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Sport Inside the 2017-18 Canucks: The rebuild must start with losing

16:53  13 september  2017
16:53  13 september  2017 Source:

Green's success with Canucks hinges considerably on Sedin twins

  Green's success with Canucks hinges considerably on Sedin twins Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green has many things going for him as he prepares for his first training camp as NHL bench boss, but what he needs most is for the Sedin twins to buy in, and then produce on the ice.While there will be a comfort level between the rookie NHL coach and the Canucks youngsters right from the start, Green's success -- and that of the team -- hinges greatly on his relationship with the Sedin twins. It's one thing to push, prod and mentor young players trying to make their mark in the National Hockey League, it's another skill altogether to get your star players to buy in to what you're selling and perform at such a level that the rest of the roster falls into line.

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The system in place in the NHL very much rewards futility. For those teams not lucky enough to be a Cup contender or on the brink of being one, being bad is sometimes the only way to get good.

The Canucks finished 29th in the NHL standings in 2016-17 and are likely in line for a similar finish this season. Though general manager Jim Benning has branded it as a "rebuild on the fly," without the firepower to compete with the best the Western Conference and NHL has to offer, the Canucks are best served shifting their focus to the future. Remaining competitive while accumulating future assets is nice in principle, but can be difficult in practice when teams get caught between best serving their own needs and the perceived needs of their fan base.

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Henrik and Daniel Sedin© (Getty Images) Henrik and Daniel Sedin

MORE: Travis Green's success with Canucks hinges largely on Sedin twins

It's a difficult concept for the casual observer to accept, but sometimes, bottoming out can be the most efficient way to get back to the top. With Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Olli Juolevi, the Canucks have some younger pieces who figure to be featured players in Vancouver's future. But keeping a mind on the long-term blue print, and not sacrificing from it for the sake of competitiveness in 2017-18, should be Vancouver's modus operandi.

Vancouver Canucks schedule 2017-18

Canucks fans will have to wait a few nights for Vancouver's season to begin, but when it does, it will be a marquee matchup, with Connor McDavid and the Oilers coming to Rogers Arena for the Canucks' home opener Oct. 7.

The Los Angeles Chargers get off to a losing start

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The Canucks will stay in Vancouver for four games and seven days to open their season before departing on a five-game, seven-day road trip. The Canucks will play four of those games out of conference, including a back-to-back at the Bruins, and then at the Sabres. The trip concludes with a stop at the Red Wings' new arena in Detroit, and then in Minnesota against the Wild.

MORE: Ranking teams' chances of bringing 2018 Stanley Cup back to Canada

It's not the Canucks' longest road trip of the season, though. A month later, Vancouver plays six consecutive games away from home: at the Flyers, at the Penguins, at the Devils, at the Rangers, at the Islanders, and then finishing up at the Predators.

That sets up a December that won't require much travel: 10 of 13 games heading into the new year will be played in friendly confines, including the final three of the calendar year, though that will provide a stiff test. The Canucks wrap up 2017 hosting the Blues, Blackhawks and Kings in consecutive games.

Three Up, Three Down: Cleveland hits historic heights while Cubs struggle

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SN EXCLUSIVE: Travis Green on applying lessons from playing career to coaching Canucks

Vancouver's bye week comes in January and breaks up what's technically the team's longest road trip of the season, a seven-game stretch that begins Jan. 6 and ends Jan. 21. The Canucks are off Jan. 15-19, playing the final two games — against the Oilers and Jets — as a back-to-back coming off their bye.

Canucks' key offseason additions

Thomas Vanek (free agent), Anders Nilsson (free agent), Michael Del Zotto (free agent), Patrick Wiercioch (free agent), Sam Gagner (free agent), Alex Burmistrov (free agent)

Canucks' key offseason departures

Ryan Miller (free agent), Luca Sbisa (expansion)

Canucks' projected lineup


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Loui Eriksson

Thomas Vanek - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Sven Baertschi - Brandon Sutter - Sam Gagner

Michael Chaput - Markus Granlund - Reid Boucher


Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto - Erik Gudbranson

Ben Hutton - Olli Juolevi


Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson

Canucks' best-case scenario is …

With new Canucks contract in tow, much is left for Horvat to prove

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Vancouver puts its young players in the best position to succeed. The likes of Horvat and Boeser are given featured roles up front, and Juolevi is kept in the NHL, allowed to gain meaningful experience. Though these players are likely to have their share of lows, it will be invaluable repetition at this point in their respective careers.

Goaltender Thatcher Demko, playing for Utica in the AHL, continues to hone his craft and gets called up at some point this season, finishing the year in Vancouver. The Sedin twins, each 36 and in the final year of their contracts, have productive seasons, but make this their swan songs in Vancouver, either signing elsewhere in the offseason or getting traded prior to the deadline. (Though, in a letter penned for the Players' Tribune, the two faces on the franchise really, really voiced their displeasure in the idea of playing anywhere else.)

It's a virtual impossibility the Canucks would move either twin in season, but, if a future asset is dangled by a contending team, it's the right business decision to make. In all, the Canucks clear roughly $20 million in salary cap following the conclusion of the year, and get their best, young players important minutes, in turn putting the franchise in a position to add more young talent to supplement their roster.

Kings kick off NHL's China tour with 5-2 win over Canucks .
Thursday's preseason bout in Shanghai was billed as the first step in expanding NHL's reach in China.After Thursday morning, the NHL seems to be on the right track.


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