Tag: Nicklas Jensen


Canucks’ Kassian out a ‘few weeks’ with finger injury


Canucks forward Zack Kassian will miss a “few weeks” with a “finger thing,” coach Willie Desjardins announced today.

Kassian, who has just two goals in 17 games, suffered the “thing” Tuesday versus New Jersey (he was slashed) and did not fly with his teammates to Columbus, where Vancouver will kick off a seven-game trip Friday.

Linden Vey, a healthy scratch against the Devils, is expected to replace Kassian, taking both his spot on the third line with Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias as well as on the first power-play unit.

No word yet on a possible call-up. Currently, the only extra forward is the injured Tom Sestito, so don’t be surprised if Nicklas Jensen is soon summoned from AHL Utica.

Canucks still getting a read on rookie Horvat

Vancouver Canucks v Los Angeles Kings

Vancouver rookie center Bo Horvat only played 5:56 of Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime victory versus Ottawa.

It was one of the few times this season that Canucks coach Willie Desjardins didn’t consistently roll four lines, as young wingers Brandon DeFazio and Nicklas Jensen, called up from the AHL due to injuries, didn’t play much either.

It also, naturally, raised the question of whether Horvat will remain in the NHL for the rest of the season, or if he’ll be sent back to junior after his nine-game audition (he’s played five so far, with no points) is over.

Yesterday, GM Jim Benning told TSN 1040 radio (audio) that that decision has yet to be made; however, Benning did say that Horvat has “played well for us so far.”

So, what are his chances of sticking?

Well, if there’s one thing that Horvat has going for him, it may be the fact that, unlike other blue-chip forward prospects his age, he doesn’t need to be in a scoring role in order to be effective. He’s got the strength to grind it out in the bottom six.

“He comes as advertised,” said Benning. “He’s good on the draws. He’s good down low in his own end. In the offensive end, he goes to the front of the net hard. He’s a net-front presence. For a kid 19 years old, he’s physically strong, so he can compete in the battles. He’s a smart defensive player first, and from there comes his offense.”

It’s also possible that, with more experienced line mates, Desjardins may be able to trust Horvat more than he trusted him Tuesday.

Or, you know…maybe not.

“Willie has full control over who to play and how much to play,” said Benning. “Willie wants to win games, so that’s just the way it is. But having said that, some of the games he’s played Bo in key situations, and until he gets to see Bo more, and get to know Bo more, and trust in the things that Bo’s good at, I think it’s a learning curve for Willie and for Bo.”

The Canucks host Arizona tomorrow.

Poll: Will the Canucks make the playoffs?

Willie Desjardins, Trevor Linden

Look up ‘fall from grace’ in the dictionary and the Vancouver Canucks logo has to be taking up some space under the definition.

It’s hard to believe just three seasons ago the Canucks were back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy winners heading into the playoffs as a favorite to get back to the big dance for a second consecutive year.

Fast-forward to the 2014-15 season and the obvious question has to be asked, will the Canucks even make the playoffs?

They’ve done an all-important clean out of the front office. Mike Gillis and John Tortorella are gone. In is arguably the most popular figure in franchise history, Trevor Linden, and his hand picked soldiers Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins.

But now comes the tall task for a trio in-experienced as the lead man in their respective roles.

Linden and Co. have to find a way to get Vancouver, which missed the postseason for the first time since 2008, from the 28th-ranked offense back to the second season.

Other teams that missed the playoffs last season –  like the Nashville Predators, who added James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy and Olli Jokinen, have certainly bolstered their chances.

The upstart Colorado Avalanche, who surprised many by qualifying for the playoffs in Year 1 under Patrick Roy, added savvy veterans Jarome Iginla and Daniel Briere to help their young stars along.

Benning’s new cast members to help jump-start the Canucks offense includes Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino and Linden Vey, they’ll have to help the likes of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows bounce back from off years.

Vrbata and Bonino are both capable of contributing 20-plus goals at the NHL level and have done so previously. Vey meanwhile has five assists in 18 career NHL games.

Then there’s room for young kids, but who can make the leap? Is Nicklas Jensen ready, and able, to contribute regularly at the NHL level? He had three goals and six helpers in 17 games with the Canucks last season.

Can one of their prospects jump from the Canadian Hockey League right to the NHL?  Bo Horvat, 19, had  74 points in 54 games in his third OHL season with the London Knights last season.

