The Canucks acquired Zac Dalpe last September, along with Jeremy Welsh, sending ECHL forward Kellan Tochkin and a fourth round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in return. At the time, it looked like a brilliant trade for Mike Gillis, as Tochkin has no NHL future and a fourth round pick has little chance of making the NHL, while Dalpe was still touted by some as a potential top-six forward and Welsh looked capable of filling a role on the third or fourth lines.
Nine months later, neither Dalpe nor Welsh are with the Canucks. Dalpe was not extended a qualifying offer by the new Canucks regime, sending him to free agency, where he was picked up by the Buffalo Sabres.
While Dalpe wasn’t particularly good with the Canucks, he also didn’t get much of an opportunity. He spent the bulk of his 55 games on the fourth line, both at centre and on the wing, and was generally buried in the defensive zone when he was on the ice. He was also saddled with Tom Sestito all season.
When Sestito and Dalpe were together, the Canucks took a mere 40.7% of the shot attempts, which is atrocious. When Dalpe was able to get away from Sestito, that number jumps up to 48.5%. That’s still not great, mind you, but it’s at least approaching respectable. What’s more, when he was on the ice with better players like Zack Kassian, David Booth, Jannik Hansen, and Chris Higgins, Dalpe didn’t drag them down, posting a positive shot attempt differential with each of them.
Even when Dalpe was with fourth line call-ups like Darren Archibald and Jeremy Welsh, he was able to post a positive shot attempt differential. The Canucks could have had a fourth line last season that didn’t constantly get trapped in the defensive zone.
Basically, without Sestito and with good or even half-decent players, Dalpe was a positive puck possession player. If Dalpe hadn’t played with Sestito last season, he might have gotten another shot with the Canucks.
Alas, it was not to be, and Dalpe’s only shots with the Canucks were the 52 he took last season, 4 of which went into the opponent’s net.
Dalpe didn’t score a single goal in 2013 for the Canucks, but appeared to be happy to see the calendar change, getting his first goal as a Canuck on New Year’s Day. The goal came with a pinch of controversy, as the initial dump-in should have been icing. Instead, the Lightning’s clearance attempt goes off a stanchion to Tom Sestito in the middle of the ice, who chips the puck free to Dale Weise. Weise makes a heads up pass to an open Dalpe in front of the net and he swats it in.
January was a pretty good month for Dalpe, as he scored 5 of his 7 points during the month and 3 of his 4 goals. Dalpe even got some ice time with the Sedins, including this game against the Blues, and he made the most of the opportunity, tipping in a Daniel Sedin slap shot after fanning on a baseball swing a moment earlier.
Dalpe’s third goal in January was almost very pretty, but Mike Smith managed to save his initial backhand, then kindly slid out of the way so Dalpe could deposit the rebound.
The real highlight is the zone entry, as Dalpe smartly gets back onside after a check from David Moss briefly slid him offside. Meanwhile, Daniel Sedin makes a great cross-ice pass to Zack Kassian, who one-touches the puck to the middle, where Jason Garrison has jumped up into the play. Garrison feeds Dalpe, then heads straight to the net, forcing Smith to be wary of giving up a rebound to him.
Dalpe wouldn’t score again until March and, when he did, it was an ugly goal. An Alex Edler dump-in around the boards somehow deflects off Kari Lehtonen and goes right in front of the net, allowing Dalpe to put the puck into the empty net. What’s worse is that it was a meaningless goal, coming late in the second period of one of the most dismal efforts of the Canucks’ season and it was the only goal scored in a 6-1 loss.
That’s why it’s utterly baffling and hilarious to see the camera cut to Tim Thomas sitting on the bench after the goal. Oh man, Lehtonen made a massive blunder! If he allows five more goals in the third period, the game could go into overtime! Is it time for the backup to get into the game? DO WE HAVE A GOALIE CONTROVERSY?!Tags: Every Goal, Zac Dalpe