Debating the benefits of calling it in
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
With the regular season of hockey coming to an end, playoffs are becoming a much bigger focus for teams. However, for the floundering Canucks, it seems that the bigger picture is becoming something that should be focused on. As playoff dreams start drifting away for the west coast Canadian team, the team looks to the future for comfort. In particular, the 2016 Rookie Draft.
The key to any long-term success is good drafting. With the new drafting system, any team not in the playoff race is guaranteed a shot at the first pick in the draft, with teams finishing the regular season lower in the standings having a higher chance. Barring any sort of crazy luck from some team in Alberta who has had several in the last decade, the Canucks should have a good chance at getting to pick first.
But a chance is not good enough for fans. The general emphasis on the team from a large majority of the fan base is to “tank” the rest of their season for a shot at the number one pick. For those unfamiliar to the jargon, to “tank” one’s season is to purposely lose games to have a higher chance of drawing higher picks in the draft.
Although the NHL and its teams will never formally recognize tanking, it became obvious during last year’s rush for Connor McDavid. This year’s race is for yet another top-of-the-line player: Auston Matthews. The prolific scorer has been the centre-of-attention for many major clubs for some time, and his time has finally come. Matthews has been profiled as a close second to McDavid. But is he the right one for the aging Canucks?
The short answer is no. In terms of depth down the middle, the Canucks are set. They have Horvat, McCann, Boeser, and Cassels to name a few. Drafting yet another centre early simply just isn’t important.
However, the long-term answer could be yes Although the Canucks are deep at centre, they still struggle with finding consistent offensive production. With the development of Ben Hutton as a top 4 d-man, the backline of the Canucks has looked a bit more improved. But this year, the problem has not laid in the backend of the Canucks, it has been in the front end. The lack of offence from the team has put an extreme amount of pressure on the defence to play well. And the saying goes, if you can’t score, you can’t win.
Matthews presents an extremely prominent offensive force in a young player who looks as if he is ready to play in the pro-leagues. His offence could be the shot in the arm that the team needs to come back to being a cup contender.
So with that in mind, the question still remains: Should the Canucks tank? This fan believes, why not? Being nearly statistically eliminated from the playoff race sucks for any team. But with such a big draft class coming up, it might just be worth losing some games that don’t matter anymore.