Alex Burrows might be the best winger the Sedins ever had, but with his production dropping, it’s time for the Vancouver Canucks to cut him loose.
The demise of Alex Burrows started the moment John Tortorella stepped onto the bench to coach the Vancouver Canucks. The Tortorella experiment was a disaster for a number of reasons but perhaps the most lasting effect he had on this team was his treatment of Burrows. At one point, Tortorella apparently requested the team buy out the contract of Burrows.
Burrows had his worst statistical year under Tortorella, recording just 15 points in 49 games while battling injuries because of Tortorella’s insane policy of having everybody on the team block shots.
In the post-Tortorella era, Burrows lost his spot with the Sedins to Radim Vrbata, who was promised that spot when he joined the Canucks as a free agent. With Vrbata playing with the Sedins, Burrows saw his production drop to 22 points this season from the roughly 50 points he was averaging in the pre-Tortorella era.
Odd Man Out?
This year Burrows looks to fit in the bottom six along with forwards Emerson Etem, Derek Dorsett, Brendan Gaunce and Jake Virtanen. One of those players will have to be a healthy scratch every game or spend the year with the AHL Utica Comets.
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If Anton Rodin is healthy and makes the team, or a player on a PTO or a prospect surprises and has a performance you can’t say no to, that would mean two of the above players would have to be sent to the press box or Utica. I don’t see a lot of benefit in having guys sitting in the press box when they should be on the ice, so let’s scratch that option out completely.
In Gaunce’s case, another year in Utica probably isn’t the worst thing in the world to happen to him. He managed to get in to 20 NHL games last year and only had one goal and was a minus-nine. He looked like he still struggled a bit to fit in at the NHL level. As the Detroit Red Wings have shown, there’s no such thing as too much AHL time, so another year in Utica makes sense for him.
There’s been a lot of talk of Virtanen spending some time in Utica this year but I can’t see the Canucks removing his size, speed and physicality from the lineup unless they have no other option.
Etem also won’t be heading to Utica because he’s waiver-eligible and would be a prime candidate to be claimed. He was also coached by Willie Desjardins in junior and we all know Willie loves his former Medicine Hat Tigers.
So that only leaves Dorsett and Burrows as options to go to Utica. Both players are waiver-eligible but both are also overpaid for the roles they fill, so it’s not likely anyone would claim them on waivers. In my opinion, every young team needs a veteran that can protect the kids and act as a body guard. That’s one of the reasons the Edmonton Oilers brought in Milan Lucic this summer. It’s also why Brandon Bollig is still employed by the Calgary Flames.
That means that Burrows is left as the odd man out. I know people aren’t a fan of burying contracts in the minors, but the Canucks did it to Chris Higgins and Brandon Prust, so there’s no reason they won’t do it again. With Burrows’ stats sliding consistently, the only value he has now is as a leader and that’s far more valuable in Utica with the young players than on the NHL roster taking a roster spot away from a player that deserves it more.