The Sports Media Weigh In: Expectations for the 2016-17 Canucks

The pre-season is over, fantasy hockey drafts have finished, and the regular season has finally started. Opening-night rosters have been set, and each team is ready to go. With that being said, some of America’s biggest sports media companies have conducted their season previews and expectations for each NHL team. If you were to rely on those sites to help generate your own expectations for the Canucks, you are in for a long, painful season. The Canucks seem to be an easy choice to fail this year. The overall consensus of the media is that the Canucks will be finishing in last place in the standings – but who and why are they saying that?

The Hockey News

“The Canucks are a bottom-of-the-league team adding veteran players as if they were a playoff contender. They’re just delaying the rebuild that needs to happen.”

Their outlook: “One quick look at their roster and you start to question why (they are trying to make the playoffs). Simply put, this team just isn’t very good and they’re only delaying any future contention further by foregoing a rebuild. As presently constructed, this roster isn’t good enough to compete and the team is kidding themselves if they think otherwise.”

Projection        Point Projection       Playoff chances       Stanley Cup Odds    
7th in Pacific 77.9 7.0% 80-1

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 10.28.08 AM

The Hockey Writers

“There will be more trials and tribulations for the Canucks this season. No one expects much from the Canucks other than a bottom-five finish. That’s a consequence of trading away draft picks while competing for the Stanley Cup, and not drafting well with the picks that they’ve had. “

Their outlook:

“While the Canucks improved in the offseason, so did their competition. There will likely be more parity in the Western Conference this year, since the likes of Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim did little to improve their teams. It’s hard to envision the Canucks finishing any higher than sixth in their division, possibly ahead of Edmonton or Arizona. They are one Sedin injury away from being pegged as a front-runner in the Nolan Patrick sweepstakes. If everything goes according to plan, the Canucks could push for a wild card spot. However, there are too many variables to predict the Canucks making the playoffs. Finishing in the basement of their division is a more likely scenario.”

Prediction: 32-35-15 (7th in Pacific)

ESPN

“Everyone else seems to be moving forward while the Canucks, most charitably, seem to be going sideways – or is that in circles?”

Their outlook: The Canucks are in a slow transition. They never quite gutted the teams that vied for Stanley Cups, so they never bottomed out. That decision cost them a crack at some of the premium talent their Pacific Division rivals grabbed at the top of the draft. Vancouver does have nice, young players like Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat, and Thatcher Demko, but not enough that you feel confident about the pending transfer of the baton from Daniel and his brother Henrik Sedin to the next generation. Vancouver, for now, seems like a team stuck in transition.”

Projection: “It will be Vancouver that replaces Edmonton in the Pacific cellar.” (yes, they actually bolded it.) Scott Burnside currently has the team as 30th in his Week 1 Power Rankings.

YAHOO SPORTS

Their outlook: “We’re not entirely sure what Jim Benning’s plan is for the team. He says he wants to win now, but his team is a mishmash of old veterans and young kids. Vancouver could be good if they keep the kids together, just not right now. It’s only more pain for the Canucks in the near future.”

Coach hot seat rating: 8. “Willie Desjardins made the playoffs in his first season behind the bench. In the second season, the team declined substantially. Once the team hits the rough patch, GM Jim Benning could reach the panic button and reset with a new coach.”

TSN

Their outlook: “This doesn’t look like a promising season on Canada’s West Coast. The Canucks finished 28th in the standings last season and don’t have nearly the same kind of young talent coming into their lineup as 29th-place Edmonton and 30th-place Toronto.”

Ray Ferraro: “They have way too many questions in way too many positions. Everything has to be perfect for them, but I don’t see them as a playoff team.”

Jeff O’Neill: “I don’t think they’re going to be as bad as everything thinks they’re going to be. They’re just hovering around and acting like they’re good. They sign Loui Eriksson and have a great top line, but not much after that. It might”

Bob Mckenzie: “I don’t think [the Canucks are as bad as people say], but they could be. People don’t like the direction the team is taking. They’re not doing the traditional tear-down, rebuild, four or five lottery picks, then on their way back to being a contender. They’re trying to the old “we’re trying to compete for a playoff spot, and introduce a bunch of kids, we’re going to stay competitive but we’re never going to be that bad to get a really high-end pick.” People don’t like that, they get confused.”

