The Brown Knight wrote:However - if at some point between the years of 2014 and 2016 - Shinkaruk and Horvat become impact players while Kesler and the twins are still relatively close to their 2009-2012 level of play, then this team could see a return to the Cup Finals.
It's so hard to predict. But just look at one of RD's favourite spank-bank teams: The San Jose Sharks.
Sure, they won the Presidents trophy in 08-09 and were bounced in round one (sound familiar?). The next season they were the best in the West and couldn't make the finals. This is a team that has accomplished a lot, has a great roster, and STILL hasn't even made the Finals (they're 3-12 in the Conference Finals all time). It's such a grind.
Ultimately, they can make all the big changes (Heatley, Havlat, Burns, Ehrhoff, Michalek, Cheechoo etc. etc.) and they haven't done a whole lot different come playoff time.
What the Canucks will need, is someone to become our versions of a Logan Couture and eventually Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Players that can begin the transition from the Thornton/Marleau (Sedin/Sedin) era while the team remains competitive. Shinkaruk has that pure-offensive ability that the Canucks desperately lack right now, and organizationally.
Once you have that kind of depth of talent on the roster, then you start to pray and hope for all the things that generally work against the Canucks: the salary cap, health, refs and luck for US, and hope for crippling injuries, bad calls and bad bounces for THEM.
I would suspect that the Canucks will be able to tread water this season, and probably next. What everyone seems to overlook is that this team has been hampered by a lower salary cap, basically making it impossible to improve the roster. Look for Booth to be bought out this summer, and coupled with an increasing salary cap, should give us enough room to re-sign the Sedins and add another decent free agent.
Going back to the Sharks, they have some major decisions to make. Thornton (10 assists), Marleau (7 goals) and Boyle (Brain injury) are all older than the Sedins, and they're all UFA after this season.