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Canucks Wing is Deep and Talented

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10-15-2009, 09:59 PM
  #1
Outside99*
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Canucks Wing is Deep and Talented

There's been a lot of talk recently about the Canucks lack of depth at forward given the weakness in our 3rd and 4th lines.

IMO, it doesn't make sense to lump Wingers and Centres into a category called Forwards for the simple reason that while Centres can play wing, Wingers usually cannot play Centre (or not very well) with the odd exception (Kesler). When you separate Wingers and Centres, you realize that the Canucks depth at Winger is actually very good. Here's who I consider to be "Wingers":

1st line: Daniel & Burrows
2nd line: Raymond & Kesler
3rd line: Bernier & Samuelsson
4th line: Demitra & Hansen
5th line: Hordichuk & Rypien
6th line: Grabner & Shirokov
7th line: Desbiens & Glass

When I look at these 14 players for the 8 roster spots on left and right wing, I see a lot of talent.

Even with injuries to Demitra, Hansen & Daniel, you still have 3 more Wingers than you have spots for. You can argue that some of my listed Wingers are really Centres while others are AHLers but even then, there are 11 healthy Wingers vs 8 roster spots so there is room for 3 to be argued off the list and still have a full lineup of bona fide NHL wingers. Moreover, not only do Canucks have depth at right and left wing, they have excellent talent as well that compares favourably with the best teams in the league, IMO.

Looking at this list, I have the following comments:

* if Demitra's health is still problematic, Canucks can afford Winger depth wise to shut him down for the season and....get a 2nd line centre.

* Kesler plays centre now but he's had more success as a right Winger. I believe with a good Centre he can consistently score 30 goals as I do see a scoring touch in him (see 2 goals this season and penalty shot), while I do not have as much enthusiasm for his play-making ability (although he's certainly competitive at 2nd line centre, he has the potential to be much more as a Winger).

* Rypien may have been a Centre in the past but my image of a 4th line centre is as a penalty killer and not an enforcer.

* I would only have 1 of Glass, Hordi, and Rypien in the lineup at any one time and keep Desbiens on the Moose for extra muscle.

*Grabner & Shirikov are between a rock (AHL/KHL) and a hard (NHL) place. They've proven themselves down there, and now they need games in the NHL to see if they belong. They are almost the perfect depth Wingers because they can be sent down and called up at will. I say almost because they are not as good defensively and in the grit dept as the teammates they would be replacing in the event of injury (like right now).

Its unusual but on the Wing, Canucks have almost the perfect mix of talent, grit, forechecking, strength on the puck, defensive responsibility, speed, PK ability, youth, and depth (that can be sent down and called up)...

Your thoughts please.

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10-15-2009, 10:11 PM
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sure, that Canucks have tons of depth...

when they don't have three top 9 forwards with long term injuries.

If the Canucks have been lucky, it's that their injuries have come to wingers, not centers.

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10-15-2009, 10:12 PM
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while we are deep at the wing position, i feel we lack at centre. i hope the canucks make a push for marc savard in july

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10-15-2009, 10:13 PM
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If you're counting both Kesler and Demitra, may as well count Henrik and Wellwood too. Wow, we have such amazing wingers!!

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10-15-2009, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripwyre View Post
If you're counting both Kesler and Demitra, may as well count Henrik and Wellwood too. Wow, we have such amazing wingers!!
Demitra is considered a right wing who can play all 3 forward positions although he himself has stated he does not like playing centre.

Kesler played half of last season at right wing with much success I might add.

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10-15-2009, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripwyre View Post
If you're counting both Kesler and Demitra, may as well count Henrik and Wellwood too. Wow, we have such amazing wingers!!
Kesler - fair point. He's a center right now, and unless the Canucks upgrade, which seems unlikely, that's where he'll stay.

I doubt we see too many shifts with Demitra at center, however.

Sarcasm, unnecessary. If you're too good for this place, leave.

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10-15-2009, 10:38 PM
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If Kesler's playing right wing, then Demitra's likely centering him. We don't have the personnel to put a line together otherwise. Wellwood played wing in Toronto, and plays wing on the PP quite often. I'll be sarcastic wherever I damn well please, if that bothers you, you can leave. But I agree with the OP, if all our centers played wing we would have amazing winger depth.

