The Vancouver Canucks’ centre position is becoming crowded. Is there room for everyone?
Even still, that’s seven players to fill four positions. There’s also Brendan Gaunce and Mike Zalewski on the Utica Comets roster who both appear ready to make the jump in the very near future.
Granted, some of those guys can and will spend time on the wing and having depth is a good thing – but how much is too much? If the Canucks keep all of these guys, they could literally fill three of their four lines with all centremen.
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While that depth might make the team flexible, it’s not exactly realistic. The Canucks also have players like Daniel Sedin, Sven Baertschi, Jannik Hansen, Alexandre Burrows, Emerson Etem, and Derek Dorsett who are wingers only and they need a spot too. And when an NHL team is only allowed to have 23 players, you can start to see where this becomes an issue.
There’s also guys expected to come in like Anton Rodin, anything through trade, and a free agent or two in the offseason that will only add to the problem.
If the Canucks were to keep everyone, next year’s lineup would look something like:
Extras: McCann, Vey, Cracknell, Zalewski, Gaunce
Honestly, that’s not a bad lineup.
You can see where there’s just too many guys for the roster though. Five centremen as extras. That’s a bit much. Even if some of them go to Utica, and some would have to due to roster limitations, the Canucks are still left with more guys than they’re realistically going to need for the next several seasons.
And let’s not forget how much cap is opening up in the offseason. Canucks GM Jim Benning did say the team would be active this year in free agency.
So, there’s another issue to consider.
Who stays and who goes?
Out of those guys, more than a couple are on expiring deals. And more importantly, the NHL Trade Deadline is right around the corner. So, now would be the time to decide who are the guys the Canucks want on this team next year.
And if it’s decided that any of those guys aren’t on the team next year, Benning should be working on trading them now.
Cracknell, Vey, Granlund, and Zalewski are all on expiring deals. Given that the Canucks just surrendered their leading Utica scorer in Shinkaruk to acquire Granlund, I would assume he’s a lock for next year. One would hope anyway.
The other three though? Who knows.
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With Henrik Sedin, Horvat, and Sutter expected to centre the first three lines and Daniel Sedin, Baertschi, Hansen, Virtanen, Etem, and Rodin expected to play wing on them, there’s only really the fourth line up for grabs, and Dorsett and Etem or Burrows are probably playing there.
So, really, until guys are traded, there’s only one spot available on the entire forward roster and it’s a fourth-line centre position.
And the Canucks just traded to acquire a bottom-six centre…
I’ve been doing my best to not get my hopes up too much regarding the NHL trade deadline but when you look at the current roster and what it’s likely to look like next season, it would be grossly irresponsible in terms of asset management for the Canucks to stand put knowing well that they just can’t keep all these guys.
This isn’t last year’s Canucks. This isn’t a 101-point team.
You can’t help but wonder about the rumours surrounding McCann being available for trade. That’s certainly a guy who could fetch something valuable if the Canucks were willing to go down that road…
This is a problem that demands to be solved – and McCann could be the first answer.