In this early season, there’s no doubt in my mind that Raffi Torres is quickly emerging as the Canucks’ feel-good story of the year.
Following a hat trick against his old team, Edmonton Oilers, on Tuesday night, ‘El Torro’ scored another goal in last night’s 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche. He now has 7 goals in the Canucks’ first 12 games, second only to Daniel Sedin’s 8. He’s on pace to score 48 goals, and while the chances of that actually happening are about as slim as Kyle Wellwood passing on a Big Tasty, it’s still pretty impressive. (Yes, I used slim and Kyle Wellwood in the same sentence.)
GM Mike Gillis signed Raffi primarily to add size and toughness to a team that needed a boost in both. Raffi’s done just that.
And despite scoring 19 goals for an offensively-challenged Columbus Blue Jackets team last season, I’d be lying to you if I said now that I expected him to score that many while playing 13 minutes a night on the Canucks’ third and fourth lines. But again, that’s exactly what he’s done and he’s helped give the Canucks a more balanced and deeper attack.
Needless to say, Raffi has exceeded expectations so far.
Raffi arrived in Vancouver with little fanfare. His signing was largely overshadowed by the earlier signings of two top-four defensemen (Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard) and one of the biggest and best faceoff men in the league (Manny Malhotra). Plus, having played for three teams in three seasons – he went from Edmonton to Columbus to Buffalo between 2007 and 2010 – there were various rumours regarding his off-ice activities. Credit to the Canucks for taking a chance on him and giving him a clean slate; credit to Raffi for making the most of his opportunity.