The biggest loser this offseason was the Vancouver Canucks and GM Jim Benning. The Canucks managed to sign one unrestricted free agent and failed to clear some cap space by trading veteran players.
Vancouver will return a lot of familiar faces even with the loses of some key players. Benning added a few key pieces like defenseman Erik Gudbranson and forward Loui Eriksson, but he also lost some key players. Dan Hamhuis signed elsewhere in free agency, while one of the young budding stars was traded to the Florida Panthers in the trade for Gudbranson.
The Canucks will have some options on the first two lines depending on which right winger Willie Desjardins wants to put with the Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The first option is newly acquired Eriksson, who would probably be a nice fit and can put the puck in the back of the net. The second option would the youngster, Jake Virtanen, who had 13 points in 55 NHL games played last season. Vancouver will have five forwards under the age of 25, who are expected to make the next year’s roster. The three best forwards on the Canucks are 35 years of age and they are Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows.
There is going to be a lot of pressure on the top line to put the puck in the net. The addition of Eriksson should help for the Canucks to score more goals since he did score 30 goals last season. Benning and the Canucks just didn’t do enough on the offensive side of things for an improvement in the standings next season. Vancouver could possibly have eight forwards who are over 25-years-old in the lineup next season.
Benning did improve the backend with the addition of Gudbranson, but gave up on 20-year-old Jared McCann. Gudbranson is known to be a physical defenseman; whereas, Hamhuis can pitch in on the offensive side of the puck too. The backend is pretty much the same as last year’s that gave up 2.91 goals against per game. They have a 36-year-old veteran in net to go with a 26-year-old who hasn’t seen much action in the NHL.
Benning was also fined during the offseason for tampering with potential unrestricted free agents. It hasn’t been a good offseason for the Canucks and Jim Benning.
Honorable Mention: Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche get honorable mention for one reason only, which is that its head coach resigned about six weeks before training camp starts.
Patrick Roy decided to resign as the head coach and VP of Player Personnel after a tumultuous summer. There were trade rumors surrounding the Avalanche and its best players such as Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie. General Manager Joe Sakic decided to keep those players and Roy decided to hand in his resignation.
Colorado will have to start the search for a new coach from scratch. They’ll have to figure out which candidates to interview, and who would be the best fit for this team now and heading into the future. The head coach will then have about a week of training camp to get his system implemented before starting preseason games. He will also have preseason, but the World Cup of Hockey runs for most of training camp and the preseason. The players that are participating in the World Cup of Hockey won’t have much time to grasp the new system.
It could be rocky start to the season for the Avalanche, but anything can happen during the regular season. The Philadelphia Flyers brought in a new coach prior to last season and managed to have a run during the second half of the season to make the playoffs, so the playoffs could be in the picture for the Avalanche next season.