Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NHL Preview 2017-18: Vancouver Canucks

GM: Jim Benning (since 2013). 4/10
Coach: Travis Green (since 2017). 6.5/10

2016-17 record: 30-43-9, 69 points, 29th overall, missing the playoffs and losing at the draft lottery.

Departures: Ryan Miller (G), Luca Sbisa (D).

Arrivals: Michael Del Zotto (D), Sam Gagner (C), Anders Nilsson (G), Patrick Wiercioch (D), Alex Burmistrov (C).

Top forwards: Bo Horvat (50-60 points), Daniel Sedin (45-50 points), Henrik Sedin (45-50 points), Brock Boeser (35-55 points), Gagner (30-40 points), Sven Baertschi (35-45 points), Markus Granlund (35-45 points), Brandon Sutter (35-40 points), Burmistrov (30 points), Loui Eriksson (25-35 points), Nikolay Goldobin (25-30 points), Brendan Gaunce (10-15 points).

Must-improve forwards: The Sedin Twins are no longer Art Ross-caliber forwards, but have they really fallen so low as to be 15-goal, 40-some-point guys? Eriksson will also likely never live up to the ridiculous contract Benning signed him to.

Top defensemen: Troy Stetcher (25-30 points), Alexander Edler (15-20 points), Del Zotto (15-20 points), Ben Hutton (15-20 points), Chris Tanev (10-15 points), Erik Gudbranson (10-15 points).

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom (84/100), Nilsson (70/100).

Top rookies: Boeser (20 years old, RW, 2016 first-round draft pick), Olli Juolevi (19, D, 5th-overall pick in 2016), Thatcher Demko (21, G), Jonathan Dahlen (19, C, point-per-game in Sweden's second-tier men's league), Elias Pettersson (18, C, 5th-overall pick in 2017).

Some pieces (Horvat, Boeser, Stetcher, Goldobin) might still be around when the rebuild turns into apprenticeship, but most won't. This is perhaps the weakest overall lineup in the entire league - the Colorado Avalanche at least have a potent offense and the Vegas Golden Knights have a true #1 goalie (Marc-André Fleury) and a true sniper (James Neal).

I'm guessing most Canucks fans don't want Benning around when the rebuild truly gets going, either, because he's gotten fleeced in just about every trade he's attempted - when he managed to deal at all. And his free agent signings aren't any better.

And to think this franchise was just one win away from the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Prediction: 8th (and last) in the Pacific Division.

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