The Vancouver Canucks won the Presidents' Trophy, but were quickly eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings.
Off-Season Game Plan examines a Canucks team that has registered 100 points or more in seven of the last nine seasons, but remains in the hunt for the franchise's first Stanley Cup.
When the Canucks made it to Game Seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, it was a heartbreaking defeat, to come so close to the ultimate goal, but the challenge for any Cup finalist is daunting: getting revved up for another season after coming so close the year before.
In the Canucks' case, it's not unreasonable to start wondering whether their championship window is starting to close, even a little bit. The Sedins will be 32 by the time next season starts, Ryan Kesler is enduring another summer of rehabilitation after surgery and Roberto Luongo appears to be on his way out of town.
These are all reasons to be concerned about the Canucks, but not unduly so. The Sedins have been among the game's best scorers in recent seasons and that should continue. Even if they lose some ground, it's hard to imagine a steep drop.
The anticipated Roberto Luongo trade poses challenges, but could also provide opportunities. If the Canucks make a deal for Luongo, it's likely going to improve their long-term salary cap situation and as long as Cory Schneider can handle the No. 1 job, there may not be a huge letdown in goal (to be fair, it's unlikely that the Canucks will have a backup goaltender next season that is as good as Schneider has been the past two seasons in that role).
When it comes Kesler, however, there is no easy fix. He's not going to be ready for the start of next season and he's been such an integral part of the Canucks' success in recent years that it will be hard for Vancouver to replace him while he's out or, worse, make up for lost production if he's not the same player post-surgery.
In the larger picture, the Canucks' concerns are the concerns of a Cup contender, though. Sure, they need their best players healthy and could use an upgrade on the blueline, maybe a quality forward or two to fill out the lineup but, presuming the Canucks are active this summer, they are going to be expected to contend for a championship again next season.
Being an annual Cup contender can't be taken for granted, especially after getting bounced in the first round, so a sense of urgency should be at hand because that window can't stay open forever.