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Bold predictions: 2014-15

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
During media availability Monday, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins was asked what he likes about his team going into the season.

Desjardins didn’t have an answer.

“We’ll see what we have when we get into the regular season, when it counts,” he said.

A few things we know for sure: Vancouver will be a gritty, hardworking team, that’s the identity Desjardins wants. Beyond that, it’s too soon to tell.

Will the Sedins return to their dominant form alongside Radim Vrbata? Can the power play rebound from a down season? How will Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack co-exist in net? Is a deep run into the playoffs in the picture? Will a young gun become a regular in the line-up?

“That stuff is all too serious, all I know is that I’m scoring a goal this year,” said Eddie Lack. “That’s all I’ve been working on, scoring goals. It was the focus of my summer.”

Oooooookay…

“I’ll also predict that Tommy Sestito scores 25 goals,” Lack added, laughing. “Honestly, if he got a little more PP time, I’m not putting pressure on anyone, but if he got a little more PP time, he’d score 15. He scored a lot of goals in junior because he was just parked in front of the net with that big ass of his. Goalie couldn’t see anything. So 15 goals for Tommy.”

Now that’s a prediction.

The Canucks weren’t keen on big picture seasonal questions on this day, but they certainly didn’t shy away from pumping up their teammates, who are all going to have their greatest seasons ever, on and off the ice.

“Have you seen how Nick Bonino dresses?” asked Shawn Matthias, to whom I responded no. “I predict he makes the cover of GQ Magazine. He’s pretty stylish and that old man style is coming back. His style is kind of like a Peewee Herman meets Brad Pitt, so it’s creepy, but also a classy cool look because he’s got good shoes. Does that even make sense?

“Oh and he’ll score 30 goals this year…at least 30 goals.”

No pressure, Nick.

As the offensive weapon the Canucks shipped Ryan Kesler out of town to acquire, there’s definitely pressure on Bonino to perform with his new team, but his attention right now is dedicated to getting to know his new teammates.

“I’m predicting that by the end of the season, I’ll be able to tell the Sedins apart,” joked Bonino, who was completely serious. “When they have their numbers on I can tell them apart, otherwise no chance. I haven’t even tried, you don’t want to get caught staring at them a little too much.”

At this point in our conversation a media scrum formed in front of us and a Sedin stepped into the spotlight.

“Which Sedin is that?” I asked Bonino.

“I’m guessing Henrik because he’s the captain and they usually do media. That’s a situational guess, not a physical one. I’ve been told once you can tell the difference, there’s no going back, but I’m not there yet. So my bold prediction is that by the end of the year I’ll be able to.”

From the Sedins to Sedin-like production. Linden Vey’s stall is beside that of Zack Kassian in the Canucks dressing room, so he got to know the power forward quite a bit during training camp and the pre-season.

Vey likes what he’s seen from Kassian and you’re going to like what you hear from Vey.

“Kassian is going to breakout,” he said. “He’s ready, he’s focused, he had a really good finish to the last year and this year he’s coming in strong. He’s going to up his point total, last year it was a little bit down for the type of player he is. He’s going to be put in a situation to contribute and he’s going to have a really good year.

“I’ll say he doubles his points from last year.”

Last season Kassian had 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points, doubling that equals 28 goals, 30 assists and 58 points – career high numbers for the 23-year-old.

Speaking of career-high numbers, Tom Sestito has big things in store this season for Alex Edler.

“At least 55 points for Edler,” predicted Sestito. “More assists than goals, I’ll say 15 goals, 40 assists – is that a good number? How many points does he usually have? Whatever, I’ll say 55 points.

“I’ll give Lack five shutouts too.”

Coach Desjardins is going to like a lot about his team this season.

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