Derek Dorsett

Canucks sign Dorsett and Sbisa to multi-year extensions

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The Vancouver Canucks have signed forward Derek Dorsett to a four-year contract extension and defenseman Luca Sbisa to a three-year extension.

Dorsett’s new deal is reportedly worth $2.65 million annually, while Sbisa’s cap hit is reportedly $3.6 million.

“Derek has been an incredibly valuable member of the Canucks roster, both on and off the ice this year,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning in a release. “His willingness to chip in both offensively and defensively while standing up for his teammates at all times has been instrumental to our success all season.”

On Sbisa, Benning said: “Luca has been a big part of our backend all season, logging big minutes during key stretches and doing anything that is asked of him by our coaching staff.”

Initial reaction:

— That’s a big commitment to keep a bottom-six forward like Dorsett, no matter how much he sticks up for his teammates. That being said, there’s no question the 28-year-old has made an impact since being traded by the Rangers to Vancouver in June. He’s fought 17 times, leads the team in hits (163), and has chipped in offensively with seven goals and 18 assists.

— Sbisa came to Vancouver in the Ryan Kesler trade with Anaheim. At the time, Benning saw Sbisa as a “guy that we feel can grow into a top-four defenseman.” Safe to say, the jury’s still out on the 25-year-old. Sbisa, the 19th overall pick in 2008, is a physical defender, and the Canucks like that about him, but he’s also been on the ice for a lot of goals against.

Linden on returning the Canucks to the playoffs: ‘It’s been a good year’

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The goal for the Vancouver Canucks was to return to the playoffs.

Last night, that goal was achieved. The Canucks clinched their spot when the Kings lost in Edmonton.

It begs the question — after all that went wrong last season — how did they do it?

“It started with just trying to have a plan going into it,” said Trevor Linden, the club’s first-year president of hockey operations, on TSN 1040 radio (audio).

Linden, hired a year ago tomorrow, went on to hire Jim Benning as the team’s new general manager, who went on to hire Willie Desjardins as the new head coach.

“Bringing Jim in really shaped the vision for this organization,” said Linden, referencing the numerous roster decisions that were made in the wake of last season’s disastrous campaign, from trading Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison, to bringing in Ryan Miller, Nick Bonino, and Derek Dorsett.

“And then of course, Willie has done an amazing job,” Linden added, noting the bounce-back seasons being enjoyed by the Sedins, Alex Edler, Alex Burrows, and Jannik Hansen, “these guys that were kind of lost last year.”

“It’s been a good year,” said Linden. “We’ve accomplished the goal we set out. Now it’s about making some noise here in the playoffs, and we look forward to that.

“Having said all that, we also recognize it’s one year. We’ve got a lot of work to do, we know that, and we’re prepared for that.”

That last remark is key. Because the Canucks, despite making the playoffs, remain long shots to win the Stanley Cup. They still need to keep restocking for the future — in particular, their blue line, which has looked old and slow at times. Currently, there’s no blue-chip defensive prospect in the system.

But that’s a topic for the offseason.

“It’s so satisfying to set a goal for this team to get us back to the playoffs,” said Linden.

“The easy way out is to just strip it down and blow it up and start over and draft in the top five every year. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to continue to build this team and be a playoff contender every year.”

Healthy Canucks make for ‘really tough’ lineup decisions

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All of a sudden the Vancouver Canucks have a numbers problem.

With 24 healthy skaters (15 forwards and nine d-men) available for tonight’s home game versus the Flyers, coach Willie Desjardins is being forced to make some tough decisions.

“It’s really tough and that’s one of the strengths of our team right now and it’s kind of how we handle it,” Desjardins said yesterday, per The Province.

“It doesn’t matter who comes out, it’s going to be questioned because whoever I take out doesn’t deserve to come out. They’re all good players. If I say this guy is coming out, people will say: ‘Why him?'”

As of this afternoon, there was no word which forward would come out to make way for the expected return of Alex Burrows. Candidates include wingers Ronalds Kenins, Derek Dorsett, and Zack Kassian.

Except…

— Kenins provides a ton of energy and has developed some real chemistry in a bottom-six role with fellow rookie Bo Horvat.
— Dorsett, another bottom-six energy player, just had a 3-point night Saturday versus the Leafs.
— Kassian has been skating on the first line with the Sedins, and has five goals in his last 10 games.

For Desjardins, it’s one of those good problems to have.

“It could work for veterans, they could get a day’s rest and that could help because we have to give ourselves the best chance to win,” he said.

Stoll to miss Kings’ game vs. Coyotes

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L.A. Kings’ forward Jarret Stoll will miss his second game on Monday due to an upper body injury.

Stoll was injured during the Kings’ 4-0 win in Vancouver on Thursday night and has not skated since.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Stoll is still being evaluated.

“We’re not going to have a recall here today, by any means,” said Assistant GM Rob Blake. “We don’t have a timetable on Stollie yet. He’s not playing [on Monday].”

Lisa Dillman reports Stoll was injured on a third period hit from Canucks’ forward Derek Dorsett.

Blake was asked if there’s any concern that Stoll’s injury could be long-term.

“Hopefully, not,” he said. “You saw the hit. . . . The problem with that is we don’t have a timetable for that stuff.”

With Stoll set to miss a second game, Andy Andreoff will get another opportunity tonight when the Kings play host to the Arizona Coyotes.

The 23-year-old won 5 of 6 face-offs and played 8:28 in the Kings’ 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

“It’s tough. It’s been a long year,” said Andreoff, who played in just his second game since Feb. 3 on Saturday. “But I’m kind of getting used to it. You just got to make sure you’re being the hardest worker in practice and being ready for the opportunity.”

The Kings have won two of three meetings with the Coyotes this season. Monday is fourth and final game between the two clubs this season.

Canucks’ Dorsett: ‘We’ve got to come with our best effort every night’

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Facing the Arizona Coyotes, losers of 10 straight heading into Thursday and in the battle for the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, the Vancouver Canucks looked to have two points just waiting for them.

All they had to do was put in the time, take them, and move on to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Instead, the Coyotes came away with a 3-2 shootout victory after the Canucks got off to a horrendous first-period start and needed a third-period comeback just to earn the single point. Against a team that is in a quick spiral down the Western Conference standings, the Canucks were guilty of some egregious turnovers and Eddie Lack was forced to make some huge saves in overtime.

Just seven days before their loss in Arizona, the Canucks were beaten in Buffalo.

In a playoff race, teams can’t afford to throw away points against lesser opponents. In seven days, the Canucks wasted four points against the Coyotes and Sabres alone. Could mean the difference between a post-season berth or another early start on the golf course.

“It’s something that we get reminded of but we have to take it on as players and be professional,” said forward Derek Dorsett, speaking on TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver on Friday.

“We all want to get to the playoffs, and we know what we have to do to get to the playoffs, and that’s win games. We’ve got to get as many points as we can, when we can. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing (Arizona) or San Jose, we’ve got to come with our best effort every night this time of year.”

And at this time of year, there are going to be injuries and ailments.

From The Province:

Shawn Matthias back on wing, Linden Vey back from purgatory and Ronalds Keninis back to reality.

In what looks more like a playoff-ready lineup — one that will be bolstered when Brad Richardson returns from an ankle injury — the Vancouver Canucks talked Friday about getting their heads and their games into postseason mode as they prepare to face the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.