Canuck Lines – An Inside Look

An inside source has been able to provide me with a look at the line combinations and defensive parings that the Canuck Management is entertaining for the upcoming season. 

This is obviously not set in stone as there is a lot of time between now and the start of the season, but it’s nice to see Nonis and staff putting it together nonetheless.

So, here it is, as taken off a white board by my source at GM Place:

Line 1: Sedin, Sedin, Bulis

Line 2: Naslund, Morrison, Cooke

Line 3: Pyatt, Chouinard, Kesler

Line 4: Green, Santala, Bouck

Extras: Reid, King, Linden

Defense:

Pair 1: Ohlund, Mitchell

Pair 2: Salo, Krajicek

Pair 3: Bourdon, Tremblay

Extras: Brown, Bieksa

You should note that Brown and Linden are both UFA’s that are not signed as of yet.  Look for them to ink deals in the next couple weeks.  Nonis won’t let this get too close to training camp otherwise he’ll have a controversy about Linden not being back.

Forward Breakdown

Cooke wasn’t good enough two years ago to play on the Naslund / Morrison line and has done nothing since then to earn a ride to this quality line.  He has never scored more than 15 goals in a season, and has passed the point of ever being much more than that.  He’s valuable, but not enough to warrant 2nd line minutes.

Bulis is a more likely candidate for playing on the second line, and you can expect to see Jason King getting a full opportunity to play with the Sedin’s again.  Only this time, he’ll be getting first line minutes, and maybe second line power play time.

With depth on center due to the signing of Choiunard, it’s no surprise to see Kesler being penciled in on the 3rd line wing.  They need this guy to continue to develop into a second line scorer and having him center the third line will not help his develop there.  Also, placing Pyatt on this line shows that they have high expectations of this Buffalo cast off and that there is still time for him to mature into a top player.  It typically takes a power forward a few more years to develop than other star players.  Todd Bertuzzi was in the league 8 years before having a breakout 85 points in 2001-02.  It’s also interesting that both Bertuzzi and Pyatt are originally NY Islanders first round draft picks.

The strangest thing on the forward lines is that Linden is noted as an extra.  You can definitely expect him to start with less minutes than normal, but look for Vigneault to play him more as the year goes on, the lines get set, and we make a push for the playoffs and beyond.  That veteran presence will be needed.  There is little of it now, and it is a must for a push into late rounds of the playoffs.

The defence pairings seem too heavily weighted in both directions.  Typically, you’ll pair an offensive guy with a more defensive defenseman.  However, the pairings above have Ohlund with Mitchell (both defensive), Salo with Krajicek (both offensive).

You’d likely be better off to mix those pairings up. 

I also expect Bieksa to get his fair share of games and minutes this season.  Depth is important and the team will face injuries that will need quality guys to step up and replace minutes for.  Assuming the team signs Brown, they look to be in great shape on the back-end.

Also, despite Noronen’s claims to expect to play overseas next year as he is not going to get an opportunity to fight for the #1 goal tending job in Vancouver, you should expect to see him.  All he needs is one more season in the NHL to get to free agency and that is definitely something he does not want to give up.  He is the best rated backup this team will have had for a position that seems to turn faster than a revolving door.  Nonis will see to it that we’ve got him till the end of the season.  Next year is another story though.

The Chief Canuck

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