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30 Teams in 30 Days: Vancouver Canucks

Sorry Canucks fans, but it’s going to be a long, boring, season.  Your team lacks scoring punch, your defense is fragile and your all-star goaltender is coming off a disappointing (by his standards) season.  On the plus side for Vancouver, their young talent, including new-addition Kyle Wellwood, will have a legitimate opportunity to show they belong in the NHL.  It will take a few years for new GM Mike Gillis to build a winning team.

Forwards:

The Canucks lost two of their most experienced forwards.  Gone is Markus Naslund, who spent 11 seasons with the team.  Naslund has shown a decrease in scoring the last five years and is no longer a first line forward (even on Vancouver).  Trevor Linden has hung up the skates after 19 seasons (15 with Vancouver). Also, future journeyman Ryan Shannon was traded to the Senators for rarely used defenseman Lawrence Nycholat.

The Sedins have come into their own over the last few years and will be relied on to carry Vancouver’s offense.  Newcomers Pavol Demitra and Steve Bernier will also be expected to carry the scoring load for the Canucks.

After the top four, perennial question-mark Kyle Wellwood will need to spend less time playing NHL ’09 and more time on the actual NHL 2009.  At least if he gets sent down he can play as himself on the Moose.  Ryan Kesler will have an opportunity to show that he is a top 6 forward, and everyone else will either be demonstrating they belong in the NHL or are veterans with little upside.

Defense:

The Canucks have a mix of young talent and veteran presence.  Alex Edler has shown flashes of offensive capability and Mattias Ohlund will need to stay healthy. Vancouver’s best young defensemen, Kevin Bieksa, may be traded away in exchange for a top six forward.

Vancouver will have to stay healthy and get surprise offensive contributions from Edler, Bieksa, or Ohlund, as well as steady veteran contributions from their stay at home defensemen Aaron Miller and “Boxcar” Willie Mitchell.

Goaltending:

For the first time in his career, Roberto Luongo was under fire.  Though his numbers were similar to 2006-2007, in the second half of the season Luongo’s overall play was down, and the Canucks were not winning.  It’s likely he was distracted by the birth of his first child (c’mon Roberto get your priorities straight), but it remains to be seen the toll that being in a Canadian city where hockey is a main focus will take.  Luongo has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs and he will probably not do so this year.

Prediction:

Ceiling: 2nd/3rd in the Northwest, 7th in the West

Floor: 5th in the Northwest, 14th in the West

The Jets take their act on the road starting with a game tomorrow night in St. Louis against the Blue.

The Moose will be in Abbotsford for a practice on Thursday as they get ready to kick off four away from Manitoba.

Get caught up via https://illegalcurve.com/

Some Jets talk via the Jets Setting podcast with @Ted_Wyman & @ScottBilleck

The pair discuss the return of Paul Maurice, the impact of Rick Bowness and attendance at games.

https://illegalcurve.com/jets-setting-the-return-of-paul-maurice-the-bowness-effect-and-attendance/

Jets bench boss Rick Bowness joined the Got Yer' Back Podcast with @TSNRyanRishaug & @PierreVLeBrun for a 25 minute chat about the local NHL club.

https://illegalcurve.com/winnipeg-jets-head-coach-rick-bowness-joins-the-got-yer-back-podcast/

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