Vancouver Canucks Daily Rumblings: Canucks a Playoff Team?

Oct 7, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (21) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (21) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks may have made some questionable moves over the past months, but they should definitely be back in contention for a playoff spot.

So the Vancouver Canucks still think they can make the playoffs. Meanwhile, we have a large group of sunshiny glass-half-full-type fans screaming “Canucks are da best” in one corner and a bunch of pessimistic writers and glass-half-empty fans in the dark, cloudy opposite corner.

But who is right?

That question is hard to answer, but I will give it a shot nonetheless. Plus, the Las Vegas franchise found a general manager and it’s not exactly whom you would have expected.

Vegas, Baby!

Sports Illustrated: Las Vegas NHL team to announce George McPhee as GM

"McPhee has worked as an advisor to Islanders GM Garth Snow since September of last year. McPhee served as the GM of the Capitals from 1997–2014.The Capitals made the Stanley Cup Final in McPhee’s first season. He later rebuilt the team in the mid–2000s, drafting Alexander Ovechkin and ushering in a new era of Capitals success."

The Las Vegas NHL franchise is set to announce George McPhee as general manager today. The 58-year-old wasn’t part of recent speculations, but he is certainly a great catch for the franchise (this is the first and only Pokemon reference I will make on this blog). After serving as the GM of the Washington Capitals from 1997 to 2014, McPhee brings the kind of experience it will take to turn Las Vegas into a competitive hockey team.

Fans often ask for a full-on rebuild like the one we would do on EA Sports’ NHL games when we play with a rebuilding club. Kick out everything of value and bring in young players and prospects in return. But that’s just a video game, it doesn’t work that way in real life — or maybe… it does.

More from The Canuck Way

In the 2003-04 season, George McPhee went full rebuild. He traded Sergei Gonchar, Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Michael Nylander, Mike Grier, Robert Lang and Steve Konowalchuk all in the same year. He then drafted Alexander Ovechkin in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and never looked back.

So, Las Vegas fans can be excited to get a GM who actually has the balls to purposely suck before turning his team into a good one. That will be important because following the expansion draft, Las Vegas will almost certainly suck.

Sure, McPhee never reached the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup with the Caps. But they also wouldn’t be where they are today if he hadn’t built a competitive roster through the draft.

Also, McPhee punched former Blackhawks coach Lorne Molleken in the face outside Chicago’s locker room once, so he’s everything John Tortorella wants to be. He was suspended for a month without pay and got a $20,000 fine, but I’m sure it was the “best $20,000 I’ve ever spent.” (Lest we forget Brandon Prust.)

Good luck in Vegas!

The Canucks Can Be a Playoff Team

Dave Lozo — The Comeback: NHL Mailbag: Kris Russell Waiting, the Titanic Canucks, Pokemon, Sabres or Shirtless

"Erik Gudbranson is the equivalent of an extra piano in the (Titanic’s) ballroom. It’s sliding all over the place and destroying all the tables and fine china. It’s not helping in any way, but it’s causing major damage through vicious contact and the captain thinks that’s great.Loui Eriksson is the Heart of the Ocean. Beautiful. A wonderful accessory to place around the neck of a beautiful woman. But in the end, it’s all going to end up at the bottom of the Pacific while Jim Benning stands in the wheelhouse as the waters break through and drown everyone. All the best in 2016-17, Juan."

The Vancouver Canucks finished 27th in the league in 2015-16. I also wrote very recently that Vancouver hardly got any better this year. So how on earth is this still a playoff team?

What I am about to say might be enough to push me into the sunshiny glass-half-full-type corner. But I genuinely believe the reason why the Canucks had the season they did is the injuries they had to endure.

Call it a lack of depth or whatever you want. But losing your second-line center, Brandon Sutter, for almost all season, and losing leaders like Henrik Sedin, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis as well as backup goalie Jacob Markstrom for long stretches of the year really hurts. I am not saying they would have been a lock for the playoffs had they suffered fewer injuries, but they definitely would have had a chance. You saw where they were in the standings before Henrik Sedin first went down.

So now the Canucks have Loui Eriksson instead of Radim Vrbata, Erik Gudbranson for Dan Hamhuis, and arguably a much deeper roster than last year. Plus, youngsters Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen and Ben Hutton had an additional year to develop.

Next: 5 Things to Be Excited for in 2016-17

The roster might not be much better than it was last season, but it definitely did get better. Even if it’s just a little bit.

And if they would have been good enough to compete last season, they definitely are this time around!