The news of Mason Raymond's imminent return does little to disuade my belief that Canucks GM Mike Gillis is still looking at improving his top-six forwards.
Raymond is a great penalty killer, and despite an off-year last season he has a skill set that we've seen produce a 25 goal campaign and there is no reason ot believe he can't re-establish that level of production or more. But can he do that coming off a horrific back injury? Probably not. They will likely ease Raymond back in to regular duty in the bottom-six forwards and give him as much PK time as they feel he can handle.
It seems like a crowded house with Raymond returning but is it? We saw the Nux break out in a big way against the hated Hawks, but five of their six goals were scored on the powerplay and nobody doubts their ability to create offense in an odd-man situation, it's 5-on5 that the Canucks need help with.
This leads me to today's trade topic, the Buffal Sabres. Terry Pegula rode in to Buffalo like a White Knight and promptly bought up some of the leagues most sought after free agents. The new bodies in Buffalo have pushed out some of last year's mainstays, namely Tyler Ennis and Brad Boyes.
Ennis posted 49 points as a rookie, playing in all 82 regular season games last year, but is scoreless to start the season. He's an RFA after this season and fellow diminutive yougnster Nate Gerbe seems to have eaten his lunch. Luke Adam is this year's super-rookie in Buffalo starting at a point-per-game pace. Putting even further pressure on Ennis is the crop of young stars still coming down the pipe in Buffalo, a list that includes the likes of Marcus Foligno, Corey Tropp, Paul Szezchura and Zack Kassian.
Boyes' production has suffered greatly in Buffalo. The former 40 goal man has posted only 6 points in 14 games behind a long list of gifted forwards. He's a UFA at the end of the season and is likely to be moved as a rental with the progression of young stars and need to find more ice for other veteran forwards like Ville Leino, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.
Ennis makes more sense in Vancouver as he is a shifty playmaker that would probabl excel feeding pucks to David Booth and Ryan Kesler, but Boyes will go cheap, much less than what a 40 goal calibre forward usually would around the trade deadline and Gillis probably feels he has enough long term contracts in the top six as it stands so adding a UFA gives him flexibility.
Boyes for a 2nd rounder? I don't see him fitting in in Buffalo much longer and his goal scoring prowess could certainly pick up the Nux even strength play.