Jump to content
The Official Site of the Vancouver Canucks
Canucks Community

TSN Off-Season Game Plan: Vancouver Canucks


Recommended Posts




The Vancouver Canucks have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons and are coming off their worst season since 1998-1999.

Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Canucks team that is effectively trying to go through a rebuilding process, all the while with a roster led by a pair of 35-year-old forwards.

The Sedin twins continue to be productive, but for the Canucks to get better, the supporting cast will have to improve significantly. At least they have a group of young forwards to which they can pin some hopes for the future, but there are also likely to be growing pains as those players develop.

It would seem, then, that the question for the Canucks is how much patience do they have as an organization? Head coach Willie Desjardins was on the hot seat this past season and it would require significant improvement for the Canucks to reach the postseason next year. If they don’t, will the front office be cleaned out, or will they be given more time to allow their young players to reach their potential?

In any case, the Canucks have been a competitive team for a long time, but now appear to be in a valley. We’ll see how quickly they can come out of it. 


Jim Benning/Willie Desjardins


Daniel Sedin 82 28 33 61 50.1 3.0 101.9 59.9 18:20 $7.0M
Henrik Sedin 74 11 44 55 50.9 3.8 100.9 60.6 18:23 $7.0M
Bo Horvat 82 16 24 40 45.8 -2.7 97.1 43.0 17:08 $894K
Jannik Hansen 67 22 16 38 48.7 0.7 104.3 58.6 16:26 $2.5M
Alexandre Burrows 79 9 13 22 48.3 1.0 97.7 49.7 15:10 $4.5M
Jared McCann 69 9 9 18 47.2 0.4 99.7 53.5 12:31 $894K
Derek Dorsett 71 5 11 16 45.6 -2.8 97.8 45.9 12:35 $2.65M
Jake Virtanen 55 7 6 13 51.2 2.8 98.5 52.7 11:34 $894K
Markus Granlund 47 6 4 10 44.6 -5.1 100.5 54.4 13:47 $900K
Brandon Sutter 20 5 4 9 50.5 -2.5 101.5 52.1 17:59 $4.375M
Chris Higgins 33 3 1 4 45.9 -2.0 94.9 46.6 13:47 $2.5M



Sven Baertschi 69 15 13 28 46.4 -1.5 98.6 49.4 13:27 $900K RFA
Radim Vrbata 63 13 14 27 49.7 -0.3 94.8 49.6 16:03 $5.0M UFA
Linden Vey 41 4 11 15 44.9 -3.0 97.1 46.0 15:45 $1.0M RFA
Emerson Etem 58 7 8 15 45.9 -1.2 98.2 42.0 13:09 $851K RFA
Brandon Prust 35 1 6 7 44.4 -2.0 99.8 44.2 12:47 $2.5M UFA

The Sedins present an interesting conundrum for the Canucks. They are 35-years-old, and have two more years, at $7-million per, left on their contracts. Even if Vancouver could find a team that has the cap room to take them, the Sedins also have no-movement clauses, so it appears that they are staying put.

That’s not a problem, necessarily, because they continue to play at a high level and should remain that way for the next couple of seasons, but it means the Canucks orchestrating their rebuild around two veterans who are locked in for a combined $14-million against the cap.  

Daniel Sedin scored 28 goals last season, his most since 2011-2012, and while the twins’ possession numbers weren’t as dominant as in previous seasons, they were still solid.

Henrik Sedin continues to be the setup man to his brother, the finisher. Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton are the only active players with more assists than Henrik.

Embedded Image Jake Virtanen and Bo Horvat are two big pieces in the Canucks' rebuilding plan.

The ninth pick in the 2013 Draft, Bo Horvat was pressed into a bigger role in his second NHL season, once Brandon Sutter was injured.  As a result, Horvat’s offensive production climbed and 40 points out of a 20-year-old (now 21) centre is encouraging. However, at this early stage of his career, Horvat hasn’t yet reached the point at which he generates positive possession stats, so his all-around game needs further refinement if he’s going to become a bona fide top-six forward. 

