Bartkowski could soon find himself watching games from the press box.
2012 5th round pick Ben Hutton has emerged as a good young puck-moving defenceman. Hutton has demonstrated a combination of high hockey IQ, great puck skills, and the confidence to be a consistent puck carrier from the defensive zone. He has easily been the team’s best rookie, and looks well on his way to becoming a solid top-4 defenceman in the near future.
Biega’s play since being called up to cover for injuries has most definitely been serviceable, but his underlying stats prove that his play hasn’t been as great as many would think. His 43.7 Corsi percentage is only better than Luca Sbisa’s among defencemen.
The reason why the increased shots against haven’t plagued the Canucks is because Miller and Markstrom have a combined .942 save percentage with Biega on the ice. So while Biega has stepped in admirably and performed better than the likes of Sbisa and Bartkowski, he hasn’t done as great a job as Willie Desjardin’s given him credit for.
Age is starting to catch up with the 33-year-old pending UFA, but there is no doubt that he is still a top-4 defenceman on this team. His return to the lineup after a scary shot to the face appears imminent, which is good news for a Canucks team that is sorely missing his veteran presence and two way game.
Unfortunately this season hasn’t been much better for Sbisa than his first in a Canucks uniform. His team low 41.8% Corsi is unacceptable and he’s looked quite sluggish overall after returning from a hand injury that sidelined him until mid-January. Sbisa needs to improve his anticipation and coverage if he wants to stay in the lineup moving forward.
Weber has fallen short of expectations this season. Last year, Weber was solid 5th/6th defenceman who would be able to provide offence from the blueline and quarterback the power play. However, Weber has failed to score a goal and has mustered only 5 assists in 35 games. His defensive play hasn’t been much better either, resulting in him watching recent games from the press box.
After a fantastic start to the season, Miller’s play declined due to being overused during the absence of Jacob Markstrom. After being out for 8 games with injury, Miller was lights-out during the recent Eastern road trip, stealing points against the Islanders and Rangers. Miller’s 11-14-7 record and 2.71 GAA should improve if the Canucks can improve their performance in front of him. The key moving towards the end of the season will be ensuring that Miller gets adequate rest.
Markstrom was greatly missed during the start of the year, as Willie Desjardins was unable to trust third stringer Richard Bachman enough to play him more than one game. Markstrom was terrific during Miller’s 8-game absence, proving that he can be trusted to play games regularly. Markstrom’s .923 save percentage and 2.38 GAA have been great, but make no mistake there is no goalie controversy… At least not yet.
With 27 days left until the trade deadline, it will be interesting to see how this list of players will change. GM Jim Benning has indicated that he wants to see how the team performs when healthy. Stay tuned.