Continuing to attempt to predict outcomes of the 2016-2017 season. Next up: The Vancouver Canucks
2015-2016 Important Notes:
Finish – 13th place in the Western Conference, 28th overall
Goals for vs. goals against – minus 52 (30th overall)
Picked 5th overall in 2016 NHL Entry Draft – Olli Juolevi
Where will the Canucks finish?
I could simply write “Dead last” and move on. This team will be painful to watch this season. With aging veterans in the Sedin twins, along with Ryan Miller (all 35 and older), this team is in need of a rebuild. They’re far removed from the powerhouse they once were in 2010-2011.They struggled at both ends of the ice last year, and while they’ve started the youth movement, they still have one more season left after this upcoming season on deals to both Sedin brothers. I can’t envision any team willing to take on both contracts – assuming they want to remain together – this season or next. Sure they added an upgrade to their offense this offseason in Loui Eriksson, but he’s always just entered his 30’s and is signed for 6 years at a substantial cap hit of $6 million per year. It will be tough for this team to improve over last year’s performance, especially with the teams below them improving compared to last year. I see this team falling down to the bottom of the basement.
Is there help coming?
Surely finishing last place and having the best odds to win the 2017 Draft Lottery wouldn’t hurt improving their prospect pool. That being said, they do have the likes of Olli Juolevi, Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko waiting in the wings. Along with current roster players in Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen and even Jacob Markstrom (if he ever figures it out), they have a half-decent prospect pool that shows a slight glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Beyond those mentioned above, the majority of their system is a few years away from making an impact – if they ever do. This can all change rather quickly, they have pieces on their team that come Trade Deadline could attract offers from teams in the playoff hunt.
I’m sure most Canuck fans would rather have Jared McCann on their roster than Erik Gudbranson, but let’s hope the trades they make this upcoming season are a little more lopsided in the Canucks favor. Alex Burrows enters this season on the final year of his deal, and could surely attract at least a 2nd round pick, if not a late 1st depending on how desperate teams are come March. Jannik Hansen enters play with 2 more years on his deal, but with a small cap-hit of only $2.5 million, he’s sure to attract offers. The remaining players on the roster will likely be around for the 2017-2018 season, again barring a team calling for either (or both) of the Sedin brothers. The Canucks possess some good young talent that the rebuild wouldn’t take as long as other teams (I’m looking at you Edmonton), they just need to embrace it sooner rather than later.