Summer fill: A conversation with Vancouver Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct (part two)
We continue our conversation with Vancouver Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct today, fleshing out some defense related questions that apply to both clubs.
In case you missed part one, you can find it here.
Nucks Misconduct touched on a certain Finn named Sami Sami yesterday, and we're actually going to reprint that section of our Q and A, then throw up a pair of follow up questions that didn't make the edit of yesterday's post. Continuity is a beautiful thing.
Raw Charge: What has been your analysis of Sami Salo over the past few years? How has Vigneault generally played him and in what roles has he been most successful? Where has he had the most trouble?
Nucks Misconduct: We're big Salo fans. Everyone should be. Who isn't? Point to them. I bet they're from Calgary. Or Boston. You can't trust certain people unfortunately.
Ignoring age and durability, there isn't much to dislike about Salo's resume. Offensively he's the Finnish McInnis, a guy who in nine seasons notched 48 PPGs, making him the highest defensive PPG producer in Vancouver history. If Guy Boucher doesn't have him out there on a 5-on-3 or a 4-on-3, someone smack him. In the defensive zone he was a constant fixture for almost a decade, often times making those around him more responsible and outperforming his more notable peers like Willie Mitchell, Ed Jovanovski or Mattias Ohlund. Lastly, he's a quiet
and low-key guy, a trusted voice in the locker room and in the community.
Hey did I mention he took a Duncan Keith slapper to his testicles and returned to play 48 hours later? Most of us are crying just reading that sentence.
Vigneault used him on the second pairing with Alex Edler in addition to the PP and limited times on the PK. Anytime you need a responsible D man who can offer a strong shot to compliment the forwards, that's where he will shine. Unfortunately I believe his age is why Gillis offered nothing more than a one-year deal before Tampa scooped him up. I can't see him shouldering a top two or top four role anymore, but I suspect with Hedman, Carle, Brewer and Bergeron he won't have to.
tl;dr - Limit his time, let him tee it up and pray the injury gods don't drop a piano on his head. If so you'll be be quite happy with him.
From a fan perspective what'll be missed most about Salo?
From a fan perspective what'll be missed most about Salo? His shot and steady presence. He took a step back last season statistically but you could do worse on a third pairing (says a fan who stares at $4.5 million of Keith Ballard doing it) than Salo. I hope he stays healthy for you and can enjoy contributing in a more sheltered role.
And from where the Canucks are sitting, why are they better off without him (...besides being overpaid in his new contract)?
They got younger and his loss opens the door for others. Vancouver certainly wanted to keep Salo, but now instead of complimenting him Jason Garrison will be looked on to replace his efforts in the top four and on the scoreboard. Vancouver also sees big things for Ballard's current linemate Chris Tanev who it's hoped can blossom into a top-four option in addition to prospect Kevin Connauton who - like Salo - has a cannon for a shot and is getting rave reviews after stints with the Vancouver Giants, Manitoba Moose and Chicago Wolves.
Ah, yes former Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison signed a big free agent contract with you this off-season... How long a honeymoon period will he have if he doesn't live up to expectations immediately?
Honeymoons don't last long in Vancouver. Two years ago we were drunk with anticipation at the idea that Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard - both of who hadn't missed a game due to injury in eons - were on board. So what happened? By November 2010 both were injured and out of the line-up. So we know better than to assume the best. But if fans bemoan a potential scoring slump that means less to me than poor defensive work. If he transforms into Wade Redden overnight, that would be extremely disheartening. Vigneault already buried Ballard; it would be maddness to bury close to $9 million on your third pairing. I mean, it would be like having a $5.3 million back-up...goalie...*cries*
Ooh, that backup goalie... Yes, we'll touch on the subject of the 800 pound gorilla in the room tomorrow in part 3...