It has been a busy summer for the Canucks and the season is just one week away.
They were unable to sign the biggest free agent names, but nonetheless the team is shaping up to be competitive in the short term.
Loaded with young talent, a desire to get to the playoffs, and an excellent coaching staff the Canucks will look to turn heads in the NHL this year.
With that in mind here are 9 bold predictions for the Canucks upcoming season.
1. Alex Burrows will be traded at this year’s deadline
The fact that he has not already is puzzling, especially since Chris Higgins was bought out instead.
Buying out Burrows’ contract would result in the Canucks being on the hook for two-thirds ($2 million) of his $3 million dollar contract. However, it allows for the Canucks to give more ice-time to their young guns, who will definitely have another roller coaster of a season.
2. The Sedin twins will both crack 70 points
Two words. Loui Eriksson.
Although he will be 31 when the puck drops for next season, he offers great skill as a forward, allowing the Sedin twins to roam around freely. This will force their patented cycle game that has opponents literally spinning.
On top of that, Eriksson has experience playing with the Sedin twins, having suited up on the same line for Sweden, and more recently at the Hockey World Cup.
Henrik and Daniel have a new weapon with Eriksson. And they are both salivating at the thought of running through the Western Conference for possibly the last time in their storied careers.
3. There will be another goalie controversy
I am sure Roberto Luongo (@strombone1) has a strong opinion on this one.
If you remember correctly, the Vancouver Canucks signed Ryan Miller to a 3 year/$18 million dollar contract back in 2014, which now does not look like the greatest decision. Heading into the season, Miller will be 36 years old and returning from missing significant time to injury. Jacob Markstrom is the future and he should be the starting goalie moving forward.
However, given we’re talking about the Canucks, anything can happen.
4. Jake Virtanen will hit the 20-goal plateau
I know this sounds crazy, but people will be pleasantly surprised this year with Virtanen’s production. With a season underneath his belt, Virtanen is ready to take another step forward with the roster. Willie Desjardin out of necessity will lean on him more and that will pay immediate dividends.
And since the Sedin twins are another year older, they’ll be looking to stay fresh for the stretch of the season, giving Virtanen more time to prove himself on the ice. When asked about going down to Utica and his response was, “I’m not even going to consider that right now”.
5. Bo Horvat will be the face of the franchise
The Canucks still have the Sedin twins on the roster, but their futures look unclear heading into the 2017-2018 season. With that in mind, Canucks management will be looking to find the next person to carry that torch forward.
Selected #9 overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the 21-year-old center recorded 40 points during the 2015-2016 – just behind the Sedins. Although his future outlook is not set in stone, Horvat is an attractive option given his natural leadership skills and how well he commands attention from everyone in the locker room.
6. Loui Eriksson will excel with the Sedin twins
Loui Eriksson has always been an underrated player in the league and that does not seem to be changing anytime soon. Which is fine by the Sedins if you ask them – they can just quietly incorporate their newest weapon.
Eriksson bounced back last year after a few disappointing seasons scoring 30 goals. No doubt that playing on a line with Daniel and Henrik will get him even cleaner looks.
I wonder how much time these three will spend at IKEA this season.
7. The Canucks will be much tougher this year
Exhibit #1: 6’7″ Nikita Tryamkin
Exhibit #2: 6’5″ Erik Gudbranson
With a roster loaded with young talent, they’ll have plenty of toughness to go along with it. Additionally, Andrey Pedan cleared waivers this past week and will have a chance to showoff his grit with the squad at some point, as well.
8. Sven Baertschi will be the Canucks unsung hero
The 24-year-old Swiss native had a breakout year for the Canucks in the 2015-2016 season, tallying 15 goals and 28 points. Coming into the NHL, Baertschi had high expectations as he led the WHL in goals, assists and points by a rookie during the 2011-2012 season. Add this all to the fact that the Canucks are desperate for secondary scoring, and you are looking at a player who could crack the 25 goal mark.
9. The Canucks will make the playoffs
You have probably heard by now that the Canucks have been picked to finish last in the league standings by the EA NHL simulator. Then again, the Canucks were picked to beat the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Am I saying they can win it all?
This year’s roster is out to prove a lot to the hockey world. And with a young core, the team can really turn some heads.
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