Fantasy Puck Preview: Vancouver Canucks

Scott Cullen
10/3/2008 11:22:51 AM
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Goals were hard to come by in Vancouver last season and, even with offseason changes, it could prove to be a challenge once again, thereby limiting the value of some Canucks.

At the top end, the Canucks have a pair of Swedish twins leading the way. Daniel Sedin is the goal scorer of the two, has been very durable -- missing one game over the last four seasons -- and has scored 229 points with a combined plus-32 over the last three years.

His brother, Henrik Sedin, has put up 232 points and is a plus-36, while not missing a game, over the last three seasons. Henrik has never scored more than 18 goals in a season, so there is some sacrificing to be done in that category, but it can be worth it to load up on assists.

Getting the first shot to play the cycle game with the Sedins, Steve Bernier is a big and talented winger who has to prove that he's in good enough shape to handle a first-line workload. If he is, Bernier should explode beyond last season's career-best 32 points.

Perhaps the most significant summer addition was veteran Pavol Demitra, a veteran who has surpassed 50 points in nine of the last ten seasons, but he's also notrious for getting injured, having missed more than ten games in each of the last four seasons.

After scoring just 15 goals last season, Demitra needs a bounceback season and the Canucks sorely need his typical 25-goal production.

Speedy winger Mason Raymond put up 21 points in 49 games as a rookie, enough of a test run to think that he'll produce more this year. For those in leagues that include penalty minutes, however, note that Raymond had just two penalty minutes last season, so his scoring production would have to make a major jump for him to be a quality fantasy performer.

Now 27, Taylor Pyatt may not have much more than what he's shown in the past couple of 37-point seasons with the Canucks. He has the size and strength to be a power forward, but his offensive instincts don't necessarily suit him to a scoring role.

Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler are a couple of agitating Canucks that can provide additional value because of their penalty minute totals.

Burrows emerged last year with 31 points and 179 penalty minutes, elevating him near the fantasy ranks of Sean Avery and Daniel Carcillo as super pests who provide a dose of offence as well.

Kesler has more skill to his game and is coming off a career-high 21-goal and 37-point season, but he needs more offensive opportunity if he's going to take his production to the next level.

Those in keeper leagues will also want to monitor the camp progress of first-round pick Cody Hodgson, who is making a bid to stick as an 18-year-old.

Mainstay defenceman Mattias Ohlund has long been a solid fantasy performer, putting up points and penalty minutes, though he managed to play just 53 games last year.

Another injured defenceman last year, Kevin Bieksa, may be one of the most valuable Canucks from a fantasy perspective if he can regain his 2006-2007 form when he scored 42 points and added 134 penalty minutes.

Injuries have been a problem for big-shooting Sami Salo as well, as he's missed 57 games over the last three seasons. When he does play, though, Salo is a productive power play point man and has never had a minus season in nine NHL seasons.

When injuries opened the door last season, it provided an opportunity for Alexander Edler to prove himself in the NHL and he didn't disappoint. Now, it's just a matter of opportunity if he's going to get enough power play time to score enough to be relevant for fantasy purposes.

Saving the best for last, Roberto Luongo still ranks among the game's elite puckstoppers, though he'd be even better if he could get some offensive support. Nevertheless, Luongo has played more than 70 games in four straight seasons and has recorded a 2.33 goals against average and a .919 save percentage, winning 82 games, in his two seasons with the Canucks.

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