One of the things the Canucks have lacked in recent years has been size. Now entering his third season with the team, Gillis has groomed a team of finesse and skill players but this off-season he took steps towards addressing the size issue as well. Last year, Gillis built a team that was good enough to win the Northwest Division title, but in the NHL’s second season, they found out that they just weren’t big enough to compete with the likes of Blackhawks. (Yeah I said it.)
Things have changed a little bit this off season.
Goodbye Kyle Wellwood (5’10″, 181 lbs.), hello Manny Malhotra (6’2″, 220 lbs.). Goodbye Steve Bernier (6’2″, 216 lbs.), hello Victor Oreskovich (6’3″, 225 lbs.). Ryan Johnson (6’1″, 199 lbs.) wasn’t re-signed; Raffi Torres (6’0″, 223 lbs.) signed. Combined, the new guys recorded 75 points (35 goals-40 assists); the old guys only combined for 52 points (26 goals-26 assists).
At least on paper, Gillis seems like he added size without compromising skill.
Last year we asked Wellwood to be grittier, Rypien to take on the giants of the NHL, and Glass to throw his weight around. Needless to say, they weren’t always effective and we unfortunately watched while the Blackhawks – Byfuglien – ran Luongo over and over and over again. Gillis has now addressed this and the bigger bottom-six is going to go a long way to making this team better. A potential third line of Malhotra, Torres and Hansen is probably the best third line the Canucks have had in a long time. At the very least, they’re bigger and better than the combination of Wellwood, Bernier and Glass and this should make a difference right off the bat. It’s long been said that a good team is able to roll all four lines and the Canucks are on the verge of being able to do this.
Gillis built the core of this Canucks team around speed, skill and finesse. Now he’s surrounded that with big, multidimensional players who can actually play too. Come playoff time, a skilled Canucks team that doesn’t get pushed around will be a very dangerous team to play.