Darren Dreger’s been making the radio rounds of late and today, while appearing on Ottawa’s TSN 1200, among many notes the NHL insider discussed was the suggestion that Vancouver bench boss Willie Desjardins could soon find himself on the hot seat if the Canucks can’t right the ship in short order. Dreger was clear that he didn’t believe that was the case as of this moment but the organization believes it has a roster capable of making the playoffs and if the team falls further out of the race, they could decide to make a change behind the bench.
“I’m not suggesting he’s on the hot seat today as we have this conversation. But Jim Benning, the general manager, had a much higher view of where he thought this team was coming out of training camp. He told many that he believed that the Vancouver Canucks are a playoff team and would definitely contend for a playoff spot. And they’re not playing that way right now.”
The Canucks got off to a surprisingly strong start winning their first four games but have since lost five straight to even their record at 4 – 4 – 1. Offense. or rather a lack of, is the biggest issue in Vancouver as the team is last in the league in goal scoring, averaging just 1.78 per contest. Their power play is also among the worst in the NHL converting just 10.7% of their opportunities, which ranks 26th overall.
The team invested heavily in skilled Swedish winger Loui Eriksson, to the tune of a six-year, $36MM contract this offseason but the former Bruin has failed to find the back of the net in nine games with Vancouver. Bo Horvat leads the club in goals with four but only five players have tallied more than once this season. At the other end of the scoring spectrum, the New York Rangers lead the league averaging four goals per contest with 10 players who have at least two markers on the campaign.
Chris Nichols of Today’s Slapshot relays a quote from Pierre LeBrun indicating the Canucks would like to pull the trigger on a deal for a proven 20-goal scorer, assuming they can find a trade partner. They’ve been rumored to be in that market since the summer but aside from inking Eriksson the Canucks have done little in the way of adding impact offensive talent.
Desjardins is in his third season as coach of the Canucks and owns a career mark of 83 – 71 -19. He guided the team to a 101-point season and a second place finish in the Pacific Division in 2014-15, his first as bench boss. Last season, Vancouver dropped 26 points in the standings and placed sixth in their division. Prior to being hired in Vancouver, Desjardins served as head coach of the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate and guided them to the Calder Cup championship in 2014.
Elsewhere around the league:
- Mike Fisher, who was injured in Tuesday’s 5 – 1 win over Colorado, is being listed as day-to-day with an upper-body-injury, tweets Adam Vingan of The Tennessean. Fisher, who replaced Shea Weber as Nashville’s captain, is tied for second on the club in scoring with five points in eight games. Now in his 17th season in the NHL, Fisher has scored 261 goals with 287 assists in 1,024 contests.
- According to the NHL Department of Player Safety (Twitter link) Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tom Gilbert will face a hearing for his hit on Nick Ritchie of the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night. No penalty was assessed on the play but the league indicated the hearing is for boarding/charging. Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register provides an update on Ritchie and says the big winger won’t be in Anaheim’s lineup tonight as the Ducks host Pittsburgh. Gilbert has appeared in eight of L.A.’s 10 games this season and has recorded three points. Ritchie, meanwhile, has scored two goals and three points in 10 contests with Anaheim.
- The Arizona Coyotes have elected to keep rookie defenseman Jakob Chychrun on the roster instead of returning the 18-year-old blue liner to his junior team, according to Craig Morgan of Arizona Sports. As a result, Chychrun will burn the first season of his three-year entry-level contract. The Coyotes made a trade with Detroit during the 2016 entry draft to move up four spots to select Chychrun and so far has rewarded management’s faith. Chychurn has averaged 17:15 of ice time and has three points in eight games so far.