I'm just gonna go right ahead and disagree with everyone who says that the Canucks have a skewed perspective and are focused solely on building to beat the Bruins. Last year it was indeed Boston who shone a giant spotlight on this teams lack of physical toughness, but they weren't the first to do it, they just used the brightest bulbs.
Chicago took it to this team in a major way two years in a row, and they even stepped it up for 3 games last year.
Nashville was quite adept at shutting down everyone but Kesler.
San Jose routinely walks all over our players after the whistle, fortunately we live in a few of their player's heads, but they still try and run roughshod all over the Canucks when we meet up with them.
Now, as much as we have been beating our opponents with skill and scoring in the regular season, and also for a 15 games in the playoffs last year, we have seen what happens to this team when the refs put the whistles away and suddenly the Canucks are the benefactors of a whopping 1 or 2 powerplays. We have also seen what happens when the PP dries up a little. The team suddenly has to rely completely on the goalie to bail them out.
We all know that the officials are going to put their whistles away again in April and May, they are already giving many teams a free hand at times. There was no way that Detroit should have had a 16-4 (or was it 5?) advantage in PP opportunities going into our last game with them. Dallas got away with several infractions towards the end of the last game. So did Vancouver. Moreover, when the refs do decide to use their whistle and the Canucks earn a PP, the refs then put the whistle away and let the other team do whatever they want to kill the penalty, often calling the Canucks for something taking them off the powerplay. I know, so far all I've done is talk special teams and poor officiating.....
Hodgson was a guy that added 5-on-5 and PP scoring to this team, but he wasn't out against opponent's top checking lines, or top defensive duos. Hodgson often was out muscled by the bigger, stronger, defenders when the refs decided to read a different rule book. Come the playoffs I think we would have seen Hodgson get bullied around just like the Sedins did in the past, our 3rd line would have dried right up, and we would be a two line team that was in over our heads whenever our 3rd line was on the ice or trapped in our own end. We now have Pahlsson, a gritty, checking, shutdown center who can skate both ways and is smart enough to get on the scoresheet from time to time. He has also won a Stanley Cup and got serious consideration for the Conn Smythe while doing so. Kassian is big. Most of the hockey heads that have talked about him have used words like, "mean", "big", "snarling", "bruising", "tough", "rough", "physical", etc. They have also commented on his ability to skate, and do so with some decent speed. He's easily as fast as Hodgson, and I would venture to say a bit faster once he's got a full head of steam. When the refs put the whistle away, point this guy at the net and say "go". As much as I loved having CoHo on this team, the kid wasn't ready for the tough playoff games that were going to have us all howling at the referee's and crying foul every other minute. Kassian also might be what MayRay needs to become effective once more.
Since Raymond has demonstrated that he simply doesn't want to go to the net, but would rather shoot from the perimeter and get lucky goals from odd angles, well a guy like Kassian could start to up Princess 21's point totals. If Raymond can learn to shoot the puck somewhere other than right at the goaltender's chest, Kassian's net crashing could net the Canucks a pile of garbage goals. Add a guy like Pahlsson, Malhotra, or Lapierre to the mix and you have a massive bruiser making goaltenders nervous and keeping defensemen honest, a hard working digger who will go to the corners and chip the puck out, and a shooter who can gain the zone with speed.....and said shooter has already proven that he is quite adept at pulling up and skating back to the blueline in order to let his linemates catch up and get into the zone.
Kassian may also work well with the Sedin's when the Canucks are facing an opponent who has decided to pick on our top two players while they turn the other cheek. Burrows is a smart guy and finds the open areas and moves around alot giving defenders fits while they try to prevent two of the league's best playmaking forwards from finding him with the puck. Kassian will simply make room. The Sedins can cycle and dance around with the puck, and when they finally get bored of passing it back and forth and either throw it at the net themselves or feed the point for a shot, Kassian will be right there harassing two defenders and a goaltender. So if at that point the Sedins can remember to get to the net (particularly Henrik), they should find themselves having an easier time of it.
That brings me to my final point for Kassian. He brings the Canucks more versatility than Hodgson did. Kassian is big enough and fast enough that he may be able to kill penalties, he is definitely strong enough to be battling in his own end. Hodgson was often out worked in the defensive end, and certainly not a PK guy. Kassian can slide up and down the roster to fill a spot as needed. Hodgson was stuck at center on the 3rd line. CoHo showed that he didn't have the chops for the wing, and that meant he was going to be playing behind Hank and Kesler and never really with them.
Obviously the ideal situation here would have been to get Kassian for Raymond, Sulzer, and a pick, while keeping Hodgson to play with
PS - Meds is really bummed we didn't get rid of Rome.