Canucks Army Season Preview: No Half Measures

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It’s the Vancouver Canucks against the world. In spite of a strong off-season, projections, predictions and flat out guesses elsewhere all point to a last place finish and a lottery ball determining this season’s worth.

And yet, the Canucks refuse to go gentle into that good night. They spent much of this off-season chasing the post-season dragon. Whereas a team with no apparent succession plan for their ageing core should hoard high-end prospects and the picks to find them, Vancouver didn’t blink at the price (Jared McCann and a pair of picks) to acquire sturdy stay-at-home defenceman Erik Gudbranson. Similarly, they defied convention when kicking the door down in free agency to throw term and cash at a 30-plus free agent in Loui Eriksson — the type of move generally reserved for contenders.

This team isn’t ready to embrace convention, though. They haven’t been for as long as Jim Benning’s been their General Manager.

Which means that those among the Canucks’ faithful won’t get the rebuild they’ve crooned for season after tire spinning season. For the never say die crowd, they’ll get precisely what they want. This team is all in for the post-season. No half-measures.

All that hangs on hope. In much the same way the Canucks were undone by injuries last season, they’re hoping that ill won’t visit them this time around. In spite of their many efforts to the contrary, they’re an injury to one of their core members away from fulfilling the 65 point prophecy USA Today Sports has foretold.

It needn’t be one that takes a player from their lineup for an extended period, either. Remember, if you will, the impact of a hobbled Henrik Sedin standing on the Canucks bench game after game at the mid-point of last season and the domino effect it had throughout Vancouver’s lineup. Last season showcased the Canucks’ fragility for all to see and I can’t imagine they’re any sturdier now.

That underscores a problem that will follow the Canucks through this season and likely several that follow. For all their depth, and they’ve put yeoman’s work towards setting that in place, they haven’t any players to step into premier high-leverage roles. Not now and likely not a few seasons thereafter.

The Canucks might, assuming everything goes their way this season, have enough to squeak into the playoffs, but to what exact end? They have an above average first line, first pair and goaltending. But this is a league of the haves and the have-nots. And if those are the only parts of their roster that check out as above average, it might not cut it against the high-end rosters they face night in and night out.

If the 36-year-old Sedin twins can get this club into the playoffs, and that’s a distinct possibility, I’m not sure where the Canucks go from there. Two seasons ago they faced arguably the worst club in post-season history and were unceremoniously dispatched in six games.

What reason do we have to believe that the Canucks, wholly dependant on their first line, can get any further with their lead horses two seasons closer to pasture? And if Ryan Miller, also 36, is their ‘number one’ goaltender, how far can he take the Canucks?

They’re going to need more than a little help from their friends to do it. Perhaps Bo Horvat can continue to break through the proverbial glass ceiling offensively. Horvat’s already scoring at a fringe second line rate, who’s to say he’s ready to plateau, or worse, falter? There’s also Sven Baertschi to consider. If his second-half to last season is any indication, Baertschi, 24, is on the cusp of meeting the lofty expectations that come with being a 13th overall selection.

Out of the spotlight, Anton Rodin, Jake Virtanen and Philip Larsen are just eager to prove they belong. Though the Canucks’ investment in the three vary, each has the potential to fill a glaring need. Rodin for scoring, Virtanen speed and physicality and Larsen as a power play quarterback

Most clubs would be happy to bat .500 when building value on the margins. The Canucks aren’t in so enviable a position. If they can’t hit on most, if not all of the prescient questions in and around their lineup, it could spell doom.

The Canucks don’t have enough at the top of their lineup to cover shortcomings elsewhere. Because for all their improvements, I’m not sure they’ve even kept pace with some of their primary competitors. Their stars don’t match up with the Los Angeles Kings or the San Jose Sharks or the Anaheim Ducks. Their prospects don’t match up with the Edmonton Oilers or the Calgary Flames or the Arizona Coyotes. They’re a day late and a dollar short.

This isn’t an industry for excuses, though. And that surely has to weigh on Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins. The embattled bench boss spoke at length of the ties that bound him as he tried to develop young players and remain competitive at the same time. With his job on the line, he’s not likely to grant that quarter this time around.

In the end, though, all those efforts are likely for not. As with most things in life, the Canucks likely can’t have their cake and eat it too. They’ll probably need to get worse before they get appreciably better. They might not be a 65 point team, but they’re probably not a playoff team either. Then again, I’ve seen worse teams make it to the dance. We’ll just have to wait and see.


canuckstats3_1024

Key Additions: W Loui Eriksson, W Anton Rodin D Erik Gudbranson & D Philip Larsen

Key Subtractions: W Radim Vrbata, C Jared McCann, C Linden Vey, W Chris Higgins, W Brandon Prust, D Matt Bartkowski, D Dan Hamhuis, D Yannick Weber

2015-16 Record: 31-38-13

2015-16 Scoring: 2.27 Goals per game, 2.91 Goals against per game.

