Who Had a Good Week:
Brock Boeser- As good as Boeser has been in his young NHL career, he’s definitely been at an advantage by playing with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi, two skilled players with established chemistry. Now that both are out, we’ll see whether or not Boeser can carry the team’s offense on his own—and the early results are promising. Boeser’s two goals this week came from in tight, proving that he’s far from a one-trick pony.
Jake Virtanen- Virtanen is making the most of his limited ice time, and is in line for an increased role after Baertschi’s injury. Virtanen had a nice goal this week, but he also did more good things in general. Virtanen generates shots on net at a good rate, and is finally playing physical with some consistency. He appears to be catching up to the NHL game.
Derrick Pouliot- Pouliot has been a revelation since being acquired from Pittsburgh for relatively cheap. Pouliot had a huge night against Carolina, notching a point on all three goals, but he moved the puck effectively in each game. He and Michael Del Zotto saw limited minutes against Calgary, but that’s probably more on Del Zotto than Pouliot.
Who Had a Rough Week:
Alex Burmistrov- The Canucks chose to acquire Nic Dowd and call up Michael Chaput rather than inserting Burmistrov back into the lineup. It seems that the team has seen enough of Burmistrov, and have chosen to go in another direction. Look for him to hit waivers soon.
Ben Hutton- Hutton had a decent game against Calgary, but in general he’s seen his minutes drop due to ineffective play. He and Troy Stecher are the definitive third pairing at this point, and it’s not hard to imagine Hutton getting scratched when Gudbranson returns.
Sam Gagner- Gagner is getting a huge opportunity with Bo Horvat out for a while, but he doesn’t look like he has what it takes to fill that gap. Gagner just doesn’t have the drive to create chances for his linemates like Horvat does, and provided little support for Boeser when they played together. Gagner remains a questionable choice on the powerplay’s point.
The trade of Jordan Subban for Nic Dowd was obviously controversial due to the high hopes that some Canuck fans still harbour for Subban, but the fact is that Subban was rapidly slipping down the depth chart. Subban had even been healthy scratched for the Comets on a number of occasions, and was having his worst offensive season since turning pro. Dowd is mildly promising, but he can definitely play a role at the NHL level, which is looking less and less likely for Subban.
Baertschi’s injury basically ensures that Nikolay Goldobin is about to get an extended audition with the Canucks. He and Boeser together on one line would mean two dangerous players for opponents to attempt to cover. Unfortunately, outside of Henrik Sedin, their aren’t any great options to center the two of them.
The news that Erik Karlsson may be on the trade block sent ripples of excitement through every fanbase, but the Canucks aren’t in a place where acquiring him would make sense. A Karlsson trade would gut Vancouver of some vital prospects and draft picks, which they’d be better off holding onto. The smart move for most teams, including the Canucks, is to sit tight and see if Karlsson hits the free agent market in a year’s time. Who knows, maybe the Canucks will have a shiny new Rasmus Dahlin at that point to further entice Karlsson.
The Comets opened up a rough week by taking an absolute pounding from the Syracuse Crunch, 6-1. Richard Bachman was in bet for all six goals against. Patrick Wiercioch scored the only Utica goal, assisted by Jayson Megna and the red-hot Cameron Darcy. Jordan Subban was healthy scratched, although this may have been related to his upcoming trade.
Next, the Comets were in Providence to take on the Bruins in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Thatcher Demko was back in net, but Utica still fell 3-2 in overtime. Darcy had a goal, assisted by Guillaume Brisebois and Zack MacEwen, and then Michael Carcone scored unassisted.
Utica concluded the week with their third loss in a row, dropping another contest against the Bruins by a score of 4-3. Once again, Demko was in net for the loss, and once again it came in overtime. Reid Boucher put up two goals, and Alexis D’Aoust had the other. Brisebois, Darcy, Megna, Wiercioch, and Brendan Woods had single assists.
The Week Ahead:
The Canucks play four games this week—
Monday, December 11 at Winnipeg with a 5:00PST start.
Wednesday, December 13 at home against Nashville with a 7:00PST start.
Friday, December 15 at home against San Jose with a 7:00PST start.
Sunday, December 17 at home against Calgary with a 5:00PST start.
2018 Draft Eligible Prospect of the Week:
I didn’t have time to do one of these this week, but let me know in the comments who you’d like me to do in the next couple weeks!
Bits and Bobs:
-Enough time has passed to start getting really excited about Brock Boeser’s goal-scoring pace. Before the season, 30 goals would have been thought of as a best case scenario, but that seems like a near-certainty at this point. Boeser is on pace for a 45 goal, 82 point season, which would be absolutely insane. He’s currently seventh in the league for goals-per-game.
-The prospect of expansion to Seattle seems to be becoming more and more realistic with each passing day. An ownership group, which includes Jerry Bruckheimer, was granted permission to start the bid process this week, with the aim of joining the NHL for the 2020-21 season. Unfortunately for Canuck fans, that means that the team will likely actually have some valuable assets to lose during the new expansion draft.
-We should hear either this week or next which of Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson, Kole Lind, Michael DiPietro, Jonah Gadjovich, and Will Lockwood made their respective World Junior teams. The first two are locks, while the rest are on the bubble.
-As injuries continue to pile up, some have already questioned whether the team’s preseason trip to China is playing a role. It’s a legitimate question whether or not it was wise for a franchise that always struggles with the wear and tear of travel to start their year with an intercontinental trip.
-I’m very glad that Jacob Markstrom got his first career shutout right after the media caught on the fact that he was approaching the record for most games without one. That would have been an unnecessary distraction for a young team to have hanging over it.