Vancouver Canucks: Filling the Press Box for 2016-17

Apr 4, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin (88) warms up against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin (88) warms up against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks did a good job creating roster depth this summer, which means a few players will miss several games as healthy scratches.

Over the past weeks, there has been constant talk about how each line and defensive pairing could shape up for the Vancouver Canucks. They finally have several options for every position, so it will be hard to build a lineup each game. Everybody wants to play, but only 20 players can.

I posted some possible line combinations on The Canuck Way to talk about specific players, but always ended it with “player A can also slot in for player B and C can play instead of D”. In other words, I never made real predictions for who will miss the most games as a healthy scratch. However, the Canucks have several waiver-eligible players on one-way contracts that will likely find a place in the press box before Jim Benning decides to send them to Utica.

So, what will the lineup look like?


1. Daniel SedinHenrik SedinLoui Eriksson
2. Anton Rodin – Brandon SutterJannik Hansen
3. Sven BaertschiBo HorvatJake Virtanen
4. Alexandre BurrowsMarkus GranlundDerek Dorsett
PB: Emerson Etem, Brendan Gaunce

Now here comes what I already mentioned: Etem and Gaunce could easily slot in for Burrows and Dorsett. Burrows could move up to the third-line right wing, Etem or Gaunce could move into the fourth-line left-wing position, and Virtanen could be pushed out. Virtanen and Gaunce could both start the season with the AHL Utica Comets, but Gaunce could also play center for Granlund.

There are two simple ways to solve this problem.

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The first is that Rodin is unproven in North America and he has a European assignment clause like that of Nikita Tryamkin, which allows him to return to Sweden if he doesn’t make the team. If that happened, everyone on the left wing would simply move one slot up. And with that, the Canucks would only have one player left for the press box, which is perfect. This would be the natural solution the Canucks can’t really influence.

If Rodin makes the team, and we sure hope he does, there is another easy fix. Virtanen and Gaunce are both waiver-exempt. So, even if both have a strong showing at training camp, it will be easy to send one down at least until the first player gets injured. Again, that would leave the Canucks with just one forward as a press-box candidate.

Prediction: No matter if Rodin makes the team or not, it will be easy to reduce the extra forwards to one. In either scenario, Virtanen/Gaunce (depending on who makes the team), Burrows, Etem Granlund and Dorsett would likely be the ones taking turns as healthy scratches. Rodin could occasionally be scratched as well, but he seems like a player who is either good enough to stay in the lineup and be a scorer or will go back to Europe.

Of course, this would change if the Canucks added another forward.


Alexander EdlerChris Tanev
Ben HuttonErik Gudbranson
Luca SbisaPhilip Larsen
PB: Nikita Tryamkin, Alex Biega, Andrey Pedan

On defense, things aren’t quite as easy. Here, the Canucks have three healthy scratches who are all waiver-eligible. Pedan is not signed to a contract yet, and part of the reason could be that he wants a one-way contract. If he gets that, things would get even worse for the Canucks.

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The top-two pairings are all but set. Benning said he wants to see Hutton with Gudbranson, and Edler is likely the only other player capable of playing on the top pairing with Tanev. Which leaves five players for the bottom pairing.

Most fans want to see Sbisa gone because he had a terrible 2015-16 season. Personally, I think he will be a solid player once he plays in a role that suits him — which is the bottom pairing. If head coach Willie Desjardins thinks the same, that only leaves one spot open for the remaining four players, though. However, Tryamkin looked like a solid defensive player in his 12-game NHL stint, and he could also be an option on the left side.

As Benning mentioned, the Canucks want to give Larsen the opportunity to quarterback the power play. But unless Larsen greatly improved his defensive abilities, he probably isn’t good enough for a full-time spot. Especially not paired with Sbisa. Which, again, brings us back to Tryamkin.

Then there are Biega and Pedan. Both looked solid in 2015-16, where Biega played 51 games. Both seem ready for the NHL, both are waiver-eligible, and both could be on one-way contracts. So what can be done?

Next: 4 Possible D-Combinations

Prediction: Tryamkin has a European assignment clause and he looks too promising to be released to Europe. Larsen just signed a new deal and the Canucks likely don’t want him in the AHL with his $1.025 million cap hit. However, unless Benning finally finds a trade partner to ship out Sbisa, he will have to send at least one player down to Utica. Most likely, that player will be Pedan.

Tryamkin and Pedan are both big, physical players while Biega is smaller and a good puck-mover. The two Russians are both left-handed while Biega shoots right. With that, keeping Tryamkin and Biega over Pedan would make the most sense.

The scenario would then be similar to that on offense: a lot of rotation game after game. Only two of Sbisa, Larsen, Tryamkin and Biega can play at a time, and I am sure we will see a variety of combinations of those four. It is good to see that Vancouver actually has “issues” like this, because that is the definition of depth.