Team Overview: I have good news and I have bad news. First, the bad news, Vancouver’s defensemen are among the worst collective unit in the entire game. Now, for the good news, the forwards might be the best unit in the league on both sides of the puck. The forwards are so good in fact, that they can easily overwhelm any team in the league and be an unstoppable force.
Forwards: Even the most insatiable thirst for speed can be quenched by the Vancouver forwards as they are the only team in the league that can ice 3 skaters with 5+ speed. While they aren’t the most skilled unit in the league, there is still plenty of talent to fill the back of the net with great ease.
Slash and Burn:
Cliff Ronning: 5 weight, 5/5 skating, 2/3 shot, 4 sth & pass, 4/3 aware, Shoots: L
A plucky winger, Ronning is a pain in any opponents behind because of his ability to check, carry the puck, and skate like the wind. Sure, his shot ratings are pretty lackluster, he’ll never blow a slapper by a legitimate goalie, but he’s got just enough accuracy to be a useful one timer option from inside the face-off dots. Ronning is really the ideal support player for a superstar such as Pavel Bure. He can support Bure on offense with solid passing skills and is easily able to keep up with Bure’s frantic pace. Also, if Bure goes solo, Ronning is very capable of manning the fort on a counter attack and laying waste to the attackers.
Pavel Bure: 5 weight, 5/6 skating, 4/4 shot, 5 sth, 4 pass, 5/4 aware, Shoots: L
Speed, kills. That attribute alone may make Bure the single most dominant one-on-one force in the league...yes, perhaps even more so than JR. Give me a chance to explain myself here. Only two players in the league can consistently C check Bure, Andrei Kovalenko and Theo Fleury. Aside from that, the best way to stop Bure is with the poke check. It is a lot harder to stop Bure’s 6 speed than Roenick’s 5 speed with a poke, that and that alone is why I think Bure is tougher to stop with the puck on his stick. Bure is much more than just a deker though, he is a very complete player. He has the tools to snipe one timers and slappers from distance as well as play a dominating defensive game, especially against heavier teams. No doubt, Bure is a top 3 player.
Geoff Courtnall: 7 weight, 5/5 skating, 3/3 shot, 4 sth & pass, 4/3 aware, Shoots: L
The final burner of the line, Courtnall is the least effective of the three, but that isn’t to say he is ineffective. Courtnall can tend to get lost in the grand scheme of things due to Bure’s offensive acumen and Ronnings two-way dominance. He is yet another dangerous option with the puck on his stick due to his superb skating and playmaking abilities. While not the most gifted of goal scorers, he is plenty able to slice through an unsuspecting defense and light the lamp consistently if the opponent focuses too much on Bure and Ronning. Defensively Courtnall isn’t the best defender by any means, but he is plenty able to stay involved in a play or run down breakaways by C checking a heavier player or obstructing a lighter player with a poke check or hold.
While some people may see all the speed on this line as a bit redundant, it really isn’t. There is a good reason why every 5 speed player not named Kevin Dineen or Randy Wood get drafted in the first 2-3 rounds of the GDL draft. It’s because speed is a rare commodity in the game, a commodity that can flat out dominate. Having three light, skilled players with 5+ speed can spell doom for the opponent if used competently.
Three Pronged Attack:
Trevor Linden: 9 weight, 4/4 skating, 4/4 shot, 4 sth & pass, 4/4 aware, Shoots: R
Here we have our resident slug for the one-timing crowd out there. Linden isn’t the most adept player in the league in finding the slot, but he does it plenty well enough to give the Canucks a very solid scoring option down the middle while he is flanked by some speedy wingers. You couldn’t really ask for a more ideal situation to put Linden in if Bure and Ronning are used in a playmaking capacity because the defense will have to respect the speed on the wing which should give Linden all the chances he needs to unleash his respectable one-timer. A bit of a black hole on defense, he does at least have decent skating in which to try to keep up and stay involved defensively on the fore check or a C check into the boards.
This is a really fun line to use because Bure can now use his slapper to offset his net crash and floating tactics. Also if Bure gets clamped down he can now feed a dangerous shooter, an option the previous line didn’t have before. Ronning plays the same role as before except for maybe focusing a bit more on the defensive side of the puck now due to losing a small weight and speed advantage that was previously had with Courtnall’s presence.
Other Options: Vancouver actually has some nice depth here, while these guys may never come into duty during a classic game, they usually come into play in GDL leagues to provide a solid first option off the bench.
Murray Craven: 6 weight, 3/3 Skating, 3/4 shot, 3 sth & pass, 4/3 aware, Shoots: L
If Craven is starting in the GDL, he is probably being asked to do a little too much, but he just might yet prove useful still due to his ability to set up shop nicely in the offensive zone and use his slightly above average shot. Craven is more ideal as a first option off the bench because he is a little on the slow side and not a super light weight that can throw his body around too aggressively. What makes him even harder to use on Vancouver is that he just does not keep up with the flow of the game at all and will easily be forgotten.
Greg Adams: 7 weight, 3/3 skating, 3/5 shot, 3 sth & pass, 4/4 aware, Shoots: L
This looks a little familiar to Craven, but this is more of a Chris Kontos wannabe. An able sniper when given the chance, but Adams chances are limited due to his porous skating and non-genius level awareness. He could fill in for Linden if he gets injured, but he might be a little too slow for Bure and Ronning to feed effectively. Again, another useful option off the bench, but some obvious warts keep him out of the starting lineup.
