The Crazy Canucks podcast crew were guests of the Vancouver Canucks in suite 519 last night. Needless to say, it was an excellent experience and it gave John, Rebecca, Dave, Alanah and I all an opportunity to meet the team’s marketing group and brainstorm on potential partnerships this season. (Plus, the popcorn was damn good.)
It also gave me a chance to form some first impressions on the Canucks.
- I don’t know if it’s the players or their system, but the Canucks looked faster in their first two preseason games. They made a lot of plays off the rush – quite impressive really.
- Jannik Hansen should make this team. A lot of the hype has been on Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner thus far this preseason, but after a couple of seasons with the Moose, Hansen looks like he’s ready for full-time NHL duty. Good speed, good two-way play, decent hands and very versatile. If you remember his brief appearance in the 2007 playoffs, he did fine on a checking line with Ryan Kesler. Last night, he was on a scoring line with Henrik Sedin and Michael Grabner and didn’t look out of place. He also made a helluva move to get the puck to Grabner on Grabner’s game-winning goal.
- Michael Grabner showed a lot of top-flight upside. He has speeds, he has hands and great offensive instincts. Really, the only question mark on Grabner is if he can showcase those, not only on a game-by-game basis but on a shift-by-shift one.
- It’s easy to see Cody Hodgson’s upside. He sees the ice well and has very good poise for an 18-year old. I’m sure I’ll have more on him as the preseason goes on.
- Yann Sauve reminds me of where Luc Bourdon (RIP) was in 2006. He obviously has some upside but just has to learn to put it together. He was regularly out of position tonight and would benefit from going back to junior plus a couple of years in the minors.
- I was really impressed with the Alex Burrows-Ryan Johnson-Darcy Hordichuk line. Not just because of Hordichuk’s goal but also because they did well as a checking line. This bodes well for the Canucks if Ryan Kesler somehow manages to work his way to one of the top two scoring lines.
- Steve Bernier put in a Pierre McGuire monster performance. If he plays big and aggresive every night like he did last night, the Canucks may have the power forward they’ve been looking for for the last two years.
- I liked Lukas Krajicek’s play. Very solid kinda like before his injury last year. If he keeps this up, the Canucks will have some big decisions to make on defense.