The Competition: Vancouver Canucks

canucks.gifMy off-season stroll through the Northwest Division continues today with a look at the Vancouver Canucks. (Read my take on the Avalanche here, and my most recent reasonably detailed thoughts on the Flames here.)

Potential 2007-08 Opening Day Roster
(Head coach: Alain Vigneault)
* Again, I am not an “expert” on any of these teams, and have cobbled these rosters together from various lists, and the depth charts from my own observations. Experts, feel free to take me to town in the comments, and especially mention top prospects I’ve missed …

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, Matt Cooke, Taylor Pyatt, Ryan Kesler, Brad Isbister, Alex Burrows, Byron Ritchie, Jeff Cowan, Ryan Shannon. (Trevor Linden?)

Clearly, the forward group is the glaring weakness in Vancouver. That’s not to say there aren’t players to like in this group: When Daniel and Henrik are on, they’re as unstoppable a line as exists in hockey, and the Flames were defenceless against their talents last season. Matt Cooke is still an effective pest who doesn’t cost the Canucks chances, Ryan Kesler still has plenty of potential, and Alex Burrows and Jeff Cowan are good fourth line players. The addition of Brad Isbister by GM David Nonis is interesting — it’s as though he’s trying to make the Taylor Pyatt lightning strike twice. The only problem with that is that only one of those two can play with the Sedins at the time. Perhaps Isbister is insurance for a Pyatt injury? Ryan Shannon and Byron Ritchie are both small, but both have plenty of ability and at the top level may be able to strike for 40 or 50 points given enough ice time in Vancouver.

I think Markus Naslund’s and Brendan Morrison’s best days are behind them, and their contracts aren’t doing much more than eating up valuable cap space at this point. It’s not that they can’t play, but they’re not really important players like they were a few years ago. Neither is Bertuzzi. Funny how the best line in hockey from the 2003-04 season can be almost completely forgettable just a few seasons later.

Mattias Ohlund, Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, Willie Mitchell, Aaron Miller, Lukas Krajicek. (Alex Edler, Luc Bourdon)

An incredibly strong group, and clearly the deepest in the division despite the lack of a bona fide star. The best part about having depth like this is not having to saddle any particular player with 30 minutes of ice time and wear him down; each of these guys can play 20 solid minutes, and four of them (Ohlund, Bieksa, Salo and Krajicek) are capable of playing the PP point effectively. And it might just be a couple of seasons before either Bieksa or Luc Bourdon become that blueline star that Stanley Cup teams not known as the Carolina Hurricanes usually seem to have.

Roberto Luongo, Curtis Sanford.

I still like Kipper over Luongo, but I’m biased. Anyway, I’m sure every team in the league this side of the New Jersey Devils would take either guy over their guy if pushed, and as the cliche addicts on sports television love to say, “Bobby Lu gives you a chance to win every night.” Overused, but true, and he’s only going to be better after having seen the playoffs.

I’ve never been quiet about the fact that I’m no fan of the Canucks, and a lot of that has to do with its fans. I lived in Vancouver for about two years and have never been surrounded by a more arrogant, uninformed, blinder-wearing group of fans — look at all the devotion to Bertuzzi after his “incident” and you get the idea. But, I do understand that the loudmouths and GM Placers who would rather boo opponents than cheer hometown heroes don’t number EVERYONE who follows the team, and that the fans don’t play the games. So, if you’re reading and you’re one of the good ones, you’re OK with me. And let me tell you, I have plenty o’ respect for a team that built an entirely new identity last season and were able to win with it, and win often. (And for a team that is rumoured to be moving back full-time to the wicked stick-in-rink logo that never should have gone anywhere in the first place.)

That D-group and Roberto Luongo aren’t going to allow a lot of goals, but the Canucks are still essentially a one-line team for next season. It’s one really good line, but you can’t go all the way now with just one consistent scoring line, no matter how good it is. I’ve heard speculation that the Miller signing was a precursor to a trade, maybe of Mattias Ohlund, that would bring more forward talent into town. That wouldn’t be a horrible move, especially if Bourdon comes into camp ready to play.

Predicted finish: Third.

Canucks and Beyond
Canucks Hockey Blog
Waiting For Stanley
Stick In Rink
Canucks Genome Project
Canucks Fangirl

The Chief Canuck

NEXT: Minnesota Wild


~ by duncan on July 16, 2007.

4 Responses to “The Competition: Vancouver Canucks”

  1. “GM Placers who would rather boo opponents than cheer hometown heroes”

    I hear you on that one. During the Avs stretch run I went to a game at Rexall Place and a game at GM Place. At Rexall Place I conversed with fans next to me (actual conversation), got some “Good luck!” comments, and a general good feel.

    Cut to GM Place where, after the Avs were finished with a little thing called “winning”, I got comments such as “Good luck on the golf course” and “Your team sucks”. Original.

    However I do know some awesome Canucks fans too. Must be something about the building.

    I was also unimpressed with their mascot who taunted a 5-year old throughout the entire 2nd intermission and gave Markus Naslunds jersey to a moderately attractive girl who was just there with her boyfriend, rather than the the young kid just behind her.

  2. i really thought the canucks would tank last year, luongo or no luongo. i still feel that they are playing beyond their means due to solid netminding, and i can’t help but think they’ll be weaker than the wild in the standings…. buuuuuut the wild have no backstopper. so, i guess you’re probably right… without luongo (way to go keenan, thanks a lot) the nucks would be hurtin’.

  3. The day Byron Ritchie scores 40 points in the NHL is the day Tomi Maki makes the Flames.

  4. ouch….

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