Odd man out: Hordichuk
I’m not Hordichuk’s biggest fan but one thing that’s been noticeable is how his presence, or lack thereof I should say, hasn’t been missed in the Canucks lineup. In fact the addition of Alberts has proven that the Canucks really don’t need Hordichuk’s skillset in order to get by. There was a time when the Canucks all around grit was lacking and there was the need for an enforcer. However as the team has evolved, Kesler’s grit factor has gone through the roof, Burrows retained his super pest attributes even though he skates on the top line, and anything Rypien can’t handle Glass will gladly take a stab at. Add to all that the recent acquisition of big boy Andrew Alberts and Hordichuk’s role becomes redundant.
When you look at the Canucks lineup you see a roster developed around Gillis’ MO of youth and speed. Gillis doesn’t go after players that are one dimensional and to that effect when he acquired Hordichuk it made sense. That being said on a team that has enforcers (and I use this term loosely as it’s referring to two guys who don’t physically fit the mould of an enforcer) that are smaller and can do the job they do the way Rypien and Glass do, that opens up a spot for another player who’s potentially more offensively inclined.
To that end, with the forwards log jam the Canucks have since Demitra’s return, Hordichuk’s sitting out has freed up a spot for Hansen. Hansen’s case actually amplifies my reasoning that Hordichuk’s taking up valuable bottom six space when he’s playing a role that’s not needed. On a bottom six that’s struggled Hansen’s made the most of his ice time making defensively sound plays and making the most of his offensive chances. Hordichuk wouldn’t have scored the back to back game winners Hansen scored. Hordichuk also has as many points as Matt Pettinger does, but he’s played six times as many games.
With Glass and Rypien taking care of the rough stuff, Kesler and Burrows getting in on a dance or two of their own, and Alberts’ size added to the Canucks lineup, going into the playoffs I really only see Hordichuk’s role being a limited reactionary one. The Canucks have finally found a way to play hockey that doesn’t require an enforcer. They’ve found an equilibrium of finesse and grit and taken the unnecessarily physical element out of the game. Unless the Canucks absolutely need an enforcer because they’re playing a team like Philadelphia, I wouldn’t give up a spot that a scorer could take for him. With Pettinger on a two-way contract I’d even go as far as to say if there was a further injury to the bottom six he deserves a call up over Hordichuk slotting in. Hordichuk’s game is a good one, and he can skate amongst the best Canucks, but when you’ve got other players that can skate as well and provide more offense, it becomes a no brainer.