The NHL is less than 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Over this period we’re diving into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday, we looked at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Today we swing over the west coast to greet our brothers in blue and green, the Vancouver Canucks.
2016/17 record: 33/49/9
Key losses: Ryan Miller
2017/18 prediction: Miss the playoffs
A spotty pre-season hasn’t exactly raised hopes that the Canucks will be lighting up the Pacific this season. Losing Ryan Miller to Anaheim was a major blow in net. Fellow Swedes Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson will be duelling it out for the starting spot. However, there were some bright spots for Vancouver in the free agency market. Sam Gagner, coming off the strongest season of his career was snapped up on a three-year deal. Typically solid blueliner Michael Del Zotto has also signed and gives them needed depth in defence.
A lack of goals was the major issue last season and to Jim Benning‘s credit, he has at least provided a team that knows where the net is. Thomas Vanek has also been joined on a 1-year $2 million deal. After a difficult year in Florida, the Canucks could provide the 33-year-old with a new lease of life. While the new additions have been solid, it also sad proof that Vancouver is severely lacking in attracting big-name players.
Fans should prepare themselves for the prospect of another rebuilding year. Getting hammered 9-4 by a newly minted Golden Knights was a big red flag indicator. This team does contain some bright young things on its roster. Bo Horvat was unquestionably the Canucks’ leader last season and this summer they inked him to a six-year deal. Young winger Brock Boeser also emerged as a possible game changer. 21-year-old netminder Thatcher Demko has also been getting ice time this pre-season, but will likely spend the year at AHL side Utica Comets.
With 2017 5th overall pick Elias Petersson nowhere near NHL ready and the indecision over what do with Olli Juleovi, The Canucks’ team of the future has to wait. An entire article and no mention of the Sedin twins? Well, excuse the delay dear readers, but this year I hesitate to talk about Vancouver’s favourite sons. While their #22 and #33 jerseys will no doubt be hung from the rafters soon, this as much as they can offer us currently. Over the years they have been so important to success. Henrik Sedin has lost pace and is no longer the sharp and threatening leader he once was.
Now we come to the newest member of the equation, Travis Green. Hired directly from Utica, Green is a bold experiment by the Canucks. It seems harsh to already lay blame on him this pre-season, especially since they were forced to play those two puppet-show games in China. But if this team doesn’t come out of the gate fast, where is the finger going to be pointed? Green will need to keep his expectations realistic and aim to keep his job for next year.
While they may not finish dead last, it’s going to be some time before this team is competitive again. I really hope this season proves me wrong, but life in Hockey can be a cruel mistress.