Veteran winger Jannik Hansen scored a career-high 22 goals last season, taking advantage of the opportunity to skate alongside the Sedins. He’s a solid two-way winger, with good speed, but he’s also 30-years-old and has played eight-plus seasons for the Canucks so, even with a modified no-trade clause, he could be shopped for a younger asset.

Alex Burrows has hustled, agitated and pestered his way to 767 games with the Canucks, and had some productive years while riding shotgun with the Sedins, but he has 70 points in 198 games over the past three seasons and that modest production makes him a candidate to have the last year of his contract bought out.

After making the team as a 19-year-old, Jared McCann had some decent results in a limited role. As a centre, he needs dramatic improvement in the faceoff circle (where he won 34.7% of his draws), but he had positive relative possession numbers. He’ll be part of the Canucks’ plans for the future, so it will be important for McCann to make progress next season. 

If you’re looking for indictable offenses when it comes to Vancouver Canucks management, signing Derek Dorsett to a four-year, $10.6-million extension would be Exhibit A when presenting to the bad hockey contracts grand jury. He led the league with 177 penalty minutes last season, but Dorsett is more than just a fighter. He can handle a depth role and kill penalties, but there is no way his production can justify that cap hit. Don’t worry, though, there will be more exhibits. 

Taken sixth in the 2014 Draft, ahead of William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers, Jake Virtanen is a hard-hitting winger. The question is whether he’s going to be able to score in the NHL, or score enough to justify that lofty draft status. While he managed a modest seven goals in 55 games as a rookie, Virtanen was able to generate shotsand that’s a start.  

Acquired from Calgary in exchange for Hunter Shinkaruk, 23-year-old Markus Granlund has been a fringe NHLer to this point, producing 31 points with terrible possession stats in 102 career games. He’s reasonably-priced forward depth.

Exhibit B in the Canucks’ questionable contract pantheon is Brandon Sutter, who was acquired last summer in a deal that sent Nick Bonino to Pittsburgh. Sutter, who has yet to match the 40 points that he scored for Carolina in 2009-2010, was inked to a five-year extension worth a little under $22-million. It’s possible that he’ll be a decent checking centre who can chip in offensively, but the price tag requires more than that.

Chris Higgins’s play fell off a cliff last season and he was demoted to the minors. The 32-year-old was recalled after scoring nine goals in 22 AHL games and his possession numbers in the NHL weren’t terrible, but four points in 33 games is tough. With one year left on his deal, Higgins could be bought out, or might be worth salvaging in a checking role.

23-year-old winger Sven Baertschi took advantage of an opportunity to play full-time in the NHL last season and contributed 15 goals; solid secondary scoring, especially when it comes in limited ice time.

After playing a full season in the NHL in 2014-2015, Linden Vey split last season between the AHL and NHL. He’s a restricted free agent who appears to be on the roster bubble.
Emerson Etem has logged 170 NHL games with three teams and has scored 22 goals. The 23-year-old hasn’t been able to put it together for an extended period yet, but for a team that should be accumulating young talent, he’s worth a longer look. 

How does this situation get better for the Canucks? Well, they have Anton Rodin returning to North America after an excellent season in Sweden, during which he scored 37 points in 33 games, so maybe the 25-year-old will upgrade Vancouver’s skill level. 

It would come as no surprise if Vancouver, a team with cap room, made an attempt to sign hometown power forward Milan Lucic. He will cost a lot, on a long-term deal, and that would not seem to be the best tactic for a rebuilding team; yet it seems likely that the Canucks will want in on that bidding.

The fifth pick in the draft should provide a long-term building block, though not necessarily immediate help for next season.

The Canucks are reportedly one of the finalists in contention for collegiate free agent Drake Caggiula, a smaller winger who had a terrific senior season for the national champions.

Then the Canucks are looking at internal development, hoping that a healthy Sutter and progress from the likes of Horvat, McCann and Virtanen will provide better results.


