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Jeff Paterson: Deadline rehash

by Jeff Paterson / Vancouver Canucks

When assessing any trade deadline as it pertains to the Vancouver Canucks, it’s important to look at things from a couple of different angles.

One is what the Canucks did and how they feel they helped their cause. The other is what the teams around the Canucks did to bolster their playoff chances.

The Canucks made one of the moves they had to in acquiring defensive help in the form of Andrew Alberts from Carolina for a third round pick. Alberts is big, tends to his own zone reasonably well and he certainly can play.

He’s described as one of those guys who won’t ‘wow’ you and on many nights you may not notice him at all. He led a troubled Carolina team with a +7 rating. Say what you will about plus/minus, but when teammates are -27, the fact Alberts is on the positive side of the ledger has to tell you something about the job he was doing for the Hurricanes.

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So adding Andrew Alberts is an upgrade on the blueline now – in the absence of Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa – and even when the Canucks get back or close to full health.

The Canucks were unable to find anything ahead of the deadline that they felt was an upgrade for their bottom six forward mix. That will put pressure on the group they’ve got to elevate their games.

Teams that have success down the stretch and into the playoffs get contributions from more than their top six forwards. Look at last year’s Stanley Cup winners. It wasn’t Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin who were the difference makers on the road in Game 7 against Detroit.

It was Max Talbot – a 12-goal scorer in the regular season – who scored both Penguins goals including the winner in the Cup clincher. Talbot totaled eight goals in the playoffs last season including a pair of two-goal games in the Final. That’s the very definition of a depth forward stepping up and making his goals count.

Is there a Max Talbot lurking among the Vancouver Canucks bottom six forwards? The Canucks opted not to alter the look of their bottom six forwards hoping that Kyle Wellwood can find some consistency and some chemistry with Mikael Samuelsson. They have to be hoping that Steve Bernier can regain his scoring touch and that the likes of Tanner Glass, Jannik Hansen, Rick Rypien, Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk can chip in with the occasional goal.

It’s a risk. But it’s the risk the Canucks have decided to take.

When taking a step back and looking at how the Canucks fared at the deadline in relation to the teams around them and the teams that they’re battling with for playoff spots and positions in the Western Conference standings, it appears Deadline Day was a mixed bag.

Colorado certainly doesn’t appear to have improved itself in the short-term and may have taken a step back for the remainder of this year by jettisoning 17 goal, 47 point man Wojtek Wolski. So the day looks like a wash – or a slight bump to the Canucks - when it comes to the two front-runners in the race for the Northwest Division.

If you liked the Canucks chances of repeating as division champs prior to the deadline, then nothing much has changed that should sway your opinion. The Canucks should be buoyed by that fact and that should probably increase the urgency to clinch the division title and the trappings that go along with – home ice advantage and the fact that if the Canucks finish with the division lead it means they will have played well down the stretch.

However, in terms of the teams right around the Canucks in the Western Conference standings both Phoenix and Los Angeles made themselves better on Wednesday. The Coyotes were busy adding the likes of Wolski, Lee Stempniak and re-acquiring defenseman Derek Morris. The Kings bolstered their forward ranks with veterans Jeff Halpern and Fredrik Modin.

Both Phoenix and Los Angeles picked up pieces that should allow themselves to solidify their spots among the top teams in the conference and make a play to land that fourth seed and home ice in the opening round of the playoffs.

From this corner, it doesn’t appear anyone landed the knockout punch ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline. A number of good teams made themselves better and the Canucks did just enough to be included in that group.

If the Vancouver Canucks are going to go on a deep playoff run, they’ll be led by the veteran players they already had – Roberto Luongo, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Pavol Demitra, Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo and a handful of others.

Maybe that’s enough.

No one can be sure right now. But it won’t be long before we all find out.

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