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Vancouver Canucks

2016/17 Stats
  • Record: 30-43-9, 69 points (7th in Pacific)
  • Goals For: 182 (29th)
  • Goals Against: 243 (24th)
  • Save Percentage: .908 (19th)
  • 5-on-5 Corsi: 47.9% (26th)
  • 5-on-5 GF%: 44.8% (27th)
  • Power Play: 14.1% (29th)
  • Penalty Kill: 76.7% (28th)
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The Vancouver Canucks were the league’s second-worst team last season, and it’s hard to see things changing much for the better. The team needs to transition into a rebuild around its top young players, but that’ll be difficult with so many veterans on the roster.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin may be nearing the ends of their careers with the Canucks, but the veterans remain two of Vancouver’s top scorers. The team also added Sam Gagner, Thomas Vanek, and Michael Del Zotto as free agents, signaling that a full-blown youth movement won’t be started this season.

The biggest bright spot for Vancouver is Bo Horvat, a 22-year-old center who led the Canucks in goals and points last season. Even if the season is a total wash for Vancouver, Horvat is a young player to watch on a rebuilding Canucks team. He recently signed a six-year extension, so he’s a building block for the future.

Otherwise, the most exciting players in the organization are prospects like Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson, and Jonathan Dahlen. Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick, made his debut last season and could emerge as a key contributor this fall.

The Canucks may not be contenders, but they should have appealing pieces to offer up at the trade deadline. If they can play well enough to turn those players into quality long-term assets, it would be a positive step toward getting Vancouver back to contention.

ByTheNumbers

2016/17 Stats

  • Record: 30-43-9, 69 points (7th in Pacific)
  • Goals For: 182 (29th)
  • Goals Against: 243 (24th)
  • Save Percentage: .908 (19th)
  • 5-on-5 Corsi: 47.9% (26th)
  • 5-on-5 GF%: 44.8% (27th)
  • Power Play: 14.1% (29th)
  • Penalty Kill: 76.7% (28th)

Questions&Answers

Will the new younger (coached) team finish higher in the standings than last year?

This team has the potential to be considerably better than the team that was abysmal last year. With the additions of Gagner, Del Zotto, Anders Nilsson, Alexander Burmistrov and a full season of Boeser, the Canucks are poised to be more competitive. Add to that a healed-up Erik Gudbranson, and the roster has more depth and potentially just enough scoring to move up 5five or six spots in the league rankings.

How hard can clawing back up to the prestigious 25th position really be? Only a few games harder than slipping the other way. That’s not so hard. Plus — the powers that play with the team like a cheap puppet from the dollar store have hired a new old wily power-play coach from the team’s FREE Goals with Every Game era.

And yet...like the Canucks, we may have set our lofty goal total too low. I’ve been assured by an esteemed procrastinating colleague at NM that the Canucks will win the Cup this season — other predictions are redundant. However, to throw certainty in the sin bin for slashing, the 2020 lockout would be the ideal year for Vancouver to steal the Cup when no one is looking.

Is this the year that the Canucks establish a new first line with the Sedins stepping aside to become the new second line?

2017-18 is going to be the year. I can feel it! After being an All-Star last year (and getting himself PAID in the off-season), Horvat is setting the table for Sven Baertschi and Boeser (my pick for this line could be Markus Granlund) to become the new top line in Vancouver! The time is now for these folks to grab the brass ring and be the top players on the team.

If they don’t become the first line this year then I want to change my answer to the first question. The possible silver-haired lining in this scenario is the Sedins have a bounce-back year and the Canucks receive bountiful scoring from their 1A, 1B top-six mashup.

If the Bo line succeeds then the rebuild is complete. Or is it? Some worry that even winning the Cup will not be enough to appease hockey media skeptics. We may have to keep recycling the Detroit model — if you aren’t rebuilding — you’re regressing. We’re OK with that. Pittsburgh has been rebuilding since ‘07 and has done pretty well. As has Edmonton in that same (lost) decade.

How about that 2018 Draft Lottery?

The 2018 Draft has a boatload of talent. A couple of players have game-breaking potential (Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov), but the depth of top-six/top-four talent is going to leave some options regardless of where the Canucks pick.

I still think that the Avalanche are in a more precarious spot than the Canucks, and the Golden Knights are an expansion team with a low ceiling. At worst this team is in the three-to-six range for the lottery and at best they could eke themselves to the nine-to-12 range if the injury fairies aren’t too vengeful.

Expect the unexpected. It’s almost sort of entirely possible the league’s unfathomable lotto machinations could favor the Canucks and push them up the picking ladder rather than kick them down a few rungs. Just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean anything. Probabilities are on our side. One-thousand seasons from now Canucks fans will view that 100-plus year Cup drought as just a statistical anomaly. And 30th century Toronto fans will see their 750 year drought as something more disturbing.

Regardless of where the team drafts at the 2018 Entry Draft, the prospect pool is rounding out nicely.

SB NationPredicts

Pacific Division

8th