Obviously, there will be no such comment, no such reader, no such fan. For the Canucks have no such chance at taking home Lord Stanley’s mug this season. They lack enough defence, both of the defensive and offensive variety, they lack a consistent power play, they lack an effective second line and their goaltending is likely to prove good — but not great. They are, in a word, lacklustre.
After the first 20 games of the 2015-16 season they sit 7-7-6, which, if extrapolated over an entire season, would give them in the neighbourhood of 80 points. This would be a catastrophe. An unmitigated disaster.
Well, it is not because they would miss the playoffs — they are not gonna win the Cup anyhow (see above) — but because they would miss finishing at or near the bottom. After all, it has been proven that if you’re gonna fail in the NHL then failing magnificently gets results (see Edmonton Oilers).
Despite the NHL draft now being conducted as a lottery that includes all 14 teams which fail to make the playoffs, 80 points isn’t going to get them a viable shot at the number one overall pick. It would get them a shot at being in the top (bottom) 10 and little else. They need to drop to the depths of last season’s Buffalo Sabres (54 points), Arizona Coyotes (56 points) and Oilers (62 points and the 1st overall pick, courtesy a lucky lottery draw).
Though the 2016 draft is considered a deep one there is not so much point in finishing eighth, not when you’re capable of doing better (worse). The Canuck Nation are surely hoping for better, meaning that given their team is not a contender they’d like to see them finish closer to the very bottom.
Phenom Auston Matthews
Finishing fifth from last should do it; such a placing would give them an 8.5 percent chance at Auston Matthews, the consensus overall number one playing with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A. Matthews was setting records in the USHL, America’s top junior league, and felt, rightly so, that he needed the challenge of professional hockey.
A back injury has sidelined him but had he not been hurt and had he kept up his scoring clip (14 games., 10 g., 7 a. for 17 p.) he’d be in the SNL’s top 10 in scoring.
If they didn’t get Matthews, fifth from the bottom still gives them an impact player. Other strong players include three whose fathers played in the NHL, Matthew Tkachuk (dad Keith), Jakob Chychrun (dad Jeff) and Kieffer Bellows (dad Brian). It is early but all are being touted highly and the draft itself is being touted as good or better than the impressive 2015 draft pool.
“The 2016 draft is going to be real interesting,” David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting said. “There are some very good players. It might even be deeper for a longer period of time than the 2015 draft, but that’s something you really can’t say or know until you watch these players a full season.”
Canucks losing streak
Why allow Edmonton to again get the number one overall pick, as consistent failure has given them for so long? Four first-overall picks in six years (Taylor Hall, 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Nail Yakupov (2012) and Connor McDavid (2015). Not to mention the player who may turn out to be as good as any of them, Leon Draisaitl, taken third overall in 2014.
Vancouver was 3-0-1 after their first four games but since have gone 4-7-5, including 1-5-2 in their last eight. That’s the pace they need to accomplish anything beyond getting experience for the young talent they already have and ticking a year off the contracts of veterans no longer earning their keep (see Alex Edler, Chris Higgins and Ryan Miller).
The bottom line is – accent upon ‘bottom’ – Vancouver should continue their current streak of losing. If they do then from next season forward winning should become a little easier.
Unless you think they are poised to win the Stanley Cup.