As we begin yet another summer of our discontent, we present our annual player-by-player commentary, an invaluable reference as the post mortem begins:
Alex Edler (signed through 2019) - In scoring the go-ahead goal in game four’s short lived comeback, Edler finally delivered - but it’s not nearly enough to compensate for a brutal playoff showing and another mediocre regular season. For a team that must make changes, Edler should be a prime candidate to be moved in an off-season trade (before a no movement clause kicks in). Or if he stays, might benefit from the confidence of a different coaching staff.
Kevin Bieksa (signed through 2016) - Bieksa is really a microcosm of the entire team - undisciplined at times, oft injured, a fierce competitor when it matters most but physically under sized for the style of game that makes him most effective. Despite his ridiculous soap-box whining between games 3 and 4, arguably the Canuck with the most character and likely to stay put no matter what.
Andrew Alberts (unrestricted free agent) - While his higher paid colleagues on the Canuck blue-line are performing their playoff best purse swinging, you can always count on Alberts to throw his considerable weight around. And in a Western Conference that now places more emphasis on girth than footspeed, his value has increased, but the Canucks will have little to spend this off-season.
Mason Raymond (unrestricted free agent) - Popular misconception is that Raymond has never recovered from the devastating back injury in the Stanley Cup Final 2 seasons ago. Fact is he sucked the entire season before that. While many were impressed by his jump in game 4, it was typical Raymond - flash and dash with little result. As a free agent, he should be gone. If only it had been sooner.
Keith Ballard (signed through 2015) - The finances dictate that he can’t stay here any longer and will be bought out. Despite a ravaged blue line at many points during his three year stay here, he could never get the confidence of coach AV. And now it’s too late. A wasted resource here with blame for the player, coach and general manager. Time to move on, already.
Alex Burrows (signed through 2017) - It’s impossible to question his work ethic. It is easy to question his hands - his conversion rate of chances to goals makes us long for the days of Anson Carter. And no matter what, he can never shake the reputation bestowed upon him costing the Canucks far too many shorthanded situations. Like Edler, he’s a player that could fetch something on the trade market.
Ryan Kesler (signed through 2016) - For the 3rd period of game 2 versus San Jose, it appeared that the vintage Kesler had miraculously resurrected himself. But it didn’t last. As much as he’s often the heart and soul of this team, you sometimes wonder whether he really wants to be here. You’d think playing hockey for a living should be fun.
Roberto Luongo (signed through eternity) - Yes, Luongo was the Canucks’ best player for most of games 1 and 2. Except for the most important parts of the games when he got a little leaky. He will be gone before training camp though with only a bag of pucks in return.
Cory Schneider (signed through 2015) - In the regular season, was the MVP and is seemingly the centrepiece of the organization moving forward. But you have to wonder about the way he finished games 3 and 4 - were there lingering effects of an injury or was he collapsing under the pressure? We’ve another year to find out.
Chris Tanev (restricted free agent) - With the collective poor play of the defense during this playoff run in his absence, his continued growth will be vital next season. He’s due for a raise, like there is room for that.
Maxim Lapierre (unrestricted free agent) - Along with Kesler and Burrows, the player most responsible for the Canucks’ horrid reputation with the NHL officials. Does he provide enough value otherwise to compensate for that?
Jordan Schroeder (restricted free agent) - With Cody Hodgson now long gone, he represents the only Gillis draft pick to see measurable minutes at the NHL level and while he proved serviceable, there was little demonstrated to indicate that he’s capable of a top six forward role. He’s undersized for anything else.
Andrew Ebbett (unrestricted free agent) - It’s hard to imagine that any team with Stanley Cup aspirations would consider having a spot for a player like Ebbett. He’s a real indictment of how far the depth of the Canucks’ forward crew has slipped in recent years. There’s little to choose between him and Schroeder, except the latter’s youth.
Chris Higgins (signed through 2017) - Having bounced around the league before recently securing a long term deal here, it’s hard to imagine that he’s going anywhere. For the most part, he’s the kind of player the Canucks need more of. Here’s hoping that the security of his new contract doesn’t dull his inspiration.
Derek Roy (unrestricted free agent) - Likely to sign a contract elsewhere, becoming perhaps the worst deadline acquisition in Canuck history - and that is saying something. I suppose we should have seen this coming. When a team in dire need of size and grit adds a pint-sized play-maker instead, you get a first round sweep as a result. This move alone should require Mike Gillis to return his 2011 GM of the Year award. At least, Ryan Kesler doesn’t have to pout about playing on the wing any more.
Dan Hamhuis (signed through 2016) - The Canucks’ steadiest defensive defender had a difficult playoff. And we still don’t get why he sees any power play minutes. Despite that, he remains Mike Gillis’ most successful free agent signing. And after 5 years, that is not saying much.
Henrik Sedin (signed through 2014) - We’re at the point now where their continued playoff struggles cannot be defended. For this team to move forward with greater aspirations, they can’t be counted upon as the first line unit. It’s as simple as that.
Daniel Sedin (signed through 2014) - Yes, the boarding call was a joke. But the series was effectively over at that point with the Sedins having failed to deliver prominently in the post-season again. They can and, likely, will stay. But they need replacing as the go-to guys. Where’s that Cody Hodgson?
Zack Kassian (signed through 2014) - The time has passed for the Canucks to pooh or get off the pot as it pertains to the wild child. He clearly has a physical presence and skill set that is worth plenty. And he will clearly turn the puck over and take some boneheaded penalties. But it’s time to let the puppy off the leash. And with Alain Vigneault likely gone, it just might happen.
Tom Sestito (unrestricted free agent) - His size is a bonus, but he’s replaceable. And likely will be.
David Booth (signed through 2015) - His injury troubles have made it difficult to pass judgement on him, but the team has performed worse with him in the line-up. Either way, it’s a lot of money spent on what remains an unknown quantity. Clearly, a candidate for a buyout.
Jannik Hansen (signed through 2014) - Arguably, displays the most consistent work ethic of any player, but didn’t produce offensively at all come playoff time. On an elite team, he’s no more than a third line option.
Dale Weise (unrestricted free agent) - Weise probably has more speed and skill than he gets to demonstrate. And as a fourth line role player, he is undersized. It’s hard to figure where he fits.
Steve Pinizzotto (unrestricted free agent) - For a 28 year old guy that had never played an NHL game before this season, there was considerable buzz. But he failed to make any measurable impact.
Jason Garrison (signed through 2018) - Garrison was about the only pleasant surprise in the abbreviated playoff run. Why he didn’t get more power play time this season is a mystery known only to Coach Vigneault. With the struggles of Alex Edler and the continued injuries to Kevin Bieksa, his role on this team will become more prominent.
Cam Barker (unrestricted free agent) - Expectations were met from this depth defender, low as they were. He will likely not return.
Frank Corrado (signed through 2015) - His insertion into the line-up down the stretch and into the playoffs was a big surprise. The kid delivered in limited minutes and along with Tanev provides some reason for optimism on the blue-line.
Stay tuned as we dissect the eagerly awaited post-season sugar coating from President and General Manager Mike Gillis.