The Hockey News recently published their projections for what the Vancouver Canucks roster will be in 2020. Spoiler alert: The Sedins will not be Canucks in three years.
After four years without giving fans an indication on where they were going, the Vancouver Canucks are beginning a rebuild, which figures to take another two or three years before they ice a competitive roster.
General manager Jim Benning has already tried stockpiling on prospects while making this team younger, as evidenced by the trades for prospects Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen. Benning also stayed away from chasing big-named free agents this year, opting to choose mid-level guys in their mid-to-late 20s like Sam Gagner and Michael Del Zotto instead.
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2015 first round pick Brock Boeser will surely make the team in 2016-17, but other prized prospects like Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson, Adam Gaudette and Thatcher Demko will need more time before they’re in the NHL.
And if the Canucks plans to “rebuild” go accordingly in 2018 and 2019 — that is by landing more top-five selections — then they will indeed be a playoff contender by 2020.
Just look at this beautiful roster projection by Matt Larkin from The Hockey News:
Not trying to jump the gun here, but is it just me or does that have “Stanley Cup contender” written all over it?
Assuming these projections are right — and they will be for the most part — the Canucks will be rolling three quality lines and will own one of the league’s best top-four on defence.
As Larkin also pointed out, the Canucks figure to have a nice salary cap situation by 2020″
"Losing the Sedins frees $14 million, and we’re likely to see overpriced vets such as Derek Dorsett gone once their deals expire, too. Horvat will get his extension before the 2017-18 season and has played well enough that he deserves to bypass a bridge deal. Boeser is up as an RFA after 2018-19. With so many aging players likely gone, it doesn’t appear GM Jim Benning will face a scary cap conundrum in the coming seasons."
Alexander Edler carries just two years left on his contract at $5 million a season, and will be gone by then. Assuming he hasn’t turned his career around, Loui Eriksson could be bought out to free up space in the future. So Benning should have no problem keeping young core players around like Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund and others.
Larkin concluded his article with a comforting line for the Canucks faithful:
"The suffering isn’t over yet in Vancouver, but there’s an end in sight. In a few years, this team will be a lot younger and ready to start a slow but steady ascension. Circle 2019-20 as a realistic target for improvement."
Hard to disagree with that notion. The Canucks could own one of the NHL’s most lethal top-six units in the NHL, a legitimate top-four on the blue line and an elite goalie in Thatcher Demko.
Keep in mind core players for teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will be in their mid-30s by 2020. The Canucks will just be getting started on their path to a championship.
Larkin’s projections are hard to dispute. The Canucks will get their young players under long-term deals, and the kids will be carrying this roster in 2018 and beyond. And if most of these players can live up to their full potentials, then Larkin will be right — the Vancouver Canucks can be a much better team in 2020.