When the puck drops for the regular season on October 6th the Canucks will have a few key players sitting in the press box. It has been well documented that forwards Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Manny Malhotra are not going to be in the opening night roster against Pittsburgh. With the severity of Raymond’s injury his return is more of a question mark. Kesler is making big strides to returning sooner rather than later. Even with those pieces of the puzzle back the Canucks still need some of that “secondary scoring” in the lineup.
So now we debate how the Canucks will find a forward to slot into the lineup to play on the 2nd scoring unit. During the weeks/months that May Ray & Kes are out the team will no doubt be auditioning prospects and new signings in the spots. Is this the year that Hodgson sticks in the lineup? Will Marco Sturm return to form? For what it is worth I see Hodgson filling the void mainly while we wait for the others to return but he is not the guy you want in your top 6 for 82 games.
It is likely that any deal will involve Cory Schneider. Let’s take a look around the league to see some options that the Canucks have.
Kyle Turris: With all the attention on Doughty in LA many have forgotten that the Burnaby sniper is still without a contract in Phoenix. As an RFA Gillis would have to send him an Offer Sheet. We all know how most NHL GMs feel about this method, but unlike some Offer Sheets in the past, this one would be late in negotiations and would not seem like as much of an attempt to hurt a team.
Ales Hemsky: Sure, inter division trades are highly unlikely but the Oilers are in need of some young goaltending (Khabibulin is 38). Schneider is primed to take on a leading role and it is more likely he could steal the crease from the aging Russian in Edmonton than from Luongo. Hemsky has skill to burn but has not had the supporting cast needed to shine. If the Canucks could snap him from Edmonton he would have a breakout year.
Most of the KHL: With the recent tragedy in Russia shedding light on the lack of safety in air travel for KHL teams I expect more players leaving their teams in Russia to return or debut in the NHL. Alexander Radulov is a Russian sniper that left the NHL for the KHL after a few season in North America. He lead the KHL in points last year and deserves another shot in the NHL. His 80 points came off of 60 assists and having another “pass first” forward on the 2nd forward ine and 2nd power play unit is always a nice addition.
Antoine Vermette: The Blue Jackets are in need of some goaltending support for #1 Chris Mason. Vermette has a 19 goal scorer last season but was one season removed from a 65 point campaign. With Jeff Carter coming to town in the off season Vermette might be more expendable than in years past.
Who do you think the Canucks should go after to fill the Top 6 void the team clearly has?
Image: Jay Gula/Toronto Star