With the Vancouver Canucks currently awaiting their home and home rematch with the Colorado Avalanche on Frida..."/> With the Vancouver Canucks currently awaiting their home and home rematch with the Colorado Avalanche on Frida..."/> With the Vancouver Canucks currently awaiting their home and home rematch with the Colorado Avalanche on Frida..."/>

Canucks’ Report Card: 1st Quarter

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With the Vancouver Canucks currently awaiting their home and home rematch with the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, perhaps we’ll catch a breath and review the top 10 players by grade.

10)   Michael Grabner, C+

The Villach, Austria native had a head of steam behind him before he went down with an unfortunate broken ankle suffered in a pre-game warmup   November  1st .  In 9 games (rookie season), he has 5 points (2-3), all on the  powerplay.  Blessed with blazing speed, nice injection on the PP.

9)   Kevin Bieksa, C+

“Boom Boom” as he’s referred to on CFOX (99.3 fm) radio has had a mercurial start to the season.  For a short stretch, it appeared as if he had lost some of the zeal his play is known for.  Thankfully, he’s reinfused some energy and sand into his game, and even though his plus/minus could be better, he’s averaging half a point a game.

8   Willie Mitchell, B-

The closest thing Vancouver posesses to a shut-down defender, the 6’3 205 lb Port McNeill rocksteady comes as promised.   With the departure of Mattias Ohlund, Mitchell has had to take on an even larger role, and is handling that very capably.  Averaging one hit a game, but oh, some of those are big hits (ask Jonathon Toews).

7)  Alex Burrow, B-

After signing an $8M, 4 year contract extension last March, many wondered what version of Alex we were going to see this season.  As it turns out, he’s perhaps one of the more interesting morphs the team has seen.  Though he’ll be hard pressed to score 28 goals again, he’s still contributing, and has trimmed his penalties by approximately 20%, which means he’s buying into the system, playing more disciplined hockey.   Is missing Daniel Sedin more than Henrik is.

6)  Christian Ehrhoff,  B

Though many hockey pundits claimed the Calgary Flames as the offseason winner as far as trades were considered, Mike Gillis more than held his own.  Knowing the San Jose Sharks needed to unload a lot of salary cap, he packaged Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi (prospects) to bring in the puck moving defender.  Ehrhoff currently leads the team with a +9 rating, and though he’s been quiet recently, leads blueliners in points with 12 (3-9).

5)  Mikael Samuelsson, B+

Just further proof that General Manager Mike Gillis has earned his stripes, the former player agent scooped Mikael as an Unrestricted Free Agent.  He facilitated the 3 year deal by appealing to Samuelsson’s desire for more ice time.  Interestingly, both Samuelsson and Ehrhoff were late (4th and 5th round) draft picks by the San Jose Sharks.  Mikael has 8 goals and 7 assists in 21 games, with a -2 rating.  Fills a dire need the Canucks had last season: Another scorer for shootouts.

4)  Mason Raymond, B+

Home grown farm system product Mason Raymond appears to be rounding out as a hockey player.  Once attributed the “speed only” tag, he now is finding bounty in his more frequent, hard nosed trips to the net.  Also shedding his predictability, he no longer ‘forces’ the play along the boards entering the oppositions’ zone.  The result is encouraging, 8 goals and 5 assists.  Alain Vigneault has rewarded him with more PP time as well.  Is already only 3 goals shy of entire goal output for last year.

3) Roberto Luongo, A-

In a situation where player grades are given, Luongo would often find himself head of the class.  This season, however, he has shown moments of brilliance, colored though they may be with signs of mortality.  His PCT (save percentage) is good, if not off slightly from previous seasons, as is his GAA (goals against average).  But a large part of his grade coincides with his timing.  The timing of his saves has been excellent, closing the door precisely (late stages) when they’ve needed it most.

2) Ryan Kesler, A

No, that’s not a reference to the letter on his sweater.  It’s a tribute to the performance, sustainability, and heart we’ve witnessed from the Livonia, Michigan native this season.  What we’re privy to here is the special transformation of a ‘good’ player into an elite one.  With one of the best faceoff percentages in the league, grit and determination to spare, and an ever building repertoire of offensive gimmicks, Ryan Kesler is used in every situation, with good reason.  He makes things happen.

1)  Henrik Sedin, A+

No matter what Brian Burke has done to the Maple Leafs, Canucks fans should always feel indebted to him.  Hounding the arena draft floor in 1999, he did everything possible to gain the 2nd and 3rd selections overall, so he could woo the brothers Sedin.  Even missing the brother he’s played his entire life with, Henrik is proving what a special player he is.  With 12 goals and 11 assists in 21 games, the Ornskoldsvik, Sweden native has piggybacked the Canucks offensively.  Normally a set-up man, he’s elevated his play and delivered those all important goals.