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Season 5 Preview - Vancouver Canucks Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

After a strong start to their CMHL lives, the Vancouver Canucks are FHL's #1 enemy. Since the switch from EA Sports to FHL as a simulator, the Canucks have been only a glimpse of their former greatness, failing to make the playoffs for two consecutive seasons as they continually sport the tag of "that team that should be doing better but isn't". GM Canucks will look to shed the label this season as he goes for the playoffs with the most balanced Vancouver roster we've seen in three years, and finally, his chances of succcess look very good.

Offence

The Canucks didn't employ any radical changes, but they did try to shake things up. Of course, any time you can bring in the greatest player in CMHL history, you're in pretty good shape. The Canucks made a big move and picked up veteran forward Joe Sakic from the Columbus Blue Jackets this summer, who were looking to shed a player they thought might retire and get something for him. The cost was not too steep for Canucks and he'll look to get another spectacular year out of mighty Joe. To help things out, last year's top scorer in Vancouver, Anze Kopitar, returns to the lineup. Anze is bound for CMHL stardom for a long time, and in his short career, has never dipped below the point per game mark. He is this team's franchise forward. This 1-2 punch up the middle will only truly succeed though with a great supporting cast of wingers, and unfortunately, that is not really an element that the Canucks have, made worse by the recent trading of Dany Heatley.

Jamie Langenbruner leads the bunch, coming off a career year of 73 points. He will be in tough to repeat that performance though. In his last go-round with Vancouver, he finished with a career-worst 55 points. Ales Kotalik returns for a 2nd year with the Canucks. He'll need to drastically improve his output beyond the 59 points scored last year if this team is going to go for the glory in the West. Andrew Brunette is good, old reliable himself and should be good for his usual 60 points. Beyond them, the team has some dependable players like Ethan Moreau, Maxime Talbot, Taylor Pyatt and Ryan Kesler. If anything, you could say that the supporting cast is built with guys who fly under the radar and will suprise us all. But I think this team was better with Dany Heatley and that others should have been moved instead of him for cap reasons because he leaves a hole that is not easily filled, and I think with Joe Sakic at his side, this could have been his year to break out.

Defense

Vancouver seems to be employing a model very similar to their division rivals - Edmonton. While they may have lost a bit of quality up front, their back end is among the best in the league. Dion Phaneuf, Scott Hannan, Mattias Ohlund and Brendan Witt as a top 4 is simply wonderful and they will keep a lot of shots from even reaching the net. On top of that, all four of these guys are gonna give you 30-45 points from the back end, which really makes them a double threat. Simply stellar and a big reason why one shouldn't lose hope in Vancouver! Look for Dion Phaneuf to break the shell and compete for the Norris Trophy this year.

Goaltending

The last time the Canucks made the playoffs, the man in the pipes was Marty Turco. And so, last season, when the opportunity knocked, GM Canucks couldn't resist bringing Turco back in to see if he could regain the magic. It was too late to salvage Season 4, but Turco finished strong and he's brought that with him into Season 5. He was the best goalie in the league in the preseason as the Canucks finished the early goings undefeated. Marty Turco is the key to this team's success and I truly hope he gets the opportunity to spend the full season in a Canucks uniform. Backing him up is Kari Lehtonen, a young bright star who could be a starter on a rebuilding team, but will get a opportunity to grow in Vancouver after stumbling in Philadelphia.

Prospects

Vancouver is, and has always been, very strong on the prospects side of the story. Their farm system won the ICHF President's Trophy for two consecutive years. They got even stronger with the Heatley trade as they acquired two former first rounders and a future first round pick. Every position is covered in the system with guys on the brink of the show, from Andrew Cogliano to Clarke MacArthur and Scottie Upshall. From Matt Carle and Chris Campoli to Leland Irving in net. This is a team that drafts well and that hangs on to its picks to see them through.

Playoffs

The Vancouver Canucks will have every opportunity this season to make the playoffs and break their bad luck FHL streak. Stellar defense and goaltending should help make up for a lack of firepower on the wings and some good management by GM Canucks should ensure that this team is not hitting the links in April. GM Canucks is a two-time winner of the ICHF Jack Adams Trophy. Now he needs to translate that success to the big show. I believe - do you?

Quick Hits

Best Bargain: Anze Kopitar – Kopitar is going to be in for a huge raise from the $950,000 he's making this year when he becomes an RFA this summer. He is this team's franchise forward and he knows it.
Overpaid: Ethan Moreau – Moreau generated a bidding war for his services this summer as a UFA, and the Canucks were the team that was willing to fork out the cash. But is he worth almost two and a half million? His brutal discipline and career -23 rating are a big No to me.
Breakout Player: Dion Phaneuf - Phaneuf only scratched the surface of his potential last season - he could be putting up Chris Pronger like statistics and tihs could be the season he does.
Overrated: Ryan Kesler - Kesler has yet to improve on the 5 points in 82 games that he put up in Season 1. Good for Vancouver for waiting so long for him to develop, but seriously, when is this kid going to show that he can play hockey at the pro level? If he doesn't do it this year, I think you have to move on.

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