Derek Dorsett : Expansion Target?

With the NHL Expansion Draft looming, fans like to ponder protection lists and who they may lose from their own stable of players from their favourite team. Some fans even like to start movements on Twitter with hashtags… “#exposeplayerX2017”.

In this post I will attempt to make a case for George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights to select Derek Dorsett from your Vancouver Canucks. Sure there are younger players for them to take, like Brendan Gaunce, Reid Boucher…..Mike Chaput…gasp!..but 30 year old Dorsett ticks a few boxes for the newest NHL club.

Before I go any further I will put it out there that this is all assuming that Dorsett will be deemed healthy enough to be exposed to Vegas. Dorsett has recently been on the ice pre practice but hasn’t had any physical contact yet as far as I know.

Below is what I believe will be the Canucks protected list.

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

Loui Eriksson

Brandon Sutter

Bo Horvat

Sven Baerstchi

Markus Granlund

Alex Edler

Chris Tanev

Erik Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom

With no room on this list to protect Dorsett, he is ripe for the picking. Let’s take a look at what qualities George McPhee may find valuable in a Dorsett selection.


Cap hit. Each team has to hit the cap floor and Dorsett helps Vegas get there with two more years remaining and a cap hit of $2,650,000. Big money to hand out to a 4th liner as many in Vancouver have pointed out since he got his shiny new deal from Jim Benning. While that deal looks bad in Vancouver, it might be appealing in Vegas.


Grit, sandpaper, truculence….call it what you like but Dorsett is an old school player and McPhee is an old school GM. I feel that McPhee would value having an abrasive player like Dorsett at his coach’s disposal to look after any younger players who they are surely going to throw into the lineup sooner than they’d like.


Speaking of young players, Dorsett sets the good example to young players about what it takes to be a pro at this level. Bo Horvat has spent more than a good amount of time with Dorsett on his wing in his first three years and I believe that Bo benefitted from the example that Dorsett leads on and off the ice. Dorsett is the kind of player the old school GMs love their kids to learn from. I would imagine that Derek would land a letter on his jersey…probably not a C…but likely an A.


The team will be in Vegas afterall and the coaching staff would probably appreciate having someone like Dorsett in the room and more importantly off the ice making sure their young players don’t get themselves into too much trouble. We heard at length from Vancouver management about how much stock they put in Dorsett as a “culture carrier” for their young guys.

Special teams…Dorsett has been a penalty killer for a good amount of his NHL career. Having a guy like Dorsett who can come in and be part of a group of penalty killers is another asset that I believe McPhee would see in this selection. The Golden Knights will be made up mostly of NHL cast offs with the odd decent player sprinkled in either via trades or the pure luck of another team being unable to get their expansion draft house in order in time. Because of this, the team will likely be prone to mistakes which result in taking a good deal of penalties and in Dorsett they land a guy who can at least make up part of the PK unit.

Lastly, Dorsett has been playing for years with a painful neck issue which he has just had surgically corrected. It is entirely possible that he has a “bounce back” year to a degree without having that painful neck injury nagging him constantly.

So there you have it. Does Derek Dorsett tick enough boxes to entice Vegas to use their Vancouver selection on him? Would Jim Benning be willing to swing a side deal with McPhee to ensure that Dorsett is indeed the player he selects? However it shakes out, the expansion draft is just one of the many upcoming events that will in some part shape next season’s Vancouver Canucks roster.


New Era…New Coach

Let me get this out of the way first.  This is not a Willie Desjardins hate piece.  I do not enjoy advocating for a man to be replaced in his chosen line of work.  I do think that Willie D has had some hand in the progression of Bo Horvat and other young Canucks despite what myself and many fans view as odd and often bizarre player deployment.

That said, with the way Jim Benning handled the trade deadline by finally moving out veteran pieces for younger assets, he signalled the “start” of a rebuild that he has been trying to chip away at since he arrived in Vancouver.  By keeping Desjardins around next year he would muddy the message all over again.  Whether it’s fair or not, Willie D was brought in to coach in two directions…develop younger players and give the old core another shot at the playoffs.

Now that someone has finally smelled the rebuilding roses, the team needs to bring in a new coach who knows that they are here to grow a young group…playoffs or not, come what may.  A coach who will willingly play his budding young players in different situations and keep playing them, warts and all.  A coach who won’t staple a young player to the bench the moment they make a mistake.  I’m not saying the coach shouldn’t hold players accountable, only that the coach should give these young players a little more leash..allow them to be creative if that’s the kind of player they are.  Let the player play to his strengths and help him improve where he needs to..but let him do it on the ice, not only in the weight room, video room or watching games from the pressbox.

This team is going to have some mediocre seasons ahead as they grow, but there are finally some pieces in the system to get excited about.  Sometimes young players make mistakes….guess what?…sometimes those mistakes make for exciting hockey.  Having a coach who will allow those exciting players to keep trying to make those plays might just entice a few more fans back into the building during what is sure to be a few years of growing pains.  Bringing in a new coach cements a clear message to the fans and I think just as importantly, the players…that the rebuild is on.

No more serving two masters, no more mixed messages or “delicate dances”.  The coaching staff, the players and the fans need to hear a clear message so that all involved can grab onto the same end of the rope and start pulling.  There are exciting pieces in the system at all positions.  The foundation has been laid….no…not Brandon Sutter…he is just one of the building blocks to get the team where it needs to go.  This off season is the time.  The time thank Willie Desjardins for his service and bring in a new coach.  The New Era began at the trade deadline and can progress further by sending another new message with a new coach who knows exactly why they are here.

Send the message Jim Benning…..and send it clearly.  The rebuild is on in earnest and with it comes a new coach.