It was a trying year for the Vancouver Canucks. Promising defenseman Luc Boudron was killed in a motorcycle accident. Goaltender Roberto Luongo had trouble focusing on hockey because of his wife’s complicated pregnancy thousands of miles away. The defense corps was decimated by injuries. All things considered, something closer to an uneventful season will be welcome for this organization.
2007-08: 39-33-10, 88 points (fifth in Northwest)
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Well, despite everything that happened the Canucks did stay in the playoff race until the last week of the season. Despite the injuries, the patchwork defense corps still played pretty well in front of Luongo. While the organization mourned the loss of Bourdon another young defenseman, Alex Edler, showed plenty of promise.
WHAT WENT WRONG: The Canucks lost seven of their final eight games and fell all the way to the basement in the tight Northwest division. Offense was a big problem all season, and when Luongo’s play slipped the team collapsed around him. It all added up to cost GM Mike Nonis his job, and he was replaced by former player agent Mike Gillis.
ARRIVALS: C Pavol Demitra, RW Steve Bernier, C Ryan Johnson, C Kyle Wellwood, LW Darcy Hordichuk, D Nolan Baumgartner
DEPARTURES: LW Markus Naslund, C Brendan Morrison, C Trevor Linden, D Mike Weaver
IMPACT PROSPECTS: RW Michael Grabner, G Cory Schneider, C Cody Hodgson
Who is going to score?
The offense struggled mightily last season, and then the Canucks said goodbye to the franchise’s top two leading scorers and the No. 2 center. OK, Trevor Linden’s departure isn’t going to hurt the score sheet much, but is adding Demitra and Bernier to replace Naslund and Morrison going to result in more goals? Maybe a few, but the greater need will be more output from guys like Raymond, Taylor Pyatt, Matt Pettinger and yes, even the Sedin twins can be better.
Is the old Bobby Lou back?
Obviously Luongo had a fair excuse for his late-season struggles, but he still has to prove to everyone he’s beyond them. Even if Mats Sundin, Brendan Shanahan and a 25-year-old Pavel Bure show up in Vancouver during camp, this team is going nowhere without peak performance from Luongo.
PROGNOSIS: Canucks fans probably don’t want to hear this, but expect more of the same (on the ice) in the Great Northwest this season. Vancouver will play solid defense, get great goaltending and struggle to score goals. Obviously if the Canucks end up with better than solid defense or really great goaltending or don’t struggle to score as much as expected, this team could win that wide-open division. Or it could be more of the same and making the playoffs will be a struggle.
|Daniel Sedin||Henrik Sedin||Steve Bernier|
|Mason Raymond||Pavol Demitra||Taylor Pyatt|
|Matt Pettinger||Ryan Kesler||Alex Burrows|
|Darcy Hordichuk||Ryan Johnson||Kyle Wellwood|
|Matthias Ohlund||Sami Salo|
|Kevin Bieksa||Alex Edler|
|Willie Mitchell||Lucas Krajicek|
|Nolan Baumgartner||Lawrence Nycholat|
|Corey Sanford/Cory Schnieder|
*NOTE: This is not necessarily an attempt to guess line combinations