2015-16 Special Teams: Power Play 15.8%, Penalty Kill 81.1%

Standings: 6th in Pacific Division, 13th Western Conference and 28th Overall

2016-17 Roster:

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Loui Eriksson
Brendan Gaunce Brandon Sutter Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi Markus Granlund Jake Virtanen
Alexandre Burrows Bo Horvat Derek Dorsett
Jack Skille

Defence
Alexander Edler Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton Erik Gudbranson
Luca Sbisa Philip Larsen
Nikita Tryamkin Alex Biega

Goaltending
Ryan Miller
Jacob Markstrom

2016-17 Cap Space: $3.23 million

2016-17 Contracts: 47

  • Dirk22

    Name a team in the NHL that is in worse shape than the Canucks as far as current roster or what they have in the cupboard coming up. I can’t think of any. Maybe the Rangers? Detroit?

    And for those who are going to thumbs down, make an argument for a team or teams you think are in worse shape.

    • Me

      9 of the Leafs’ 23 players have played less than 70 NHL games in their careers.

      The Leafs have one notable young star, but it is unlikely to make up for this massive inexperience.

      • Dirk22

        Yes that’s what a rebuild is. Leafs have a ton of young talent and are poised for great things because they did a smart rebuild – they stumbled around with Burke for a couple of years (as the Canucks are doing now) but they finally figured it out and accumulated a ton of picks, made good use of selling rental players and cap space …y’know those things that expedite a rebuild. Now they have 3 top end talents in Marner, Nylander and Matthews. Their farm system is also absolutely stacked – look at their scorers today vs the Comets. Who is scoring for us? Grenier!! Canucks have nowhere near the young talent of the Leafs, which is going to make for an extremely painful next 10 years until the Canucks get their act together.

        Thumbs down all you want – I asked people to make an argument for a team that’s worse off in the short term and long. Picking the Leafs who have the best prospect system in hockey is not really what I was looking for.

        • The reason why we don’t have the talent like Toronto is because Gillis was incompetent in the draft. You willfully ignore the years of success by the Canucks and the Sedins vs. the perpetual (and still continuing) failure of the Leafs and Oilers. I go to the occasional Canucks game and if I’m paying my hard earned cash, I damn well expect them to give their best effort. Over the last 3 years, the games I’ve been to have been a near waste of time (and money) due to the lack of effort and talent.

        • Dirk22

          You asked what team is in worst shape than the Canucks. This year the Leafs are.

          Next year the Leafs will likely be better, but then the Canucks may have Boeser, Juolevi, Stecher, and Demko added to their lineup and also be improved.

          • Dirk22

            That’s not exactly what I asked. Some teams are contenders – obviously in better shape than the Canucks. The ones that aren’t contenders may be a ways off (like the Leafs) but have a good looking future. I’m still waiting for someone to make an argument for a team that is in a worse position than the Canucks – a combination of worse right now and worse looking future.

            Ex. The sabres are pretty bad. Probably worse than the Canucks this year but they have a pretty good looking future with Eichel and Reinhardt down the middle with some other talent like Nylander etc.

            The Sharks may not have an amazing prospect system but they were in the cup final last year and have a very good core still fairly young – Pavelski, Couture , Hertl etc.

            I could keep going…there’s 27 other teams left. Someone step up and make an argument

          • Dirk22

            I agree with you wholeheartedly as far as the Canucks being in pretty bad shape for the near and long term, but the sharks probably have a worse looking long term than us, given that pavelski is 31 and Couture is 28. They don’t have much beyond Hertl as far as young talent goes.

          • Dirk22

            So I’m supposed to evaluate rosters not as they stand today, but years in the future?

            I can’t do that, and then neither can you. For decades now I’ve heard the Leafs tell us they were rebuilding, but only occasionally have they iced a competitive team. A little skepticism over the process of radical “rebuilding” is in order.

            Actually, a lot of skepticism.

          • Dirk22

            Sadly you’re making too much sense.

            What appears lost on those who list all the amazing prospects in the system is the fact most teams that will compete with a hypothetically strong Vancouver team in 2-5 years can offer up even better prospect lists.

            Instead, those with rose coloured glasses are not comparing prospect lists against other teams, but instead what Vancouver themselves had 3 years ago. Unfortunately for these super positive fans, the 2019 Canucks will not be competing against the 2014 Canucks.

          • Dirk22

            Actually many clubs don’t have a prospect goaltender to compare to Demko, a prospect defenseman to compare to Juolevi, and in some cases a prospect forward to compare to Boeser.

