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Looking ahead for the Vancouver Canucks: Invest in skill this summer

Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.


What went wrong

The practical answer is that the 2018-19 Vancouver Canucks couldn't stay healthy in key spots in the lineup, with veteran defenseman Alexander Edler (51 games played) and Chris Tanev (55) and forwards Sven Baertschi (24) and Brandon Sutter (26) all missing significant time while others were dinged up here and there. The Canucks were the fifth-most injured team this season, via NHL Injury Viz.

But the big picture answer is that this was a post-Sedins transition season, with a team that had a dozen players 25-and-under who saw regular time and whose three best players were 23-and-under. Look no further than the Canucks' record when trailing after the first period: 3-22-5, putting them in the same neighborhood as lottery fodder New Jersey and Los Angeles.

There's a lot that could have gone better -- and the tease of playoff contention before regression was a bummer for Canucks fans -- but let's focus on what went right: Elias Pettersson, Calder Trophy favorite, has given this city its next franchise player less than a year after it said goodbye to the previous two.