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10-15-2009, 11:01 PM
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Kesler won't be playing wing to Demitra any time soon. Wellwood can play wing but won't either, since the Canucks need him at center. These are the realities.

You're right, you can use sarcasm whenever you please. Doesn't mean you should. Keep up the attitude, it'll win you a lot of respect.

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10-16-2009, 01:00 AM
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IMHO, the depth we have at wing is not as effective when we lack depth at Center. Kesler as a 2nd liner is believable but I seriously think his growth into that role needs to be with some legitimate players, Demitra and Sundin were incredible for his confidence on the ice. I'm hoping a Raymond-Kesler-Demitra line has some chemistry, but I'm unsure.

I was/am a Wellwood supporter, but without Raymond on that line I really don't see it being an efficient goal-scoring line. Maybe 15 goals for Wellwood/Bernier. If one of Grabner or Shirokov can become mainstays on the team, I think they'd fit way better there than say Glass or Johnson.


So, yes, winger depth is great, better then many teams, and I think injuries and general lack of depth in other positions take most of the advantage of that depth away.

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10-16-2009, 01:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie View Post
Kesler won't be playing wing to Demitra any time soon. Wellwood can play wing but won't either, since the Canucks need him at center. These are the realities.

You're right, you can use sarcasm whenever you please. Doesn't mean you should. Keep up the attitude, it'll win you a lot of respect.
Where do you get off telling people what to do? It's a free freaking country.

Winger depth is great, but I'd like more at centre.

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10-16-2009, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by MooseHunter View Post
Where do you get off telling people what to do? It's a free freaking country.

Winger depth is great, but I'd like more at centre.
Of course, but it was rude and uncalled for. And I wasn't telling him what to do, I was giving him a helpful suggestion.

And yes, center depth is problematic. Though Kesler has done well at center the last few games, an injury to Henrik, him, or even Wellwood would leave the Canucks in quite the bind.

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10-16-2009, 02:17 AM
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Next year, the centre depth should begin to make a dramatic improvement, although I expect
both Hodgson and Schroeder to play at least part of the season on the Moose. Schroeder also plays right wing, but I'd think his great mobility and passing skills would make him a natural centre in the NHL.

It will be fun to see Cody and Jordan competing at the same position. One of them may allow Kesler eventually to shift over to the wing.

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10-16-2009, 03:36 AM
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Center depth may be the most important thing in the NHL.

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10-16-2009, 04:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kataklysm666 View Post
Center depth may be the most important thing in the NHL.
Besides maybe a goaltender, oh and a couple defenseman.

Nah, in all seriousness I agree with you the center position is widely underrated in many hockey circles but it isn't the most important position.

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10-16-2009, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Fedz View Post
Besides maybe a goaltender, oh and a couple defenseman.

Nah, in all seriousness I agree with you the center position is widely underrated in many hockey circles but it isn't the most important position.
Actually, it may very well be the most important position.

The centre is key in the transition from defence to offence and from offence to defence. He is also the offensive coordinator.

Defencemen can stand up at the blueline to check incoming forwards, provided the centre is back restricting pass options for the puck carrier. Wingers can break for open ice with confidence, provided the centre is capable of getting the puck to them.

The only real question is whether centres are more critical than goaltenders. There are examples on either side of this one. The Detroit Red Wings win with great centres and average goaltending. But, obviously, great goaltending has won more than a few Stanley Cups.

One consideration here is that the dropoff in talent between excellent goaltenders and very good goaltenders is not as huge as has been the case in the past. The other night, Khabibulin was exceptional in the nets for Edmonton. At the other end, for Chicago, Niemi was good. Good was good enough.

Personally, if I were building a team today, I would start with the two best centres I could possibly get. I know, from a time perspective, defencemen take longer to develop. But, the centres are so important, I would get them in place first. Then I would worry about goaltending. The centres would likely have to be drafted (assuming I have taken over a bottom feeder) over several years. The goaltender would likely come from another team.

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10-16-2009, 11:01 AM
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^ nice post.

That kind of puts it more in perspective for those of us that have never played organized hockey

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10-16-2009, 11:23 AM
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yup, if you can point to anything in common with recent Stanley Cup winners, it's that they all have two excellent centers.

Gillis seemed to understand that when he signed Sundin.

