Vancouver Canucks

Canucks Get Post-Sedin Era Preview Against Predators

(Photograph by Bob Frid/Icon Sportswire)

The last game before the All-star break for the Vancouver Canucks allowed fans to get a glimpse into what their lineup will look like in the post-Sedin era. The Canucks lost to the Predators 2-1 while icing this group.

The Canucks have been icing a lineup without Henrik Sedin since he was injured in the game against the New York Islanders. Until Tuesday’s contest against the Predators, Jared McCann had been filling in for H. Sedin.

The game against the Predators saw Brandon Sutter return from a 33 game absence after surgery to have a sports hernia corrected. The 26-year-old center immediately received top-six minutes, slotting in between Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen. Sutter also took Henrik Sedin’s spot on the first powerplay unit and took shifts on the penalty kill.

The lineup looked like this.

 

Forwards

Daniel Sedin – Brandon Sutter – Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Radim Vrbata
Alexandre Burrows – Linden Vey – Emerson Etem
Derek Dorsett – Adam Cracknell – Jake Virtanen

 

Defence

Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Ben Hutton – Luca Sbisa
Matt Bartkowski – Alex Biega

 

Goalies

Ryan Miller
Jacob Markstrom

 

The 2015 offseason saw Nick Bonino, Adam Clendening and a 2016 second-round pick traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Sutter and a third-round pick. Sutter, was brought in by the Canucks to ease the transition between the Sedins and Bo Horvat.

“We don’t want to put any added pressure on [Horvat] to be somewhere in the lineup that he couldn’t handle,” Benning said. “We want to make sure he keeps developing as a player. Brandon is a proven NHL player. He’s a match up player and has played against the other team’s top players and has shut them down. He can still bring offense to our team.” – Jim Benning

The past two seasons with Benning at the helm of the Canucks’ organization has been about staying competitive while developing youth into core players. 2014-15 was about developing Horvat and the 2015-16 season has added Ben Hutton, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann to the mix full-time. Acquiring Sutter has been met with mixed reviews, but Benning felt he fit better than Bonino with this development plan.

Additionally, Alexandre Grenier, Andrey Pedan, Brendan Gaunce, and Hunter Shinkaruk all made their NHL debuts this season after being called up from the Utica Comets. Youth was served and will continue to be served. The Canucks also have Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko playing exceptionally well in the NCAA.

So why was the Canucks’ game against the Predators a glimpse into the future?

Eventually the Sedins will retire, leaving the team to a more ready Horvat. Sutter will be somewhere in the lineup and his wingers can easily be replaced by similar players currently playing on the Comets. Hunter Shinkaruk can slot in as a skilled player, excelling on the powerplay and Alexandre Grenier can fill the role of Jannik Hansen.

The Comets have similar players who can fill the roles of current depth players in the next few seasons.

 

Forwards

Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Brock Boeser
Hunter Shinkaruk – Brandon Sutter – Jake Virtanen
Brendan Gaunce – Jared McCann – Emerson Etem
Ronalds Kenins – Cole Cassels – Alexandre Grenier

 

Defence

Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Ben Hutton – Luca Sbisa
Guillaume Brisebois – Andrey Pedan

 

Goalies

Jacob Markstrom
Thatcher Demko

 

Eleven of those players are on the Canucks full-time with another five having played for the team at some point during the 2015-16 season.

While Shinkaruk and Sven Baertschi will most likely not develop into the next Daniel Sedin, they will provide the element of skill that will be lost when Daniel leaves the Canucks. From what Boeser has shown so far in his NCAA rookie season, he will easily replace the goal-scoring ability of Radim Vrbata.

The point of that lineup is not to show what the exact lineup will be in three years. The point is to show that the Canucks were close to that lineup when they played the Predators and that the plan to develop the Canucks’ youth into core players is in place and starting to succeed. Management will also be drafting and making trades during that time as well, giving the potential for a different look.

The prospects and young players that the Canucks have in the system or on the current roster do not scream of comprising a team that is high scoring. The prospects look to produce a fast team who can play a strong defensive game.

The post-Sedin era is near for the Canucks, but if the Twins themselves have anything to say about it, the time has not yet come. There is still room for improvement, the current defence corp is not good and desperately needs to be addressed, whether through drafting or trades. It will be a little while before anyone can use Stanley Cup Contender and the Canucks in the same sentence, but the plan is in place and the team is being setup to become a contender again.

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