The Canucks team that starts the 2013-14 season on October 3rd against the San Jose Sharks will likely not be the same team that ended the 2012-13 season by getting swept by the San Jose Sharks in an overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs on May 7th. There was the alarming Cory Schneider trade during the NHL Entry Draft and the hiring of John Tortorella as the new head coach, along with some smaller trades and acquisitions that were not quite worthy of making the top news headlines. The first game is just under seven weeks away, and this is a brief look at the Canucks’ prospective lineup.
The first line of the Sedins and Alex Burrows remains in tact. However, this line contains the oldest players on the team besides Kevin Bieksa and Roberto Luongo; the Sedins and Burrows are each 32 years old. Their age does not hinder their abilities though, as Burrows remains one of the most consistent and reliable players on the team and the Sedins led the team in points last season.
As for the prospective second line, it is made up of players who need to redeem themselves and prove that they deserve their spot on that line; David Booth, Zack Kassian and Ryan Kesler. Booth only played 12 games last season, and spent the rest recovering from an injury. In those 12 games he had only one goal, and looked like anything but the Booth that had 31 goals in 72 games in the 2008-09 season. Not only that, he comes with a hefty contract at $4,250,000 dollars a year. As for Kassian, he has moments of glory, and moments where he was barely noticeable, or noticed for all the wrong reasons. GM Mike Gillis is keeping Kassian and believing in him because of those promising moments of glory he has had; his five goals in six games this past January is a good example. At only 22 years old, Kassian is one of the youngest players on what is seen as an old Canucks team.
Kesler is a whole other story. He has never been quite the same since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, which topped off his outstanding year in which he had 41 goals and 73 points in 82 games. He has been sidelined by injuries or non-existent since then, occasionally showing flashes of the old Kesler, but flashes that never lasted long enough to make a real impact on the team. The line of Booth, Kassian and Kesler holds a great amount of potential, but potential is all their line will ever have until they can prove themselves.
The third and fourth lines are made up of both new and old Canucks. Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen are likely to play on either side of ex-LA King Brad Richardson. Not exactly known for his point totals or goal scoring, Richardson won the Stanley Cup with LA in 2012. Dale Weise, who signed a new one-year contract with the Canucks in July, is likely to get a lot of playing time on the fourth line. New Canucks Benn Ferriero, Mike Santorelli and Zach Hamill will likely be competing with Tom Sesito for the final two spots. Look to see prospects Brendan Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen and Jordan Schroeder get opportunities to play as well.
One area many people in Vancouver were hoping for change in was defense. However, Gillis has kept basically the same players for his defensive ranks, with Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, Kevin Bieksa, and Alex Edler making up the top four. Frank Corrado, one of the Canucks top defense prospects, played three regular season games and four playoff games with the Canucks last season, and although he did not record any points, looked comfortable and promising. It is expected that he will continue to play more games for the Canucks this season.
Chris Tanev, who could be considered the face of the Canucks future (defensively at least), has yet to sign a new contract with the Canucks, despite having been in talks with them. As an RFA, Tanev is now garnering interest from KHL teams, as the 2013-14 season gets closer and closer. Gillis has also not resigned UFAs Cam Barker and Andrew Alberts, but added Montreal defender Yannick Weber to the roster.
Is it even worth bringing up goaltending? The Canucks traded away Cory Schneider, their apparent number one goaltender, for the ninth overall draft pick, returning the role of number one goalie to Roberto Luongo. It seemed, from interviews and twitter, that Luongo had not been prepared for this move, or rather, lack of, as he was expecting to be playing somewhere other than Vancouver in September. Dealing away Schneider was a surprise to many, but the Canucks still have a world class goaltender and some good goaltending prospects in Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson. Lack, who was sidelined with injuries this past year during his season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, is likely to be the backup.
The theme for the Canucks this upcoming season seems to be that they need to redeem themselves. Can the Sedins show that they have the ability to win a Stanley Cup? Can Kesler show that he is capable at coming back from his injuries? Can Luongo show that he is the right goaltender for Vancouver? Can the prospects and younger players show that they are the future for the Canucks? Forget about “We Are All Canucks” or “Our Team Our Way;” this season it should be “Time for Redemption.”