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Season Preview 2019-20: Vancouver Canucks

Is the rebuild already over? The Canucks have some special young pieces in place, and that could mean a wild-card berth is within their grasps.
Steven Ellis/The Hockey News

Steven Ellis/The Hockey News

Is Vancouver’s rebuild done already?
The Canucks never formally (New York Rangers) or informally (Buffalo) went about going through a down-to-the-wood roster rebuild. It only seemed that way when the Sedin twins retired in 2018 and we all assumed the team was in for painful growing seasons. But GM Jim Benning has done a methodical job signing veteran free agents and securing key players through trade or the draft. Now, some prognosticators think the Canucks will be a surprise team in 2019-20. Vancouver has a roster that ticks off a lot of boxes: skilled youth, veteran experience, impressive depth, toughness, mobility and a fine communicative coach in Travis Green.

How soon before Thatcher Demko steals the crease?
The answer to this question could easily be not for another year or two or three. For as highly touted as Demko has been since his 2014 draft selection, there’s still a big hurdle to clear in proving you can be a top-notch No. 1. Demko, 23, has been very good to excellent for three seasons in the AHL. He’s ready for the NHL. But Jacob Markstrom is coming off a breakthrough year, and there was a time when he was more highly regarded than Demko has ever been. Markstrom is just 29 and has shown improvement in four seasons with the Canucks. Only five NHL goalies have started more than the 117 games Markstrom has the past two seasons. Then again, Demko could win the starter’s job with a series of great games as he gets his starts.

Can the Canucks keep 28 players on the roster?
The quick answer is no, the CBA won’t allow it. But the point we’re making is Vancouver opened camp with 26 skaters pencilled in to make the team, and that doesn’t include ready-on-the-vine prospects Adam Gaudette and Olli Juolevi. So, something has to give. Only 18 skaters can dress on a given night, and 21 skaters are allowed on the roster. Some players on NHL contracts will be moving on or unceremoniously waived and sent to the AHL. New additions such as Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller, Micheal Ferland, Tyler Myers, Jordie Benn and Oscar Fantenberg have clogged the roster because only a few regulars were moved out during the off-season.

Stanley Cup Odds: 55/1

Rookie Watch
The last time two brothers broke into the NHL as high-profile rookies was when the Sedin twins debuted for the Canucks in 2000-01. Their impact back then was modest, especially compared to what Jack Hughes (New Jersey) and Quinn Hughesare expected to provide at 18 and 19. Both are dynamic.


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