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Offseason Report: Vancouver Canucks

Aug 14, 2012, 1:15 PM EDT

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five Getty Images

From July 16-Aug 14, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

51-22-9, 111 points. First in the Northwest Division, first in the Western Conference, Presidents’ Trophy winners. Lost in the conference quarterfinals to Los Angeles (4-1).

Additions

Jason Garrison, Derek Joslin, Guillaume Desbiens

Departures

Sami Salo, Aaron Rome, Marc-Andre Gragnani

2012 Draft

First round, 26th overall — Brendan Gaunce, C (OHL Belleville)

Looking back

Vancouver’s summer narrative was — and continues to be — the plight of Roberto Luongo.

After Cory Schneider ascended to the No. 1 gig during the postseason and signed a three-year, $12 million deal, it seemed a Luongo trade was inevitable.

So, why no deal?

Canucks GM Mike Gillis repeatedly preached patience during summer — then practiced it throughout. He said the club would be comfortable heading into next season with both Luongo and Schneider in the mix, and doesn’t appear to be bluffing…though it should be noted that, with labor uncertainty, Gillis might have additional extra decision-making time at his disposal.

Looking forward

Vancouver will be similar up front but feature an altered look on the blueline. Gone is one of the longest-tenured Canucks (Salo) and a pair of depth guys in Gragnani and Rome, the latter registering a career-high in points last season.

It seems likely that Garrison — a hard-shooting power play ace — will step in and replace Salo, while Keith Ballard could end his stay in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse and play a more significant role. The 29-year-old veteran appeared in a career-low 47 games last year and, given his $4.2 million cap hit, is probably expected to do more in his third year with the club.

In short, the Canucks seem to have adopted the offseason strategy of the Bruins, the team that beat them in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals:

Forget last year’s quick playoff exit, embrace a new starting goalie, trust the core veteran group and try to make another run.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Canucks’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

  1. elvispocomo - Aug 14, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Better for the regular season, or better for the playoffs? I think we’ll see a better playoff team but not necessarily a President’s Trophy contender.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      I thought the Canucks were all about the Presidents trophies?

      Alright with that aside here’s the view from a Flames fan who hates the Canucks: I think under different circumstances the Canucks were in a great position to win the 2012 Cup but the thing that cost them (aside from running into a ridiculously hot goalie) was just sheer exhaustion. The number of games the Canucks had played from the beginning of 2010-11 to the end of the regular season last year and the travel associated with it just caught up to them and they ran out of gas. And losing earlier this past year (along with a potentially delayed season) might be the recipe the Canucks need to recharge and be able to make that run again this year.

      With all of that being said I believe the Canucks are the class of the NW division and probably the Western conference, although there’s a huge asterisk there, that being Cory Schneider. He’s been a terrific backup goalie in his 2 year career but there’s a big difference between being a backup goalie who plays 33 games and an everyday starter who’s expected to play 60 games a year. If Schneider can adapt to that then this team is very good and will be playing in the later playoff rounds, if he doesn’t this could be a huge step back year for the Canucks.

      • elvispocomo - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        I’m not sure how much exhaustion played into it as much as injuries. The Canucks had more than the Bruins, and it showed particularly after Hamhuis went down early in the series. Rome takes himself out (but who would have redicted for that long) with his late hit and the defence starts getting further down the depth chart. Ballard did not acquit himself well in relief either and that had nothing to do with fatigue. Henrik, Kesler, Samuelsson injured and then Bieksa, Raymond and Edler being injured in the series takes it’s toll.

        Schneids definitely has to step up, particularly if Luongo is dealt before Schneids has a chance to prove he can do it. He has all the tools, and while there may be some bumps I think he’ll show he’s at least worth part of the praise he gets. If the team in front of him can show their support better than they have for Luongo at times (it wasn’t all on the goalie in those big losses) then he’ll have a decent chance.

        Reasonable assessment of our chances though when you drop the snide remark at the top. :P

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Oh I meant exhaustion came into play in these most recent playoffs. Obviously they had a great shot in 10-11, but the 82 games there plus 24 (I believe) in the playoffs plus another 82 in 11-12, coupled with the traveling that Vancouver has to do (I think they’re in the top 3 for miles travelled every year) and the team just ran out of gas.

      All jokes aside (and there are many! Haha) they got 2 extra months of rest this year plus whatever the lockout costs, assuming Schneider keeps his level of play where it’s been, this team looks like one that might be ready to finally get it done.

      Although I hope I’m 100% wrong! Go Flames!

  2. babar61 - Aug 14, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I wonder if the trolls can be more creative then “LOL sedins sisters choksters LOL”. Anyway, it’s hard to say what will happen while they still have Luongo. If he isn’t moved it will be a non stop media circus that will affect the team.

    • imleftcoast - Aug 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      Let’s not forget the riot jokes. They are as stale as they were 14 months ago. I think they’ll play better in front of Schneider, but Daniel has to prove he’s okay after the concussion and Kesler is out until December (although the season won’t actually start until then so they might get off to a better start than last year when Kesler joined them in November).

    • polegojim - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      I love the Canucks and hope they do well…

      But you want to know an even BETTER way to stop the jokes???

      Win a STANLEY CUP… that tends to shut up critics.

      • babar61 - Aug 14, 2012 at 6:12 PM

        Potshots at teams are all well and good, it just gets tiresome when it is the same thing with no creativity. And yes I understand they have no cup, so what? It doesn’t mean they are not relevant during the season following. If previous cups are the only important thing in the NHL then bow down to the Montreal canadiens. Then the Toronto maple leafs.

      • polegojim - Aug 14, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        and then… the Detroit Red Wings ; )

        I understand your sensitivity Babar… but yes, the ‘precious’ Cups are THE most important thing in the NHL.

        The Canucks have been in position to bring home the Cup during several seasons…or more.

        Maybe 2013 is the year they get that 1,000 pound gorilla off their back AND stop the ‘Sedin Sisters’ jokes!

      • scottybcboy - Aug 14, 2012 at 9:33 PM

        Winning the Cup didn’t stop the critics of the Bruins, it actually increased the backlash. Just sayin’ that winning usually creates more animosity than it relieves.

      • polegojim - Aug 15, 2012 at 12:45 AM

        Scotty – The Canucks would GLADLY accept any and ALL criticism that comes AFTER winning the Stanley Cup!!!

        Remember Patrick Roy’s comments when Jeremy Roenik was criticizing his play???

        “I can’t really hear what Jeremy Roenick says because I have my TWO Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears!!!

        Priceless.

  3. ikillchicken - Aug 14, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Garrison is a huge addition for the team. He’s going to be a major upgrade over Salo who sadly has looked increasingly a step behind over the last two seasons. Having a big shot on the PP is vital. It makes you a threat from the point and prevents teams from collapsing to the front of the net all the time. It will really help open things up and allow the Sedins to work their magic. He’s also a wildly underrated defensive player too. A solid, stay at home guy like him should really help stabilize Edler’s defensive play and give the Canucks two really lights out pairings.

  4. ironmike778 - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    @scottybcboy – What the hell are you talking about? What critics of the Bruins continued to be critical and what backlash?? The Bruins Cup run was one of the most impressive ever.

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