We’re at Square One, 23 Games In
With all the injuries at the start of the season the Canucks managed to get out of a sticky situation with too many players on the roster. They didn’t have to deal with the bubble players, and they tapped the Manitoba Moose dry of NHL worthy players. With players gradually returning from injury, the question of who deserves a roster spot has to be revisited. The Canucks blue line has been stocked full of players and fortunately hasn’t been hit by the injury bug, however when you look at the forwards roster, it looks like now is the time to figure out who’s earned a spot on this team. As far as players on the injury list, there’s one player who doesn’t factor into the issue and that’s Alexandre Bolduc. With the return of Jannik Hansen and the way Hansen has been playing, Bolduc’s playing on a team where there’s a lot of depth at his position. Unless Rypien or another one of the bottom six goes down to injury, Bolduc will be sent down to the Manitoba Moose.
In past years, Vigneault has made it very clear that he has no problem benching a player that doesn’t deserve to be on the ice. He showed that earlier in the season by benching Darcy Hordichuk and it payed off. With Grabner approximately 3-4 weeks through a 4-6 week ankle injury, now’s the time to start thinking about what to do upon his return. With complete and utter lack of production from Wellwood on all fronts, it seems ridiculous not to bench Wellwood, or send Wellwood down to the farm team in favour of the Austrian Canuck. In Grabner’s 9 games he’s amassed more points (5) than Wellwood (2) has in 23 games. He also proved to have great chemistry alongside Kesler and Raymond. Wellwood needs someone to light a fire under him, and Grabner’s return would be just that.
With that in mind, it looks like Burrows has found his game with the Sedins which means he’ll likely stay with Henrik and Daniel if he can regain that offensive touch now that Daniel’s returned. With that in mind though, A Canucks team with one more Grabner and one less Wellwood is a more offensive team. Burrows was, and can still be a 3rd liner. To allow for Grabner’s return I would be willing to see Burrows return to the 3rd line and play alongside Bernier and Johnson leaving Samuelsson to join his compatriots, the Twins. This opens up a spot on the second for Grabner to return and play with Raymond and Kesler. He has the speed, and it’s clear there was chemistry. Wellwood needs time off the ice to sort out his head. He’s not playing good hockey at all, and although he earned a roster spot with his play in the pre-season, we’re 23 games removed from that audition and it’s time to re-evaluate if the Canucks want to start playing something more than .500 hockey.