The Canucks lineup was full of overachieving fantasy performers, and if you won your league, there is a good chance you had one or more of these guys.
Henrik Sedin topped the NHL with 112 points and 83 assists, making him arguably the steal of the season. He achieved these lofty numbers even with brother Daniel missing 19 games, so a repeat season– although unlikely– is not impossible.
While we are on the topic, Daniel had a monster season himself, at least on a per game basis. 63 games, 29 goals, 56 assists and a +36 rating. For those of you keeping track at home, these numbers placed the twins second and third in the NHL in terms of points per game, behind only Ovechkin. It looks like Vancouver made a great choice signing the Sedin’s to long term deals, and they should again be top fantasy performers next season.
However, the Sedin’s were not the only contributors to Vancouver’s potent offence, which lead the Western Conference in scoring. Alexandre Burrows was the beneficiary of significant playing time on the top line, burying 35 goals, notching a +34 rating and adding 121 PIMS. The most impressive part is that he did this playing almost exclusively even strenth and on the penalty kill, as he notched only 6 PPP. If he does find his way on the ice more in powerplay situations, watch out.
Ryan Kesler (who I kind of have a man-crush on) finally had his breakout season with 75 points and 104 PIMS while anchoring the second line. Hopefully his new long-term extension does not change his hard nosed style of play, and a repeat season is in the works.
Mason Raymond also emerged as a fantasy option last season as he split time between the second and third lines. 53 points, including 18 on the powerplay, is far from elite production but he is a very servicable option on the left side. If he can solidy his position among the top 6 fowards (which his new two year, $5.1 million deal suggests he should), 60 points is a very realistic possibility.
The only other notable foward is Mikael Samuelsson who like Raymond, produced 53 points. Barring injury or extremely poor play, Samuelsson’s spot in the top 6 should be secure, so do not be afraid to count on him for 25 goals and 25 assists.
There is not much else of note up front for the Canucks, as the aforementioned six players should see the bulk of the playing time.
There will be a lot of new faces on the back-end for the Canucks this coming season so my expectations are a little muddled. Sami Salo, who is not really a fantasy force, but is a big part of the Canucks top 4, was lost to an Achilles injury a couple of weeks ago. Also gone is veteran Willie Mitchell, and Kevin Bieksa is expected to be shipped out of town to create cap space. This will increase the pressure on newly acquired Dan Hamhuis, who has not scored more than 27 points in his last four seasons.
With that being said, there are still two very good fantasy options in Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler. They both broke the 40 point mark last season, and have shown consistent 40 point, 50 PIMS potential.
Normally a safe bet for the title of elite fantasy netminder, Roberto Luongo struggled a bit last year, posting his worst GAA (2.57) and SV% (.913) since joining the Canucks. I don’t have a foolproof explanation for as to why, but I think it is fair to assume that his true talent level is still that of a 40 win and 2.4 GAA goalie. Last year’s showing should allow you to get him at a good price on draft day.
On the Bench:
Alain Vigneault just finished his fourth season out West after four years in Montreal. Mainly known as a defensive coach, Vigneault implemented his style of play while allowing his highly skilled players to work their magic. Currently he enters his second year of a three-year contract and can consider his job extremely secure.
The Bottom Line:
Up front and in net the Canucks return a very similar team as last year, a team that was very successful I might add. The Salo injury hurts, but this is a team that has a nice mix of offensive talent (Edler, Ehrhoff) and defensive specialists (Hamhuis, Ballard) to ride it out. As a whole, the team should perform well for their fans in Vancouver as well as your fantasy team.