Vancouver Canucks: End of the Playoff Race, But Future is Still Bright

Leo WongContributor IApril 3, 2008

Tonight the Canucks fans at GM place and behind the TV screen watched the Edmonton Oilers ended their beloved team's hopes of making the playoffs. With one game left on Saturday, the game means basically nothing to both the Canucks and the Flames with the Western Conference's fate sealed tonight. 

During the interview at the dressing room, Roberto Luongo was close to tears with disappointment.  From now until the playoffs, the fans of the Vancouver Canucks must now wonder which team they must cheer for in the playoff.

Coach Alain Vigneault, who had a remarkable run with the Canucks last year and won the Jack Adams Award last year, is all of a sudden the bad guy in Vancouver, with his poor decision with his team this year and his questionable line changing.

With only one game left in the season, this is possibly the last time Markus Naslund and Trevor Linden will be seen in a Canucks uniform. With eight players in the Canucks line up as unrestricted free agents, Vancouver GM Dave Nois promised that the team will be very different next year.

Let's look at the current Canucks who are going to be UFA this coming July. They include: Trevor Linden, Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, Byron Richie, Aaron Miller, Mike Weaver, Curtis Sanford, and Brad Isbister. Their combined salary would be 13.7 million. That means, if they've decided not to re-sign any of them, it will give them a some room to sign free agents in the market. 

To name some of the big names becoming unrestricted free agents this July, there are Joe Sakic, Sergei Fedorov, Matt Sundin, Doug Weight, Mike Peca, Nicklas Lidstrom, Wade Redden, Brian Cambell, Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Chris Chelio, Jose Theodore, Cristobal Huet, Ladislav Nagy, Sergei Samsonov, Brendan Shanahan,  Marian Hossa, Michael Ryder, Miroslav Satan, Owen Nolan, and Mark Recchi.

Canucks' minor league associate Manitoba is doing quite well this season. They are now second in their division. Drew MacIntyre is ranked fifth in goaltending in the AHL with a record of 25-17-2 and a save percentage of 92.3 percent.  He was also named second AHL all-star team.  Cory Schneider on his first pro-year has a record of 18-11-2, a save percentage of 91.2 percent and two shut outs.  He is now ranked 12th in the AHL. 

Michael Grabner leads the team with 22 goals while Brad Moran leads the team with 21 goals, 52 assist, 73 points in 69 games.  Jason Jaffry has 21 goals, 27 assist, 48 points in 43 games.  Janik Hansen has 18 goals, 21 assist, and 39 points in 45 games.

With the potential of Alexander Edler and Luc Bourdon becoming top defensemen and Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows becoming the top shut down duo in the NHL, the possibility is endless.  Although the Canucks season is effectively ended tonight, the future of the club looks bright.

Now let's get some opinions, who should go?  Who should stay? And who should Dave Nois go for?