Top 5: The Best Seasons in Vancouver Canucks History

Although it is hard to fathom at this point in the Vancouver Canucks rebuild, there were some great seasons that happened in this market. They even went to the Stanley Cup finals a few times. Below is a list of the Top 5 Greatest Seasons in Vancouver Canucks history.

You can read the Top 5 Worst Seasons in Vancouver Canucks History HERE

5.
2006/2007

Colorado Avalanche v Vancouver Canucks

Record: 49-26-7 – 105PTS (1st in Northwest Division/3rd in the Western Conference/8th in the NHL)
222 Goals For / 201 Goals Against

Playoffs:
Won Western Quarter-Final vs. 6 seed Dallas Stars (4-3)
Lost Western Semi-Final vs. 2 seed Anaheim Ducks (4-1)

Biggest Win: 5-0 vs. Chicago (Oct. 25th/2006)
Biggest Loss: 6-0 vs. Nashville (Nov. 23rd/2006)

Head Coach: Alain Vigneault
Captain: Markus Naslund

Leading Scorers:
Daniel Sedin (26) – 81GP – 36G – 48A – 84PTS
Henrik Sedin (26) – 82GP – 10G – 71A – 81PTS
Markus Naslund (33) – 82GP – 24G – 36A – 60PTS

Starting Goaltender:
Roberto Luongo (27) – 76GP – 47W – 22L – 6OTL – 2.29GAA – 0.921SV% – 5SO

Other Notable Players:
Kevin Bieksa (25) – 81GP – 12G – 30A – 42PTS
Jan Bulis (28) – 79GP – 12G – 11A – 23PTS
Ryan Kesler (22) – 48GP – 6G – 10A – 16PTS
Alex Burrows (25) – 81GP – 3G – 6A – 9PTS
Rory Fitzpatrick (32) – 58GP – 1G – 6A – 7PTS

Awards:
Alain Vigneault – Jack Adams (Best Coach)
Roberto Luongo – Second Team All-Star

The 2006-2007 NHL season was a big “changing of the guard” season not only for the Vancouver Canucks but for the NHL as well. Players playing their last NHL game this season include Tony Amonte, Ed Belfour, Eric Lindros, Joe Nieuwendyk and Pierre Turgeon, which paved the way for the new wave, and that includes Sidney Crosby winning his first scoring title with 120 points. In Vancouver, it was the Sedin twins leading the team in scoring while many of the core of the club that took the Canucks to the cup finals in 2011 made their debuts. Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, and Alexander Edler all made small impacts as a sort of foreshadowing to what they would become as players.

This was also Roberto Luongo’s first season with Vancouver after coming over from Florida at the 2006 draft. He would go on to appear in 76 games, winning 47 of them in what would be, at the time, the winningest season in Vancouver Canucks history. That wouldn’t be ignored, as Alain Vigneault won the team’s first Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the league.

The playoffs wouldn’t go as well as many in this market would have hoped. Game 1 of the first series against Dallas would go to the 4th overtime before Henrik Sedin scored to win the 6th longest game in NHL history. The Canucks would end up going up 3-1 in the series before barely squeaking out a Game 7 win in GM Place. The second round against the Anaheim Ducks would end in a Game 5 overtime game that is best known for Roberto Luongo’s long bathroom break between periods.

The season would end at the draft, with one of the worst performances in team history. Zero players picked went on to play in the NHL, including 1st round pick Patrick White, which is okay because he did end up in the trade that brought Christian Ehrhoff to Vancouver.

Overall, this was still one of the best seasons in Canucks history. The Luongo trade, the Sedins busting out, Vigneault cementing his role as one of the best coaches they’ve ever had and the team setting a record for most wins and points in a season make this a no-brainer.

