The following complete preview contains the Canucks' key roster changes, projected depth chart, biggest X-Factors, best & worst case scenarios and overall prediction.
Zac Dalpe (CAR), Benn Ferriero (NYR), Eddie Lack (CHI/AHL), Brad Richardson (LAK), Mike Santorelli (WPG), Ryan Stanton (CHI), Yannick Weber (MTL).
Keith Ballard (MIN), Guillaume Desbiens (COL), Andrew Ebbett (PIT), Andrew Gordon (WPG), Maxim Lapierre (STL), Derek Roy (STL), Cory Schneider (NJD).
|Daniel Sedin||Henrik Sedin||Alex Burrows|
|David Booth||Ryan Kesler||Jannick Hansen|
|Chris Higgins||Mike Santorelli||Dale Weise|
|Jordan Schroeder||Brad Richardson||Zack Kassian|
|Dan Hamhuis||Alex Edler|
|Christopher Tanev||Kevin Bieksa|
|Frank Corrado||Jason Garrison|
Although the Canucks' regular season success over the past few years has been a team effort, there's no denying that the tandem of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, arguably the best in the league, played a big role.
Over the years, as Schneider improved and Luongo aged, controversy was sparked.
Throughout the 2012-13 season, the expectation was that the Schneider was the guy and Luongo would be traded if not during the season, shortly thereafter.
It was what Vancouver wanted, and it was certainly what Luongo wanted. But as we all eventually learned, when a bad contract is involved, everyone can lose.
Cory Schneider is now a member of the New Jersey Devils. Luongo is the starter in Vancouver and Eddie Lack is in the backup role.
The Canucks have grown used to playing with an elite starter and the best backup in the league. They now have a fragile goalie whose emotions were toyed with by GM Mike Gillis, and an inexperienced backup in Lack.
The Canucks don't have the offensive depth to win if there are suddenly weaknesses in goal.
The best case scenario sees Roberto Luongo rediscover his game is Vancouver. With the "Lack" of experience behind him, he'll need to be able to start 65-plus games. This means he not only needs to stay healthy, but he needs to put the past behind him. He needs to give Tortorella full confidence to start him each and every game.
At defense, all players maintain their health and Alex Edler returns to the form we saw in 2011-12.
Up front, we see the Sedins be their typical selves, while the health of Ryan Kesler and David Booth provide some much needed secondary scoring.
John Tortorella's influence will be just what the team needs, as he turns skeptics into believers, leading the Canucks to a Pacific Division championship.
The worst case involves a few things we've become all too familiar with in Vancouver: Roberto Luongo struggles in net, Kesler and Booth succumb to injury and the power play suffers.
Ryan Kesler is as important to this team as anyone. He plays a physical game and is sound at both ends of the ice.
Kesler is healthy to start the season for the first time in three years, and he'll need to stay that way.
Vancouver Canucks: 44-29-9
3. Vancouver Canucks
4. San Jose Sharks
The Canucks will struggle to start the season, as they have many times in recent years. At one point, their ability to make the playoffs will be in question. At the turn of the new year, the Canucks will find their form and begin to dominate (again, as they've done in recent years).
David Booth will finally find his health and form, posting between 50 and 60 points (Kesler will do the same). At some point during the season, there will be reports of issues between the Sedins and John Tortorella, but it will have no impact on the role they play.
Luongo may not love Vancouver, but he'll love the starting role and playing time that comes with it. He'll finish with 67 games played and a 37-23-7 record. Luongo's performance will earn himself Vezina consideration, but he will not be named a finalist.
The race in the Pacific will be incredibly tight from 2-5, but the Canucks will finish third. They will defeat the Edmonton Oilers in the first round, but will go on to fall to the Los Angeles Kings.
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