OVERALL PROJECTIONS

 TSN     Sportsnet      The Hockey News       The Hockey Writers       ESPN        EA Sports simulation     
30th 30th 7th in Pacific 7th in Pacific 30th 30th

 

Doesn’t give you much hope right? Wrong. If you were to base your judgment solely on what these major conglomerates have to say, then, by all means expect a last place finish. Comparing the current team to that of last year’s, player-for-player, you could say that they are a better team now. Breaking it down, it would be hard-pressed to think of a reason as to why the Canucks project to be a worse team than their 75-point performance last season.

IN OUT
Loui Eriksson Radim Vrbata
   (A healthy) Brandon Sutter      Jared McCann
Anton Rodin   Brandon Prust
Brendan Gaunce   Chris Higgins
Erik Gudbranson   Dan Hamhuis
Philip Larsen    Matt Bartkowski    

Most would agree that Loui Eriksson is an upgrade over last season’s Radim Vrbata. Coming off a 30-goal season, Eriksson will most likely spending a majority of the season with the Sedins – whom he has established chemistry with over the years. He might not be able to surpass his career-high 73-point season, but do not rule out production that would be hovering around those numbers. Overall, it looks like the Canucks got the better of the two.

The Gudbranson-Hamhuis swap, in a way, remains neutral. What Hamhuis brought to the table was very steady defensive play with little offense. We have yet to watch Erik Gudbranson on a consistent basis but do know that he plays a defensive style with physicality. By no means was Dan Hamhuis a bad player, but Trevor Linden cited his age as an influencing factor in letting him go. They swapped old for young but kept the presence of a solid, defensive defenseman. 

A healthy Brandon Sutter could be a large factor in the potential success of the team this year. It certainly wouldn’t be wrong to say his injury led to the team’s downfall. Jared McCann did not have a stellar rookie season – some may even say he should not have been in the NHL to begin with. Although he may have top-6 potential, the projections are for this season, not the future. In this swap, a healthy Brandon Sutter would get the check mark over 20-year-old Jared McCann.

Anton Rodin had an impressive preseason with 2 goals and 3 assists in 5 games. Playing with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi, their combination looks to have good potential as a 2nd or 3rd line. The MVP of the Swedish Elite League is currently on the injured reserve, but the good thing is that it is not going to be long-term. Brandon Prust has a solid first few games as a Canuck, but it all crumbled after his ankle injury. Who’s the better out of these two? Probably Anton Rodin.

Brendan Gaunce has finally cracked the opening night roster as a 22-year-old. He also had an impressive pre-season, which he will look to build upon as a 4th-line C or LW. Chris Higgins was one of the players bit by the injury bug, and his 4 points in 33 game pace was not eye-catching. Younger, bigger, more versatile, and stronger, Brendan Gaunce is likely an upgrade over Higgins.

Last but not least, Philip Larsen. The so-called “saviour of the Canucks power-play” is coming in as one of the KHL’s best defensemen. However, this is the NHL – smaller ice, quicker players, faster plays. His pre-season play showed flashes of his offensive game, but his defensive play has yet to be shown on a consistent basis. There might be a worry that he is more of a one-dimensional player who thrives in the offensive zone but struggles defensively. He previously found himself unable to solidify a spot in the NHL, but it seems as if he has rounded out his game while playing in Europe. Will his playing style translate to the NHL? Only time will tell. For the comparison between him and Bartkowski, we will have to wait and see.

Jim Benning: “I believe in this group. We have good goaltending, and adding Erik Gudbranson is a stabilizing presence on our defense. The young players have taken the next step in training camp. A healthy Brandon Sutter will help us, and adding Loui Eriksson is a good move for everybody on the team. Our goal every year is to make the playoffs; part of our success is predicated on our young players continuing to get better. I like what I’ve seen so far, I can’t wait to get started.”

