Vancouver Canucks 2005-2006
TEAM PAYROLL: aprx $37,565, 521
GENERAL MANAGER: Dave Nonis 1st Year as GM of Vancouver Canucks
HEAD COACH: Marc Crawford (6th Season as Head Coach)
FORGOTTEN MOVES: Nothing to note
TEAM MODE: The Canucks enter the year with one thing on their mind, the Stanley Cup. With the core basically in tact from 2004, and the new rules favoring a fast paced team like Vancouver, anything less then the finals will be viewed this year as a disappointment for the Canucks.
TO TAKE CHARGE: The NHL returning means the re-opening of the Todd Bertuzzi file. Once a force to be reckoned with in the NHL, how will a probationary Bertuzzi be able to adjust to a shortened leash? When he is on, the “big line” of him Morrison and Naslund is bar none the NHL’s most potent line. If Bertuzzi can tune out the distractions and get his game back to the 2003 Bertuzzi, league defensemen will not be having a relaxing time covering big number 44.
ON THE RUSH (OFFENSE): Vancouver’s top line needs no explanation. Markus Naslund (84 points in 78 games) Brendan Morrison (60 points in 82 games) and Todd Bertuzzi (60 points in 69 games) look to re-establish themselves as the league’s top trio.
The second line boasts the Canucks most coveted off-season acquisition, Anson Carter playing with the Sedins. The Sedins, who look bigger, stronger and faster after playing a full season during the lockout, should prosper with Carter. The Canucks are hoping he can re-create some of his magic from 2001, where he scored 28 goals for Edmonton.
After that, as the combinations are still yet to be determined, the Canucks boast a very strong supporting cast. Richard Park has looked fabulous is pre-season and should provide some much needed 3 or 4th line punch. The ageless Trevor Linden looks to be his reliable 10-15 goal self, while Matt Cooke hopes to silence his critics after holding out for most of camp.
For the Power Play, the first line would be the first line. Morrison, Naslund and Bertuzzi strike shivers in opposing penalty killer’s bones. The second line would feature a mixture of the Sedin’s, Anson Carter, Matt Cooke and even Richard Park and Trevor Linden in a bind.
Short handed, the Canucks boast two very quick effective PK players. Look for Richard Park and Brendan Morrison to contribute with some very exciting shorthanded chances this year.
The Vancouver Canucks have some questions marks on Offence, however the new – fast paced league should help some players like the Sedins to finally make good on their potential. If not, expect this lineup to look a lot different in 06-07
COVERING THE D-ZONE: The Canucks lost two valuable defensemen in Brent Sopel and Marek Malik in the off-season. Malik in my mind was one of the more questionable off-season acquisitions, signing with NYR for 2.5 million a year, but that’s New York.
What’s left? Well the cornerstones of the D, Jovanoski and Ohlund are signed and are looking to be the same standouts they have always been. Sami Salo looks to increase his production, as his role will defiantly increase.
The Canucks are also ecstatic about their signing of Steve McCarthy. A former Team Canada Junior Captain, McCarthy has all of the tools to make it in this league. His first 4 seasons in Chicago can’t really be held against him, as they have not been close to contention in his time there. Him along with Bryan Allen will be the 4th and 5th D-Men, leaving a gaping hole at # 6.
Nolan Baumgartner or Wade Brookbank will most likely fill the 6th Spot. Brookbank now has a pivotal role on this team, as the Canucks have very few guys willing to drop the gloves, and it is evident that every agitator in the league will be seeing just how short Mr. Bertuzzi’s fuse is. Expect Brookbank to dress for Colorado and other games with a “nasty” overtone.
However injuries are a fact of life and especially a fact of hockey. This Canucks defense will look very thin in event of a loss of a top 4 player. Look for the Canucks to be beefing this up as the season progresses, taking a hint from Edmonton (Chris Pronger) and Calgary (Roman Hamirlik)
GUARDING THE NET: How is this guy still here? Dan Cloutier begins the season as the Canucks # 1 again, after much media scrutiny. While a 33-21 record is something to be happy with, this team doesn’t start watching until the second season begins. While a half court shot still haunts him from Niklas Lidstrom in the playoffs a couple of years ago, Cloutier has been a model of consistency for the last 3 years posting 33, 31 and 33 wins. This year, with a back-up duo of Brent Johnson and Alex Auld, Cloutier may finally be able to get the rest he needs in the season to approach the playoffs ready for a long stay.
TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION!: The Canucks come into this season with some prospects that have already shown they have what it takes to compete at this level. Jason King started his 03-04 campaign looking like a shoo in for the Calder trophy. After a long scoreless drought however, he was on the next bus to Manitoba. King will be in tough to find himself s spot on this talent rich roster.
Ryan Kesler however showed that he is capable of making the jump to the “big show”. The Canucks 1st round pick in 2003, Kesler played in 28 games in ’03, and should be a regular 3rd or 4th line player this year. Even though he is 21, the Canucks have given him a “trial by fire” and he looks like he is ready to respond.
The Vancouver Canucks have developed a bad habit of drafting players by name. Kariya (Steve), Pronger (Sean) and Federov (Fedor) have all had the name to succeed, but that’s about it. Fedor however, looks to have a “put up or shut up” campaign. One of the strongest players during training camp and for the intersquad match ups, Federov opted to give the Canucks one more shot before going back to Europe. A long time whipping boy for Brian Burke, this year may be Federov’s last chance to crack the Canucks lineup, and it looks like he is on his way.
Line 1: Naslund – Morrison – Bertuzzi
Line 2 : D.Sedin – H.Sedin – Carter
Lind 3 : Cooke – Linden – Park
Line 4: Ruutu – Kesler – TBD
1: Jovanoski – Allen
2: Ohlund – Salo
3: McCarthy – Baumgaurter/Brookbank
EXPECTATIONS: The new rule changes, and the fact that Canucks lost very few players in the off-season leaves high expectations for the Canucks this year. Unfortunately, there are a lot of question marks for this team, and with the re-structuring of Edmonton and Calgary, the Canucks now find themselves in one of the NHL’s toughest divisions. This team should be in the top 4 in The Western Conference.
PROJECTED: This team knows how to win in the regular season and have showed that with 3 straight steady campaigns. The real worth of this season however will be judged by their playoff performance. Top 3 in Conference and a loss in the Conference Finals.