Vancouver Canucks: Linden, Green and Benning sound off on season

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: President of hockey operations of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden looks on from the draft floor during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: President of hockey operations of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden looks on from the draft floor during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden, general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green sounded off on an emotional and frustrating 2017-18 season. See what they had to say about another non-playoff year.

The Vancouver Canucks showed some signs of improvement in 2017-18, but there’s still plenty of work to do as they try to compete for a playoff spot once again next season.

It’s quite difficult to label this season as a disaster, considering expectations were much lower than the last two years. But this campaign was especially different in many ways, as it included the rise of star rookie Brock Boeser — who scored 29 goals and 55 points in 62 games before he suffered a season-ending back injury.

But in even bigger news, Daniel and Henrik Sedin are now retired, and they leave as the greatest players in franchise history. The Canucks have $14 million in cap space coming off the books, plus a lot more ice time and opportunities for younger players next season.

More from The Canuck Way

On Monday, the Canucks held a news conference and reflected on the season. Despite finishing 26th in the league standings, team president Trevor Linden sees many positives down the road.

“We are encouraged as an organization about where we are as a group,” Linden said, per the Canadian Press (h/t Sportsnet). I think this group has an identity moving forward with its young players that is exciting.”

Head coach Travis Green touched on a number of subjects, including what was a frustrating year for defenceman Ben Hutton – who was a frequent healthy scratch throughout the season.

“I want Ben Hutton to come back a better hockey player. We pushed him to be better. He had a rough year and that happens,” he said, per Rick Dhaliwal of News 1130. “I know the analytics say he did good things, end of the day he had 6 assist in 61 games. His conditioning wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.”

Per Dhaliwal, Green also sounded off on the Sedins’ retirement and revealed there’s no current plan in place for a new captain.

Linden and general manager Jim Benning also provided some insight on the future. With plenty of cap space to make big moves, Linden doesn’t seem bent on spending every dollar they have this summer.

Another story to keep an eye on will be the goaltending situation. Jacob Markstrom was easily the most effective netminder, finishing with a 23-26-7 record with a  .912 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average, along with two shutouts.

Backup Anders Nilsson — who only has one year left on his contract — was red hot through the first two months of the season, before it all fell apart. He finished with a 7-14-4 record and ghastly 3.44 goals against average.

Prized goalie prospect Thatcher Demko has nothing more to prove with the Utica Comets, and he won his only start he made with the Canucks this season. And according to Benning, there will be “open competition” as to which goalie gets the starting duties.

There’s plenty of work to do for a Canucks team that will be without its two best players in franchise history. They also stand to pick in the top-nine at this year’s draft, with a chance at landing generational blueliner prospect Rasmus Dahlin.

Vancouver also has plenty of cap room to address a struggling blue line that needs a ton of help. The front office and coaching staff will also have to decide which prospects are worth bringing up for 2018-19, including Elias Pettersson, Jonathan Dahlen and Olli Juolevi.

Next: Vancouver Canucks: Our favourite Sedin moments

It’s going to be a very interesting few months for the Vancouver Canucks front office, players and fans. With the Sedins gone, the franchise may be forced to accept a full-on rebuild by moving forward with youthful players in 2018-19.