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Summer Skate -- Vancouver Canucks


Last season, a fourth consecutive 100-point and division-winning season for Vancouver came to an early end with the unlucky first-round draw of the highly underrated and red-hot Los Angeles Kings.

Still one of the league's best teams, Vancouver is backstopped by the elite tandem of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, with a host of defensive-minded forwards such as Manny Malhotra handling the tough minutes so players like the Sedin twins can win scoring races. Meanwhile, Jason Garrison was added to the Canucks' already impressive collection of quality two-way veteran defensemen.

Trending up: LW David Booth

Last season: 3.9 GVT | VUKOTA projection: 4.1 GVT

On the advice of longtime friend Ryan Kesler, the Canucks acquired the speedy Booth from theFlorida Panthers early last season. Booth subsequently enjoyed the best puck possession numbers of anyone who didn't play on the top line with the Sedin twins.

But the Canucks scored on just 6.6 percent of their shots when Booth was on the ice and their goalies had a .912 save percentage -- bad luck that will improve his underlying statistics once they normalize.

Booth's tough 2011-12 season was further compounded by a nasty MCL injury sustained in a knee-on-knee hit from Kevin Porter. He also had a reduction in power-play opportunities, inevitable when going from Florida to talent-laden Vancouver.

Booth, who is turning 28 in November, is still within his prime and, with a little luck and a stronger knee, could be highly effective in Vancouver this season -- even without Kesler, who is out until at least mid-November due to shoulder surgery. By getting to focus his considerable talent in a secondary role while others handle the tough minutes and top-line pressures, Booth could flourish. -- Vollman

Trending down: RW Jannik Hansen

Last season: 11.3 GVT | VUKOTA projection: 6.7 GVT

Young winger Hansen was plus-18 on the checking line, which, in Vancouver, plays in really tough situations in order to maximize the opportunities for their top players.

A lot of Hansen's success on the score sheet was based on sky-high shooting and save percentages, factors that often dissipate over time. With Hansen on the ice, Vancouver's checking-line grinders scored on 9.9 percent of their shots, while their goalies had a .934 save percentage. It all added up to 39 points that would otherwise be unreachable for the great Dane.

The only way for Hansen to sustain his impressive production would be a promotion to a top line, something that would happen only with an injury to someone like Alex Burrows. While Hansen will remain a solid checking-line winger, he will also start to look like one, complete with lower scoring totals and more goals against. -- Vollman

Custance's name to know: F Jordan Schroeder

The Canucks will give Schroeder an opportunity in training camp to fill the role vacated by Kesler, who will miss the start of the season after having surgery to fix a torn labrum in his shoulder. Kesler has been steadfast in his refusal to rush back from this injury, which could keep him out until December.

Schroeder has the skill to take advantage of the opening. He has spent the past two seasons developing in the AHL after the Canucks selected him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2009 draft. At the time, he was considered a potential top-15 pick, but concerns over his size (listed as 5-foot-9, 180 pounds) gave Vancouver the opportunity to grab him late in the first round.

Last season in 76 games with the Chicago Wolves, the 21-year-old center had 21 goals and 23 assists, a significant jump in production from the 28 points he put up during his first full season in the AHL.

The Canucks also like the potential of 2011 first-round pick Nicklas Jensen, who had four goals in six AHL games last season after scoring 25 goals for Oshawa in the OHL. The 6-3 winger could make a surprise run during training camp and end up in the NHL. Vancouver will also be watching defenseman Kevin Connauton (13 goals in 73 AHL games last season) in camp. He'll challenge for a spot in Vancouver's top eight on defense.

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