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If Vrbata is ‘a good fit with the Sedins,’ what do the Canucks do with Burrows?

Jul 3, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

Radim Vrbata signed with the Vancouver Canucks for a few reasons, but a “chance to play with the Sedins” was the one he mentioned first in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

“If you play with players like the Sedins, you know you’ll get your chances,” Vrbata said. “I was looking for a good fit.”

Shortly thereafter, on another conference call, Canucks general manager Jim Benning delivered a similar message: “I think he’s a good fit with the Sedins.”

A right-handed shot, Vrbata scored a career-high 35 goals for the Coyotes in 2011-12. He scored 20 times last season, including 10 times with the man advantage. In theory, he’s the kind of cerebral winger — a guy who can play the give-and-go game — who should, in fact, be a fit with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.

When asked what he liked about Vrbata, Benning mentioned his “real good hockey sense and hands.” He also likes that Vrbata has “finish,” something the Canucks had very little of in 2013-14, when they had the 11th-most shots in the NHL, and the 28th-most goals.

But the signing of Vrbata does beg a rather big question in Vancouver — what do the Canucks do with the Sedins’ regular winger, Alex Burrows, a 33-year-old who has three years remaining on an $18 million contract, one that comes complete with a no-trade clause?

Benning suggested Burrows could be moved to Vancouver’s second line, with new addition Nick Bonino in the middle and either Zack Kassian or Jannik Hansen on the other wing.

“We want to have balance amongst our four lines,” Benning said. “We want to have scoring depth.”

Key word there: depth.

Looking at a Canucks’ roster that’s been bolstered by the additions of Bonino, as well as forwards Derek Dorsett and Linden Vey, this year’s training camp should be a competitive one, with no shortage of youngsters (and veterans) hungry to show Benning and new coach Willie Desjardins something. At this point, prospects Nicklas Jensen, Bo Horvat, and Hunter Shinkaruk are far from guaranteed a spot on the opening-day roster.

As for Burrows, well, he’s got a lot to prove, too, after a nightmarish 2013-14 that saw him fight injuries and bad luck, all while playing in a John Tortorella-coached system that Burrows would only call “a little different, that’s for sure.”

It was reported in May — after Tortorella was fired — that the coach had pushed management to buy out the undrafted former ECHLer who’s had three 20-plus-goal seasons, plus one 35-goal season, while playing with the Sedins.

At the very least, Burrows should have plenty of motivation on his side.

  1. Wineshard - Jul 3, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    After Burrows got his first goal he looked the old Burrows. He will be a decent top 6 forward again IMO.

    • ikillchicken - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      I agree. People often try to dismiss Burrows as a mere grinder who happens to play with the Sedins but the truth is, he has a pretty solid offensive skillset on his own. He has great hands and a solid shot and explosiveness up the ice. He’s pretty capable of being a solid if perhaps not exceptional 2nd line winger purely on his own merits.

    • hsnepsts - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      The year before Burrows was paired with the Sedins, he led the league in shorthanded goals (5). He sure didn’t kill penalties with the Sedins.

      For the first 2 years paired with the Sedins, Burrows wasn’t on the first pp unit. His 2 20-goal seasons were both 20 even strength goals – which is extremely good. If he’d been on the first unit (instead of Samuelsson and Kesler), he would have had 3 35-goal seasons or more.

      His goal scoring record stands on its own merit.

      And he checks, kills pp, is the best forward to play defense in a pinch, is really coachable, never mails it in, never complains about ice time or roles or pp time or salary, and is great in the locker room.

      Burrows is on the decline now – big time. But I still think he was one of the most underrated player in the league during the canucks heyday.

  2. bigtganks - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    After the rumor of then asking AB to waive his NTC and he said no, I’m sure they told him “well, we’re looking to sign a linemate for the twins and that pushes you down a spot or two, so just FYI”. So I’m assuming Burrows knows about all this…

  3. bleedrangerblue - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    Speculation. Why???

  4. mckoen8319 - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Burrows is one if the best penalty killers in the NHL, when not injured. That’s where they can use him???

    • thesportsjudge - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      Until the league starts enforcing diving, I don’t suspect Vancouver will be on the PK much.

  5. bhglennie - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    It takes more than 2 lines to get to the play-offs, too bad Santorilli is gone.

  6. bleedrangerblue - Jul 3, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    No answer. Explains it all

  7. bleedrangerblue - Jul 3, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Brough is a no…

  8. leepetertk - Jul 3, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    Burrows has survived a number of challenges to the Sedin shotgun position. In his most successful year with the twins, he split time with Mikael Samuelsson and they both hit 30 goal marks. I suspect the Canucks will use both Vrbata and Burrows at times with the Sedins next season. It gives the Sedins options, left or right shooting wingers. Sombody they know very well, and somebody they don’t. Vrbata has shown to be streaky at times so Burrows can still be a viable option for the Sedins. One thing Vrbata has been good at is getting shots on net. Mikael Samuelsson liked shooting from all angles and putting as many shots on net as he could.

    If Canucks management thinks last year fortunes were mostly Tortorella’s coaching style, then it stands to think Burrows will also have a bounce back season.

  9. dolphincult - Jul 3, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Prove em all wrong Alex. I’m not a canuck fan but I will freely admit I like Alex Burrows. I am sure if he waived the no trade clause the canucks would be fielding calls.

  10. scout202sport - Jul 4, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    When are the Canucks going to give up on the Sedin experiment? Yes, they can play hockey but they aren’t even close to being game changers. Canucks need to realize that they are in the Western Conference and will need to roll 4 lines on a consistent basis instead of this theory of a powerhouse line and then let the other three play defense. Pretty much every team in the West got better and the Canucks,while they have made some decent moves, are still nowhere close to being a Cup contending team.

    • notan9ner - Jul 4, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      I bet everyone said that about the kings in 2012… look how that turned out.

      fact is u never know could be anyones year.

  11. pj608 - Jul 4, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Get rid of him??? hes getting paid a lot to do very little

  12. canada2014gold - Jul 4, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    The salary is not an issue as Van is not a hot destination and they have cap room. But honestly we need to get rid if the “yappy 3” . Lapps, kesler and now Burrows. This team needs to go in a new direction and he reeks of 2011, that time was great but rebuilding you need to go in a new direction. I think his spot would be better off served by a young gun

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