Thanks to a trio of signings by GM Jim Benning, the Vancouver Canucks have way too many forwards. But it’s important to remember that this is a good problem to have, considering they’ve lacked the depth in previous years.
With the Sedin twins retiring, the Vancouver Canucks had two roster spots open up for the 2018-19 season, and the early assumption was that they’d be replaced by a couple of young players ready for more responsibility.
Instead, general manager Jim Benning surprised many when he decided to add more veteran grit, signing tough guys Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller. That doesn’t look good for young forwards Adam Gaudette and Nikolay Goldobin, who looked primed for more ice time and opportunities in 2018-19.
So with Bo Horvat, Brandon Sutter, Markus Granlund and Schaller all locks to make the team, Vancouver has four NHL-caliber centres right there. Hard to see where Reid Boucher fits in, what they’ll do with Gaudette, and where Elias Pettersson will go if he makes the team.
Left wingers Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Brendan Leipsic and Roussel are also locks to make the roster, with Brendan Gaunce and Tyler Motte also on the depth chart. You wonder how head coach Travis Green will fit them all in.
At right wing, the Canucks will ice Beagle, Brock Boeser, Jake Virtanen, Darren Archibald and Goldobin. Sam Gagner is a versatile forward who can play wing or centre, and unless he’s traded, the Canucks will play him somewhere in the top-nine.
Now, many have questioned why Benning would sign Beagle, Roussel and Schaller to long-term deals, especially with a handful of young players ready for the NHL. You have the right to be critical, but it’s important to remember that the Canucks have a good problem here.
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This roster already looks significantly better on paper than it did at all in 2017-18, or in previous years. You have the speedy, skilled scorers and playmakers in Horvat, Boeser, Baertschi and perhaps Pettersson. Maybe even Virtanen, if he’s ready for a breakout year.
There’s a good group of tough guys who will make Vancouver tougher to play against. This is key, considering the Pacific Division rival Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are physical teams that have bullied the Canucks for way too long.
This isn’t your roster from 2012-13 to 2015-16; which had too many past-their-prime forwards that lacked the speed. This isn’t a 2017-18 team that is totally lacking in depth and over-reliant on 37-year-old twins.
The Canucks had a lot of injuries last season, and Benning went out to ensure he had enough depth in the case of key players getting hurt. Vancouver is better suited to get by with injuries now, unlike last season.
And hey, who said Benning won’t be making some trades to clear out some more roster space? Some teams may want Sutter or Gagner, who could both benefit from a change of scenery. Benning may also look to move out players like Gaunce or Motte, who figure to be bottom-six forwards from here.
Vancouver has a strong mix of young speedsters and guys who can make them tougher to play against with their physical styles of play. We don’t know what the lineup will look like on opening night, but having way too many forwards right now is a good problem to have. Count your blessings, fans.