I do not hide the fact that I am a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. I (attempt to) remove my bias when helping with player evaluations in fantasy hockey, and to this point I have done a great job of separating my personal bias with how I build my fantasy teams. In my five keeper leagues (I used to be in more, but five is the most I can manage without over-committing myself), I only own one Canuck – Roberto Luongo. I own Luongo in two of the five leagues. I tend to avoid drafting and trading for Vancouver players because I do not want to be clouded by optimism. This has both helped (Steve Bernier) and hurt (Christian Ehrhoff) me over the past few years, but it is a principle that I don't anticipate myself changing.
I read Canuck-related "stuff" on a daily basis, and feel that my understanding of the team and its needs heading into this summer is very strong. I decided to complete a mock off-season for the Canucks, and if time permits I'll get to a few other teams in the days leading up to July 1st.
The Canucks are in a great situation both in the near and long term. They had the league's second best offense last season, they have a fantastic goalie signed to a great contract for the next 12 years (Roberto Luongo's $5.3 million cap hit represents a $1.4 million decrease from his previous deal), and they have a slew of talented young forwards ready to take the next step. There are some glaring holes on the back end and on the bottom two lines up front, but with ample cap space they should emerge this summer as the team to beat in the West. Their two closest rivals in the West, Chicago and San Jose, both face difficult summers. Chicago's team is about to be stripped of depth at all positions due to cap constraints, while San Jose has several key players that may not return.
Vancouver is sitting equally pretty in the once-strong Northwest Division as well. Calgary is aging and their roster contains numerous awful contracts for the next few years. They may have the worst prospects in the entire NHL, even counting Mikael Backlund. Minnesota is a team in transition right now, and is at least another year or two away from contention. Like Calgary, their prospect situation is very bleak. Edmonton should be improved this year, but there are still a lot of question marks there. Colorado presents the biggest challenge both next year and beyond with lots of young talent developing ahead of schedule.
The current roster: