The Vancouver Canucks rebuild is well under way at this point.
People want them to get rid of the Sedins. But the way I see it, the team is still so bad that they finish in the bottom-5 even with the Sedins. So keep ’em around and let them handle the media pressure. Vancouver isn’t exactly the kindest in that regard.
Nevertheless, they finally sold some veterans, netting fantastic returns for Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows. They added Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen from those two, and when you add them to Brock Boeser, Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat, Mikael Granlund, Brandon Sutter, and Elias Petterson, it looks the next core of Vancouver Canucks have been established.
Vancouver has unearthed young defenders in Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher to at least begin building with, and have a stud goaltending prospect in Thatcher Demko marinating with Utica of the AHL.
The Canucks are years away from contention. But their rebuild is much further along than many will give them credit for.
By the way, I wrote an article on their devious Cup plan last March. If you’re bored:
Offensive Rating + Formula
Each player will have two ratings: a Current and Potential rating.
Brock Boeser for example, is a 3+, F. This means currently he is an offensively oriented top-9 forward, but has the potential to be a franchise player.
dSedin 2, 2 – hSedin 2, 2 – Boeser 3+, F
Baertschi 2, 2 – Horvat 1, F – Eriksson 2, 2
Granlund 2, 2 – Sutter 3v, 3v – Vanek 2, 2
Burmistrov 3+, 3+ – Gagner 3+, 3+ – Dorsett 4, 4
Megna 4, 4 – Goldobin 3+, 1 – Virtanen 4, 2??
The Canucks might actually have 12 NHL forwards this year – something they couldn’t say last year. (Sorry Jayson Megna.) In fact, considering Sedin, Horvat, Sutter, and Gagner as their top four centermen doesn’t seem bad at all.
The real questions are at the top-end of the lineup, which is full of top-9 talent, but lacking in high end offense. Brock Boeser might have something to say about that, but patience will be required as the stud gains valuable NHL experience.
Canuck fans will be craving for looks at Boeser, Goldobin, Dahlen, and maybe even Virtanen once again, but this lineup should be significantly better than last year’s.
Just not better enough for the playoffs, unfortunately.
Forward Ranking: Weak (26th of 31)
Defense Rating + Formula
Edler 1, 1 – Tanev 2, 2
Hutton 2, 2 – Stecher 2, 2
Del Zotto 3+, 3+ – Gudbranson 3v, 3v
Juolevi D, F??
The Canucks defense, admittedly, is hard to evaluate. Hutton, Tanev, and Edler are solid top-4 options that could complement most teams. But what to think about Troy Stecher? Is it reasonable to give an undrafted college player with 70 games of experience a 2 as a top-4 defenseman?
I don’t know. But he averaged 20 minutes of ice per game and put up 23 points, so.. He kind of tied my hands.
It’s challenging to continue to give Edler a 1, but he was certainly a 1 while the Canucks were on top of the world in 2010, so I’m going to credit his declining numbers to the fact the his team has also declined significantly.
He too, could play on most team’s top pairing under the correct circumstances.
Alas, the ‘Nucks have a serviceable core of defensemen to grow alongside Horvat, Boeser, and the gang. If Olli Juolevi can fulfill his 5th overall pick status, then once again, we can claim the Canucks rebuild is well under way – and looking mighty fine.
Defense Rating: Weak (24th of 31)
Goaltending Rating + Formula
Markstrom 2, 1? – Nilsson 2, 1?
Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson both qualify as goalies that “deserve a shot”. Markstrom has posted a .913 save percentage over the last two years, appearing in 59 games. Those numbers don’t blow anyone out of the water, but are solid given the team in front of him.
Nilsson looks like a crafty signing. After posting a .923 save percentage for a mediocre Buffalo team, he is a solid candidate for a goaltender time share situation.
Will either Markstrom or Nilsson be able to play 50 or 60 games? Probably not. But as long as they don’t suck simultaneously, the Canucks should have at least serviceable goaltending.
However, it’s the lack of sample size with these two that puts the Canucks in the basement of our goaltender rankings.
Goaltender Rating: Weak (31st of 31)
I think Brock Boeser is the real deal. Why? Because after watching him play last year, I’d describe him as this: a speedy playmaking winger with an excellent shot that gets to the net. Not bad. The Canucks are thirsting for skill and goal scoring ability, and Boeser brings plenty of both.
Nikolay Goldobin was a superb return for longtime Canuck Janik Hansen, and his description is similarly enticing: a strong, speedy winger with a powerful, deceptive shot. The beauty of this acquisition is that he’s had two seasons in the AHL developing and has put up good numbers for a 19 and 20 year old professional. Patience will be required as he learns what he can get away with at the NHL level, but all of the tools are there to make an impact. Dare I say it: he reminds me of a poor man’s Ilya Kovalchuk.
Mikael Granlund and Sven Baertschi were both underrated acquisitions, and Granlund in particular was under fire after they traded an offensive prospect in Hunter Shinkaruk for him. Both players are excellent pieces for the Canucks. Are they future stars? Absolutely not. But every team needs players capable of playing with skilled players, and Baertschi/Granlund have that skillset. They’ll never be why the ‘Nucks are selling tickets, but their value should not be underestimated.
Lastly, Olli Juolevi is the team’s future on defence, and he might get an opportunity to prove so. Personally, I am always against rushing players – particularly on shitty teams. So if he spends a full year in the AHL or even another in junior, I’ll take it as a positive.
If he does crack the NHL roster, however, and excels, then.. The Canucks have yet another piece to get excited about.
5 Most Valuable Assets
Brock Boeser 3+, F
Bo Horvat 1, F?
Elias Petersson D, F?
Olli Juolevi D, F??
Thatcher Demko D, F?
Top 3 Prospects
Brock Boeser 2, F
Elias Petersson D, F?
Olli Juolevi D, F??
For a team like the Canucks where their 3 top prospects are also in their most valuable assets, it’s a sign of where they are in the developmental stage. The team is young, they have some solid top-6 players where you know what you get (Sedins, Baertschi, Horvat, Granlund, Eriksson, Vanek), and they also have some wildcards with high potential that could surprise people and over-perform.
With sound additions like Thomas Vanek and Sam Gagner, the Canucks have a much deeper offense than last year. Their youth will show inconsistency, but if I’m a ‘Nucks fan, I have plenty of patience for the upcoming year. For the first time since the early 2000s when the Sedins made the trip across the pond, the Canucks have top notch youth to salivate over at the NHL level.
People may criticize the additions of players like Gagner, Vanek, Burmistrov, and Eriksson last year. But it allows the Canucks to send a powerful message to their prospects: you have to outperform established NHL players to make this team. And that is always a good thing.
The Canucks will get pummeled plenty this year. But there should be plenty of buzz around this team.
Offense: Weak (26th of 31)
Defense: Weak (24th of 31)
Goaltending: Weak (31st of 31)
Verdict: 7th in the Pacific Division
Playoffs: At least three years. This team should get exciting quite quickly, though.