NHL

Major changes loom for Canucks

Share This Story

   
 

VANCOUVER (AP)

Major changes loom after the Vancouver Canucks, who came within a victory of winning the Stanley Cup two years ago, bowed out early for the second consecutive spring.

Management is trying to figure out what went wrong in the playoffs for a team that viewed itself as a strong contender, but never approached its target. Instead, the Canucks were swept by San Jose in the opening round.

General manager Mike Gillis decided not to make any major moves following last year's five-game loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Gillis thought the club was close to returning to the Stanley Cup finals, but the humiliating sweep by the Sharks likely means that, as players have acknowledged, the window of opportunity is closing quickly and bold moves are inevitable.

The Canucks have lost 10 of their last 11 playoff games dating to the 2010-11 finals.

''It's frustrating,'' goaltender Cory Schneider said in San Jose following Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss. ''This seems like a lost year. You don't get that many opportunities to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs and to miss one or two, it's pretty frustrating.''

There is no guarantee Gillis will get the chance to do a redesign. His future and those of coach Alain Vigneault, Vancouver's veteran core and, as usual, goaltender Roberto Luongo, are all in question. The Canucks hope to avoid a freefall with NHL realignment, tougher divisional opponents, and a reduced salary cap looming.

Vigneault, the franchise leader in wins, could be a scapegoat. The Canucks were not able to counteract San Jose's potent power play in the playoffs, and he failed at getting secondary offensive players who were inconsistent at best in the regular season to start generating goals at the most pressure-packed time of the year.

San Jose outscored Vancouver 15-8 in the series, and the Sharks converted on seven of 24 power plays. The Canucks produced two power-play goals on 10 opportunities.

The lack of offense has coincided with the team's inability to develop new scoring talent in an era when young stars are emerging throughout the NHL. In five seasons at the helm, only one Gillis draft pick - Cody Hodgson, since traded - has become an NHL regular.

Jordan Schroeder, Vancouver's first choice (22nd overall in 2009), split this season between the NHL and the minors after spending his first two pro campaigns exclusively in the AHL. He was not used in the playoffs and has yet to prove he can become a Vancouver regular let alone a top producer.

Zack Kassian, the player acquired from Buffalo for Hodgson, has struggled to live up to his billing as a prototypical power forward who can score.

West photos

WILD WEST!

See the best action photos from the Western Conference first round.

The Canucks must ensure that more of their draft picks figure prominently on the roster. The NHL salary cap drops to $64.3 million next season, and chances to sign a high-end free agent will become more difficult.

One way to enable more home-grown prospects to reach the NHL is to stockpile draft choices through trades, and the Canucks have a number of veteran assets that could attract a decent price on the market. Vancouver showed a need for more size and grit, as well as offensive skill, among its top nine forwards after losing many one-on-one battles, allowing the Sharks to move the puck out of their end with relative ease.

Except for Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows, no forward appears likely to be spared consideration for a new hockey home. But the Sedins' future with the team will also be in question, because they are slated to enter the final year of their contracts in 2013-14.

With the Canucks at the top of the old salary cap and a new one pending, changes also appear inevitable for financial reasons. Luongo, slated for a $5.3 million salary cap hit next season, is an obvious candidate to leave, via trade or buyout - a year later than planned. But the Canucks could also consider moving one of their top-four defensemen, who will all earn $4 million to $5 million next season.

East photos

EAST FEAST!

See the best action photos from the Eastern Conference first round.

But before commencing with changes, management and players will have to get over the sting of being swept for the first time in 12 years.

''This is the most frustrating team I've been a part of,'' said Daniel Sedin. ''We have a good team and what cost us? Little mistakes, taking penalties. We have ourselves to blame.''

His controversial boarding penalty on Tommy Wingels in overtime led to Patrick Marleau's winning goal in Game 4.

''This year, this is not the way we wanted to end,'' said Henrik Sedin. ''It was almost like we were a first-time playoff team going to the box too many times.''

The Canucks captain lamented another lost opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, realizing that the club's core is nearing the end of its days together.

''A lot of guys have been together for a long time,'' he said. ''It's very disappointing, because you only have so many chances.''

Tagged: Sharks, Canucks, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt