Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet to never use the letter “z.” Except this one time.
Speaking of time, it feels rather deep into the summer right now, but we’re only about a month and change away from the opening of Vancouver Canucks training camp on September 23, 2021.
That’s always exciting, even at the outset of a 2021/22 season in which the team’s roster looks largely already set. There are more “locks” in Vancouver than there have been in half a decade — but any training camp holds the possibility of someone unexpected breaking through and making it onto the team. A dark horse, to use a confusing metaphor.
If there weren’t, we’d probably all be a lot less excited about training camps.
And if you haven’t already gleaned what we’re asking you this week, get your perception checked, because it’s:
Who is your dark horse candidate to make the Canucks in 2021/22?
(Ideally, we mean out of training camp, but if you think someone is going to get cut and then called up later, you can say that, too.)
Where do you think the Canucks will finish in the Pacific Division in 2021/22?
Your prognostications are below!
The Pacific Division is weak. Vegas and the Oilers are good teams. LA, San Jose, and Anaheim are in various phases of rebuilding. The Kraken are good defensively, but have little offence. Calgary lost Giordano, but gained Coleman. It looks like Canucks are the third best in the division behind Vegas and Edmonton.
With all the changes, it is good that there will be a number of exhibition games to help the coaches evaluate who is best to play with who, and to give the new players time to gel and get to know the other players. Besides lineup changes, there have been changes behind the bench. It seemed that the Canucks had no defence and fell apart in their own end. Now with Shaw, I would expect and hope that the Canucks will tighten everything up, from playing in their own end, full team defence, penalty kill, and, most important changes, to the power play where they score more man advantage goals and less shorthanded against.
With improvements to the power play and penalty kill, they will win more games. Canucks lost a lot of games because they could not buy a PP goal. But lost a lot more games because they could not defend, and by the time the first period was over, you might as well have shut off the TV at that point, as the Canucks would be out of the game to never come back.
I expect with the above improvements from new players and coaches, the Canucks will be challenging for first place. Injuries will always play a role on where they will end up in the standings, but with the improved depth this won’t be as much as a factor in the coming season. The other teams challenging for first will likely be Vegas, Oilers, and Flames. The Alberta teams are always wild cards. Will Calgary self destruct, and can the Oilers top two players carry the team once again, and will they get goaltending? If Vegas is looking for Nolan Patrick to make a difference, they just may slip down the standings.
EP and his linemates will be one of if not the top line in the league, and Bo’s line will become the gamebreaker in any close games, as will an actual third line.
I predict the Canucks will end up in first place, and going on a run in the playoffs, but not winning the Cup, and not in the final.
I would guess third in the division at this time with a best guess of:
LV, EDM, VAN, SEA, LAK, CAL, SJ, ANH
I feel like Calgary is treading water at best and they probably overperformed a bit last year. The Kings could be a lot better. Danault was a good signing and their younger players will continue to get better. I’d say San Jose could surprise, but the Kane situation makes that less likely, and it could divide their locker room, as well, depending on what shakes out. Anaheim has a few years to go, but three to five years from now they are going to be really good. Seattle will most likely be in a dog fight with us for third in the division, but I think Benning and Green’s desperation to not get fired gives us the edge at this time. I was sure that ownership wouldn’t allow Benning to take on bad contracts, waste valuable draft picks, and do bad trades, but they let him go ahead and do all that for a one-year shot at keeping his job. He’ll do whatever he can to make the playoffs, including burning the future down in the process, which will make it all the more painful when a new GM trades Boeser for draft picks, but hey, we COULD make the playoffs this year.
Agree with majority. Vegas and Edmonton should be locks for postseason in a weak division. San Jose, Anaheim, and Seattle are building for future, with Seattle in mix for wildcard spot. Calgary will disappoint and L.A. will surprise, but still not quite good enough. I believe it will be Edmonton, Vancouver, Vegas, L.A., Seattle, Calgary, Anaheim, San Jose.
It’s very hard to predict where this team will finish, since improvements on paper often fail to translate into on-ice improvement. But I’m going to be optimistic and predict that the Canucks finish in second place and will even challenge Vegas for first place. They would have improved even without the big moves this summer, just through the additions of Rathbone and Podkolzin, and bounce-back seasons from their best players. But the addition of Garland and the improved defence will take them to greater heights.
Beer Can Boyd:
If Demko outplays Markstrom, they finish third. If he gets hurt, or regresses this season, they miss the playoffs. I doubt that more than the three top finishers in the Pacific get in, although the Central is not the powerhouse it once was.
If OEL gets back to the form of a few seasons ago, and the Canucks stay relatively healthy (especially Petey and Demko), I think we sneak into the last playoff spot. The defence is going to be an issue all season, but hopefully the offence will overcome those shortfalls.
If OEL continues to decline and cannot play top-two minutes like Benning expects, it’s going to be a scramble, to say the least.
Looking forward to Podz establishing himself in the first 20 games.
This kid is exactly what this team needs. Youth, energy, and a dislike for losing. If he comes on in a big way, perhaps that opens up a potential top-six forward trade to recover prospects and further improve the D.
Succinctly: VGK, EDM, SEA, VAN, CAL, SJ, LA, ANA. If Canucks finish third, they get the McOilers, and at fourth they’d cross over and get COL, in theory. Too many variables and too many moving parts have made many pundits dead wrong in their predictions and it’s no different here. Someone is liable to rise and someone crash, but who? Impossible to know.
Where the Canucks will finish is really anyone’s guess. Team chemistry and injuries play such a big factor. One would pray that they are better than LA, SJ, SEA and ANA. One can hope that they will be competitive with EDM and CAL. Only the delusional would think that we are in the same league as VGK.
Vegas doesn’t have its nuclear deterrent, Reaves, anymore, so I see them playing a little “smaller” this year. Every Pac Division team has warts, so I think Canucks can take top spot if they get off to a good start.
My order is Van, Edmonton, Vegas, Seattle, and the rest a pick ‘em.
Ken Priestlay Fan:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
It depends on so, so many factors. The forward group look much better (by subtraction as much as by addition), but a lot rests on the assumption that the Lotto Line scales former heights. On the D, a massive bet has been laid on OEL’s recent struggles being related to environment, but if it’s not… boy, is the defence looking ropey. So, in summary, I could genuinely see them finishing anywhere from 6th to 1st. I reckon they make the playoffs.
Easy: VGK, EDM, CAL, LAK, SEA, VAN, SJS, ANA (so say the sports books).
VAN, SEA, VGK, LAK, EDM, CAL, SJS, ANA. So says my iii’s.
Canucks finish fourth.
VGK, CAL, EDM, VAN, LAK, SJS, ANA, SEA.
Fifth behind Vegas, Oilers, Kings, Kracker-Jacks…
Third behind Dirty Vegas and Deadmonton.
Win da turd!!
I figure between second and fourth. So, let’s say third behind Vegas and an Alberta team to be named later.