 

4.
2002/2003

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Record: 45-23-13-1 – 104PTS (2nd in Northwest Division/4th in the Western Conference/7th in the NHL)
264 Goals For / 208 Goals Against

Playoffs:
Won Western Quarter-Final vs. 5th seed St. Louis Blues (4-3)
Lost Western Semi-Final vs. 6th seed Minnesota (4-3)

Biggest Win: 8-0 vs. Atlanta (Feb. 25th/2003)
Biggest Loss: 5-1 vs. Colorado (Oct. 31st/2002)

Head Coach: Marc Crawford
Captain: Markus Naslund

Leading Scorers:
Markus Naslund (29) – 82GP – 48G – 56A – 104PTS
Todd Bertuzzi (27) – 82GP – 46G – 51A – 97PTS
Brendan Morrison (27) – 82GP – 25G – 46A – 71PTS

Starting Goaltender:
Dan Cloutier (26) – 57GP – 33W – 16L – 7T – 2.42GAA – 0.908SV% – 0SO

Other Notable Players:
Ed Jovanovski (26) – 67GP – 6G – 40A – 46PTS
Matt Cooke (24) – 82GP – 15G – 27A – 42PTS
Henrik Sedin (22) – 78GP – 8G – 31A – 39PTS
Daniel Sedin (22) – 79GP – 14G – 17A – 31PTS
Artem Chubarov (23) – 62GP – 7G – 13A – 20PTS

Awards:
Markus Naslund – Lester B. Pearson Award (League MVP as voted by the players)
Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi – First Team All-Stars

The West Coast Express line of Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi all had the best years of their careers this season, and were largely responsible for the success of the Canucks. Matt Cooke was the next leading scorer on the team with 42 points, outscoring the Sedins at this point in their careers, and that lack of scoring depth would end up being their downfall in the playoffs.

This was year 2 of Dan Cloutier’s three seasons of being a competent starting goaltender in the league, and the only three years where he would win more than 9 games in a season. As a backup, Petr Skudra had a solid season as well, appearing in 23 games, but this would be his last in the NHL.

Before the season started, the Canucks made one of their greatest trades, acquiring Sami Salo from the Ottawa Senators for Peter Schaefer. Salo would go on to score 74 goals and 236 points in 566 games. Despite the fact that the Canucks were in a position to buy at the deadline as Stanley Cup contenders, they made only one trade at the 2003 trade deadline, grabbing veteran Brad May from the Phoenix Coyotes for future considerations.

The playoffs would go down in history for this franchise as one to remember. The Canucks played the St. Louis Blues in the first round and were down 3 games to 1 going back to Vancouver for Game 5. The big guns came out to play in the clutch, and the Canucks pulled off three straight wins to make it to the second round. The underdog Minnesota Wild, who pulled off a huge upset against Vancouver’s biggest rivals at the time, the Colorado Avalanche, would be waiting for them on the other side. The Canucks ended up with a 3-1 series lead and needed one more victory to set up a Western Conference Final with the Anaheim Ducks. It didn’t work out that way of course, and the West Coast Express went cold, exposing the team’s lack of offensive depth.

Despite that, this season is on the list for one of the best seasons for the Vancouver Canucks because the West Coast Express dominated as the NHL’s best line. Naslund won the Pearson Award as League MVP as voted by the players and all three of them had what would end up being the best offensive seasons of their careers. The team was one win away from their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 1994, and if only management had noticed the team was relatively thin past that line and made more than the Brad May trade at the deadline.

 

3.
2009/2010

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Record: 49-28-5 – 103PTS (1st in the Northwest Division/3rd in the Western Conference/5th in the NHL)
272 Goals For / 222 Goals Against

Playoffs:
Won Western Quarter-Final vs. 6 seed Los Angeles Kings (4-2)
Lost Western Semi-Final vs. 2 seed Chicago Blackhawks (4-2)

Biggest Win: 8-2 vs. Colorado (Nov. 14th/2009)
Biggest Loss: 8-3 vs. Los Angeles (Apr. 1st/2010)

Head Coach: Alain Vigneault
Captain: Roberto Luongo

Leading Scorers:
Henrik Sedin (29) – 82GP – 29G – 83A – 112PTS
Daniel Sedin (29) – 63P – 29G – 56A – 85PTS
Ryan Kesler (25) – 82GP – 25G – 50A – 75PTS

Starting Goaltender:
Roberto Luongo (30) – 68GP – 40W – 22L – 4OTL – 2.57GAA – 0.913SV% – 4SO

Other Notable Players:
Alexandre Burrows (28) – 82GP – 35G – 32A – 67PTS
Mason Raymond (24) – 82GP – 25G – 28A – 53PTS
Kyle Wellwood (26) – 75GP – 14G – 11A – 25PTS

Awards:
Henrik Sedin – Art Ross Trophy
Henrik Sedin – Hart Memorial Trophy
Henrik Sedin – First Team All-Star
Daniel Sedin – Second Team All-Star

This was not the best season in terms of wins and losses during the Mike Gillis-era, but this was a dominant club that scored the second most goals in the league with 272 and would blow out teams on the regular, something that is rare in the current state of the Vancouver Canucks.