A 30th-place finish with roughly 65 points is hard to achieve, even with the amount of troubles that the Canucks endured last season. The consensus among the media is that the Canucks will be the worst team in the NHL this year. Their negative perception of this may emerge from one of these three different options:

1) They are being realistic and possessing thoughts that Canucks fans fail to acknowledge and accept.

2) They hold the so-called “East Coast bias” and simply do not know enough about the Canucks.

3) As Ben Hutton would say, “They have to pick someone to finish 30th.”

You could make a valid argument saying, despite the Canucks looking like a better team this season, it is simply not enough to keep up with the rest if the division. EDM, CGY, and ARI have all gotten faster, younger, and more skilled, while the Canucks, as Jeff O’Neill said, are just “hovering around.” Comparing the Canucks to the rest of the teams in the division, you could say that a 7th-place finish in the Pacific might be a more realistic possibility than 30th in the NHL. Despite what the media outlets have to say, take their opinions with a grain of salt. Obviously, it is hard to make a judgment without having played a regular-season game, but only time will tell.

Are they a playoff team? That may be an overly optimistic statement to make. Are they challenging to for a wild-card spot? It could happen, especially if the team is able to stay healthy and players play to their abilities. Could the Canucks end up where they were last season as a bottom-3 team? It is possible, especially if they encounter similar situations. Are they a sub-par, 65-point, last-place NHL team? Anything can happen, but even achieving the lowest of the lows is hard to do.

Sources: TSN, Sportsnet, The Hockey News, The Hockey Writers, Yahoo Sports

  • wojohowitz

    I’ve read quite a few Canuck predictions over the last few weeks. I concluded that if the analyst talks almost entirely about the Sedin line then they likely have not done their homework, and are just parroting what the consensus opinion is.

  • I can’t help but think that these predictions reveal some narrow-minded thinking and contradiction in the hockey media. Vancouver should tank like Toronto or Edmonton, that’s the only way to get better! But look at the 25 year playoff streak in Detroit, they’re amazing! It only suggests a media bias against Vancouver.

  • I don’t think a lot of these guys realized how much injuries affected the Canucks last year. The teams weakness were center and defense depth, and that’s exactly where they were hit, with Tanev, Edler, and Hamhuis all missing a bunch of games, and #2C Sutter missing most of the season. They played most of the year with 2 NHL-grade centermen.

    I agree with Vanessa. I think this team is better than last year, and probably won’t have as many key injuries.

    I think this team stacks up with the one two year ago, and that team made the playoffs.

  • JuiceBox

    Every year the media tends to believe teams with shiny new rookies and young players are going to thrive. It never seems to turn out that way. Buffalo, Arizona, Toronto and Edmonton are still going to be bad. They have some exciting young talent, but I doubt will win much.

    I wouldn’t say Vancouver is much better. But Eriksson, Gudbranson and a healthy Sutter bring proven pieces to the Canuck’s roster that weren’t present last year. They will be able to compete with most teams on the night. Goaltending is at least league average. Larsen is just as likely as most youngsters to perform well over the season. I’d say they likely finish ahead of all 4 teams listed above, and a wildcard is a strong possibility if they don’t have a catastrophe of injuries.

    I’m also glad we did not tank. Karma rewarded Winnipeg, so who knows. If we fight for the playoffs and fall short, the hockey gods may finally smile on us….

    Longer term, though, it could look more bleak given the lower ceiling of our developing players. God I hope Juolevi really is a Lidstrom!

  • wojohowitz

    I’ve never been a fan of the “rebuilding” theory of hockey management.

    I am skeptical of any club’s ability to take on a huge influx of young players over a few years and maintain quality among those young players. Developing young players at a steady pace allows one to properly winnow the wheat from the chaff.

    And in some cases — Toronto and Edmonton being notable examples — rebuilding has created an environment of low expectations, resulting in near-permanent consignment to the leagues’s cellar.

