When looking at last season, it is easy to see that a lot of the Canadian teams in the National Hockey League struggled mightily.
In fact, out of the seven teams in Canada, only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames, all of whom made the playoffs last season, had terrible seasons last year and failed to make the postseason dance.
One team that also failed to make the postseason was the Vancouver Canucks. They were the fifth worst team in the league and clearly showed that they are in the process of a rebuild.
While this team is still rebuilding and probably will not make the playoffs this season, there is actually a lot to look forward to. For starters, Travis Green showed last season that he appears to be the right guy behind the bench for this franchise.
Green was more than a solid first year NHL head coach last year. Yes, the team missed the playoffs and were near the bottom of the league standings, but he was able to get a lot out of the roster that was constructed by the team’s upper management.
In Green, the franchise has a coach who is willing to be patient, demands accountability from his players, and knows the right buttons to push to get the most out of his team. He is the perfect coach for the franchise’s rebuild.
This club also has an abundance of young talent up front. Guys like Brock Boeser (55 points as a rookie last year), Bo Horvat (44 points in 64 games), Sven Baertschi (29 points in 53 games), and Jake Virtanen (20 points in 75 games…needs to show a lot more at this level on a consistent basis), all showed that they can contribute at this level and that as they mature, they can be solid point producers for this franchise.
The Canucks also already has a solid defensive core with guys like Alexander Edler, Michael Del Zotto, Erik Gudbranson, Derrick Pouliot, and Christopher Tanev. It’s a good mix of guys that should be better this season.
When it comes to the team’s goaltending, that is one area that needs to get better. Luckily, the franchise should have an upgrade between the pipes coming in the near future.
The future in goal looks to be very bright for this franchise when it comes to having a more than solid goaltender manning the nets. Their future is 22-year-old Thatcher Demko.
Demko has already had two impressive seasons in the American Hockey League the franchise’s farm team, the Utica Comets. He also made his NHL debut on March 31 in a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Demko made 26 saves and did what he had to do to help his team win 5-4 in overtime.
There is no doubt that the future in net should be now for this team. While the team’s tandem of Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson were not terrible last year, the position needs to be upgraded and Demko should be part of that solution.
As I mentioned earlier, this franchise will more than likely struggle and miss the playoffs again. With that said, the franchise is slowly, but surely putting the pieces of the puzzle together to hopefully form a formidable hockey club within the next few seasons.