Originally written January 16, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Picks Time I can’t decide where the Canucks go this season. They’re the two-time reigning President’s Trophy champions and they have all that high-end talent and Roberto Luongo could return something very nice but this feels like a trap year. The Canucks aren’t quick starters, and overcoming an October surprise in January with Ryan Kesler out could be impossible in a very tight Western Conference with little room to throw points away. The team’s also not getting any younger and the rust of taking seven months off from competitive hockey isn’t going to help that fear of a slow start. Meanwhile, two wildcards in Minnesota and the youth movement in Edmonton makes the Northwest hardly the lock it used to be. It would take a convergence of a few variables for this season to go south, but the possibilities are lurking. Gonna be an interesting one. All bets are off. Nothing from previous years applies. This is Calvinball now. (We’re going to win the Cup.) Canucks 2013 MVP: Cory Schneider. Here’s your constant this season, Schneider is going to be absolutely rock solid in his first year as starter. He’s been waiting a really long time for this moment, and his patience has been overwhelming. He knows what to do with this role. Schneider is going to be absolutely rock solid Canucks Goalie with the best GAA?  Cory. Best +/- on the team?  Dan Hamhuis seems to soak up the defensive game and Kevin Bieksa owes a big part of his matured game to him. His injury is still the reason the Canucks didn’t raise the cup in 2011. Canucks leading goal scorer will be? Daniel Sedin, especially with Ryan Kesler out, is one of the only pure goalscorers on this team. He’ll carry the offensive load with his brother just like they always do. Leading team in points?  Henrik Sedin is the straw that stirs the Canucks’ offensive drink. Lead team in assists? Let’s play it safe and say Henrik again. He can pass well. Best defenceman award goes to? Could be Hamhuis, could be Alex Edler, could be Jason Garrison. All three are in the mix. We have a deep blueline, it’s great. TEAM PROPS Canucks will win the Presidents Cup?  Nope. That’s so passe now. How many points will the Canucks finish with in 2013 season? This one requires math this year, hold on……62 points? 27-13-8 sound good? How many wins will the Canucks finish with? 27! Will the Canucks win the Northwest division?  Yes, but it won’t be ceremonial. Will they have a winning record vs. Chicago?  2-1, sure. Will they have a winning record vs. Calgary? 3-0, of course. Will they have a winning record vs. Edmonton? 1-2, surprisingly. Will Ryan Kesler will play before the playoffs? Yes/ no?  I really really hope so. Really hope so. Will Roberto Luongo be on the team come opening game? It’s only a couple days away. I’d think so. Will Align Vigneault be the coach come playoffs? Depends on Kesler’s return date? Twin with more points? Daniel/Hank? Hank. How many games will Schneider play this year? This is the perfect year to have a Schneider and Luongo duo to lay waste to the condensed schedule and get a leg up on teams who will either ride their starter into the ground like a Flame on Kiprusoff or risk some important games to a mediocre backup. 25-30 if they do that. Who will Mike Gillis trade for before the season starts?  If it’s not the Luongo trade, can’t see any other moves made before he gets a feel for what exactly this team has and needs for 2013. Will the Canucks make a big splash at the trade deadline?  Again, Luongo. If not that, the possibility of needing someone to centre the second line if Kesler is still out and Schroeder isn’t having a statue built in his honour. Who plays the most games on the wing w/ the Sedins in 2013 Reg. Season? I’ll take the safe bet and say Alex Burrows. What seed in the Western Conference will the Canucks get for playoffs? Three seed. But they’ll get out of the first round this time. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSPORTSBEAT!

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