What Canucks fans should expect out of the 2016–17 season
By Chandler Walter, Assistant Editor
Around this time of year, Vancouver Canucks fans from all over are getting out their sweaters, dusting off their skates, and otherwise preparing for another thrilling season of NHL hockey.
While the Vancouver Canucks did not end their latest season on the highest of notes, some changes in the off-season may give hockey fans in Vancouver a reason to have a little hope. The Canucks signed free agent Loui Eriksson to a six-year contract, adding some power—and hopefully goals—to their offence. He’s expected to play on the first line with the Sedins and add the strength and scoring prowess the team had been searching for in Radim Vrbata, who left the team this summer.
Eriksson will be turning 31 before the first game of the 2016–17 season, which is no cause for concern, at least not to Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning. Benning has put faith in Eriksson being well worth the six-year, $42-million contract, even though in his last year on contract, he will be 37, which is way past the age of productivity for most premier scorers. In response to this, Benning told Sportsnet: “Maybe with other players that would’ve been more of a worry, but having known him in the past, I don’t think that’s something we have to worry about going forward.”
The Canucks have boosted their roster with two other notable additions, as the team acquired defensemen Erik Gudbranson in a trade that sent Jared McCann and a couple of draft picks to Florida. Standing at 6-foot-4, Gudbranson will add some muscle to the back end, as well as depth to an always depleted Canucks defence pool.
The team also signed highly-touted NCAA defenceman Troy Stecher. The 22-year-old grew up cheering for the Canucks, and may be just what the team needs to wash the awful taste of last season from their mouths and start fresh.
In contrast to Gudbranson, Stecher stands at only 5-foot-8, though he told the Province in an interview that he knows how to use that to his advantage: “A lot of smaller skilled guys can be a bit perimeter, but I like to get into corners and fight my way around the bigger guys and try to use my body to an advantage.”.
While (some) Canucks fans are notorious for jumping ship as soon as the going gets rough, the waters are looking calm and hopeful for those who have stayed aboard. If there is anything that defines being a true Canucks fan, it is sticking it out in a storm, and they will have a chance to begin a season anew come Tuesday.
The Canucks begin their pre-season by battling the Sharks in San Jose before returning to Rogers Arena the following night to square off against the Edmonton Oilers.