Playoffs a foreshadow of changes to come

Dec 19 2017, 7:29 am

The Vancouver Canucks are down 3-0 in the first for the second consecutive year. In game 2, Ryan Kesler’s heroic performance was not enough to bring the Canucks level on the series with the Sharks as Vancouver blew a one goal lead late in the third period and lost the game in overtime (where have we seen this before?). And game 3 saw the Canucks collapse in the third period after pulling to within one goal of tying the game. After last year, fans were questioning the make-up of this team and wondering if this was the squad to bring glory to the streets of Vancouver. If this years playoff run ends in another disappointing early exist, I’m sure fans will be expecting some big changes to be made. The fact is that this may be the last chance that some of the players may get to prove their worth to the club as Vancouver’s window of opportunity to win the Stanley Cup is slowly but surely closing.

Set to become free agents at the end of the playoffs include:

  • Derek Roy (UFA)
  • Manny Malhotra (UFA)
  • Mason Raymond (UFA)
  • Maxim Lapierre (UFA)
  • Dale Weise (RFA)
  • Tom Sestito (RFA)
  • Steve Pinizzotto (UFA)
  • Andrew Ebbett (UFA)
  • Andrew Alberts (UFA)
  • Chris Tanev (RFA)
  • Cam Barker (UFA)

Derek Roy has been good down the stretch for Vancouver, but so far in the playoffs he’s been a non-factor. Roy was brought in to give the team some secondary scoring, an offensive spark if you will. Before Kesler came back from injury, Roy had been inserted on the second line and was developing great chemistry with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen. The skilled centre used his speed and passing-ability to generate quality scoring chances for his linemates time and again and for the first time in a long time, it looked like our secondary scoring woes were finally solved.

However, for the time being, Roy has been ineffective, Higgins and Hansen are no where to be found and this team is having trouble scoring goals. Where is the Derek Roy we thought everyone thought the Canucks were adding to their lineup? Where’s the Derek Roy that was the spark plug in Buffalo? The one who once put up 32 goals and 81 points making him one of the most electrifying centres in the game? Lost with the rest of them. There have been talks that Roy is looking for a big contract this off-season, more than the $5.5 million he is already making. Is it worth Vancouver to resign him? Maybe, as throughout his career he has been a point-a-game player, but we haven’t seen any of that here in Vancouver making it highly unlikely that he will get the money he is looking for from the Canucks.

Then there’s Mason Raymond, a player who has been highly criticized in this city for his inconsistent play and inability to stay on his feet. Raymond has also been a non-factor through the first three games against San Jose, not generating a single point and for a perceived top-six forward that is unacceptable.

Raymond established himself as a regular in Vancouver after scoring 25 goals back in the 2009-2010 season. Since then his goal total has decreased each season. Two years ago Raymond produced 15 goals and last season Raymond had 10. He’s been highly inconsistent for the past few years, but the coaching staff and management  has stuck with him and has given him every chance to succeed. He hasn’t scored a goal in a little under a month and hasn’t looked like an offensive threat for a lot longer than that. With him not scoring, what else does he bring to the table?  Tuesday may be his last game in a Canuck uniform, and it’s probably best for both parties that he elects to go to free agency.

Maxim Lapierre and Dale Weise have looked lively at times throughout the first three games of this series and have played their roles well. Sure Weise has taken some bad penalties, that were questionable to say the least, but that’s not the reason Vancouver is facing a 3-0 series deficit. Weise offers great speed and some team toughness to a Canucks team that seems like they’ve been a step behind all season. He’s making $615,000 this year and is a great depth fourth liner. Lapierre has been one of the best acquisition the current management regime has made and has been on of Vancouver’s most consistent forwards. He’s a great penalty killer, decent face-off man and gives this team a spark when they need it.

As for Andrew Alberts, Cam Barker, Steve Pinizzotto, Tom Sestito and Andrew Ebbett, they are more depth pieces than anything and there are better options out there. Though Alberts has been a mainstay on the Canucks defence this year, he is a player that can be replaced. Manny Malhotra will probably never play for the Canucks again although he may stay with the club as some sort of advisor. The crown jewel of the Canucks free agent crop is young defenceman Chris Tanev. Tanev looks to be a key piece of the future of this team and should be resigned to a lengthy contract. He’s probably the most reliable player the Canucks have resigning him is a no-brainer.

Whatever the outcome of the series is big changes are expected this off-season. With back-to-back 3-0 series deficits, it is obvious that this team may not be the ones to bring home a championship to Vancouver. The core group of the Canucks looks to be intact for the next few years, but if this group of players are to win a Stanley Cup, the depth and the complimentary pieces of this team needs to change. A team that once had  trouble getting out of the second round is now struggling to find its way out of the first.


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Feature Image: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images