New season unlocked
A refresher for all you Canucks fans.
Hockey is back! It feels like it has been forever for some of you, hasn’t it? I will admit that I said that I would most likely not miss the NHL this season, giving me the chance to watch more NFL and NBA action. But now that it’s back, I feel so happy! Maybe I did indeed miss it. But it is just pure excitement for me to see training camp underway and the 48- game season just around the corner.
When the media was focusing on the whole mess about the CBA and the NHL lockout, it made me forget everything that has happened since the day after the Los Angeles Kings held the Stanley Cup. And now that we’re back to talking about the actual game and league, everything has suddenly jolted back to me. A lot has changed during the past offseason for the Canucks, some good, some bad, and a question mark or two. So let’s get caught up on what’s going on with our beloved Vancouver Canucks before we kick off the season.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first – the Luongo situation. It hasn’t happened folks, or at least not yet. Luongo is still a Vancouver Canuck as I write. He has showed up to training camp here in Vancouver, which had many people talking. After such a crazy offseason for Luongo it was almost obvious that he was not going to be a Canuck for long. He even dropped clues and hints to the media throughout the summer, calling Cory Schneider a future star for the team. Now that he is still here, it is almost a little awkward.
Both Luongo and Schneider are starting goaltenders; there is no question about it. So having both of them is a bit pointless if you ask me. Personally, I like Schneider. He is a young and talented goalie. He is calm in the net and knows how to position himself. Schneider isn’t even in his prime yet and he’s already taking over a spot of an elite goaltender. But don’t get me wrong. I am not a Luongo-hater. I believe he is a top five goalie in the NHL and he will continue his dominance for years to come. The only question is where would Luongo go? Luongo has said that he is only focusing on one thing at this time – stopping the puck.
Other than Luongo, let’s not forget the player we lost to free agency – Sami Salo. Salo was one of my favourite Canucks and I still cannot believe that he is not a Tampa Bay Lightning. He has left a huge hole in the Canuck defense as he and his bomb of a slapshot moves south-east. The Canuck defense is still deep. With the signing of Jason Garrison, Salo’s spot is easily filled. The Canucks are so deep in defenseman that it goes down to about 9 players who are capable of making the team. The ninth player on the defensive depth chart is Kevin Connauton, a promising defensive prospect. With a defensive core consisting of Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Keith Ballard, Chris Tanev, and Jason Garrison, I wouldn’t be too worried about the Canucks’ defense.
With good news comes some bad news. Ryan Kesler is still injured after having two off-season injuries. It was originally expected that Kesler would be back by now, however, after having wrist surgery his return date as been extended. This creates a giant hole in the Canucks’ second line centre position. Oh how I miss Cody Hodgson. Fortunately, this creates a perfect opportunity for the Canucks’ top prospect Jordan Schroeder, who was picked in the first round by the Canucks back in 2009. Let’s not forget that we have Chris Higgins who is capable of playing centre, as he did for the Habs. This is still a big question mark for the Canucks as we enter the short season but it would be interesting to see what decision Alain Vigneault will make.
I predict that the Canucks will win the Northwest Division once again. But it won’t be as easy as it was before as other teams in the division have improved. A notable threat to the Canucks would be the Minnesota Wild, who has signed both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the summer. Althought the other teams have improved, the Canucks have a much better core of players and an insane depth chart. Let’s hope the Sedins and Burrows have another good year offensively and that the defense will do what they are capable of. As for goaltending, there is no problem with two amazing goalies fighting for a starting position. Welcome back Canucks! Cheers.