After losing to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, the Vancouver Canucks found themselves with a 26-28-6 record and sitting in sixth place in the Pacific Division. That sticks them four points behind the Calgary Flames for a wild card spot and right in the middle of a rather tricky logjam for a post-season berth.
The Winnipeg Jets, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars are all in the mix.
The Canucks won’t play against until Saturday when they face the San Jose Sharks, which means the landscape could change an awful lot by then.
And with the trade deadline looming, Vancouver has a few issues to address. Among them is how old the team looks up front.
Now sure, Bo Horvat has been a revelation this season. The 21-year-old has 40 points in 59 games, including 18 goals, and actually leads the team offensively now. That’s a big leap, as the Canucks haven’t seen a non-Sedin lead the club in scoring in a while now.
Henrik Sedin is positioned second with 36 points in 60 games, while Daniel Sedin has 34 points in 60 games. Both have a dozen goals. Brandon Sutter and Markus Granlund have 15 goals apiece, but nobody on the roster has blow-your-socks-off offensive numbers at this point, which is unsurprising.
The Canucks have only scored 142 goals, the third lowest offensive totals in the Western Conference. Only the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche have been less productive in their neck of the woods.
Even with the likes of Horvat, Granlund and Sven Baertschi in the forward core in Vancouver, the team looks sluggish and could use an infusion of youthful vigour.
With pending unrestricted free agents like Alex Burrows, Jack Skille, Phillip Larsen, and goalie Ryan Miller, there is some movement to consider. You have to imagine general manager Jim Benning wants to handle restricted free agents like Horvat and Nikita Tryamkin sooner rather than later, too.
With an estimated $5.9 million in cap space at the deadline, that largely means the Canucks will be targeting prospects up front. Rentals won’t be part of the agreement, especially with the club on the playoff bubble, and one must know by now that this ongoing perpetual rebuild is still progressing with or without a plan.
That means we could see Burrows traded out at last and it could mean we see the club decide what to do with Miller. He’s been playing well as of late, but he’s arguably the biggest bargaining chip the Canucks have – especially if they want to appeal to a playoff-bound team.
Vancouver’s a long way off from making a big splash at the deadline, but this is a mild-mannered hockey team now and the locals are used to it. Whatever’s happening to this franchise requires patience and a roadmap, even though the destination is by and large unknown.