Raymond Kirk: Is Your Canucks Second Line Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
CanucksCorner.com welcomes the newest member of our blogging team, Raymond Kirk. A resident of Calgary, Raymond is a life long Canucks fan, former coach and player and we’re excited to have him join us.
Without a game being played in the Vancouver Canucks 2013 NHL Season, the organization is faced with a huge decision in how to prepare for the upcoming season. Knowing that Ryan Kesler is on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time, news that David Booth would miss the seasons first 4-6 weeks with a groin strain. Suddenly, the potent Canucks offensive attack has been deemed stalled by many, before a puck has even been dropped. I’ve heard several people today say that the need to trade Roberto Luongo for a centre must be expedited now, or that the tires should be kicked once again on a Jason Arnott, or even, gasp, inquire about a soon to be bought out Scott Gomez, if the price was right on a one year deal. But is it aready time to sound off the alarm on offensive woes before a game is even played this season? Without exploring what the club already has in house?
The answer of that question, to me, is I don’t know, and I don’t believe the team knows either. With two thirds of your second line out, and audition hopefuls being comprised of AHL question marks and a much-maligned Winger in Mason Raymond, I don’t know what can really be expected to fit what this team will need to do, to win on a night in – night out basis. But I am ready to find out.
In my opinion, there will be no better opportunity to find out just what you have drafted, in your 2009 1st Round Pick, Jordon Schroeder. Yet to play a game for the team, it’s now or never to see what he can bring to the table, as the 22 year old has to prove that he can produce as a top-six player for the organization, as his skill set will not work as a bottom-six forward for this hockey team. Can he be successful in that role? The only way to find out is to actually let him play. It’s a tough spot for Schroeder, with no camp, but he has played all season with the Chicago Wolves, and is in game shape, and seems to be finding his game at the right time of the season. Injuries provide chances for players…..Schroeder needs to seize this time now.
Zack Kassian, fairly or not, will always be linked to Cody Hodgson around here, but I see no reason why he can’t be an effective second line winger, and be a difference maker right now. Finding a goal or two early into the year would do wonders for his confidence, and if he sticks to a simple game, and uses his size and strength effectively, he can bring a much needed element to the top-six. I still think he’s better suited in a third line role, but I think the team needs more size up front right now, and Kassian fits the bill, as long as he isn’t a defensive liability. To be determined…
The key to this line would be Mason Raymond, who admittedly would say that 2012 was a rough season for the speedy winger. He has shown flashes of the potential 30 goals that he could score in the past, but coming off an abysmal offensive season coming back from the injury he sustained in the Stanley Cup Final, will he be able to regain the form and give the second line the offensive output this team will need to be successful early in the season? I expect a motivated Raymond to want to put a bad year behind him, and don’t think that 12-14 goals this year is unreasonable. I was hard on him all last year, but want to give him the benefit of doubt after having a full off season of recovery time from his injury. Until he goes the first three games without a goal and I’m screaming to the hills to move him for a bag of pucks. Just score, Mason…
The Canucks will score from other areas….overall offense will come from the Sedins, Chris Higgins, Max Lapierre, and a blueline that has always found a way to contribute with key points at key times. I’m not convinced that Jordon Schroeder, Zack Kassian and Mason Raymond will cure what appears to ail the offensive loss in the absence of Kesler and Booth. But I’m hopeful they can. And if not, then it will be time for Mike Gillis to play his hand and make his move to acquire a difference maker for the top six. A short season heightens the need for results, and quickly. Fair or not, the auditions will be short, but here’s hoping that we like what we see come the weekend. Your thoughts?
Follow me on Twitter: @RayRay2233