With New Year’s Eve quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to reflect upon what the Vancouver Canucks have done in 2016, and what they will be hoping for in 2017. Happy New Year.
Vancouver Canucks New Year’s Resolutions
A Healthy Lineup
While injuries are hardly to blame for the Canucks’ struggles, they certainly haven’t helped matters either. Over the course of the past couple of months, the Canucks have seen the likes of Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Chris Tanev, and Philip Larsen all go down on the back-end, at times simultaneously. Up front, Derek Dorsett, Jayson Megna and Jannik Hansen have missed significant chunks of time (or are still missing, in the case of the former). Even goaltenders have missed time, with Ryan Miller skipping out on a couple of games due to illness.
While missing these players has certainly been a hit to the team, it exposes a deeper systemic issue of a lack of depth. The club has an inability to replace injuries with effective pieces, meaning that missing one top-nine forward has a tremendous trickle down effect on the rest of the roster. Would better roster management be a stronger and more durable solution? Certainly, but hoping for a healthy set of players is more realistic at this point in time, considering management’s insistence that the Canucks are indeed a playoff team.
More Offence from the Blue Line
The Canucks’ lack of scoring has been well documented at this point (though there has been a noticeable uptick of late), and one of the main reasons for this has been the distinct lack of production from their defenders. Luca Sbisa and Troy Stecher are the team’s two points leaders from the blue line, with a mere nine apiece (a 22 point pace over the course of an 82-game schedule). Meanwhile, Ben Hutton is the only defender with more than a single goal to his name (with a respectable four). If the team has any sort of hope to even push for the playoffs, the blue line will need to start producing at a much higher level.
Consistent Scoring From the Core
Arguably the principle reason for the Canucks’ failures has been the multitude of scoring droughts among the team’s key players. Core members of the offence – namely Loui Eriksson and Henrik and Daniel Sedin – have been inconsistent at best in terms of putting up points. Eriksson already has a couple of double-digit goal droughts to his name, while the Sedins have gone multiple in a row without points on numerous occasions. Even Bo Horvat, who has been arguably the team’s most valuable player to this point, has had a few dry spells. In order to establish themselves as a legitimate threat, the top guys need to start playing like the top guys all the time, not just on certain occasions.
An NHL-ready Anton Rodin
Anton Rodin, the reigning SHL MVP, has returned to North America this season, and the Canucks are hoping we can step right in and make an impact. An NHL-caliber Rodin would be a massive addition to a weak and inconsistent scoring core, and would surely be a fine upgrade on the powerplay. Additionally, Rodin’s skill set is one largely based on skill, something the team lacks greatly. If he can put together the kind of production he did over in Europe, the Canucks could have a dangerous player on their hands, and he could perhaps serve as the spark plug the offence needs.
ANAHEIM, CA – APRIL 01: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal to tie the score 1-1 against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)