Need proof that karma is real? In 2011 the Vancouver Canucks were up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston. The Cup, a first for the organization, was theirs for the taking. But then they lost a lopsided 5-2 game in Boston in Game 6 and then didn't even show up for the deciding game and lost 4-0. In one of the worst shows of sportsmanship in recent memory, the citizens of Vancouver responded by trying to burn their city to the ground. It was a riot for the ages.
Since then the team has been on a steady decline. In the four seasons since, they have lost in the first round of the playoffs three times - all as the higher seed in the series - and didn't make the playoffs in 2013-14. The hockey gods were not impressed by Vancouver's actions, and they have been punished. But will that punishment continue, or have they already paid their dues.
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Vancouver Canucks Offseason Moves
After getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs to their lower-seeded rivals from Calgary, it's not surprising that GM Jim Benning was looking to make big moves. What is surprising is that he did such a lousy job of it. He cleaned house around him, replacing three key roles in the front office. That's fine, but such dramatic moves should be matched by dramatic and effective on-ice moves. Instead, they seemed to make a concerted effort to get worse. Gone are some big pieces and guys with upside - Kevin Bieksa, Zack Kassian, and Nick Bonino. Also gone is Eddie Lack, the latest chapter in Vancouver's bizarre effort to get rid of every good goalie they have had while getting basically nothing in return for them. There wasn't a superstar amongst that group, but all four players were useful.
Coming in are three players who just don't measure up. Brandon Sutter, who they paid too much in trade for and then overpaid in a new contract, just
doesn't inspire a lot of confidence as a likely second-line center. He's just not good enough. Brandon Prust is a gutsy player and a good leader, but he's
not worth much more than a fourth line role in the long term. Matt Bartkowski is probably no more than a sixth defenseman. And that is basically it. This
team got worse but didn't do it while rebuilding. Odd.
Vancouver Canucks NHL Outlook
The Sedin twins, easily the two creepiest players in the league, are 35. They are the core of this team still. Not just that, but they have to carry a tremendous offensive burden for the team. It's far from ideal - they have far less help now at an advanced age than they did in their prime, and they didn't ever get it done then. They need help - likely more help than they are going to get.
Young players are going to have to step up in a big way. Two sit at the top of the list. Bo Horvat wasn't great for much of his rookie year last year, but he improved as things went along and played his best hockey in the playoff series loss to Calgary. He needs to recapture that strong play and take a step forward. Another key piece will be Jake Virtanen. He played in junior last year and dealt with an injury. He has been excellent in early training camp action, though, and should make the team. He's physical with an excellent scoring touch. He has a strong chance to have a good enough year to be in Calder Trophy consideration. He'll need to be for this team to have a chance to be anything other than totally mediocre. Sven Baertschi is another younger player - albeit one with quite a bit of NHL experience over the last few years in Calgary and in Vancouver later last season - who needs to rediscover his mojo.
Vancouver Canucks Schedule
The month of October is absolutely brutal for this team. They open with a home-and-home against an improved Calgary team. Then they go to Anaheim and L.A.. Then it's home for five tough games - St. Louis, Edmonton, Washington, Detroit and Montreal. Finally, to Dallas they go. That's 10 games against potential playoff teams - most of which play a very physical style. That could go very poorly for this team if they aren't any more ready for prime time than they appear to be.
Vancouver Canucks NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
The Canucks are +6600 to win the Stanley Cup , which puts them behind 21 other teams. They are 12th in the Western Conference at +2500, ahead of only Colorado and Arizona. At +700 they are tied with the Sharks for fifth in the Pacific Division, ahead only of Arizona.
2015-16 Vancouver Canucks Predictions
This is not a playoff team. The Sedins can't handle the burden that is being asked of them. Ryan Miller isn't an elite goalie anymore. The offensive depth is either questionable or very young. The West is extremely tough, and this team hasn't done enough to keep up. They won't be bad enough to get a valuable draft choice to speed the rebuild - they aren't committed to rebuilding - but they aren't going to be good enough.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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