July 30 2009 05:19PM
The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they have re-signed Kyle Wellwood to a 1-year, $1.2m deal. With the top six forwards effectively set, this creates a log jam of players on the third line.
Something's gotta give... And soon.
The list of top six forwards for the Canucks appears to be set. Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Mikael Samuelsson, Pavol Demitra, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows have all but locked up the top two lines. As well, the fourth line of Hordichuk, Johnson and Rypien appears to remain unchanged from the end of last season.
With Wellwood re-signing and with the emergence of Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner, there seems to be too few spots for too many players. Wellwood, Hodgson, Steve Bernier, Mason Raymond, and possibly Grabner would all slot into the third line.
So who's out?
The Canucks management and coaching staff are bullish on Hodgson. To me, its a foregone conclusion that he's playing this season. Wellwood just re-signed and everyone seems to really like the strides he made last season, especially when he switched roles late in the season, and had an effective playoff. Bernier is a big presence who uses his size well. His problem is his lack of finish, but we'll hope and pray that can be rectified this season. I believe that the Canucks third line in 2009-2010 will feature Hodgson centering Wellwood and Bernier.
That leaves Raymond and Grabner battling for the 13th forward. The healthy scratch award.
Right now, I think the club is more interested in getting Grabner into the line-up and playing big league minutes.
Mason Raymond is the odd man out. Maybe it is the Canucks' system, maybe it's nerves, maybe it's the inability to find the right role for him, but Mason Raymond just has not hit his potential here in Vancouver. His development has stalled and he has simply failed to take a step up in his game.
If you were going to keep Grabner or Raymond right now, who would you keep? You would keep Grabner - he is younger and has more potential upside as an potent offensive weapon. Raymond has sputtered along through his time in Vancouver and appears to be close to being squeezed out.
Look for Raymond to be traded this season. I hope that Mike Gillis can step and finally make a worthwhile trade for the Canucks. For those keeping score at home, Gillis has yet to make a single, significant trade during his entire tenure as Canucks' GM. Not one.
Well here's his chance.
Time to step up to the plate, Mike. Start swinging a deal.