The Canucks season is upon as, and though they took a 2-1 shootout win last night against Calgary, there are lots of questions about the 2016-17 Vancouver Canucks. Many prognosticators are pinning the Canucks to finish dead last in the division (for good reason), but I decided to take it to the writers on this fine blog to see what they think. Here’s what they said. (They had a lot to say)
Question: Where will the Canucks finish in the division
Awkwardly is probably a good start to this question. Not first and if they’re lucky maybe not last but apparently Benning thinks this team can turn it around in a hurry, what direction I’m not sure. I am the least advanced in this discussion so they will do badly but kinda goodish? 3 years from now it’s gonna be better.
This is a tough one. Not last, I think? Well, at least they shouldn’t finish last… It’s hard to say because the Canucks are 100% a better team than they were last year, but EDM, CGY, & ARI have all improved too. In the ABSOLUTE best case scenario, the Canucks would finish 3rd or 4th if they have no injuries to key players and each person (even the Sedins) elevate their game higher than last season. However, I do not see that happening to be honest, especially given the luck that the team has with injuries. Realistically, it will hurt and it will be a pain in the butt but I think they will finish 5th to 7th.
I don’t want to predict that the Canucks will be last – and after what we saw of the Flames and Oilers on opening night, there’s a good chance those two will struggle even more than Vancouver for yet another year.
It’s hard to confidently predict them as a playoff team, though. I want to see the California three dethroned as much as the next person… but I just don’t have enough faith in the Canucks this season to be able to predict they’ll be that team. I’ll say they’ll finish fifth in the division and leave it at that.
For most of the summer, I’ve been on record saying that the Canucks are a good bet to finish 30th. That being said, there’s a wide variety of conceivable outcomes for the Canucks this season. If Horvat, Baertschi, and Rodin can punch above their weight next season, I think the Canucks can make the playoffs in that 8th seed in the west. But if that’s the best case scenario I think you’ve got problems.
The fact that the Canucks are legitimately better than they were last year muddies things a bit. Loui Eriksson makes them better. Erik Gudbranson, maligned though he may be by people such as myself, likely makes them better, if only be virtue of not being Matt Bartkowski. The problem is that I truly believe that the Canucks can be better than they were last year, perform better than people think they will, and still finish last. That’s how much the other teams in the west improved over the offseason.
Are the Canucks a good bet to better than any team in the Central Division? I lean towards no. Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas may be due for regression, but not so much so that they won’t make the playoffs. Nashville looks poised to take the west by storm. Winnipeg added Laine and removed Pavelec, and Colorado and Minnesota both improved their coaching. In the Pacific, the Californian teams are still good bets to be competitive and Calgary drastically improved their biggest weakness by adding Brian Elliott. Arizona is likely to be better, too. They’ve got a ton of offensively dynamic youth and they improved their weak defense by adding Alex Goligoski. The one team I’d point to as a being worse than the Canucks is Edmonton, but they’re also the team that employs Connor McDavid, who could feasibly be the game’s best player by the end of the year.
The west is a nightmare for the Canucks right now, and if they want to compete, they have to be running on all cylinders. If anything goes wrong, I think they’re out of it. If any of Henrik, Daniel, Edler, or Tanev go down, so to does the season. If the Canucks are really going to keep pace with playoff mainstays like LA, San Jose, and Anaheim as well as fast young teams like Edmonton, Arizona, and Calgary, I think they’ll have to utilize their players as optimally as possible. Judging by Willie’s lineup decisions heading into Saturday’s game, I’m not sure that’s likely to happen.
I predict another bottom-five finish for the Canucks. If anybody integral gets hurt, or any of Horvat, Baertschi, Hutton, or Markstrom take a significant step back, I think it’s probable they finish 30th, and by a large margin at that.
I’ll get straight to the point and make two predictions. One, that the Canucks will finish last in the Pacific Division. Two, that they will _not_ finish last overall in the league. The former forecast is primarily a process of elimination. The Canucks are still not in the same class as the California trio, so that leaves the team no higher than fourth. Calgary had the worst team save percentage in the league last year (91.08%) and that figures to improve with Brian Elliot in goal and Bob Hartley sacked. Arizona has a solid class of young players either entering or maturing in their lineup, and with the addition of Alex Goligoski on defence, they should look to be somewhat improved, as well. That leaves Edmonton, and, as Jackson said, I’m not willing to dismiss the possibility that Connor McDavid might be good enough on his own to will the Oilers past the Canucks in the standings. That said, I think it will be fairly close in the 5-7 spot in the Pacific, with the Canucks coming out on the short end.
I see the Canucks finishing last in the division. Overall, the Canucks upgraded their team from last season with the additions of Loui Eriksson, a hopefully healthy Anton Rodin, and Erik Gudbranson combined with the subtraction of Matt Bartkowski. The two biggest losses are Jared McCann and Dan Hamhuis, and Radim Vrbata, while not being the best player last year, still represents a decent loss in the Canucks forward group.
The Canucks have a legitimate top line with the Sedins and Eriksson. They have a legitimate top pairing of Edler and Tanev that is better than what most people will assume. Ryan Miller is coming off of quite possibly the best season in his NHL career, and Jacob Markstrom has looked solid as well. Outside of that, there are a lot of ifs and question marks.
The team seems to be insistent on playing Dorsett in the lineup, which further hurts the Canucks’ chances to win. The early sign is that they want Horvat to take over a defensive role, playing with Burrows and Dorsett, which hurts the Canucks’ chances to win. The Canucks have arguably the worst forward depth in the league, and any injury to a top 9 player or set back from last season will be devastating to the club. Any injury to the top pairing of Tanev and Edler will be devastating. The other teams in the division improved this season, and the Central division is too strong for the Canucks to compete with them.
*If* they can stay healthy, if they get a similar performance out of the Sedins from last season, if all of the young players take a step forward or even stay the same, and if the goaltending can be equal to last year then maybe the Canucks have a chance to not finish in last place in the division. Stranger things can happen and maybe the Canucks can ride a PDO wave similar to the Avalanche of 2013-14, but there are too many ifs to see this team finishing above the bottom 5 in the league. While they likely won’t be historically bad, it’s probable they will be in the bottom 5 of the league again, which is probably the best thing for the club at this point.