NHL Team Preview: Vancouver Canucks
Last year the Vancouver Canucks finished 23-29-4 and finished with 50 points for the season. That led to a last-place finish for them in the North Division in a year where the NHL altered the divisions due to COVID-19. This season, things are looking up for the Canucks as they rely on a cast of players to help lead them. They have revamped their roster over the offseason, and with their chances of getting to the postseason at 40 to 50 percent, things are looking up for the Canucks.
After a postseason that saw the Canucks run through the Wild, Blues, and take the Golden Knights to seven games, the Canucks were coming into last year with a bit of momentum. However, as most teams come to find out with expectations come series’ of unfortunate events. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Canucks last year indeed went wrong.
The Canucks did nothing to improve their team heading into last year. The Canucks had some very easily identifiable holes, and those holes were easily fixable. Management did not attend to those and re-signed and signed players that did not fit in the Canucks mold at all. That left those holes open going into the season and created other holes because those new pieces did not fit together. That led to the 2019-20 playoff Cinderella falling flat in the 2020 season.
The old saying goes: new year, new me, and the Canucks have certainly bought into that this season. There are 17 new faces in the building, while 17 players are no longer on the roster from a year ago. The biggest move of the offseason was the big trade with the Phoenix Coyotes. The Canucks sent Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel to the Coyotes for Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland.
This trade was a big one for a few reasons. First and foremost, the Canucks could rid themselves of their three worst contracts in one big deal. Most times, you have to piece together deals to move your bad contracts out, but the Canucks could do it in one trade. The other big reason it was a step in the right direction for the Canucks was that their newcomers in the trade give them much-needed depth and in the bottom six.
Offensively the Canucks look pretty strong, which was an area where they struggled last year. Too many players could not contribute on offense, and the offense was retooled to score more. They brought in some guys to add depth and now will be able to use players in different areas and not have to worry about where the scoring is coming from.
There were some confusing moves on the defensive side of the ice, but they could work out well in the end. Whether or not it is better is yet to be seen, but it does look very different. On defense, we could see as many as five new faces on the ice at one time as the Canucks work out their lines. If the Canucks can work well enough together to reduce the goaltenders’ workload, it will be critical to their team success.
Speaking of goaltending, Vancouver has a star in Thatcher Demko. Looking at the numbers from last season, you wouldn’t think he is a star, but he was battling COVID-19, other injuries, and a far from good defense. Look for Demko to really take a step forward this season.
Online Sports Betting Odds
With all of the new faces they brought in this year, the Canucks hope to be back in the thick of the playoff race. However, Vegas is still not convinced that the Canucks have what it takes to make a run at the Stanley Cup. They have +5500 odds to win the Stanley Cup, which is ninth-worst in the league.
Look for the Canucks to make a run at the playoffs this season. If the defense holds up and outperforms expectations this year, they will have a really good shot to make some noise. If the defense struggles, then Vancouver might be in for another long season with a real identity crisis at hand going into the offseason.
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.