First up on my NHL Season Primer, I have predicted the Vancouver Canucks to place last in the league this upcoming season.
The Canucks franchise has been trending downwards over the last five seasons, and they haven't done anything positive to try and change it. Last season, Vancouver placed 28th out of 30 teams, yet the team took a lateral step this offseason rather than do something drastic to change the fate of their future. Let's have a look at some of the moves the Canucks have made this offseason.
RW - Loui Eriksson (UFA, 6 years, $36M, $6M AAV)
RW - Emerson Etem (RFA,1 year, $775K, $775K AAV)
D - Philip Larsen (UFA, 1 year, $1.025M, $1.025M AAV)
5th overall - D - Olli Juolevi, London Knights, OHL
64th overall - RW - William Lockwood, US U-18, USHL
140th overall - D - Cole Candella, Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL
154th overall - LW - Jakob Stukel, Calgary Hitmen, WHL
184th overall - C - Rodrigo Abols, Portland Winterhawks, WHL
194th overall - C - Brett McKenzie, North Bay Battalion, OHL
Vancouver Canucks acquired D Erik Gudbranson, 2016 5th round pick (Cole Candella) from the Florida Panthers for C Jared McCann, 2016 2nd round pick (Adam Mascherin) and a 2016 4th round pick (Jonathan Ang).
The moves that the Canucks have made this offseason haven't really changed the look of their team too drastically. Loui Eriksson will come in and be a nice addition to Vancouver's top six, and will compliment the Sedin brothers quite nicely. But at the same time, the club overpaid Eriksson and rewarded him with a heavily front-loaded contract that will be hard for the inconsistant Swede to live up to.
I did like move they made to acquire defenseman Erik Gudbranson from the Panthers. However, they gave up an up-and-coming prospect and two solid draft picks to get the bottom-pairing stay at home defenseman. So again, this is a step in the wrong direction for the Canucks.
What was probably one of the more stunning selections at the draft, was when the club took defenseman Olli Juolevi with the fifth overall pick. Although most of the hockey world thought this was a little high to take Juolevi, I believe he was arguably the best available two-way defender in the draft. Juolevi addresses a need on the back end for the Canucks, even though he is likely a year or two away from professional play. Juolevi played very well for the Memorial Cup winning London Knights this season, and has even drawn comparisons to other NHL d-men Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers) and fellow Finn, Olli Maata (Pittsburgh Penguins). If Juolevi morphs into either one of those players, Vancouver will be pleased.
As of right now, nothing says the Canucks will be improving anytime soon.
#22 Daniel Sedin - #33 Henrik Sedin - #-- Loui Eriksson
#47 Sven Baertschi - #53 Bo Horvat - #18 Jake Virtanen
#30 Ryan Miller - #25 Jacob Markstrom - #32 Richard Bachman
Vancouver Canucks - 2016-17 Projected Statistics
(*In order - Player, Projected Games Played, Projected Goals, Assists, Points.)
Henrik Sedin - 75GP 15G-38A-53Pts
Loui Eriksson - 82GP 23G-29A-52Pts
Daniel Sedin - 70GP 20G-30A-50Pts
Bo Horvat - 82GP - 21G-25A-45Pts
Brandon Sutter - 73GP - 15G-26A-41Pts
Sven Baertschi - 80GP - 17G-15A-32Pts
Jake Virtanen - 82GP - 12G-18A-30Pts
Jannik Hansen - 75GP - 15G-15A-30Pts
Alex Edler78GP - 6G-24A-30Pts
Ben Hutton82GP - 5G-23A-28Pts
Emerson Etem - 79GP - 10G-15A-25Pts
Alex Burrows - 72GP - 7G-15A-23Pts
Anton Rodin - 66GP - 8G-10A-18Pts
Markus Granlund - 68GP - 7G-7A-14Pts
Erik Gudbranson - 82GP - 2G-12A-14Pts
Nikita Tryamkin - 78GP - 3G-7A-10Pts
Derek Dorsett - 70GP - 5G-5A-10Pts
Jordan Subban - 39GP - 1G-8A-9Pts
Brendan Gaunce - 41GP - 5G-3A-8Pts
Luca Sbisa - 77GP - 0G-7A-7Pts
Andrey Pedan - 30GP - 1G-6A-7Pts
(Projected - *In order Games Played, Record, Shutouts, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage.)
Ryan Miller - 47GP - 18-26-3 1 2.85 0.913
Jacob Markstrom - 38GP - 12-22-3 2 2.77 0.915
Overall record: Points:
30 wins - 46 losses - 6 overtime losses - 66Pts
Vancouver has a serious problem, and it's the fact that a lot of their core players are beginning to show signs of aging. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are two of the best Canucks in franchise history - but now at age 36, both of their respective point totals are begining to drop year by year. Ryan Miller was signed to a three-year-deal in 2014 has also been a victim of age, and has watched his goaltending statistics descend quickly. In just two seasons in Western Canada, Miller has a winning percentage of just 47%. The team will get better though, it will just be a little while before that happens. So for now, if you're a Canucks fan, it's time to be patient. Which might be a difficult pill to swallow after making a Stanley Cup Final appearance back in 2011.