The Canucks have been quite the surprise this year and no one is covering it. They are ONE point out of a wild card spot but do have a game up on every other team. The Canucks are fifth in the Pacific division despite a 11 point difference with them and Vegas the third place team in that division. They are tenth in the Western Conference and 20th in the NHL. They have a record of 21-21-6 at the moment and just before the All-Star break, they finish January with three home games vs Buffalo, Detroit and Carolina.
The Canucks are ranked 16th in the NHL in goals for with 137, 9th in goals against with 148. Nineteenth in goals per game (2.85), tenth in goals against per game (3.08), twenty-first in power play percentage (17.3), twenty-third in penalty kill (78.3) and finally 26th in shots for per game (29.0).
The Canucks have missed Pettersson for 10 games now and are still in a playoff spot, have not even come close to seeing Brock Boeser’s best this season yet and again are still in the hunt. The Canucks have been a mildly successful team this season due to Bo Horvat consistency, Elias Pettersson taking the league by storm, depth guys chiming in when needed and Jacob Markstrom standing strong in net.
The Canucks are seeing a decent amount of production from Nikolay Goldobin (23 in 44), Loui Eriksson (19 in 48), Jake Virtanen (18 in 48), Antoine Roussel (18 in 43) but more importantly their defense has been pretty involved in the scoring. Alexander Edler has 19 points in 33 games, Ben Hutton has 17 points in 46 games and Try Stecher has 14 points in 44 games.
If the Canucks are to get back Pettersson healthy and back to his normal production, Horvat keeps his game up, Boeser increases his goal-scoring, Virtanen and Granlund step up and Markstrom stands strong they have a chance to squeak into the playoffs. Emphasis on when saying squeak hold the “k” for 2-3 seconds, because there only chance to make it is by squeaking in.
Elias Lindholm: This guy does not get enough credit for his consistency. He finally gets a chance to play with two of the top forwards in the league and he is not letting any second go to waste. Lindholm is accompanied by Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan this season. When playing with those two it seems like Lindholm’s 11 goals and 12 assists this season is not a great feat, but Lindholm has been a consistent 40 point guy that gets no love in the NHL.
Mark Stone: Probably not a typically underrated spoken name but Stone does not get the recognition he should. He plays on a young, struggling and questionable team right now. Ottawa and Canada in general is not an easy place to play and thrive in, yet Stone finds a way to make it happen every year. This season he has 9 goals and 15 assists in 22 games this season. A former 5th rounder, performing like a 1st rounder his whole career in Ottawa is something that should be recognized more.
Bo Horvat: Playing in Vancouver with two young studs in Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, Horvat is often out of the lime light and forgotten about. The 23-year-old forward has been in the league for five years now and been around the 45-50 point mark every year. On the year Horvat has 21 points in 24 games, 11 goals and 10 assists. Extremely good skater, can play both ends of the puck and certainly not afraid to shoot the puck.
Tyson Barrie: He is usually bouncing around on the IR but when Barrie is healthy he is their clear number one and it is obvious. With the addition of some young defenseman in Colorado some of the light has been taken off Barrie but a lot of the Avalanche success this season comes from a guy like Barrie on the back end, who is extremely efficient 5 on 5 and on the power play. Barrie has 2 goals and 17 assists on the year.
Ryan McDonagh: The Lightning have a slew of defenseman and unbelievable offense, therefore it is extremely easy to get lost on this roster. But McDonagh has finally brought what the Lightning were expecting, solid defense and an offensive style game too. McDonagh really stepped in when Victor Hedman went down but continues to be an impactful player on one of the best teams in the NHL. McDonagh 2 goals and 14 assists and two power play points.
Carter Hutton: Coming to a new team, from a back up role to a starter role that. Hutton had a lot of pressure put on him right when he came to Buffalo. Hutton has done nothing but great things in Buffalo and a big reason they are a top team in the NHL right now. Hutton has 10 wins in 16 games started, a 10-6-1 record 2.57 goals against (GAA) and .917 save percentage (SV%). He’s made the 7th most saves among all NHL goalies this season as well.
Henrik Lundqvist: Everyone said Lundqvist was done, he was aging out, his time was done and he could not be on the same level he once was. But Lundqvist is a major reason the Rangers have come out of the gates hot and a complete shock to everyone right now. Lundqvist has the 5th most saves in the NHL right now, a 2.61 GAA and .919 SV % with a 8-6-2 record in 17 starts this season. At 36-years-old the “king” has been off to a surprising start.
Vancouver yet again had another disappointing season I don’t think many people had high expectations for the Canucks, but the positive is that they have a bright future. With Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Jake Virtanen, Branden Leipsic, Troy Stecher the future is bright but right now the Cancuks have some work to do.
The Canucks finished 31-40-11, 73 points, ranked 26th in goals for(218), 9th in goals against(259), 9th in power play percentage(21.4), 21st in penalty kill(78.3). The Canucks have now to worry about filling the Sedin’s brothers spots now that they have retired but for now, the Canucks do have a bright future ahead. What went wrong for the Canucks though? Well, they did not have solid goaltending all year, some key injuries happened at a bad time, and lacked depth on both sides of the puck.
What went wrong with the Canucks?
(1) Jakub Markstrom did not have a terrible season but when he was not in net Andres Nilsson did not fill the void well. Markstrom posted a decent record of 23-26-7 with a 2.71 GAA and a .912 save percentage, but Nilsson had a 7-14-4, 3.44 GAA and a .901 SV percentage. While Markstrom did not have a terrible season he only started 57 games, solid starting goaltender numbers but when Markstrom was not in net Nilsson did not do a great job, this is a small reason but one of the reasons the Canucks had a decent season.
