September 19, 2013 by andymisek
As a Chicago Blackhawks fan I dread the fact that I have to write about the Vancouver Canucks, but here it goes… Their window for success is rapidly closing (similar to Detroit). The team lost a lot talent in the off season and it remains to be seen how a certain goaltender (and that fun 18 month trade saga) will react to this upcoming season. Vancouver finishes #12 on our NHL Season Countdown.
At the draft, Vancouver dealt Cory Schneider (Schneider’s departure will be talked about later) to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the 9th overall pick. With the 9th overall pick, the Canucks selected Bo Horvat, a physical center who will be fighting for a spot in Vancouver’s lineup. Horvat played on a young and successful London Knights where he took a leadership role. His energetic style of play would be a perfect fit in the Canuck’s bottom six.
With the second of their first round picks, they selected Hunter Shinkaruk. Shinkaruk has a pretty nifty set of hands and is willing to dig in the corners and play in front of the net to score his goals. He will need to bulk up a little more before he is NHL-ready.
The Canucks lost a lot of players this off season including Andrew Ebbett, Maxim Lapierre, Derek Roy and of course, Cory Schneider. Three of those players were crucial parts in Vancouver’s line up last season. They added Benn Ferriero, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli, Yannick Weber. Whether or not these players can make a difference remains to be seen.
The biggest story of the off season was when the Canucks traded Schneider to the Devils, after they said they would be trading Roberto Luongo continuously for 18 months. Luongo said he was very upset and wanted time to think things over. He is at Vancouver’s camp right now and set to be the number one guy.
When you have two of the best forwards in the NHL, twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin, it’s hard to imagine this team would be in the middle of the pack at 2.54 goals per game. The fact is they no longer have as much scoring depth. Ryan Kesler will need to stay healthy and return to his normal self, and Zack Kassian will have to play up to his expectation on a consistent basis.
Watching Kassian when he was with the Wolves this past season was rough at times. His lack of hustle and disinterest in the game at times frightened me. Maybe now that he is a full-time NHLer his attitude will change.
The Canucks will need contributions from others as well if they want to make a deep run into the playoffs. Alexandre Burrows, Chris Higgins, and Jannik Hansen will need to elevate their play in order for Vancouver to be anything other than first round fodder. A healthy David Booth wouldn’t hurt either.
The defense is by far one of the best units in the league. With names like Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis it’s hard to imagine this core not be one of the best. Jason Garrison is only two years removed form a 16 goal season with the Florida Panthers in 2011-2012. Him returning to form would make up for the lack of depth scoring up front.
Young Christopher Tanev coming up trough the pipeline only means good things for the fans. Tanev enters his second full season at the ripe age of 22 looking to improve on some rather unimpressive numbers. Defensemen tend to develop slower than forwards, and Tanev’s potential is through the roof.
The whole season hangs on one mans shoulders, Roberto Luongo. If he can go through a whole season without stumbling over a long period of time or having a mental breakdown the Canucks should be fine. They cannot afford him going down to injury either. Eddie Lack is very inexperienced and is coming off of a hip injury that side lined him for most of last campaign in the AHL.
This season could go either way for the Canucks and the whole thing hangs on the goaltenders. If they play well, they are a definite playoff team and they can make a run at the cup. Look for this team to dominate the headlines this year and into the playoffs as well.