Price is Right: Will Canucks management prioritize patience or playoffs next season?
The NHL really is a tale of two conferences this season. The East and West conferences are a very different group. There is a have and a have not, but it’s not necessarily drawn up like you might think, and that may affect how much success you believe the Canucks can have next season.
If you’re thinking the West is terrible, ergo, “I don’t mind the Canucks going for the playoffs next season,” well, be careful. Entry into the playoffs isn’t where things differ from West to East. The bar might be just as hard if not harder to clear in the Western Conference. With the second wild card team currently at 75 points, versus 73 out east, where it all changes is once you get in.
The Western Conference playoffs will effectively be a free for all. The gap from the last playoff team to the conference leader right now is just seven points. “Get in and you never know,” might actually be a thing here this season. Now, the defending champs in Colorado certainly need to be respected. However, their regular season performance and their injuries have stunted any great success so far.
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But for the Canucks next season, all that might change. You never know how talent can swing via trades and free agency, and even just the luck of good health. The Avs would be having a much better season with Gabe Landeskog. Or with a full season from Valeri Nichuskin and Bowen Byram. A dozen more games from Mackinnon and Makar. It’s been quite the run for them..
However, even if the Canucks improve greatly, it’s a long way from here to there. Think of the great leap made by the Ottawa Senators this season. They had just 73 points last year. They’ll likely pass that mark next week, and still, are a long shot to make the playoffs right now, just because of how far they had to come.
The Canucks can improve next year. Thatcher Demko and Filip Hronek alone can be a big difference. The question is, what other future pieces are sacrificed this summer in the name of being more competitive, when the gap is just too big to overcome in just one season?
Patience is a virtue. Canucks fans have it. We’ll see how much the team does soon.