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BLITZ 07 TEAM REVIEW - VANCOUVER - A LEAGUE

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VANCOUVER CANUCKS - BLITZ 07 A LEAGUE

COACH: HOKKEEFAN2

TEAM LINK: http://www.blitz94.com/draftab/rosterinfo.asp?team=VAN

TEAM OVERVIEW

This is a roster that has retained just 3 of the players that finished 6th in the Blitz 06 B league before running Kupuck's Quebec to 7 games in the first round of the playoffs. There's been a huge turnover of players in Vancouver during the draft process thanks to Hokkee's famous "Wheeling & Dealing", and, having moved up to the A league for Blitz 07 the Canucks will be hoping the changes are good enough to compete with the very best.

The roster looks to be lacking major star power, and you have to wonder if Hokkee may regret moving on a couple of major players during the draft process, but what he has done is put togather a team with great balance, plenty of muscle & players in every position that could gel nicely to become more than the sum of their parts.

Their season looks in the balance in terms of whether they may be able to get to the playoffs. They'll probably need to be at their defensive best against the big A league names, whilst taking good points from the teams around them. As always, a Hokkeefan season is sure to be an interesting ride.

TEAM MAKE-UP

Only backup goalie Glen Healy, big hitting defenseman Doug Zmolek and Hokkee favourite Derek King have survived from Blitz 06. Whilst Healy isn't going to get much of a look in Zmolek & King are 2 nice players who will contribute to this team. First of all Zmolek. With his 12 weight he's a huge hitter. The biggest on the team by some distance, and therefore will be an important member of the team this season. His 2/2 skating & 2 passing are pretty dire, but due to NHL rulings making it illegal to construct a brick wall in front of the net, Zmolek is just about the next best thing. He's not going to do anything pretty, but the slightest touch is going to see 99% of forwards go down.

King was given his first regular place in any Blitz team by Hokkee last season, and he repaid him with 63 points for the Canucks, 50 of them goals thanks to his awesome 4/5 shot! It was his breakout Blitz season and this Canucks cult hero will be looking for more of the same in the Blitz 07 A league. His 3/2 skating and 2 passing leaves a lot to be desired, but give him a scoring chance and he laps it up.

So, onto this new look roster. 3 of last seasons 4 top scorers have gone: Mike Modano (73 points), Sergio Momesso (74) points and Luc Robitaille (48 points). There are 125 goals that need replacing between them.........so who we got? Well, first up, probably the biggest name on this season Canucks roster: Petr Klima. He was actually part of a deal that saw him arrive in Vancouver along with Zarley Zalapski in return for Pavel Bure going to San Jose.......bearing in mind that ZZ has since moved on again, was this a good deal for the Canucks? Klima is elite, with 2.351 points per game, although he is coming off a career worst season with Toronto (63 points). With his 5/5 speed and 4/5 shot he's got some major weapons, and will be Vancouver's most likely scorer this season. Not in Bure's territory, but an elite sniper that any team would be delighted to have.

Backing him up will be Mike Ridley & Wendel Clark, giving this team a big, physical look on offence. Ridley is 9 weight, and with 4/4 skating, 3/4 shooting and 4 passing he does everything well. In every season he's played regularly he's been up around 2 points per game. Without question an excellent addition to the roster. Wendel Clark is another popular choice with '94 coaches, thanks mainly to his big 5/3 shot. When this booming slapper hits the target you'd better have had your manual goalie ready, because not too many auto's make the save from this guy. His 3/3 skating and 4 passing is useful, and at 8 weight he's tough to force off the puck, but it's the big slap shot that makes him stand out from the crowd and brings in about 1.1 points per game throughout his Blitz career.

The Ridley, Klima, Clark line, backed up by King looks pretty potent, even if they're not the biggest names. The only issue might be how productive Ridley can be, because he's probably going to be forced onto the left wing to accomodate Clark's big shot, thus eliminating his own slapper. Will that prevent him from reaching his own 2 points per game career average?

Completing the forward line are 2 more guys who look useful enough to get regular ice time. No slot on this roster has been wasted, and it gives Vancouver lots of different options. Completing the offence are two more big guys: Ed Olcyk and John MacLean. Olcyk has awesome career stats, going over 80 points in his last 5 seasons, and was part of the all-conquering San Jose B league champions in Blitz 06. With 4/3 skating, 4/3 shot and 4 passing he doesn't look elite, but his 9 weight makes him a real handful, and he's another player on the Vancouver roster that is up around 2 points per game in his career. This is yet another genuine choice the Canucks have when considering who starts this season.

