The 2016-17 NHL season was a disappointing season for the Canucks, at least on a macro-scale. On an individual basis, however, the performance of the team varied wildly from player to player. This end of season report card is meant to reflect how players performed in relation to expectations at the start of the season. The results range from exceptional to dismal, with most falling somewhere in between.
Bo Horvat, A+
What more can be said about Horvat’s season? He lead the team in scoring but, more importantly, he also established himself firmly as the future leader of the team. Horvat looks like a potential future first line center, which is way over and above his draft-time projections.
Henrik Sedin, C+
The Sedins did not have a great year, but Henrik certainly was the better of the two. After several dry spells, Henrik ended the year on a hot streak, and nearly stole the scoring title from Horvat.
Daniel Sedin, C
Daniel had his worst season in a long time, barely cracking 0.5 points-per-game. It’s not that he looked outright awful, but it was such a marked decline from the quality of play the twins normally provide.
Sven Baertschi, B+
Baertschi went from Calgary castoff to potential first line winger, and for a large portion of the season was operating at a nearly point-per-game basis. Baertschi clicked with Horvat and the two proved a dynamic duo, even if Baertschi’s ongoing health concerns got in the way a bit.
Brandon Sutter, C
On the one hand, this season was a good bounceback year for Sutter, who spent most of last season on the IR. On the other hand, he was granted an inordinate amount of icetime, including first unit powerplay minutes, and did not produce nearly enough.
Markus Granlund, A
Granlund was probably the breakout player of the year, shattering his previous goal and point totals long before the season was over. A late season surgery robbed him of his chance for 20 goals, but the fact that he did as well as he did with a nagging injury is highly impressive.
Loui Eriksson, D-
What an awful first year for Eriksson. The season started with him scoring on his own goal, and it didn’t get much better after that. Eriksson failed to find chemistry with any other Canuck, and needs to rebound next year to prevent himself from being a completely wasted signing.
Jack Skille, C-
Skille provided an adequate presence on the fourth line, but didn’t really do any one thing well enough to stand out. He also continued to be plagued by injuries, which probably cost him his spot on the team moving forward.
Jayson Megna, C-
Megna took a heap of abuse from the fans thanks to Willie Desjardins insistence on giving him icetime, but he did add some speed to the lineup. Still, scoring only eight points after spending time on the first line is a little embarrassing.
Michael Chaput, C
Chaput was supposed to spend the majority of the year in Utica, but he ended up as a Canuck for 68 games. Chaput didn’t really add anything special to the lineup, but he was a serviceable utility player that spent time on every single line.
Reid Boucher, B+
For a waiver pickup that struggled to enter the lineup, Boucher had an impressive end to his season. Boucher only had seven points in 27 games, but most of that came in the final stretch, and his amazing shot definitely deserves another look.
Brock Boeser, A+
Canuck fans were excited for Boeser’s arrival in the NHL, but nobody expected it to go so well. Boeser put up four goals in just nine games and, more importantly, established chemistry with Horvat, leading many to speculate that the two will makeup part of the first line moving forward.
Brendan Gaunce, C-
Gaunce looks like a competent, but unexciting, NHL talent. His offensive production was pathetic, and he played the most games of any NHL player without scoring a goal. However, his defensive play was solid, and his smarts will likely gain him another chance.
Derek Dorsett, Inc.
Dorsett’s season never really got off the ground, with him missing most of the year after neck surgery. It will be interesting to see how Dorsett bounces back after such a lengthy absence.
Nikolay Goldobin, B-
Despite it being fairly apparent that Willie Desjardins was not a fan of him, Goldobin gave fans enough of a glimpse to be excited about him moving forward. With limited icetime, Goldobin notched three goals in 12 games, and showed some chemistry with the Sedins.
Drew Shore, C-
Shore played pretty well for a late-season signing out of the Swiss league. There are probably better options for the fourth line next season, but Shore certainly didn’t play himself off the team.
Jake Virtanen, F
There are some reasons to be slightly optimistic about Virtanen’s development in Utica, but overall this season was an unmitigated disaster. Virtanen simply isn’t scoring enough at any level to justify his draft position, and his physical game has become nonexistent.
Anton Rodin, Inc.
Rodin was never not injured, and might just be a player that is too fragile for the NHL. Rumours are that he may just return to Sweden in the offseason.
Griffen Molino, C+
A late-season addition after his NCAA career concluded, Molino impressed with his speed and forechecking abilities. He doesn’t have much offensive skill, but could carve out a bottom-six career.
Joe LaBate, C+
LaBate was probably the most surprising of the Utica callups, and his physical game got him into the lineup far more often than was expected. May have a future as a fourth line tough guy.
Joseph Cramarossa, C-
Cramarossa looked promising as a fourth line player, but Desjardins’ disdain for physical play seemed to hamper him. Got injured before a more complete assessment could be made.
Alex Grenier, D
Grenier was easily the most disappointing of the Utica callups, and was a non-factor for his five games with the team.
Troy Stecher, A
Stecher was a revelation this year. He was a high-profile NCAA signing, but nobody expected him to step right from college into the NHL. He did not only that, but he also spent a sizeable portion of the year on the top pairing, and did not look out of place.
Alexander Edler, C+
Edler was a workhorse for the Canucks this year, eating up a ridiculous amount of minutes. This worked against him, to a degree, as it put his many flaws on full display. Edler is not a number one defenseman, but he made his best attempt at filling the role this year.
Ben Hutton, C+
Hutton went through a sophomore slump this year. The former calm, cool, and collected rookie looked overwhelmed at times, but his play improved throughout the year and he should rebound nicely next season.
Luca Sbisa, B-
For a team whipping boy, Sbisa had a great season. He started out the year as arguably the team’s best defenseman, before regressing as the season wore on. Still, Sbisa was far from the tire-fire he had been in previous campaigns.
Chris Tanev, B-
This year was business as usual for Tanev, which meant incredibly steady defense but also a rash of injuries. As always, nothing about Tanev stands out, but his absence from the lineup was definitely noticeable.
Nikita Tryamkin, B
It’s tempting to dock Tryamkin a few points for his traitorous return to Russia, but the truth is that the hulking defender had a great season. After missing the opening portion of the year due to poor conditioning, Tryamkin stepped into the lineup and looked like a top-four solution who could use his ample size. Here’s hoping his Russian vacation is a short one.
Philip Larsen, F
Larsen was billed as an offensive powerplay specialist, but he finished the year with one goal and six points. At no point did he look like an NHL-calibre defender, and he’s already signed overseas for next year.
Erik Gudbranson, D
Gudbranson added some physicality and grit to the lineup, but his play did not really justify the assets that had been traded for him, or the presumably large contract he is about to sign. Gudbranson did play much of the year injured, so it remains to be seen if his play can rebound.
Alex Biega, C
Biega did whatever was asked of him this year. He’s a barely-capable fill-in defender, and he may have played his best hockey as a physical, forechecking forward.
Ryan Miller, B+
Miller was a real challenger to Horvat for the title of Team MVP. Although he looked overworked at times, Miller gave the Canucks a chance to win on almost every night, which is not really something that they deserved.
Jacob Markstrom, C-
Markstrom’s terrible year was only partially due to injuries. Even when he was in the lineup, Markstrom did nothing to show that he was ready to steal the crease back from Miller. Then again, he didn’t exactly receive a lot of opportunity to do so.
Richard Bachman, B
Bachman is everything a team could ask for in a third-string goalie. He looked good enough that most fans would be happy to have him as a full-time backup next season. The only downside to his play was the creasetime he took away from Thatcher Demko down in Utica.