With more questions than answers heading into the 2014-15 season, we ask you Canucks fans, will Vancouver qualify for the playoffs this season?

Related: For Desjardins, responsibilities include both winning and entertaining

If Vrbata is ‘a good fit with the Sedins,’ what do the Canucks do with Burrows?

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks

Radim Vrbata signed with the Vancouver Canucks for a few reasons, but a “chance to play with the Sedins” was the one he mentioned first in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

“If you play with players like the Sedins, you know you’ll get your chances,” Vrbata said. “I was looking for a good fit.”

Shortly thereafter, on another conference call, Canucks general manager Jim Benning delivered a similar message: “I think he’s a good fit with the Sedins.”

A right-handed shot, Vrbata scored a career-high 35 goals for the Coyotes in 2011-12. He scored 20 times last season, including 10 times with the man advantage. In theory, he’s the kind of cerebral winger — a guy who can play the give-and-go game — who should, in fact, be a fit with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.

When asked what he liked about Vrbata, Benning mentioned his “real good hockey sense and hands.” He also likes that Vrbata has “finish,” something the Canucks had very little of in 2013-14, when they had the 11th-most shots in the NHL, and the 28th-most goals.

But the signing of Vrbata does beg a rather big question in Vancouver — what do the Canucks do with the Sedins’ regular winger, Alex Burrows, a 33-year-old who has three years remaining on an $18 million contract, one that comes complete with a no-trade clause?

Benning suggested Burrows could be moved to Vancouver’s second line, with new addition Nick Bonino in the middle and either Zack Kassian or Jannik Hansen on the other wing.

“We want to have balance amongst our four lines,” Benning said. “We want to have scoring depth.”

Key word there: depth.

Looking at a Canucks’ roster that’s been bolstered by the additions of Bonino, as well as forwards Derek Dorsett and Linden Vey, this year’s training camp should be a competitive one, with no shortage of youngsters (and veterans) hungry to show Benning and new coach Willie Desjardins something. At this point, prospects Nicklas Jensen, Bo Horvat, and Hunter Shinkaruk are far from guaranteed a spot on the opening-day roster.

As for Burrows, well, he’s got a lot to prove, too, after a nightmarish 2013-14 that saw him fight injuries and bad luck, all while playing in a John Tortorella-coached system that Burrows would only call “a little different, that’s for sure.”

It was reported in May — after Tortorella was fired — that the coach had pushed management to buy out the undrafted former ECHLer who’s had three 20-plus-goal seasons, plus one 35-goal season, while playing with the Sedins.

At the very least, Burrows should have plenty of motivation on his side.

After adding depth, Benning needs to address Canucks’ second line


Even when Ryan Kesler was still a Vancouver Canuck, the lack of production from the second line, which Kesler centered, was one of the many much-discussed topics on Canada’s West Coast.

Now that Kesler’s been traded to Anaheim, the Canucks’ second line is arguably the most pressing area for general manager Jim Benning to improve.

As it stands heading into tomorrow’s free-agent frenzy, Vancouver’s second line is comprised of newly acquired center Nick Bonino, with winger candidates in Zack Kassian, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, and Alex Burrows (if the latter is dropped from the top line with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin).

The problem? Kassian, 23, is still a project; Higgins is probably better suited for a third-line role; and Hansen is definitely better suited for a third-line role.

Granted, it’s possible prospects Bo Horvat, Nicklas Jensen, and Hunter Shinkaruk could push for minutes on the second line, but they’ll need to make the team first.

For Benning — who’s done well to add bottom-six forwards Derek Dorsett and Linden Vey, and seems intent on signing a free-agent goalie (Ryan Miller?) — UFA options for a goal-scoring winger include Jarome Iginla, Thomas Vanek, Mike Cammalleri, Matt Moulson, Jussi Jokinen, and Radim Vrbata. There are others, but those are the ones who scored 20 or more goals last season.

It’s not a particularly lengthy or impressive list. On top of that, the Canucks can’t legitimately make the “come play for a Stanley Cup contender” pitch anymore. And that may cross a veteran like Iginla off the list.

Benning said in May that he believes the Canucks can be turned around “in a hurry.” And after a busy draft weekend, it stands to reason he’ll be busy again tomorrow.

How successful he’ll be remains to be seen.