NHL 2014-15 team preview: Vancouver Canucks

NHL 2014-15 team preview: Vancouver Canucks
July 31, 2014, 6:45 pm

As part of our summer series previewing the 2014-15 NHL season, CSNwashington.com is analyzing all 30 NHL teams, division by division. This week, we take a look at the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.

Today: VANCOUVER CANUCKS

2013-14 record: 26-35-11, 83 points

Where they finished: 5th in the Pacific; 12th in the West; 25th in the NHL

Coach:  Willie Desjardins (1st season)

Key additions:  President Trevor Linden, GM Jim Benning, Coach Willie Desjardins, G Ryan Miller, RW Radim Vrbata, RW Derek Dorsett, C Nick Bonino, D Luca Sbisa, RW Linden Vey, C Dustin Jeffrey, D Bobby Sanguinetti

Key subtractions:  GM Mike Gillis, Coach John Tortorella, C Ryan Kesler, LW David Booth, D Jason Garrison, C Mike Santorelli, RW Zac Dalpe, C Jordan Schroeder

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin – Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins – Nick Bonino – Alex Burrows

Nicklas Jensen – Shawn Matthias – Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito – Brad Richardson – Derek Dorsett

Extras: RW Linden Vey, C Dustin Jeffrey

Defense

Alex Edler – Kevin Bieksa

Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev

Luca Sbisa – Yannick Weber

Extra:  Bobby Sanguinetti

Goaltenders

Ryan Miller – Eddie Lack

[MORE CAPITALS NEWS: Washington Capitals’ Top 25 for 2014-15: No. 17: Jason Chimera]

Our take:  When the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, they completely cleaned house, with Trevor Linden taking over as team president, Brian Benning replacing Mike Gillis and general manager and 57-year-old Willie Desjardins taking over for John Tortorella.

But that was just in the front office. The Canucks moved disgruntled center Ryan Kesler to Anaheim for defenseman Luca Sbisa, center Nick Bonino and first- and third-round draft picks, then made a big splash in free agency by signing goaltender Ryan Miller to a three-year, $18 million contract.

They also signed free-agent right wing Radim Vrbata to a two-year, $10 million deal, filling a hole at top-line right wing.

The Canucks will miss the grit and leadership of Kesler, but made themselves better between the pipes, where Miller will get the lion’s share of the work ahead of Eddie Lack, who played well in his rookie year as a replacement to Roberto Luongo.

The Canucks are certainly a different team than they were three months ago, but they are also better.

Offseason Grade:  B-plus

Will they make the playoffs in 2014-15?  They’ll need a 10-point increase over last year, but yes.