Some have asked why is it so quiet at this blog? You know, training camp is almost over. The local media is buzzing with all kinds of stimulating musings - who gets the final starting 6 defensemen spot (SOB or Alberts, Alberts?), will another Canuck prodigal son make his return (and we’re not talking about Jeff Tambellini), where will Cody Hodgson start the season, why does Keith Ballard suck so much, what’s up with Roberto’s groin, who gets to ride shotgun with the Sedins to start the season with Alex Burrows on the shelf, who will be wearing the “C” on opening day…
You’ll remember last pre-season where heralded first rounder Michael Grabner was a complete bust at training camp. Where Sergei Shirokov was that year’s Steve Kariya, getting tons of acclaim and top 6 ice time. Within weeks, roles were reversed with Grabner contributing at the NHL level while Shirokov began a mediocre season in the AHL. And, of course, the Canucks went undefeated in regulation time during the pre-season only to stumble to an 0-3 start when it was time to finally play for real. The point is not much matters at this time of the year.
But damnit, we’re not above pandering to our audience, so we’ll play along anyway:
- Andrew Alberts is likely much better than he showed, in what was decisively a small sample size, last season. After all, he has been a dependable NHL defenseman before. Whether lame brain party boy SOB or slow footed Alberts, however, will make little difference to how this team plays.
- Brendan Morrison has certainly played well enough to earn a roster spot. Rick Rypien has not played regularly at centre ice at the NHL nor is he dependable health-wise. And clearly, Cody Hodgson is not ready to play (and who can really blame him after having his development stalled or perhaps even regressed due to injury). Mo’ would seem to get the 4th line centre spot by default. The only issue is whether he’s prepared to accept the hometown discount he’d get from the salary cap strapped Canucks.
- As much as we’d like to expect more from Hodgson, it’s simply not fair. Whether he’d be better off in Manitoba or here is up for debate, but either way, don’t expect a big contribution from him anytime soon.
- We wrote a few weeks ago about the possibility that the Canucks defense now is really no better than it was last season with Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard effectively replacing the departed Willie Mitchell and the injured Sami Salo. Despite Ballard’s big contract and what the Canucks had to give up to get him, he was the number 3 defenseman on a non-playoff team last year and for the 2nd consecutive season had one of the worst turnover (giveaways less takeaways) differentials in the league. So let’s just say that his early struggles might be typical.
- There is some speculation that Roberto Luongo’s groin problems rest in his off-season training regimen. So perhaps in addition to his new goaltending coach, the Canucks might want to consider getting him a personal trainer for next off-season.
- Who cares who starts with the Sedins? Any old lampost can score at a 30 goal pace with these guys.
- While the Canucks milk the “who will be captain” drama a little longer, our dear readers have spoken and think Ryan Kesler deserves the “C”. We stick to our prediction that Henrik will be the next Captain Canuck.
Truth be told, not much matters as far as this season goes, until we get to May and June, but, like you, we look forward to the start of the regular season so we can sink our teeth into some stories with real substance…