Through three weeks, Derek Dorsett is the Vancouver Canucks’ leading scorer. As it turns out, we were wrong in criticizing both he and the front office after signing a $10.6 million contract.
Few people expected the Vancouver Canucks to be 6-3-1 and third in the Pacific Division through their first nine games of the season. Virtually nobody also saw Derek Dorsett leading the team with six goals, either.
Let’s be honest, nobody was exactly thrilled when general manager Jim Benning gave him a four-year deal worth $10.6 million in 2015. Dorsett has never scored more than 25 points in a season, and fourth liners usually make about half of the $2.5 salary he’s earning.
But Dorsett — who appeared in just 14 games last season before undergoing season-ending neck surgery — has made the most of his playing time and opportunities under new head coach Travis Green.
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Dorsett looks more motivated than ever before. He’s still a hard-hitter and remains the Canucks’ biggest pest, so the goals he’s provided are simply gravy. Guys of his playing style aren’t usually required to score that many goals.
“It’s an amazing feeling, and we’re all enjoying it. I just hope I can keep it going,” Dorsett said after last night’s win in Detroit, per Dave Hogg of NHL.com.
For Canucks fans, it turns out we may have been very, very wrong on Dorsett. In an era where you have to save as many dollars as possible, Benning definitely made a questionable move in handing Dorsett a four-year pact.
But it’s paying off right now. Dorsett is flourishing under a new head coach, and you can see the players feeding off his energy and motivation. Dorsett has never scored more than 12 goals in a season, yet is on pace to score 49 this season.
Obviously, he’s not going to reach that, and it’s still a stretch to believe he can hit 20. But even if he doesn’t, it’s time to stop looking at Dorsett as an overpaid fourth-liner. He’s been key in shutting down some of the opponents top players (remember Connor McDavid on opening night), and brings more offence than you can ask of an enforcer.
The Canucks aren’t going to be over-reliant on Dorsett to score, either. Horvat, Baertschi, Boeser and other guys like Thomas Vanek and Markus Granlund will front the offence. Ditto for the Sedins and Jake Virtanen. So even if Dorsett starts to lose his scoring touch, it won’t be devastating for the team.
Dorsett has been a feel-good underdog story thus far. No, he’s not going to continue this pace and he’s not going to be a top-five scorer on the team. But from what he’s shown so far in 2017-18, Dorsett is earning every penny of his salary.
Two and a half years later, Benning has made it clear that he saw something in Dorsett that we didn’t. As it turns out, we were all wrong on Benning and Dorsett — and that’s a good thing.