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10-16-2009, 11:33 AM
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I don't think our centre depth is really that bad. And even if it is, it's more than likely going to change long term in 2 or 3 seasons with Hodgson and Schroeder (at least I thought Schroeder was a C).

I'm not sure if this summer is the best time to invest in a higher-priced center man to be honest.

Granted Sundin's departure was unfavourable given that hole, last season we started with a huge hole there, but if we continue this season with Kesler as a center, it may not be ideal but it will work.

Though I guess when you look at other potential holes on this team, the second line center position is in theory one of our biggest ones.

But at the same time, Kesler is on a point per game pace and Samuelsson is as well playing with him. Raymond hasn't gotten many points but he looks great out there.

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10-16-2009, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outside99 View Post
There's been a lot of talk recently about the Canucks lack of depth at forward given the weakness in our 3rd and 4th lines.

IMO, it doesn't make sense to lump Wingers and Centres into a category called Forwards for the simple reason that while Centres can play wing, Wingers usually cannot play Centre (or not very well) with the odd exception (Kesler). When you separate Wingers and Centres, you realize that the Canucks depth at Winger is actually very good. Here's who I consider to be "Wingers":
Kesler is a more appropriate example of a center that can play the wing, rather than a winger that can play center.

Kesler has played center his whole career, at every level, until being moved to right wing last season for the first time - where he did play well offensively (although, as I've argued many times before, his defensive play took a huge hit when he moved to the wing).

But he's no exception at all here - he's a natural center that was moved to wing last year and was able to produce.

And as I've also argued before, I think his increase in production wasn't just because he was moved to wing... he is improving and developing overall as a player, and having quality talent next to him (Sundin) and finally being put in a scoring role, IMO had more to do with him improving his point totals than simply being a right winger instead of a center.

And IIRC, 1 period into this season, in our first GDT, someone still asked if anyone things that Kesler is a top 6 player at center in the NHL - which he's since shown he can still produce at a top 6 level!

We're only 5 games into the season, but Kesler is a PPG right now, while playing exclusively at center, and not having offensive talent next to him like he had last year (both Raymond and Samuelsson are significant downgrades offensively on Demitra and Sundin).

and yet, the talk is still that Kesler is not able to produce as a center like he did as a right winger, when to me it seems the signs point more to him just developing as a player and playing with high end talent in an offensive role for the first time that had more to do with his offensive output on right wing than he's been able to accomplish at center before that, while being younger and less experienced, and playing a shutdown role with 3rd line grinders.

I know it's still early and it'll take a season at center with top 6 production for people to think otherwise... but there are a lot of other reasons why he was able to produce much better in that 2-3 month window he's played at right wing, than just because he was a right winger.

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10-16-2009, 04:57 PM
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shoulda kept morrison

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10-16-2009, 05:05 PM
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shoulda kept morrison
Geez, he's doing a PPG out east.

I guess he's the answer to AV's "who has left here and scored more?"


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10-16-2009, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Outside99 View Post
Demitra is considered a right wing who can play all 3 forward positions although he himself has stated he does not like playing centre.

Kesler played half of last season at right wing with much success I might add.
Demitra is really an either-wing player who can play center. Ryan Kesler's natural position is center. He was succesful as a winger on Sundin's line. That's a far cry from being better as a winger than as a center. I mean, he's currently a point-per-game player over the last five games playing center.

The second line, when (if?) the Canucks are fully healthy is Demitra / Kesler / Samuelsson.

EDIT: Also, hasn't Kesler spent some time on the Sedin line? Didn't he suck during that period? I realize that was earlier in his career, but nevertheless.

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10-16-2009, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by nuckfan in TO View Post
Kesler is a more appropriate example of a center that can play the wing, rather than a winger that can play center.

Kesler has played center his whole career, at every level, until being moved to right wing last season for the first time - where he did play well offensively (although, as I've argued many times before, his defensive play took a huge hit when he moved to the wing).

But he's no exception at all here - he's a natural center that was moved to wing last year and was able to produce.

And as I've also argued before, I think his increase in production wasn't just because he was moved to wing... he is improving and developing overall as a player, and having quality talent next to him (Sundin) and finally being put in a scoring role, IMO had more to do with him improving his point totals than simply being a right winger instead of a center.

