Look up ‘fall from grace’ in the dictionary and the Vancouver Canucks logo has to be taking up some space under the definition.
It’s hard to believe just three seasons ago the Canucks were back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy winners heading into the playoffs as a favorite to get back to the big dance for a second consecutive year.
Fast-forward to the 2014-15 season and the obvious question has to be asked, will the Canucks even make the playoffs?
They’ve done an all-important clean out of the front office. Mike Gillis and John Tortorella are gone. In is arguably the most popular figure in franchise history, Trevor Linden, and his hand picked soldiers Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins.
But now comes the tall task for a trio in-experienced as the lead man in their respective roles.
Linden and Co. have to find a way to get Vancouver, which missed the postseason for the first time since 2008, from the 28th-ranked offense back to the second season.
Other teams that missed the playoffs last season – like the Nashville Predators, who added James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy and Olli Jokinen, have certainly bolstered their chances.
The upstart Colorado Avalanche, who surprised many by qualifying for the playoffs in Year 1 under Patrick Roy, added savvy veterans Jarome Iginla and Daniel Briere to help their young stars along.
Benning’s new cast members to help jump-start the Canucks offense includes Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino and Linden Vey, they’ll have to help the likes of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows bounce back from off years.
Vrbata and Bonino are both capable of contributing 20-plus goals at the NHL level and have done so previously. Vey meanwhile has five assists in 18 career NHL games.
Then there’s room for young kids, but who can make the leap? Is Nicklas Jensen ready, and able, to contribute regularly at the NHL level? He had three goals and six helpers in 17 games with the Canucks last season.
Can one of their prospects jump from the Canadian Hockey League right to the NHL? Bo Horvat, 19, had 74 points in 54 games in his third OHL season with the London Knights last season.
With more questions than answers heading into the 2014-15 season, we ask you Canucks fans, will Vancouver qualify for the playoffs this season?