July 23, 2023
This summer seems to be dragging on…and on……….and on…..
The excitement of the draft is gone, and the start of free agency has passed, so that leaves us two months until the Canucks touch the ice for their first preseason game on Sept 24.
It’s amazing how there are points in the regular season where I think, “This is way too long of a season. They should shorten this.” And then we get to a day like today and I think, “Fuck, this offseason is way too long, the league should have a longer spread-out season.”
Having to wait from April to October for meaningful games does a lot to the psyche of a Canuck fan. April and May are usually the time to sit there and fume about how we let ourselves get sucked into cheering for this team. “NEVER AGAIN!” is the cry, as we watch other teams make their way through the playoffs. The start of June is when we watch some other team lift the Cup and say, “The Canucks played well against them….they could have won it all.” (By the way, no, they couldn’t have)
There is something about the end of June that changes the mindset of Canuck fans. As the draft inches closer, the grumpiness of past failures eases and a little thing called “hope”, crawls its way into our thoughts. “What if the Canucks won the draft lottery?”. And even when the inevitable happens and the Canukcs don’t win it, we believe that the Canucks will find that next Petey or Quinn in the draft, instead of the Joulevi or Virtanens. We believe that the GM will be able to get that big free agent on July 1 and that player will change the teams fortunes.
The end of July brings about new thoughts….or old thoughts….or a mixture of thoughts……how about straight old confusion. With the new players added by draft, trade or signing, are the Canucks any better than last year? I don’t think NM has ever been the site to delve deep into statistical analysis to predict future performance. We’ll let Canucks Army do that. The mental exercise is interesting to see and debate about, but in reality, predictive measures in a bubble are not something I would say are successful. There are 31 other teams that have changed to some degree from last year and so there factors that predictive equations can’t take into account. But those articles at least give you something to read during July.
Are the Canucks any better than last year? That is the only question that really matters right now. I know that GMPA is not done with this roster, so it maybe a hard question to answer. Maybe it’s an easy question to answer as there are only 3 answers to consider, yes, no or the same. The latter is the least likely as the odds to repeat last year’s disaster is almost impossible. New disasters are more likely to occur. So yes or no would seem to be the answer. 50/50.
The optimism that accompanies the end of July and August is created by the changes and the fact that things have to go better than last year…..right? This management team has taken steps to address two glaring issues, cap space and defense. The buyout of OEL alone addressed both if you consider addition but subtraction. There will be large negative consequences down the road due to this buyout, but the immediate effect fuels optimism. The addition of some defenseman helps address the second issue and at a reduced cost. More optimism. These moves alone would suggest a better team.
This team that was 13th in GF will lose one of its wingers due to cap space. That is not great news for a team in the middle of the pack in goal scoring. This team also has about 4 forwards that need to start living up to their potential or else this team won’t be able to win tight games.
Rick Tocchet needs to build a system that these players can execute instead of putting in a system that works for other teams. While he ended up with a winning record in his short term, the first 25 games sets the tone for the year, so this team can’t afford an extended losing streak at the start of the year.
Two months until the preseason. Bah!