Ben Hutton 75 1 24 25 46.8 -2.4 98.2 54.0 19:52 $896K
Alexander Edler 52 6 14 20 47.3 -1.6 98.7 42.4 24:27 $5.0M
Chris Tanev 69 4 14 18 50.0 2.0 97.9 43.7 21:45 $4.45M
Luca Sbisa 41 2 6 8 43.4 -6.9 102.8 50.3 17:23 $3.6M
Alex Biega 51 0 7 7 46.5 1.5 99.4 56.4 16:46 $750K



Matt Bartkowski 80 6 12 18 45.5 -1.9 99.3 54.2 18:37 $1.75M UFA
Dan Hamhuis 58 3 10 13 50.2 2.5 99.7 51.1 21:25 $4.5M UFA
Yannick Weber 45 0 7 7 48.7 0.5 97.2 56.9 18:50 $1.5M UFA

Ben Hutton was a pleasant surprise as a rookie, taking on more responsibility, particularly once Alexander Edler was hurt. On a defence that needs some fresh blood, Hutton is an inexpensive option in the top four.

A capable first-pair defenceman with size and good puck skills, Alexander Edler is 30 and coming off a broken leg. With three more years remaining on his deal, it might be worth the Canucks shopping him to see what kind of return he might command. 


Embedded Image Chris Tanev has developed into a major contributor on the Canucks blueline. 

The Canucks mined a diamond when they signed Chris Tanev after one year of college at RIT. It’s taken him some time to develop, but he’s played more than 20 minutes per game in each of the past three seasons and produces favourable possession stats despite facing the opposition’s top lines and with a higher-proportion of defensive-zone face-offs.

We arrive at Exhibit C of the Canucks’ bad contracts with Luca Sbisa, a 26-year-old who was inked to a three-year, $10.8-million extension, and then played 17:23 per game last season, an average that ranked seventh among Canucks defencemen. He’s had positive relative possession stats once in his career, but since he’s signed for a couple of more seasons, he’s likely going to be part of the third pairing next year.

Alex Biega played in a career-high 51 NHL games last season, so that’s a breakthrough for the 28-year-old who had five-plus seasons in the AHL after graduating from Harvard.

The group needs to be upgraded and this ought to be an area for the Canucks to explore, whether it’s via trade or signing a free agent. The Canucks have the cap room that they can afford to make a move, so if a right-handed veteran blueliner became available (Dennis Wideman? James Wisniewski?) then that might be worthwhile. Otherwise, prospects like Troy Stecher and Jordan Subban may need to be pressed into action quickly.

There’s also the possibility that the Canucks could bring back veteran Dan Hamhuis. Vancouver botched the Hamhuis situation at the trade deadline, but given their needs on defence, he could still fill a top-four role.


NAME GP W L T SV% EV SV% 2016-17 CAP
Ryan Miller 51 17 24 9 .916 .930 $6.0M
Jacob Markstrom 33 13 14 4 .915 .918 $1.55M

Ryan Miller played well enough for the Canucks last season, but he turns 36 this summer and is going into the last year of his contract. That would seem to make him expendable, for the right offer, but Vancouver could also let him play out the deal.

Also going into the last year of his contract, Jacob Markstrom was a solid second-stringer for Vancouver last season. That’s a major step forward after several false starts in his career. 

Miller and Markstrom appear to be minding the crease until top prospect Thatcher Demko is deemed ready to go. The Boston College product is likely ticketed for the AHL to start the year, so that he can get used to handling a starter’s workload in pro hockey, but it may not be long before the 21-year-old is ready for primetime.



Thatcher Demko G 39       .935 Boston College (HE)
Brock Boeser RW 42 27 33 60 +45 North Dakota (NCHC)
Brendan Gaunce C 46 17 21 38 +12 Utica (AHL)
Jordan Subban D 67 11 25 36 -5 Utica (AHL)
Anton Rodin RW 33 16 21 37 +7 Brynas IF Gavle (SHL)
Guillaume Brisebois D 52 10 16 26 -13 Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
Andrey Pedan D 45 7 14 21 +17 Utica (AHL)
Troy Stecher D 43 8 21 29 +26 North Dakota (NCHC)
Nikita Tryamkin D 53 4 7 11 -3 Yekaterinburg (KHL)
Cole Cassels C 67 2 5 7 -17 Utica (AHL)
Adam Gaudette C 41 12 18 30 0 Northeastern (HE)
Carl Neill D 64 8 42 50 -19 Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
Dmitry Zhukenov C 64 15 42 57 -2 Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Ashton Sautner D 50 4 7 11 -1 Utica (AHL)
Tate Olson D 65 9 38 47 +16 Prince George (WHL)


5th – Matthew Tkachuk, Alex Nylander, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Jakob Chychrun


The Canucks have approximately $56.4M committed to the 2016-2017 salary cap for 18 players.


