Who Had A Good Year?:
Henrik and Daniel Sedin- The Sedin twins ended their career in Vancouver with a wonderful bounceback season, and with Daniel tying for the team scoring lead. It was a remarkable sendoff for the greatest players in franchise history, and it culminated with a game against Arizona that will go down as one of the most memorable ever. The Sedins left Vancouver fans wanting more, but they also couldn’t have asked for a more fitting final year.
Brock Boeser- Expectations were high for Boeser coming into the season, and he still managed to blow them away. Aside from his (admittedly major) injury, nothing could slow down the Brockstar this year, and he has essentially already established himself as a 30-goal guy. Tied for the team lead in scoring in just 62 games.
Bo Horvat- On the whole, Horvat’s numbers stayed steady this season, with a slight uptick in points-per-game but also a significant injury. However, Horvat’s overall game grew extensively this year, including a notably improved defensive game and massive penalty-killing responsibilities. This is a player who is ready for the captaincy.
Alex Edler- Edler was the only player able to bring any sort of consistency to the blueline, given Tanev’s injuries, and he played an astonishing amount of minutes. Rather than buckling under the pressure, Edler put up his best season in years, and even brought back some of the physical presence that had been missing from his game recently.
Jake Virtanen- Those simply watching stats would call this an “okay” year for Virtanen, but those who watched the games know better. Virtanen clearly established himself as an NHL talent this season, and also established himself as the best skater in the franchise. It seems obvious that Jake has only scratched the surface of his offensive potential.
Thomas Vanek- Few free agent signings from this summer exceeded expectations like Vanek did for the Canucks. Had he remained with Vancouver all year, Vanek would have had a legitimate shot at the team scoring lead, and he showed remarkable chemistry with a number of players. He’s currently also exceeding expectations for the Blue Jackets.
Derek Dorsett- In many ways, this was a very rough season for Dorsett, as his hockey-playing career was ended by a recurring injury. However, that should take nothing away from his performance on the ice, which would easily qualify as his best ever.
Troy Stecher- Stecher’s offensive numbers did not take a step forward this year as some expected, but his defensive game grew steadily and he largely avoided the sophomore slump that so often plagues NHLers. Although he had a few tough stretches, by the end of the season Stecher was one of Green’s most reliable options on defense.
Alex Biega- Once again, Biega played way more than he was expected to, and he earned himself a nice two-year contract by doing so. Biega is the kind of player that gets by on his determination and sheer willpower, and he sets a great example for the younger players in the organization.
Brendan Leipsic- After a supremely hot start, Leipsic’s offensive contributions slowed down, but he still finished with nine points in 14 games with the Canucks. That’s a great return from a Philip Holm trade anyway you slice it and, at age 23, Leipsic still has time to establish himself as a top-six NHL player. He was also the player whose spin-o-rama magic set the stage for one of the most memorable moments in Canucks’ history, so he gets bonus points for that
Jussi Jokinen- With 10 points in 14 games after being acquired as a cap dump at the Trade Deadline, it’s hard to call Jokinen anything but a success. In fact, Jokinen’s time in Vancouver may have just extended his NHL career by an extra season.
Who Had A Solid Year?:
Jacob Markstrom- Markstrom’s numbers are hardly impressive and he didn’t exactly establish himself as a definitive starter this season, but he clearly outplayed Anders Nilsson and steadily improved as the year went on. At the very least, Markstrom has given the Canucks plenty of reason to keep him around as the Thatcher Demko era begins.
Chris Tanev- Tanev’s play was, as always, superb, but injuries affected his game even more than usual this year and his reputation as “injury-prone” is now more clearly established. It was tough to see Tanev’s effectiveness be so limited by factors outside of his control, and his play was obviously affected by injury even when he was in the lineup, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still one of the best defensive defensemen in hockey.
Brandon Sutter- Sutter has a lot of detractors in the Vancouver fanbase, but he had a fine season as a checking line center. Sutter played a big role in what proved to be a very solid penalty-killing unit, and his offensive contributions were adequate, if sporadic.
Nikolay Goldobin- Goldobin had, quite literally, an up-and-down season, but his excellent stretch run with the Canucks likely earned him a legitimate future with the organization. Look for Goldobin to be pencilled in to a scoring line next year.
Sam Gagner- Gagner’s numbers took a dip from his career highs in 2016/17, but most people expected that. He was a streaky scorer, but Gagner performed pretty much as expected. His role as a depth veteran becomes more important in the wake of the Sedin retirement.
Derrick Pouliot- Pouliot was a castoff from the Pittsburgh organization, but his performance in Vancouver has earned him at least another year of NHL opportunity. Pouliot was definitely inconsistent, but he showed enough offensive ability to keep him in the lineup ahead of Ben Hutton.
Sven Baertschi- Baertschi didn’t take a step forward this season as some had predicted, but he remains a solid top-six performer and a valuable member of the team. Although injuries were an issue, Baertschi scored at about a 45-point pace.
Darren Archibald- Archibald seemed to earn an NHL job during training camp, but it took him several months to actually land a contract. Once he was up with the big club, Archibald looked like a natural fit on the fourth line. His physical contributions were appreciated, and seemed to have a positive impact on the physical games of several other Canucks. Archibald’s offensive numbers were also better than expected.