          • defenceman factory

            No please keep going. We are all amazed by your profound conclusions and dazzled by your extensive knowledge of the prospects of the other 29 teams. Please continue to enlighten us.

          • Dirk22

            The argument to be discussed is whether the Nucks are better now than the 101 point Canucks of 83 regular games ago.
            If they are a similar team 20 teams are worse.
            I could keep going but your negativity isn’t worth the time.

          • TheRealPB

            There is no denying that the Canucks are in rough shape. They are in tough to make the playoffs and be competitive. Their core problem as we’ve long known, is that the core was aging and in a rush to try and maximize the window of opportunity the previous management sacrificed draft picks and prospects for the hope of immediate success. At the same time previous management was not particularly adept at either drafting or development (disastrously inept would be another way to describe it).

            So what do you do with that? Using the Leafs as a model is a terrible one — literally no other team (maybe Montreal) can do what they did. They openly admitted the past two years to tanking, accumulated vets to sell off at the trade deadline, and traded their existing vets. What other team can you say did that or has the fan base willing to sit through that? Chicago, Boston, LA, Pittsburgh are all second or third tier hockey towns (at least their NHL teams play 3rd or 4th fiddle to baseball, basketball, football, etc) and in some cases flirted with departing during the down years. It is simply not viable in a fringe major (which is what hockey is in the US certainly) to take on a tanking strategy, no matter how much some critics say this is the way to go.

            It is certainly the case that when teams go through a down cycle they accumulate draft picks simply because they are terrible. But it’s not a guarantee they will get better — Chicago drafted Skille, Barker and Beach with high picks during the same period they picked Toews and Kane and LA picked Hickey, Tukonen and Bernier at the same time they picked Doughty and Kopitar.

            I don’t discount how important it is to have good drafting and development. But to simply chant “tear it down” doesn’t actually relate to the reality of what running a viable NHL franchise looks like, either on the ice or in the box office.

            There’s this running narrative that Benning and co don’t know what they’re doing or they’re confused or caught between things. This is not true. You can say you don’t agree with their plan and that’s fine. But that is not to say there’s no plan. Since they took over they have traded numerous veterans or dispatched them to the minors/released them. This includes vets with NTC/NMCs. They have turned these into draft picks and prospects, some/many of which haven’t panned out but overall those are gains for us. They have done a far superior job of both drafting and development — I think it’s fair to ask whether Gillis actually did a good job of drafting in his final draft or if there was finally decent development in the farm and minor system that these picks turned into something. They’ve added veteran contracts quite judiciously — they haven’t picked off the waiver wire scrap heap, instead they’ve added security for their forwards (Sutter, Vrbata, Ericsson) and in goal (Miller), mainly to help shepherd their young players. I mainly think that’s what these two-three years have been – a stealth rebuild, one in which the number one priority regardless of what else is said publicly is the slow but steady development of young players, an approach that is easily far superior to almost anything I’ve seen in terms of a systematic approach by a Canucks franchise to training its prospects. Again this might all go for nothing if the fanbase turns totally against the Canucks and the owners scream for a real win-now approach. The main reasons I think the latter isn’t what is actually happening is that when the injuries hit hard last year we didn’t hit the panic button and start picking up vets on the waiver wire or trade for them with our prospects. McCann wasn’t traded during the year and he wasn’t traded for a 30-year-old — none of our prospects are being used for old vets, just for slightly older prospects and players.

            What teams look better than the Canucks this year? A lot, though LA, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo already look a lot weaker with the injuries they already have to contend with.

            For the future I would have serious concerns if I was Boston — beyond Bergeron and Marchand they have some serious holes in that lineup. Giving up Seth Griffiths on waivers was…curious. Some talent in their but not sure that I’d rate much of it better than the Canucks. What is Chicago’s replacement plan for Toews, Kane and Keith? They have been consistently raiding their prospects to keep their chances going (though they did get Forsling from us). What is one center in the Penguins prospect system who is even close to filling in for Malkin or Crosby? Why is Derick Pouliot still not able to really take up the mantle on D?

            This is why I think the questions about succession plans are so dumb. Not because the Canucks have a particularly great transition from years of being great to years of pain, but because every team goes through this. There is no team that sets out (again with the exception of last year’s Leafs and the billionaire-bankrolled Sabres maybe) to suck; they usually just do so for a while. We have actually been terrible the past three years and as a result have acquired some high end prospects. Not sure what more people actually want.

          • Dirk22

            I’ll agree that Benning seems to doing a good job at the draft – time will tell but it’s looking promising. If he’s so good at this though, why hasn’t he been accumulating as many picks as possible? I’m going to address one thing you said in your write-up. This is your quote

            “Since they took over they have traded numerous veterans or dispatched them to the minors/released them. This includes vets with NTC/NMCs. They have turned these into draft picks and prospects, some/many of which haven’t panned out but overall those are gains for us.”

