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Vancouver Canucks: Season Review/Offseason Preview

2019-07-05

It was a disappointing season on a number of fronts for the Vancouver Canucks. There were no playoffs, no top ten draft picks, and overall not a whole lot for fans to cheer about. 

Let’s take a look back at exactly what happened this season and analyze what the Canucks might do over the summer.

Canucks Make Surprising Push for Playoffs, But Fall Short

No one expected the Canucks to make the playoffs this year. But after acquiring goalie Cory Schneider, and later Ben Bishop, the team made a surprising turnaround. A late-season surge saw them come within just a few points of the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Canucks seemed to run out of gas down the stretch and they finished a disappointing seven points out of the postseason.

“I’m really proud of our group,” said GM Travis Fleming at his end-of-season press conference. “They battled hard right until the end. I think we surprised a lot of people and it’s a good sign for next season.”

No Luck in the Draft Lottery

While some fans were excited by the late-season playoff push, others were worried that all those wins would cost the Canucks a top draft pick.

Sure enough, the Canucks finished with the 11th best odds of getting the first overall pick and the lottery balls didn’t do them any favours. When all was said and done, the Canucks were left with the 11th overall pick in the draft.

It’s a tough blow for a team that’s supposed to be rebuilding. But if rumours are to be believed, GM Fleming might be working to change that.

Vancouver Moving Up in the Draft?

Several EHE insiders have reported that the Canucks have been in serious talks with several teams about possibly moving up in the draft. Some sources are even saying a deal may have even been finalized.

“I’ve been in talks with several teams and exploring options to improve our team,” said Fleming. “At this time, I can’t confirm any of those rumours. You’ll just have to wait and see when the trade freeze is lifted.”

Slim Pickings in Free Agency 

While free agency is generally an exciting time of year, this year’s crop of UFAs leaves a lot to be desired. Given who’s available and the current state of the team, all signs point to a quiet offseason for Vancouver.

“I’ve never been one to build my team through free agency,” said Fleming. “Given how so few top guys are available I think you’re going to see some really ridiculous contract get signed. In all likelihood, I’ll probably just stay out of it.”

Some Holes to Fill

With that being said, there are some holes in the Canucks that will need to be filled before the season starts.

As of now, the Canucks really only have three NHL-level defencemen signed. It’s doubtful we’ll see any big names brought in, but surely the team will be looking to acquire some depth on the backend.

The team also only has $35 million in salaries committed for next season, so they’re going to have to work on bringing in some additional contracts in order to get to the salary floor.

When Can We Expect the Canucks to Make the Playoffs Again?

While the playoffs aren’t out of the question for next season, they still don’t appear likely. The Canucks have some solid young talent up front, and one of the top goaltenders in the league in Ben Bishop. But their depth is severely lacking, and their defence is currently AHL-level.

“We’re going to do everything we can to ice the best roster possible next season,” Fleming said. “That being said, the real push will likely come next offseason. By then, some of our prospects will be ready to turn pro and we feel there will be more opportunities to acquire the pieces we need to become a contender again.”

Fleming realizes fans are growing restless, but he’s asking for patience.

“Believe me, no one wants to get back to the playoffs more than me,” he said “But I’m not interested in patching together a roster that’s not good enough to get out of the first round of the playoffs. When we do return to the postseason, I want to make sure we have a chance to go all the way.”

As usual, Fleming as set lofty goals for himself. We’ll see if he’s able to follow through.