Vancouver Canucks have too many forwards, few roster spots

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 28: Brock Boeser
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 28: Brock Boeser /

Entering the 2017-18 season, the Vancouver Canucks aren’t lacking in quantity of quality forwards. But in the future, they may have a good problem of having too many of them.

The Vancouver Canucks have been lacking in scorers throughout the past four years. Only Daniel and Henrik Sedin had been threats on offence, until Bo Horvat broke out last year and led the team in scoring with 52 points.

But believe it or not, the Canucks are icing nine quality forwards heading into the 2017-18 season. As of right now, six players on the roster have scored 20 goals at least once in their careers: Horvat, Daniel, Henrik, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter and Thomas Vanek.

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Throw in Sam Gagner and Sven Baertschi (who have both scored as high as 18 goals in a season), and 19-goal man Markus Granlund, too.

Include promising rookie Brock Boeser, and we now see 10 different Canucks who can threaten to score 20-plus goals.

Now on paper, this looks fascinating and all. The Canucks have undoubtedly built a forward group with plenty of reliable scorers. But in 2018-19 and beyond, having too many forwards may be a problem.

Before the Canucks signed Vanek, these were my projected lines for opening night:

Sven Baertschi — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser
Markus Granlund — Brandon Sutter —Loui Eriksson
Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Sam Gagner
Nikolay Goldobin — Alexander Burmistrov — Jake Virtanen

But with the Canucks recently extending Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput and Brendan Gaunce, you can expect Goldobin and Virtanen to start out 2017-18 in the minors.

Yet, it should be in this rebuilding team’s best interest to play the likes of Virtanen, Goldobin and perhaps Jonathan Dahlen and Adam Gaudette at some point during 2017-18. Doesn’t look like they’ll get many chances, though.

It’s not just 2017-18 where the Canucks have too many forwards right now, but in the future as well. General manager Jim Benning will have to get crafty with finding some roster spots.

Looking into the future

It’s not like the Canucks have many pending unrestricted free agents coming up. Barring anything unforeseen, Vanek is likely only a Canuck for 2017-18, then will get traded at the deadline or will sign elsewhere in July.

The Sedin twins are entering their contract years, but both Benning and Daniel have expressed an interest to keep them here for life. So expect them to indeed be Canucks until they are ready to retire, which could be at least two years away.

Related Story: Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning says he won't trade Sedins

Eriksson is on the books for five more years. Sutter is signed through 2020-21, while Gagner obviously has three years left on his new deal. Horvat, Granlund and Baertschi will surely sign long-term extensions soon, as the latter two are pending RFAs.

Then you throw in prospects like Boeser, Gaudette, Dahlen, Goldobin and Elias Pettersson. Just where will the Canucks inject these guys on the roster over the next two-to-three years? There aren’t a lot of spots nor minutes open, that’s for sure.


Obviously, this isn’t a problem for the Canucks to worry about right now. They have their roster practically set for 2017-18, so that’s all the coaching staff and front office need to be worried about right now.

But over the next two seasons, the Canucks are likely going to try and bring up some of their top prospects to play key minutes, like all rebuilding teams do.

Though the Canucks are devoid of superstar players, they have a ton of veterans and youngsters that are capable of playing top-six minutes.

Next: Adam Gaudette can make Canucks great

Nonetheless, this is a good problem to have, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks find a way to maneuver through the log jam on forward over the next few years.