The Vancouver Canucks may not have much to play for, but the results will matter in the last week of the season.
The Vancouver Canucks managed to regain dignity as a team with two wins against playoff-bound California teams last week. The irony of a win that some view as losses was a tough one for the Canucks to swallow as they near the end of the current NHL season.
Just looking at the standings to start the week, the Canucks are not too far removed from the number three tanker’s spot, which is currently occupied by John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Moving up into Columbus’s spot would mean a two percent increase in the Auston Matthews odds.
But for me, it is not so much the draft lottery odds that make the spot so desirable. Remember the compensatory pick? If I am Jim Benning, I am salivating at the prospects of the Blue Jackets surpassing the Canucks in the standings and handing the compensatory pick over for this June’s draft.
Of course, no guarantees that the Blue Jackets will give that pick over this year even if the Canucks draft higher than they do. With a draft pool this big, I would not be surprised if the pick gets deferred to next year’s draft.
Here are the keys to the week, the last ones for the 2015-16 season!
Key Number One: Find Jake Virtanen an Identity
Jake Virtanen was drafted a scoring power forward. Now in his draft+2 year, he has accumulated seven goals and 13 points in 51 games. A suspension, too. The hits were there, the speed was there, but not much more, especially in the most recent weeks.
He had time to think his play over thanks to the two-game suspension. Let’s find him a place in the lineup and an identity he can grow into over the offseason.
Key Number Two: Find Andrey Pedan an Identity
Talk about a player playing out of position. After making his season debut as a winger in December, the 6-foot-5 defender found himself with just five minutes of icetime as a winger again in the win over the Anaheim Ducks last week.
And the verdict from the coach is that Pedan might have to get used to playing all positions. He has the size to be a nice netminder, right?
The Canucks better work this out well with Pedan, who is gaining restricted free agent rights in the summer. Perhaps this prospect of being a fringe player deters him from staying with the Canucks?
Key Number Three: No Tanking in Rogers Arena
Please don’t chant “Aust-on-Mat-thews” in Rogers Arena? To put things into perspective, Virtanen is just 13 months younger than Matthews. Don’t make these young players feel terrible for scoring goals for the Canucks.
And the veterans too. Sucks for a player like Alex Burrows who might be playing his final week of hockey in Vancouver to leave with a resounding tank nation chant.
Next: HOME vs. Los Angeles