            Lets look at this, as far as what Benning started with and what’s left. I’m not arguing for how good the player was or how good the players he got in return. I’ll just write what he started with at the end of the 2014 season and what he eventually turned them into – as you stated, they turned them into draft picks, prospects – we’ll see:

            Kesler ——–turned into Bonino (traded for Sutter), 3rd (traded for Dorsett), McCann (traded for Guddy), Sbisa

            Higgins — bought out

            Garrison —- traded for a 2nd (traded for Vey)—lost via free agency

            Kassian —- traded for Prust –lost via free agency

            Bieksa —–traded for a 2nd (traded for Sutter)

            Hamhuis —–lost to free agency

            Lack —- for a 3rd (Brisebois)

            Some other guys that in the end were lost for nothing – either Free Agency,waivers, trades which eventually became waivers etc.: Matthias, Weber, Richardson, Jensen, Schroeder, Corrado.

            Shinkaruk —- Granlund

            2 & 3 Draft pick + Mallet —— Baertschi and Pedan

            There are a couple of other minor trades in there but I think that’s the jist of it. So to summarize what Benning has done to turn what he started with into prospects/picks other assets you have:

            What he started with:

            Kesler, Higgins, Garrison, Kassian, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Lack, Matthias, Weber, Richardson, Jensen, Schroeder, Corrado, Shinkaruk + a couple of picks

            What he’s turned them into (what does he have left):

            Dorsett, Sbisa, Sutter, Guddy, Brisebois, Granlund, Pedan, Baertschi

            There are a couple of nice pieces in there but to say that “overall those are gains for us” seems like a bit of an overstatement. There are two ‘prospects’ (Brisebois and Pedan) in the entire group. I’m not saying those players he was starting with were going to produce 10 high end prospects but I think a savvier GM would have been able to accumulate more than that.

          • Some fair points but I don’t know if another GM could’ve come away with better players after those deals. Canucks had one marquee guy to trade and that was Kesler. He had a NTC thanks to the previous GM and gave one trade option to Benning. I think Benning did just fine there.

            Hamhuis was an epic fail by Benning. He should’ve brought something back at the trade deadline.

            Bieksa’s value went down as he struggle at the end of his Canuck career.

            The rest of the players were not top 6 forwards or top 4 D.

            Benning still has some vets he could deal and hopefully he does because the Canucks need more high end prospects in their system. I just don’t think Benning is allowed to do what he feels is best. I am pretty sure ownership have their dirty little fingers in this and are demanding playoff appearances. Sad.

          • TheRealPB

            I don’t disagree with your catalogue. But you cannot recount this without adding some context.

            Kesler – asked for a trade and due to his NTC would only go to one team. Is now signed to a ridiculous contract that dooms Anaheim well into the future.

            Higgins – a decent pro whose best days were well behind him

            Garrison – a 5/6 D on Tampa Bay whose contract was also NMC-clad and while he scored some points was far too slow to play in the west

            Kassian – a serious substance abuse problem that took another team and bottoming out plus the league’s rehab protocol to get him back onto the right track

            Bieksa – great character guy whose declining speed made his riverboat gambler ways no longer tenable on this team and for all that he’s an awesome guy would you rather see Lindholm or him on their blue line right now?

            Hamhuis – I do think we bungled the trade deadline but he was also on the decline

            Lack – has not shown himself to be more than a 1b at most and still hasn’t emerged from Ward’s shadow — the return was a 3rd and a 5th

            When I say that it’s overall gains I don’t necessarily say that it’s just a straight hockey trade improvement — there are ones in there that are lateral at best. But in the list of players going out the door you have the replacement of aging and declining vets (Kesler, Higgins, Garrison, Bieksa) for younger players and prospects who are not necessarily that much better but whose addition give you much greater flexibility. Right now the only veteran contracts that are a “problem” for us are the Sedins and Eriksson. Miller’s contract was a three year bridge for Markstrom and Demko. Burrows and Miller come off the books after this year, Sbisa and Dorsett (if one of them doesn’t get claimed in the expansion) next year. We’re not close to being in a cap crunch. The other players you mention are third and fourth liners or tweeners (Jensen, Schroeder, Corrado) who’ve already been waived by other teams.

            I think it’s easy to say that a savvier GM would have gained more but not only do you not actually have any idea of whether that’s true — the notion that Lack should have been worth more has already I think been debunked by the performance he’s shown since leaving here for example — it leaves out the reality of horse-trading in a hard cap era. GMs sacrifice direct hockey value time and again for gaining cap flexibility, getting dead contracts to reach the cap floor or any number of other things. I would be a lot more worried if we were exchanging all of those outgoing players for players of equivalent age and contract.

