Jordan Schroeder hangs ten in a game versus the San Jose Sharks.
ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun gave Vancouver hockey fans some food for thought Wednesday when he named the Canucks among the teams showing an interest in San Jose bruiser Ryane Clowe, who might be on the market as the Sharks debate a deadline sell-off. “Don’t just assume he’s 100 percent headed to an Eastern Conference team,” Lebrun added after discussing a number of scenarios in this regard. “I’m told there are Western Conference teams, the Vancouver Canucks among them, that also covet Clowe.”
This left many Canuck fans scratching their heads for several reasons. Does the club really need a guy that takes a lot of penalties, has yet to score a goal all season, and abuses the letter E so brazenly? And beyond that, don’t the Canucks need a centre more than they need another winger?
Let’s ignore, for the moment, Clowe’s awful luck this season, the blowups it’s produced, and the extraneous E’s, instead taking a look at that last objection. All season long, the Canucks have been shorthanded up the midde, what with Ryan Kesler spending so much of the year on the IR and Manny Malhotra’s tenure as a Canuck ending back in February. It’s been our understanding that acquiring a centre has been a top priority for this team all year.
But now we’re beginning to wonder if Jordan Schroeder may have helped to shift their priorities.
Schroeder has now played 28 games with the Canucks, and he’s beginning to find his footing at this level. The diminutive centre has put up 9 points, 4 of which came on a recent 4-game point streak that came as he skated on a line with Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. Between these two speedsters, Schroeder has looked comfortable, and the trio has played a big role in helping the club to five straight wins.
What’s more, Schroeder appears to have earned at least some measure of trust from Alain Vigneault, who handed the rookie a game-high eight defensive zone faceoffs Tuesday night versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. Schroeder won six, which, as we’ve pointed out before, is a good way to stay on AV’s good side. It helps that he’s matched with Hansen and Raymond, two of the Canucks’ best two-way forwards.
It’s enough to make one wonder if the Canucks are beginning to think Schroeder can continue on in a similar role come playoff time.
Sure, Schroeder isn’t exactly the ideal defensive centre. That said, Ryan Kesler is. Would the Canucks consider sacrificing some of Kesler’s even-strength offence for a larger defensive presence if they felt Schroeder and co. could make up for the lost scoring punch?
It’s important to note that I’m not suggesting the Canucks make Kesler the third-line centre when he returns — just that they deploy him a little differently. He remains one of the best defensive centres in the game. Somehow, I don’t think he’ll be wasted if he spends most of his time on the ice at even-strength battling the opposition’s best players to a standstill, like he did in the 2011 playoffs with Jonathan Toews, and leaving the offence to the Sedins and the Schroeder line.
It might also allow the Canucks to acquire a winger, an easier get at the deadline. Supposing Lebrun’s report was true, Ryane Clowe would look good alongside Kesler and one of Chris Higgins or Alex Burrows on a tough, aggressive, checking-oriented second line.
This is just a thought. Is Jordan Schroeder a playoff centre?Tags: Jordan Schroeder