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Questions that need answers: 2016-17 Canuck version

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The season is almost here and there are so many questions we want answered now. And you know what, we did it for you. You're welcome.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Hi everyone.

The long cold…wait…hot…or was it wet summer is finally over. The Canucks are almost ready to crush our spirits or exceed our expectations in this new campaign. I guess it really depends if you’re Eeyore or Pollyanna.

The Canucks as a group of players and an organization continued to take a beating in the media this summer and really have been written off by most. Only Carolina is supposed to be worse than our team and the media barely talks about them. There seems to be a lot wrong with this team and others have dissected it to death, but that sure won’t stop us from taking a shot here as well.

So I asked the biased and more than likely drunk writers of NM to answer some questions about the Nucks team for this year.

Where will the Nucks finish this year?

westy99

I wonder what the Nucks would be like if no one got injured and they developed chemistry. When I dream I dream big. In reality injuries always cripple the Canucks, especially in the top 2 lines and one main defenseman. Chemistry goes poof as line juggling becomes continuous. The Canucks at their best are a 90 point team, but will be lucky to hit 82 points. I see a 5th place finish in the division. (Thanks Calgary and Arizona)

offthepost

Probably JUST outside of the playoffs. Just enough points to give us hope for the teams future stars while also killing our shot at a top pick. However, I think the past few years have shown Benning is capable of finding a good prospect anywhere in the first round.

Captain Azzy

I am a firm believer in the team of Trevor Linden, Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins. A real believer. As a consequence, I have great faith in the team they have assembled. With Coach Willie's recent 'playoffs or bust' ethos being recently announced, and players such as Bo Horvat coming back with renewed fire in their bellies - plus the new additions - I can see us making the playoffs. I anticipate a wildcard place, nothing more.

Bailey

Outside the playoffs, but not in the bottom 5. I think the Canucks are going into this season with a stronger team than last season, but the same can be said for a lot of other teams in the West. I see them finishing around 10-12th in the West and 20-25th in the entire NHL.

Yankeecanuck

Fourth in the Pacific and outside of the playoffs

gmonk33

Where the Canucks finish: 5th division, 11th conference.  The retool steps forward a bit this year with more experience for the young players.  Unfortunately, the Oilers finally step up and do something to surpass us... How many times have we said that?!?!

jimmi.cynic

Somewhere in northern Alberta on a Sunday in April. Mark your GPS now.

vancitydan

Canucks will finish 7th or 8th.

What player will step up and surprise us?


Bailey

I'm expecting a big year for Ben Hutton. It was his rookie campaign last year and he didnt look out of place, even when thrusted to the top pairing because of injuries. More depth on defense, including the addition of Gudbranson as a likely defense partner, will allow Hutton the freedom to experiment more offensively, which is something the Canucks could really use more from the back end.

offthepost

Emerson Etem, he's got a lot to proove and this is the year to show the league what he's capable of. If he's given a spot in the middle six, I can see him finally turning a corner.

gmonk33

Jacob Markstrom.  His coming out party this year, making Miller an afterthought by Christmas.  I think we'll see Miller request a trade early in '17.  This will cause problems as we do not have a goalie ready to be the new back up.  Otherwise, look for continued growth from the youth movement.  Horvat, Baerschi, Gudbranson, and Virtanen are all poised to increase their production over last year.

Yankeecanuck

And the surprise will be Virts. For all the bullshit pressure he's put under I think he's in a good position to have a statement season

Captain Azzy

I have a sneaky suspicion that Brandon Sutter could post 50pts. I fully expect NMers to laugh at me come April, but Sutter has been slaughtered by some Canucks fans and I can see him doing very well to prove himself to the fans. If anyone is going to surprise our fans, it's the guy who has been written off already.

westy99

The biggest surprise this year will be Bo. I know the expectations are there but I think he may actually be the 20 goal/50 point guy we all hope is will be. And hopefully he won’t to face all the tough competition he did last year with Sutter back.

jimmi.cynic

What the others said, with the qualification that if they're wrong, I didn't say it.

