OK, so we've analyzed and armchair GM'd the living hell out of what the Canucks' roster will look like at the beginning of the regular season and it should look something like this:
Sedin - Sedin - Vrbata
Burrows - Bonino - Kassian
Higgins - Matthias - Hansen / Jensen
Dorsett - Richardson - Vey / Sestito
Edler - Bieksa
Hamhuis - Tanev
Sbisa - Weber / Stanton
Vancouver finished with a 36-35-11 record and ended up 12th in the West, 1 point behind Winterpeg and 9 points out of a playoff spot.
Let's quickly look at what the other teams in the Pacific and Central Divisions have done this offseason and draw a comparison of roster depth. These rosters will not have any / many rookies on them because camp just started and I don't have a crystal ball.
The Canucks will play the Anaheim Ducks 5 times, the San Jose Sharks 5 times, the LA Kings 5 times, the Arizona Coyotes 5 times, the Calgary Flames 4 times and the Edmonton Oilers 5 times. That is a grand total of 29 games against teams in their own division (35.3% of total games). They play against Western Conference teams 50 times (61% of their total games).
Last season: 54 wins, 116 wins, 1st in West
OUT: Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Danniel Winnik, Jonas Hiller, Matthieu Perrault
IN: Ryan Kesler, Dany Heatley, Clayton Stoner, Jason Labarbera, Michael Haley
Belesky - Getzlaf - Perry
Maroon - Kesler - Silferberg
Cogliano - Rackell - Heatley
Palmieri - Nate Thompson - Smith-Pelly
Beauchemin - Lindholm
Fowler - Lovejoy
Stoner - Vatanen
Conclusion: Better? To be determined. A lot of changes made here to "put them over the top". These guys really have to stay healthy and now rely on young goaltending, who they chose to go with by letting Jonas Hiller go. Dany Heatley? Really? Nice price tag though ($1 million). Oh, and eat sh*t, Kesler.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Last season: 51 wins, 111 points, 4th in the West
OUT: Dan Boyle, Martin Havlat, Brad Stuart
IN: John Scott (hahaha...sigh), Michael Haley and a bunch of threats to change leadership of the team by GM Wilson which he retracted.
Hertl - Thornton - Pavelski
Marleau - Couture - Nieto
Sheppard - Wingels - Kennedy
Torres - Desjardins - Brown
Vlasic - Burns
Braun - Demers
Irwin - Tennyson
Conclusion: Basically the same and can still be a team that can kick ass in the regular season (and crap the bed in the playoffs).
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Last season: 46 wins, 100 points, 6th in the West
OUT: Willie Mitchell, Andrew Campbell
IN: Adam Cracknell, David Van Der Gulik
Gaborik - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
King - Stoll - Williams
Clifford - Richards - Lewis
Muzzin - Doughty
Regehr - Voynov
Martinez - Greene
Obviously still a powerhouse and likely Stanley Cup favorite again this year. They chill out in the regular season and ten open up a can of whoop ass in the playoffs.
Last season: 37 wins, 89 points, 9th in the West
IN: Sam Gagner, Joe Vitale, Devan Dubnyk, BJ Crombeen
OUT: Radim Vrbata, Mike Ribeiro, Tim Kennedy, Derek Morris, Thomas Greiss, Paul Bissonnette
Boedker - Hanzal - Doan
Korpikoski - Gagner - Erat
Domi - Vermette - Brandon McMillan
Chipchura - Vitale - Crombeen
Ekman-Larsson - Michalek
Yandle - Connor Murphy
Schlemko - Michael Stone
Quite a young team, but it isn't really any better on paper than last season. Will rely heavily on the defence and Mike Smith, as usual.
Last season: 35 wins, 77 points, 13th in the West
OUT: Mike Cammalleri, Chris Butler, Blair Jones, Ben Street, Joey MacDonald
IN: Jonas Hiller, Mason Raymond, Derek Engelland (what did they pay for him again?)
Glencross - Stajan - Hudler
Johnny Gaudreau - Monahan - Raymond
Byron - Backlund - Jones
Bollig - Colborne - Bouma
Giordano - Brodie
Smid - Russell
Wideman - Engelland
Five years in a row not making the playoffs, about to make it 6. To me, it seems like they are on the right track to rebuilding, finally. They really needed the bonafide goalie that's been lacking since Kiprusoff's retirement.
Last season: 29 wins, 67 points, last in the West
OUT: Sam Gagner, Taylor Fedun
IN: Teddy Purcell, Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin, Keith Aulie
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Pouliot - Gordon - Perron
Yakupov - Lander - Purcell
Gazdic - Hendricks - Joensuu
Ference - Schultz
Marincyn - Fayne
Nikitin - Petry
Is this Oilers team any better? The defence is a bit deeper, but they don't have a horse back there unless Schultz emerges. I like the forward corps generally. A little more depth to compliment the small but super skilled top line.
