This summer was one in which the Vancouver Canucks parted ways with the old—or unaffordable—and make way for the new.
For the first time in recent years, the Canucks are not a lock to win their division, as they move into the new-look Pacific Division. In fact, they aren't even the favorite in their division.
Along with uncertainty in Vancouver comes an unfamiliar sense of excitement. So, in light of this unpredictable season ahead, here are some predictions anyways.
When it comes to the Canucks' prospects, there's some missing.
It's not that they aren't talented young players, but the Canucks don't have those stars that are expected to crack the lineup and make an immediate impact. That is one downside of being one of the strongest teams in the league over several years in a row and not having many high draft picks.
Frank Corrado is one exception.
In the few games that Corrado has played with the Canucks, he has shown both offensive awareness and defensive responsibility. That combination, along with John Tortorella's inclination to give young players a chance, should result in Corrado beating out Andrew Alberts for the sixth and final spot among the starting defenders.
It's very rare in the NHL for a player as young as Chris Tanev to show such defensive poise and consistency.
Tanev is the future of the Canucks and, hopefully, will be their shutdown defenseman for years to come. If you don't believe me now, you will after his performance this season.
The Canucks may have gotten a bit thinner this summer, but saying they'll make the playoffs isn't exactly a "bold" prediction.
So how about this? The Canucks will finish third in the Pacific Division behind the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers, and sixth in the West. They will face the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs.
David Booth has had a tough time since joining the Canucks, playing in just 68 out of 124 possible games.
Now is the time for Booth to make an impact—and he'll need to do so in order for the Canucks to make the playoffs.
The reason I say he'll flirt with a career season is that I don't believe he'll surpass the 60 points that he notched with the Florida Panthers in 2008-09.
I do, however, foresee Booth passing the 50-point mark while staying healthy for 70-plus games.
The goalie controversy between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider was long, grueling and poorly handled by GM Mike Gillis.
Despite what many believe, however, the controversy is over.
Luongo may not be happy in Vancouver, but he is now the undisputed starter—and he'll gladly take the job. Who knows, maybe he never wanted out of Vancouver. Perhaps he just wanted out of the situation he was in last season.
Either way, Luongo is now the guy. He is still an elite goalie whose best seasons have come when starting 60-plus games. Given the inexperience and inconsistency of backup Eddie Lack, he'll likely hit that number this season for the first time since 2010-11, when the Canucks came within one game of winning the Stanley Cup.
Note that I'm predicting Luongo to be in the Vezina Trophy consideration, not a Vezina Trophy candidate.
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