But, really, if the question is to step up, then Groot wins by a foot or a head. However, that's not too surprising. This has the look of a trick question with no definitive good answer. Ask again in April, ok?

vancitydan

Stecher, or, if he does not make the team, Gaunce.  I expect him to be with the main team all year.

What is the team's biggest weakness?


Captain Azzy

Special teams. Simple as. Last season's PP and PK were 27th and 17th in the league, respectively. Even a 3% uplift in the PP conversion should see us on the playoff bubble. An improved PK, with Manny Malhotra working on it behind the scenes, is likely and that too should equate to an additional few points.

Yankeecanuck

Scoring depth and defensive depth. A key few injuries here and it quickly sink their chances.

offthepost

Defence. We have a bit of a logjam on the blue line and I can see it causing issues with chemistry/momentum while they find the right combinations.

Bailey

Lack of scoring depth. Outside of the Sedins and Eriksson, the Canucks don't have any bonifide top-6 players. Horvat is close. Baertschi is close. Hansen? Combine that with one of the lowest produci g bluelines in the league and the Canuck's biggest issue looks like it'll once again be finding ways to put the puck in the back of the net.

westy99

Coaching. Let’s face it, it is do or die for Willie this year. And while he has another year of experience and Doug Jarvis has been added to the ast. staff, Willie has to find ways to improve the special teams and keep players motivated

gmonk33

Scoring.  The team added Louie, but it's not going to solve the secondary scoring issues that have plagued the roster ever since 'he who shall not be named' left town.  This year will be much better for balancing out the scoring, but the lack of a true second line will be evident

jimmi.cynic

Water-born viruses. Last year it was all about the injury faeries, this year I'm worried the emphasis will be on grittier, dirtier team D. Always wash before and after checking your opponent.

vancitydan

Consistency, the same as any young team.  Hopefully Burr and the Twins keep em in line.

Which player is a priority to trade? Miller, Sbisa or other?


Yankeecanuck

Miller (x a billion)

gmonk33

AMFB.  Unpopular as it is, the organization should look to move out the 3rd line winger making 4.5M.  This might allow the team to go out and get a younger talent who will be in line for considerably more money.

offthepost

I don't think we'll be moving anyone until the middle of the season and the management see's how the team stacks up with the rest of the conference. However, I can see us trading Miller, Hansen or Burrows at the trade deadline if we're out of the running. These are all very obvious choices for very obvious reasons.

Captain Azzy

It's 'other' for me - Derek Dorsett. I want his ice time to go to someone like Brendan Gaunce or Jake Virtanen, as Erik Gudbranson is going to take on the enforcer role this season. Sadly I can't see any of the other 29 teams wanting that contract, or Dorsett's 'intangibles', so I believe we're stuck with him.

Bailey

Sbisa is definitely the most expendable piece on the roster right now for a lot of reasons. Sbisa was supposed to be that physical, hard to play against defenseman, but that never worked out. With the recently acquired Gudbranson filling that role now, Sbisa doesn't offer a lot for this team. Add in his $3.6M cap hit and the fact that he's taking a roster spot that could be held by a younger player (a.k.a Tryamkin, Larsen, Pedan) and it really doesnt make a lot of sense to keep Sbisa on this team.

jimmi.cynic

Trade them all! Steal the $150+ Million dollar Team Canada roster, blow the cap and incur the wrath of every other team owner, GM, fan and pretty much everyone. Except Grapes - he'll say it's what Toronto should have done while they had them all in one place.

westy99

I believe the priority this year besides getting something…..anything for Miller and AMFB, should actually be trading Hansen. He scored a lot with the Sedins, but that door has been closed. He might be able to fetch us a player and a draft pick. no one is going to pick up Dorsett’s or Sbisa’s contract, so stop asking.

vancitydan

Miller at the deadline, Sbisa is Stecher makes it.

So, as you can see, the writers here can't agree on anything so some of us might be wrong. Please call us out and let us know what you think.