Especially with the loss of Christian Ehrhoff, some of the fears expressed by Vancouver fans (or the delights from the now legions of Vancouver haters) is that the league's highest scoring team last season can't possibly reclaim that title a second year in a row.
Taking a page from On The Forecheck and Blackhawk Up, let's take a quick look at Vancouver's possible offensive production in 2011 using projections of each player's career goal scoring rate over an 82-game spread.
The numbers in bold ballpark the amount of goals expected per player:
D. Sedin (26.2) - H. Sedin (15.6) - Burrows (20.5)
Higgins (21.3) - Kesler (22.1) - Samuelsson (18)
Sturm (22.1) - Malhotra (10.7) - Hansen (10.7)
Oreskovich (2.5) - Lapierre (9.8) - Ebbett (10.7)
Bieksa (8.2) - Hamhuis (5.7)
Edler (9) - Salo (9.8)
Ballard (6.5) - Rome (1.6)
Whenever Raymond is healthy enough to touch his toes, his career average would work out to be 18 goals per year.
The grand total is 231, or roughly a 11.5% decrease from their 258 goals last season. 231 would tie them with Carolina last season for 12th best overall.
Obviously there are a number of caveats with this approach: there will be the obvious injuries and call-ups. On top of that these lines aren't complete; I threw Ebbett in because Hodgson (remember him?) Duco, Pinizzotto, Mancuri and other assorted bottom six options have next to no NHL records. This approach doesn't account for a camp stand out like Sweatt, Archibald or Schroeder upsetting the apple cart. It also ignores special teams; Vancouver's 72 PPGs in the regular season was best in the league so that's a big chunk of red lights to casually dismiss.
Nevertheless, unless a trade comes through or a few players have career years again, it's certainly possible the offense takes a step back. The biggest question mark will always be injuries, particularly with Sturm, Salo and Samuelsson representing 50 goals, or 20% of the team's overall output.
Then again assuming Hansen returns alongside Mahlotra (and both click with a delightfully healthy Samuelsson or Sturm) they maintain a top nine that remains one of the strongest they've had in their history. Raymond sitting in reserve is an obvious bonus. Lastly - and we can't stress this enough - losing Mr. Errorhoff should presumably help the backend be more responsible which is hardly a bad thing over the course of 82 games.
As always, the glass is half full or half empty depending on your outlook. Drink up.