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Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver Canucks: Should Kyle Wellwood Be Replaced When Daniel Sedin Comes Back?‏

Vancouver CanucksKyle Wellwood has not had a good first quarter of the season this year for the Vancouver Canucks. He has one assist in seventeen games this season, only seventeen shots on net and has looked lost out there. While there is something to be said for the fact that coach Alain Vigneault has not had many talented wingers to play with him, he hasn’t even generated as much as a sniff at the net. He has played with Alex Burrows and Mikael Samuelsson the last two games and still hasn’t done much. It’s been very disappointing to watch.

At the start of last season, when Wellwood came to training camp out of shape and unable to keep up with the play, fans were understandably wondering why Canucks GM Mike Gillis picked the former Toronto Maple Leaf up off of waivers. He had a modicum of success on the Leafs with Mats Sundin, but he never really gelled with that team either. However, he played himself onto the Canucks by paying close attention to the diet that the team put him on, putting forth the extra effort required to get back into Vigneault’s good graces. He was sent down early because his play was lackluster, but an emergency call-up brought him back up to the Canucks, and he lit it up. Starting the season as the Canucks’ leading scorer certainly helped keep him out of the doghouse. While his play tailed off considerably through the middle and end of the season, he went through a rebirth in the playoffs. He didn’t score much, but he became a serviceable third-line centre. He played with energy and enthusiasm, and made many fans believe that just maybe the player who some fans derisively called “Wellfed” might actually be a fixture on this year’s Canucks team.

Over the summer, he kept to his diet and worked to maintain his NHL shape, even losing some pounds. Everybody hoped that this meant he would be a bit faster on the puck, and the hands that he showed last year would help him put the puck in the net on a more consistent basis. Or at the very least be able to dish off to his wingers for some nice assists. He had a great preseason as well, and while preseason success can’t necessarily be considered as a sign of what the regular season will bring, it was hoped that Wellwood would continue that success.

Instead, the exact opposite has happened. He’s rarely involved with the play; he seems even more reluctant to go into the corners and his backchecking has generally returned to the way it was earlier in his career. When he tries to make a play, inevitably the pass is either in somebody’s skates or the move around the defenseman that he’s just tried ends up with a turnover. In tonight’s 8-2 rout of the Colorado Avalanche, Wellwood did not even register a point, only recording one shot. This was with 3:51 of power play time, too. Coach Vigneault seems to be giving him every chance to play out of this funk, with power play time, decent linemates (Burrows and Samuelsson), and 16:06 time on ice tonight. He’s just not doing the job.

Contrast this with Matt Pettinger, the 4th line centre/winger the Canucks signed when their injury situation hit Condition Red. He was brought in mainly to fill a forward role so the team could put Kevin Bieksa back on defense. He has two points in six games, including a goal, and has played with energy that has given that 4th line some spark. It doesn’t have to generate offensive spark, though two in six from a 4th liner is pretty good. It’s more of a matter of just getting pucks out of the defensive zone and getting a forecheck going. He’s been doing his job, and doing it well.

So what happens when Daniel Sedin returns next Friday, as expected? Ryan Johnson is playing his best hockey of the season after an extremely slow start. Rick Rypien always brings life to the line he’s playing on, even if he has limited offensive skills (though when he does score, they’re beauties). Tanner Glass has definitely earned his spot on the team, with more energy, just a little bit of offense and some toughness to complement Rypien. Darcy Hordichuk deserves a blog post all his own, but let’s just say he’s looking good in the press box right now. Can the Canucks afford the cap room to have two forwards in the press box? I don’t think so.

I like Wellwood. I like the talent that I know he has, though he hasn’t shown it this season. But it’s been 21 games. I feel bad suggesting this, but maybe it’s time he head down to the Moose. The way he’s playing now, there’s no way anybody takes him. And even if they do, it might be a blessing. Maybe he just needs a change in scenery. Whatever it is, and one way or another, it’s time for Wellwood to go.

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3 comments for “Vancouver Canucks: Should Kyle Wellwood Be Replaced When Daniel Sedin Comes Back?‏”

  1. We had a similar issue with Jonathan Cheechoo - he scores 50 goals one year, then never produces much worth mentioning the following two seasons. After the early playoff exit last year many of the veterans reported a month early to start work on this year’s campaign - and Cheechoo is rumored to have reported to camp over weight. Sometimes, potential isn’t good enough…

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | November 15, 2009, 3:19 pm
  2. Yeah, but at least Cheechoo had some very good seasons! Wellwood lived for a long time last year on his awesome start. He’s never had a good full season.

    And now I’m wondering if he ever will.

    Posted by histNo Gravatar | November 15, 2009, 3:34 pm
  3. [...] guy is on fire over the last three games, and his play improved noticeably even before that. I suggested that he be sent down to Manitoba on November 15, and his play picked up quite a bit after that. Coincidence? I think [...]

    Posted by Another NHL Hockey Blog Article from penaltykill.net | Vancouver Canucks: Why Is Everybody Panicking? | December 2, 2009, 3:15 pm

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