Arsenio Hall is back on TV with his talk show, so I guess it’s appropriate that we bring back this Arsenio-inspired feature on CHB. This past weekend, I was at two of the three Vancouver Canucks “Open Scrimmages”. I’ve put a few thoughts together from my observations in this Training Camp edition of Things That Make You Go Hmmm.
Who Will Be Our 6th D-Man?
First off, I realize that you can only glean so much from a few low-impact training camp scrimmages. And as coach John Tortorella has pointed out already, the proof in the pre-season pudding will be in the exhibition games rather than the scrimmages and practices. Having said that, an interesting battle is shaping up for the 6th d-man spot behind Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison and Chris Tanev.
Conventional wisdom suggests it’s between Frank Corrado, Andrew Alberts, and Yannick Weber. Based on the scrimmages I saw, it was actually Andrew Alberts who was the most noticeable. On Sunday alone, he showed decent speed going end-to-end before losing the puck in the offensive zone corner. On his very next shift, he roughed up Ryan Kesler in the defensive end – even without one of his gloves. Alberts is making $600,000 this season (compared to $1.2-$1.3 million the past three seasons) so he’s obviously hoping on a big year to help him return to bigger money.
However, when the smoke clears, I think it will be Corrado with the spot on opening night. He played with Hamhuis over the weekend (with the other big pairings being Edler-Tanev and Bieksa-Garrison). Also, he got into all 4 Canucks playoff games last spring and the club is counting on him to continue his rapid improvement.
How Many Games Will Ryan Kesler Play This Season?
For all the talk of how injury-prone Kesler has been, when you look at the pre-2013 numbers he’s actually been quite reliable. Prior to last year, Kesler’s regular season games played over the previous 7 seasons were 82, 48, 80, 82, 82, 82, and 77. Take out the 2006-2007 season that saw him miss 34 games with torn cartilage in his hip, and you’ll see that the centre had only missed 5 regular season games in those 6 seasons.
We now know that Kesler tore his shoulder in February 2012 but played through it (undergoing surgery in May). Just a month later in June, he had surgery to repair his injured wrist. He finally made his debut in the lockout-shortened season in February 2013 but he broke his foot in that game and went onto injured reserve just 7 games into the season. He ended up playing only 17 games the entire season.
So what can we expect this year? It’s hard to tell…yet there are some intriguing factors. What will his role be under new coach John Tortorella? Will the Olympics make Kesler more vulnerable to injury post-February? And is everything (hip, shoulder, wrist, and foot) fully healed?
I would love nothing more for Kesler to stay healthy and have a good Olympic tourney (but not TOO good haha). He showed a lot of flash and dash during the scrimmages including one beautiful dangle on Sunday. However, it’s this same flash and dash that has Canucks fans nervous.
A Future “Triple H” Line?
Sunday’s scrimmage saw 2013 first-round draft pick Bo Horvat centering wingers Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen. Perhaps we were looking at a glimpse of the not-so-distant future.
Horvat seems a longshot to make this year’s squad. And Higgins and Hansen will likely end up playing with newly-acquired Brad Richardson on opening night. But depending on Horvat’s development, he could be our 3rd line-centre sooner as opposed to later. At least that’s what many Canucks fans are hoping for.
There you have it. An entire Canucks article without a mention of Roberto Luongo.