After a year of many positives for Canuck fans, the season ended with fans scratching there heads wondering what went wrong. The Sedin’s had a monster year with the Nuckleheads, ending with Henrik winning the Art Ross and the Hart Trophies. Alexander Burrows had a nice 2010 campaign, leading the Canucks in goals with 35. Kesler, Raymond, Samuelsson, and Erhoff all had solid offensive numbers last season. It surprised everyone when the Canucks finished a top of the league with goal scoring, coming from a defence first hockey team. Luongo had a good season in net, but wasn’t himself. By the time the playoffs rolled around it caught up to Luongo. Once again the Canucks lost in the second round to the Chicago Blackhawks. Another factor for the second round exit was the Canucks defence looked bad against the high flying ‘Hawks offence. Mitchell missed the playoffs due to a hit from behind by Evgeni Malkin and it showed on Vancouver’s blue line.
With the offseason additions by Mike Gillis, the expectations are weighing on the club. Many fans are all ready saying, “this year is the year”.
Last Season: 49-28-5, 103 points, 3rd in the Western Conference
Incoming: Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Victor Oreskovich, Joel Perrault
Outgoing: Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, Willie Mitchell, Kyle Wellsood, Andrew Raycroft
Reason For Hope: The city is buzzing about the Vancouver Canucks and there chance to make a run at Lord Stanley. The Canucks are pegged by many experts to win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver was close last year, but after a few offseason pickups, adding depth to the blueline and grit to the bottom six forwards, the Canucks have the best team in the league on paper. UFA singing, Dan Hamhuis was thrilled to sign with Vancouver on July the 1st. He returns to his home province and comes to a team that has a shot at winning something. Hamhuis will play top 4 minutes on defence and has high expectations. The other UFA signed by Mike Gillis was Manny Malhotra who is expected to eat up minutes on the third line and help out a struggling PK unit. Keith Ballard was traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline for Grabner, Bernier, and the Canucks first rounder. Ballard will add both depth and a physical presence on the ‘Nucks defence. Mike Gillis has made sure this offseason to pick up as much depth as he can. But, the main reason for all the optimism around this Canuck team is Henrik Sedin coming off a career best year winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies. Fans are excited about Henirks follow-up year and to see what he has in store. Also anytime you have Luongo in net there is a chance to go far. He has come to training camp this year shredding a few pounds (will hopefully help out his side to side movement) and a chip on his shoulder, Luongo is a determined man. With a core of the Sedins, Luongo, Burrows, Kesler, Raymond, Hamhuis, Edler, and Ehrhoff, what’s not to like about this Canuck team?
What Could Go Wrong? : For the past 40 years, the Canucks have been in the league and have never won a cup. As a religious Canuck fan, it seems the Canucks just find a way to lose when it counts. The last couple of season’s the Canucks have been cup contenders but have collapsed under pressure. It worries me that the same will happen this year. Luongo has looked shaky his last few post-season appearances and is hoping to forget the past and have a great 2011 playoffs. This is Roberto Luongo’s team and how he plays in the playoffs is how the rest of the team will play. Also I know it’s only preseason, but Keith Ballard hasn’t look like anything special and if making the Canucks was based on how he played, he would be starting the year with the Moose. Kevin Bieksa has been in a slow and steady decline over the past few years, which really worries me. Vigneault’s headache, Shane O’Brien was placed on waivers on Saturday and isn’t likely to wear a Canuck uniform this season. Finally Salo is expected to miss a big chunk of the season coming off surgery from a torn Achilles tendon. With all these factors the Canucks blue line isn’t as deep as we thought it was.
Prediction: 1st-3rd in the Western Conference