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Help is coming for the Canucks

After finishing 29th and 28th in the NHL the last two seasons, the good news for the Vancouver Canucks is there's only one direction to go in 2017 18.

As for the more realistic news, it's unlikely the Canucks can make the transformation from laughingstock to respectability in one short season. This summer, general manager Jim Benning went shopping in the NHL's bargain bin and came out with free agents Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto and Anders Nilsson. Those four players represent an upgrade for the Canucks. They're just not enough to be difference makers in the highly competitive Western Conference.

Help is coming for the Canucks in the form of a deep and talented prospect pool and this season's lineup figures to feature former first rounders Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen. They'll help sell the future but the Canucks' offence still relies on the Sedin twins, who can no longer carry the team.

Beyond the Sedins, there's an intriguing layer of youngish veterans whose continued improvement is imperative. Bo Horvat is a fine, 22 year old centreman, but the Canucks need him to supplant Henrik as the team's No. 1 pivot. Markus Granlund, 24, and Sven Baertschi, 25, scored 19 and 18 goals respectively last season. Can they make the jump to the 25 goal range?

It's a similar story on the blue line and in goal where the Canucks need their 20 somethings to take another step this season. Players like Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher, Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom and Nilsson offer some promise, but they'll be asked to take on bigger roles as the Canucks transition to a younger lineup. None have been part of a winning program. Expecting them to start now is a big ask.

For all that, the Canucks biggest off season signing was new head coach Travis Green, who coached the team's AHL affiliate in Utica the last four seasons. Green, who takes over for Willy Desjardins, fits this group. That means he'll have do it by committee. It would help if the Sedins bounced back to the imitation bvlgari bracelet snake price 60 point mark and Boeser and Virtanen can make an impact. 1 defensive pairing but they'll need more from Hutton, Stecher and Gudbranson. Benning paid a steep price to land Gudbranson in the trade market and he was brought in to be a team leader. He needs to bounce back after fake bulgari snake bracelet leather an injury plagued 2016 17. Stecher, a college free agent signing, enjoyed a fine rookie season tying Edler for the scoring lead among blue liners with 21 points. But, collectively, the Canucks defensive corps scored just 22 goals last season. 1 goalie after backing up Ryan Miller for two seasons. The big Swede has the raw tools to be a solid 'keeper but he's expected to start 55 to 60 games this season and he's never played that role in the NHL. Nilsson, who posted some nice numbers in Buffalo last season, was brought in to back up. At the risk of stating the obvious, the Canucks need standout goaltending from the Markstrom Nilsson tandem. Thatcher Demko, an elite goaltending prospect, is still a year away but may see some playing time this season.

Bottom line

The Canucks' fan base isn't expecting a miracle this season but they'd settle for some improvement in the standings, the continued development of players like Horvat, Baertschi, Granlund, Stecher and Hutton and positive signs from Boeser and Virtanen. The clock doesn't start ticking on this team till 2020 but they have to offer the hope that things are changing.

Unsung hero:Tanev. On a good team he'd be a No. 4 defenceman. On the Canucks' he's a top pairing guy but the Canucks need a healthy and consistent Tanev to stabilize a shaky blue line.

Sleeper: Loui Eriksson. The Canucks' imitation bvlgari serpenti bracelet big free agent signing last season had a dreadful year in 2016 17 but he's a solid pro with a track record. Expect a bounce back year.

Declining: The Sedins. That might be too easy but, in 2014 15, they were both top 10 NHL scorers. Last season, Daniel scored just 15 goals and finished with 44 points.

Rookie to watch: Boeser. Depending on how Green utilizes him, Boeser might be a rookie of the year candidate. He's already demonstrated an NHL scoring touch. epaper, Digital Access, Subscriber Rewards), please input your Print Newspaper subscription phone number and postal code.

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