Here are my predictions from Offthepost.net:
I keep thinking they should
be around 4th in the division, but then that leads to the obvious question of who will be beneath them. The pundits all say Colorado â€“ I'll believe that
when I see it. My own gut feeling is Edmonton, but the Oilers players are always scrappy and seem to care about 10x more than ours.
So that leads me to think we will be the cellar dwellers in the Northwest this year, unfortunately. Â :| The upside is that means almost nothing... they'll be about 4 points out of 3rd place.
Here are basically my predictions:
Luongo is good enough, but Vancouver fans learn the hard way that goaltending, believe it or not, has not generally been the team's problem except in the playoffs. I don't think Luongo has much more in the way of a supporting staff in Vancouver than he did in Florida. Unless he has personally improved by leaps and bounds, he will not be enough to do it on his own.
Whoever shall be the backup will be turned upon by coaches and fans alike (even without Crawford) if he ever gives up more than 2 goals. Our fans have had trouble understanding how limited an effect the backup position actually has in the absence of injury. Maxime Ouellet wasn't that bad last year, he simply never played. But fans had to find a scapegoat for the fact that our forwards couldn't backcheck and our special teams were embarrassing.
I actually think this, and not the forwards, will prove to be the Achilles' heel this year, as it often has been for many teams. Mitchell is a solid pickup, but he's not multi-dimensional. Ã–hlund and Salo are outstanding, but both are injury prone, and Salo hasn't healed completely from last season, which means the risk of aggravation is great.
The rest of the defense is thinner than last season and, well, we all know how that turned out. While I probably wouldn't have signed Nolan Baumgartner to $1.2 million either, he's a better player than he's given credit for around here. The Canucks desperately miss Marek Malik â€“ players like him were invaluable during the team's best seasons.
I agree with [OTP User Cannots] Luvah about Krajicek â€“ I think the fans turn on him by December.
Offense to me is more about coaching and asset-managing than anything else. Basically every player in the NHL has some offensive talent. If El ViÃ±o wants to accelerate Ryan Kesler's development and make him a 50-point scorer this season, he absolutely could. It's just a matter of rejigging the ice time, and that would come at the expense of a guy like Markus NÃ¤slund. I don't know tons about El ViÃ±o's coaching style, but I'm not yet convinced based on his comments and line combinations in the avant-season thus far that he's necessarily that good at recognizing the economic reality of opportunity cost and how it works.
I think NÃ¤slund will not top 75 points, unfortunately (unless maybe he plays the whole season with the Sedins). He just doesn't have the supporting cast he once did. I expect one of the Sedins to lead the team in scoring. If Kesler, Cooke or Bulis are given a real shot, they can all produce. I don't know they'll be given the shot, though.
In the 36 years Vancouver has had an NHL team, the special teams â€“ both of them â€“ have been relatively atrocious in all but about 3 of them. You know where I'm going with this.
NHL hockey post 2005 is about one thing, and one thing only: special teams. It is more important than any
facet of the game now, including goaltending.
I know this comes off sounding bleak, but I actually don't necessarily mean it to. As fans of a single team, we lose sight of the fact our team is not alone in having a lot of holes, because it's a given in the salary capped era. Sure, we suck. But so does everybody else
. People will deride the Canucks as a one-line team, but it's going to be hard to find many two- or three-line teams in the NHL anymore! (And that comes back down to coaching, too. El ViÃ±o can choose whether or not he wants the Canucks to be a one-line team... Crawford always made the wrong choice in this respect, due to his celebrated favorites-playing).
When you consider injuries, acquisitions, and other unexpected twists, there actually is the potential for anything to happen in Vancouver. Everyone picked the Sabres and Hurricanes to miss the playoffs last season too, and on paper those teams weren't a ton better off than Vancouver is now â€“ it's impossible to be in a cap era.
So I'm guessing as high as 6th in the conference, as low as dead last. It's so hard to tell.