          • Me

            @TheRealPB

            “Garrison – a 5/6 D on Tampa Bay whose contract was also NMC-clad and while he scored some points was far too slow to play in the west”

            Regarding your comments about the shopping list of players, I agree except for Garrison. (I’m not commenting here on your overall conclusions, just the section listing players point by point.)

            Garrison has played 2 seasons with Tampa. In the first season, he averaged 20:01 per game, 4th among team defencemen, close to 3rd and well ahead of 5th, and had a very good season overall.

            In the second season he averaged a bit less, 18:28, but it was 3rd most among Lightning defencemen.

            Garrison never had a nmc. He did have a ntc. Further, you say he was too slow to play in the west, which imo doesn’t properly characterize the difference between eastern and western conferences. The west is notably tougher, with bigger players, but the east isn’t lacking in speed.

            Despite all that, I can’t say that a 2nd was a terrible return for him. The Canucks used the 2nd round pick to acquire Linden Vey, though, so effectively gave away Garrison for next to nothing.

          • TheRealPB

            I actually quite like Garrison as an individual and I think he’s a decent enough player. But I think he cashed in on that one good season in FLA (which is fair for him) and he remains the highest paid D on FLA (since Hedman’s extension doesn’t kick in until next year). He had 30 points his first season in TB and all of 11 points in 72 games last year. If we (rightly) give so much grief for having to pay three and a half million for Sbisa, what value is four and a half million for a thirty year old Garrison? I did think he looked slow in his full season with us though given all the injuries he was kind of on his own out there quite often. What we ended up in the trade you are correct isn’t much — 2 seasons of Vey for the 2nd rounder and the cap relief (and basically the ability to sign Vrbata so I suppose that’s something).

          • Dirk22

            Sure I’ll answer easy. Carolina and Columbus. Columbus is already calling for Torts to be fired. Carolina hasn’t been able to put it together. So two teams that are in worse shape than the Canucks.

          • Dirk22

            Not sure if you understood the original questions but I’ll respond.

            See my comments above about Carolina – tough to say the Canucks have better prospects than them.

            Columbus – They have Jones/Werenski playing D for them right now. They have Dubois coming up alongside a bunch of other guys who have them rated as one of the top prospect systems in the league (ESPN – 4th, Hockey Writers – 4th)

        • Dirk22

          I agree that Toronto has some nice pieces, but frankly if you take that Austen what’s his name out of the equation, I like what I see in Vancouver. Sedins still possess a Skill set that is not equalled in today’s NHL. Combine that with more talent/depth in lines 2-4, and I see a Canucks team that will surprise many. There are some exciting, yet unproven interchangeable parts in Utica, that can be called up from Utica when necessary, but that is what makes this year so interesting. Just hope Sedins and Erickson remain healthy all year.

    • Dirk22

      New York Rangers: Lundquist is already showing signs of decline at 35 and is signed for 4 more years at 8.5mil. Staal’s underlying numbers are equivalent to a bottom pairing defenceman but at age 29 is signed for 5 more years at 5.7mil. Girardi’s numbers wouldn’t even qualify him for bottom pairing on most teams and at 32 he is signed for 4 more years at 5.4mil. They lack a first line centre – Stepan and Zibandejad are second line centres at best. Hockey Future ranks them 27th in prospect depth/talent.

      Minnesota Wild: Koivu and Staal together compensate as reasonable 1A 1B centres but are both over 30 and signed for 6.75 and 3.5 respectively for the next 2/3 years. Parise and Suter are over 30 and in decline but signed for 6 more years at 7.5mil. Their secondary scoring is questionable. Hockey Future has them ranked 25th.

      Carolina Hurricanes: J. Staal is a good second line centre but is approaching 30 and is signed for 6 more years at 6mil. Rask and Lindholm have potential for improvement but their underlying numbers are terrible and Rask is signed for 4 more years at 4mil. Cam Ward is terrible. Lack has proven to be a backup caliber goalie. Reasonable cap hits but both signed for another year. Hockey Future ranks them 24th.

      I could probably find others…

      By comparison, the Canucks are ranked 14th by Hockey Future. Currently the team projects (even according to JD) to have an above average first line, first D pairing and goaltending. I would add two quality 3rd lines, a decent 4th line, a decent middle pairing defence. Arguably more competitive than the three teams I listed above.

      Looking beyond this season, the Sedin line projects more as a 2nd line, meaning they will lack an elite centre and top line scoring winger(s). But, unlike the teams I referenced, their salaries are off the books in two years.

      Granted, those are big pieces to have missing but is it possible that in the next couple seasons, they may emerge from Boeser, Virtanen, or Horvat. Likewise the defence projects to improve with Hutton, Juolevi, Stetcher, etc. Not to mention to opportunities to improve through the draft, free agency or through trade. Especially if they flip a few veterans (Hansen, Edler) into picks or prospects, and continue to pull out one or two decent prospects per drat (which they proven capable of doing even when not picking 1st overall).

