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Season preview: Vancouver Canucks


Season preview: Vancouver Canucks

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Vancouver Canucks

2014-15 record: 48-29-5, 2nd in the Pacific

How they finished: Lost in six games to Calgary in the Western Conference Quarterfinals

Coach: Willie Desjardins (2nd season)

Notable additions: LW Brandon Prust, C Brandon Sutter, G Richard Bachman

Notable subtractions: G Eddie Lack, D Kevin Bieksa, RW Zack Kassian, C Nick Bonino, D Adam Clendening, C Shawn Matthias, RW Brad Richardson, D Ryan Stanton

RELATED: Hershey Bears release preseason schedule

Schedule against the Capitals: Thu. Oct. 22 in Vancouver, Thu. Jan. 14 in Washington

Outlook: If you thought Vancouver's loss to Calgary in the playoffs last season was a sign of two teams headed in opposite directions, you would be correct. While the Flames are on the rise, the Canucks are most definitely on the decline.

If that was not evident enough in the playoffs, then general manager Jim Benning made it abundantly clear with a flurry of offseason moves that left everyone scratching their heads.

Players like Brandon Prust and Brandon Sutter--who the team traded for this summer--certainly have their value, but will ultimately do little to alleviate the offensive burden put on the aging Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

In fact, Vancouver's entire offense is aging. If you look at last season's point leaders, you have to go all the way down to number seven on the list before you find someone who is both under the age of 30 and still on the Canuck's roster. That players was Jannik Hansen who recorded a whopping 33 points. He turns 30 in March.

The cupboard is not totally bare in terms of youth as Bo Horvat, 20, returns and Sven Baertschi, 22, is expected to be a full-time NHLer next season, but is that enough to make up for Vancouver's aging offense?

Oh, and did I mention the Canucks did nothing to replace Kevin Bieksa, one of their top defenseman last season who they traded to division rival Anaheim to stay under the cap?

The kicker was the goalie debacle. Last season, the 21-year-old Eddie Lack started Game 1 of the playoffs for Vancouver. He was traded over the summer to Carolina, leaving the 35-year-old Ryan Miller as the starter in net. Granted, Lack did not play well in the playoffs, but he did finish the regular season with a better save percentage and GAA than Miller. if Benning had traded Miller and his $6 million cap hit instead, they could have kept both Lack ($1.15 million) and Bieksa ($4.6 million).

Now they are left with an expensive, declining netminder, an angry fan base and an aging offense.

Expectations: Vancouver really had no business losing to Calgary last year. With that first-round exit, we saw the Stanley Cup window for this team close for good. The additions of Prust and Sutter with a few younger players won't be enough to open it again.

Could they still make the playoffs? Assuming the Sedin's are still able to carry much of the offensive load, they can perhaps fight their way into the postseason behind Anaheim and Calgary. The 2011 team that won the conference, however, is long gone and will not be back until this team commits to a rebuild.

MORE CAPS: Who will drop the gloves for the Caps this season?

See more team previews:

Pacific Division 
Anaheim Ducks 
Arizona Coyotes 
Calgary Flames 
Edmonton Oilers 
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks

Central Division 
Chicago Blackhawks 8/8 
Colorado Avalanche 8/9 
Dallas Stars 8/10 
Minnesota Wild 8/11
Nashville 8/12
St. Louis Blues 8/13 
Winnipeg Jets 8/14

Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins 8/15 
Buffalo Sabres 8/16 
Detroit Red Wings 8/17 
Florida Panthers 8/18 
Montreal Canadiens 8/19 
Ottawa Senators 8/20
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21 
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23 
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24 
New Jersey Devils 8/25 
New York Islanders 8/26 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”