Onwards & Upwards?
It has been a full thirteen days since the Vancouver Canucks were swept by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, and after an appropriate mourning period it is time to look towards next season and the changes needed to be made in the mean time to improve this hockey team.
“This off-season will lead to difficult decisions including roster adjustments and changes in personnel We’re going to have to reinvent ourselves in order to be successful.”
Mike Gillis’ words in his year-end
apology letter to fans made it very clear: the Canucks are prepared to make significant changes this summer. But after a surprising first round playoff exit who is expendable and who is worth keeping to remain a core part of the team?
Roberto Luongo has been on his way out of Vancouver for some time, and while he hasn’t found a new team to play for just yet he is certainly not expected to be a member of the Vancouver Canucks by the time training camp comes around next fall.
Luongo arguably leaves Vancouver as the best backstop the goalie graveyard has ever seen, yet a tragically expensive contract seems to have forced his fate.
Speaking of expensive, Canucks fans can reminisce over Luongo in the goaltender’s Vancouver home for only $4.2-million.
Ever since the word “shap” was added to the Smylopshere’s collective vernacular Alain Vigneault has sat squarely on the hot seat in Vancouver.
Despite embracing a system of ice time optimization that has greatly benefited the Sedin twins Alain Vigneault continuously catches the majority of the blame coming from Canucks fans and is likely to become the scapegoat in Vancouver.
Count NWSB’s “Bartender” as one of many critics calling for the coach’s departure after another devastating end to the season.
The mayor of Alain Vigneault’s dog house, Keith Ballard has been disappointing since the day he landed in Vancouver.
One of Mike Gillis’ most-regrettable acquisitions, Ballard has never been able to find a fit on the Canucks’ blue line, surviving alongside Chris Tanev for a short time before finding himself out of the starting six during this year’s playoffs.
Put bluntly, at $4.2-million per season the Canucks would be better off investing in Roberto Luongo‘s former home as a tourist attraction rather than allowing Ballard to remain on the books for another season.
Mike Gillis’ second most-regrettable Florida Panthers acquisition, David Booth has also been underwhelming since joining the Canucks. To make matters worse Booth’s hunting trips and religious affiliation have become polarizing topics of conversation in Vancouver, causing further headaches for an organization looking to make significant changes this summer.
While Canucks fans never seemed to give Raymond a break after fracturing his spine two seasons ago, it has become clear that speed cannot overcome a lack of skill on Vancouver’s roster.
Raymond should be able to find a home elsewhere in the league, but on a Canucks roster moving in a new direction the speedy winger simply hasn’t elevated his game enough to remain in Vancouver long term.