Offensive improvement is a major need in Vancouver. With the decline of Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, the Vancouver Canucks offense struggled last year as the team finished 29th out of 30 teams in goals scored (2.17). Add in the fact that they also finished dead last in shots attempted, the team has some work to do.
Their top young players, 22-year-old Bo Horvat and 24-year-old Sven Baertschi have talent and while the team suffered through numerous injuries a year ago, there is a lot of hope for youngster Brock Boeser, according to NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley. The Canucks 2015 first-round pick (23rd overall) played two seasons for the University of North Dakota and after his team lost in the NCAA championships to Boston University, he signed an entry-level contract and joined the Canucks for the final nine games of the season. The 20-year-old thrived, scoring four goals in that span for five points.
Boeser, known for his great passing and offensive skills, played well with Horvat and Baertschi on the second line at the end of the year and also had a good showing on the power play with the Sedin twins. However, according to Woodley, the team will not just give him a roster spot for this coming season. Boeser must earn it and to prove that, Vancouver still made him attend his third-straight development camp. He must also compete with new free agent acquisitions Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov if he wants playing time.
- The Edmonton Oilers also have high hopes for their top pick a year ago. Jesse Puljujarvi, the fourth-overall pick in 2016, broke camp last year with the team, but struggled with the speed of the game as well as the language barrier and eventually found himself scratched in 10 out of 18 games. He was sent down to the AHL where he played 39 games for the Bakersfield Condors. He scored 12 goals and added 16 assists for 28 points there. The hope is that Puljijarvi can take the next step and make the rotation this year, according to NHL.com’s Tim Campbell. His combination of size (6-foot-4) and speed would be welcome with Edmonton’s young team.