    A soundly run hockey club tries to maintain balance — an even flow of young players entering the team, giving them the opportunity to learn from the grizzled veterans who maintain a even flow of their own on the way out. Obviously some years will be better than others, but every season the club should try to give itself a chance to be successful so that young players can learn what it takes to win.

  • defenceman factory

    Hey if Torts is coaching in the NHL there is a chance we finish ahead of someone.

    We all realize making the playoffs will be a challenge. We want to see competitive games and our young players get better. JB has done a reasonable job of this rebuild on the fly. My biggest concern is the coaching philosophy doesn’t match the management direction.

    Willie seems to be a low risk low reward coach. The player deployment just sucks the energy out of games. If Willie actually starts the year with Bo centering Burrows and Dorsett as I’ve read he will I hope JB doesn’t wait too long to rectify the situation.

    • defenceman factory

      If Willie actually starts the year with Bo centering Burrows and Dorsett as I’ve read he will I hope JB doesn’t wait too long to rectify the situation.

      That was just a practice line-up. It might be used for special situation or it might never be used at all in actual games. Way too early to panic.

  • Larionov18

    I’ll agree with CA and Vanessa. Fact: to be 30th, you have to be worse than last season, and even comparatively speaking, I don’t think you can make the argument that today’s team is worse than last’s.

    Just using the other pundits’ logic against them, the mere fact that GMJB isn’t going to tank the team means that there is going to be 1-2 teams like last season who do. Hence 28-29th at the very least…

  • JuiceBox

    I think this team definitely has the potential to be a wildcard team – provided everything goes right.

    They need consistent, above-average goaltending. Markstrom seems to be on the verge of truly breaking out. He could supplant Miller as #1 and in order to do that he would need to play at a level that would be considered above average.

    They will need the defence to be better in their own end and more dynamic offensively. Hutton will likely take another step forward, Gudbranson is tough as hell to play against, Larsen and Tryamkin are wild cards. Edler needs to find something though, not sure how. This group has the potential to be much better than the group we saw last year.

    The Sedins will likely see a bit of a resurgence with a new winger and an improved power play. I expect to see an uptick in their point and goal totals compared to last year.

    Horvat and Bear are likely to take a step forward, if each of them sees a slight uptick in their production and Rodin plays to at least 75% of his potential we might actually see a legitimate second line emerge. Having a healthy Brandon Sutter anchor the 2nd or 3rd line and the penalty kill will be a huge boost that cannot be overlooked.

    All those little things mentioned above when added together can push this team into a playoff spot.

    I think most of the pessimism comes from the “experts” is a combination of east-coast bias, and a lack of knowledge of the Canucks roster as they do not know the potential this group has.

    Of course it could all come off the rails just as easily. The Sedins could fall off a cliff leaving Erkisson bouncing around the line-up like Vrbata was. The young guys could hit a road block and/or take a step backwards, the revamped defense could be an absolute tire fire, the injury bug could ravage the lineup (again), Miller could fall victim to father time, and Markstrom could show us that he isn’t ready to be an NHL #1. In that case they are staring #30 square in the face.

    Regardless of the outcome, as long as they play hard night in and night out and leave it all on the ice, I don’t really care where they finish. Let the cards fall where they may and start over next year.

  • Larionov18

    Tearing it down and sucking for a decade is not a rebuild I want to be a part of. They have some good prospects now in Hutton, Brock, Sven, Bo and Stetcher. If they are picking them to finish last is that not what you do in a rebuild? I am not picking them to finish last. I am expecting them to be entertaining this year. I am not a cup or bust fan. There is no guarantee finishing last for a decade will win you a cup either.

  • Larionov18

    I honestly don’t understand all of the experts thinking this team has no secondary scoring. At least us fans know that our teams middle six should be able to contribute on a regular basis.
    I might be in a minority here, but I feel pretty good about the Canucks being able to surprise the naysayers this year, even if for no other reason than being so heavily underestimated by basically everyone who isn’t an optimistic fan of this team.