      My main point is that the age and contract structure is trending in the right direction. As currently constructed it’s a team that can compete and rebuild. I’d rather that as an environment for developing young players (even if they are drafted later in the draft). I’d also prefer that from a fan entertainment perspective.

      • Dirk22

        First of all just want to thank you for actually answering the question many had difficulty understanding. I think I could have phrased it differently. Which of the teams with absolutely no shot at the Stanley Cup this year are in worse shape for the future?

        You picked the Rangers – I mentioned them earlier and think I would agree.

        The Wild – some good points there too – hamstrung by big contracts and not a lot of high end prospects coming.

        Hurricanes – that’s a tougher one – they’ve got some good young players with Hanifin, Aho, Teravainen, Jake Bean, Slavin, Fleury on top of the ones you mentioned. According to ESPN they’ve got the #5th best prospect system in the NHL. Hockey Writers have them at #6 (both ranking higher than the Canucks for what it’s worth). Hockey’s Future (the site you cited), does not operate anymore so any ranking you are reading from there are old. You said you could ‘probably’ find others – that’s what I’m interested in.

        So far I agree with the Rangers and Wild.

        • Canucks4ever16

          Referring then to the Hockey Writers, and looking at teams ranked lower than the Canucks, I would add Colorado and Detroit as teams the Canucks project to be more competitive than now and in the future (based on prospect rankings).

          Colorado has some good young players in their line up, but like Edmonton over the past decade, haven’t managed to translate talent into success. Maybe they turn it around this year, but generally their line up doesn’t project better than Vancouver’s.

          Detroit has a few talented young players emerging, but arguably not more or better than what the Canucks have. Vancouver’s top line, top pairing D, goaltending and third line(s) all project better.

          So. Rangers, Wild, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Red Wings. And if we are looking at next year, Las Vegas. .

          Providing key players stay healthy Canucks will be able to get 70-80 points. Maybe compete for a wild card, but likely miss the playoffs. That’s probably also true for some, if not all, the teams I have mentioned. Injuries, goaltending, etc will play a factor.

          Flipping your question, can you really say that the Canucks are in worse shape than any of the teams I have listed when it comes to projected games won this season and prospect ranking? For me the answer is no.

  • Vintage

    Also Jannik Hansen had 22 goals last year. Also we have never seen what the team can do with Sutter as a dependable, long term second or third line center, taking pressure off Henrik and Horvat, ntm as a PK man. If those things improve offense and more importantly possession, that takes a lot of pressure off of a newly conditioned defence that probably will undergo some growing pains.

    Realistically, I can see this team taking on the underdog status and quietly doing…okay. But like any NHL middle of the road team, we are just an injury or two from wild card or worse. Still, coconuts go.

  • Dirk22

    Best thing that can happen is we start off slow and lose a pile of games because of Lindens main concern lack of goals?

    Which may not be as correct as inept delpoyment from Desjardins. However in true canuck form we likely beat Calgary tonight as they might be as bad as us and they go 0-3. Look I would love this nuck team to do well but only with the right pieces because clearly Willy is not a good nor proven nhl coach.

    Rodin/Gudbranson and a healthy Sutter should make us better more competitive. The problems arise because every other western team seems better other than the flames/avs. Just think the jets win a higher draft lottery spot and throw a wrench into the top picks and the oil got Puulijarvi. Like they needed or deserved him???Just seems we got little to no luck as a franchise then to put up with inept coaching and management makes it awful tough on our boys.Watch Virtanen sit tonight in favour of Dorsett wasting 3rd line minutes

  • Vintage

    I don’t get what the point of this was? You’ve written all these same words 100 times already. How about you use your large brain to tell us (and the Canucks) how to complete a tear down rebuild of a franchise that was left with zero prospect depth after nearly capturing the cup?

    What, realistically, are the assets that the Canucks would use to gain additional picks in the upcoming few years? Do you really believe that Jarred McCann was a reasonable replacement for Henrik Sedin?

    What would your blogs look like if the Canucks had won the lottery and drafted Austin Mathews? Would Benning be a genius all of a sudden?

    The CA staff have been beating a dead horse for too long, your schtick is getting tired.

