Up front, the Canucks are returning largely the same core group of players from the past few years. However, there is a new voice behind the bench. How will that change things this season?
Daniel and Henrik Sedin
Since 2008, only Alex Ovechkin has recorded more points than Henrik Sedin’s 414. However, the Sedins dipped below the point-per-game mark in 2013. Are there days as elite point producers over, or was last year simply a bump in the road? You could probably make a strong argument for each point.
It will be interesting to see how the Sedins adjust to playing under John Tortorella, who has promised to give them penalty killing ice time and more of a two-way role. While that may be something that they want, poolies should be cautious with drafting either Daniel or Henrik this year for that very reason.
They are two of the most consistent point producers in hockey, and consistency and reliability should not be discounted on draft day. However, if the Sedins aren’t going to be seeing such an offensively-focused role on the team this year, their production will very likely suffer. They saw a lot of offensive zone starts under Alain Vigneault, and didn’t have to expend too much energy in the defensive zone. Their days of 100+ point players are very likely over, and they may be in tough to break the point-per-game mark again.
Who led the Canucks in even strength production (per 60 minutes of ice time) in 2013? If you thought Hansen (which I figure most of you will considering that this paragraph is dedicated to the speedy Dane), you would be correct. Hansen is known for his tenacious forechecking ability, but he has shown the ability to put numbers on the board when given more offensive opportunities. Take a look at his 2013 numbers prorated over a full 82-game schedule if you don’t believe me: 17 goals and 47 points.
Hansen may see more time with the Sedins this season, as Tortorella seems intent on giving Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler the opportunity to anchor Vancouver’s shutdown/two-way line.
If Hansen does play with the Sedin twins this season, it wouldn’t be a stretch to project career numbers from him. And even if he doesn’t, he should still find a way to be a valuable fantasy player in deeper leagues.
The former Panthers and Jets forward has had a strong training camp for his hometown Canucks, showing speed and creativity in the offensive zone. Santorelli also has past chemistry with David Booth from their time in Florida together, and Vancouver’s openings up the middle on the bottom two lines definitely play into his favour.
Santorelli was the underdog winner during the two-mile conditioning race during training camp, beating out the heavy favourites from Sweden (Daniel and Henrik). Fitness matters a lot in professional sports, especially when playing for a coach like Tortorella. At this point, it seems as if the third line center ice spot is Santorelli’s to lose. The former 20-goal scorer couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.
Bounce Back Candidate
Let’s get the obvious out of the way – Booth’s tenure with the Canucks has been a disappointing one. He has played pretty well when he has been healthy and on the ice, but unfortunately those situations have been few and far between. He is a powerful skater and a strong two-way hockey player, but has had rotten luck in recent years.
Booth is a great example of a player who could be had way below value in fantasy drafts this year. Pay particular attention to him if your league records shots on goal as a statistic – Booth is a shoot-first player and Tortorella is a shoot-first coach. And at some point his puck luck as to turn around. He also brings other many much-needed elements to the Canucks roster (speed, power, and the ability to crash the net with regularity).
Over the past four NHL seasons, only 14 NHL defensemen have amassed more points than Edler (146). When on his game, Edler is the total package offensively – he can skate, pass, and shoot better than most of his peers. The Canucks are once again going to lean on him heavily in offensive situations in 2013-14, and his production should reflect that.
Although it has only been in a few preseason games, Edler looks a lot more aggressive, both physically and in terms of offensive play, under Tortorella and Mike Sullivan. He has all of the tools to become one of the dominant defensemen in the NHL, but consistency is still something he is working on.
It was a mystery to many as to why Garrison didn’t see more time on the power play in Vancouver last season. After all, he possesses one of the most effective one-timers in all of hockey. Expect that to change in 2013-14. After a slow offensive start this past season (only one goal in his first 15 games), Garrison started to find his groove, scoring at a 16-goal pace (prorated over an 82 game schedule) during the final few months of the season.
Although Canuck fans probably dreamed about a different Weber wearing a number six blue and green Orca jersey, the former Canadien defenseman definitely has the potential to be a significant offensive contributor to the team this season. Weber has a bomb of a point shot and is a very skilled offensive defenseman – the Canucks didn’t bring him in for his shutdown ability.
He only recently turned 25, and defensemen typically take a bit longer to develop and find a level of comfort in the NHL compared to forwards.
No offense to Eddie Lack, but between the pipes, this season is all about Luongo. The past is the past, and the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal winner has his eyes on both Sochi and reclaiming his spot as one of the top netminders in the world.
Luongo has been an interesting goaltender to own in fantasy hockey over the past few years, as he has been forced to split time (and eventually back up) an equally talented Cory Schneider. Now that Luongo is once again “the man” in goal for the Canucks, he should be considered one of the best goaltenders to own in any and all fantasy hockey pool formats.
Good luck in your leagues this season!