    • Let’s be realistic. Take away the Sedins and Hansen and there were only three players in double digit goals: Baerschi (15), Horvat (16) and Vrbata (13). Eriksson will replace Vrbata and Hansen will regress to Vrbata-like numbers (10-16 goals) so that’s a wash. Half of the guys scoring goals last year are gone (Prust, Vey, Cracknell, McCann, Etem, Higgins). That leaves Burrows (9), Virtanen (7), Sutter (5), Dorsett (5), Granlund (2), Gaunce (1) at forward. Will Rodin produce? Who knows? But the non-Sedins forwards are hardly goal-scoring terrors.

      • Larionov18

        You didn’t mention a few things…

        Sutter played 20 games last year due to injury. Granlund played 16 games for Vancouver as he came over in a trade (although I don’t see him becoming a huge scorer). Virtanen was in his rookie year and had limited ice time.

        Last year, the Canucks had four players who had 30 or more points. This year I count ten players who have a reasonable shot at that, although of course not all of them will. This suggests the Canucks have an excellent chance at improvement.

  • Larionov18

    Thanks for this, Vanessa. Great roundup.

    One of the odd contradictions with all the media analysis is that they are saying the Canucks are not tanking properly and bringing in players that will keep them out of the basement and yet all predict them finishing last. You can’t have it both ways.

    Of course logic may not be their strong suit.

  • wojohowitz

    the media assesses the quality of our politicians based on how they handle the media and the media assesses sports team based on how much media attention they get. both are stupid metrics measuring the wrong thing.

    the canucks have nothing exciting going on. the sedins are old news. nobody new has emerged as newsworthy. they sucked last year. ergo they must suck this year.

    the logic of most reviewers is a simple as that. it’s the same logic that makes tsn think running abbreviated highlights that only show stars scoring is good sportscasting. they think we are as shallow as they are.

    throw in a little bit of “the plan is confusing because it is not a total tank” and you have the rest.

    great article as always vanessa.

  • A well crafted piece that builds upon itself to a natural finish…. from start to middle to finish a very well written article. Good writing is so rare these days.

    And no ass-clown passive aggressive comments and put-downs by the usual suspects.

    Enjoy it now CA readers – someone that can formulate the thoughts, manage the integration process and then transform all of it into an enjoyable read is not long for this site….. and rightfully so.

    Personally I think the injury bug will bite us again and we will be in the draft lottery – but the hockey will be much more entertaining to watch this year.

  • I don’t see the Canucks as shoe-ins for 30th overall, but I would say that they improved the least amongst the bottom 5 or 6 teams from last year. Let’s take a closer look:

    Toronto: Still a young team with a lot of holes, but they upgraded their goaltending and added a future franchise centre. They certainly COULD contend for the 1st overall pick, and there’s a good chance they are at the least a bottom 5 team.

    Edmonton: Cam Talbot gelling with the teams style of play in his second yeara d defensive changes aside..this team will be better for one reason: A healthy Connor McDavid. The foreward group has a better balance between elite young talent and capable veterans, the defense HAS to be better as Klefbom and Nurse develop, and Talbot is still the best option in goal they’ve had in a long time. Even if there’s another year without post-season hockey in Edmonton, the team should at least be in the top tier of non-play off teams.

    Vancouver: Eriksson is a huge upgrade over Vrbata. But he’s not a saviour. He adds more scoring punch, and instant chemistry with the Sedins. Gudbranson ks younger and tougher, but he is no Dan Hamhuis, even if the latters game was starting to decline. It’s too early to say that Gaunce is a major upgrade over Higgins, and a healthy Sutter is not as much of a difference maker as you make ot out to be. Maybe it’s circumstantial, but the Pens did win their first Cup in 7 years after replacing Sutter with Bonino. Of course there were lots of factors at ay..but would a HSK line have been as effective? Add in Willie Deshardings at times questionable line-up choices with Jim Benning looking like a clone who was only supposed to sub in for one meeting while the original had to be somewhere else, but fell upon some doom and now the clone has to bumble his way through the job like he knows what he’s doing without anyone being the wiser until the original returns, and I think it’s going to be a LONG year for us Canucks fans.

