Naslunds season in review, is it still his team?
It was a solid, if unspectacular season for the Vancouver captain, but a surprisingly gritty playoff performance could signal a sign of changes to come.
As one of the NHL’s top producers in the past few years, numbers of 24 goals and 60 points were not impressing many. But there were definite contributing factors to this that were arguably out of his control. First off, from the Sedins to AHL callup’s Moran and Reid, Naslund seemed to play with the entire team. Giving him less of a chance to gel and create scoring chances. He was also mainly on the third line, behind the breakout Sedins and whoever Morrison was playing with on the second line. They just never found a guy for him, even the late aquisitiion of Smolinski did nothing to help Nazzy out of his slumps. With fewer minutes already affecting his productivity, he now found himself the captain of a defense-first hockey club whos most talented player was in net. But through it all, Markus put his head down and grinded his problem season out, to gain a fresh start where it really counted, the playoffs.
The Canucks clawed their way through Dallas, and eventually fell to the Cup-bound Ducks. Once again Luongo was the star. But Naslund’s leadership contributions could not be ignored. He seemed to be doing everything but scoring, and the Canucks as a team weren’t doing that much of that either. He was very physical and looked like Kris Draper at times coming back on defense. He once again played with everyone on the team, but this time was able to get the most out of each combination. Especially when he and the Sedins formed the Canucks most dangerous line of the playoffs.
Naslund has commented that he would like to finish his career in Vancouver, and with a no-trade-clause, he most likely won’t be going anywhere but Sweden after the Canucks.