Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: Columbus Blue Jackets

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21: Head coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets speaks onstage after being awarded the Jack Adams Award during the 2017 NHL Awards
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21: Head coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets speaks onstage after being awarded the Jack Adams Award during the 2017 NHL Awards /

The Vancouver Canucks got Jonah Gadjovich for last year’s Jack Adams winner in John Tortorella. Fair compensation?

The Vancouver Canucks waited on the Columbus Blue Jackets to surrender their compensatory draft pick for hiring former Canucks head coach John Tortorella. After a disastrous season in Vancouver, Tortorella’s departure and the news of a compensation for his departure sounded like heaven to many Canucks fans.

Now, the pick has turned into none other than forward Jonah Gadjovich. But not before Tortorella was announced the winner of the Jack Adams Trophy for being nominated the best head coach in the NHL last season.

After what the Canucks went through in Willie Desjardins’s last season as Vancouver’s head coach, the city wouldn’t mind having a Jack Adams winner, to be honest.

Here’s to hoping that Travis Green can be the next big dominant name in NHL coaching and with the Canucks. Enough talking. Let’s take a look at what these Blue Jackets have done to bring the “NHL’s best coach” last year a better roster for him to work with.

Offseason Changes

The Blue Jackets had the sixth best offence in the NHL last year and they decided to add to that a big scorer in Artemi Panarin via a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. They do lose a bit on the two-way play of Saad and the veteran leadership of Hartnell but the Blue Jackets now have something in Panarin that all 30 other NHL have to watch out for now.

Columbus Blue Jackets (50-24-8, Conference Quarterfinals)

2016-17 vs. Vancouver
  • (4-3) Columbus, Dec. 18 @Vancouver
  • (3-0) Vancouver, Feb. 9 @Columbus

2017-18 vs. Vancouver

  • Jan. 12 @Columbus
  • Mar. 31 @Vancouver

3 Storylines to Watch in 2017-18

  1. John Tortorella, the 2017 Jack Adams Winner

As already mentioned, Tortorella is back behind the bench in Columbus after a real good season that earned him a Jack Adams trophy. In return for Tortorella, the Canucks did snatch a late second-round pick that they used to pick Jonah Gadjovich, one of the leading scorers from the OHL.

More from The Canuck Way

It will be worth watching how Tortorella and the new head coach Travis Green match up against each other.

Green will try to use a fast, dynamic four-line tactic with Vancouver, something that Tortorella did not really use before coming to Columbus.

2. Sam Gagner‘s Resurgence

Although the Blue Jackets got an elite goal scorer in Panarin, they lost one of their key contributors on the power play.

Gagner took a cheap contract last year to prove himself NHL-worthy and he sure did. He has now landed a multi-year contract with the Canucks and will look to add to Vancouver’s man advantage.

Gagner will have two games to prove himself against the Blue Jackets, two more against the Philadelphia Flyers that he played for two years ago, four more against the Arizona Coyotes that he played for three years ago and finally, four more against the Edmonton Oilers who drafted and played him for the first seven years of his career.

These present to him a plenty of opportunities and should serve him as sources of motivation playing against his many former teams. Hopefully his new-found NHL game comes alive against those former teams because that’s eight games for the Canucks against divisional rivals.

Related Story: D Olli Juolevi is Vancouver's No. 3 Ranked Prospect

3. Olli Juolevi vs. Pierre-Luc Dubois

Remember last year? The talk about how the Canucks could pick Pierre-Luc Dubois if the draft lottery fell in their favour?

Remember last year at the draft? The talk about how the Canucks could pick Pierre-Luc Dubois if Edmonton didn’t draft him?

Well, the Blue Jackets passed on Jesse Puljujarvi and drafted Dubois before the Canucks had a chance to. Vancouver then settled for Juolevi, a pick that raised almost as many eyebrows as the Columbus pick on Dubois did.

Anyhow, it should be pointed out that Vancouver was really interested in Dubois last year. This year, Dubois will look to make the NHL or go back to the QMJHL for his fourth campaign. He did have a bit of a let down last year, at least in the points department.

Next: 30-in-30 Colorado Avalanche Edition

Juolevi finds himself in the exact same situation. After being drafted at the 2016 draft, his OHL season was a bit of a disappointment. He is looking to make the NHL but could also fall back down to the OHL. Though these prospects take years to develop, the fate of these two top prospects closely linked to Vancouver may be decided in a big way this preseason and camp.