How I See It: Canucks Trades & Upgrades
With the Canucks leading the Western Conference, and by having a descent idea on how teams are playing, I think it is time for me to make some predictions on what will happen near the trade deadline for the boys in blue and green starting from the net working our way out.
I see Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider both staying in Vancouver, especially the way both have been playing. Luongo looks rejuvenated and has the passion to play hard. Even watching his practices, you can tell he wants to win and make up for last year’s loss. His game has improved a whole lot better since the beginning of the season. Canucks fans can only hope that Luongo keeps paying strong and that his time to ‘choke’ was done at the beginning of the season. Schneider is having an unreal year as well, especially after that big win in Boston. Playing in front of your home town (well technically 40 min away), friends, family, and everyone else is hard enough, but to play against the guys that beat you on home ice in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is a whole new level of pressure. Schneids kept his cool and the ‘Nucks got the W. If the Canucks want to make a serious run at the Cup again, they need to have a solid 1-2 goalie situation, and that’s what they currently have. If, and that’s a big ‘if’, they trade one of the goalies, it would have to be at a good price and come with a goaltender.
As a fan I love Sami Salo, but in thinking as a GM I don’t know if he is worth it anymore. He is aging, and with aging comes injuries. Salo is currently out which leaves the Canucks with 3 solid defensemen – Bieksa, Edler, and Hamhuis. The Canucks have a descent 4th in Ballard, but this is where they need improvement. I think that if they can, the Canucks should deal Salo and Ballard for a top 4 defensive player, maybe Keith Yandle or Kris Letang and a pick or 2? I think that Andrew Alberts can be a solid presence on the 3rd defensive pair, and that a guy like Yann Sauve (Chicago – AHL), could be called up to play on that pair. If Sauve isn’t fitting, than put Alex Sulzer on with Alberts. I believe that this is the one area where Vancouver needs to make a big improvement. Defence will be huge when playoffs come around, and without a good defensive group, things won’t go too well in the playoffs.
This isn’t too bad for the Canucks at this point in the season. The top line of Sedin, Sedin, and Burrows knows how to produce. The Higgins, Kesler, Raymond line has been working well, but later this month it is expected that David Booth will be back in the line-up. I only hope, as do many other Canucks fans, that the American Express line will be able to reconnect fast and keep putting up points. With that happening later this month, Mason Raymond will be bumped down to the 3rd or 4th line. With the way the 3rd line (LaPierre, Hodgson, Hansen) has been playing, I would not want to ruin the chances and chemistry they are having. Having Raymond on the 4th line is not a bad thing either. He would be on a line with Manny Malhotra and Mike Duco. Malhotra is solid on the face-offs and Raymond has the ability to score. This line could work out in favour of the Canucks. The Canucks might make some smaller deals and some minor league trades, but if any of the 3rd or 4th liners are traded, look for guys like Jordan Schroeder and Bill Sweatt to come in. Both Sweatt and Schroeder have the ability to make it to stick in the NHL, and if the ‘Nucks make some changes; these guys may have their chance to shine.
Yeah, it isn’t much, but the big change that needs to happen is on defence. I did not take into account contracts and value in this, just as a position wise, where I believe the Canucks need to make upgrades. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out these next few weeks, and to see what GM Mike Gillis and head Coach Alain Vigneault think of. Until next time, take it easy and GO CANUCKS GO.
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