Last Season – The Canucks won the President’s Trophy with a 51-22-9 record for 111 points. However they once again missed out on the Trophy they wanted when the Kings beat them in the first round of the playoffs.
Ready to Step In – Zack Kassian has the unique blend of size, skill and toughness that has been missing in Vancouver since Todd Bertuzzi left town. He played 44 games last season split between Buffalo and Vancouver, and is ready to make a true impact on the West Coast.
Look For A Bounce-back Season From – Mason Raymond is only 2 years removed from a 25 goal-53 point season, but his production has steadily declined as has his ability to stay in the lineup. If he can’t return to 20 goal form, his role with the Canucks might decline.
Upside – As long as he remains a Canuck, Roberto Luongo forms the league’s best combination in net with Cory Schneider. Luongo is saying all the right things now, but the test will come when he is sitting on the bench for weeks at a time.
Downside – The cakewalk in the Northwest Division is over for the Canucks. In previous years, it was them and then everyone else. However, with the Minnesota Wild loading up and the Edmonton Oilers quickly on the rise, the Canucks will be looking over their shoulder a little more closely now, especially early on with the injuries to Kesler and Booth on the second line which hurts their secondary scoring.
2013 Prognosis – The Canucks are still among the elite regular season teams. They won’t scare anyone like the might have a couple of years ago, and they will be in a lot more closer games. Teams have closed the gap on them, but a playoff spot is a certainty. What they do after that is anyone’s guess.