The Vancouver Canucks had a very forgettable season in 2016/17. They finished with a 30-43-9 record and 69 points, which was good enough for seventh in the Pacific Division and second last in the Western Conference.
Heading into a new season of NHL hockey, there have been several major changes surrounding this team. Travis Green takes over as the Canucks’ new head coach after Willie Desjardins was fired at the end of last season.
Roster-wise there were a lot of personnel change, as the Canucks were one of the busiest teams during the NHL free agent frenzy. We can expect to see around five to eight new players on the Canucks’ roster to start the 2017/18 season.
Sam Gagner (C/W)
The Vancouver Canucks signed ten-year NHL veteran Sam Gagner, to a three-year deal worth $9.45 million. The 28-year-old is coming off a career year with the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring 18 goals, 32 assists, for a career high of 50 points.
He might be just entering his prime at 28-years-old and will give the Canucks solid minutes in a complementary scoring role. He also has the versatility to play both the center and wing, and is a reliable playmaker on the power play.
Michael Del Zotto (D)
On July 1st, Michael Del Zotto signed a two-year deal, worth $6 million.
He is coming off a very mediocre season with the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring six goals and 18 points in 51 games. However, he should bring experience and mobility to the Canucks’ defense, and will likely see minutes in a top-two pairing.
Either with Erik Gudbranson or Chris Tanev as his defensive partner.
Del Zotto has played nine seasons in the NHL but hasn’t progressed much since his rookie year. This might be the 27-year-old’s last chance to make something out of his NHL career.
Alexander Burmistrov (C)
Alexander Burmistrov is coming into Vancouver on a one year, $900,000 deal. He appeared in 49 games for the Arizona Coyotes last year, scoring five goals and 11 assists for 16 points.
This is a low-risk signing by the Canucks. Burmistrov was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft and is only 25-years-old, so he still might be able to show the hockey world why he was such a high pick in his draft year.
Anders Nilsson (G)
The Vancouver Canucks signed goalie Anders Nilsson to a two-year, $5 million deal. The 27-year-old played 26 games for the Buffalo Sabres last year, posting a 2.67 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage.
Nilsson comes in with a chance to battle for the number one goaltending spot along with Jacob Markstrom.
Both goalies are at the point in their NHL careers where they will have to prove that they are capable of being a starter. Look for the Canucks to give them both a chance to do just that next year.
Patrick Wiercioch (D)
The Vancouver Canucks signed former Colorado defenseman, Patrick Wiercioch to a one-year contract worth $650,000.
Wiercioch is an inexpensive option on the blueline and has shown some offensive upside during his time with the Ottawa Senators. If he can come in and give the Canucks a solid 15-18 minutes a night, it will be considered a decent signing.
Elias Pettersson (C)
Elias Pettersson was selected fifth overall by the Canucks in the 2017 NHL entry draft. He is a versatile two-way center with decent size at 6’2″ but is only listed at 165 lbs.
He will likely need at least one more year to beef up before thinking about the NHL.
Pettersson looks to be a very special player for the Canucks in the future and has potential to be the team’s number one center in a few years.
Ryan Miller (G)
Miller played 54 games behind a horrible Vancouver Canucks defense last year, but still managed to put a respectable .914 save percentage.
Luca Sbisa (D)
Luca Sbisa was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights at NHL expansion draft.
The Vancouver Canucks lost some defensive depth by losing Sbisa, but Michael Del Zotto is expected to slip right into Sbisa’s role and take over his minutes.
Nikita Tryamkin (D)
Nikita Tryamkin decided to leave the Vancouver Canucks to go back to the KHL.
It is disappointing for many Canuck fans to see that their team wasn’t able to keep the towering defenseman. Tryamkin is only 22-years-old with plenty of potential to become a solid NHL defender for years to come.
Philip Larsen (D)
Philip Larsen played 26 games for the Canucks last season, scoring one goal and six points.
After the season concluded, Larsen agreed to terms on a two-year contract with Salavat Yulaev in the KHL.
Moving on up
Brock Boeser (RW)
Brock Boeser joined the Vancouver Canucks late last season, and made an immediate impact. He scored four goals in nine games, and looks to be a lock to make the roster in 2017/18.
If Boeser gets playing time with a quality center like Bo Horvat or Henrik Sedin, he can very likely be a 20-25 goal scorer next season and be a Calder Trophy Candidate.
Nikolay Goldobin (RW)
Nikolay Goldobin was acquired at the trade deadline from the San Jose Sharks, with Jannik Hansen going the other way.
Goldobin already has 23 games of NHL experience and looks more NHL ready than other Canuck prospects like Jonathan Dahlen and Elias Pettersson.
In comparison, Goldobin has a better chance to stick with the Canucks on opening night in October.
Jonathan Dahlen (C)
Jonathan Dahlen was acquired in the trade-deadline deal, that sent Alexandre Burrows to the Ottawa Senators last spring.
He is a skilled offensive player, with excellent playmaking and scoring abilities.
It is still uncertain if he is ready to make the jump to the NHL next season. If the Canucks feel Dahlen is close, he will probably stay in North America and see time with the Utica Comets.
That aside, he looks to be a future top-six forward for the Vancouver Canucks.
What can the Vancouver Canucks achieve this season?
The Vancouver Canucks are currently in the midst of a major rebuild. It should be a few more years before things in Vancouver can start trending up.
The 2017/18 season should be another year of development and growth. It will be interesting to see how much players like Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi, Troy Stecher progress.
Right now the focus for the Canucks should be to identify their talent and decide which players to keep long-term. At that same time, one of Trevor Linden and Jim Benning’s main goals is to ensure that their team stays competitive every night, and instill a positive winning culture for the future.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be playing in the final year of their contracts in 2017/18. As both will be 37 this coming season, the Sedin twins could be playing their last NHL season.
It will be rather sentimental for long time Canuck fans to see two of the greatest players in franchise history to play for their club one final time.
Overall, the Vancouver Canucks are far from being a Stanley Cup contender.
Simply put, there are too many teams (Nashville, Edmonton, Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, San Jose, St. Louis) better than the Vancouver Canucks right now. They are in danger of finishing in the bottom of the Pacific Division.
Considering the experience they brought in, and slightly better defensive lineup, they should finish just ahead of the Golden Knights and be a seventh place team in the Pacific Division.
It is very likely that they will be a lottery team again, and it is quite possible that names like Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev will be moved at the trade deadline for future assets.
Do you agree with this analysis? What do you think the Canucks can achieve in the 2017/18 NHL season? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to vote in the poll.
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