The Vancouver Canucks might not be all that bad heading into the 2017/18 season. That's something that needs to be pointed out to many because the betting odds, as a reflection of general opinion, suggest that the Canucks aren't considered to be in the mix for a playoff spot. Sportsbook bet365 makes the Canucks 6th favorites to win the Pacific Division title at +2500. To make the playoffs, bet365 prices the Canucks at +700. The latter odds imply just a 12.5% chance of Vancouver finishing top-three in the Pacific or getting a wild card. While it will take shocking developments to see the Canucks best Edmonton in the Pacific Division standings, it wouldn't be that shocking to see Vancouver nab a wild card or even a third-placed finish in their division.

Jim Benning did well during offseason

Vancouver's GM, Jim Benning, doesn't come away with bad grades for offseason acquisitions. Sam Gagner was a good pickup and so was Thomas Vanek. With Gagner, the Canucks will look for some improvement over numbers from last season while looking for the numbers that Vanek had in Detroit last year (not the ones he had with Florida). If those two players are on Vancouver's third line together, meaning that they'll generally be playing against other third liners, then there is potential for Vancouver to get some low-line production for sure. Gagner has almost a 0.600 point-per-game average in his career while Vanek's Detroit numbers last season were 0.79 points-per-game.

Vanek and Gagner potentially making for a dangerous tandem is something that is being overlooked. Those are two pickups that are on the quiet side, but certainly could have a big impact on Vancouver's season.

Bo Horvat isn't a new add-on player, but he is another player that needs to be looked at with some optimism. He is 22 years of age and he has a progressive scoring average.

Three years ago he was an ineffective 0.37 points-per-game guy, in 2015/16 he was almost a half-point per game guy, and last year he improved to 0.64 Points Per Game. With this player it's not just a matter of taking his scoring average from last season and duplicating it as food for thought. It has to be assumed that he will continue to improve because of his youth.

He might be a top-ten scorer in the league someday and something like 0.72 points-per-game in the next season isn't out of the question.

Sedin's in a contract year

At the other end of the age spectrum the Sedin twins are fading in what is the final year of their contracts with Vancouver. They will be UFAs next summer meaning that if they don't want to retire or take a shabby contract then they'll need some numbers this season. The Sedin twins in a contract year might actually be a good thing for Vancouver. Their recent article at made their retirement plans sound very ambiguous:

According to Daniel Sedin: "We are not 26, no matter what Henrik says. We’re 36. So you start realizing that your time is coming to an end, eventually.

We’re going to take this year and appreciate everything about it, and never look too far ahead. Who knows, we might have a few more years left in us. Maybe we need to speak with Jagr" (September 7th).

There has been retirement buzz for the Sedins for awhile. Bottom line is that they aren't actually ancient at 36 (37 later this month). If they want to stay in Vancouver with good pay then they need to deliver something this season.

Anders Nilsson could surprise a few

Vancouver's goaltending could be ugly, but let's take a look at one indisputable fact: Anders Nilsson had a .923 save percentage last season. That's the same save percentage that Matt Murray, Devan Dubnyk, and Carey Price had last year.

The difference is that Price, Dubnyk, and Murray had the save percentage over the long term while Nilsson appeared in just 26 games for Buffalo. However a lot of goaltenders are underused before someone recognizes some genuine ability.

The Canucks could have a diamond from the rough in Nilsson. When a goalie posts a good save percentage in the minors, it means that he's ready for the big show. Likewise, when a back-up goalie like Nilsson posts a good save percentage as a back-up then it means he's ready to be a regular starter.

The Hockey News prediction regarding the Canucks is as follows: "7th in the Pacific. It’s hard to imagine the Canucks and their attempts to build on the fly will make them a contender in a very tough division.

The reality is the Canucks are closer to winning the draft lottery than they are to making the playoffs" (September 6th).

A goalie capable of a .923 save percentage in at least 26 games, two veterans who don't want to leave Vancouver that are in their contract years, a 22 year old with a possible future as a top-ten scorer that projects to improve this season, and a third line that could sting a lot of other third lines means that the Canucks are more than just draft-lottery contenders. If the Canucks don't get unlucky with injuries relative to the competition then look for them to make the playoffs as a low seed.