    • Dirk22

      What media member/outlet is saying anything different than what CA is saying? (Other than Ian McIntyre and Bro Jake!) this is not a Canucks Army problem. Where are the opposing views saying the Canucks are heading in the right direction? …….I’ll wait

      • Vintage

        I never suggested that any media outlets were writing anything but the same, but I don’t go to them for a leisurely read, because mostly I think they are a bunch of idiots. CA was among the first wave of writers (bloggers) who looked at more then just the traditional old school hockey topics. So what I’m suggesting is that these “smart” hockey writers put their money where their mouth is, and tell us how the Canucks are going to get out of this hole they’ve dug for themselves. You want a rebuild, a la the TML, but how exactly do you see this coming about? Who can the Canucks trade to get a high end prospect / pick? Toronto got *a little bit* lucky with Mathews, but they have been building that prospect pool with high draft picks for quite a long time now, I should hope it’s good.

        I’ll wait 😉

        • Dirk22

          There have been numerous articles on here about some strategies they could take. It’s mostly about accepting what you are and moving forward from there. That’s the issue I have and what a lot of people have. The Leafs accepted what they were, sold assets, picked up rentals they could sell, accumulated a ton of picks and didn’t go out and sign players designed to help them get to the playoffs now. Painful yes and probably will be for another year or two. I just think that’s what the Canucks need to do instead of trying to compete and rebuild. They haven’t been good at accumulating draft picks or young prospects through trades and they’ve signed guys for the here and now instead of looking to really build something for the future. Matthews was lucky for sure but within a system that rewards you for ‘tanking’ you can’t say that it was never in their thoughts that they might have to be really bad to get a player of that quality…more than luck at play there.

          • Dirk22

            You’re priceless,Dirk.

            The highest the Laughs have finished is third place in their division in the last decade.

            While Gillis was blowing the future of the Canucks franchise with stellar,veteran-laden rosters devoid of player development,the Laughs just sucked and kept sucking.

            No draft acumen,no scouting program,no prospects was Gillis,not Benning.

            You are sevnen years behind,Dirk,and more than a little confused.

            You and half of the CA writers should be blogging for the Panthers.

          • Dirk22

            I guess it’s time to step up and take some of those trashes unfairly being cast at Dirk.

            Bud, you may not have noticed but Dirk didn’t ask for an argument for which teams have been the worse the last seven (or ten or whatever years.) The challenge was to set out teams that were worse now and whose prospects for the future are worse.

            Pointing out that the Leafs were badly managed in the past doesn’t begin to answer what he challenged anyone to do. Look to the future, not the past.

          • Dirk22

            The Leafs were horribly managed under Nonis/Burke during these years you speak of. What’s your point?

            In retrospect, Gillis should have started the rebuild his last year as GM but we all know why the wasn’t case. Doesn’t excuse Lindenning’s run at “staying competitive while trying to rebuild.” Now that’s priceless!!

          • Dirk22

            Dirk,you have a long litany of complaints that now include Gillis.Very touching that you look so far back to see the team of today.

            Gillis’ draft record stunk and was only just beginning to grasp player development when he had squandered enough time and his incompetence caught up with him.

            Benning has had two years to pick up the pieces of destruction ,one 101 point season and an overall winning record.

            How about finding another team to dump on? That would also be priceless.

        • Whackanuck

          Who says I “want a rebuild, a la the TML?” The Leafs have had decades of futility allegedly accumulating high draft picks. Same with Edmonton and Phoenix.
          Since the heady days the Canucks have had 3, counting the Horvat year.

          There’s two things being done by the Canucks. One was the clean out of aging, highly paid vets and to replace them with NHL ready youngsters, some of them reclamation projects. The other is the accumulation of drafted prospects.

          Edmonton, Phoenix and Toronto had nothing to lose by gutting their teams, they were already bad for some time. Good for them. I submit Vancouver was in a different position. Edmonton and Toronto can sell out with awful teams. Vancouver doesn’t.
          Different circumstances, different solutions.

  • Graphic Comments

    Which means that those among the Canucks’ faithful won’t get the rebuild they’ve crooned for season after tire spinning season.

    Guess what this list represents…

    Sedin, Sedin, Burrows, Hansen, Edler, Tanev, Markstrom, Miller

    They are the only players that played for Vancouver prior to Benning becoming manager. The other 15 players have been introduced into the line-up since then.

    So when experts ask when the rebuild will start, the answer is two years ago.

  • Me

    Hey tanking’s worked out great for Edmonton for the last 10 years!

    I’m sure if Burke were a writer over there he’d have been cheerleading the whole way.

    On the bright side, if they miss the playoffs again, they’ll have a new league record!

  • Me

    I play a game when evaluating teams. I count the number of players who…

    1. Will almost certainly get 30 or more points provided they stay reasonably healthy.

    2. Will probably get 30 or more points provided points they stay reasonably healthy.

    This gives an estimate of the depth of scoring. For the Canucks, I count seven in the first category and two in the second. Plus there are others, like Edler and Rodin, who have a reasonable shot.

    Of course they won’t all stay healthy, and some may implode for unexplained reasons. But it suggests that the Canucks should easily surpass the four players who exceeded 30 points last year.

