The faces of the franchise have retired, and left an irreplaceable hole in the locker room an on the ice. It was time though, for the torch to be passed on from the Sedin twins to the younger and exciting players on this team. Brock Boeser is the most known young superstar the Canucks have, as he made waves around the NHL last season as he became a lethal goal scorer in only his rookie season, scoring 29 goals in 62 games. If he had played a full season he possibly could have had close to 40. A young skilled winger that will be an amazing sniper for a long time, but the Canucks have another great prospect to be excited about, and we will get to him shortly.
First though, the draft. I’ve mentioned this a few times before in previous articles, that I believe that the three defensemen (Boqvist, Hughes and Bouchard) will be going 5,6 and 7 in this years draft. It sounds weird, but I believe that the Canucks could use another top defensive prospect and they should like all three players, so it’s sadly a bit of a case of choosing the one that goes last out of the three. Oliver Wahlstrom is a solid RW that is also expected to go around the 7th pick, but the Canucks might want a defensemen over a forward right now. All three defensemen would be amazing for the Canucks but I highly doubt that Boqvist will be available at 7, so whichever one of Hughes or Bouchard is available is who I think the Canucks should draft 7th overall.
Their defence as it stands right now doesn’t look to bad in all honesty. Edler is still a valuable defensemen going into the last year of his contract, but at 32 years old he is a top 4 defensemen that is going to start declining. Del Zotto, Hutton and Gudbranson are all young defensemen that will all be fighting to earn a long term spot on this teams defence. Christopher Tanev is only 28 years old and is a solid top 4, right handed defensemen that has been in trade rumours for seasons now. If they draft a defensemen with the 7th overall pick, along with prospect Olli Juolevi, they might feel more safe with trading him away this off-season. If they do, they have to be getting a good offensive player back that can play next year. They have good offensive prospects but they won’t be able to replace all of the Sedin’s offence as early as next year.
There has also been talk of the Canucks being interested in Hurricanes defensemen Noah Hanifin. No clue if the Hurricanes would actually want to trade Hanifin, but if they do Vancouver would obviously love to add him to their defence. Problem is, if the Hurricanes are wanting a good young offensive player in return, i’m not sure if the Canucks are the best team for that. Players like Gaudette, Boeser, Horvat, and Pettersson should be off-limits. Possibly Virtanen would be someone the Hurricanes would be interested in, but there will need to be more than just him going to Carolina.
As for the forwards, there are great young players on the team and in the system. Like I said earlier, Boeser got all the attention last year, and it looks like this year all that attention could be on C Elias Pettersson. Drafted 5th overall by the Canucks in last years draft, he dominated the SHL this season as a 19 year old, scoring 56 points in only 44 games. Pettersson is a big, strong, skilled centre that looks likes he could be the future number 1 centre for the Canucks. He just signed his 3 year entry level deal and I would be extremely surprised if he is not playing in the NHL next season. He will be one of my favourites to win rookie of the year next season for sure.
After you take in the cap space the Canucks will be gaining because of the Sedin’s retirement, plus the fact that the only big UFA or RFA they have to re-sign is Sven Baertschi (will only cost around 3-4 million per season), the Canucks shouldn’t be scared of entering the free-agent market to try to upgrade the offence. The Canucks are a bit thin on left wingers, and David Perron and Patrick Maroon are 2 LW that can play top 6 roles. With Pettersson being on an entry level contract for 3 seasons, why not offer one or both of those players 2-3 year deals. They could provide some Veteran leadership for the Canucks young forwards while still helping provide offence. I just think that if the Canucks have cap space to spend, they should use some of it to help them score more goals next season.
Finally, the goaltending. Jacob Markstrom actually played well for the Canucks last season, registering a .912 save percentage in 60 games. Good, but not great. Thankfully, The Canucks do have 2 really good goaltending prospects to look forward to. Thatcher Demko is a 22 year old goalie who played amazing in the AHL last season, posting a .922 save percentage in 46 games. I would expect him to get called up sometime next season for a few games to see how he fairs in the NHL, but he is still maybe a year or two away from being an NHL starter. Then there is 18 year old goaltender Michael DiPietro, who was a 3rd round pick of the Canucks in last years NHL draft. He posted a .910 save percentage in the OHL last season on a sub-par Windsor Spitfires team. However he did play well enough to be awarded a 3 year entry level contract with the Vancouver Canucks. He is ways away from being an NHL goalie, but he is young with a lot of potential. The Canucks should be pleased with their depth at the goaltender position.
So the off-season should be interesting for the Canucks. They will have to decide if trading Tanev is a good idea, and if so what can they get back for him. And with all that cap space they will have I would expect them to spend a little bit of it on some good veteran forwards to help the young guys out. As long as they aren’t offering out big 6 year 6 million dollar contracts to 30 year old players who haven’t been able to score more than 25 points a season for the first two years of their contract….. sorry Loui Eriksson.