A couple weeks ago, Richard Hodges, a blogger for Northwest Sportsbeat, wrote an interesting post titled, 5 Ex-Canucks that could help the team right now:
Pretend that Kyle Wellwood, noted enigma and probable polymath, spent his time in Vancouver tinkering in his secret underground workshop underneath Rogers Arena. No one realized it at the time but in between trips to Subway, Wellwood was working on a time machine.
In Hodges’ scenario, Mike Gillis finds the device and discovers he can retrieve any former Canuck from the bowels of history and plug him into the current roster. Unfortunately, he can only do this once because Welly’s time machine only has enough power for a single use (and no surprise that something belonging to Kyle Wellwood is a little low on energy). So who does he get? Trevor Linden? Cam Neely? Matthias Ohlund? It’s a fun question, although Hodges’ Kirk McLean suggestion reeks of judgment-clouding nostalgia. I mean, sure, he’s good for a pad stack or two, but he’d be number three on the depth chart, Richard.
Anyway. Thing is, you don’t need a time machine to find one-time Vancouverites that can contribute; there are a handful of active ex-Canucks that could help the team right now. Granted, in some cases, the cap implications and cost to acquire would be too much to make any move feasible, but I’m not making trade proposals here, nor am I advocating them — I’m just playing around with the concept. With a nod to Richard for the idea, here are 10 active former Canucks that could help the team this postseason in no particular order.
1 | TAYLOR PYATT
During Pyatt’s three seasons here, Canuck fans learned that the former 6th overall pick simply would never become the top-six power forward Dave Nonis was hoping he would. However, as a third- or fourth line-winger, Pyatt would provide a lot of what the Canucks are missing. He’s a big body with decent defensive skill and the ability to occasionally chip in offensively. Yes, for the love of all that is good, keep him off the first unit powerplay, but Pyatt would be an acceptable depth winger. Plus he’s still got the best set of baby blues in hockey.
2 | WILLIE MITCHELL
Mitchell’s been good in Los Angeles, seeing top-pairing minutes with Drew Doughty and continuing to flourish as a shutdown d-man. The knock against him is that he doesn’t really drive the play forward, and the Canucks have certainly improved since Dan Hamhuis, who can thread an outlet pass, took his place. But, if Hamhuis were to go down with another injury this postseason, Willie’s a guy that could step into the shutdown pairing with Kevin Bieksa and give the Canucks a unit that kills plays like Julie Taymor.
3 | ADRIAN AUCOIN
Aucoin’s no spring chicken — consider that he was a member of the Canucks organization for nine years before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Dan Cloutier — but he can still contribute. He’s averaging over 20 minutes a game for the defensive-minded Phoenix Coyotes right now, most of it in a top pairing role alongside Keith Yandle. He doesn’t put up a whole lot of points, but he provides a steady, gritty, stay-at-home presence, allowing Yandle the occasional foray into the offensive zone. He’s also right-handed. Hey, you know who could use a reliable, physical, veteran, right-handed partner? Alex Edler.
4 | CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF
Speaking of guys that worked with Alex Edler… Granted, Ehrhoff’s contract is a non-starter, but he could still help the team, and not just as Edler’s partner. The powerplay is struggling right now, as are the Sedins, and Ehrhoff was often an offensive spark for both. Plus the return of the flail snail can’t happen soon enough.
5 | MIKAEL SAMUELSSON
And speaking of powerplay options… Samuelsson was a much-maligned powerplay quarterback by the time he left town, but the backlash never really made much sense. Samuelsson made smart passes, he held the puck at the blueline, he didn’t surrender rushes the other way, and the unit actually hummed along at a higher clip with him than without him last season. At even-strength, Samuelsson would flesh out the Canuck forward units and give Alain Vigneault a plug-in option for all four lines. Plus he could always be counted on for unexpected goals and comments. Dudes like that are fun times.
6 | MIKE WEAVER
Weaver played 55 games with the Canucks during the 2007-08 season as a depth defenseman, and now he plays that same role for the Florida Panthers. He’s a little guy, measuring at only 5’9″, and he doesn’t exactly light the lamp with regularity (he’s posting career-high totals in Florida this year with 2 goals and 13 points), but he’d be a welcome addition to the Canucks’ defensive depth chart. He’s strong on his skates, he’s reliable, he plays bigger and tougher than he is, and he’s also a right-sider. Weaver would be the lowest of the low-key additions, but I’d be down.
7 | TANNER GLASS
Speaking of low-key, Tanner Glass remains one of the most genuine, likable, low-key guys in the NHL, so consider my opinion coloured by a pro-Glass bias here. That said, Glass is playing third line minutes in Winnipeg (no third line for Glass!), he’s tied his career-high in goals with 4, he’s set a new career-high in points with 12, and he picked up his first-career Gordie Howe hat trick this season. In short, he’s grown a little. Sure, Vancouver fans soured on him some after he was downright invisible in the postseason, but he’s been there, he’s tough, and he’s familiar with the Canucks’ system. But seriously, keep him off the third line.
8 | MATT COOKE
And if it’s more experience you want, how about Lady Byng candidate and Stanley Cup winner Matt Cooke? Swallow your bile for a moment and consider that former Canuck Cooke is reformed, provides grit and agitation, can play on a shutdown line, is offensively skilled enough to jump up to the second line with Ryan Kesler in a pinch, is familiar with Alain Vigneault, and has been to the Stanley Cup Final twice. As much as it pains me, Cooke could help this team.
9 | MICHAEL GRABNER
This one’s a no-brainer. Since the Canucks traded him to the Panthers for Keith Ballard, Grabner has scored 48 times in 126 games. He’s a pure goalscorer. Granted, he’s a minus-15 this season and he’s got some pretty spotty possession numbers, so he’s also purely a goalscorer, but still. Goals are good.
10 | TODD BERTUZZI
Speaking of pure goalscorers, that’s no longer what Todd Bertuzzi is. Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock has cultured the defensive side of Big Bert’s game beautifully, and his hands remain slick enough for him to live on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen. Bertuzzi is a big, mean, detestable, skilled, two-way player and, as much as it pains me to admit, the Canucks could use a guy like that.