  • wojohowitz

    I`m amazed by all the negativity. Has this group really been written off already. Here`s the other side of the coin. Who`s going to have a breakout season. Hutton for one has a lot of upside. Gaunce showed a wrist shot that could make him the go to guy. Horvat and Baertschi could both be 30 goal scorers. Stecher will be running the PP by December.

    Then the veterans. The twins will start the season in mid-season form. Ericksson has every intention to have a good start. Hansen has found his confidence and his game. 25 goals? Sutter wants to prove he belongs after missing 60 games last year. Edler was pessed when the National team ranked him outside of the top ten Swedish D-men.

    And the schedule; 9 games in 15 days to start the season, 7 at home and a quick trip to California. How about 9-0 on November 1st. The hockey I`ve seen the last few days has been very sloppy with turnovers and breakaways and rookies totally out of position. The Canucks are a veteran team and should be mistake free and ready to roll from the opening faceoff.

  • Whackanuck

    I have to agree completely with JD here. As much as I want this team to succeed, the players are just not there. But I believe this team will tank badly for the next cpl seasons. In a few years we will have some young pieces to take over a first line and Jimbo will be long gone

  • defenceman factory

    When Benning arrived here the future looked pretty bleak. It doesn’t anymore. Goal and defence look reasonably solid with decent prospects in the pipeline. It also looks like Utica is a strong farm team with good coaching that strives for a winning culture to grow prospects from. There are at least 3 young forwards and perhaps 4 or 5 on the team or in the system that will become quality top 6 players. The team needs to acquire the next 1C before the start of next season.

    I believe Benning’s approach to a rebuild is a good one. This is not an unrealistic fan base. We understand it might take longer than other approaches but it will be build on a solid foundation. The Oilers and Leafs have a losing culture and are one injury away from being a total disaster.

    If this year’s team plays hard and the young players get better I won’t be too disappointed without playoffs.

  • Me

    I don’t suspect the team will quite make the playoffs – not enough size and I don’t like the third defensive pairing. But, the Canucks certainly won’t finish with 65 points like some doomsayers are predicting – not unless both goaltenders are murdered by some axe-wielding creepy clown hanging around a playground.

    I expect a better result than last season.

    As for the tanking crowd, how’s them Oilers working for you? Did you enjoy the decade of futility?

  • Marvin101

    If we finish in last place and the leafs show huge improvement with Matthews scoring 30 goals I’m going to be very depressed and I’m going to hold Linden responsible.

    Too many people rag on Benning and give Linden a free pass.

  • Dirk22

    defensemenfactory what are you smoking?? You do undesrtand that the oil/leafs have drafted franchise studs dont you??

    Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are the type of players who will change the culture/hope/performance of those teams regardless of an injury.

    We do not have a player close to these center ice men. Benning had no stellar stats as an nhl dman.And so far its hard to tell how good a gm he is?Its clear though that Linden/Desjardins are not fit for there roles

  • Dirk22

    “It needn’t be one that takes a player from their lineup for an extended period, either. Remember, if you will, the impact of a hobbled Henrik Sedin standing on the Canucks bench game after game at the mid-point of last season and the domino effect it had throughout Vancouver’s lineup. Last season showcased the Canucks’ fragility for all to see and I can’t imagine they’re any sturdier now.”

    What i remember, JD, is that Sutter had been out of the lineup for an extended period so when Hank got injured our best centre was a second year player. Are you even trying anymore? Do you actually follow this team?

    • Dirk22

      Sadly JD will likely never change. How many times has he posted this same time worn drivel? He “blogs” for Canucks Army but he really should start a blog more like “JD Burke vs: Vancouver Canucks/ I know more than anyone”….or even more basic….say….”Canucks Suck”, then his writing would at least appeal to all the Vancouver haters. He is incapable of pro Canucks, or even BALANCED blogging, ( I’d settle for balanced) and more frequently than not ignores facts that don’t fit his narrative. It’s really quite pathetic.

  • Dirk22

    Best line from the comments “The CA staff have been beating a dead horse for too long, your schtick is getting tired.”

    Have a Snickers JD, actually have a case of them…..

  • Canucks4ever16

    Canucks GM Jim Benning has had some time now to leave his mark on our team and so far I cannot say he has done to much to truly improve our team and put us on a really good progressive path forward.
    He’s made some questionable trades and moves and his drafting has been questionable at best and pretty bad overall in my opinion. We’ve passed up on some good players to draft and we”ve passed on opportunities to trade for other good players. Benning has made many moves that show he has one foot in the playoffs and the other looking towards the future. In my opinion we cant be doing both or we will fail at both and so far in my opinion we are failing at both and badly. BENNING NEEDS TO FIGURE IT OUT ASAP OR STEP DOWN.