Yikes. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Vancouver Canucks. After years of making the playoffs and being one game away from a Stanley Cup, the Canucks are starting a rebuild. Granted, they still have a very good first line but otherwise the roster is full of young guys and players who aren’t fantasy relevant. My early pick to finish last in the NHL, there are no teams in the league with fewer fantasy assets than the Canucks. That said, there are still some guys worthy of being drafted in standard leagues so let’s take a look at what they’re working with:
Since I said the Canucks are going to finish last in the league, I don’t want anything to do with their goalies in 12’ers. In deep leagues, most people are desperate for starts so we need to give them some attention. Ryan Miller is going to be the starter but won’t be a workhorse. He actually had a solid season with a .916 sv% but because the Canucks were poor defensively, his goals against average was 2.70. I don’t see that getting any better with what’s in front of him. I think the best chance for Miller to have fantasy value is for him to get traded for a team who has their goalie injured. In that regard, you could take Miller as your #3, spot start him and hope for a move. Personally, I’ll be crossing him off my list before the draft even starts.
Same goes with Jacob Markstrom who will be the backup. He will make more starts than most backups but they won’t necessarily be quality. His numbers were nearly identical to Miller so there’s a chance Markstrom turns this into a full split and eventually becomes the #1. After all, he was an elite prospect once upon a time. I could see taking him in dynasties hoping he establishes himself as the #1 and that the Canucks improve quickly (in a year or two) but I’d rather just avoid him.
This is an extremely thin group with only two guys worthy of discussion for fantasy. Alex Edler used to be a #3 fantasy defenseman with his strong power play points and shot rate. Now, he’s barely over two shots per game and has missed significant time in two of the last three years, including 30 games last season. With only 20 points in 52 games, it’s not worth drafting at this time. He may get first power play unit but even with it, it’ll probably be accompanied by a horrible plus-minus.
The guy I like most on their defense is Ben Hutton. He had only 1 goal (mostly due to horrible luck) and 24 assists as a rookie. With an increased role in the cards, I think he gets over 30 assists. That said, he’ll have a horrible plus-minus and be light on penalty minutes. In deep leagues, I think he’s worth taking a shot on for the assists but otherwise, I’m staying away.
Finally a few guys that will be drafted in all leagues! Like for the past 10+ years, the Canucks start with the Cyborgs, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Daniel remains the better player for fantasy purposes with 28 goals and 33 assists last season. He’s a plus player in all categories with over three shots per game, decent PIM and a +7 despite the team being horrible. I expect the plus-minus will stay a plus because despite the team being horrible, the top line will be great and get heavy offensive zone starts. I have Daniel ranked 60th overall and think there’s even upside at that point, damn Cyborgs never slow down!
Brother Henrik is someone that I hate owning in roto leagues but that’s because of personal preference. He finished with 11 goals and 44 assists in 74 games which is certainly repeatable. The problem is that he only had 99 shots on goals last season. In head to head leagues, Henrik gets a big boost since the lack of shots doesn’t hurt as much. In roto leagues, he takes a big hit for how big of a hole he puts you in over 82 games. I have Henrik ranked 126th making him worthy of a mid round pick but I’ll be avoiding him.
For the first time in years, the Sedins will have a quality right winger to play with them. Their Swedish teammate Loui Eriksson to a 6 year deal worth 6 million a year. It was a strange move considering the state of the Canucks (Eriksson is 31 years old) but he should provide plenty of goals in the short term. He finished with 30 goals and 33 assists in Boston last season which could be repeated with the Sedins. The shots are slightly below average for someone who scores a lot of goals and the penalty minutes are putrid but you can’t ignore 30+30. Eriksson comes in 95th overall in my rankings with the expectation he gets back to the level he was at with the Stars.
After the top line, you have a bunch of young guys who I like in dynasties but I don’t expect them to be better than a streamer this year. Bo Horvat is the closest thing to a hold coming off a 16 goal, 24 assist season in his second season. While that could improve in year 3, Horvat was -30 last season and I don’t think it gets much better this year. The Canucks will use him in a defensive role and make him go through the growing pains again. Eventually, Horvat should turn into a lockdown guy but he’s not at that point yet at 21 years old. I will stream him in good spots but there are guys with more upside to take a flier on in standard leagues.
Sven Baertschi looked like an NHL’er in Vancouver after being bounced around in Calgary. He finished with 15 goals and 13 assists in 69 games last season. In time, he has the chance to be a 25+ goal scorer but for now, leave him on the waiver wire.
Same goes with Jake Virtanen, the 6th overall pick from 2015. He scored 7 goals and 6 assists in 55 games and while he should be on the second line, that puts him on a shutdown line with Horvat. I’m sounding like a broken record but he’s another guy who I like in dynasties but don’t take him in standard leagues.
After that, they have a few veterans who are worth rostering in 16’ers but barring injury, they won’t be good enough for 12’ers. Brandon Sutter started well last season, his first season in Vancouver, until injuries ruined his season. He finished with 9 points in 20 games but the problem is that he played with the Sedins for part of those 20 games; that’s definitely not happening this year.
Another guy who used to play with the Sedins, Jannik Hansen will now be on the third line. He scored 22 goals last year, including a terrific 20 at even strength, but his time with the Sedins is over. Accompany that with a crazy shooting percentage last season and he’s not worthy of being picked even in 16’ers. Also, if someone takes Alex Burrows in your league, feel free to laugh at them.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Olli Juolevi
2) Thatcher Demko
3) Brock Boeser
4) Cole Cassels
5) Brendan Gaunce
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Monday with a preview of the Calgary Flames. As always, feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions below. Also, please give the first Razzball Hockey Podcast a listen here or in your PodCatcher e.g. ITunes store. I hope everyone has a great weekend, take care!