Green has already acknowledged that in a tough division and conference and with a brutal travel schedule, Virtanen and Boeser may only play between 50-60 games. They need to get acclimated to the grind of the NHL season, something Dorsett knows all about.
That was in the context of a much longer piece about Derek Dorsett that you should check out, but it’s also worth discussing Boeser and Virtanen’s role specifically, especially after Boeser spent the opener as a healthy scratch while Virtanen dressed, but logged just 7:34 minutes of ice time.
The rationale of limiting Boeser’s role as he gets used to the NHL grind makes some degree of sense. He played in just 32 games with the University of North Dakota followed by a nine-game trial with the Canucks last season so if he became an everyday player in the NHL right now he might hit a wall at some point. That argument is less applicable to Virtanen though, given that he played in 55 NHL contests in 2015-16 and logged 75 games (10 in the NHL, 65 in the AHL) last season.
At the same time, there have been bumps in the road when it comes to Virtanen’s development and that might limit his ice time as much as anything else.
Of course these kind of projections should be taken with a grain of salt. The season has barely gotten underway and we might end up seeing Virtanen and Boeser push themselves into regular roles in short order. At the other end of the spectrum, they might see so little playing time that one or both of them end up being sent to the minors, which would lead to that 50-60 game projection actually being too high.
In either scenario, the important thing for Vancouver is how the duo performs in the years to come. The Canucks have to hope that whatever philosophy they decide to take with them pays off when it comes to their development.
Anderson back with Blue Jackets after conditioning stint
Josh Anderson‘s brief conditioning stint in the AHL has come to an end. Now it’s time for him to show that he can continue his development this season despite missing the Blue Jackets’ training camp and preseason.
The 23-year-old, who is entering his second full NHL season, didn’t participate in Columbus’ preparation for the 2017-18 campaign because he was still a restricted free agent. The two sides finally ended that on Oct. 2 by agreeing on a three-year, $5.55 million contract.
Anderson got into one AHL game during his conditioning stint and recorded a team-high seven shots along with a minus-two rating. The next step is for him to practice with the Blue Jackets on Monday, per the Columbus Dispatch.
It remains to be seen if Anderson will make his NHL season debut on Tuesday, but if he does then it could be Zac Dalpe who is taken out of the lineup.
Beyond that, the big question is how much missing training camp and the preseason will weigh on Anderson. It might end up not having a noticeable impact on his output, but if he struggles out of the gate then people are going to reasonably wonder if it’s his absence from camp that’s to blame.
Anderson had 17 goals, 29 points, and 89 penalty minutes in 78 games last season while averaging 12:01 minutes per game.
PHT Morning Skate: What’s a bit different about Ovechkin
–The Capitals talked with Alex Ovechkin over the summer about how he could tweak his game. Those talks included having Ovechkin trim his weight, which led to him showing up to camp four pounds lighter, and put a greater emphasis on getting in front of the net for tip-ins and rebounds at even strength. Already he has six even-strength goals this season, compared to his 16 in 2015-16, which matched his career-low. (Washington Post)
–The Dallas Stars have lost their first two games, but they’ve been dominated from a shots perspective. Stars coach Ken Hitchcock is encouraging the team to stay patient. (Dallas Morning News)
–Speaking of shots, the Florida Panthers’ 84 in their first two games is a franchise record. (Steve Goldstein)
—Travis Hamonic has begun Hamonic’s D-Partner Program presented by MEG Energy in Calgary. Each home game he’ll host a child or children who suffered the loss of a parent at a young age. Hamonic’s own father passed away when he was 10-years-old and part of what he does with this program is have a sit-down where he encourages them to talk about their loss and shares his own story. He’ll also often give the kids his e-mail address so that he can stay in touch and offer guidance if they need it. It’s a program he previously ran with the Islanders and got permission to begin with the Flames after he was traded over the summer. (Calgary Sun)
—Sam Morin, 22, has been a healthy scratch in the Philadelphia Flyers’ first three games. If he doesn’t crack the lineup soon then the Flyers might send the promising defenseman down to the minors. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)
–Blake Coleman’s drink of choice during games is pickle juice. Apparently its the only thing that he’s found that will help him prevent cramps, but it’s not something his Devils teammates have taken to. (NJ.com)
Poll: Will this be the Sedins’ final season in Vancouver?
Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have been pillars of the Canucks’ franchise for much of their career. The twins will turn 37 in September though and have just a single season remaining on their matching four-year, $28 million contracts.
They’re at an age where they’re clearly in the twilight of their career, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the curtain is about to fall. There are elite players like Jaromir Jagr that have managed to stay relevant beyond their 30s, but those are few and far between.
If the 2016-17 campaign was any indication, the Sedin twins’ end might be fast approaching. Henrik finished with 50 points while Daniel was limited to 44. Their modest production was a big reason why the Canucks averaged just 2.17 goals for per game last season, which ranked 29th in the league. It’s a long way from their height when Henrik won the Art Ross Trophy in 2009-10 and Daniel claimed it in 2010-11.
“We think about our future on a regular basis, and we’ve said we’re going to take it year by year now,” Henrik Sedin said, per NHL.com. “This year, we want to prove we can still play at a high level, and that’s up to us to do. And we know that if we do, it’ll be easier to answer those questions later in the year. So that’s our mindset.”
Even if the Sedin twins decide to extend their careers, will it ultimately be with the Canucks? If Vancouver has another bad season, would it make sense to keep two aging forwards on the roster? Maybe it would, given that this is the Sedin twins we’re talking about and it would be good to see them ultimately retire as Canucks. On the flip side though, would the Sedin twins have any interest in exploring other possibilities if it was clear that the Canucks were firmly focused on rebuilding while they have very little time left in the NHL?
So do you ultimately believe that this is their last season in Vancouver or will they continue playing for the franchise beyond 2017-18?
We’re closing in on training camp at this point and Bo Horvat is still a restricted free agent. That’s not something that seems to concern Canucks president Trevor Linden, who feels the two sides aren’t far apart.
“We’ve had some good conversations with Bo and his reps … we’re moving along and I don’t see any issues,” Linden told TSN 1040 (H/T to the Score).
The Canucks and Horvat have taken their time exploring a lot of different options, ranging from two-year to eight-year contracts. It’ll be interesting to see what route they ultimately take.
Horvat had 20 goals and 52 points in 81 contests in his third campaign in the NHL. He only celebrated his 22nd birthday in April so it’s not unreasonable to believe he still has untapped upside left. So while a bridge contract would be the safer option, the Canucks might ultimately be better off if they can find a way to ink him to a long-term deal.
If a lengthy contract is the goal, then part of the reason it’s taken this long might be the relative lack of good comparables. If you’re talking about forwards who signed a five-year deal or longer off their entry-level contract, then you don’t have a lot to choose from. This summer the examples of that are Jonathan Drouin, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl and McDavid are obvious non-starters, but Drouin is less so given that his 21 goals and 53 points mirrors Horvat’s 2016-17 production fairly well.
Drouin is generally seen as having more offensive upside though, but he also has less NHL experience than Horvat. Drouin’s contract was a six-year, $33 million deal so it would be interesting if Horvat was hoping to get something similar, citing his similar productive last season as the primary argument.
If you went back to the summer of 2016 then you could pull on examples like Victor Rask, who signed a six-year, $24 million deal after recording 21 goals and 48 points in his sophomore season as a center. Or Vincent Trocheck, another center that got a six-year, $28.5 million contract after getting 53 points after his third NHL season and first full campaign. Those might be the contracts that the Canucks point to if the two sides are heading towards a long-term deal.