For how rocky the start was to the Canucks’ season, things have started to look up. Heading into Sunday, Vancouver was one of the league’s hottest teams, sporting a 6-3-1 record and coming off the heels of a shootout victory in the much-anticipated rematch against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite the Canucks’ recent success, though, the fact of the matter is the team is still sitting near the league basement, only five points ahead of the league-worst Colorado Avalanche. Only four teams have managed fewer goals, just five have allowed more goals against and there are but two with a worst goal differential. And even though there’s still a chance at a wild card spot down the line — however slim that chance might be — it seems as though another post-seasonless year is in the cards for the Canucks.
For that reason, among others that include an aging roster, fans in Vancouver and observers around the league believe the time could be ripe for a complete teardown and rebuild of the roster. But Canucks president Trevor Linden said that’s not about to happen.
“We have Daniel and Henrik Sedin here, who are very important to this organization and icons in the city,” Linden told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox in a one-on-one. “They’re not going anywhere. I don’t know how I walk into the room and tell these guys, ‘Strip it down.’ I’m not sure it’s fair to these guys. There’s different circumstances, be it in Toronto or Carolina or Vancouver, that require different routes.”
Any rebuild would almost certainly start with moving the Sedins, as well, and, of trading the duo, Linden told Fox that both are “going to be (in Vancouver) until they decide to not be here.” It’s impossible to say how much longer that might be, but the 36-year-old twins have only two seasons left on their current deals.
Linden readily admitted that the situation isn’t “perfect,” but told Fox that there is a certain plan in place, even if a rebuild isn’t it. Linden said the veteran leadership brought by the Sedins, as well as players like Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter, will be what eventually helps the Canucks take a step forward. They’ll help shepherd the youngsters into the NHL and guide them through the league’s often steep learning curve.
There are some players to get excited about in Vancouver, too, though they could be a few years away from really making an impact.
Brock Boeser, who’s currently plying his trade with the University of North Dakota, looks to have the potential to be a consistent goal scoring threat in the NHL, 2016 fifth-overall pick Olli Juolevi was ranked by some as the best prospect in the Canucks’ system and goaltender Thatcher Demko is undoubtedly the goaltender of the future in Vancouver. No surprise, then, that all three were mentioned to Fox by Linden.
As unfortunate as another year down the standings would be, having another shot at a top-five pick could give the Canucks’ stock of prospects another boost. Nolan Patrick has been pegged by some to be the draft’s top prize, but having one of the first several picks in the draft is sure to fetch Vancouver a talented player.
And if the Canucks aren’t going to outright rebuild, stocking the cupboard and hoping to build from within is undoubtedly the best way to go.
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