This is one part of a multi-part series profiling the 2018-19 Pacific Division.
The Canucks have long avoided a full-on rebuild, but they might be due for a big slip in the standings as the team ventures into life without the Sedins.
31-40-11 – 73 points (7th in Pacific)
218 goals for (26th in the NHL)
264 goals against (26th in NHL)
The Canucks were bad last year. They finished 26th in the league in goals for, 26th in the league in goals against, and, fittingly, they finished 26th in the league’s standings with 73 points. I’m not sure if anybody figured the Canucks were going to be competitive last season, but they made an honest effort to make it seem like they thought they were going to be competitive by signing Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto, and Anders Nilsson in free agency. Needless to say, it didn’t work for them, and they missed the playoffs for a third straight season.
They actually got off to a pretty decent start to the year but the wheels fell off quickly when Bo Horvat went down with a foot injury. Horvat broke his foot in early December when the Canucks were sitting with a solid 14-10-4 record and then the team went on to lose 13 of their next 15 games, effectively ending their season.
Horvat’s value was clearly shown when the team completely fell apart in his absence. So that was one bright spot for the Canucks. The other was Brock Boeser, the team’s first round pick from the 2015 draft. Boeser scored 29 goals and 55 points in 62 games, earning him second place behind Mat Barzal in Calder Trophy voting. Boeser’s season came to an end prematurely due to a back injury suffered in early March, but the 20-year-old still led the team in goals.
In early April, Daniel and Henrik Sedin announced that they would be retiring from hockey, ending two 17-season careers. Next season, the Canucks will be Horvat and Boeser’s team as Vancouver will be without the Sedins for the first time since 2000.
Notable additions: Elias Pettersson, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Time Schaller.
Notable subtractions: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jussi Jokinen, Nic Dowd.
The Canucks are going to be bad again this year. While their last two seasons have been pretty painful because the organization didn’t fully embrace a rebuild, the Canucks will have more young talent on the ice than before.
Like I said earlier, Horvat and Boeser will be tasked with stepping up and filling Henrik and Daniel’s shoes while Elias Pettersson heads overseas with massive expectations after a record-setting season in the SHL. Jake Virtanen, the team’s first pick from the 2014 draft, will get a bigger role on the team, as will top prospect Jonathan Dahlin. There’s also an outside chance that Vancouver’s first pick from the 2018 draft, shifty offensive defenceman Quinn Hughes, could crack the team, but that’s pretty unlikely.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks look without Henrik and Daniel on the team. Obviously, the twins haven’t been the same elite talents they used to be the past couple years, but they still finished second and third on the team in scoring and attracted the other team’s top defensive units. Withouts the Sedins as buffers, life will become much more difficult for the aforementioned youngsters taking on a bigger role on the team.