    Calgary: Finished higher than Vancouver and that was before they went out and got an NHL calibre goalie. Even if Matthew Tkchuck goes back to London, the Flames have an elite young forward group, plus one of the best third lines in the league with Backlund and Frolik. Brouwer was a nice veteran add to a young core. Defensive depth past the Big 3 is an issue, and maybe what keeps Calgary chasing the California teams rather than competing with them, but still in line for an improved year.

    Columbus: They can’t possibly be as bad as last year’s start right? Well they lost still have the worst coach in the league behind the bench, lost their number 1 centre and have some overpaid underperformers on the downswing (Clarkson Hartnell, Dubinsky, Foligno). They also have a good budding defensive core, and some nice pieces up front in Saad, Jenner, Wennberg and Bjornstrand. Who knows which Bobrovsky will show up? I kind of see the Blue Jackets as one of the middling teams not vad enough (usually) for a bottom 5 finish but not quite good enough for a play-off spot.

    Jets: Pavelec is gone. The era of Schielfe, Laine, Ehlers and Connor is upon Manitoba. Still maybe a year or two away from being a true force, but will NOT be a bottom feeder.

    I see the Hurricanes, Avalanche and Coyotes as other potential bottom teams…the former and the latter have really young cores that beed time to develop, but could surprised as they both overachieved last year. Colorado has hung aroud the play-off chase…but a treaded water in a much improved western conference, and a scary central division.

    All in all I think a lot will have to go right in Vancouver for them to finished higher than 6th or 7th in their division or 25th overall. But beyond their top line/defensive pairing, the rest of the roster looks decidely average at best. I hope I’m wrong, but the name Patrick would look nice on the back of a Canucks jersey…

  • wojohowitz

    The pundits discount the upward trajectory of the young players. Will Horvat, Baertschi, Granlund, Hutton and Tryamkin play better than they did last year? Of course they will.

    The Leafs dressed six rookies in their opener. When the grind of a long season sets in rookies drop like flies. How many rookies do the Canucks have – Gaunce?

    • wojohowitz

      You’re not kidding. I counted 9 out of 23 players on the Leaf roster who have played less than 70 games in their NHL careers. Frank Carrado is the grizzled vet of that bunch, with 67 games.

      In other words, almost 40% of their roster has to ask where the shower room is.

      The Canucks have 3, but 4 if you count Hutton with 75 games.

      I have money against the Leafs this season. I now feel much better.

    • wojohowitz

      Surely you are not dumb enough to think that a practice line-up for one day marks a permanent movement of Horvat to the fourth line.

      I mean, no one’s that dumb.

