The Vancouver Canucks are ready for the start of the 2016-17 season.
While the NHL begins regular season play on Wednesday, we’ll have to wait until Saturday for the first game from the team in blue and green. That’s when the Canucks will open the season, at home, to the Calgary Flames.
On Tuesday the Canucks announced their final cuts, meaning their 23-man roster is set.
Let’s take a look:
No surprise here, the Canucks will once again be led by Henrik and Daniel Sedin up front. At age 36, the Twins are still Vancouver’s best players, but they’ve got a new addition to help carry the load this year. Loui Eriksson, a 30-goal scorer with the Boston Bruins last season, should help in all situations.
Also new to the fold is winger Jack Skille, who won a job with a strong preseason. The seventh overall pick back in the 2005 NHL Draft should fit in a fourth line role, providing a mixture of grit and skill.
Anton Rodin, who will start the season on injured reserve, is the other newcomer to the forward ranks this season. Rodin, a second round pick by the Canucks way back in 2009, looks like he may finally fulfill some of his potential not long before his 26th birthday. He was the MVP in the Swedish Hockey League last season and showed off his quick release, scoring 5 points (2-3-5) in five NHL preseason games. He’s currently battling an injury and will begin the season on IR.
Two players expected to have increased roles with the team this season include Markus Granlund and Brendan Gaunce, who both had strong showings in preseason.
Projected forward lines:
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Eriksson|
Vancouver has a couple of new additions to the blueline this season in Erik Gudbranson and Philip Larsen.
Both players were brought in with very specific purposes in mind. Gudbranson was to provide toughness and reliability on Vancouver’s second pairing, while Larsen’s job is to revive the power play.
Alex Edler and Chris Tanev will once again be counted upon to be the team’s shutdown pairing, while Ben Hutton’s role will be elevated this year.
It should also be noted that Edler had a monster preseason campaign, scoring seven points in five games, ranking him second in the NHL. Preseason play often means nothing once the games start counting for real, but Edler’s strong play is encouraging nonetheless.
The wild card in this group is Nikita Tryamkin, who will play his first full year in North America.
Projected defence pairings:
|Extras: Tryamkin, Biega|
Goaltending is the most reliable position the Canucks have. Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom will split duties between the pipes, with Miller expected to receive more minutes. Just how many more minutes each will receive is open for debate – this is Vancouver after all – but the tandem should provide solid goaltending regardless.
The Canucks open the season on Saturday at home to the Calgary Flames (7 pm, CBC). They’ll play the next night as well, against Eddie Lack and the Carolina Hurricanes.