After another record season, winning the president’s trophy for the second season in a row, the Vancouver Canucks looked like they were heading straight back to the Cup Finals for revenge, and were hoping for the Bruins again.
The Los Angeles Kings, yes the 8th place L.A Kings had other plans for the President’s trophy winners as they demolished them in 5 games, and eventually went onto win the Stanley Cup. Vancouver’s quick playoff exit did more than just send the NHL’s best team packing, but also ended the Luongo era. Luongo’s obvious struggles in the first two games of the series led coach Alain Vigneault to no choice but giving Cory Schneider a nod in net. He played well, did his best, but his best wasn’t enough and the Canucks were finished. Schneider’s postseason effort and his combined season record over the past two seasons has also led the Canucks to giving Cory Schneider the starting job for this season which has led to many Luongo trade rumors.
From actual Luongo leafs jersey’s being sold in a Toronto jersey store, too Daren Millard of Sportsnet saying a deal was completed between both sides (Leafs and Canucks), to Chicago even wanting a look at Luongo, it’s been definitely a rollercoaster ride for Roberto Luongo. But for right now, the Vancouver Canucks tentatively will start Cory Schneider between the pipes and Roberto Luongo will be the backup goaltender when the 2013 season starts.
The team has also a huge void to fill in the 2nd line currently. Ryan Kesler is currently out rehabbing his wrist and shoulder after both received separate surgeries during the off-season. With no timeline for Kesler’s return, it will definitely give a chance for a younger player in the system to get a shot. Of course, they can always acquire or sign a center if they needed too.
Other than in net, the team remains largely the same, with the only major change being on defense. Yes Aaron Rome fans, you lost him. You lost your 8th best defensemen! OH THE HUMANITY. Okay, just kidding. Although the Canucks did lose Aaron Rome to free agency, the Canucks added young stud Jason Garrison to the blueline.
With a similar roster and Schneider showing signs he wants some action, the Canucks should enjoy regular season success, but the team and its fan base aren’t looking for just “regular season success”, they want the Cup. His ability will be put to the test, especially when playoffs hit, something that Luongo always encountered with mix results, this will ultimately decide the Canucks fate come playoffs.
Here’s a more in-depth look of who the Canucks lost and added during the off-season:
Additions: Guillaume Desbiens, Jason Garrison, Derek Joslin, Patrick Mullen
Subtractions: Marc Andre Gragnani, Mark Mancari, Samuel Pahlsson, Aaron Rome, Sami Salo.
Now that the 2011-2012 season is over, the Canucks can look forward to January 19th’s puck drop and look for a new start.
Let’s look at the outlook of this shortened season, and see how the Canucks will fair.
Over the past few years, the Vancouver Canucks have improved their system tons, by getting new scouts. The team in my opinion has many NHL ready players in their system ready to go when needed, let’s take a peek at a few who could make an impact this season.
Eddie Lack who has proven at the AHL level that he’s ready to hit the big leagues could get his big chance possibly if a Luongo deal does go through, he will likely be called up to Vancouver if the team doesn’t receive a Goaltender in return from the deal. At 6 foot 5, Lack has been compared to goalie, Pekka Rinne and has shown he is ready to be tested at the NHL level.
On defense, a personal favorite of mine, Kevin Connauton has continued to hone his skills in Chicago, and is regarded as the top offensive defenseman in the system.
Coming off a 44 point season, Jordan Schroeder could find himself in a position to fill huge skates, and when I say huge skates, I mean Ryan Kesler’s skates. With no timeline on Kesler’s injuries, the Canucks could turn to young Jordan Schroeder to fill the void while Kesler is gone. What Schroeder lacks in height, he makes up for it with his flashy speed and dependable play at both ends of the rink.
In all parts of the roster, the Canucks easily measure up to almost every team in the NHL. Their depth gives them the flexibility to play either a up-tempo offense, or a lock-down, grind-it-out defensive game that they usually like to play.
Up front, the Sedins as always will provide that 1-2 scoring punch they always give year in and year out. Alex Burrows will also be there to help carry the load, Kesler could be there as well, but that’s if he returns within the season. David Booth provides another scoring threat that has the potential to reach the 30 goal plateau as he once did in 2008/2009. If the Canucks get a productive year from Booth, and a bounce back season from Mason Raymond, the Canucks could likely challenge for the league lead in goals for.
The Canucks have a very depth blue line, although Aaron Rome and Sami Salo have departed from the team, the team still is very loaded in the defense department. Jason Garrison and Alexander Edler will likely lead the way this season with the offensive punch, while Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis will carry the load in the defensive category.
And here comes the best part, the Goalie department. Let me say this, the Canucks have come a LONG ways with their goalies. From Bob Essensa to Roberto Luongo, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air to have a goaltending duo like Schneider and Luongo in net for long time Canucks Fans. Cory Schneider has done everything he can from attempting to rescue the team from an 0-2 deficit in the playoffs against the Kings to just waiting in the wings for him to get his chance. Luongo on the other hand gave the team a Cup run, which ended up badly for the Canucks, it still gave them the experience.
Since the Lockout has ended, the Canucks rumor mill has overflowed with Luongo rumors. Although both sides can see where Louie comes back and plays for the Canucks, but in my opinion that would be just a bad idea for the organization, and Luongo himself. The circus atmosphere it would create would be tough to ignore. Every indication points to Luongo being traded at some point, when? Who knows. But a trade of the former no. 1 goalie seems to be in the near future. Although it makes you wonder if the Canucks kept it quiet, could the Canucks have stolen a trade out of the blue for the goaltender who’s averaged 37 wins in the past 6 seasons with the Canucks? Things that make you go hmmmmm.
This could be an interesting shortened season for the Canucks, as they have the best chance to win the Stanley Cup in Canada, and are definitely hungry for a championship.
Canucks Depth Chart:
DANIEL SEDIN – HENRIK SEDIN – ALEXANDRE BURROWS
MASON RAYMOND – RYAN KESLER – DAVID BOOTH
CHRIS HIGGINS – MANNY MALHOTRA – JANNIK HANSEN
AARON VOLPATTI – MAXIM LAPIERRE – ZACK KASSIAN
STEVEN PINIZOTTO – ANDREW EBBETT – DALE WEISE
BILLY SWEATT – JORDAN SCHROEDER – NICKLAS JENSEN
DAN HAMHUIS – KEVIN BIEKSA
ALEXANDER EDLER – JASON GARRISON
KEITH BALLARD – CHRISTOPHER TANEV
ANDREW ALBERTS – KEVIN CONNAUTON
YANN SAUVE – DEREK JOSLIN