The winds of change were also prevailing on the West Coast, as they blew Ryan Kesler out of town, as it was widely expected and the substance that was blown in to town, may be considered questionable, at best. Nevertheless, this is a renewing franchise, which has some work to do, but with top end draft picks now in the fold, it may not be long before the Canucks find their way back into the playoff race.
For us poolies, the 2015 season is full of question marks and that will leave confidence low at the hockey pool draft. Some of the departures were going to be hard to fill the void and with the number of new faces in the line-up, we may begin to wonder how long it will take before they play like a team. We'll try our hand at projecting some numbers, looking for realistic expectations for a team that has some things to prove.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Daniel Sedin||65||7.000||Alex Edler||30||5.000||Ryan Miller||65||6.000|
|Henrik Sedin||65||7.000||Kevin Bieksa||30||4.600||Eddie Lack||25||1.150|
|Radim Vrbata||55||5.000||Dan Hamhuis||25||4.500|
|Nick Bonino||45||1.900||Chris Tanev||20||2.000|
|Alex Burrows||40||4.500||Ryan Stanton||20||0.550|
|Christopher Higgins||35||2.500||Luca Sbisa||15||2.175|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.800|
|Bo Horvat||25||0.894||Frank Corrado||15||0.591|
|Nicklas Jensen||25||0.863||Yannick Weber||15||0.850|
First Round Picks
These are not your Canucks of only a few years ago, when the most difficult decision was to decide which Sedin twin you wanted or if Roberto Luongo was the way to go. No, I don't have anyone from the Canucks projected for a 1st round pick at all here, as Ryan Miller may hit 70 points, trying to push the Canucks into a playoff spot, but that won't be worth an opening round selection, possibly a mid-2nd round pick, at best.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Managing expectations is something that Canucks fans have a hard time doing and Radim Vrbata may get the brunt of a major fan backlash, as he has been charged with the task of rebooting the Sedin twins' career. Vrbata, a UFA signing in the Summer, scored 20 goals and 51 points with the Coyotes last season and by no means is he a bad candidate for the job, it was just a little early to have his expectations publicized, long enough for everyone to stew in. He'll go as far as the twins do, but I can't see them back at Art Ross levels, since the opposition has no one else to check.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
A very poor offensive season in 2014 will hurt the draft confidence of many poolies in the Canucks forwards and rightfully so. The loss of Kesler will also hurt the depth of the Canucks offense, so there isn't much to scream about here. The Sedin twins are currently projected between a very late 2nd round pick to an early 4th round pick in my 24-team draft, which is far below their career bests. Newcomer Nick Bonino will try his best to emerge out of the shadows in Anaheim as a quality player, while Alex Burrows will try to bounce back from an exceptionally rough season.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The strength of this Canucks team will be how steady the blueline can be, but a lack of offense up front will translate into a lack of offense in the back. Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa should be able to lead the team again, but in this transition year, they may not be the guys that they used to be either. They will likely have to concentrate on their own end first, then giving more of their strength on the power play before anything.
The new management team in Vancouver has placed a lot of eggs in the basket of Ryan Miller and it will be his job to bring the Canucks back into the playoffs. Miller should have the number one minutes coming out of camp and I think there should be very few doubts on that, but Eddie Lack, who reverts back to the benchwarmer role for the year, will give him a good push, but he'll only put up decent back-up minutes and points, if everything goes the right way.
Team To Pick From Late?
You may be able to dress up the back end of your pool team with a Canucks player or two, maybe a Christopher Higgins or Zack Kassian up front or a Dan Hamhuis on the blueline, but there really isn't much for quality depth on this Vancouver side this year. There will be some opportunities given to some young players, but the overall scope of this team on paper is still somewhat disappointing.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Canucks had signed all of their restricted free agents before the end of July and had managed to sign their two 1st round draft picks from June, but none of their top picks have made the projected roster... yet. The projected roster has three spots currently open and the team has about $4.8 million left in cap space, if they choose to use it. Those three spots could be used by some of their younger talent, which may be a priority for management and if that's the case, the Canucks will have no worries.
Today, there isn't anything lingering from the 2014 season. Burrows should be given the clean bill of health into training camp and could fight for a top six spot again.