Next year they will be leaving the friendly confines of the Northwest division, a very weak division that they feasted on for back to back President's trophies (2011 and '12). They will continue to play Calgary and Edmonton often enough, but will have more games against the tough California teams. The schedule doesn't get any easier for a team accustomed to an easy schedule. Zack Kassian started 2013 on fire, but then pulled off a vanishing act for the rest of the season. Jordan Schroeder was drawing comparisons from Canuck fans to Marty St.Louis early in the schedule, but that all came crashing back to earth soon enough. Vigneault's biggest weakness as a coach was his inability to develop young players, which was "alright" because the team has very few talented young players.
Cory Schneider had a fantastic season in goal, then got hurt at the end of the season, barely even practicing for a 2 week period before being thrown back into the fire. He did not play his best in the playoffs, where Luongo managed to play great hockey. Lou was a big monkey for Schneider to carry around on his back all season, but guaranteed he won't have that problem next year. The Canucks will return with a solid core on defense, which combined with Schneider will help them remain competitive.
At the end of the day, this was a failed season for Mike Gillis, who's best move was acquiring Derek Roy, who made virtually no positive contribution to the team's playoff success. The biggest black eye for Gillis was keeping both goalies for the entire season, instead of making a deal that everyone knew he had to make. His reign at GM has seen some terrible trades, some brutal free agent signings, and a few decent moves. Next year he is going to find himself handcuffed by the salary cap and will have to make some very difficult decisions. We'll see how his boss likes writing a cheque to get rid of his mistakes.
Preseason Rank: 7
Midseason Rank: 10
Final Rank: 13
GM Grade: D+
1st Star: Henrik Sedin
2nd Star: Daniel Sedin
3rd Star: Cory Schneider
UFAs: Derek Roy, Manny Malhotra, Mason Raymond, Maxim Lapierre, Tom Sestito, Steve Pinizzotto, Andrew Alberts, Cam Barker
RFAs: Dale Weise, Chris Tanev, Derek Joslin
Best Contract: Kevin Bieksa 3 more years at $4.6M
Worst Contract: Roberto Luongo 9 more years at $5.3M
What I said about them in preseason: Last year's President trophy winner is not any better, and might miss 2/3 of their second line for 10-20 games. They are a playoff team, but no chance that they finish in first place. Gillis is trying to put on a brave poker face that he's content to keep Luongo all season, but his team has serious holes and he should be desperate to make a deal. Nonis would be smart to call his bluff.
There are dark times ahead for the Vancouver Canucks. Once the Sedin BROTHERS are gone, this team will not make the playoffs. It's possible that they sign contract extensions during the summer, but there is a really good chance that the Canucks lose their best players in 2014. The Canucks are going to be tight against the salary cap before signing any free agents, so rest assured that Mike Gillis will have to either move Luongo or eat the contract (which will be an expensive transaction for the owner). They should make the playoffs next year, but after that, there will be many rainy days on the forecast.