The Vancouver Canucks is certainly a team that has experienced the highs and lows of the NHL. It’s been five years since the Canuck’s heartbreaking Stanley Cup finals loss against the Boston Bruins. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle for them. This season will is no exception. The Vancouver Canucks have made many positive off-season moves but still require more depth in many ways.
The Vancouver Canucks acquired defenseman Erik Gudbranson from the Florida Panthers in late May. The 24 year old Gudbranson tallied two goals and seven assists in 64 games with the Panthers last season. This signing was clearly a statement by Canucks GM Jim Benning’s intention to build a younger squad. Gudbranson is sure to get far more ice time with the Canucks and would be a perfect fit along-side someone like Alex Edler or Christopher Tanev.
The biggest offseason move by the Canucks would be the signing of free agent forward Loui Eriksson. Eriksson signed a six year contract with Vancouver on July 1 and is sure to spend much of his time with the Sedin twins on the first line. Eriksson scored 30 goals and added 33 assists in 82 games with the Boston Bruins.
Work to be done:
Although the signing of Eriksson is positive, it also comes with considerable risk. After all, Henrik and Daniel are both 35 and Loui Eriksson is 31. With each passing year, team’s top lines consist of far younger offensive anchors, with the exception of Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers last year. The New York Islanders have John Tavares, the Oiler’s have Connor McDavid, the Tampa Bay Lightning have Steven Stampkos. These are just a few examples of teams built around younger forwards.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin have carried the Vancouver Canucks for many years now. Last year the twins scored a combined 39 goals and tallied 77 assists, not bad for a couple of season veterans. Nevertheless, age is beginning to become a factor for these guys.
With the departure of veteran forwards Radim Vrbata, Chris Higgins, and defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Canuck’s GM Jim Benning will have to move quickly to fill these gaps within the roster. The problem is the Canucks are short on players that would fit the “trade bait” scenario. The Sedins, Yannick Hansen and Alexandre Burrows are perfect examples.
These are veteran players that the Canucks could trade away but may not get much in return. And even if they did want to trade them, trading them early in the season is likely not an option. Therefore, the Canucks are in for a shaky season, having to look to their younger players to bolster the attack this season. Alex Edler and Christopher Tanev will likely be the team’s new defensive anchors. The pressure will be on Henrik and Daniel Sedin to carry the team yet again. Forwards Sven Baertschi, Brandon Sutter and Jake Virtanen will be expected to contribute far more this season as well. Virtanen scored just seven goals and added six assists in 55 games for the Canucks last season.
So, the verdict is still out on whether the experienced side of the roster leads the way or the younger side. Either way, the Vancouver Canucks are in for a tough season.