Henrik Sedin become the first Sedin to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer and added a Hart as League MVP for good measure. The Sedins and Alex Burrows were one of the league’s top lines, and the club got breakout offensive seasons from the likes of Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond on the way to another Northwest Division championship.

Heading into the trade deadline, the Canucks only made two moves. They acquired Andrew Alberts from Carolina for a 3rd round pick and Yan Stastny from St. Louis for Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Not exactly the best moves for a team to make heading into the playoffs, but Gillis likely didn’t want to change the chemistry of his team who were playing some great hockey at the time.

The first round of the playoffs opened up in Vancouver as the Canucks played the Los Angeles Kings. It was the Mikael Samuelsson show as he scored in the first 5 games of the series before being shut out in Vancouver’s game 6 series-clinching victory. This win over Los Angeles would be their last before the Kings would absolutely own the Canucks over the next few seasons.

Up next was the 2nd seed Chicago Blackhawks. This was the second straight Western semi-final against these two teams, and it ended the same way. Chicago ran through the Canucks in 6 games, including 5-2, 7-4 and 5-1 wins. It wasn’t even close. The Canucks would get their revenge and “slay the dragon” in a year’s time, but that’s for another entry on the list. The Blackhawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Great individual efforts are the biggest reason why this season made it to 3rd in the list of the greatest seasons in Vancouver Canucks history. They scored at will and dominated teams, only to be felled at the end by one of the top rivalries in franchise history.

 

2.
1993/1994

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Record: 41-40-3 – 85PTS (2nd in the Pacific Division/7th in the Western Conference/14th in the NHL)
279 Goals For / 276 Goals Against

Playoffs:
Won Western Quarter-Final vs. 2 seed Calgary Flames (4-3)
Won Western Semi-Final vs. 4 seed Dallas Stars (4-1)
Won Western Final vs. 3 seed Toronto Maple Leafs (4-1)
Lost Stanley Cup Final vs. 1 seed New York Rangers (4-3)

Biggest Win: 7-2 vs. Ottawa (Jan 5th/1994)
Biggest Loss: 8-3 vs. Detroit (Apr. 5th/1994)

Head Coach: Pat Quinn
Captain: Trevor Linden

Leading Scorers:
Pavel Bure (22) – 76GP – 60G – 47A – 107PTS
Geoff Courtnall (31) – 82GP – 26G – 44A – 70PTS
Cliff Ronning (28) – 76GP – 25G – 43A – 68PTS

Starting Goaltender:
Kirk McLean (27) – 52GP – 23W – 26L – 3T – 2.99GAA – 0.891SV% – 3SO

Other Notable Players:
Trevor Linden (23) – 84GP – 32G – 29A – 61PTS
Jyrkki Lumme (27) – 83GP – 13G – 42A – 55PTS
Gino Odjick (23) – 76GP – 16G – 13A – 29PTS

Awards:
Pavel Bure – Most Goals in the NHL (60) – Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy did not exist at this point
Pavel Bure – First Team All-Star

Besides Pavel Bure, the biggest strength of these 1993-1994 Vancouver Canucks was their depth. 10 players had 29 or more points and this team was filled with veteran players which helped them in their incredible playoff run.

Vancouver’s regular season was nothing special. Their season previous was much better, winning 46 games for 101 points would be, at the time, their most winningest season in history, but they could only win 6 games in the playoffs and fizzled out in the second round. Another 40+ win season in 1993/1994 was also followed by 40 losses and a 7th place finish in the West, which set them up for a long road to the Stanley Cup against better teams. Or so everybody thought.

Great work by the management team at the deadline, acquiring Jeff Brown, Bret Hedican and Nathan “The Post” Lafayette from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for the rights to Craig Janney (who was given to the Canucks in the Petr Nedved offer sheet compensation), who would all play big roles in the playoffs.

