The Vancouver Canucks will look to improve their record from last season after finishing last in the Pacific Division. Vancouver made little additions in the offseason to try and take their team back to the playoffs. Whether or not these improvements are enough to make the postseason will be explored in the Vancouver Canucks 2017-2018 Season Preview.
Last season was not pretty for the Canucks. They finished the season with a 30-43-9 record, good enough for 69 points and the third worst total in the entire league. They struggled to score goals finishing third to last in the league in that category as well. The one bright spot on offense for the Canucks was the emergence Bo Horvat, who put up 52 points over the course of the year. Horvat also lead the team in goals with 20. He will likely lead the Canucks in scoring again in 2017-2018, as the Sedin twins have show that their age is getting to them, with Henrik and Daniel posting 50 and 44 points respectively over the 82 game slate last year.
The offense will need Loui Eriksson to stay healthy and play like the 36 million dollar player they paid him to be last summer. Eriksson posted 24 pints in 65 games played while missing the last 17 tilts with a lower body injury.
One potential bright spot for the Canucks on offense this year could be Brock Boeser. Boeser skated in nine games for Vancouver last season, leaving The University of North Dakota after his sophomore season. While at UND The Canuck’s first round pick in 2015 posted 94 points in 74 games played. In his nine game stint with the Vancouver, Boeser scored four goals and one assists, including netting his first goal in his first game. Boeser should end up near the top of Vancouver’s scoring leaders assuming he plays the entire season in the NHL. Overall Vancouver’s forward corps doesn’t look impressive on paper and is not likely to do much more damage than they did last season.
The team’s only significant move in the forward department was adding Sam Gagner. Gagner had a surprisingly good year with Columbus in 2016-2017 posting 18 goals and 32 assists on the year. Gagner showed that he can still provide significant contributions, which the Canucks hope will continue in the 2017-2018 season.
Vancouver’s brightest spot is most likely its defense. The Canucks acquired Michael Del Zotto to add depth to their top 4. Del Zotto played the last three years in Philadelphia and should improve the team’s powerplay, which ranked second to last in 2016-2017 converting on 14.1% of their attempts.
The team’s defense also features Alex Edler, who can eat up big minutes for the team. Last year he lead all Canucks skaters with 24:18 in time on ice per game.
Chris Tanev will also look to build on his success from last year. Tanev was the only Canuck defenseman to end the season with a positive +/- rating, registering a total of +3. While healthy, he also was capable of playing decent minutes, averaging 20:20 time on ice. This was tied with Erik Gudbranson, who missed the majority of the season while on the IR. If healthy the former third overall pick slots in nicely into the top 4.
The Canuck’s blue line also features Tory Stecher, who had a very solid rookie campaign amid the team’s struggles. Stetcher led Vancouver defenders in points with 24 and definitely has the upside to improve upon those totals in the 2017-2018 season.
Former University of Maine Black Bear, Ben Hutton also has room to improve in his third full season in the NHL. The young defender adds depth to the d-corps, and provides good puck moving capabilities on the back end.
Vancouver’s goaltending has some question marks for the upcoming season. After the departure of Ryan Miller the projected starter is Jacob Markstrom, who played a backup role for the team during the previous two seasons. The Swede posted average numbers as the team’s understudy registering .915 and .910 save percentages in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons respectively. The 6’6 netminder will look to prove that he is ready for a starter’s role and can provide quality goaltending for the Canucks.
Vancouver signed Anders Nilsson to fill the other goaltending position during the 2017-2018 season. Nilsson played a back-up role to Robin Lehner in Buffalo last year and posted impressive numbers. He finished the year with a .923 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA average in 26 games played. These numbers are impressive considering the Sabre’s hand another lackluster season. Like Markstrom, Nilsson has never had a starter’s role in the NHL. The Canucks will be relying on two largely unproven goaltenders to mind the crease this year and hope that at least one of them is ready to take on a larger role.
Vancouver Canucks 2017-2018 Season Preview: Overall Outlook
Vancouver has made a few solid changes during the offseason in the signings of Del Zotto and Gagner. They also have a fairly decent defensive corps that can provide stability on the backend assuming they stay healthy. Unfortunately the team still does not look like they will be able to compete offensively with much of the league. Coupled with unproven goaltending and a tough division, it looks unlikely that the Canucks’ 2017-2018 season will make it past April 7th.
- Vancouver did little in the offseason that would indicate a significant offensive output compared to the 2016-2017 season
- The departure of Ryan Miller has left the team with two unproven netminders, who have yet to take on starting roles in the NHL
- The team’s best attribute will be it’s blue line, which is about average for the NHL.