After a tumultuous first half highlighted by several losing streaks, a coaching change and a flurry of trades, the second half has been quiet in Vancouver. After hovering near the league's basement for most of the first half, the Canucks started to play better before the All-Star Break and have been strong since. Despite dropping their last three, the club still sits tied for 7th in the tight Western Conference with 71 points. Before the mini-slide, they had clawed to within two points of division rival Calgary, a gap which had been in the 20s before the Canucks even started to kick the Stanley Cup hangover. With 21 games to go, the task ahead of the Canucks is a serious one. Whereas the club would comfortably be in the playoffs in the East, two points separate 5th and 9th in the West. Five points separate 5th and 12th. Although the hopes of winning the division are as out of reach now as they were after the 20-game mark, no team other than St. Louis and Colorado has thrived all year, and a playoff matchup between any of the other 10 teams battling for a second season spot would be hotly contested. A few things will be key heading down the stretch. Eric Staal and Evgeni Malkin need to continue to get their games back, after a poor start. Dan Boyle as well has come around of late, but with 20 points remains disappointing. And the club needs Martin Brodeur to get back to the level he was at pre-All-Star Break, when he almost singlehandedly carried the Canucks back into the playoff picture. Quiet Trade Deadline After several early season moves, the Canucks have only made a couple of trades recently, including but a single small transaction at the deadline. Daultan Leveille, a 2008 second round pick, was shipped to Philadelphia for a fourth round selection in this year's draft. Leveille's development had stalled and the Canucks opted to cut their losses. A couple of weeks ago another small trade was made when Drew Schiestel was acquired from Carolina for Austin Levi and a late draft pick. While Levi and Schiestel are similar calibre prospects, Schiestel's skating and near NHL-readiness was the reason for the swap. Despite rumours that the Canucks could sell off some veterans at the deadline, nothing ever got close in regards to players like Brodeur and Boyle. While Brodeur will almost certainly walk as a free agent this summer, clearing the way for Carey Price, the future of Boyle is less clear. The emergence of Kris Letang and James Wisniewski, as well as the potential of prospects such as David Rundblad, has the Canucks overflowing with young offensive rearguards, making the aging Boyle and his contract possibly expendable. Rundblad is Salming After a record-breaking season in which 20-year old David Rundblad notched 50 points, one of the highest totals ever for a blueliner in the Swedish Elite League, he was rewarded by winning the Borje Salming Trophy as Top Defenceman. Rundblad's season is far from over though. His club Skelleftea is now in the SEL Finals against Farjestad, and once that is done Rundblad will likely skate for Sweden at the World Championships. Overshadowed by Rundblad's performance this year was Mattias Ekholm, who put up 33 points from the blueline as a rookie in the SEL and is a near lock for the World Championship club as well. Whereas nobody has ever doubted Rundblad's offensive skill, Ekholm is a late bloomer whose development over the last 36 months has been incredible and largely ignored. Other Prospects Drawing Headlines - Luke Adam was recently named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. In 50 games he has 25 goals, 54 points and a +23 - Kyle Palmieri was recently named AHL Player of the Week, although he did not make the All-Rookie Team, despite having more goals than Adam. The 19-year old has 26 goals and 46 points in 56 games. - Justin Faulk has been a driving force as a freshman for Minnesota-Duluth, a surprise qualifier for the Frozen Four. His strong playoffs have put his scoring total at 30 points (in 37 games) on the year.