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As season ends, Canucks have work cut out for them heading into the summer

Last Updated Apr 5, 2019 at 10:13 pm PDT

Rogers Arena (Denise Wong, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Vancouver Canucks’ regular season is nearing a close with the final game of the season tomorrow against St. Louis Blues.

Sat Shah with Sportsnet 650, a sister station to NEWS 1130, says there were some positives this year, but there’s a lot of work to do over the summer.

He says as much as this year has been a step in the right direction for the Canucks, a critical off-season is ahead of them.

“They finally have a core of young guys to build around, but a lot more has to be done to take that next step and become a true contender in the NHL,” he says.

The way the team handles free agency, and their picks in the upcoming draft — which looks to include a top 10 selection — all have to be done carefully, he says.

“If they’re not, well, this may take a lot longer to go from being okay to a good hockey team,” he says.

He says goalie Jacob Markstrom had an incredible turnaround this season, and single-handedly won games for the Canucks this year.

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The combined the youth movement is going to be exciting to watch, he says.

“When you consider the fact that Elias Pettersson emerged as an elite-level forward, you had Quinn Hughes at the end of the season coming up, and of course, you have Jacob Markstrom becoming a bonafide number-one goalie,” he says. “The question is, can he continue it? But he showed that he can be relied upon this year.”

Bo Horvat and Troy Stecher are some players to continue to watch.

Caroline Frolic with Sportsnets 650 says she is looking forward to seeing Horvat’s continued leadership as the team moves in a positive direction.

“People expected them to be wallowing in the basement,” she says. “The fact that they were contending for a playoff spot late in the seasons speaks volumes to the team chemistry and the raw talent.”

The Canucks’ final game of the year is tomorrow at 1 p.m.

– With files from Caroline Frolic, Toby Kerr