The Vancouver Canucks are desperately searching for answers to their first-round exit in April. The ownership group met with GM Mike Gillis, and he will continue the offseason planning with meetings with head coach Alain Vigneault and the players on the team.
Here are the 10 most important issues the Canucks organization are facing in the busy summer:
1) Will Alain Vigneault continue to be the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks?
Update: Gillis has commented after signing his extension with the organization that he believes Vigneault has done an excellent job. All signs points towards them keeping the coach for the start of training camp.
2) Welcome to Vancouver, Roberto Luongo.
Update: There is a major question mark as to whether the Canucks will keep Luongo on their roster to open the season. However, looking at the situation that has developed in the Kings series, this is Cory Schneider's team, and the Canucks will likely trade Luongo for future returns at or prior to the NHL draft in June.
3) Bruised or Bruisers?
Update: The Canucks were out-muscled by the Boston Bruins in June 2011. They were punished by the Kings in 2012. Whether the Canucks will be battered and bruised or become bruisers in 2013 will depend on whether the management can find a way to attract brutal force and muscle onto the team to contribute physically.
4) Has Keith Ballard's time in Vancouver expired?
Update: Keith Ballard has played a very disappointing campaign with the Canucks the last two years. Gillis really failed to deliver on this trade. Although Florida did not keep winger Michael Grabner, they managed to secure Quinton Howden, and move on with assets that led them to their first playoff appearance in years.
Update: Both Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have won back-to-back Art Ross Trophies for the top scorer in the NHL scoring race. However, the Canucks failed miserably to provide secondary offense to complement the Sedin production. Ryan Kesler is out with a six-month rehab on his shoulder surgery, so the Canucks likely need to find a player to fill the shoes on offense.
6) Changing of the Guards.
Update: Sami Salo has a high possibility of leaving the Canucks this summer. He is turning 38 years old, and he has said in the past that he desires playing in his home country before retiring from professional hockey. If he wants to do so, this is probably his best opportunity to go back home to Finland to play a season or two. Defenseman Aaron Rome may also be departing too as a UFA.
7) Everybody Loves Raymond.
Update: Mason Raymond enters restricted free agency this summer. He does not have much leverage in terms of contract negotiations due to his back injury last summer and the decline in production in his last two seasons from a career best 2009-10 season. Perhaps Gillis would like to trade him.
8) Zach Parise.
Update: New Jersey is facing the threat of bankruptcy this year, but they are still alive in the playoff race. If the owner Jeff Vanderbeek fails to find enough cash to extend Zach Parise's contract with the Devils. If he cannot re-sign, then Canucks have to be in the market for the gritty, skilled forward.
9) Replacing Christian Ehrhoff is a Must.
Update: Since losing the rocket from Ehrhoff, the Canucks struggled on the power play, and the defense suddenly became thin and easy to play against. This offseason, quite a few free agents will become available, and the Canucks need to take a look at Jason Garrison, Sheldon Souray, Ryan Suter and Dennis Wideman to provide some help on the power play next season.
10) Can We Finally Give the Sedins a Full-Time Elite Linemate?
The Sedins entered the NHL as a pair of twins. Since joining the Canucks back in 1999, the two have played with Trent Klatt, Todd Bertuzzi, Trevor Linden, Jason King, Magnus Arvedsson, Anson Carter, Taylor Pyatt, Markus Naslund, Pavol Demitra, Steve Bernier, Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Byron Bitz, Zack Kassian, and David Booth.
Fifteen line mates over the course of their careers does not do justice. It is time to sign an elite scoring winger to play with the Sedin twins for the long-term. The Canucks have made them wait 13 years and counting.
This is Joseph Trenton reporting from Vancouver.
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