Monday, September 15, 2008

NHL Four-cast: Vancouver Canucks

1 - Why is this team worth watching? I don't know about you, but identical twins always trip me out but I have to say, Vancouver's pair is pretty damn good at hockey. Roberto Luongo, despite a 'down' season of 35 wins, 2.38 gaa and .917, is still one of the best goaltenders in the league. As I've mentioned before, I personally enjoy watching Willie Mitchell work. And it will be interesting to see if Kevin Bieksa can recapture his form from two years ago.

2 - Are they better or worse than last year? Hard to say, because you just don't know which Pavol Demitra is going to show up - is he the slick playmaker that worked so well with Marian Gaborik, or is he a regular member of the injured reserve? He will expected to replace the oft-injured Brendan Morrison, just as Steve Bernier will be counted upon to replace Markus Naslund's offense - as limited as it was last season. Losing Matt Cooke to free agency will hurt but they still have the agitating Alex Burrows. They also brought in goon Darcy Hordichuk and former Leaf Kyle Wellwood, neither of whom will be counted on for anything more than minor roles.

3 - Who should YOU draft in fantasy?Luongo is the only player worth a damn for your first round. The Sedins should offer up a point per game, especially of they mesh well with Bernier but they can slip as far as the third or fourth rounds. Don't get suckered in by Mattias Ohlund or Sami Salo ... trust me, I have - several times. They are just injured too often to be relied upon. If Bieksa can recapture his form then he will get you solid stats across the board. Two interesting youngsters to follow are defenseman Alex Edler and winger Mason Raymond. Edler will get you 25, 30 points but he needs to find some consistency and Raymond is fast as hell and a former college scoring star - with the right linemates and some power play time, he can reach 60 points. Burrows likely won't reach the 179 PIM he had last year with Hordichuk on board so don't waste your time drafting him, just grab him for Vancouver's grudge matches against Minnesota.

4 - Does any other NHL team have a worse reputation? Think about it, most every memorable Vancouver moment is negative - Roger Neilson surrendering (and thus starting the annoying towel waving phenomenon), breaking the Rangers' 54 year curse, Todd Bertuzzi ... having the ugliest jersey in history (I admittedly and proudly own a yellow Flying V myself). I mean, the only positive thing I can recall is the sendoff for Trevor Linden which, to me, was as much about Calgary's class as it was anything else. These guys need something good to happen, and soon ... perhaps Roberto Luongo will break Sam LoPresti's record 83 saves in a game?

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