Season Preview: Three questions with Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct

We’re previewing the season by asking the experts - other SB Nation blogs!

Yesterday’s muse, the Arizona Coyotes, are definitely a team on the upswing. From there, we move to a team on a very slow and painful downswing, the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s Kent Basky from Nucks Misconduct to answer our three questions.

1. Where do you see Loui Eriksson slotting into the lineup? What kind of season, offence-wise, do you see him putting up?

Well, the smart money has him with the Sedins, as he was obviously  brought in to be Radim Vrbata v2. Of course the Canucks have spent the  last couple seasons doing things that seem to be somewhat south of  smart, so should the 3 Swedes not go on a tear right out of the gate,  look to Willie Desjardins to start shuffling him around in an attempt to  get more offensive production going from a team that was embarrassingly  bad at it last season. That being said, I get the feeling Eriksson will  do well with Daniel and Henrik. They've played together internationally  and as the Sedins have shown in the past, they can make a pylon look  like a serviceable player, and a skilled player look like a superstar.

2.  Jim Benning's roster evaluation, trades, and FA signings have generally  been panned by wider hockey circles. Do you think he's on thin ice at  all? In what situation could you see him being fired?

Unless the season starts out with some kind of horrendous losing  streak like the one that Anaheim suffered at the start of last year, I  wouldn't say the ice is thin, but that's not the same for Willie Desjardins. I am not sure what saved his job more after last season's  disaster: the number of injuries the team had to endure, or the hope  that he might be able to guide the team to the 100-point mark like he did in  his rookie season behind the bench. I can't see that happening, even if healthy this team will struggle to improve their dismal showing last season. Unless the Canucks are at least competitive at Christmas  time, Willie D will be on the bus back to Medicine Hat. Another losing  season, and then we can start talking about Benning suffering that fate,  though it won't take nearly that long in the fan base.

3.  What are you expecting from the Canucks this year? What would the team  have to accomplish this season for you to consider it a success?

I spent a lot of time pondering this over the summer, and I have come  to the conclusion that the Canucks are going to be bloody awful. This  way, by expecting nothing from them I can derive a positive feeling out  of even the most minute signs of improvement. This is what has become of  Canuck fandom, I suppose. Sure, there's some hope for the future. Bo Horvat made some serious strides last season, and there's a lot of  expectations being placed on Jake Virtanen and Sven Baertschi. Maybe Brandon Sutter will stay healthy for an entire season and actually give them 40 points or so? On the back end, the addition of Erik Gudbrandson  should help to make the Canucks not such lightweights defensively. He  may not be the answer to all their problems on D but he is one hell of  an improvement over Matt Bartkowski. Chris Tanev is becoming a solid  first pairing guy, and the emergence of Ben Hutton last year, as well as  the late season addition of hulking Russian behemoth Nikita Tryamkin  could see the Canucks getting marginally better on D, in spite of Luca  Sbisa. Oddly enough, as has been the case for a few years now,  goaltending is once again one of the things they can count on. Ryan Miller's in the last year of his contract, and will try and use that to  either get a better deal (whether in Vancouver or somewhere else), or  showcase himself as a potential rental at the trade deadline should the  Canucks be out of the hunt. Jacob Markstrom showed he can play in the  NHL last season, and the question is, do the Canucks groom him to be the  successor this year by giving a more even split of the games with  Miller? Like a lot of situations with the Canucks, it all depends on how  they're doing by Christmas. In the hunt, and maybe they're even buyers  at the deadline. Out of it, and we start talking about the likes of  Miller and guys like Alex Edler and Alex Burrows potentially getting  moved for draft picks. 2011 seems so far away now...

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