Seeing the future is hard… unless you’re Nostradamus, the oracle from the Matrix, or have Bob McKenzie’s sources.
Seriously, how did Bobby Mac nail this one on Monday?
Looks like Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen, Ben Hutton will open season on VAN roster. Does that mean Vey and Corrado on waivers? See at noon.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 5, 2015
Waive Frank Corrado instead of Adam Cracknell? Most of us thought he was out to lunch for even suggesting such a ridiculous thing. Mckenzie’s tea leaves are on point.
With the Canucks season set to start Wednesday, I came up with six burning questions Canucks fans will have. Unfortunately I don’t have Nostradamus, the Oracle or McKenzie on speed dial.
I do however have a magic eight ball website I found on Google… so it’ll have to do.
Hey, if we both agree on something, it can’t be wrong.
1. Is Bo Horvat the ANSWER?
Weak answer, Eight Ball. Horvat IS the answer to every question Canucks fans had in the offseason.
Will they be faster? Can they score enough? Who will match the physicality of other Western teams? Will they play with enough emotion? Who will play centre behind Henrik Sedin?
The answer to all these questions: Bo Horvat.
The answer to the main question: Uh, yeah.
2. Will Ben Hutton be the best of the rookies?
Pfff, typical Eight Ball (giving wishy washy answers one quarter of the time). Unlike our fortune telling friend, I’m not about that vague-answer life.
Out of Ben Hutton, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, Hutton will be the best.
It’s a safe prediction because being the one defenceman, he’ll probably put up fewer points than the other two, but when someone brings it up, all we have to say is “He’s a defenceman. He’s doing his job.”
Wait, I’m not done. If I was a gambling man, and I am sometimes, I’d say Hutton and McCann have the edge on Virtanen. While all three are bursting with confidence, these two have superior skills.
3. Will there be a goaltending controversy this season?
Last season, a bunch of people blamed the media for the goaltending situation between Eddie Lack and Ryan Miller – Lack was clearly the fan favourite by the end of the year. And they blamed Vancouver for being a “goalie graveyard”.
Truth is, Miller wasn’t put in a great situation since signing his $18-million contract before last season, bank account aside.
The Canucks had finally got out from another massive contract with a goalie and fans knew they could get quality goaltending at a cheaper price. That’s not to say they were sold on Lack – many weren’t – but they wanted to see what he could do given the net.
During the pre-season, Jacob Markstrom has looked stronger than Miller. Good stuff, but they’re mean-nothing preseason games.
Looking at their resumes, Miller should have more leash and Markstrom should have almost none. That’s not the case. Watching the reactions of Canucks fans on Twitter, they have been quick to jump on Miller for every mistake, and even quicker to put their support behind Markstrom.
Goaltending controversy? The eight ball knows what’s up.
4. Will Burrows end up back on the Sedin line before the season’s over?
Signs? What could the Eight Ball possibly mean?
Could it be referring to Brandon Sutter playing out of position to start the year on the wing with the Sedins? Is he suggesting Sutter looked out of place and didn’t exactly do well in that spot?
Could it be speaking of the fact that coach Willie hasn’t put Radim Vrbata – the other best option – with the twins since months before the playoffs last year?
All of this leaves Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows to fight for the spot. And if you realize Hansen is a poor-man’s Burrows on the Sedin line…wouldn’t you go with the non-poor-man’s version?
5. Will Luca Sbisa play better?
I was really hoping the eight ball would go the other way on this one but I can’t say I expected anything else.
I wrote this in my Luca Sbisa under the microscope post a couple weeks ago: if Sbisa does everything right – if he plays physically, is solid defensively, plays with confidence, makes smart plays – he’ll be worth the salary extension he was given by the Canucks last year.
Problem is, Sbisa’s never shown any signs he’s going to do everything right.
Will Sbisa play better? Eight Ball: “Don’t count on it.”
Scary thought: the Canucks are counting on it.
6. Will the Canucks make the playoffs?
Finally, a nice, positive response from the Eight Ball.
But it must be on the Canucks’ payroll.
ESPN’s most up to date Power Rankings have Vancouver ranked 27 in the league. ESPN’s Scott Burnside hasn’t had the benefit of seeing youngsters McCann, Virtanen and Hutton up close, though, and those three will go a long way in improving Vancouver’s fate.
They’ll be better than 27th, but the problem is the teams around them will be better too.
That is why I will sadly disagree with the Eight Ball on this one… the Canucks will be on the outside looking in at the end of the regular season. Not by much, but yes, outside.
There is reason for optimism, however: they’ll be developing young players all year, at the NHL level and in the minors. With the skill that’s coming up, this team is only a few years away from being really good once again.