|The West Coast Express: Four Years Later||Tweet|
|Written by Jeff Angus|
|Tuesday, 26 August 2008 10:48|
The once vaunted trio of Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, and Todd Bertuzzi are now all located on different NHL clubs – none of them being Vancouver. From 2002-2004, they dominated the Western Conference and the rest of the NHL on a nightly basis. All three are coming off disappointing seasons and are looking to rebound in new environments. Will it happen? Read on…
Once the NHL’s iron man, Brendan Morrison went through his fair share of injuries last season. He was bothered by a wrist problem all season, and then blew out his ACL near the end of the year. He is on the wrong side of 30, so be wary of him coming off such a big injury. He will be playing on the second line in Anaheim with rookie Bobby Ryan, but the third member of that line remains a mystery. For both Morrison and the Ducks, let’s hope that Teemu Selanne returns, because it is slim pickings after him. Morrison is a lock for 45 points, but don’t expect him to get over 55. His best attribute is speed, and a knee that is at anything less than 100% is going to affect his game in a big, big way.
Markus Naslund and Vancouver will both be better off with him leaving and going to New York. The captaincy was obviously weighing on him, as was his inability to generate anything offensively without the help of the Sedins. Naslund was once the premier forward of the NHL, but his elbow injury sustained from the Steve Moore hit took the zing out of his famous wrist shot. The Rangers overpaid for him by giving him anything more than one year, and if they expect him to replace Jaromir Jagr they are in a world of hurt. Naslund will play better without the spotlight that a letter brings, but don’t expect anything more than 60 or 65 points. He had a great stretch in November of last season, where he was getting involved physically and going into the high traffic areas (and producing, what a coincidence), but his fragile confidence and inconsistency soon reared its ugly head once again.
It will take some getting used to when Todd Bertuzzi dons the Flaming C this season in Calgary. He says that the only reason he signed there was because of the recruitment job of Jarome Iginla – but Mike Keenan definitely had a hand in this move. This marks the third time that a club with Keenan either coaching or managing has acquired Bertuzzi (Vancouver and Florida previously). Bertuzzi is a shell of his former self and the Ducks found that out the hard way. He is playing at a much lighter weight and seems to have lost his physical edge. He will have to step his game up if he wants to contribute in the physical Northwest division. Of the three members of the West Coast Express, he has the best chance to earn his keep. He signed a cheap one-year deal and the Flames are expecting him to play second line minutes and put up 20/20 type numbers. The first Vancouver/Calgary game will be very interesting to watch.