Two springs ago, not a single Canadian team made the postseason - yeah, that was embarrassing for a country who prides itself on his love and success in hockey. This time around, Canada has a few teams stepping up and showing they can compete in the postseason, as the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs are in good position to clinch a playoff berth, while the Calgary Flames are still fighting to land a spot before the end of the regular season.
Now as for the rest of the teams, well, it is quite embarrassing. The Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens have long given up on a possibility of being a Cup contender this year, and the Edmonton Oilers have had an extremely mediocre season and one in which they have drastically regressed from the previous season in which they looked like a legitimate playoff contender. And what to say of the Vancouver Canucks?
Honestly, they remained interesting to watch as young rookie sensation Brock Boeser was a breath of fresh air for the club. But this summer, more needs to be done to change the identity of this team, who has made the postseason once in the last five years, only to be eliminated in the first round. But the time is now for a massive change!
The Athletic's JD Burke speculates the coming offseason could be the busiest in Vancouver Canucks’ history. And it makes sense: the Canadian team already has around $23 million in projected cap space for next season and that’s before taking Derek Dorsett’s LTIR into account and a salary-cap ceiling that could reach $82 million.
Make it rain. Oh! And it could be pouring : The Sedin twins could choose to hang up the skates, but if they’re re-signed the Canucks will have 23 roster spots accounted for. Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen, Markus Granlund, Derrick Pouliot and Troy Stecher are restricted free agents and Burke suggested their collective cap hit could be $11 million.
"Moments like these can make or break a franchise. Short-term capital like the abundance in the Canucks' pockets and the myriad outlets available to them can prove a double-edged sword. Invested carefully, it can act as a springboard to relevance in the short and long term; squandered frivolously, it will pin a team to the league's floor like an anchor," writes Burke.
It is believed that the Sedins are unlikely to accept anything less than one-year deals worth $5 million each, which Burke says is a problem: "Combined with my projected expenditures in restricted free agency, the Canucks are running out of money fast."
However, Burke still believes Vancouver could be busy in the secondary free-agent market to try and land a shoot-first winger. Trade chatter keeps indicating that the Canucks could pursue Vancouver native Evander Kane, but Burke feels his personal baggage outweighs his on-ice value.
"Suffice to say; I think the potential harm of Kane's addition significantly outweighs the potential payoff — it's about priorities, really."
Nothing stops the Canucks from trying to pursue someone such as Vegas Golden Knights' James Neal or David Perron.
Another solution comes in trading defenseman Chris Tanev. If they choose to do so, Burke suggests that the Canucks try to convince Washington Capitals right blue liner John Carlson via free agency. And let's not forget that Ben Hutton could also be on the one, though his contract ($2.8 million through 2018-19) could be a difficult sell.
Needless to say, it will be a busy summer ahead.