"Yippee Kai-ay Muddy Funsters!" John MacLean signs up for the Blitz 07 Canucks, and is another 9 weight who doesn't "Die Easy". His 3/3 skating and 2 passing isn't too hot, but he does have a nice 4/3 shot. What this gun-toting, white-vested bad-ass (I have got the right John MacLean here right?) does offer is the 2nd biggest checking effect on the Canucks forward line, meaning he's a genuine option to bring on in the 3rd in an enforcer role to see out a tight game......"Now I have a puck too. Ho Ho Ho."

The forward line has lots of nice options, with every one of the 6 serving a genuine purpose...........question is, would you rather have had Pavel Bure there?

On D we have a similar question. Is this line better looking with Zarley Zalapski in it? Phil Housley is the elite name brought in to replace him, and he's backed up by Zmolek, who we've already mentioned, Jiri Slegr & Yves Racine. Whereas ZZ gives you great 2-way play, Housley is all about the offence. His 6 weight and 2 checking means you're relying on the poke check, and he struggles to take down the bigger forwards, but his skills are awesome: 6/5 skating, 6 stick handling and 6 passing mean he's a playmaker in the Gretzky realm! He has 203 assists in 264 career league games, and an excellent 78 goals despite his average 3/2 shot. Bursting through from deep Houysley causes havoc, setting up the forwards or going 1vs1 himself on the counter attack. An elite player, even if perhaps he's not an elite "defenseman". Yves Racine is another small Dman, but he doesn't possess Housley's skills. 3/3 speed and 3 passing with a 4/1 shot adds up to an average player, hampered by his 6 weight. hard to see he & Housley starting together, as they could well get over run by a big forward line. More likely is that Racine covers for Housley when he's injured. So how does Jiri Slegr stack up? Like Racine he's another averagely skilled Dman, with 3/3 skating and 3 passing, but at 10 weight he hits harder than Racine, in spite of his 2 checking. He's the more mobile option ahead of Zmolek, and my bet would be one of them will partner Housley to give him the defensive cover & physical support his play needs.

In goal Vancouver have a gem in Tommy Soderstrom. On the border between the elite goalies & the excellent goalies. He averages just under a 0.700 save % in his career, and is another solid player on this roster.

STARS

On offence it's Klima & his goals, on D it's Housley & his assists, in goal it's Soderstrom & his great skills. It makes for an exciting spine to this team that has lots of pĆ³tential.

WEAKNESES

You might question the elite scoring potential of this team after Klima, and the elite defending ability with Housley being much more an offensive player, so for me the biggest weaknesses here might just be the fact that they let two elite players go in Pavel Bure & Zarley Zalapski. Bure is a 2.800 points per game forward compared to Klima's 2.400 and Zalapski gives you great offensive play but with a bigger shot & better defending than Housley. Interesting to see how much those two will be missed.

PRE-SEASON PREDICTION - PLAYOFF CONTENTION

I'll be honest, I started this review thinking Hokkee had put together a stinker of a roster, with Klima the best rated forward at 76 overall, and Housley the only defenseman over a 60 rating..........but through the process of analysing the team it looks to have really nice balance. There's speed from Klima, great finishing from King, overall play from Ridley, a huge shot from Clark, regular points from Olcyk, superb support play from deep from Housley & a couple of big hitters in Slegr & Zmolek. Not to mention one of the game's strongest goal tenders.

This team adds up to more than the sum of it's parts. I love how deep the roster is, and the opportunity to roll out a couple of Die Hard jokes.

The Canucks season may well be decided by the guys that are not here. Will firstly moving Bure on deny Vancouver the goals to make the playoffs? Will swapping ZZ for Housley cost the goals to make the playoffs?

It's an interesting looking roster, and a definite sleeper option to make the playoffs. Don't take them too lightly, that's for sure.

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lol good write up as usual,I am changing my 94 name to Mr.500! I will be the usual dividing line between in or out,if you beat my record of .500 hockey your in ..usually and if you dont your out,then i usually get to play carse or frey or swos or icestorm or some other higher calibre player and put up a good fight ,then im out rd 1 .sigh...I will never learn :(

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