In all aspects of the roster, the Canucks measure up favourably to almost every other team in the NHL. Their depth gives them the flexibility to play either an offensive, up-tempo style or a lock-down, grind-it-out defensive game.

Head coach Alain Vigneault was brought back with a new contract despite the playoff collapse and that's only fair given his impressive track record in Vancouver.

Other than in net, the team remains largely the same, with the only major change being on defence where the club signed sharp-shooting Jason Garrison to a six-year, $27.6 million contract, in large part to replace the departed Sami Salo.

The team is also in a state of limbo with regards to 2011 Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler. There is still no timeline for his return to the line-up, meaning the team will have to find a way, either internally or by acquisition, to account for the production and valuable minutes he provides as the team's number-two centre.

Roberto Luongo won't end the season as a Canuck, but the question is how long Vancouver will take before pulling the trigger. Respectfully opening himself to a trade after last season to open the door for the emerging Cory Schneider

Only four Canucks played overseas during the lockout, and that's including Schneider, who played only a month, and Mason Raymond, who played only a week. So this is not a club that has its game legs under it. It's a recipe for a slow start as the shortened season beckons, especially given the injury to Ryan Kesler.

The pressure to win a Stanley Cup will again be immense, the window won't be open for too much longer, but the Vancouver Canucks remain a contender despite their first-round loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings.

 

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