The kids have gone back to school and the NFL started last weekend which means one thing for hockey fans…the NHL is almost back!
We are officially 22 days away from puck-drop on the 2017-18 NHL season and it’s time to look at what you should expect from the Canucks’ top players.
If you are not familiar with me, I am the Editor-in-Chief of the fantasy hockey site DailyFaceoff.com, where I do yearly projections for all players expected to make NHL rosters this fall. My projections hit the web last Tuesday and today we’ll look at who (I think) the Canucks’ top-10 scorers will be during the upcoming season.
1. Daniel Sedin (LW)
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It’s no secret that Daniel and Henrik’s play is slipping, but Daniel still remains the front runner to lead the team in points in 2017-18. Sedin has not missed a game in three seasons, but is coming off of one of the worst seasons in his career—the 36-year-old recorded 15 goals and 29 assists (44 points).
Entering his 17th NHL season, Daniel’s surrounding cast still isn’t great, but there’s still a chance that the three Swedes (Daniel, Henrik and Loui Eriksson) can re-discover the chemistry that was lacking from opening night last year. Daniel’s 6.9 shooting percentage from last year was the worst of his career, so if it comes back to his career rate of 11.3, he should score at least 20 goals this season.
2. Bo Horvat (C)
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Horvat is a thick kid that opponents have a tough time taking off of the puck and he used his strong lower-base to get to the crease frequently last season. In his third NHL season, Horvat set career-highs in goals (20), assists (32), points (52) and shots (158).
The 22-year-old looks like the only player who could legitimately challenge the Sedin’s for the team’s point race and if he starts shooting more—tied for 134th in the NHL in shots (134) over the last two years—he could develop into 25-goal, 35-assist player in 2017-18.
3. Henrik Sedin (C)
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Henrik never really scored goals, so his 15-goal average over the last three years is no surprise, but he still remains a very good playmaker—he is 15th in the NHL in assists over that same stretch.
His career is certainly on the downswing, but Henrik remains capable of posting 15 goals and 40 assists and being a real force on a Canucks’ power-play that was second worst in the NHL last season—14.1 percent.
4. Brock Boeser (RW)
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Boeser had a brief nine-game run with the Canucks at the tail-end of last season after posting 34 points (16G / 18A) in 32 games at the University of North Dakota. It was not as impressive as his Freshman year at UND, but the 20-year-old bring bundles of offence to a Canucks team that is starving for goal scorers.
During his short stay in Vancouver, Boeser was not afraid to shoot the puck, averaging 2.78 shots per game. If you average that out over a full campaign, Boeser would have ranked near the top 30 in shots (228). If he can continue that pace in his first full campaign, Boeser could be a 20-goal man.
5. Thomas Vanek (LW)
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Vanek inked a one-year deal with the Red Wings last summer and played very well in Motown, scoring 15 goals with 23 assists (38 points) in 48 games. At the trade deadline he was moved to the Panthers, where he never got comfortable and virtually disappeared offensively.
Vanek isn’t going to help you in your own end of the ice, but he has a fantastic release and can be an asset on the power-play—both things the Canucks are in need of. Vanek went most of the offseason without a contract, but signed on with Vancouver a few weeks ago and should fit in with a veteran group of forwards. On skill alone, Vanek should be able to get near 20 goals with close to 30 assists—a nice signing for the offensive hungry Canucks.
6. Loui Eriksson (RW)
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Strangely enough, Eriksson went from being one of the most underrated and under appreciated forwards to being one of the most overrated and over paid in a matter of seven or eight years. During his time in Dallas, Eriksson quietly went about his business, rarely missing time and consistently posting 70 points. After a couple of tough years in Boston, he played great in a contract year and the Canucks paid the man only to be sorely disappointed last season.
The Swedish forward was expected to click with the Sedin’s and be a force, but he failed to hit the ground running and never got off of the ground after a sluggish start. The good news is he can’t be worse than he was in his first year in Vancouver, but his days of reliable 30-30 production appear to behind him and 25-25 is a more attainable goal for the 32-year-old.
7. Sam Gagner (RW)
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Gagner was basically on his way out of the NHL and then a one-year deal in Columbus allowed him to revive his career. On the back of 18 power-play points, Gagner was able to finish 2016-17 with 18 goals and 32 assists (50 points) and landed a three-year, $9.45M deal ($3.15M AAV) in Vancouver this summer.
The real Gagner probably lands somewhere between his disastrous year in Philadelphia and career-year in Columbus. He should help a struggling Canucks’ power-play, but 18 PPP seems a bit unrealistic for the 28-year-old. Look for him to be around 15 goals and 25 assists come season’s end.
8. Sven Baertschi (LW)
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Baertschi just couldn’t hack it in Calgary, but seems to have found a nice fit in Vancouver. The 24-year-old has collected 33 goals and 30 assists (63 points) in his two full seasons with the Vancouver and seemed really comfortable on Horvat’s wing last year. Look for him to build off of his career-year with a trio of quality wingers (Boeser, Vanek & Gagner) arriving in Vancouver and improving the team’s overall offence.
9. Brandon Sutter (C)
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After an injury plagued 2015-16 season, Sutter returned with a full bill of health in 2016-17 and only missed one contest en route to a 34-point season (17G / 17A). The Canucks lean heavily on Sutter as a shutdown centre, which limits his offensive upside, but the 28-year-old is a two-time 20-goal scorer and has 20-20 upside in 2017-18.
10. Markus Granlund (C)
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Markus Granlund has some offensive ability, but nothing like his older broth Mikael, of the Minnesota Wild. The Granlund’s are incredibly creative players, but Markus simply doesn’t have the overall talent to be a regular member of an NHL top-6. He is coming off of the best season of his career—19 goals and 13 assists in 69 games—but he likely doesn’t have too much more to offer in 2017-18. With the arrivals of Boeser, Vanek and Gagner, Granlund will probably find himself slipping down the depth chart.