Michael Del Zotto- Del Zotto is another player with plenty of detractors, but he was the only Canuck defenseman to play all 82 games, and he performed fairly in regards to his contract. Del Zotto’s offensive numbers may not have been spectacular, but he was fifth in the NHL in hits.
Erik Gudbranson- Gudbranson is probably the most controversial player on the Canucks’ roster, especially after his contract extension, but this was, injuries aside, a solid year for the big defender. Gudbranson will never be a big offensive contributor, but he was the team’s best defensive defender when Tanev was out.
Nic Dowd- Dowd came to the team at a time when injuries had ransacked any semblance of center depth, and he played adequate while eating some truly ridiculous minutes. After that, Dowd returned to relative obscurity, but he was there for the Canucks when they needed him.
Tyler Motte- Motte represented an underwhelming return for Vanek at the Trade Deadline, but he played moderately well for the Canucks for the rest of the season. Motte found a home on the team’s mostly successful penalty kill, and will offer Utica a nice offensive boost for the playoffs.
Who Had A Rough Year?:
Ben Hutton- A season or two ago, Hutton looked like a potential piece of the future core. Now, he’s a likely castoff who played his way off the team and, potentially, out of the NHL. Travis Green was obviously not a fan of his, but Hutton has no one to blame but himself.
Loui Eriksson- This year may have been a slight improvement over last year for Eriksson, but it was still a mediocre season overall and another in which Eriksson drastically underplayed his own contract. Eriksson remains an anchor.
Anders Nilsson- Nilsson was supposed to compete with Markstrom for the starting job, but that simply didn’t happen. Nilsson had a few good games early in the year, but his play seemed to deteriorate from there, and now the Canucks are likely looking to trade him for any return.
Markus Granlund- Last year was a breakout year for Granlund, but this year couldn’t have gone worse. Granlund didn’t even come close to approaching last season’s offensive totals, and he had his season ended prematurely before he could mount any sort of bounceback.
Brendan Gaunce- This was an unfortunate season for Gaunce, even if he didn’t personally perform poorly. Gaunce’s underlying numbers were actually pretty solid early in the year, but he got injured at the wrong time and has been passed on the depth chart by younger talent. This may be the end for Gaunce and the NHL.
Reid Boucher- Boucher had a couple chances to establish himself with the Canucks this season, and he failed to perform each time. It’s hard to see a spot for Boucher on the team moving forward.
Alexander Burmistrov- Hands up if you remembered that Burmistrov played for the Canucks this season! That pretty much sums up his tenure in Vancouver—invisible and uneventful.
A Speculative 2018/19 Roster:
Other Players In The Mix:
Forward- Brendan Gaunce, Reid Boucher, Jonathan Dahlen, Zack MacEwen, Cole Cassels, Lukas Jasek, Kole Lind
Defense- Ben Hutton, Ashton Sautner, Jalen Chatfield
2018/19 Standings Prediction:
About the same as this year. The team may briefly flirt with playoff contention, but the loss of the Sedin twins represents a massive loss in offensive depth and stability, which will hurt the team’s ability to survive the inevitable injuries. A ticket in the Jack Hughes sweepstakes seems entirely possible.
Chris Tanev- Tanev is the most valuable trade chip on the Canucks, untouchable players aside, and the offseason might represent peak value for him. Tanev had yet another injury-plagued year, so trading him at full health would be a smart move. However, the prospect of having Tanev mentor Olli Juolevi is also rather tempting.
Alex Edler- The ball is firmly in Edler’s court when it comes to a trade. He’s been reluctant to waive his NTC in the past, but with the Sedins moving on, the time may finally be right. Edler had a great year, and he’d still return an excellent value from a contender. Perhaps a 2019 Trade Deadline deal is the most likely scenario.
Sven Baertschi- The plethora of skilled forwards knocking on the door in Vancouver has led to some speculation that Baertschi may be traded after a mediocre year. He would still garner a lot of interest around the league, but he may be most valuable to the offense-starved Canucks next season, and thus is unlikely to be moved.
Ben Hutton- It seems that the writing is on the wall for Hutton. Having been passed on the depth chart by several other defenders, and without much trust from Travis Green, it would be best for Hutton to get a fresh start elsewhere. Don’t expect much of a return.
Anders Nilsson- Nilsson was supposed to compete with Markstrom for the starting job, but right now he’s just standing in the way of Thatcher Demko. If the Canucks can find a taker for Nilsson, they should jump on it.
Michael Del Zotto- If any veteran defender is going to be moved to make room for Juolevi, it makes sense for it to be Del Zotto. He had an unspectacular year, plays the same side as Juolevi, and would likely still hold a bit of value in a trade.
Hockeytalkie’s Final 2018 Draft Top Ten Ranking:
(Ranked with consideration to the Canucks and their needs)
- Rasmus Dahlin
- Andrei Svechnikov
- Filip Zadina
- Adam Boqvist
- Quinn Hughes
- Brady Tkachuk
- Oliver Wahlstrom
- Noah Dobson
- Evan Bouchard
- Ty Smith