(2) They had to deal with their top two forwards getting hurt at two different times with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser going down. When Boeser was in the line up the Canucks were at one point in a playoff hunt, once things hit the fan though they fell off quickly and things went south quick. Boeser their leading scorer had 55 points in 62 games and Horvat, whom when paired with Boeser was very siccessful played in 64 games with 44 points. Perhaps these two had been in the line up all year for 82 games they could have posted a .500 or a little above .500 record, but key injuries these two hurt the Canucks.
(3) The Canucks lacked the depth that is for sure. After the Sedin brothers who are aged forwards they did not have many players to fulfill their forward needs, such as Sam Gagner only scoring 31 points, Loui Eriksson with 23 points, and Branden Suter with 26 points, the Cancuks “veteran” players did not step up which hurt them. They acquired these players with different sights set on their numbers. Luckily the Canucks are transitioning to a younger model and developing younger players.
Will things get better?
Well like I said the Canucks are developing their younger players which is good because they have a ton of younger forwards coming up, like Pettersson, John Dahlen, Tyler Motte with established players like Boeser, Horvat, Sven Baerthschi, and more but the Canucks are definitely on the up and after this season it is a bright spot at least. They do have the 7th overall pick in this yeas draft definitely acquiring a top-level prospect yet again. Will they be back in a playoff hunt next season? Probably not they will be a 22-24th ranked team and finish around the same, maybe around .500 not above it by many games but definitely a better season is ahead. The problems heading into the offseason will be to resign, Markus Granlund, Beartschi, Virtanen, Stecher and Derick Poulit, not a huge burden but some things to consider with their 22 million in cap space and 6 picks out of the 7 rounds this season.
This five I can guarantee will make noise next season. Coyle in Minnesota, Miller in NYR, Eberle with a new club and Tavares, Horvat and Gagner possibly and Konecny in Philadelphia!
Charlie Coyle– The breakout year for the former San Jose 1st round pick in 2010 finally came. After four full years in the league, Coyle was highly sought out once he
was drafted. Coyle posted a career-high 56 points and 38 assists. The 25-year-old center produced exactly what was expected of him last season. As the Wild were successful and one of the top teams in the league, Coyle and the Wild offense saw a lot more success. With the roster looking basically the same for Minnesota, Coyle will only climb up the leaderboards from here. As the years continue Coyle will get more attention and continue to produce even better numbers. Look for Coyle to score a bit more next year and go for 25 plus goals.
Jordan Eberle– Eberle recently got shipped off to the New York Islanders for F Ryan Strome, what many thought was a no-brainer for the Islanders, they finally receive a solid #1 center to pair with John Tavares. Being that the two played together for team Canada, they have the chemistry and know how each other play. Tavares could be the exact thing Eberle needs to get back to his 60 point and 25 goal seasons. At only 27-years-old Eberle has played seven years thus far and has made quite an impression on some but others value him as a sub-par, inconsistent forward. But with a new environment, John Tavares, this may just be the thing Eberle needs to propel his career once again.
J.T. Miller– The former 1st round 15th overall draft pick by the New York Rangers, finally had the year many Ranger fans were looking for. Miller has made major strides towards being a top six forward since 2014-2015. With the Rangers using much of their cap space to sign D Kevin Shattenkirk, they still need some center depth. Although Miller has played on the left side much of his career the Rangers are hoping to put Miller in the center slot to add more balance to the lineup. With a career-high 56 points, 7 power play
points and 34 assists, Miller is only on the up from here on out. At 24-years-old and many other tools around him, Miller will only succeed, especially in the Rangers environment too. Miller has a lot of pressure on him next season as it’s never easy to top a 56 point year in your third full year, but with Miller’s skill, and playmaking ability, I think many can expect Miller to post similar numbers next season.
Bo Horvat- The 22-year-old forward continues to get better and better for Vancouver, imagine Horvat on a playoff team the flashy left-hander would soar to new heights. Being stuck in Vancouver who has not seen the best of years as of late, really puts Horvat under the radar, especially with the Sedin brothers too. But the 2013 9th overall pick saw his first All-Star game last season and a much deserving All-Star appearance as well. Horvat topped his career high set last season by 12 points, finishing last year with 52. Horvat scored 20 goals along with 32 helpers, with not many tools around the shifty center still managed to put up impressive numbers. With a new face in Vancouver perhaps Sam Gagner and Horvat can team up and boost both their production even more. If I were I’d expect Horvat to post an impressive 55 plus points next season.
Travis Konecny– Konecny fell a ton during the 2015 draft due to his size, many clubs passed on the 5’10 175lb center, luckily the Flyers grabbed him. Konecny may not have the greatest size but he has a ton of skill and is extremely hard working. Despite only posting 29 points and 11 goals last season, the Flyers as a whole did not see much success. With a fresh start and some new faces in Philadelphia, plus 70 games under the 20-year-olds belt will do wonders to this kids production next season. If paired with the right group Konecny can both bury the puck and dish it off to his linemates as well. Barring the right-handed center cracks the top six, he’ll be paired with two players that
will help him immensely. All Flyer fans can hope for is Konecny gets his shot and doesn’t get thrown under the bus riding bottom six minutes or he will be a waste of talent. Hoping Konecny plays top-six minutes next season, we can all expect him to post more than 11 goals and 29 points next season, especially if the Flyers are more successful next season.