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
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.
See more team previews:
Chicago Blackhawks 8/8
Colorado Avalanche 8/9
Dallas Stars 8/10
Minnesota Wild 8/11
St. Louis Blues 8/13
Winnipeg Jets 8/14
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
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