  • wojohowitz

    Looking at the underlying numbers from last season (and previous seasons), its not unreasonable to come up with a slightly more optimistic forecast for the Canucks than what many are suggesting. Even accounting for their age, Eriksson and the Sedins are likely to drive possession and score at a 1st line rate. Hansen has proven an ability to chip in offensively, suppress shots and drive possession at a 3rd line rate. Horvat, Baertshi and Virtanen have shown signs of an ability to o the same. Sutter has shown some limited goal scoring ability and Granlund some playmaking ability, both at a 3rd line rate. Add Rodin’s scoring potential to the mix and you have two solid 3rd lines with speed, two-way ability and who can chip in offensively. Burrows, despite his dramatic drop in production and below average foot speed, still drives possession and suppresses shots at an elite level. Gaunce has shown potential as a responsible defensive forward. Dorsett is physical although one dimensional and best spot played as a 13th forward, while Skille brings speed and numbers in the past that support him as a solid 4th liner. On defence you have Edler and Tanev as a very solid shutdown D pair who can drive possession. They don’t produce much offence so call them a very solid second pairing. Hutton is on track to produce offence at a 1st pairing rate but it’s only been a year and needs to be more solid in his own end. Gudbranson is physical but his underlying numbers aren’t great. Call them a weak second pairing or an excellent bottom pairing. The bottom of the D roster has enough depth now that a reasonable third pairing should emerge. Miller has proven to be slightly above average, Markstrom as well, with Markstrom having upside that counters Miller’s decline. PK should be solid and PP improved. …So by league standards the team projects to have a solid enough first line, two quality 3rd lines, a decent 4th line, two decent middle pairing defence, and slightly above average goaltending. Based on that, 80-85 points isn’t unreasonable. Looking beyond this season, the Sedin line projects more as a 2nd line, meaning they will lack an elite centre, top line scoring winger(s), and still will lack a number 1 D pairing. Granted, those are big pieces to have missing but is it possible that in the next couple seasons, they may emerge from Boeser, Virtanen, Hutton, Juolevi, Stetcher, etc. or be acquired through the draft, free agency or through trade. Either way, the age and contract structure is trending in the right direction. As currently constructed it’s a team that can compete. I’d rather that as an environment for developing young players (even if they are drafted later in the draft) than icing a squad that has been caved in as badly as Edmonton and Buffalo over the years. I’d also prefer that from a fan entertainment perspective.

  • wojohowitz

    (re-posted with paragraphs.. oops)

    Looking at the underlying numbers from last season (and previous seasons), its not unreasonable to come up with a slightly more optimistic forecast for the Canucks than what many are suggesting. Even accounting for their age, Eriksson and the Sedins are likely to drive possession and score at a 1st line rate.

    Hansen has proven an ability to chip in offensively, suppress shots and drive possession at a 3rd line rate. Horvat, Baertshi and Virtanen have shown signs of an ability to o the same. Sutter has shown some limited goal scoring ability and Granlund some playmaking ability, both at a 3rd line rate. Add Rodin’s scoring potential to the mix and you have two solid 3rd lines with speed, two-way ability and who can chip in offensively.

    Burrows, despite his dramatic drop in production and below average foot speed, still drives possession and suppresses shots at an elite level. Gaunce has shown potential as a responsible defensive forward. Dorsett is physical although one dimensional and best spot played as a 13th forward, while Skille brings speed and numbers in the past that support him as a solid 4th liner.

    On defence you have Edler and Tanev as a very solid shutdown D pair who can drive possession. They don’t produce much offence so call them a very solid second pairing. Hutton is on track to produce offence at a 1st pairing rate but it’s only been a year and needs to be more solid in his own end. Gudbranson is physical but his underlying numbers aren’t great. Call them a weak second pairing or an excellent bottom pairing. The bottom of the D roster has enough depth now that a reasonable third pairing should emerge.

    Miller has proven to be slightly above average, Markstrom as well, with Markstrom having upside that counters Miller’s decline. PK should be solid and PP improved.

    …So by league standards the team projects to have a solid enough first line, two quality 3rd lines, a decent 4th line, two decent middle pairing defence, and slightly above average goaltending. Based on that, 80-85 points isn’t unreasonable.

    Looking beyond this season, the Sedin line projects more as a 2nd line, meaning they will lack an elite centre, top line scoring winger(s), and still will lack a number 1 D pairing. Granted, those are big pieces to have missing but is it possible that in the next couple seasons, they may emerge from Boeser, Virtanen, Hutton, Juolevi, Stetcher, etc. or be acquired through the draft, free agency or through trade.

    Either way, the age and contract structure is trending in the right direction. As currently constructed it’s a team that can compete. I’d rather that as an environment for developing young players (even if they are drafted later in the draft) than icing a squad that has been caved in as badly as Edmonton and Buffalo over the years. I’d also prefer that from a fan entertainment perspective.

  • wojohowitz

    The story of my life

    The Canucks finish last in the league
    *i cry*
    There’s an elite centre going first overall in the draft
    *i cry tears of joy*
    Canucks loose all 3 lotteries and end up picking fourth
    *i reach for a bottle of bleach*