Are the young stars ready to win?

Vancouver – Everything has changed in the Vancouver Canucks, and nothing has changed about the Vancouver Canucks.

Less than 10 months since the most comprehensive midseason system change in franchise history that brought coach Bruce Boudreaux and head hockey operations Jim Rutherford to the West Coast, the strengths and weaknesses of the Canucks lineup have largely been the same: a lot of offensive skills up front that’s from He would make the power play massive, young star (Queen Hughes) leading a defense that has questions about his lower half, and a capable goalkeeper Vezina (Thatcher Demko) who has to stay healthy and close to his best to win. .

But there will be new energy at this training camp, which opens Thursday in Whistler, with the new system, new ideas and a completely rebuilt Hockey Operations division.

There are also some new strikers, notably former Toronto Maple Leaf Ilya Mikheev and KHL free agent Andrei Kuzmenko.

At least at the start of the pre-season, Hughes will be tried on the right side of defence, likely over pairing Alpha with Oliver Ekman-Larson.

But the biggest change for the Canucks is the mindset expressed by new general manager Patrick Alvin, who has helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win three Stanley Cups: Nothing these players have done has been good enough yet, so everyone should be better.

It’s time for the Canucks’ young stars to lead the team to the playoffs.

current cover area: $586K (with Michelle Ferland on LTIR)

Director general: Patrick Alvin

Coach: Bruce Bodro

Assistant coaches: Mike Yu, Trent Cole, Jason King, Ian Clark, Dylan Crawford

Unsigned players: Danny Deceiser (PTO)

One important question: are they ready to win?

Had you not watched it, it would have been hard to believe that the team that finished last season 32-15-10 under Boudreaux is the same that started 6-14-2 with former coach Travis Green. Those last 57 games created a lot of excitement and hope in Vancouver, but they also brought high expectations and pressure on a team that has made playoffs only once in the past seven years – in the bubble in Edmonton after 69 regular season games. .

No wonder Alvin told Sportsnet, “Whatever people think of the last 50 games, it wasn’t good enough because we didn’t do the playoffs. So let’s stop talking about it.”

The real Canucks would probably have been somewhere between two extremes of last season’s show, but it’s likely a lot closer to Boudreau’s version. They will have to participate in the playoffs.

Dimko is 26, Brooke Bowser is 25, Elias Peterson is 23, and Hughes is 22. Leading scorer GT Miller is 29 years old, and captain Bo Horvat is 27 years old. Devinsmann Eckmann-Larson is 31 years old, and Tyler Myers is 32 years old.

If they don’t win now, when will they win?

The Battle of the Camps to Watch: Who Plays – and With Whom – in Defense?

Quinn Hughes’ experience is going to get a lot of attention, and fans will be obsessed with frontline kits as Boudreau uses upgrades on the wings by trying to create a top-nine position balanced with Miller, Horvat and Pettersson centers. But the most important decisions will be on defense, as there will likely be a major withdrawal after Hughes, Ekman Larson and Myers.

Can rookie Jack Rathbone, who might be a bit of a Hughes lite, make the lineup and actually play on a second pair where Myers can direct?

Travis Dermot will be in the third mating, but with whom?

Tucker Pullman has reportedly recovered from his neurological problems (severe migraine symptoms) but must play better than he did last season to dethrone veteran veteran Luke Shane who can be relied upon.

Then there’s local boy Kyle Burroughs, who finally became a regular in the National Hockey League last winter and will fight to stay there.

Alvin could ease some of the deadlock by getting another NHL defender to upgrade the lower half of the defense, something he’s been trying to do – without success – since last season.

Expected line

attackers

Vasily Podkolzin – GT Miller – Brooke Bowser

Andrei Kuzmenko – Elias Peterson – Ilya Mikheev

Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Conor Garland

Dakota Joshua – Curtis Lazar – Jason Dickinson

defense men

Oliver Ekman – Larson – Queen Hughes

Jack Rathbone – Tyler Myers

Travis Dermott – Luke Shen

goal

Thatcher Demko

Spencer Martin

Extras

Nils Hooglander, D. Tucker Pullman, D. Kyle Burroughs