Let’s talk about the playoffs. The Canucks played the Calgary Flames in the first round, and went down 3 games to 1 against the number 2 seed from Alberta. Three straight overtime wins and a remarkable Game 7 breakaway goal by Pavel Bure pushed Vancouver to the second round. They would dismantle both the Stars and the Leafs, winning 8 out of the next 10 games, setting up a Stanley Cup Final against the President’s Trophy-winning New York Rangers. There was a Game 7, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

The 1993/1994 season was a team full of underdogs and heart, making it an easy choice as one of the greatest seasons in Vancouver Canucks history. Should it have been number 1?

 

1.
2010/2011

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Record: 54-19-9 – 117PTS (1st in Northwest Division/1st in Western Conference/1st in the NHL)
262 Goals For / 185 Goals Against

Playoffs:
Won Western Quarter-Finals vs. 8 seed Chicago Blackhawks (4-3)
Won Western Semi-Final vs. 5 seed Nashville Predators (4-2)
Won Western Final vs. 2 seed San Jose Sharks (4-1)
Lost Stanley Cup Final vs. 3 seed Boston Bruins (4-3)

Biggest Win: 2-1 vs. Chicago (Apr. 26th/2011)
Biggest Loss: 4-0 vs. Boston (June 15th/2011)

Head Coach: Alain Vigneault
Captain: Henrik Sedin

Leading Scorers:
Daniel Sedin (30) – 82GP – 41G – 63A – 104PTS
Henrik Sedin (30) – 82GP – 19G – 75A – 94PTS
Ryan Kesler (26) – 82GP – 41G – 32A – 73PTS

Starting Goaltender:
Roberto Luongo (31) – 60GP – 38W – 15L – 7OTL – 2.11GAA – 0.928SV% – 4SO

Other Notable Players:
Christian Ehrhoff (28) – 79GP – 14G – 36A – 50PTS
Alexandre Burrows (29) – 72GP – 26G – 22A – 48PTS
Alexander Edler (24) – 51GP – 8G – 25A – 33PTS
Raffi Torres (29) – 80GP – 14G – 15A – 29PTS

Awards:
Daniel Sedin – Art Ross Trophy
Daniel Sedin – Ted Lindsay Award
Ryan Kesler – Frank J. Selke Trophy
Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider – William M. Jennings Trophy
Mike Gillis – General Manager of the Year
Henrik Sedin/Daniel Sedin – First Team All-Star

Where do we even begin? Easily the greatest team and season the Vancouver Canucks have ever put on the ice. They scored the most goals in the league. They allowed the least amount of goals in the league. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider were an unbelievable 1-2 punch in net, while Daniel Sedin had his turn to win the Art Ross and Ted Lindsay. Ryan Kesler won the Selke as the best defensive forward, while Mike Gillis was named as the General Manager of the Year. Alain Vigneault cemented himself as one of the best, if not the best coaches in franchise history.

The Canucks went on a streak of 17 straight games where they got points, and they won the President’s Trophy by 10 points.

Compared to the other seasons on this list, Vancouver attacked the trade deadline and made some smart moves that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Chris Higgins came over from Florida in exchange for defenseman Evan Oberg and a 3rd round pick, while Maxim Lapierre was picked up from Anaheim for Joel Perrault and another 3rd rounder.

Even though the playoffs ended in complete heartbreak, the lead up to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals was an amazing ride. One of the greatest goals in franchise history was scored by Alex Burrows in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round to “slay the dragon”, and the team played with a new energy after that goal. They made short work of the Nashville Predators thanks to Ryan Kesler, and then Kevin Bieksa scored another one of the greatest Canuck goals of all time off of the stanchion to send the Canucks to their 3rd Stanley Cup Final.

Then Boston came to town, and despite a 2-0 and 3-2 series lead, the Canucks couldn’t get it done and the city still feels the sting today. What would have happened if Dan Hamhuis didn’t get hurt against Boston? Would it have mattered?

The loss in Game 7 should not overshadow the fact that this was, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest Canucks team in the nearly 50 years of the franchise. Just an amazing season all around, and those who were here during it were lucky to have experienced it, especially with the Canucks teams of the last few seasons.

 

Honourable Mentions: 1981/1982 and 2008/2009

Thanks for reading!

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