The Vancouver Canucks had an extremely disappointing season last year with a 36-35-11 record and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Since then, the Canucks have made plenty of changes with the team, including firing head coach John Tortorella after one season. Willie Desjardins will become a head coach for the first time in his career and with some of the key additions, the Canucks can only hope they have enough in place to sneak into the playoffs.
Key Additions: Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, Derek Dorsett, Radim Vrbata and Ryan Miller
Key Losses: David Booth, Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison
Biggest Strength: The Vancouver Canucks have a very talented core of defensemen, but their overall biggest strength has to be the goaltending with the addition of Ryan Miller. Most will remember Miller for failing in the playoffs last season after being traded to the St. Louis Blues, however, Miller has been a consistent player his entire career and has won 30 or more games in seven of his 11 seasons. Last season, the Canucks were in the middle of the pack as far as goaltending is concerned, and they certainly needed to address to position after trading Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers. If Miller can come anywhere close to what he was last season on a horrible Buffalo Sabres squad, the Canucks have themselves one of the premier goalies in the league and will be able to make an honest run towards the postseason.
Biggest Weakness: Scoring is easily the biggest question mark for the Canucks. The Vancouver Canucks were 28th in the league last season in goals per game and traded away their top scorer in Ryan Kesler, who was the only player on the team with more than 17 goals. Nick Bonino is a potential rising star who is coming off his best season yet with 22 goals and 27 assists, but it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to being one of the key guys for Vancouver rather than playing for a loaded Anaheim Ducks team. Bonino will need to take his game to another level for things to pan out the way the fans hope. Radim Vrbata also brings experience and goal scoring ability but at the age of 33, he’s been a little inconsistent the last few years and is certainly on the back end of his career. Of course, some of these scoring concerns could go away if Zack Kassian becomes the player Vancouver traded for a couple of seasons ago.
Expectations: There’s no question the Vancouver Canucks are a better team than they were last season, but the West is still a loaded conference. Not only are the Canucks looking up to many teams in the Pacific Division, but even some of the up and coming teams such as the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators appear to be better off right now. I wouldn’t rule out a possible eighth or seventh seed, but the puck would have to bounce the right way quite a bit for that to happen for Vancouver.