Well, if nothing else, the Vancouver Canucks acquisition of Erik Gudbranson signals that they have no designs on rebuilding. Logic be damned.
I could quibble with their defiance. I have before, I will again and so will many of the writers included in today’s roundtable. I’m going to pass up on that opportunity, though. For today, I just want to find out what exactly the Canucks can do to actually advance their short-term goal of making the playoffs.
So, I brought the question to the Canucks Army staff. Their answers, as always, were insightful and didn’t disappoint.
Relegate themselves to the AHL
There is still plenty of work to be done to get this team into the playoff conversation. What sticks out to me is that they will need to address their forward depth. With the trades of Shinkaruk and McCann over the last few months, aside from Gaunce, they have no other possible impact forwards who can go up and down without waivers.
They could also use a top winger that can move throughout the lineup.
They will also need to address their log jam of defenceman, and ideally they would peddle one of those players to address the forward depth.
If playoffs next year is really the goal, I don’t think that they’re _too_ far off. They’ve marginally improved their defensive depth, a steady rotation in net should keep their goaltenders tandem fresh and effective. They have “depth” up front, but what they really lack is scoring depth.
Luckily, they can bandaid over that but adding some high profile UFAs this off season. I’m already on record saying that they should chase Okposo, but why not go after Loui Eriksson too? Grab a few scoring wingers and bump your young players down a rung. Hell, with most of the scoring prospects traded away, it’s not like you’re really blocking anyone anyways. Provided that they have at least decent injury luck (as in nearly full seasons from the Sedins, Sutter, Edler and Tanev), and some standard growth from Baertschi, Horvat, Virtanen, and Hutton, this group should be able to drag themselves to at least one more first round exit. Huzzah.
Maybe that’s just the reality while the Sedins are still here. And if it all goes to hell again, there’s always Nolan Patrick.
They need forward depth. If they get the goaltending they got in the second half, and some solid defense, they could get there likely, if getting pummled in the 1st round by whomever they face is what they aspire for. Injuries killed them this past year, as Jeremy noted, and Baertschi/Horvat/Virtanen/Hutton showed promise.