The late-season playoff push in places like Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Florida — all teams that were not expected to be in the playoff hunt — pushed several rookies into the spotlight. While all but the Florida Panthers made the playoffs, the fact that all had key contributions from first-year players made for an interesting Calder Trophy selection the 2014-15 season. Read more»
The season ended suddenly and surprisingly for the Canucks at the hands of the Calgary Flames, a team that was not expected to do much of anything this season but whose undervalued prospect depth has quickly proven to be on track and capable. The Canucks on the other hand now find themselves in a transitional phase, with Daniel and Henrik Sedin showing signs of slowing down, but with a strong group of players coming up to bolster an experienced NHL core. The good news is that the bulk of the prospect pool enjoyed post-season runs during the 2014-15 season, with deep playoff runs in the AHL and OHL playoffs for some notable names.
Vancouver has iced very good rosters for a long time now. Despite having not yet won the Stanley Cup, the Canucks accomplished a lot in the 2000s on the strengths of Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s puck possession skills, Ryan Kesler’s defensive game, the goaltending of Roberto Luongo, and teams that were composed from top to bottom with strong talents who could drive play. The Sedins will be 35 years old when the 2015-16 season starts, Kesler and Luongo are gone, and though the team has performed well this season, it is no longer among the President’s Trophy favorites. Management has not had the luxury of lottery picks to build around, but there are several prospects in the system who will help ease the transition to a post-Sedin era, whenever that arrives.
Little did the Vancouver Canucks know when they drafted forwards Bo Horvat (ninth overall) and Hunter Shinkaruk (24th overall) in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft, that the two would become great friends and, for a brief time, teammates while Horvat was on an AHL conditioning stint with the Utica Comets.