Vancouver Canucks: 3 Up, 3 Down
But a similar team does not mean similar performances.
The following takes a look at three players whose performances will rise, and three who will fall.
David Booth: Rise
David Booth had high expectations when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks early into last season. And at $4.25 million per year, why wouldn't he?
On paper, Booth's 30 points in 60 games was nothing impressive. But for those that watched him play, it is quite clear how skilled he is, with a perfect combination of size and speed.
As his chemistry with the team grows next season, expect Booth to start performing at, or near, his pay-grade.
Alexander Edler: Fall
Last season, Alexander Edler finished sixth in the league for points among defenders. I'm not predicting a huge decline, but it will certainly be hard to match that number.
With Jason Garrison entering the mix, expect Edler's production to fall as the wealth is spread around.
Dan Hamhuis: Fall
Before I proceed with this slide, I want to clarify one thing. I am predicting Hamhuis' offensive numbers to fall, not his overall production.
Last season, Hamhuis had impressive numbers offensively with 37 points. That said, he's much more comfortable and effective in a strictly defensive role.
Now that Jason Garrison is a Canuck, expect Hamhuis to focus on being the great shut-down defender he is—and leave the offense for the rest.
Ryan Kesler: Rise
There's no sugar coating Ryan Kesler's performance last season; it was awful.
This can be largely attributed to his injury struggles throughout the season; returning to action too soon after offseason hip surgery, and battling both shoulder and wrist problems near the end.
This time around, expect Kesler to take his time coming back (if there's anything to come back to).
When he does hit the ice again, he will be more of the 70+ point scorer from a few years ago than the chronic diver/offensively ineffective player we witnessed last year.
Maxim Lapierre: Fall
You're probably wondering how Maxim Lapierre's numbers could possibly fall, as 19 points in a full 82 games is nothing impressive.
But let's take a look at this. He isn't known for his offensive production, as his 19 points was the second-highest of his career.
Six of those 19 points came at the end of the season, where he joined Henrik Sedin on the top line in Daniel's absence. A top-line role on the best team in the league is not an opportunity that will be repeated.
Lastly, let's look at the number of games played.
Last season, he didn't miss a game. But with his lack of discipline and the young talented players in the Canuck' organization, the leash will be shorter.
If he's taking penalties at a 130 PIM/season pace, we can expect him to spend more time on the bench, if not in the AHL.
Mason Raymond: Rise
You wouldn't know it from his performance last season, but Mason Raymond is a talented player.
With a career low 20 points in 55 games, Raymond can count his blessings the Canucks re-signed him at $2.275 million.
If next season is anything like the last, he will not find himself in a Canuck jersey again.
It's time to capitalize on the potential we know he has.
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