In his latest article for The Province newspaper, longtime Vancouver Canucks insider Ed Willes reviewed the team’s offseason moves and wonders how fans will react to recent developments. For a team that has admitted it’s looking to the future, the Canucks sure have made things difficult on its young players by adding veteran players to the mix.
While 2016-17 team MVP Bo Horvat remains without a contract for the upcoming season and the NHL futures of top prospects like Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi, Nikolay Goldobin and Jake Virtanen still in doubt, general manager Jim Benning spent his summer signing several veteran free-agents. In addition to the 37 year-old Henrik and Daniel Sedin and 32 year-old Loui Eriksson, 33-year old Thomas Vanek, 28-year old Sam Gagner and 28 year-old Michael Del Zotto all factor into key roles for the team in 2017-18. And according to Willes, this is counter to the team’s goal of rebuilding with youth.
In a perfect assessment of the situation, Willes says:
…this is also an organization which is trying to keep its fan base engaged and it’s hard to see where the Canucks’ opening-day lineup is going to do that.
Put more succinctly:
A 20-goal season from the newly signed Vanek isn’t going to excite anyone. A 20-goal season from Boeser will.
It’s tough to argue with that. While maintaining competitiveness within the lineup is important to the team’s overall development, most Canucks fans would rather see players like Horvat, Virtanen and Boeser take major steps in 2017-18. The team has finished near the bottom of the league for two straight seasons, yet still looks poised to finish worse next season. Something’s got to give in Vancouver.