Two top-nine forwards, one top-four defenceman, two more defencemen


One top-nine forward, younger assets, draft picks


Brandon Sutter, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen, Adam Cracknell, Ben Hutton, Matt Bartkowski, Jacob Markstrom


Jannik Hansen, Alexander Edler, Ryan Miller 



Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Jannik Hansen
Drake Caggiula Brandon Sutter Anton Rodin
Sven Baertschi Bo Horvat Jake Virtanen
Derek Dorsett Markus Granlund Colton Sceviour
Emerson Etem Jared McCann Alexandre Grenier
Brendan Gaunce Lindey Vey Tyler Randell
Alexander Edler Chris Tanev Ryan Miller
Ben Hutton Eric Gryba Jacob Markstrom
Luca Sbisa Alex Biega Thatcher Demko
Andrey Pedan Troy Stecher  
Nikita Tryamkin Jordan Subban  

Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.comcorsica.hockeystats.hockeyanalysis.com www.hockey-reference.comwww.naturalstattrick.comwww.generalfanager.com and www.capfriendly.com.

Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca

Interesting projections on the Canucks depth chart next season. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not very. It's just another Toronto-centric crap write-up from the network that is losing relevance as each year passes. 


Interesting though that Cullen moronically included Drake Calluiga in the roster before an announcement has been made

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not surprising that the excellent play of Nikita Tryamkin got zero fanfare in this article. IMO I think Hamhuis can walk and not let the door hit him the ass on the way out.

I think JB should target one of Goligoski, Yandle or Burns should they make it to free agency. That should shore up the defence nicely. Forward wise, we'll see what happens. I expect to see a massive offer thrown @ Stamkos.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Darius71 said:

The only thing sadder than Cullen getting paid for that tripe is me getting paid at work to read it! LOL!


Appreciate the honesty.


The comments in general about the article are a bit tough. Cullen has a lot of things right. But he has a few things wrong. One mistake is not discussing Tryamkin under the Defence and listing him at #5 for left D. That obviously puts him in Utica. But Tryamkin won't be in Utica. And he also plays right D, despite shooting left.


He will be on the Canucks next year, playing in the 3rd pairing and may move up to the second pairing. He also looks like a very good prospect.


And even if Caggiula is signed, there is no way he moves ahead of Baertschi on the depth chart at LW. If signed, he will probably start the season in Utica.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, JamesB said:

Appreciate the honesty.


The comments in general about the article are a bit tough. Cullen has a lot of things right. But he has a few things wrong. One mistake is not discussing Tryamkin under the Defence and listing him at #5 for left D. That obviously puts him in Utica. But Tryamkin won't be in Utica. And he also plays right D, despite shooting left.


He will be on the Canucks next year, playing in the 3rd pairing and may move up to the second pairing. He also looks like a very good prospect.


And even if Caggiula is signed, there is no way he moves ahead of Baertschi on the depth chart at LW. If signed, he will probably start the season in Utica.

It is what it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, HKSR said:

The fact he talks about our defence and doesn't make mention once of Tryamkin shows how little he knows about the depth on the Canucks.

Correct. Plus if Tryamkin is not in the top 6 next year, he is likely on his way back to the khl 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, PhillipBlunt said:

The fact that this moron Cullen was actually paid to write this dreck is just more proof of how absolutely useless TSN really is.


I've wiped with more informative copy.

I was mostly just posting this as a more informative post and I'm not in anyway supporting Cullen and his analysis. But I'm wondering if Scotty C accidentally ran his lawnmower over your dog's leg? The butthurt is unreal. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...