Anatoli Semenov: 7 weight, 3/3 skating, 3/3 shot, 3 sth & pass, 3/4 aware, Shoots: L
Could there be a more ho-hum player than Semenov? Semenov provides nothing attention grabbing, but he won’t sabotage a team with his play either. He could be a solid penalty killer and depth off the bench in the GDL.
Petr Nedved: 5 weight, 2/2 skating, 2/6 shot, 3 sth & pass, 4/3 aware, Shoots: L
Likely one of the most uniquely rated players in the entire game, Nedved is the complete all or nothing package. His weight and shot accuracy would give the indication that he could be an extremely useful player, especially in the middle where he could torture opposing goalies. Things really start to fall apart soon though once his speed and shot power are taken into account. Man that shot power is bad, it limits him to being a dead eye from inside the face-off dots, but at that point, who isn’t a dead eye from there? Could be a solid 5th Forward for a GDL team if his wretched skating can be overcome.
Dixon Ward: 9 weight, 2/3 skating, 3/5 shot, 2 sth & pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: R
Looking for a non toxic waste sniper to fill the 6th forward slot on your GDL roster? Ward just might be the answer...but let’s not get carried away. Ward’s weight, lack of skating and awareness make him a very mediocre option down the middle, but if your top sniper goes down and you need a 3/5 shot in the middle, Ward could possibly do his best Stephen Lebeau impression for a period.
If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Vancouver really has a dynamic front line, this is where the Canucks bread will be buttered if it is to make a championship run.
Defense: How about them Canucks forwards huh? Is it ok if I just keep rambling on about them? What’s that you say? Seriously? Fine, I’ll talk about their defense. It isn’t catastrophically bad like say the Isles defense is, but let’s face facts, the Canucks defenders just barely pass the smell test.
Jyrki Lumme: 7 weight, 4/3 skating, 2/1 shot, 4 sth & pass, 3/4 aware, Shoots: L
Hey!? What's this? All right, this isn’t so bad, a borderline #1 D-man option with some pretty nifty passing ability which will come in handy for those long homerun passes to the speedy forwards. While not a major physical presence, Lumme is fairly positionally sound and is still able to abuse heavyweights with a C check and hopefully hound some of the lighter/faster forwards with his decent agility. Just don’t get too brash with him when he has the puck on his stick. Lumme is a bit on the heavy and slow side for an attacking defenseman. Also, his shot is just plain laughable, Guy Hebert does not fear it.
Doug Lidster: 9 weight, 3/3 skating, 3/1 shot, 4 sth & pass, 2/3 aware, Shoots: R
Nothing too alluring here, Lidster is a fairly standard heavyweight defenseman minus the booming shot of an Al Iafrate or Dave Manson. Lidster is mainly starting because there just isn't anything that worthwhile behind him to push him out of the lineup. All that can be said here is to try and keep Lidster in a defensive position, he doesn’t have the tools to lead a rush nor should he considering the talent on the rest of the roster. All we ask for is a D-man who treads water and uses his plus passing to start some offense from the back.
Ok, so maybe the Canuck defense isn't THAT bad, but you can't help but be a little disappointed that it at least isn't a little closer to the talent of the forwards. If it were, the Canucks would easily be the best team in the game.
Adrien Plavsic: 7 weight, 2/2 skating, 2/2 shot, 2 sth & pass, 3/3 aware, Shoots: L
When lined up against a fat goal scoring slug in the middle, Plavsic is a capable defender because of his light weight and propensity to sit back in his own zone. When asked to mark the likes of a Selanne, Roenick, or Mogilny though, Plavsic quickly becomes a turn-style due to his lack of skating and checking power. With the puck, Plavsic is going to have major issues kick starting the offense with his skating or a homerun pass down the ice, he only gets mentioned because he is the lightest option on the Canuck D-corps.
While this isn't a heavy hitting duo, they can throw some weight around if the likes of a Turgeon, Sandstrom, or Hull is iced in the middle. Lumme though is the only legitimate option with the puck on his stick and this might slow down the frantic Canuck attack a little more than desirable.
Other Options: A couple of average skating, puck pounding fatties round out the useable portion of the Canucks defensive depth chart.
Dana Murzyn: 9 weight, 2/3 skating, 4/1 shot, 2 sth & pass, 2/3 aware, Shoots: L
The lighter of the two options, Murzyn is a pretty sub-standard option skill wise aside from that powerful shot. If shot power is a major concern, then he may be a very slight upgrade over Doug Lidster in that regard.
Gerald Diduck: 10 weight, 3/3 skating, 4/1 shot, 3 sth & pass, 2/3 aware, Shoots: R
Despite being the heaviest D-man mentioned, he may prove useful due to his shot and upgraded passing and stick handling ratings over Murzyn. Overall though, Diduck is a major stretch as a starting defenseman and will have to be sheltered by his teammates to cover up his glaring weaknesses.
Goalie Zone: The epitome of average, the goaltending situation in Vancouver lies somewhere between the greatness of the forwards and the mediocrity of the defense.
Kirk McLean: 8 weight, 4/4 skating, 4/4 aware, 4 puck control, 4/4/3/3 save, Catches: L
McLean is a standard goalie, he will occasionally make a quality save and then follow it up with a solid muff dive on a routine shot. There is no reason to make a stretch pick in the GDL for McLean, there are a handful of other goalies that are just like him.
Goalie Rating: 6/10
Bottom Line: The Canucks win and lose with their speed. If they can dominate the puck possession and create useful chances on offense, they are an incredibly dangerous team that can become unstoppable. The flipside of that though, is that if the speed isn’t productive, this quickly becomes one of the most disjointed teams in the league and can easily get throttled.