Despite the struggles, the Canucks have had ever since the 2014-2015 season. Last year looked promising despite them still finishing with a losing record. Elias Pettersson gave the Canucks a glance at the future by scoring their first goal of the season and towards the end, we had a look at Quinn Hughes and the speed and strength that he brought to the blue line. The big question is, how can the Canucks bring the playoffs back to Vancouver? The answer lies within the fact this this could be the biggest offseason in Vancouver Canucks history.
The NHL Draft
Based upon initial analysis of the draft, the Canucks should look for a forward that can pass and shoot. It would be wise to target either Matthew Boldy or Cole Caufield. Boldy reminds me of Brock Boeser but with more speed and strength, while Cole Caufield is a smaller version of Pettersson; with a shot that scored him 58 goals the past season. The Canuck franchise really needs to make a good draft choice, especially since the draft is in Vancouver. With all the rumors that have been circulating around, I would not be surprised if Benning pulls off a trade to get a higher pick. This draft could be the turning point for the Canucks, as a good draft pick could change their fortunes this coming year.
With all the rumors surrounding Panarin and the Canucks this year, there is hope for Canucks fans that they can finally land a superstar in free agency. Panarin had a breakout year and led the Blue Jackets in both assists (59) and points (87). Panarin would fit right into the Canucks system alongside Boeser and Pettersson. The Canucks also must let Edler go as his age and poor health is slowly declining his skill and value. Instead, the Canucks must go for a younger defenseman that can play beside Hutton or Stitcher. Nikita Zaitsev would also be a great pickup as he has made it clear that he is unhappy with his current situation in Toronto and Vancouver is rumored to be interested. Despite his struggles in Toronto, I believe that he can turn himself around in Vancouver. He will have a bigger role on the Canucks and could possibly channel some of that magic from his rookie year in 2016-2017. If the Canucks make some smart choices this year, they can be a legitimate, playoff caliber team.
Knowing the Canucks, they probably will not make any major trades this offseason but it does not stop people from thinking of possible scenarios. If possible, the Canucks must make it a priority to get rid of Loui Eriksson’s contract. He has not done anything and he does not deserve six million a year. Canucks fans would be more than happy if they got a younger player or a draft pick in return. If the Canucks choose to trade, it will not be to make a big splash necessarily but to get rid of some of their players and clear up some cap space.
It is quite evident that this is going to be a big offseason for the Canucks and everything is in place for them to make big moves in free agency and make a deep playoff run. The puck is in General Manager Jim Benning’s court to bring this franchise back to the 2011 glory.