The Vancouver Canucks failed to win more than 31 games for the third straight year, missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
At the end of last season Daniel and Henrik Sedin announced that they would be retiring, so times are changing in Vancouver. The Canucks now turn to Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat to carry the load and rookie Elias Pettersson made the team after dominating in Sweden last year. Things are looking up for the Canucks, but they could be in for another 30-win season in 2018-19.
➕ Jay Beagle (Free Agency)
➕ Antoine Roussel (Free Agency)
➕ Tim Schaller (Free Agency)
➕ Tanner Kero (Trade)
With the Sedin twins retired and no longer demanding 20 minutes a night, Horvat and Boeser are set to carry the Canucks in 2018-19. Boeser’s outstanding rookie campaign has set high expectations for his sophomore season, but he has the talent to deliver. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should have no problem notching his first 30-goal season. Horvat has been productive every year he’s been in the league but we’re still waiting for him to take that next step. The added responsibility and another year of development should result in a career year for Horvat. Expect him to eclipse his previous career highs in goals (22) and points (52) this season. Sven Baertschi was a common linemate of these two a year ago and he’ll start with them again this season. The three of them played over 330 minutes at 5v5 together, posting a GF% of 57.14.
Pettersson earned himself a spot on the roster this pre-season and will start the year centering the second line. The No. 5 overall pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will make his NHL debut on Wednesday, October 3. He had 24 goals and 32 assists in Sweden’s top league as a 19-year-old. He possesses an elite skillset and has the talent necessary to make a seamless transition to North American hockey. Nikolay Goldobin and Loui Eriksson will play alongside Pettersson on opening night. Eriksson has struggled mightily in Vancouver but is only two years removed from his last 30-goal season. Playing with the young, dynamic Swede could rejuvenate his offense. Goldobin had just eight goals and six assists in 38 games last season. He was a point-per-game player in the AHL but that’s yet to translate to NHL success.
The Canucks waived Sam Gagner in order to open up a roster spot for Tyler Motte. Motte has little to no offensive upside but is praised for his defensive capabilities. He’ll join Brandon Sutter on what coach Travis Green will attempt to use as his shutdown line. Jake Virtanen missed Tuesday’s morning skate but is expected to be in the lineup on opening night.
The always productive Alex Edler is ready to play another year on Vancouver’s top pair. The 32-year-old is entering his 13th NHL season and is coming off a 34-point effort last year. Injuries are always the main concern with Edler; he’s played over 75 games just three times in his career. Considering that we don’t expect the Canucks to be very competitive this season, don’t expect Edler to play through many injuries. He is a solid two-way defenseman that can be trusted in any situation when healthy. Conditioning and durability will be the focus of this aging blueliner. Chris Tanev is expected to start with Edler on the top pair. A plethora of injuries limited Tanev to just 42 games last season. Like Edler, he is an effective defenseman that needs to focus on staying healthy in 2018-19.
Michael Del Zotto and Troy Stecher make up what Corsica ranks as the 24th-best second pairing in the NHL. A one-time 40-point defenseman, Del Zotto offers little offensive upside at this point in his career. He scored six goals and added 16 assists in 82 games for Vancouver last season. Stecher is similar in that he is a serviceable blueliner but would not command a spot in the top-four of a contending team. Derrick Pouliot has failed to fulfil the potential the made him the No. 8 overall pick in 2012. He scored just 3 goals in 71 games last season. Neither of Pouliot or Erik Gudbranson are a threat to move up this depth chart any time soon.
Jacob Markstrom turned in a mediocre performance in 2017-18, registering a .912 SV% and 23 wins in 57 starts. He is better suited as a backup goaltender but is Vancouver’s best option to start again this season. He should continue to post league-average splits and won’t rack up any counting stats playing behind a lackluster Canucks’ team. Anders Nilsson is set to return as Vancouver’s backup. He posted a .923 SV% in 26 appearances for the Sabres in 2016-17, but a lowly .901 SV% in his first season as a Canuck. He’s not threat to Markstrom’s job as of now but could earn more work if he regains his form from two years ago.
|Brock Boeser (35)||Brock Boeser (31)||Brock Boeser (66)||Brock Boeser (12)|
|Bo Horvat (25)||Elias Pettersson (31)||Elias Pettersson (56)||Elias Pettersson (7)|
|Elias Pettersson (25)||Bo Horvat (28)||Bo Horvat (53)||Bo Horvat (7)|
- 46. Brock Boeser — RW11
- 166. Bo Horvat — C38
- 178. Elias Pettersson — C40
- 180. Jacob Markstrom — G29
- 269. Alex Edler — D71
Predicted Pacific Standings
The Canucks are stuck in one of the toughest divisions in hockey, headlined by a new and improved Sharks team, the greatest expansion team of all-time and two Californian teams that rarely miss the playoffs. It will be exciting to watch Boeser, Horvat and Pettersson, but they aren’t a playoff team yet.