Yesterday, I received the unfortunate news of my grandpa's passing. Even though he was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, today's post goes out to him.
C&B: Like the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks power play hasn’t had a great start to the year turning one of eighteen power plays into goals. How big of a concern is that for the Canucks?
NM: I think it's something that they're working on, but as far as it being a huge concern, no. The common opinion among those that follow the team is that there's something missing, and that's the presence of Yannick Weber on the PP. He was dynamite for them in the time they did give him last season, but hasn't been able to crack the lineup so far this season. That and Radim Vrbata being snakebit so far are the only real concerns as far as I can see, but they'll work themselves out.
C&B: Many people are questioning the Canucks this season with many saying it’s time for a "rebuild". Do you think the Canucks need to tank to get better? Not at all, as they have been in a re-tooling process for a while now. One could even argue it started before they parted ways with Mike Gillis, and while most of the focus at the end was on the disastrous time with John Tortorella behind the bench, the Cory Schneider trade, panned by so many netted them Bo Horvat, who will be one of the building blocks for the future with the Canucks. I still think they might have been better off missing the post-season last year, not tanking but just getting a better draft position to help re-stock the cupboard, but there's some definite hope for the future. Just the fact that they've started the year with three rookies in Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann and the surprising Ben Hutton shows they're starting to work their recent picks into the plan to have them succeed the Sedins in the next few years.
C&B: Jake Virtanen had certainly gotten some Oilers fans fired up in the preseason with his hit on Connor McDavid. Where do you see him fitting in in the future?
NM: Right in McDavid's grill every time they meet the Oilers MUWAHAHAHAHA!! Honestly, that whole thing was much ado about nothing. Clean hit, and unless you're new to hockey in general, and especially at a tournament like the Young Stars event, that's gonna happen. And trust me, Oilers fans: you need to pace yourselves. Getting bent out of shape over clean hits will tire you out, and no one will care if and when someone takes a legit dirty run at him. We've thankfully moved past the days where they actually needed guys like Semenko and McSorely out there to protect the Gretzky's of the world. He's not a wilting violet, and has shown he can take care of himself. Anyway, back to Virtanen. The kid really seems to have all of the skills one needs to make and stay in the NHL, and spent a lot of time in the offseason working on his skating, so much so that he's now added some pretty decent speed to a hard-nosed, two-way game. He had a really good camp, and is now doing what he can to avoid getting sent back to junior after his first nine games.