And IIRC, 1 period into this season, in our first GDT, someone still asked if anyone things that Kesler is a top 6 player at center in the NHL - which he's since shown he can still produce at a top 6 level!

We're only 5 games into the season, but Kesler is a PPG right now, while playing exclusively at center, and not having offensive talent next to him like he had last year (both Raymond and Samuelsson are significant downgrades offensively on Demitra and Sundin).

and yet, the talk is still that Kesler is not able to produce as a center like he did as a right winger, when to me it seems the signs point more to him just developing as a player and playing with high end talent in an offensive role for the first time that had more to do with his offensive output on right wing than he's been able to accomplish at center before that, while being younger and less experienced, and playing a shutdown role with 3rd line grinders.

I know it's still early and it'll take a season at center with top 6 production for people to think otherwise... but there are a lot of other reasons why he was able to produce much better in that 2-3 month window he's played at right wing, than just because he was a right winger.
I agree with you completely, aside from the fact that Kesler played the wing in Manitoba during the lockout.

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10-16-2009, 06:15 PM
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Canucks are weak at centre. If Demitra is shut down for the season, getting a 2nd line centre makes a lot of sense to me.

Kesler is improving for sure but I really think he's more of a scorer than a playmaker. He was quoted this summer as saying Sundin was "my centreman" so if he meant that, it means he also prefers playing wing (as long as he has a good centreman). Obviously, what he re-signs for depends on when he re-signs and how he is playing at the time but if he had a good 2nd line centre, he could become very expensive because he would put up a lot of goals, IMO.

I'm not sure if it was Kesler's fault if his defensive play suffered - Sundin wasn't the fastest back-checker out there last year...

The other thing is, Kesler can always be pressed into service as a centre in case of a penalty or injury and I think having that quality back-up at centre is important.

For 3rd and 4th centre, I think the team is very weak. I like both players attitude wise but Johnson is not doing the job on the PK and Wellwood as good as he looks at times, the scoring chances and points have been few and far between this year and even last year in the second half, there wasn't much production (don't quote his 18 goals: most were on the powerplay in Oct-Dec; without that he might have finished 6-9-15). So even if you still see Kesler as a centre, the team still needs to get a quality centreman overall.

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10-16-2009, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outside99 View Post
Canucks are weak at centre. If Demitra is shut down for the season, getting a 2nd line centre makes a lot of sense to me.

Kesler is improving for sure but I really think he's more of a scorer than a playmaker. He was quoted this summer as saying Sundin was "my centreman" so if he meant that, it means he also prefers playing wing (as long as he has a good centreman). Obviously, what he re-signs for depends on when he re-signs and how he is playing at the time but if he had a good 2nd line centre, he could become very expensive because he would put up a lot of goals, IMO.

I'm not sure if it was Kesler's fault if his defensive play suffered - Sundin wasn't the fastest back-checker out there last year...

The other thing is, Kesler can always be pressed into service as a centre in case of a penalty or injury and I think having that quality back-up at centre is important.

For 3rd and 4th centre, I think the team is very weak. I like both players attitude wise but Johnson is not doing the job on the PK and Wellwood as good as he looks at times, the scoring chances and points have been few and far between this year and even last year in the second half, there wasn't much production (don't quote his 18 goals: most were on the powerplay in Oct-Dec; without that he might have finished 6-9-15). So even if you still see Kesler as a centre, the team still needs to get a quality centreman overall.
would it be possible that if Kesler had as talented a winger as Sundin, that he could have elevated his game at center instead of as a right winger last year?

Before Sundin came to Vancouver, Kesler's best wingers have been Burrows and Bernier - who he played with during the first half of last season. The season prior to that, was much worse. Before Sundin arrived in Vancouver, Kesler's main role was being a shutdown center on a defensive line, while playing with 3rd line grinders.

I don't think his offensive improvement overall was just because he was on Sundin's wing. He was, for the first time in his career, put in an offensive role. And he had, for the first time in his career, offensive players to play with.

And I don't think that you *have* to be a playmaker to be an effective center, especially on the 2nd line. A scoring center can be just as effective, if you've got a competent playmaker on the wing. Maybe when Demitra returns, he and Samuelsson can provide that for Kesler. Could be a very effective 2nd line... and offensively, I think Kesler, at center, can put up the same range of goals and PPG he did last season, maybe better it as he continues to improve.

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