Following the Canucks' second straight first round exit, a roster shakeup to any degree seemed like a strong possibility. Indeed, led by Cory Schneider, the 2013 off-season has spurred on a bevy of multi-year Canucks, ranging from marginal cog to roster stape, who have either already moved on or are awaiting alternate pastures.
In ascending order of overall impact, they are -- Andrew Ebbett, Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard, Maxim Lapierre, Mason Raymond, Manny Malhotra and, of course, Schneider. Thanks in large part to Gillis' failure to land an immediate impact player from New Jersey, none of these vacancies have truly been filled as we enter the fourth day of free agency. Though that's a diatribe for another time.
Depending on who you ask, however, the exodus of any one of the aforementioned seven players may be welcome news. Ebbett couldn't seem to take advantage of any opportunity presented to him, Raymond has inspired a entire website dedicated to his inability to stay upright and even Schneider had vehement detractors for his lack of success when it really counted. Just as easily, however, any of the departing seven could and, in many cases, should be defended with equal-to-greater zeal.
So in celebration of their time here and -- as is ritual for any player dear to anybody, anywhere -- to offer a proper YouTube send off, scroll down and enjoy BTD's Farewell Top 10 to Schneider, Raymond, Lapierre and Ballard.
As should be expected, Schneider dominates this Top 10 with three of his saves included. Ditto for Raymond. My apologies to Ebbett and Alberts, but I didn't think anyone wanted to see footage of either of them sitting in the press box. And for highlights of Malhotra's time in Vancouver, see the compilation put together in February.
10. Keith Ballard starts and finishes the play vs. Pittsburgh (October 6, 2011)
In the season opener of his second year post-trade, Ballard seemed to signal a fresh start in Vancouver with this goal. Starting the play from behind his own net, he skates 200 feet to finish the play at the other end on a partial breakaway. Fast forward nearly two years later and that was his last goal as a Canuck, period. Here's to genuinely hoping that Ballard can revive his career in Minnesota (while still earning an Aquilini paycheque, mind you).
9. Cory Schneider seventh career start (November 11, 2009)
While neither of these are outrageously spectacular like the next few Schneider saves in this package, they quite distinctly denoted his arrival as a star goaltender in the NHL. In his only start of the 2009-10 season, he stopped 40-plus shots in a 2-1 loss to the Stars. Prior to that, Schneider had compiled a 3.38 GAA and .877 save percentage in several shaky starts the previous season. Vancouver has since become well-versed in Schneider's performance thereafter.
8. Keith Ballard hip checks vs. Jordan Tootoo and Jamie McGinn (2011 playoffs)
At least some part of Ballard's lack of offense and consistent defensive play was at least somewhat made up by his routine hip checks -- none more eye-popping than these two against Jordan Tootoo and Jamie McGinn en route to the 2011 Finals.
7. Mason Raymond shorthanded breakaway vs. Calgary (December 1, 2010)
When Raymond found open ice, few could catch him. Unfortunately, when he wasn't tripping over himself, he also found trouble finishing. Neither was the case on this play, however. With his second of three goals against the Flames that night, he demonstrates just how lethal his offensive skillset can be and exactly why Gillis was willing to take a second chance on him last summer.
6. Mason Raymond's 2-on-1 deke vs. Washington (December 18, 2009)
See the above.
5. Max Lapierre's forecheck spinorama vs. Phoenix (November 25, 2011)
If there's anything you ask of a bottom-six centre, it's a consistent and effective forecheck. That said, his 244 hits in his first full season as a Canuck were more than double that of the next-best forward. Adding to his value were dogged goals such as these.
4. Mason Raymond's shootout spinorama vs. Columbus (March 12, 2013)
Canucks fans have seen Ryan Shannon and even Raymond himself do it before, but neither with nearly as exaggerated a bite from the goalie. Bobrovsky -- in a Vezina-winning season -- is literally not even in his crease by the time the puck is in the net.
3. Cory Schneider diving recovery vs. Brendan Morrison (January 31, 2012)
Schneider does many things well. Puck-handling is not one of them, as demonstrated best in this play. Luckily for him and the Canucks for the past three seasons, his sheer determination and ability outweigh this seemingly lone Achilles' heel in his play. Much love Morrison, but that's what you get for signing with Chicago.
2. Cory Schneider goal-line glove vs. Jordan Eberle (October 25, 2011)
Only in a highlight package spanning three years will you see Schneider out of position twice in such short a span. And only in New Jersey will you find him making these sorts of saves next year.
1. Max Lapierre's SCF game-winner vs. Boston (June 10, 2011)
Objectively speaking, this is by far the least impressive goal of the lot. The reason it stands at number one, however, should be clear to any hockey fan in or outside Vancouver. Breaking a scoreless tie midway through the third period, Lapierre's game-winner put the Canucks within one meager victory of the Stanley Cup. The rest of the series needn't be reviewed and for that reason, this goal stood as the last great moment in the Canucks' historic run. Much thanks for that, Lappy.
And while we're at it, much thanks to the rest of the recently made ex-Canucks. You weren't always perfect, but you were ours. So here's to that. Bring on the next seven.