The Canucks were not very good in the 2016 season and they were unlucky at the draft lottery, but they were fortunate enough to have one of the big free agents sign with them, as it was very attractive for Loui Eriksson to play with the Sedin twins, trying to form a very potent top line.
Patience is also the name of the game for a few of their young players already on the roster, the likes of Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Ben Hutton, Emerson Etem, Jake Virtanen and now the late season acquisition Markus Granlund. The team's scouting department are high on these guys and they would like to see this roster come through.
This will be a tough year for the Canucks, they are in tough against a division that was either really hard to play against last season or they are improving at a faster rate than Vancouver. This lack of expedited improvement may also hurt the Canucks and their hockey pool value, which has led to some fairly low projections.
Table last updated on August 6th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The role that Brandon Sutter plays for the Canucks will dictate a lot about the coming season, as it wasn't any secret that the management staff wanted him to be the team's second centre, but injury forced him out of the role and it was handed to Bo Horvat, who did fairly well with it, considering his experience. Now, a new season upon us and the question remains, where do they want him to play?
I have the feeling that he will be third line centre for the team this year, as Horvat is going to run with the second line job and it will be a matter of adjustment for Sutter, who will still need to produce from a line below. There's nothing set in stone here, but if he can have a healthy season, the 35-point range should be easy to achieve and there could be more in there for him.
First Round Picks
The addition of Loui Eriksson to the Canucks makes Henrik Sedin into a potential 1st round pick, as the pivot will have a couple of good trigger men to pass to in Eriksson and his brother, Daniel. They won't be too far apart, when it comes to their scoring totals, given that they should be playing together on a regular basis, but it will be up to the coaching staff to minimize the mistakes they made, when they moved Radim Vrbata off their line full-time to help "spread out the offense."
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Bo Horvat, Jannik Hansen, Sven Baertschi and Brandon Sutter are really going to have to carry the load and be better than these projections, if the Canucks want to stay in any sort of race this season. They are all worthy of being selected, but most are going to be some late round action, the later the better, if you're looking for any sort of bargain potential.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Scoring from the blueline will be questionable this season, as the long-term ability of Alexander Edler is in question, while Ben Hutton is coming along, but might be a bit young to carry the bulk of the load for the Canucks. Chris Tanev is another guy, who is very serviceable, but doesn't quite seem to have the instincts of a top offensive defender. Another late round guy, at best.
This could very well be the year that Jacob Markstrom takes over the number one job for the Canucks, as Ryan Miller, his counterpart, is in the last year of his current deal and is getting up there in age, so things are adding up for the Swede. I would think that Miller would get the first look, but when it is all said and done, I am expecting Markstrom to be the number one.
Team To Pick From?
The Canucks could be guilty of being a team where there are more late round picks than early round picks, as an effect of a lack of depth up in the top lines. If you're looking for players late on from a team that scores, I'm thinking that you're not going to find that here in Vancouver.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Forward Radim Vrbata and defenseman Matt Bartkowski still remain unsigned as unrestricted free agents and both were pool worthy in the 2016 season. Vrbata's age a question and Bartkowski's two-way game was pretty poor, which could be the leading reasons why they still don't have deals.
The Canucks still have about $3.3 million under the cap ceiling with their 23-man projected roster, so if they change their minds on one of them, they would be able to work with it.
The Canucks didn't finish the 2016 season on a healthy note, as Alexander Edler missed the end of the year with a broken leg and Brandon Sutter's season was marred by injury, including a late season broken jaw. Both should be good to go for the start of the season.