October 6, 2015 Andrew Chernoff
Young Canucks Inherit The Future Helped By Current Leaders
The second full season of the Canucks under the leadership of Trevor Linden, President of Hockey Operations; Jim Benning, General Manager; and Willie Desjardins, Head Coach, gets underway tomorrow (October 7, 2015) when they open up their 46th NHL season.
Out from last season are Kevin Bieksa, G Eddie Lack, F Zach Kassian, F Nick Bonino, D Adam Clendening, F Shawn Matthias, F Brad Richardson. In are F Brandon Sutter, F Brandon Prust and D Matt Bartkowski.
What is more significant are the young Canucks that have made the roster for Vancouver’s inaugural game of the 2015-2016 season against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.
Jake Virtanen, age 19; Ben Hutton, age 22; and Jared McCann, age 19, “the three Musketeers”, were rewarded for their exceptional training camps, resulting in Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning on Monday, placing forward Linden Vey and defencemen Frank Corrado, Alex Biega on waivers with the intention of assigning them to the Utica Comets.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Brandon Sutter
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Radim Vrbata
Alex Burrows – Jared McCann – Jannik Hansen
Brandon Prust – Adam Cracknell – Derek Dorsett
Jake Virtanen/Chris Higgins (injured)
Alexander Edler — Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis — Matt Bartkowski
Ben Hutton — Luca Sbisa
The Canucks are trying to do what the Detroit Red Wings have being doing for years and add in players into the line-up without skipping a beat, staying competitive and being among the top four teams in their conference, making the playoffs for the second straight year.
While that could be a challenge for the Canucks this season, the Canucks are steadfast in believing that the youth movement and promoting from within is the way to go, and are hoping that the young Canucks will inherit the future helped by the current veteran leadership that includes Daniel and Henrik Sedin (both 35),Ryan Miller (35), Radim Vrbata (34), Alex Burrows (34), Dan Hamhuis (32) and Brandon Prust (31).
Along with Brandon Sutter (26), Matt Bartkowski (27), sophomore Bo Horvat (20), Luca Sbsia (25), Chris Tanev (25), and Jacob Markstrom (25), Canucks management are hoping and are optimistic that they are on the right track.
The young players on the Canucks believe they definitely deserve the opportunity that they have earned and would like sufficient time to develop the chemistry with the veteran mix, to craft that future. McCann and Virtanen will both receive their 10 game look before the Canucks will have to decide whether to keep them or send them back to their respective junior teams.
This should be good news all around as the Canucks that did not make the team will provide the Canucks farm team with excellent depth should any injuries happen with the NHL team.
Head Coach Desjardins likes knowing when the Canucks go on the ice what each player will give him as it reinforces his confidence in that player and confidence that the game plan that the team was prepared to execute will result in a win and two important points in a division that missing out on too many points will result in a long summer.
On the other hand, Desjardin also knows the only way his confidence in a player can be developed and reinforced is by giving the players a chance to play, which could result in mistakes, including the possible loss of the game, and there’s the rub: without the chance, there is no experience, no mistakes, no learning, no proving you have learned your lesson and earned the confidence of your coach, your teammates and the organization.
The Canucks had 101 points last season and it went down to the final few days of the season before the Canucks placing in the standings was known and they made it into the playoffs.
They will need at least that many points to make it into the playoffs in 2016 and they do not have a tested backup goaltender like Eddie Lack was when Miller got hurt late last season and the Canucks rode Lack’s coattails into the playoffs. And there will be no goalie in Utica that the Canucks can be confident in like Lack, if Miller gets hurt late in the season.
The youth movement is needed. There is no right time to start it. So, might as well go with it now. Saying that, there may be some games that the Canucks should win, that they lose.
I believe the Canucks will need at least 107 points to make the playoffs in 2016.
Most likely the Canucks will finish with 93 points, due to the youth movement and an unproven backup goaltender; and their inability to score timely goals. Also, of concern is their depth upfront to move players in and out to deal with scoring issues. You can only change lines so often during a game; and once again, you can only look to the farm team so much if you are going to make a shake up to boost an offence that is stalling. And stall it will.
Yet, I take the high road, and make this prediction:
Canucks to finish with 107 points, making the playoffs for the second straight season.
How will it be done? Hell, all they have to do is out work, out play, out shoot, out hit, and out chance their opponent’s both at home and on the road.
Unrealistic? Ye of little faith. Just Saying….