Dale Weise’s rookie campaign has to be considered a minor success. Sure, we could dwell on the things that he’s failed to do, such as provide much in the way of energy or offense (apart from a spiffy end-to-end rush versus the Ottawa Senators). And, despite dropping the gloves a handful of times, Weise has been far from the intimidating rat poison the Canucks have needed.
Still, the former Ranger has been quietly effective in his first full season. Despite his inexperience, Weise has done a great job keeping the puck out of his own net and moving it out from the defensive zone, where he starts most of his shifts. As fourth line wingers go, he’s been one of the most competent and defensively sound the Canucks have iced since the lockout. Frankly, his ability to not suck has been a breath of fresh air.
Of course, quiet effectiveness isn’t exactly what you want from your energy guy, and after seeing what Mike Duco has managed to do in that same role, it’s hard to argue that Duco shouldn’t be the new Dale Weise.
Duco didn’t just fit in versus Calgary — he stood out, making an impact on nearly every shift. He stood up for his teammates, telling Lance Bouma he was “coming for him” upon feeling the Calgary forward was taking liberties, and eventually getting the best of Bouma in a fight. He created chances too, picking up the primary assist on Cody Hodgson’s second-period goal to cut the lead in half.
The feisty winger now has 2 points in 5 games with the Canucks, only 4 fewer than Weise has in 53 games. While counting on Duco to continue on a 30-point pace is a bit much, it’s clear that he brings a more of an offensive spark than Dale Weise. Maybe he can actually get on the ice with the stars he’s there to protect.
He certainly looks as though he deserves to stay with the Canucks going forward. Will he?
Sure, Dale Weise may be a little bland, but he can still play, and the Canucks’ roster moves all season have had as much to do with managing available bodies as merit. Chris Tanev was sent down to the farm to work on his special teams play, sure, but he was also demoted because he could be easily and without repercussions.
It makes sense. By the Stanley Cup Final last season, Vancouver’s top nine forwards were downright hobbled, and yet Alain Vigneault still refused to play anyone else because there was simply no one else he trusted. If the Canucks are hoping to make another Cup run, they can’t afford to lose possible contributors to waivers, and the fact that Duco is waiver-exempt and Weise isn’t may factor in.
That said, savvy as this is, I don’t like it. I understand the long-term goal and I’ll be happy if the Canucks find themselves back in the Stanley Cup Final with a cadre of able bodies but, at times, their shifty roster games seem unfair to the players who find themselves on planes to elsewhere just because they had the audacity to have an inflexible contract.
Yes, they’re young and they’ll get their chances (Duco is an RFA at season’s end, and will likely be on a one-way contract next year), but the Canucks have spoken in the past about how the best players get to play, regardless of their contract status, and it will be hard to continue asserting that if Chris Tanev and Mike Duco are with the Wolves and Alexander Sulzer and Dale Weise are with the Canucks.Tags: dale weise, fourth line, Mike Duco, roster