Last season: 52 wins, 112 points, 2nd in the West
OUT: Paul Stastny, PA Parenteau, Andre Benoit, Matt Hunwick
IN: Jarome Iginla, Danny Briere, Brad Stuart, Jesse Winchester, Zach Redmond, Ben Street
Landeskog - Duchene - Iginla
O'Reilly - Mackinnon - Tanguay
McGinn - Mitchell - Briere
McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Talbot
Hejda - Johnson
Stuart - Barrie
Wilson - Holden
Yikes. This team is freaky up front. They had so much youth there that they dealt some of it away and added some cagey vets like Iglinla and Briere, Stuart on the back end. Tanguay missed 66 games to injury last season. If there is any regression to be had I don't forecast much of it. This team kicks ass.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
LAST SEASON: 52 wins, 111 points, 3rd in the West
OUT: Ryan Miller (thank you very much), Vladmir Sobotka, Derek Roy, Roman Polak, Brendan Morrow, Adam Cracknell
IN: Paul Stastny, Carl Gunnarson, Nate Prosser, Peter Mueller, Chris Butler, John McCarthy
Steen - Backes - Oshie
Schwartz - Stastny - Dmitrij Jaskin
Paajarvi - Jori Lehtera - Tarasenko
Lapierre - Berglund - Ott
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Gunnarson - Shattenkirk
Cole - Jackman
This is a top tier team that is shuffling the deck a bit to try find post season success. I'd say a job well done by management here.
LAST SEASON: 46 wins, 107 points, 5th in the West
OUT: Jason Labarbera, Michal Handzus
IN: Brad Richards, Cody Bass, Pierre-Cedric Labrie
Saad - Toews - Hossa
Sharp - Richards - Kane
Bickell - Shaw - Versteeg
Morin - Kruger - Ben Smith
Keith - Seabrook
Oduya - Hjalmarsson
Leddy - Roszival
The Hawks are over $2 million over the cap maximum at this point, which has led to rampant speculation as to who they are going to trade away to get under the cap ceiling. Sharp and Versteeg are the two names most mentioned. The Hawks will have great success this season but they had better enjoy it, because the new contracts for Toews and Kane kick in next season, complicating cap matters even further, and making me happy.
LAST SEASON: 43 wins, 98 points, 7th in the West
OUT: Matt Moulson, Dany Heatley, Nate Prosser, Clayton Stoner, Ilya Bryzgalov, Cody McCormick
IN: Thomas Vanek, Stu Bickel, Brett Sutter
Parise - Koivu - Pominville
Vanek - Granlund - Coyle
Cooke - Haula - Niederrreiter
Veilleux - Brodziak - Fontaine
Suter - Brodin
Scandella - Spurgeon
Blum - Christian Folin
If there was ever a team decimated by injuries.....Yeesh. They look solid if they can stay healthy, especially between the pipes.
LAST SEASON: 40 wins, 91 points, 8th in the West.
OUT: Ray Whitney, Alex Chiasson, Derek Mackenzie, Tim Thomas, Chris Mueller, Aaron Rome (FOOLS!)
IN: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback, Patrick Eaves
Benn - Seguin - Nichushkin
Colton Sceviour - Spezza - Hemsky
Roussel - Eakin - Garbutt
Horcoff - Peverley - Cole
Goligoski - Daley
Dillon - Benn
Connauton - Gonchar
Yep, on paper the Stars are far better now than last season. They look at little weak down the left side...
But so what?! They added Spezza and Hemsky! Here come the Champs!
LAST SEASON: 38 wins, 88 points, 10th in the West.
OUT: Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Michael Del Zotto, Patrick Eaves
IN: James Neal, Derek Roy, Anton Volchenkov, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro
Wilson - Ribeiro - Neal
Bourque - Jokinen - Craig Smith
Stalberg - Roy - Cullen
Clune - Calle Jarnkrok - Nystrom
Josi - Weber
Volchenkov - Seth Jones
Victor Bartley - Ryan Ellis
Damn you, Preds. You are so deceiving! Wait! What? You got rid of Barry Trotz? You will pay for this atrocity!
BTW, Mike Fischer will miss the first 2 months of the season after rupturing his achilles tendon in Saloian style. When he returns, the Preds are deep up the middle. I don't give a crap about what Ribeiro's personal problems were..he was a solid addition. These guys could improve with a new style. I would put these guys, the Coyotes and the Canucks all in the same pile.
LAST SEASON: 37 wins, 84 points, 12th in the West.
OUT: Devin Setoguchi, Olli Jokinen, Al Montoya, Zach Redmond, Edward Pasquale, Jerome Samson, Andrew Gordon
IN: T.J. Galiardi, Mathieu Perreault
Ladd - Little - Kane
Frolik - Schefele - Wheeler
Tangradi - Perreault - Byfuglien
Peluso - Slater - Thorburn
Stuart - Trouba
Bogosian - Enstrom
Pardy - Postma
It appears I have had my head up my Canuckle ass this summer. After looking at the depth charts of our division, I have to say, and call me a negative Nancy all you want to, but it looks to me, in the Pacific Division, like the Canucks are better than the Flames and Oilers, on about the same track as the Coyotes, and definitely not better than the Ducks, Sharks and Kings. Hell, most of the other teams in the West look better on paper, to me anyway. How's it going Dallas? Minnesota? All teams on the rise.
The Canucks are full of question marks. Sure, Willie Desjardins will bring an up tempo style back, but all the other teams do that too. And many of these teams, quite frankly, look deeper than we are. Now how they play as a team is anyone's guess. Dallas can load up on forwards but will they gel? Time will tell.
Believe in Blue!
Change is Coming!
What say you?