There’s little doubting, however, that the 2010-11 Canucks had a far more productive bottom-six group. These players were instrumental in helping Vancouver allow the fewest goals during the regular season (185).
2010 free agent signing Manny Malhotra had a remarkable 61.7 faceoff percentage, and he recorded 40 takeaways against just 18 giveaways. Malhotra also chipped in with 11 goals and 30 points, which was more than enough from a third-line center.
Gaudette, without a doubt, has a long way to go to match Malhotra’s strong two-way game and work in the faceoff dot (40.8 for his career). But the former at least brings more offensive upside than Malhotra.
Raffi Torres, who was also signed during the 2010 offseason, provided Vancouver some much-needed grit and muscle. His physicality was on display during the 2011 postseason, and he chipped in with some timely offence when needed (see his Game 1 winner against the Bruins).
Trade deadline pickup Chris Higgins also added the timely scoring when Vancouver needed it, with three game winners in the 2011 postseason. Maxim Lapierre solidified the bottom six with his hard work ethic and grit. He won 51 percent of his playoffs in the postseason, and he scored the memorable lone goal and winner in Game 5 against Boston.
Torres had 14 goals and 28 points for Vancouver despite averaging just 12:29 time on ice per game. Again, he was giving the Canucks some pivotal offence in the bottom-six that the 2019-20 group just doesn’t have.
The current Canucks just don’t get enough strong two-way play from their bottom-six forwards. The likes of Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle, who are both prone to injury, haven’t been able to hit the score sheet consistently; they’ve combined for 10 goals and 25 points in 99 games this season.
Loui Eriksson‘s experience would probably come in handy during the postseason, but I don’t even know if he would be a regular skater in the postseason. And again, he wouldn’t bring much to the table from a scoring standpoint. Antoine Roussel brings strong leadership and a bit of offence, but I wouldn’t say he’s as impactful as Malhotra or Torres from 2010-11.
That said, players of Roussel’s caliber tend to display their games more in the postseason, so maybe the Canucks have a secret weapon here.
When you compare the two forward groups side by side, it’s all about preference. Do you want the 2019-20 group that has more offensive depth, speed and skill in the top-six? Or do you want the 2010-11 team that’s more responsible defensively, with more intensity and physicality that you need in the postseason, with less offensive production?
You can’t really go wrong. The only thing that matters now is if Green’s group can do what the 2010-11 group fell short of: Winning the Stanley Cup.