Nobody expected the Vancouver Canucks to be any good last year but they surprisingly got off to a hot start and managed to stay in the playoff picture early on in the season.
But near the midway point, the team started to falter and it was evident that the team did not have the pieces to compete against the more talented teams in the West.
As a result, they finished the season as the second worst team in the Western Conference with a 31-40-11 record, only three points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.
Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat were the lone bright spots on the team. Boeser led the Canucks in scoring as a rookie with 29 goals, 55 points in 62 games. Despite missing several games due to injuries, Bo Horvat still managed to notch a career high in goals (22) in 2017/18.
For the first time in almost 20 years, the Sedin twins will not be on the Canucks’ roster to start the 2018/19 campaign. In fact, we will see several new faces in the lineup this year.
As a matter of fact, many are wondering if the Canucks will take a step back in another year of rebuilding or will take a step forward and become a more exciting team to watch in 2018/19.
Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser
Loui Eriksson - Brandon Sutter - Elias Pettersson
Markus Granlund - Jay Beagle - Jake Virtanen
Antoine Roussel - Tim Schaller - Sam Gagner
Extra Forward: Brendan Leipsic
Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev
Michael Del Zotto - Erik Gudbranson
Derrick Pouliot - Troy Stecher
Seventh defenseman: Olli Juolevi / Ben Hutton
Best case scenario
- Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat continue to set new career highs offensively.
- Elias Pettersson can score 50 or more points in his rookie season.
- Loui Eriksson is able to bounce back from two horrendous seasons and give the Canucks decent production on offense (20 goals, 50 points).
- Sam Gagner, Antoine Roussel, Jake Virtanen, and Jay Beagle are able to put up solid numbers to improve the Canucks’ scoring depth in the bottom-six.
- Olli Juolevi makes the team and provides the Canucks with a solid 15-20 minutes every night on the blue line.
- Jacob Markstrom stands on his head all season, and gives his team more opportunities to win every night.
Worst case scenario
- Brock Boeser suffers a sophomore slump.
- Elias Pettersson struggles to become a full-time NHL player.
- The Canucks get little secondary scoring from Sam Gagner, Antoine Roussel, Jake Virtanen, and Brandon Sutter.
- A key player like Bo Horvat/ Erik Gudbranson suffers a serious injury and is out for most of the season.
- Olli Juolevi does not make the team and takes another year to develop outside of the NHL.
On paper, the Canucks don’t look like they have the roster to compete for a Stanley Cup next season. However, if they do get off to a hot start, they may be able to ride the momentum to hang on to a playoff spot late in the season.
If the team is able to secure a playoff spot, it should be considered a very successful season.
However, their roster is a bit thin, and with the Sedins gone they will have to rely more on Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser to carry this team going forward.
Overall, this team is not built to win now and is at least 2-3 years from being good. Given how competitive the West is, the Canucks should use 2018/19 as another year of growth and development.
On the flipside, it might not be such a horrible thing to be bad for another season. Considering how several of their key players (Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes) still need time to develop in the NHL.
Better yet, having a shot at drafting Jack Hughes at the 2019 NHL Draft might be a consolation prize worth waiting for...
How do you think the Vancouver Canucks will do in 2018/19? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to give us a follow on Twitter by searching (@VAVELNHL_ENG).