A couple of interesting things happened over the last few days for the Vancouver Canucks – neither of them particularly good. First, the Canucks great Elias Pettersson scored a power-play goal in Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. It isn’t the loss to the Ducks that concerns me – well, it does; however, that’s not my major concern. I’ll talk more about that later.
Second, Micheal Ferland was shut down for the remainder of the season because he hasn’t been able to overcome the concussion symptoms he’s been experiencing almost all season. Canucks’ fans know how troubling concussions can be. One of the team’s favorite sons – Sven Baertschi –played only 26 games last season suffering from concussions and this season was then demoted to the Utica Comets in December. Concussions can be really tough, and Baertschi might not make it back.
Pettersson’s Lack of Scoring Comes with a Reason
At first, it would seem that Pettersson’s scoring a goal – even in a loss – would be a good thing. But the problem is that he should be scoring more goals. This goal was on the power play (where he has more room to move around) and was only his third goal in 12 games.
For Pettersson, that’s a dry spell. And, from what I can see as I watch the Canucks’ games, it’s a dry spell that happening for a reason. He is constantly getting roughed up during games. He’s a bit like the Edmonton Oilers’ great Connor McDavid in that regard – he doesn’t draw nearly as many penalties as he should.
The 21-year-old Swede still is on a point-a-game streak with 58 points in 58 games, but I believe he should be scoring more. He’s an asset to the team, but he an asset that could be cashing in greater dividends than he is. And that’s where the genesis of this post came from. I believe that if he had the protection he’d be doing better.
Specifically, I believe the Canucks need a “policeman” or a “body-guard” to protect their young superstar before he gets beaten out of the NHL. I believe his play has declined because I think he’s hurt worse than anyone would ever admit because in this NHL admitting an injury draws opponents constant abuse for that injury. Like it or not, if it’s known you have a shoulder injury, that shoulder will be targeted over and over again.
Micheal Ferland’s Out for the Season
This is where Ferland’s not being able to play hurts the team so much. I’m sure that when general manager Jim Benning picked up Ferland he thought he would be that pin-balling, hard-hitting forward who would protect Pettersson. Obviously, now that he’s shut down for the season, he can’t do that. And the Canucks suffer for that lack of his presence on the ice.
It’s not that Ferland didn’t try and keep trying. He moved to Utica after sitting out for much of the season for a conditioning stint, but he simply couldn’t go. He left the Comets’ game on Friday with concussion-like symptoms.
Ferland had been out since Dec. 10 with what was called an upper-body injury. Although it wasn’t called a concussion, it was severe enough to have cost him two months of playing time. And, how the word is that he’ll be forced to engage in a much longer recovery. He still has what are called “recurring concussion-like symptoms” and those will cause him to miss the rest of the season.
Ferland will likely be placed on long-term injured reserve, and that move clears roster space for the Canucks’ newest player Tyler Toffoli, who the team picked up yesterday. Brock Boeser was ruled out for eight weeks and Toffoli was brought in to take his place for now.
Is Wayne Simmonds the Right Choice?
Here’s where Wayne Simmonds comes into the picture. He’s a big, rough forward who plays with an edge. He’d provide exactly the kind of protection Pettersson needs. And, because the New Jersey Devils will continue to be sellers as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches, Wayne Simmonds will be among the trade candidates. There’s simply no reason for the Devils to keep the rugged 31-year-old winger because he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in July.
On February 13, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported trade speculation that linked Simmonds to the Vancouver Canucks. Now that Micheal Ferland’s status has been settled, that makes a player like Simmonds even more valuable to the Canucks. However, should Simmonds be the person the Canucks go after?
Where Does This Leave the Canucks?
Now that the Canucks have traded for forward Tyler Toffoli, finding sufficient salary cap space will be an issue even if the Devils retained much of Simmonds $5-million annual salary. Still, I believe the team’s need is great for a policeman for Pettersson. He’s being treated roughly by his opponents and he needs, more or less, a bodyguard.
I’m pretty sure the Canucks’ organization agrees. Recently head coach Travis Green noted that his star was being abused and that no one was calling it.
Green noted, “I’m so frustrated with it. This guy is one of the best young players in the league. He gets hit and he’s totally defenseless … it’s two seconds after he lets go of the puck. I’ve watched it a couple of times.”
Green added, “it’s frustrating for me as a coach to see some of the abuse he takes, where (it) doesn’t get called and he works through this … I know he’s not the biggest guy, but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of a player that’s not ready to be hit. It’s very late. That should have been a penalty all day long.”
Green’s been through this last season with his young star. In a game in October 2018, Pettersson was injured when he was targeted by Florida Panthers’ defenseman Mike Matheson who had just been embarrassed by Pettersson on a play that fooled the Panthers’ player. Matheson responded by following Pettersson behind the goalie and boarding him. A concussion resulted.
There The Canucks Stand
So far, no trade for the Canucks to protect Pettersson. Although I’m not privy to what’s going on in the organization, so I cannot know what management is thinking. But I think the Canucks need to protect the team’s young star. If they don’t, he’s likely will suffer more than he needs. I’m looking forward to seeing what the team does prior to February 24.
So, to answer the question posed at the start of this post, I don’t think the Canucks can be interested in Wayne Simmonds. However, another player with those same attributes would be quite a catch for the team.
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