After Saturday night, there is no doubt that the Vancouver Canucks have to make some changes to boost their scoring. The Canucks went down 4-0 against the Edmonton Oilers, and it was ugly. Cory Schneider let in two goals on two shots and they were unable to utilize three powerplay opportunities, allowing too many odd man rushes in a game littered with sloppy plays. Although they had won six games in a row prior to this, their weaknesses and lack of strong offensive players showed through. In their first move to upgrade their offense, the Canucks have recalled Nicklas Jensen and Bill Sweatt from the Chicago Wolves and re-assigned Zack Kassian and Andrew Gordon.
“We wanted to change the dimension of our team a little bit,” assistant GM Laurence Gilman told the Vancouver Sun on Sunday. “We had won six games in a row going into last night, but our goaltending was exceptional. However, our scoring was down. These moves afforded us the opportunity to bring up a player with speed (Sweatt) and a player with skill (Jensen).” Out of all of the Canucks who played against Edmonton, the two with the least experience, Chris Tanev and Jordan Schroeder, played the best; Schroeder was one of only three players against Edmonton not on the ice for any of the goals against. Perhaps more young players and prospects can lead the Canucks to success.
Just under a week ago, Jensen was exciting Canucks faithful with a slick shootout goal against the Oklahoma City Barons. Now, they will likely finally be able to see him in action donning a Canucks’ jersey. Drafted as the Canucks’ first round pick 29th overall in 2011, Jensen has been successful playing for Herning Blue Fox in Denmark, the Danish World Junior team and the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. This season, in 11 games with the Wolves, Jensen has two goals and four assists.
“He is a highly regarded prospect in our organization,” Gilman said of Jensen. “He has a dynamic skill set, strong puck skills and has a NHL release. He had a reasonably productive year playing in the Swedish Elite League, we got him back to Chicago, got him grounded and this affords an opportunity for us to evaluate him at the NHL level.” Jensen can only appear in up to five games with Canucks so as not to burn out his entry-level contract.
As for Sweatt, this is his second time cracking into the Canucks’ lineup. In 2011 he played two games for the Canucks, recording no points or penalties and a total of 10:41 minutes of playing time. At 24 years old, Sweatt is having a fruitful season with the Wolves, recording 12 goals and 29 points in 56 games.
“We have played together a couple of games and he’s a good player,” Sweatt said of Jensen, as they have played together on the same line for the Wolves during their past three games. “He is solid and he is young and you can just tell that that there is a bright future for him. He has a lot of skill, he is still young and will fill out and become a bigger guy. He has got a lot potential, he has got a good shot and sees the ice well. He’s just an all-around solid player.”
As the Canucks try to recruit new goal scorers and players who can jump start the offense, they have eliminated those that have had little or no impact. In six games with the Canucks, Gordon had no points and two shots on net. He spent those six games playing on the fourth line alongside Tom Sestito and Maxim Lapierre. The 27 year old had played 10 games for the Wolves prior to playing with the Canucks.
As for Kassian, his offensive threat has dissipated and he has been out with a back injury. The last time he scored was January 30th against Colorado; the 22 year old had five goals in the first seven games of the season.
“We want him to get a little bit more ice time. He has been out for a little bit more than two weeks, on and off, and we felt for now he needed to play and we are going to send him down there,” head coach Alain Vigneault said of Kassian.
Jensen and Sweatt have been called up to help spark the offense, but for the Canucks to continue winning games and prevent more blowouts, there are several other problems that need to be addressed; the powerplay, which is ranked 30th overall at 12.8% is most in need of change. There may only be 13 games left to play, but the Canucks still have a long way to go.