Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's Next 2011: Vancouver Canucks

They looked like they were destined for their first Cup in franchise history, but a bad bounce here and there; as well as some bad performances on the road were the downfall of the Canucks. Especially with a load of defensemen and some grinders needing contracts, it could be busy for GM Mike Gillis this summer, especially after dealing with a loss.

First, let's look at goaltending. I don't care what anyone says, but Roberto Luongo is a world-class goalie. He's got a Gold Medal in the Olympic and in the World Championships. Sure, he was shaky and sure he has 11 years left on his contract.....but he's a goalie who can win in big situations. I don't know what the hell happened in the Finals, but he played great at home up until Game Seven and he may need to work on the mental side of his game to be the best. Luongo is there for a while, but the big question is if Cory Schneider will get more time in net next year or will be dealt in the off-season so he could get a chance with another organization; but after next season-- odds are he won't want to be in Vancouver, knowing he'd be second fiddle to Luongo.

The defense could be the big issue, as Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, and Sami Salo are the big names on the blue line that are free agents. While Salo's injuries will probably take his stock down, I wouldn't be surprised to see the other two back in the fold, especially with the offensive prowess they possess. The bad part is that Keith Ballard is still under contract for the next four seasons, which will probably be buried or tried to be moved considering how much faith the team lost in him this playoffs. The core was sturdy this season and Gillis will probably do what he can in order to keep them together.

Up-front, the core of the Sedins and Kesler are going to be back, but the questions will be if the Sedins they can show up in the playoffs, which they had trouble doing this playoffs. Kesler was a guy who gave his heart in the playoffs, even if he wasn't scoring he was bring energy. When it comes to who to re-sign; two RFAs in Maxim Lapierre and Jannik Hansen will probably be retained; but the future of the UFAs like Raffi Torres and Chris Higgins will probably be up in the air. Torres probably not, if only because there's plenty of agitators on the team as it is and they don't need another, while Higgins could get retained if only for the point that he'll be affordable and can adapt to situations regardless of what they are. The forward lines can be a mix-n-match and still be solid like clockwork because of the top-six being solidified.

It'll be a long off-season for the Presidents Trophy holders, but they won't have too many wholesale changes-- which bodes well for the team next season, as they aren't losing out on too much of the players and will probably have the motivation going into next year and actually want to finish it off rather than have all off-season to think what could have been.

And as a comment on the rioting-- I'll say this: the city doesn't deserve the idiocy of the meat-heads who don't follow the team as closely as others and didn't get their frustration out with the UFC last weekend. I feel bad for the true fans who get grouped into this and hope the idiots who did this get brought to justice and the city can recover.

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