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Question marks above all three of these guys heading into next year. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Question marks above all three of these guys heading into next year. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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With the light at the end of this season's tunnel growing brightly now, it's time for a gut check in Canucks land.

We are just 18 days away from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft which - as you've seen in years gone by - can often times be more interesting than July 1st and the trade deadline combined. Since the Canucks stopped playing hockey back in February March April there have been a slew of potential tipping points for the road ahead, some of which have been answered and some are still left open:

  • Will the front office change? Answer: no.
  • Will the bench boss change? Answer: no.
  • Is there a vacancy in the top six? Answer: Temporarily it's a definitive yes. Even if Kesler wasn't injured then it's most certainly a yes unless Mason Raymond can be trusted to turn the clock back at camp.
  • How about the bottom six, any openings there? Answer: several. Ebbett, Mancari, Pinizzotto, Bitz, Volpatti, Pahlsson (being wooed by Markus Naslund to give Modo a shot) are all UFAs. If we assume Hansen and Higgins stick around and Lapierre slots in as the checking center, then the fourth line wingers are again up for grabs.
  • But the defense is solid right? Basically. The Juicy Hammer duo and Ballard are inked for the foreseeable future while Edler and Alberts enter the final years of their deals. Edler is worth an extension for sure, but if he makes Juice-type money (which he most certainly would on the open market) that gives Vancouver four $4 million dollar D men. Feels too top heavy for my liking. Moving away from them and you're left with Salo (retiring?), Rome (UFA) and Baumgartner (UFA...and no thanks).
  • Anyone clearly on the outs? Besides Pahlsson no one yet. The notable RFAs include Raymond, Gragnani, Schneider and Lack, all of whom should at least be qualified come June 25th. Trading Raymond's rights remains a possibility. The remaining RFAS are Duco, Weise, Oreskovich and Parent.
  • Hmm...well at least the goaltending situation is stable. Oh fuck you.

Certainly plenty of options for GMMG to prioritize before walking into Pittsburgh on June 22. Vancouver has the 26th pick which would be their highest pick since 2009 (Schroeder at 22nd) assuming they keep it. But rumblings so far suggest this summer won't be a pedestrian one and, if so, that shows you just how much damning a first round exit for the Presidents' Trophy winners turns out to be.

Never a dull moment.