A Closer Look at the Canucks
By Patrick Hoffman
When looking at this past season, it is easy to see that a lot of the Canadian teams in the National Hockey League struggled mightily.
In fact, out of the seven teams in Canada, only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames, all of whom made the playoffs last season, had terrible seasons this year and failed to make the postseason dance.
One team that also failed to make the postseason was the Vancouver Canucks. They were the fifth worst team in the league and clearly showed that they are in the process of a rebuild.
The rebuild further commenced when both Henrik and Daniel Sedin retired at the end of the season. Having been with the Canucks their entire career and playing in well over 1,000 games, the Sedins did what they needed to do to perform well year in and year out and get this franchise back on the map after several years in which they were not very good.
While the loss of the Sedins will hurt, this franchise is slowly heading in the right direction. The first sign that the team is headed in the right direction is that Travis Green is manning the bench.
Green was more than a solid first year NHL head coach this season. Yes, the team missed the playoffs and were near the bottom of the league standings, but he was able to get a lot out of the roster that was constructed by the team's upper management.
In Green, the franchise has a coach who is willing to be patient, demands accountability from his players, and knows the right buttons to push to get the most out of his team. He is the perfect coach for the franchise's rebuild.
This franchise also has a lot of talented youngsters. Brock Boeser (55 points as a rookie this year), Bo Horvat (44 points in 64 games), Sven Baertschi (29 points in 53 games), Jake Virtanen (20 points in 75 games...needs to show a lot more at this level on a consistent basis), and several others in the pipeline.
The team already has a solid defensive core with guys like Alexander Edler, Michael Del Zotto, Erik Gudbranson, Derrick Pouliot, and Christopher Tanev. Adding another veteran via trade or free agency certainly would not hurt a franchise that is looking to get better at all positions.
Speaking of improving in each area of their game, they should have an upgrade between the pipes coming in the very near future, may be even as soon as next season. the Canucks may have a very bright one when it comes to their goaltending. Thatcher Demko, 22, is waiting in the wings and has already had two impressive seasons in the American Hockey League the franchise's farm team, the Utica Comets.
Demko made his NHL debut on March 31 in a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Demko made 26 saves and did what he had to do to help his team win 5-4 in overtime.
There is no doubt that the future is now the Canucks and Demko. While the team's tandem of Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson was not terrible, it is in desperate need of an upgrade and Demko should be part of that solution.
This franchise still may struggle next season. With that said, they are slowly, but surely putting the pieces of the puzzle together to hopefully form a formidable hockey club within the next few seasons.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.