A third look at the squad

GUTS MCTAVISH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

If a team in today's NHL can get 50 goals from their No. 3 line it truly is an indication of that squad's offensive depth.

Last year the Flames third line of Craig Conroy, Curtis Glencross and David Moss were among the Western Conference's best, combining for a total of 45 goals. All reports coming out of Calgary have them poised to easily break the 50-goal barrier this season.

On the Canucks, Kyle Wellwood, Steve Bernier and Mason Raymond will start the season together on the Canucks third line. Last year they combined for a total of 44 goals. Granted, not all were scored as a trio, as Bernier started the year off with the twins.

Having this kind of offensive talent on the third unit certainly has its advantages. The Sedins will obviously get the bulk of the attention being chased around the ice by every team's top defensive pairing and Selke nominee.

Kesler's line will continue to see a steady dose of top-six forwards along with the No. 3 and 4 defencemen.

Meanwhile, Wellwood's line will more than often come up against fringe NHLers on the blue-line along with a mish-mash of thrown-together forwards.

Based on their across-the-board physical re-dedication the line showed during the summer, expectations are high. Wellwood and Bernier alone lost enough weight to fill out that seventh-man jersey hanging from the rafters, while Raymond made sure he picked up some much needed beef.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis has publicly said he expects this trio to make the jump and become full-time "core players". With that comes long term deals.

With the salary carrot dangling from the proverbial stick, that could ensure this line stays intact all year, allowing them to produce at an offensive level seldom seen from a Canucks third-line trio.


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